THE MOMENT YOU ALL HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR: Sunday Monday Tuesday George’s 21 Best Songs of 2021

I know there has been some concern within the hallways of the venerated Indie Pong office about my lack of… contribution as of late.

Fear not though, because I’ve returned with my BEST write-up of the year: one in which I lace your Spotify with my top 21 songs of 2021.

This is a challenge every year, and I had to make some hard calls here…

No Between the Buried and Me representation? Nothing from Adele, or… Drake?

Drake will actually NEVER make my end of the year list, so let’s just shut that shit down right now.

In any case, after careful consideration, I’ve arrived with my list. There’s no order here, I’ve simply sequenced things below in a way that made for the most enjoyable listening experience. I’d encourage not shuffling.

1. Passage- Rafael Seyfried

Did I stumble across a more delightful winter anthem this year?

I don’t think so.

I spent many nights at my drafting table, writing or drawing to this piece of music, and I can’t compliment it highly enough.

Effortlessly beautiful, if not melancholy, there is both whimsy and hope creeping out from under the rug here— something that ultimately speaks to optimism, and a sincere belief that things will get better.

It’s wonderful.

2. Sandman- ASAP Rocky

When it comes to ASAP Rocky rapping, I can take it or leave it. That said, I have no doubt in my mind that we will look back upon Clams Casino as one of the early 21st centuries great sonic architects, and here, his work is in very fine form. 

What can be said about this beat that hasn’t been said already? Here, Rocky may well have been so in awe of the production, that he blessed the track with the patented* “Get em Girls,”-era, Cam’Ron Harlem flow. 


3. Lord I Need You- Kanye West

Truthfully, there are four or five cuts from Donda that could have graced this spot, but as the song’s last 40-some odd seconds rank amongst the greatest thing Kanye has ever given us, I think it needs to be this one.

The closing section of this tune reveals Kanye at perhaps his most vulnerable? Bringing nuanced, delicate communication to life in a song, is a tricky thing to do well, and Kanye’s note choices, combined with his delivery make for an incredible masterful statement.

This is heartfelt shit.

4. Pyrocene- Genghis Tron

Man, this is just like the best thing that’s ever come down the pipe.

Apparently, non-electronic drums are new to the proceedings for Genghis Tron, and the way in which they situate themselves amongst an army of synthesizers is nothing short of glorious.

Truth be told, I’ve been afraid to listen to anything else from this album because this song is so damn good. I know I should, and I will soon, but I’m fearful that the other songs will fall short of this tune’s brilliance.

5. GERONIMO- Trippie Redd and Travis Barker featuring Chino Moreno

I believe my brother might have initially refused to listen to this on principle, due to Trippie Redd’s involvement. I’m hoping he eventually relented, but this is an A-1 slice of widescreen, shoegaze bliss.

Can you hear all of my favorite colors from a desert sunset?

I can.

There’s pink, off-brand orange, deep purple, blue blue, ore, sand, and a flash of white.

If this song was embalming fluid, I’m trying to smoke, and that’s probably the nicest thing I can say about a piece of music.

6. Sad Mezcalita- Xiu Xiu & Sharon Van Etten

I feel like this is the soundtrack that wasn’t for one of Gomez and Morticia’s tango dance routines circa the 1990s Adams Family movies.

You can hear it, can’t you?

This is both spooky, and gorgeous. It’s a perplexing piece, taking into consideration the specifics of its switches, but I’ll be damned if it’s not a hypnotic, sublime piece of music.

7. Xiu- Yu Su

Me and Mates have been cool in 2021, after some beef involving— uh… Timber Ridge?

Look, I still don’t know what a Timber Ridge is. Sounds like all the trees got cut down to line the pockets of some fat cats.

Strange, considering the school didn’t even have a locker room?

Like really? The board couldn’t pony up for that?

Perhaps that’s what led to the Bessie Rhoads rebrand?

In any case, Mates put me on to this song, and it’s a monster.

In our conversation, he said it was an early song of the year contender, and it’s on this list for that reason.

Do you need the greatest song in existence for your next kitchen dance party?

Look no further, because this is it.

8. Marie- Lost Horizons featuring Marissa Nadler

No disrespect to the blonde-haired women (actually, all the disrespect to the blonde-haired women, cuz you all keep losing 😂😂) but dark-haired songstresses RULED THE ROOST this year, with Ms. Marissa Nadler and Ms. Chelsea Wolfe leading the pack, for the spooky summoning ritual set.

If you put this on Cocteau Twin’s, “Treasure,” back in 1984, it wouldn’t be out of place.


And this is not to say that Ms. Nadler seeks to emulate Ms. Fraser either. She simply understands the lane in which she’s cruising, and brings the most glorious of aspects of her ethereal voice to this: the perfect soundtrack for a nostalgic morning walk along a foggy beach.

9. Happy Birthday- Hospital Bracelet

This song has some SWAG and some MATH.

That might sound weird, because math can’t (or shouldn’t?) factor into swag, but that’s the best I have.

There’s probably a time signature in here that I can’t count, but there’s also some LEAN behind the drum kit, and some DOOM in those power chords.

This song changes up on a dime, and it’s all the more delightful for it. I hear shades of The Beths, and also Sleepy Sun, wrapped up in something that’s unique and fully comfortable being it’s own thing.

I can’t wait to dig into further into this band’s discography.

10. Straight Lines- VOLA

Folks, sometimes the Youtube algorithm throws you some bullshit.

But sometimes, it blesses you with a JEWEL.

This is an example of the latter.

A djent-y opening gives way to a key-change, proggy grandeur, and a MEAN, MEAN synth solo from this band who I’d heard nothing of until just a few short months ago.

It’s very rare that I have an, “oh, wow,” moment the first time I hear a song, but when that first chorus drops in here, I about lost it.

I can’t recommend this highly enough. Listen to it loud, and listen to it often.

11. Lonely- Sofia Valdes

I believe it was Karl who put me on to this one, so thank you Karl.

It’s not easy to make delicate sound effortless, but here, Ms. Valdes does so.

There’s a warmth about this song that makes me wonder about where it was recorded. If there was a fireplace crackling in a dimmed room, accented by saturated earth tones as Ms. Valdes sang, I wouldn’t be surprised.

There’s a nostalgia about this song that I appreciate as well. I’m not sure where that comes from, but it almost makes you long for a very particular loneliness one might encounter in the winter— something with a light at the end of the tunnel, that will arrive with spring.

In any instance, this is wonderful.

12. Easy- Pale Waves

THE Interlude/breakdown of 2021?

Found within the confines of this song.

From 2:06 to 2:16, we are treated to one of the year’s flat out MASTERSTROKES. A song that has previously been marked by its candy-coated bombast is stripped down to simply guitar and voice, recalling every great thing about the summer of 1999 that you’d forgotten until now.

You can literally HEAR the fireflies, vividly recall how gangster the final lightsaber fight in Episode I was, the specifics of playing Final Fight on the TV in your Cedar Point hotel room, AND…

Well, the list would get too long.

To be clear, this is just a great pop song too, but man— that ten-second stretch?

A monster.

13. Jitterbug Perfume- Sam Birchall

At 34, I find it more and more unlikely that anyone’s guitar playing is going to really blow me out of the water because— I’ve just heard it all at this point?

For the most part, yes, but then a player like Sam Birchall comes along, and flips everything on his head.

In my listening experience, devastating technical proficiency, unfettered expression, and pure joy are a tri-pronged unicorn: it’s uncommon that you’ll find all three within a lead player’s lines.

You can probably have two of them working for you if you’re really good, and most of people get by on one, or, perhaps, one and a half.

Mr. Birchall hits the hat trick though, managing to somehow fuse bluegrass, post-djent (did I just make that a thing?) jazz, and math into a blinding, beautiful concoction that’s 100 percent his.

His sense of melody is wildly adventurous, and the composition here has life that’s uncommon within such technically dazzling music.

This was one of my favorite things that I just happened to stumble across this year. I can’t wait to hear what he does next.

14. Crimson Stone- Converge & Chelsea Wolfe

Y’all— when this song explodes, it BLOWS UP.

