Worst blogger of the month award?
That award certainly goes to this guy right here– please accept my humblest apologies, ye IndiePong faithful.
I wish I had good reasoning for my absence, but I don’t.
In any case, as penance, I’m offering up a particularly EXCELLENT playlist this month, so please, read on!
Also, for those who are reading for the first time, welcome.
These playlists which I’m re-visiting (and continuing to create) came about as a result of an idea I had back in January of 2010: an idea that woud 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 above!
1. Shine- Meek Mill
On one of his podcasts, as he was listening to Meek Mill’s music, I believe Joe Budden said something to the effect of, “Ooh, I love it— he’s making me feel like I’m struggling!”
One of the few modern mainstream rappers who holds my attention, Meek Mill’s lyricism and persistent truth is so brilliant that he has that rare ability— to make someone feel like they have a point of reference for what he’s talking about, even when they absolutely do not.
His delivery is effortless here— bordering on straight-up cocky. The beat is a masterwork, and as it’s so strong by itself, that Meek is really able to do whatever he wants over it, and still sound great.
I love this song.
2. Fantasia on Greensleeves- London Symphony Orchestra
This month got off to a ROUGH start for me, so I would listen to this, in an attempt to find myself in a better place.
Supremely relaxing, and beautiful to a fault, it’s a magnificent piece of classical music.
3. Ceiling Granny- Mogwai
This is some bow-legged ass shit, that’s probably knocked a few old folks’ dentures out.
I need its energy every single day of the week.
The basslines in here are mean, and the drummer most certainly played all of these parts with a little bit of a lean in his posture.
It’s swaggy, it’s tough, and it’s oh-so-delightful.
Give it full-volume.
4. Pyrocene- Genghis Tron
BPMHill and I wrote about this, as part of our column, and man… what a magnificent piece of music. An early contender for my 2021 top 10 list. Read our thoughts about it here.
5. Sad Mezcalita- Xiu Xiu & Sharon Van Etten
This is another barn-burner that I gave some shine to a couple of weeks back. You can read my thoughts here.
6. When we- Tank
This is some raunchy shit.
Favorite sub-basslines of 2017?
Found right here, folks.
7. Dogs Out- DMX
Very sadly, we lost one of the all-time greats this month.
I wrote a lengthy appreciation of, “Flesh of my Flesh, Blood of my Blood,” just over a year ago, and it was so sad to see DMX pass the way that he did.
In light of his death, I went back through some of his songs, including this one, produced by College Dropout-era Kanye West.
Yes, you read that right, THE DOG and a young Kanye.
This is a low-key gem, and it makes me sad that there weren’t more collaborations between the two.
Both parties are fully in their bags here, and it’s a beautiful thing.
8. Voyage to Atlantis- The Isley Brothers
I’m here for Ernie Isley.
The most-criminally underrated of R&B guitar players?
I think so.
To be clear, Ron Isley’s vocal work, particular in the chorus, is a cut above anything else that was coming out at the time, but Ernie is really the star of the show here, with his pan-seared leads.
Verzuz reminded me of some great songs all throughout this month, and this was one of those.
9. Nothing Even Matters- Lauryn Hill and D’Angelo
Two of the greatest voices of their generation at the height of their respective powers?
Sign me up forever.
Shortly before, “Voodoo,” D’Angelo did this duet with Ms. Lauryn Hill, and it’s a breezy, effortless stunner.
10. All That- Tray Jack
I don’t know if Tray Jack ever had another hit after this, but man… I don’t know how I missed this, and how it didn’t blow up into something more.
There’s something very endearing to me about these kind of hype-up songs— I hear what Tray Jack is talking about, and I can’t help but be inspired to go out and get it.
Adding to the inspiration is the beat, which will make you start feeling the best parts of your energy, the minute it goes through your headphones.
I have nothing but positive things to say about this. It’s a winner, through, and through.
