Hello and welcome!
Alright, here we are for Tuesday Time Machine Week 17, featuring my monthly playlist from December of 2015.
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. Frosty the Snowman- Cocteau Twins
I’ve been listening to this song since I was 7 years old, but I don’t think I really came to love it, till I was 28.
Radiohead was right then, yeah? True Love Waits?
Ooh… these are the jokes, folks.
In any case, who better to sing a Christmas song than Liz Fraser?
No one, that’s who.
2. Ante Up- M.O.P.
One of my great unfulfilled fantasies in life is a scenario in which someone asks me what the rules are to something.
Naturally, my response, will be, “back ‘em down.”
Hopefully, a like-minded friend nearby will get the joke, and then pipe up with, “next thing?” to which I’ll respond with a more forceful, “BACK ‘EM DOWN,” thereby, thoroughly confusing whoever asked me the question, but hopefully, making everyone laugh.
The reality of the situation is, nobody probably knows this song well enough to think that’s funny, and this is why I can’t have nice things in life.
3. Devil in a new Dress- Kanye West featuring Rick Ross
But at the same time, is Kanye’s hypocrisy REALLY that surprising, if people have been paying attention?
From day 1, Kanye has wanted nothing more than to rap just like Ma$e, so the fact that he left his old music to follow God, is really no surprise because…
Well, that’s exactly what Ma$e did.
Ma$e is a better rapper than Kanye, but this is still a PRETTY good song. Apparently, Rick Ross sees this as one of his best verses ever, and I think that’s fair.
4. Coffee- Miguel
And here it is:
The PERFECT pop song of 2015.
This song has the power to make you move across the country to fall in love with some girl you haven’t seen in three years on the OFF-CHANCE that you get two get to share in the specifics of the, “vibrant hues,” spoken of here.
At least, I think so– didn’t end up pulling the trigger on that one.
Anyways, this is Miguel’s, “Purple Rain,”— he may well never record a more brilliant kaleidoscope of color, and that’s okay, because this song needs to stay in people’s hearts until the end of time.
5. Kicks- FKA Twigs
I feel like I’ll only be able to do so many posts about the outrageous, and all-encompassing power found within an FKA Twigs vocal performance.
This is her singing from a place that’s more restrained, all things considered, but it’s no less striking.
It kinda reminds me of a Homogenic-era Bjork track in its own weird way… Would love to see the two of them collaborate.
6. 25 Bucks- Danny Brown featuring Purity Ring
I went through a bit of a Danny Brown phase when I was in Minneapolis, due mostly to the jaw-dropper that is his song, “Fields.”
I remember being disappointed with, “Old,” as a whole, but I thought this song was a pretty impressive piece of work, and I still like it.
7. Crossing the Rubicon- The Human Abstract
One of my best friends I’ve made in the last 6 years, Mr. Jafet Malendez put me onto this song.
His taste in music is really particuar— loves reggae, EDM, and ska, but also has a soft spot for metal.
Big, big, fan of the Offspring and Kiss too.
In any case, I feel like I thought this was Dillinger Escape Plan the first time I heard it, due to the vocals, but it’s not.
Of note here is the particularly incredible melodic passage towards the end, that serves as the cherry on top of a piece of classic balls to the wall metal.
8. In the Bleak Mid-Winter- James Taylor
Goddammit, James Taylor.
Idk, maybe this song isn’t actually that great, but I really do believe that it is.
Listening to this, you feel like you’re in a small midwestern cottage, looking out the window at a frozen lake. You’re heated only by the dying embers in the fireplace in front of you, and the last bit of hot chocolate in your mug.
This song speaks to solitude for me, but it comes from a place of warmth too.
In any case, light a candle, get a drink, and let yourself melt into your couch as you watch the lights on your Christmas tree while listening to this.
It’ll probably be pretty good.
9. 10. 1777, Cheyenne- Russian Circles
Continuing with the moody winter theme, we have Russian Circles, doing a somewhat dialed back version of their signature death march.
There’s a lot of depth here, and I can’t help but imagine revolutionary war soldiers slogging through an extra epic winter snowstorm listening to this.
I suppose that’s not a pleasant thought, but there’s smoke on the horizon, coming from a friendly camp, and they’ll be able to warms themselves by the fire soon enough.
At least, I think so.
Mike Sullivan gets some great tones out of his guitar here in a couple of spots— almost makes them sound like a horn section, which is pretty neat.
11. strawberry swing- Frank Ocean
Some sunshine is needed after the gloomy slog of the previous few tracks, and this speaks to that, at least somewhat?
Mr. Ocean is singing about the end of the world, so maybe not.
I think gratitude overwhelms anything negative here though, so even though he’s talking about the apocalypse, you can’t help but feel thankful for the good things that have shown up in your life.
12. Losers- Weekend (featuring Labrinth)
This song is actually not really my cup of tea anymore, but I remember digging the horn bit at the time.
13. Chickenhead- Project Pat featuring LaChat, Juicy J, and DJ Paul
Shortly after college, there was a point at which Project Pat was probably my favorite rapper, and this is probably his most well-known song?
Idk, this is just a great song.
14. Kerosene- Baroness
The musical oasis of PURE NIRVANA that the band happens upon around the 3:39 mark may well have almost brought me to tears the first time I heard it.
Is there anything in the history of psych metal that sounds anymore more like LITERAL sunshine? There’s a mellotron creeping in the background there (I’m pretty sure) because Dave Friedman of Flaming Lips fame produced this, and that’s what we call a PRO MOVE.
In any case, even amongst the most bleak midwest December days, I think you’d be hard-pressed to not feel the warmth of the sun while listening to this, even if you can’t see it.
15. Hallway- Hank Shocklee
Yes, this is THAT Hank Shocklee— of The Bomb Squad fame.
This serves as the backdrop for a particularly tense scene towards the climax of, “American Gangster.” Though it’s just short of 2 minutes, it’s no less potent than anything twice its length.
16. Sunshine- Pusha T featuring Jill Scott
Arguably, the best song off of Pusha T’s, “Darkest Before Dawn,” album?
I appreciate him going out of box here, doing a political commentary, and Jill Scott’s vocals are both impassioned and beautiful.
17. Blood and Thunder- Mastodon
I know that this is Mastodon’s, “Enter Sandman,” and while it’s definitely a good song, I don’t know if it’s THAT good?
Don’t get me wrong, I like it, but I definitely have to be in the mood for it.
Of note here (as is the case with most every song on Mastodon’s first three albums) are Brann Dailor’s drum patterns, which… boy, oh, boy, masterful, masterful, masterful.