The march to 3:58 is a murky, eerie trek in which Ms. Wolfe’s voice is in tip-top shape, with her collaborator Stephen Brodsky more than up to the task of both supporting, and responding to her words.

When Jacob Bannon enters the mix though, his howls offer the perfect launching pad for perhaps the most haunting vocal harmonies of the year, as Wolfe and Brodsky elaborate on his shouted statement(s).

This song is six minutes and 47 seconds long, and there’s a part of me that wants the whole song to encompass what we get from 3:58-4:45. 

I fully expect Ms. Wolfe is at least a sorceress part-time, and she’s found some very able-bodied collaborators in the legendary Converge.

As this comes from an album called “Bloodmoon: I,” I’m very anxiously awaiting what comes next from these folks.

15. X- Bicep featuring Clara La San

As I noted earlier in the year, I feel like this song has finally answered a long burning question of mine: “What might it have sounded like if Autechre continued forging the sound they established on, “Garbage,” and, “Tri Repetae,” as opposed to discarding it?”

The answer is, perfection, and this song can’t get enough spins.

16. Outside (Better Days)- MO3 and OG Bobby Billions

MO3 was tragically, murdered in late 2020, so this piece of music is all the more chilling and sorrowful in light of that.

Perhaps the most startling and powerful part of the song comes in the form of a short saxophone solo that closes the song out. Haunting and pleading, it leaves you feeling shaken, after the final note sounds.

17. Ritchie Sacramento- Mogwai

This was another tough one, because there are four or five other songs on this album that could have also made the cut, but we’re going with Ritchie.

Mates is the reason I gave this one a second chance, actually. When I first heard it, I didn’t really think much of it. Upon further listens though, I became more and more enamored with the fact that it was able to split the difference between sounding crystalline and warm with such little effort, to say nothing of the bulldozer bassline that pops up in the chorus.

Vocals are not a regularly occurrence in the band’s music, and here, they’re very, very, strong. It’s not the happiest piece of music perhaps, but there’s a particular kind of peace that I feel while listening to it, and I appreciate that.

18. Skyfall- SION

I’ll admit, I was skeptical of this collaboration, when I first heard about it.

A quote-unquote, “YouTube musician,” partnering with one of the greatest vocalists across ANY genre, for the last 20 years?

I just didn’t know.

Needless to say, when I heard the first single, I was sold hook, line, and sinker.

Jared Dines has done a tremendous job with the music on this album, managing to call to Jones-era Killswitch, while keeping things fresh within the formula.

And there is a formula— the verses tend to be rugged and raw, giving way to an explosion in the chorus that encompasses everything great about a 1,000,000 gigawatt sunburst. It works for the entirety of the album, and I’m here for it.

Jones voice is arguably at its most raw, and devastatingly beautiful here, and while pretty much any song from this album could have made the list, I think this one deserves a spot the most.

I’ll be playing this album well into next year, and I’m glad I gave it a chance.

19. Save Your Tears (Remix)- The Weeknd & Ariana Grande

I can’t stand the Weeknd, but here, he has Mrs. Grande in tow, so it’s all good. She’s hitting some of the best songbird notes of her career, and coming with some gorgeous vocal harmonies, so I’m all in.

20. Traitor- Olivia Rodrigo

I’ll admit, I was (wrongly) clowning this when I first heard about it.

One of my cousins who’s flag is planted firmly within camp Gen Z was breaking down this album, and I just couldn’t take the idea seriously.

An 18-year old, making a thoughtful, well-put-together album about a failed relationship?

I had JOKES, but as it turns out, the joke was on me, because this is a masterful piece of work.

What Ms. Rodrigo sings about on here is likely, universal. We all have probably had an ex who moved on a little too quick for our liking after the breakup, and there’s a very particular kind of pain and distrust that pops up, when it happens.

Ms. Rodrigo comes across as truthful and sincere here, and her performance left me feeling humbled.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing what she does next.

21. Mombasa- Deafheaven

Ooh, boy.

Closing out the playlist with what may well be the best song Deafheaven ever releases?

It’s the only way to go.

Found within here are some of the most beautiful vocal melodies and harmonies of 2021. The song’s bridge, one that leads to the catharsis of SCORCHED EARTH and blast beats, has no business being as beautiful as it is.

It’s something that leads you to believe all is safe, beautiful, and warm, before yanking the rug out from under you, and plunging you headfirst towards the planet’s molten core.

And the lyrics, when Mr. George Clarke finally begins to scream?

Worthy of a reflective essay penned by anyone who dedicated themselves to pursuing a creatives life during their 20s, I think:

“Travel now,

Where they can’t let you down,

Where you can’t fail them now,”

This song is a masterful movement, and I’m truly not sure if the band can eclipse what they’ve done here.

When the decade ends, this will most certainly be in the conversation for the top 10, and I’m looking forward to continuing to appreciate its brilliance.

Tuesday Time Machine: May 2020

Hello and welcome!

For those reading my column for the first time, these monthly 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, bi-weekly, 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!

May 2020

1. Different World- Iron Maiden

This number kicks off Iron Maiden’s 2006 album, “A Matter of Life and Death,” and what an opening salvo it is.

For an album fully of slower and proggy (albeit excellent) songs, this is the only tune that harkens back to Maiden’s glory days in the 80s. Its highlight is its triumphant, panicked chorus, one that make you want to attempt hit the notes Mr. Dickson is hitting.

2. You Make it Easy- Jason Aldean

I have it on good authority from my friend who really, really, likes country music, that this is, “superficial small-worldview trash pop,” but I can’t help but love this song.

It’s easily digested, and doesn’t require a lot of attention, but sometimes, when you’re out chilling by a body of water with a drink in hand, that’s all you need.

3. Falls Apart- Sugar Ray

I think I’m gonna get run off of this blog for putting this on here, but hear me out…

If you play this for someone whose childhood included the late 90s, see if it doesn’t get a reaction out of them.

Within seconds of hearing those opening chords, they’ll laugh, or they’ll smile, I guarantee you.

The summer of 1999? This shit OWNED pop radio, and when I hear it, I think only of sunshine, and being too young to understand just how great those childhoods summers were.

This will always be a winner.

4. Teenage Dirtbag- Wheatus

When I first heard this, circa 7th gradeish, I thought it was an unfathomably stupid piece of music.

That chorus? 


Thankfully, I’ve grown to realize the error of my eyes, and now recognize this as a slice of pop perfection.

The turntable scratches might not have aged too well, but the rest of it is pure gold.

Hate on it at your own risk, because it’s nothing short of a classic.

5. My Time- Zoey Dollaz featuring Gashi

Zoey Dollaz makes some solid tunes. Modern Miami rappers both confound and fascinate me, as some of them can really, really, rap, and some of them… can’t.

Mr. Dollaz is thankfully in the former camp, and this is a solid showcase for his storytelling abilities. I dig it.

6. Girl of my Dreams- Rod Wave

We all know that I believe Rod Wave will to save music for Gen Z, or something, right?

iTunes says I’ve played this song over 100 times in the last year, and I’m surprised that that number is not higher. This is prime, deep-concentration drawing music, and I love it.

7. Thingamajig- Miya Flock

Mates put me on to this one, folks.

He was PREACHING too.

And you know what?

This was worthy of his sermon.

This is one the most tremendous vocal performances I’ve ever heard, and probably the best vocal performance I heard in 2020 (even though this is from 2018).

This is a truly astonishing piece of music, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

8. In a Yard Somewhere- Bosse-de-Nage

This is a really uncomfortable/borderline-terrifying piece of music that you kind of have to be in the mood for.

That said, when you’re in the required mood, there’s actually nothing better in the world.

The section that kicks off at 4:22?

There has been nothing more perfect recorded in the last 10 years, for people who are going through it. 

If you’re ever in a place where you really want to allow yourself to be crushed just listen to that, and let it flatten you.

You might cry, but it’ll be great.

9. Embers- Elder

Did you miss Elder’s album from last year?

It was a towering, incredible achievement, that should probably be a part of your life.