11. Higher Love- Kygo & Whitney Houston
When I was a pre-schooler/kindergartner, if my mom had control over the home audio, she’d put on Bonnie Raitt, or Whitney Houston.
My siblings and I (unfairly) teased her mercilessly for enjoying Bonnie Raitt, so that meant that we’d mostly, just listen to Whitney.
When I found out a week or two ago that, “Higher Love,” was a Whitney Houston song, I kind of lost it, because I had no idea.
I then lost it again, because this remix works really, really, well.
Mashing up a modern-day electronic artist with an oldie is not always a recipe for success. In some instances, it’s quite the opposite. Thankfully, this is a cut above everything else, and also, a really great song to draw to.
12. Ooh La- The Kooks
Were The Kooks hot for a minute?
When I found out they were the band behind this one, I vaguely recalled them for senior year of high school/freshmen year of college times, but I couldn’t tell you a single song of theirs.
This is one of those songs that’s just a lot of fun.
The chorus here is as magnificent an ear-worm as I’ve heard in recent memory, and it’ll put a little swagger in your step. The blend of acoustic and electric guitars is also really top-tier, particular during the last chorus.
13. Night Time- The xx
You know how you’ll be out sometimes, and a song will come on that’s so striking, you just have to Shazam it?
This was one of those songs for me.
It’s a moody little number— perhaps, bordering on melancholic? Idk, it’s not something you’d necessarily think would be on inside of a bar, but, so it went for me.
In any case, it’s a sharp number with a nice build, and a breathy vocal performance. I’m with it.
14. God be With You- The Cranberries
Recently, I’ve been obsessed with half-remembered movies from my childhood, that I wasn’t old enough to see, when they came out.
Whenever I come across them on Netflix, Stars, etc. I develop this kind of obsession with them for a day or two, and I just have to sit down and watch them.
A week ago, it was, “The Devil’s Own,” starring Brad Pitt, and Harrison Ford.
Not at all a good movie, BUT it did contain this heater from The Cranberries.
For those who don’t know, original movie specific tie-in songs were THE THING back in the 90s, and because of a not-so-good, late-career, Alan J. Pakula effort, we got this jewel.
I’m calling it a win.
15. True Colors- Cyndi Lauper
As sad as I am to say this, I did not know this was a Cyndi Lauper song, until this past weekend.
Horrible, I know.
As someone who was 10 years old, when the Phil Collins version came out, I suppose I just assumed that his was the OG version, and that Cyndi had covered it?
Irregardless, here, the original is certainly the better song.
I like Lauper’s voice better than Collins’, and the instrumentation is better too.
16. When I’m Small- Phantogram
I like this song a lot, because it strikes me as a mix between mid-90s Beck and Portishead— two winners.
The boom-bap drumbeat, and the ethereally vocal performance from Sarah Barthel come together effortlessly to create a tune that’s equally great for low-key lounging, and grooving.
The closing moments that build to the climax manage to sound both epic and understated, which might be physically impossible, but that’s what I hear.
17. 4,3,2,1- LL Cool J, featuring Method Man, Redman, DMX & Cannibus
This song is so famous, that I don’t feel like I need to speak on it.
It came to my attention again, due to the Verzuz battle between Method Man and Redman on 4/20.
In addition to being just an all-out, awesome performance, I feel like it justified my belief that Redman is really the best that we have.
If you’ve not yet seen the show, look it up and marvel at someone who just turned 50 blowing the doors off of anyone who ever though they had it.
The man is a legend.
18. Conversation in the Dark- John Legend and David Guetta
I’m not gonna lie, when this came across my radar, I was HIGHLY skeptical.
I’m not someone who would pair these two, and considering the musical stylings of Mr. Guetta, I was worried his contribution would thoroughly overwhelm what John Legend brought to the table.
Thankfully, I was wrong.
The chorus is a lot, and for a split second, it made me pause to be like, “really?” but I got over that really quickly, and just let myself love it.
This is also, an excellent song to draw to. I’m with it.