Hello and welcome!
Alright, here we are for Tuesday Time Machine Week 9, featuring my monthly playlist from October of 2020.
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. Anthem- Rush
I feel like some people hate on Rush because they like to STUNT.
The outrageously dexterous rhythmic interplay between Geddy Lee and Neil Peart during the song’s introduction is… a lot, but it’s also, fully delightful.
Both men play with a confidence here that’s unparalleled. For Lee, it borders almost on arrogance, as he’s playing that bassline WITH HIS FINGERS.
Essentially, that’s a taunt to us mere mortals, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
2. Brand E- John Frusciante
Last week, one of the world’s most electrifying guitar players dropped an album full of tunes in the mold of mid-90s UK Jungle music.
Yes, we’re speaking of THAT John Frusciante, the guitar player from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Sometimes, forays into unfamiliar forms don’t yield the best results for people of Mr. Frusciante’s ilk, but he bucks the trend here.
Smoking for about four minutes straight, the song officially kicks into gear with a sample of someone saying, “give me a motherfucking breakbeat.”
3. Afrika (Live)- Russian Circles
This is a live version of the best tune from Russian Circle’s best album, 2016’s, “Guidance.”
I wrote a full review of that album earlier this year, and I had the following to say about, the studio version of this song:
“One of the more striking, and generally humbling piece of music recorded in the 21st century, “Afrika” is a towering thing. I’ll know that I’ve found my wife if she agrees to let the wedding party stroll down the aisle to the sounds of the song’s first 2 minutes and 38 seconds. It’s an exotic piece of music, best enjoyed with headphones at full-volume: alternating blinding, and earth shaking.”
This lacks some of the studio version’s drum flourishes, but it makes up for that with the added sense of presence and scale that you can only really get with live music.
4. Daedalus (Live)- Deafheaven
Idk, y’all— sometimes, you just need some sun-baked guitar lines, screaming, and (I think?) tambourine.
This was the first song that Deafheaven recorded for their demo, and this version benefits from a fresh coat of paint, courtesy of producer/engineer Jack Shirley, and the playing of super-human drummer deluxe, Daniel Tracy, who was not a part of the original recording.
This is a brutal piece of whiplash, but if you need to work through some shit, it’s a top-drawer tune to help with that process.
5. Mean Street- Van Halen
“Fair Warning,” was the first Van Halen album I ever bought, and no matter what, this will always be one of my favorite tunes by them.
From the rapid-fire tapped harmonics that open the song, to the menacing main riff and the swag-fest that is the song’s guitar solo, this is the sound of the band firing on all cylinders.
I love it, I love it, I love it.
6. This Link is Dead- Deftones
A couple of years ago, I recall reading an article where a music journalist said something to the effect of, “by now, Deftones and their fans understand that they do two things: beauty and brutality. Perhaps, somewhat begrudgingly, both parties realize that at this point in their career, they do the former better than the latter.”
I expect the band read that, and perhaps, they felt some kind of way about it.
If so, this song was most likely recorded in the interest of saying, “Oh, yeah?”
This is pissed-off, manic, and borderline, deeply-troubling, but I love it.
There’s skill in communicating such anger and disgust while still considering rhythm and the groove, and here, the band does so with flying colors.
Bump this as catharsis, or put it on when you want to clear a room out. Either way, its an A1 statement by a band making their best music, 30 years into their career.
7. Descending- Tool
Tool’s, “Lateralus,” came out when I was 13 years old, which was probably the perfect time for me to first really get exposed to their music.
I wouldn’t count myself amongst their most hard-core fans, but I do like what they do more often than not, and I’ll check out whatever they put out.
Save for the title track, their album from last year left me fairly ambivalent after giving it a week or so. Thankfully, a couple of people told me I should give it a re-evaluation, and I did so, earlier this month.
This isn’t my favorite song on the album, but there’s a lot of really, really, great stuff here. Maynard’s vocal performance is strong as always, and Adam Jones who doesn’t REALLY play guitar solos, stretches out to do his signature displaced, laser-beam spasms, or whatever you’d like to call it.