This was probably my favorite song on the album? It fuses At-The-Drive-In and Thursday with early 70s Weather Report, and 80s King Crimson, which is essentially all that I want out of life.

10. I Have Nothing- Whitney Houston

I’ve gone on the record about how Whitney Houston’s music showed up throughout the earliest years of my childhood, so I won’t re-tread that.

I will say that this is my second or third favorite song from the soundtrack to, “The Bodyguard,” and it features a vocal performance that’s nothing short of top-tier.

11. Teenage Dirtbag- Sega Bodega & Dorian Electra

So, this is a lo-fi (Skype duet?) cover of the Wheetus song from earlier in the playlist.

And it’s great, right!?

Seriously, when I heard this for the first time, I thought it was genius. Full of bold decision-making, and two weirdo vocal performances, it’s a winner, through and through.

12. Fade Into you- Sega Bodega & Eartheater

Hate to say it, but this might be more successful than Mazzy Star’s original, in certain places?

It’s quite the achievement. I challenge you to not like it.

13. Limelight- Rush

This is kind of a classic, so I’m not sure that I need to go on at length about it.

For the uninitiated, Rush became superstars around this time, and this song got radio rotation and a music video.

The song is incredible as a whole, but the real showstopper is Alex Lifeson’s guitar solo— a wildly original cruise through the lane that Eddie Van Halen reigned over at the time. Here, Lifeson’s whammy bar, and harmonic work here at the very least rivals Sir Edward’s, and it’s a tremendous thing to hear.

14. Just Like Heaven- The Cure

Everyone loves The Cure’s unabashed pop songs, right?

If you don’t, check your pulse.

I feel like this is the perfect song for the beginning of summer— emblematic of the coming three month’s joy and sunshine.

Play it on Memorial Day Weekend, or else.

15. Won’t Back Down- Fuel

I’m not sure if you all are ready for this…

This is a song about Daredevil.

To be specific, Ben Affleck as Daredevil.

It was recorded SPECIFICALLY, for the movie’s soundtrack.

And man— if you could bottle everything that made early 2000s hard rock what it was for better or worse, it’s RIGHT HERE, in ALL of it’s glory.

If you want to hate on this, you can leave, because I’m not hearing it.

16. Raindrops- John Paesano

I liked season 2 of, “Daredevil,” on Netflix.

I know that’s an unpopular opinion, but I thought it was pretty solid.

Early on in the show, there’s a scene that’s soundtracked by this, and it’s kind of incredible.

Love it, and it will love you back.

17. Porcelain- Red Hot Chili Peppers

It pains me to pay Anthony Kiedis a compliment, but this is as good as he ever got.

This might be the best song from, “Californication”?

I think?

This will chill you out, and think heavy thoughts. In a beautiful way, but yes— something for the quiet moments.

18./19. Conveyor/boxes- Moses Sumney

I kind of refuse to discuss these songs in detail, because I really just want you to listen to them, and be 100% floored by how EFFING good they are.

Seriously. Just listen, and let yourself be bowled over.

20. Helter Skelter- The Beatles

There are days where I believe this to be The Beatles greatest achievement.

I’ll fight people on that one, too.

Let’s talk about Paul McCartney’s bass guitar tone on here.

He’s playing like he was trying to put Jack Bruce out of WORK.

Let’s run that back…

Jack Bruce.

Out of WORK.

It’s like his mantra for all 4 minutes and thirty seconds of this song were, “I’m only into bow-legged women these days.”

For the record, bow-legged women, you all run the show, so don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

Anyways, if you ever hand me the aux cord, and say you want to hear The Beatles, don’t get mad when this comes on, because I already told you what time it was, RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.

2+2 Reviews: Mother’s Day Weekend Edition (The Night Flight Orchestra, At the Gates, Kataan, Book of Wyrms)

Welcome to the Mother’s Day Weekend Edition of 2 + 2. I think every track here is PERFECT for every mom out there. At bare minimum, I expect every mom to jam hard to “White Jeans” from The Night Flight Orchestra, our first track to cover today. Stay tuned for tracks from Book of Wyrms, Kataan and At the Gates.

The Night Flight Orchestra – White Jeans

BH: If this song doesn’t make you want to put on a neon leotard for a workout, followed by a quick change into your finest pair of, well, white jeans for the evening, I don’t know what will.

I’ve been following The Night Flight Orchestra for a little while now, primarily because they have a terrific roster of metal musicians including Björn Strid of Soilwork and Sharlee D’Angelo of Arch Enemy. Check out my discussion of their album, Aeromantic, here:

They also have some of the catchiest AOR songs since Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”, Asia’s “Heat of the Moment” and Devo’s “Whip It”.

Tongue is firmly in cheek with this group.

It’s really a blast to see these musicians clearly having so much fun both in the songwriting and the music video they’ve made during the pandemic. It’s also clear they really enjoy this particular subgenre.

Even lyrically, this song in particular, fits perfectly for the time period they’re inspired by.

Here’s an excerpt of the chorus:

She wore white jeans
On the cover of a magazine
Now she’s standing here in front of me
White jeans, white jeans, white jeans

All I’m saying is this could have easily been in the film, WEIRD SCIENCE.

Anyhow, George, I’m curious what your take is on TNFO and their song “White Jeans”. Are you a fan of AOR or any of the synth-driven 80’s rock groups? Does this track remind you of any other songs?

GF: It’s funny, because as I was listening to this, I feel like it DID remind me of something very particular, but I just couldn’t recall it. They’re painting with a very particular set of 80s brushes for sure, and as you said in your comments, their tongue is firmly in their cheek.

That’s what I enjoyed most about this, actually: the fact that it allowed itself to be silly.

I love metal, and I always will, but when it allows itself to detour into something like this, something that’s self-aware, and fun, I’m all for it.

Re: 80s AOR and synth driven rock, that’s not necessarily something I’ve really made a great effort to explore. I’ve heard all of the standards that pop up on the radio, but I feel like the 80s stuff I enjoy tends to lean heavier towards the weird, or the new wave? When it comes to metal from that decade, Van Halen is great, I love Iron Maiden, those few first Slayer, Metallica, and Megadeth albums, but outside of that, I’m more in the lane of Talking Heads and King Crimson.

I’d not heard of these dudes at all, and I’m appreciative of you putting me on to them. Hearing this reminded me of how I felt when I first heard The Darkness, all those years ago. I expect I’ll be diving into their last album, later this week.

At the Gates – Spectre of Extinction

BH: At The Gates. What hasn’t already been said about this classic melo-death band? They can do no wrong in my book.

Their new song, “Spectre of Extinction” has just been unleashed and I’m an instant fan of this song. I’ve dug the band’s last two albums since reforming but if this song is any indication, we may be in for their best album since Slaughter of the Soul.

The intro reels us in with a softer, acoustic section and then hits you like a sledgehammer with that nasty lead guitar hook. This is very “Blinded by Fear” and that is a very good thing.

Also, Tomas is now in his 50’s (!) and his vocals sound as ferocious as ever.

“Spectre of Extinction” is one hellish, towering inferno of a song and will be a perfect live show opener when the band can tour again.

Kataan- Erase

GF: This song sounds evil.

And I love it for that.

Singer Nicholas Thornbury singers like he’s screaming into the most terrifying, rigid, scorched-earth canyon known to man. He’s in hell, and we’re right there with him.

It’s exciting.

Who do I hear in this song— shades of Scott Kelly, Wolves in the Throne Room, Deafheaven, and maybe a little Slayer too?

I don’t know. What I do know, is that I love it.

While it’s a somewhat understated part of the song, there are some clean vocals that crop up in a couple of sections that sound straight out of a monastery— a very particular contrast to the hellscape visuals that the rest of the song conjures.

Brandon, I know that you’re familiar with Brett Boland’s work outside of this collaboration, as you mentioned Astronoid, when last we spoke. Was this release on your radar at all? How does it stack up in comparison? Was there anything in particular about the song that stuck out to you, or if you felt like the music was painting a picture for you, what did you see in your mind’s eye?

