Hello and welcome!
Alright, here we are for Tuesday Time Machine Week 7, featuring my monthly playlist from October of 2012.
As an aside, this was a very, very special month for me.
I spent most of the month, living in an artist’s colony down in Florida, where I’d been selected to participate in The Atlantic Center for the Arts’ 2nd annual comic art residency, studying under Emmy and Ringo Award Winning cartoonist, Dean Haspiel.
It was a magical thing, and those three weeks blessed me with one of my favorite experiences of my 20s.
For those of you who are checking in for the first time, these monthly playlists which I’m re-visiting came about as a result of an idea I had back in January of 2010: an idea that would see me create one 80 minute playlist a month.
The reason for doing this was two-fold: I wanted to create and re-enforce very specific lived experiences and memories tied to music, and I wanted a rather consistent set of songs to propel me each month as I created my art.
In creating these playlists, I tried to make things flow— I wanted songs to segue very effortlessly (or abrasively) creating a sense of narrative.
Going forward, once a week, I’m going to update the Spotify playlist that you can find below.
I’d recommend not shuffling the songs, as they were sequenced the way that they were for a reason. To get the full experience, listen to them in the way in which I’ve arranged things.
Included below is a short description of the tune I’ve included, and/or a description of the specifics memory associated with it. If you’re not trying to read all of that, just hit play on the link below!
1. Desert of Song- Between the Buried and Me.
I wrote at length about how much I love Between the Buried and Me’s album, “The Great Misdirect,” here, and this was the first song off the album that I truly fell in love in.
Lead guitarist Paul Waggoner performs the main vocals here, and he also executes a particularly melodic, forward-thinking solo towards the middle of the track. It’s always a curiosity to me, when particularly extreme metal bands make something, “pretty,” and here, we’re treated to a really wonderful example of what it sounds like when they’re able to execute.
2. Mothers of Men- Coheed and Cambria
This was the lead single from the first of two sister albums that Coheed and Cambria released, in continuation of their, “Armory Wars,” story.
Unfortunately, the album that this is from is not especially strong, but this song still kicks a whole lot of ass. Of particular note here are the choir vocals that wouldn’t be out of place in a Danny Elfman soundtrack circa, “Scrooged,” or, “Batman Returns.”
I still like this quite a bit.
3. Weird Fish/Arpeggi- Radiohead
I know, I know— “In Rainbows,” was old hat in the fall of 2012, but for some reason, this song became a listening fixture for me several years after the fact.
This song absolutely bursts with color. It is perhaps, the best aural representation of the album’s cover art found on the record— a lovely piece of music that occupies a highly-specific space of jazz, rock, and electronica.
On the surface, I know that cross-section sounds questionable. Electronica should rarely (if ever) step anywhere near jazz, but those particular flourishes are the most slight ones heard here, so it works.
4. You Better, You Bet- The Who
I know, I know— a song by The Who without Keith Moon?!
How can you not love this song though?
It’s a bit silly, but it’s infectious, and wonderful.
If you hear this, and don’t start breaking out some dance moves that belong in, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, I hope you consider examining the error in your ways.
5. Why you Want to Treat me so bad?- Prince
What warmth, and what joy.
Yeah, this is a song about heartbreak, but it makes you feel good.
Or, it makes you feel empowered?
Prince’s guitar solo on here ranks amongst his greatest accomplishments when it came to balancing melody against shredding and pure feel. On top of that, the chorus is one of the better ear-worms that he ever put together.
I’ll turn this up till the end of time. It’s a masterpiece.
6. Let the Beat Build- Lil’ Wayne
I’ll be honest, I never really jumped on the Lil’ Wayne train.
To be clear, he’s as able-bodied, dexterous, and inventive as any of his peers from the era, but I just never really became a hard-core fan.
He does have about five songs that I absolutely LOVE TO DEATH though, and this is one of them.
I don’t know what there is to say about this that hasn’t been said. This is a craftsmen showing how deep their bag of tricks is for 5 minutes, and… yeah, it’s incredible. So, so, good.
7. Get By- Talib Kweli
As great as Kanye’s efforts were on The Blueprint a year or two earlier, I feel like this is where he really arrived as a super-producer-genius.
You will MOVE listening to this song.
Years from now, I wouldn’t be surprised if people are still unpacking what’s happening with the percussion in here.
The truth of the matter is, from a sonic standpoint, this might have more in common with a mid-temp Santana number from the mid-70s than hip-hop.