Like the album as a whole, this song is an investment, but it’s worth it.
8. Badd- Ying Yang Twins featuring Mike Jones and Mr. Collipark
After all that metal, a palette cleanser is in order, yeah?
People clown on Mike Jones, but I think he’s kind of great. Some of his punchlines in here border on… corny, but this is a song you get freaky too, not something you listen to for the lyrical acrobatics.
Plus, who isn’t looking for a dime?
9. Grillz- Nelly featuring Paul Wall, Ali, and Gipp
Again, not a lyrical masterclass, but I CHALLENGE you to forget the chorus on here.
Chances are, you memorized a lot of the words to this song when it first came out, and you’ll remember them just as quickly, once you start listening again.
Also, tangentially, the, “Paul Wall’s MySpace,” video?!
Either the best, or the worst, you decide.
10. Say What You Want- Pj Vegas
Big shouts to Mates and Classie Cassie, as they put me onto this on Indigenous People’s day, earlier in the month.
This may well contain the sub-bass victory of 2020? The entirety of the chorus on here is 100% magnificent to boot— both beating Miguel at his own game, and featuring some chipmunk vocals snippets that would delight both mid-90s RZA, and early 2000s Kanye.
I appreciate the beauty that’s been injected into modern R&B over the last five(ish) years, and this continues the upward trajectory of that which is sonically, gorgeous.
11. First Day of my Life- Conor Oberst
Somewhere, my brother is shaking his head (maybe), and Classy Cassie is fist-pumping (maybe?)
I discovered this track thanks to her, “Days,” playlist/column that she and Mates put together a couple of weeks ago.
This is just a generally pleasant tune, with some really clutch note choices, by whoever’s playing upright bass.
It’s also, REALLY good for pre-noon tea sipping.
12. This House is Full of Water- Thrupence
I’d never heard of these folks until a couple of weeks ago, when they came over the speakers in the bike shop that my buddy, Sam, and his wife, Kelly, own.
This definitely has gone on repeat during drawing hours, and it’s probably one of my favorite instrumental jams that I’ve come across this year. It’s a searching piece of music, one whose melody communicates hesitancy or sorts, before resolving toward optimism.
I heard it in the afternoon, but this is a song for the evening– something for when most people are beginning to wind down, but you’re just getting started.
13. gr4- Autechre
I expounded pretty thoroughly on my love of Autechre’s music last week, so I don’t feel the need to go back-to-back on that.
This is a fantastically-layered, constantly-mutating, exercise in color.
Here, strings of pinkish-orange light light dance atop each other, falling in and out sync with no rhyme or reason, alternately, expanding and contracting.
This is my go-to meditation song right now. I’ll loop this for 15 or 20 minutes, and then fall asleep.
It’s very blissful.
14. Abandoned- Rod Wave
For my money, Rod Wave is the best artist out right now, under the age of 25.
Blessed with an uncommon, arresting, and outrageously powerful voice, he’s wildly prolific, and I’ve yet to grow sick of his music. Lyrically, he reveals a vulnerability uncommon for his age, and within the popular confines of the genres he works in.
I’m hoping we have a great many years of him making music.
15. Outlaw Band- Jason Boland & The Stragglers
All hail, Jaid Jacobsen.
Jaid’s name has popped up in here before, and for those who don’t know, he’s one of my dearest friends that I made in college.
Jaid knows that I don’t REALLY go head over heels for country music. He also knows what I like with regards to music in general, so he’s very carefully curated things for me over the years, and earlier in the month he blessed me with this low-key cooker.
Come to think about it, there’s not really anything low-key about this, I guess. The violin solo here is one of the most expressive, and joyous musical statements I’ve heard in a country tune, and I MIGHT sit down to crib some of those licks for my guitar playing.
Special note must also be made of Boland too, who has an authentic country voice, and doesn’t sound like he’s putting on, unlike some of his contemporaries.