BH: Yes! Love Astronoid and Brett’s work in general. I actually heard about Kataan just recently because Brett had posted about it on Facebook. Honestly, Kataan and Astronoid are really different and if I hadn’t known the connection already, I wouldn’t have likely figured it out from a first listen.

Whereas Astronoid is more airy and progressive in the riffs and songwriting, Kataan is more intense, darker and oppressive. Both are very atmospheric but on different sides of the fence.

I have to agree that this track is pretty evil. Not sure if it’s evil in a lyrical sense but certainly in the mood that it conveys.

Also, I have to say the second half of the song is where I really got hooked in. The meaty lead riff is great but man that break after the second round of clean vocals is insane. It makes me want to run into a stack of Macaroni boxes at the grocery store and not apologize for it. You know, something real nuts.

Anyhow, I can’t wait to hear the other songs on this EP and it’s great to see Brett trying something different.

Book of Wyrms- Albironlilly

GF: Okay, okay— I know it’s a little weird to highlight an interlude off an LP for a column like this, but this song has to get some shine.

As someone whose formal metal education involved a lot of early Black Sabbath, I feel some kind of way about acoustic numbers finding their way onto old school-sounding metal releases.

Outside of being sonically fascinating, considering how heavy everything else is, they can serve as a really cool warm-up (or, follow-up) to whatever was just heard, or, is coming next.

For example, on, “Master of Reality,” would, “Into the Void,” hit as hard as it did, were you not lulled into a false sense of security by, “Solitude,” beforehand?

The answer is 100% no.

For the most part, Book of Wryms is riding in the lane of contemporaries Pallbearer and Elder. They’re making some old school metal with stoner flavors, and maybe a little synth and or prog stuff thrown in for good measure.

That makes a song like this stick out like a sore thumb.

The music found here is completely instrumental, and effortlessly gorgeous— like a forgotten medieval tune, that could probably lull a baby to sleep, or conjure up memories of your greatest heartbreak.

At only two minutes, I wish it went on for another 5, but so it is.

I expect I’ll be putting this on playlists for many years to come. It’s wonderful.

(Friday) Tuesday Time Machine: April 2021 (Also, April’s Worst Indie Pong Staff Writer)


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!

April 2021

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.

2+2 Reviews: Late April 2021 (Perturbator, Epica, Spirit of the Beehive, Dry Cleaning)

Perturbator – Dethroned Under a Funeral Haze

BH: Perturbator’s first full length album in five years, Lustful Sacraments, is dropping in June.  The two singles that have hit so far have been some of his bleakest and darkest synthwave tracks to date.  

I was first introduced to James Kent AKA Perturbator with a super cool remix he did for Cult of Luna.  

His style contains notes of John Carpenter meets Vangelis a la Blade Runner.  You know, think pitch black sky, neon signs, big city synth-y vibes.

“Dethroned Under a Funeral Haze” feels like an expedition through the dreary, rain soaked streets of LA in 2040.  It feels futuristic but not too far away.    

The vocals used sparingly here remind me of Robert Smith’s on a particularly depressing day.  

The songwriting overall on this track is still very much in line with what Perturbator has been doing on his other releases, but also injects a bit of what makes some of the post metal groups like Cult of Luna tick.

I do think this is a grower of a song but I’ve given it probably fifteen spins so far and it has only continued to become more interesting on each listen.  I can’t wait to hear the full album.

George, are you familiar with Perturbator’s work?  Are you a fan of dark synthwave in general?

GF: You were actually the person who put me on to them! I think it was March, or February of this year that you sent me their music? 

In any case, you hit the nail on the head with your descriptor of, “John Carpenter meets Vangelis a la Blade Runner.”

This is not especially uplifting, or happy music, but that’s okay, because ooh, boy– the atmosphere, the atmosphere, the atmosphere.

I can appreciate the Robert Smith comparison too. Strangely enough, when I first heard this, it kind of struck me as like a very dark detour for the James Bond theme song, “The Living Daylights,” that 80s superstars A-ha, did?

I’m sure absolutely no one else is going to feel that way, but yeah… if Morten Harket was having a real bummer of a day, I feel like he’d be singing something along the lines of this.

Regarding dark synthwave, I can’t say that it’s a genre I’m super familiar with. We might have to have a sidebar conversation where I get some recommendations from you, because both of the tunes that you’ve shown me from Mr. Kent hit nicely for me.

Epica – The Skeleton Key

Epica is a band I’ve known of for years and despite loving Nightwish, Blind Guardian and others in the symphonic metal scene, I just haven’t ever given them a proper chance.

Enter “The Skeleton Key”.  

This track really puts the epic in the band’s name.  This is a super catchy, well written and orchestrated track.  

It does bring to mind a song like “Nemo” from Nightwish but with some harsh vocals, mixed in with the beautiful operatic vocals from Simone Simons.  I really like her vocal lines here and she has terrific range.  

The piano intro is strong and a great way to start off the song.  Really beautiful stuff.

There’s also some solid riffage in here too, especially towards the back half of the song.  It’s a nice balance of both light and heavy.  

If I chose one song to listen to while slaying some orcs in a forest, this might be it.  In all seriousness though, the chorus in particular has a way of staying in my head for days and I’ll definitely be returning for some more Epica.     

Spirit of the Beehive – There’s Nothing you Can’t do

GF: Full-disclosure, I was fully ignorant to this band’s music until a day ago or so, but I’m pretty much 100% on board now that I’ve discovered them.

This doesn’t fall into the confines of what we usually write about over here as it’s ostensibly a pop song, but I’m inclined to include it, because of how experimental and outright… WEIRD it is?

It also, low-key, shifts into an almost NIN-type dirge for the last third of the proceedings– one that includes some shouted vocals, so I feel like it gets some credit in that department.

In any case, what drew me to the song outside of its generally experimental nature is the fact that it flirts with, and perhaps, outrights LEANS into dissonance in some of its melodies.

A guitar figure that runs through about the first two thirds of the song has a few chromatic notes in it that plays against the really pleasant vocal leads in an mildly uncomfortable, but delightful way. 

It’s like an appetizer to the full-on chaos and terror that defines the song’s home stretch, and I appreciate the subtle nature of that build.

Brandon, I know you hadn’t heard of these folks either, so I’m curious to hear what your knee-jerk reaction was to hearing their music. What elements immediately stuck out to you, upon first listen? In terms of the song’s structure, do you think the payoff of the closing section was earned? What were your favorite moments or elements?

BH: I think right out of the gate I appreciated just how weird this song is.  

As you mentioned, it’s pop but only kinda.  It’s not really structured in a traditional way and there are some experimental almost avante-garde touches here.  

I didn’t quite know what to make of it all initially but I dig what they’re doing.  After several spins, it started opening up a bit more to me.

Regarding your question on the payoff, I do think it was earned and like you, I greatly appreciated the subtle build and the shift right at the end.  The song is unsettling throughout but as it gets towards the climax, it gets damn near terrifying.  

As in, I could totally see this being a jam for Buffalo Bill.

The songwriting actually reminds me a little of what Greg Puciato is doing at the moment with some of his solo work.  There are some abstract pieces in here and it can feel a bit uncomfortable at times, but it comes together in a satisfying way. 

Dry Cleaning – New Long Leg

GF: So, this is the title cut from, “Dry Cleaning’s,” debut album, released by legendary label 4AD. Previously, I’d not heard of them, but I’ve liked what I’ve heard.

The band’s sound occupies a lane that seems inspired equally by Blondie, Talking Heads, and 80s King Crimson. The guitars here sound almost exactly like Adrian Belew’s and Robert Fripp’s work circa 1981-ish, and you’ll find no complaints from me.

Structurally, some of the riffs flirt with what those gentlemen were doing too, but not in a way that’s derivative. The rhythms don’t ever get knotty in the way that some of those King Crimson songs did, and they’re propulsive in a way that makes me want to cook something?

I feel like that probably sounds strange, but hearing this, I feel like it’s kinda what I want to have playing in the kitchen if I’m trying to groove while I chef.