Can you imagine St. Carlos firing off his screaming laser beams lead lines over Kanye’s outrageously dense bed of percussion, composed of handclaps, finger snaps, and a back beat?
Not to take away anything from Talib Kweli, as he too, brings his A-game, but this is Kanye showing why he’d capture the imagination of music lovers all over the world, two years later.
8. Timestretch- Bass Nectar
Living in Minneapolis, there’s a very particular, chill that can enter the air in October. Sometimes, it’s kind of awful. That said, when you enter a place that has heat, after enduring it for for awhile, you feel the most incredible sort of relief.
I first heard this song on one of those nights, and for whatever reason, it better recalls that sensation for me that anything else. I’ve never been a dubstep person, but I do love this song, for that reason.
9. Stoned Junkee- UGK
Yeah, this song is about smoking weed laced with PCP.
Not the best, needless to say, but when it comes to the hard-as-nails, syrup-thick funk, that Pimp C so effortlessly directed on, “Super Tight,” I’m not sure it gets better than this.
10. Fifty-Fifty Clown- Cocteau Twins
This is one of the more low-key entries on a gem of an album, but it’s perfect for drawing, and the way the vocals kind of float in and out of thin air, is the perfect compliment to the whining guitars, and persistent, pulsating sequencer bits.
11. +elepa+thy- Crosses
In the early 2010’s Chino Moreno of Deftones fame started a “witch house” band, which was only really, “witch house,” due to their name, stylized as +++.
This is kind of a silly song, but it’s pretty interesting to hear him sing over a bass line that struts like something out of a late 70s disco hit. It shouldn’t work, and maybe it doesn’t, listening to it in 2020, but I low-key jammed to this for a little while.
12. Billboard Supermodel- Johnny Whitney
Blood Brothers had a few of my friends in college under their spell in a major way. The first time I heard their music, I really just couldn’t do it, due mostly to lead singer Johnny Whitney’s voice.
This tune would allow me a different appreciation of their music later on though.
Here, Whitney performs a manic, uncommonly specific, and maybe even poignant, indictment of American consumer culture… or something like that?
It’s a unique song, to be sure, and 8 years after hearing it for the first time, I still think it’s pretty solid.
13. Relief- Sam Amidon
This is just a beautiful piece of music.
This is the song you put on just after waking up in the middle of October— when the heat has just kicked on in your apartment, but you still need a cup of tea too, for that extra bit of warmth.
This is the soundtrack to staring out your window, in appreciation of the varying shades of earth tones that now color the leaves— a soundtrack that makes you very quickly forget about doing anything remotely productive with your day.
14. Anne- John Frusciante
Yes, this is a solo cut but Red Hot Chili Peppers guitar player, John Frusciante.
A more-than-capable vocalist (and about 15 gazillion times better than Anthony Kiedis), Frusciante has released a number of solo albums over the years that feature quirky, yet heartfelt songs such as this one.
I’m not gonna lie, I’m here mostly for the barn-burning, dueling guitar solos that close this thing out, but the song is great as a whole too.
15. Beth/Rest- Bon Iver
I feel like a lot of people jumped *off* the Bon Iver train when the original version of this song came out. I don’t agree with those people, but I can appreciate the fact that they were shocked, hearing something so out-of-box coming from the dude who recorded, “Skinny Love.”
It’s funny too, because if you go back to listen to “For Emma,” is it REALLY that surprising that Justin Vernon would go on to wear his love for Bonnie Raitt and Bruce Hornsby on his sleeve?
I feel like this particular recording was perhaps an olive branch to the old fans, as if to say, “look, I can still do this!” It wasn’t necessary, but it is interesting, and ultimately, humbling, to hear such a rich piece of music, stripped down to absolutely nothing.
16. Animal Bar- Red Hot Chili Peppers
If the Chili Peppers got rid of Anthony Kiedis and just let John Frusciante sing, the world would be a better place.
I’m about 75% serious saying that, because though I don’t really care for him, I’ll admit that Anthony Kiedis has a moment, every now and again.
This song made the playlist back in the day due almost exclusively to the guitar heroics of Frusciante, who at this point, was in the nascent phase of his Robert Fripp hero-worship. Frusciante’s solo at the end splits the difference between Fripp’s playing on David Bowie’s album, “Heroes,” and Fripp’s solo on Brian Eno’s, “St. Elmo’s Fire?”
It’s a really arresting statement at the end of a song that’s otherwise, just okay.