The vocals, courtesy of Florence Shaw, are delivered without any real sort of enthusiasm, but that strikes me as very intentional. To be clear, it’s tremendous, as she’s able to make droll delivery gel so successfully with the rest of what’s going on. It kinda reminds me of some of what Lou Reed used to do, the difference being that Shaw is British, so you get that accent in there too, which gives things a nice added bit of dimension.

Bottom line, it’s a great tune, and I can’t wait to dive further into the rest of their album.

Tuesday Time Machine: April 2014

Hello and welcome!

For those reading my column for the first time, these monthly 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!

April 2014

1. To the World- Kanye West, R. Kelly, Teyana Taylor

Yow. Starting off with an R. Kelly feature?

We can pretend it’s Tank singing instead?

Tank is a better singer than R. Kelly, let’s go with that.

2. Get Closer- Moonstone Continuum

This was the closing song from the second album of one of my favorite Minneapolis bands.

Sean, one of my best friends I made in college, plays keyboards and contributes background vocals on here, and I love almost everything about this song. I’m particularly fond of the guitar solo towards the end of the song— an effortlessly beautiful, simple, and frame-able statement.

Jon Nielsen is the man who played said solo, and I actually got to have drinks with he and Sean, shortly before I left Minneapolis for good.

Mr. Nielsen was certainly my local guitar hero while I was living up there, and I was very thankful for the opportunity to compliment him on his playing, before I left.

3. Wrathchild- Iron Maiden

I think this is the song that made me re-asses whether my boycott of Pre-Bruce Dickinson Iron Maiden was actually a reasonable thing.

This is a smoking piece of music all around, but let’s give a special round of applause to Mr. Clive Burr whose drum kit brings to mind a particular vicious, slithering snake. 

I’m here for it all day, along with the slash-and-burn guitar work that we’re treated to in the chorus.

4. Bronchusevenmx- Autechre

Is Garbage my favorite Autechre release?

It might be.

Idk— this was a go-to cut during my days of doing super serious meditation in my attempt to beat panic disorder.

It certainly helped. Listening to this with your eyes closed, you can’t help but imagine yourself in some small Japanese studio apartment, alternately blinded and humbled by the neon lights outside, illuminating your room.

The percussive aspects are raindrops, of course, striking against the window in a way that’s both random and consistent. 

This is deep trance music, and I can assure you that if you get through all 9+ minutes of this without opening your eyes, you will feel leveled out, and almost fully at peace.

It’s a powerful thing when music is able to do something like that, and I’m both in admiration and appreciation of this.

5. Scarface- Freddie Gibbs and Madlib

As I said a few weeks ago, I’m not really a fan of, “Piñata.”

I think it’s just okay.

This is FAR AND AWAY the greatest song on the album. It’s the first real song for a reason.

It’s 100% a monster.

Both Madlib and Freddie Gibbs are very comfortable in their lanes here, and… yeah, even though what Freddie Gibbs is rapping about is pretty terrifying, you can’t help but be entranced by the persistence of his truth and performance.

6. Africa- D’Angelo

This is the prettiest song off of, “Voodoo?”

“Untitled,” is more famous, but I feel like I’m probably going to listen to this more often.

The closing number from the album, this is like the ultimate wind-down at the end of a perfect day. This is a very beautiful piece of music, but there’s a playfulness about it too. 

I find it similar to Prince’s, “Adore.” There are a couple of very Purple one-like inflections sprinkled throughout it, and I think this is the song that finally made me understand the specifics of D’Angelo’s appreciation of his heroes music.

7. Hold On- Pusha T, Kanye West, and Rick Ross

Strange as it may sound, this is the song that helped me navigate the day of my grandfather’s death with perhaps, more grace than I might have otherwise.

I received a phone call, early in the morning with the news, and after taking that in, I got to work, because that seemed like the right thing to do. 

I don’t think I listened to anything else that day, and it’s difficult for me to speak about this song otherwise, because I can only really think about how it helped me get through that day.

8/9. Smokin and Leanin/No Way Out- DJ Screw & Botany Boyz, Al-D

The Winter of 2014 was BRUTAL in Minneapolis, and I feel like it probably made leaving the city a lot easier for me.

I slept in a bedroom that was quite spacious, but also had no heat.

This meant that I sat at my drafting table wearing 2 or 3 layers, and the same when I slept.

Add in the panic disorder I was working with at the time, and it was… challenging.

DJ Screw’s music threw me a lifeline though. It would send me somewhere else when I listened to it, and almost make me forget about JUST HOW COLD that winter was.

These are probably my two favorite songs from, “3 ’N the Mornin (Part Two),” and as they segue so effortlessly into each other, I’ve included both of them in here.

10. Holding my own- The Darkness

That first album by The Darkness may be an all-time great.

I know, I know— they’re not breaking the mold, and perhaps it’s just, “pastiche,” but it’s a masterful piece of work that I can’t help but enjoy start to finish.

This is one of the heavier ballads on the album, and I definitely used to throw it on, when I was in some kind of mood. 

The guitar solos on here are some of my favorite from the album, and this is just an all-around great tune.

11. March to the Sea (BBC Live Version)- Baroness

Summer of 2012, I got to see this played live at First Avenue in Minneapolis.

It was just before Yellow and Green was released, so it was my first time hearing the song, and I’ll never forget it.

While the studio version of this song is magnificent, this live version is probably the way to go at the end of the day.

There’s a forcefulness present here that just… perhaps got lost when the band recorded this in the studio. The break with the twin leads a la Thin Lizzy also sounds positively MOLTEN in this version, and I delight in imagining a creaky cauldron overflowing, setting fire to straw below it.

This is one that is best played loud.

12. Forty Six & 2- Tool

I’m not a Tool expert, but I feel like this is the song that established the blueprint they’d follow on, “Lateralus,” a few years later?

The exotic rhythm and melody work found within the opening passage is as pretty as anything that Tool has ever done, and the chorus is a real bone-crusher. There’s a bit of swag in there too, which I always appreciate within the confines of modern metal.

My buddy Dave pointed out late last summer that 70s metal was more about groove than outright speed, and I think that’s both a fair an astute observation. Tool is unafraid to embrace some of that history here, and I think that’s cool.

In any case, this is a top-tier entry for them, and it features some especially wild drum work from Danny Carey towards the end– perhaps the highlight of the song.

This is also best played loud.

13. Murder to Excellence- Kanye West & Jay-Z

The second half of this song is possibly one of my favorite things that Kanye every produced.

Sonically, it’s just full-on astonishing.

He and Jay-Z’s verses are fine, but I feel like they’re overshadowed by just how incredible Kanye’s work behind the boards is.

14. Back at One- Brian McKnight

I’ll go to bat for this song.


If you disagree, you’re wrong.

Or, perhaps, you just weren’t at the right age in the 90s when this came out.

But come on, folks— what’s not to love here?

I seem to recall reading that Brian McKnight was inspired to write this after going through the step by step process of programming his VCR?

I think that’s kind of great.

Also, the late 90s– can we just have them back already?

If time stopped December 31st of 1998, and we just didn’t really go forward from there, I’d probably be alright with it.

15. The Will to Death- John Frusciante

When it comes to the quiet songs that John Frusciante has written, I think this one takes the cake as his greatest achievement.

It’s a dead simple piece of music, defined by how naked and vulnerable it is.

It’s not a happy tune, but it manages to exude an optimism of sorts, which I find curious. I feel like it’s a song for sunrise or sunset— though probably the latter.

It also features a really lyrical, albeit understated, double-tracked guitar solo to close things out. I deeply appreciate the simplicity, and almost child-like nature of it. It’s something that strikes me as just so very honest.

We need more of that honesty in music.

Tuesday Time Machine: March 2021

Hello and welcome!

For those reading my column for the first time, these monthly 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!

March 2021

1. Passage- Raffael Seyfried

March is becoming my least favorite month of all time, so I’m thinking that’s why I have to make sure my playlist is extra good for the month.

This is beautifully calming, and relaxing. I feel very fortunate that it found its way onto my radar, and I have to give jpeg a shoutout, because I found this via his Instagram.

I’m appreciative of folks like Mr. Seyfried who record things like this, to soothe our nerves. It makes all the difference in the world.

2. The Conjurer- Insomnium

I wrote about this last week as a part of the column that BPMHill and I co-curate, so I’d urge you to read that, if you’re curious to hear my thoughts.

3. Born for One Thing- Gojira

This was also a song that BPMHill and I wrote about earlier in the month, so you can read my thoughts about it here.

4. Beam Ahhh- Dj Chipman

This powered many a drawing session this month.

Apparently, this is something that everyone from Miami knows about, but if you’re not from there, you might not.

In any instance it’s a joyful piece of music.

It brings to mind unrepentant sunlight, and the smell of the ocean that you can only really experience, down in Florida.

I’ve needed a vacation for several months now, and this allowed me to take several, within the confines of my mind.

5. Chemical Plant: Act 1- SEGA/Naofumi Hataya

Look— if you grew up with a Sega Genesis, you probably played Sonic 2.

If you played Sonic 2, you’d most likely agree that this was hands-down, THE most clutch piece of music that you’d hear, playing the game.

I’m not necessarily a video game music person, but I’m also not going to say that there weren’t JEWELS dropped back in the day of 16-bit glory.

Play this loud enough so that your neighbors are also forced to remember the glory of the early 90s too.

6. Diamond Veins (feat. Sarah Rebecca)- French 79

One day, a dark-haired, brown-eyed woman will enter a room while this song is playing, and it’ll be a wrap for Mr. George.


Maybe she’ll have green eyes– just not blue eyes, because they make me uncomfortable.

7. Stop in Time- Psychic Twin

Did you all know that Mates has been on an absolute ROLL this year, with regards to his music recommendations?

It’s true. Check out the Indie Pong playlist for 2021— you will be pleased.

This song is not technically from this year, but Mates made me aware of it this year.

It’s like Bjork by way of Stevie Nicks, and Grimes?

That might sound like a bit much, but it’s really wonderful. 

The synthesizers exude a magnificent warmth, and the vocal performance is both confident and commanding.

I really love it.

8. Ritchie Sacramento- Mogwai

I was not feeling this when I first heard it, but Mates saved the day, y’all.

He sent it along, and after giving it a second listen, I became obsessed.

The bass tone in the chorus is amongst my favorite things I’ve ever heard the band record.

This is saying something, considering how much real estate the basslines get within the band’s music.

In any case, the bassline manages to both strut, and bulldoze, which strikes me as uncommon. The melodies and the rest of the music are great too, but man, when that chorus hits, it’s like the Stay Puft Marshmallow man plowing through Manhattan— watch out.

9. Silent Restraint- Svalbard

I wrote about this is one of the latest column’s that I did with BPMHill, so you can read my thoughts here.

10. Sing for the Damage We’ve Done- Harakiri for the Sky featuring Neige

BPMHill put me onto this, and I expect one or both of us will talk it up in our next column.

In short, It’s a monster.

Check back in a week or two for a more detailed run-down.

11. All That I got is you- Ghostface Killah featuring Mary J. Blige

I’ll admit, “Ironman,” is one of the Ghostface solo albums that I hard a hard time getting into as a whole.

It has some INCREDIBLE songs on it, but I was always more of a “Supreme Clientele,” and “Fishscale,” guy.

As that’s so, I never really gave this song a fair shot, but after seeing it performed on the latest Versuz, I’m a convert.

If you’re in a mood, this song will bring tears to your eyes. The painterly, uncommon attention to detail that would become Ghostface’s calling card, is on full display here.

Even if you have no point of reference for the specifics of the struggle that he’s speaking to here, you feel his pain.

It’s an all-timer, and I’m glad that I got to have it in rotation this month.

12. City on the Map- Griselda featuring 50 Cent

I’m not gonna lie, I tuned into this the first time, mostly curious to hear how 50 would fare against the wordsmiths in the Griselda camp.

I was pleasantly surprised.

His verse isn’t necessarily the better of the two, but he sells it with his delivery, and the sheer force of his presence.

His voice seems to have changed a bit too, more gruff than it was in the past.

The beat sounds like something RZA would have cobbled together in 1995, and I mean that as a tremendous compliment.

Off-kilter, spooky, and foreboding, it’s one of my favorite pieces of production that I’ve come across in recent memory— a perfect sonic compliment to the rhymes being spoken.

13. All I Got- Rod Wave

I’ve said it once, and I’ve said it again.

Rod Wave is the man.

He makes his contemporaries look like small children, effortlessly spinning very believable tales of pain and misery.

And he makes both of those undesirable things sound great.

His formula doesn’t necessarily vary too much, but that also doesn’t bother me.

He’s like Slayer— what he creates isn’t broken, so he doesn’t fix it.

Here, he throws his voice around like a rag-doll, and indulges some pretty solid guitar ad-libs in the background.

I’m all for it, and I’m all for him having a very long and storied career.

14. The Blade- SION

Okay— this is the last one that BPMHill and I talked about, I promise!

It’s incredible though. I really hope that we get a full album from these two gentleman, if this is any indication of the overall quality we’d be treated to.

15. Lay Me Down- Zakk Wylde

For whatever reason, Zakk Wylde guitar playing has been helping me get through some of the more difficult spots of the pandemic.

I’ve always liked him as a guitar player, ever since I was in high school, but something about revisiting his work as an adult has made me have a greater appreciation for him.

I also feel like I’m somewhat fascinated by his humility considering how much skill he has. I’m sure he’s Ozzy’s longest tenured guitar player at this point, and his technical abilities are beyond astonishing.

He really stretches out on the solo here too, even managing to sneak in a very brief lick from a standard, which I find to be just wonderful.

In any case, long may he reign. Here’s hoping we get Book of Shadows III.

16. Hot Summer Nights- RynoFish

This is another one that jpeg put me on to, so big ups to him!

Sonically, this is a curious piece of music. If you told me that a band splitting the difference between blink 182 and Led Zeppelin would sound awesome, I’m not sure I’d believe you.

I feel like that’s what this reminds me of though— blink for the verses, bridge and break, and Zepp for the chorus.

The song effortlessly evokes its title, and while this is my playlist for March, I expect I’ll be giving this many spins, once the weather gets nicer. 

Tuesday Time Machine: March 2017

Hello and welcome!

For those reading my column for the first time, these monthly 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 playlist above!

March 2017

1. Bumpa Grille- Chalie Boy

There will come a day when Houston will rightly be recognized as the most sonically critical, and trend-setting American city of the late 20th century.

Look, “slowed and reverb?”

That’s been around since the 90s, back when it was called, “chopped and screwed.”

I suppose the former doesn’t have the chops, but still— these 19 and 20 year old kids, whatever, whatever, they need to acknowledge they’d have nothing to stand on, without the work of the mighty DJ Screw.

In any case, Chalie Boy put this song out after Screw’s passing. This is the regular version too, so I’d really recommending going on Youtube, and listening to the chopped and screwed version, if you want to hear it in all its glory.

In any case, this song is flawless– and, when that deep-fried molasses mess of guitar crops up at 3:48?

Name something tougher or more menacing.

I’ll wait.

2. Lake by the Ocean- Maxwell

I first heard Maxwell sing when I was 8 or 9, and I remember being a bit shocked.

Even at that age, hearing his range, kind of blew my brain apart. Whenever, “Ascension,” came on the radio that summer, I was with it.

As he releases music so sporadically, he kind of fell off my radar, but I was delighted when I came across this, because it showed that he’s still got it.

There’s something effortless about this. The musical accompaniment is gorgeous to boot, and the bridge sounds like it’s submerged in both a lake and an ocean, so I’m all about that.

I feel like this is definitely more of a summertime song than something for March, but whatever season you play it in, I doubt that you’ll be able to feel anything but the warmth of the sun.

3. This is War- Thirty Seconds to Mars

I’m not a Jared Leto fan.

I don’t get it.

That said, I had to put this on here, as it recalled an important memory/milestone.

In 2017, Northwestern made the NCAA March Madness tourney.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think that had happened previously in my life.

While I’m not a religious devotee of NU, I’ve been to a lot of games in my life, and I’m happy when they’re doing well.

For the ceremony in which they announced seeding, my parents, my aunt, her college roommate, and I packed into the old basketball arena, and watched a montage video set to this.

And despite my feelings of antipathy towards Jared Leto, I’ll admit to having this move me.

I’m always going to smile when I hear this song, because it recalls a really happy moment for a lot of people.

4. Sumthin’ Wicked This way Comes- TLC featuring Andre 3000

I’m the dude who’s prepared to die on the hill that TLC’s “CrazySexyCool,” isn’t all that it’s hyped up to be.

It has four WORLD-CLASS songs, and the rest of it is… maybe, just not my cup of tea.

In any case, this is one of those world-class tunes, and probably what I’m going to listen to most often, if I have my way with the aux cord.

First off, we’re blessed with a magnificent Andre 3000 verse, and some top-tier production courtesy of Organized Noise.

T-Boz, Chilli, and Left Eye show up in fine form too, making this an all-around excellent piece of music.

5. Gorilla- Clams Casino

Man… if ever I’m going to sip tea, dark liquor, or red wine, and just watch torrential rain hit the window in a dark room, this is what I’m going to be listening to.

This is about as Clams Casino as Clams Casino is gonna get.

I’m not sure if I can explain things better than that, so I’d just encourage you to listen.

6. You Saved Me (Live)- Gary Clarke Jr.

When Gary Clarke Jr. finds his lane and starts cooking, it can be the most magical thing in the world.

As a soloist, he takes a lot of risks. This means that you’re not guaranteed fireworks every time, but when the magic is flowing through his fingers, I’d argue that there are few more exciting, lyrical, and brutally honest lead guitar players.

Thankfully, he was on fire when recorded this, and some of the lines that he comes with in here are nothing short of mesmerizing.

To be clear, this is a great song too, but he stretches out for over three minutes on his solo, and that’s what it’s really about.

Of particular note is what he starts cheffing around the 7:28 minute mark. It’s one of the greater ascending bits I’ve ever heard in a live context, and he’s aided by his very able-bodied band who’s 100% locked in behind him.

I can’t recommend this highly enough. Please listen.

7. Run to you- Whitney Houston

Growing up, when my mom was in charge of the CD player, we listened to the Bodyguard soundtrack. 

That or Bonnie Raitt.

Probably not as much Bonnie, because I remember my siblings and I making fun of that.

We were all in for Whitney though. And this was a well-liked tune.

Listening to this as an adult, it’s so sad thinking about what road she ended up going down, because my goodness— what a powerful, once in a generation voice. 

Her performance here is transcendent and flawless.

8. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill- Ms. Lauryn Hill

As many radio hits, and A1 pieces of certified-genius as this album had, I still think this might be my favorite cut.

It’s a sad song— a deeply introspective piece of music, but you can’t help but be mesmerized by it.

It’s kinda hard to tell if the strings in here are the real-deal, or if they come courtesy of a Mellotron, but I kinda hope it’s the latter.

The piano and organ work is flawless in here too: full of lyrical flourishes and coloring.

This is just a wonderful song, and deserves its title-cut status.

9. Godspeed- Frank Ocean

Depending on what day of the week it is, this might be my favorite song from, “Blonde.”

It’s simple, like most of the music found on the album, and it has a vulnerability to it that strikes me as very true.

10. Deja Vu- J. Cole

Though I might not always find J. Cole’s music to be my cup of tea, I have a lot of respect for his craft.

I feel like he’s someone who makes a very concerted effort to push himself. He goes out of his way to make moves that might be out of his comfort zone, or, what’s, “in vogue.”

I got back and forth with regards to whether I prefer Bryson Tiller’s version or this, but I will say, that when I’m in the mood, this song hits pretty hard, and I like it.

11. Trap Trap Trap (featuring Young Thug and Wale)- Rick Ross and Wale

Young Thug is one of the few true originals making popular music right now, and Wale can rap a lot better than he gets credit for, so I really like this song.

This song is something for slow motion, or a sound system, so enjoying accordingly. 

12. RiRi- Young Thug

Young Thug is outrageous, he knows it, and his music is made brilliant by him embracing these things.

This song is all over the place, but if there was a better beat made in 2016, I’m not aware of it. I listened to the chopped and screwed version of this A LOT, when this song first came across my radar, and my life is better for it.

13. Good Riddance (Time of You Life)- Green Day

I don’t know why this song made it on here.

I was probably feeling sentimental about something, and this struck me a certain way.

This song gets hated on, but if I’m in the right mood, I really love it.

14. The Ecstatics- Explosions in the sky

This song had me feeling some kind of way.

First of all, I’m not sure music has any business being this pretty.

I think it had me in tears once.

Interestingly enough, I was exposed to this, because of the, “Power Rangers,” reboot movie that came out a few years back?

That’s a fact— no question mark needed, actually.

But yes, one of the benefits of working in after-school programming was getting to see whatever the hot movie was for middle schoolers, even when those movies were kind of bad, because they usually had a little bit of good in the mix, if you didn’t completely check out.

15. Ancient Kingdom- Mastodon

No jokes, this song might have my favorite guitar solo of the 2010s?

I might take that back when I think more about it, but man, Brent Hinds cooks something outrageous in here.

I’ve listened to JUST THE SOLO on loop for hours while drawing, because it’s that hypnotic, pervasive, and wonderful.

Of particular note is what Brann Dailor is laying down on his kit too, because, it’s some nutty polyrhythmic shit, that brings a delicious added texture to the proceedings.

And when the rhythm guitar finally enters the mix at the half-way mark?

I’m dead.

Do not resuscitate.  

16. The Real Me- The Who

I found out about this song when I was 16 or 17, becuase it was named, “The Greatest Classic Rock Bass Performance Ever,” by some website my brother and I used to visit.

And you know what?

It might be.

For the uninitiated, this song is essentially a three-and-a-half minute bass solo being played by John Entwistle that happens to have a song going on atop it.

Here, Pete Townshend’s guitar is the rhythm instrument, and Entwistle’s bass is the lead.

It’s fully incredible, and if you’ve never heard this before, I need you to drop everything that you’re doing to bask in its brilliance.

You will not be disappointed.

(Wednesday) Tuesday Time Machine: March 2014

Hello and welcome!

Damn… haven’t missed a post here since last year, but it was SO, SO, NICE yesterday that I had to walk for about 3+ hours, and… well.

In any case, for those reading my column for the first time, these monthly 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 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 above!

March 2014

1. God Moving the Face of the Waters- Moby

Before he blew up, Moby had a few really excellent tunes on the soundtrack for Michael Mann’s magnum opus, “Heat.”

This is one of those tunes.

While the specifics of shootout between Neal and Detective Hanna are subject to perhaps some criticism/plausibility issues, the film’s final shot and overall resolution are both quite powerful. This sets an appropriate tone for the moment, and continues the vibe into the film’s credits.

An arresting, if not sad piece of music, I have nothing but love for it.

2. Province- TV on the Radio

When their first album came out, I was so stuck on, “Wolf Like me,” that I just… I don’t know, I didn’t really give the rest of the tunes on the album a fair shot.

Thankfully, I’d rectify that later in life, and come to appreciate how incredible this song is.

Ethereal, epic, and effortlessly beautiful, it contains just about everything that I love when it comes to pretty and/or space music. 

It speaks to an optimism of sorts, and on a day when it’s 60-some-odd degrees by the lake in the Land of Lincoln, I’m with it.

3. Barael’s Blade- The Sword

This made my playlist because I saw The Sword live for the second time in March of 2014.

Like the first show of theirs that I saw, it was highly enjoyable, and certain sections straight-up knocked my teeth out.

This is one of The Sword’s heavier, more pummeling early efforts, and the cymbal work found here borders on pure madness.

I love it though. Play it loud.

4. Comrade- Volcano Choir

I really, really, liked Volcano Choir’s second album.

I feel like they get written off as, “Justin Vernon’s other band,” but that’s not really fair.

There are shades of Bon Iver in here to be sure, but I feel like they also more firmly engage, “alternative rock,” as opposed to Bon Iver’s weirdo folk/glitch hybrid of late.

The chorus in here is a soaring, empowering blast of pure love, and it gets me a bit emotional sometimes.

To be clear, I can’t understand what he’s saying, but it strikes me as earnest and true, and I’m appreciative of that.

5. Pyramid- Photek

For the record, Photek’s, “Ni Ten Ichi Ryu,” is hands down, my favorite piece of drum and bass music ever recorded. 

It might be my favorite piece of electronic music ever recorded, to be honest.

I’m not sure if he ever once again climbed to the heights of that tune, but he came damn close here.

Whereas “Ni Ten Ichi Ryu,” is his love letter to ninjas and samurais, this evokes some decidedly more exotic middle eastern flavor, and not in a cheesy way either.

This is probably what Indy and the boys were bumping when they had their marathon dig session for the Well of Lost Souls.

Or, is it the Cave of Lost souls?

In either case, I could watch, “Raiders,” once a week, and never get sick of it.

6. Five Preludes for Solo Guitar, W 419: Prelude No. 3 in A Minor: Andante- Sonja Prunnbauer

I came across this tune when I was suffering from panic disorder, and I used to play it in an attempt to calm myself down.

I got varying mileage there, but at it’s best, this would allow me to kind of push my problems away momentarily, and focus on my breathing instead.

I hadn’t listened to it in many years until today, and now that I no longer suffer from panic disorder, it’s really nice to be able to appreciate it as just a really striking, introspective piece of music, and opposed to musical medicine.

7. Flight- Hans Zimmer

I kind of loved Man of Steel.

Yeah, it had some real problems, but it had some great things going for it too, namely, America’s greatest living actor MISTER Michael Shannon.

Is Shannon ACTUALLY the best?

He really might be.

Obviously, this movie is nowhere close to his career-defining work, but I’d be surprised if he didn’t have a hell of a lot of fun, playing General Zod.

Also, I think that’s Johnny Marr on here, playing that slide guitar?

Anyways, Hans Zimmer did some interesting things, with his Batman and Superman themes.

In both case, they kind of don’t resolve?

The Batman one certainly doesn’t, which I suppose is fitting, because Batman’s job is never done, yeah?

Here though, for Superman’s, there’s a heaviness and weight that I guess kinda… dips out, but then it comes around?

I’m not doing a very good job of explaining myself. Give it a listen though, cuz it’s pretty excellent.

8. Southside- Common featuring Kanye West

Everyone— remember when Kanye West used to make music like THIS?

His line about, “… tear them all up/tear the mall up,” may well be one of my favorite things ever, because it embodies the playful cleverness that used to be such a hallmark of his music.

Common’s contributions here are fine, but this is mostly Kanye’s show, with a filthy fuzz-tone fueled beat, and a vintage verse.

I still love this.

9. Check ’n Me Out- Def Squad

Def Squad only put out one proper album which is a bummer because… man… in 1998, Redman was MOST CERTAINLY at the height of his powers, and Keith Murray and Erick Sermon were still throwing haymakers for sure.

This is basically three REALLY good rappers talking a whole boatload of shit, but, you know what? All three of them can back it up, and the beat’s great too.

10. Uno- Freddie Gibbs and Madlib

I’m one of like, 4 people who didn’t think Piñata was a very good album.

Sorry folks, it just didn’t do it for me.

That said, there are 3 or 4 songs that I love DEARLY, and this is one of them.

I think it’s because it’s an outlier on the album— it almost sounds like it doesn’t belong.

The synths twinkle a little too much for a Madlib beat, and I could see this being on the radio at one point in time, which I don’t think you could say for the rest of what’s on the album.

This is a good song to drive to. It’s a perfect late night highway cruising song.

11. Erotic City- Prince

This is a naughty song, and I think I felt a little scandalous the first time I heard the chorus because I was at work– in a, “family,” restaurant.

I’m pretty sure we hadn’t opened for the day yet, and the cooks were bumping it in the back, but in either instance, yeah– a bit dirty.

When Prince passed away, I believe The Current in Minneapolis played the entirety of his commercial discography, save for this song and a few others because… you kinda just couldn’t.

In any instance, this belongs alongside Prince’s best 80s work. It’s a great tune.

12. Fireworks

I have conflicting opinions about, “Strawberry Jam,” as an album, though I’m pretty sure my brother loves it. 

There are days where I think it’s fully brilliant, and days where I think it’s a mess, masquerading as brilliance.

However I’m feeling, I always find myself in awe of this song.

It almost shouldn’t work because it’s really just… noise? But there’s melody sneaking around in there too, and it kinda sounds like someone losing their minds, which I always find fascinating.

Animal Collective stans, if you want to go at me in the comments, I’ll understand.

13. Heart it Races- Architecture in Helsinki

This is a great cover.

I heard this on a winter road trip to a Wisconsin cabin, and though we had snow, snow, and more snow on our drive, this put some sunshine in the mix.

The bassline here is a strutter, which I always love, but the real star is an ascending guitar figure in here that’s almost King Crimson-esque. Juxtaposed against a groove that brings to mind David Bowie’s, “Fame,” it seems a bit strange, but it also makes sense, because Bowie called up Robert Fripp to play guitar on both, “Heroes,” and “Scary Monsters”?

Okay, I’m done.

14. Mystery Man- Terje Rypdal

Synth-y 90s smooth jazz with blues undertones sounds really, really, bad on paper, but man— young Terje pulls it off here.

Actually, he might have been old when he recorded this, I don’t know.

Like the first song from this playlist, this comes to us courtesy of, “Heat,” When Robert DeNiro is falling madly in love with Judging Amy.

Amy Brenneman?

I could Google that, but we’re just gonna go with Judging Amy.

Man, I might have to watch, “Heat,” tonight now… just gotta clear 3+ hours from my schedule.

15. Madre no Llores- Munchi

I’m trying to remember how I came across this, and I’m struggling to do so.

I think it was recommended to me on Spotify, because I was bumping Photek?

It definitely has a similar flavor to it, so that makes sense.

In any case, this is like deep contemplation, or night-time drawing music. It’s best enjoyed with headphones.

16. Lord of Light- Iron Maiden

The riff that kicks in at 1:41 is one of my ALL-TIME FAVORITE things Iron Maiden has ever recorded.

That’s saying something too.

What makes this one special is the immediacy and borderline panic that it exudes. To my ears, Iron Maiden doesn’t necessarily have that anywhere else in their catalogue?

That’s poorly worded– they do, but nothing that’s played like this.

I feel like a riff like that is the kind of thing that kicks off when the power plant is about to blow up, and you only have 30 seconds to get clear.

The rest of the song here is pretty good too, but man, oh, man, that riff— it’s just in a league of its own.

I love it.

Tuesday Time Machine: March 2011

Hello and welcome!

For those reading my column for the first time, these monthly 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 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 above!

March 2011

1. (The Infamous Prelude)- Mobb Deep

I know, I know. This song is essentially, the late Prodigy talking a WHOLE lot of shit about anyone who might cross him and Havoc.

Apparently, this led to an altercation with Keith Murray, a year or two later?

In any case, this track is MOSTLY here to act as a COMPLETE and total tonal counterpoint to:

2. Mujer Hermosa- Los Incomparables

My Spanish isn’t good enough to understand what’s being sung about here, BUT, this is a jovial sounding piece of celebratory music with some great horn work.

I really, really love it.

3. I’ll Try Anything Once- Julian Casablancas

I’d bet good money anyone who’s heard the demo of this track can remember exactly HOW shook they were the first time they heard it.

This is a live version, cuz Spotify obviously doesn’t have demos up, but it’s still solid.

The song that this would become is also a great number by The Strokes, but this is a better piece of music (I think).

Pretty naked, and not-quite-perfect, there’s an honesty about it that lets the lyrics shine through. I’m appreciative of that, and there are few tunes that make me feel like I’m 23 again, like this one.

4. Drifter- Wild Nothing

Aw, man. Anyone remember Wild Nothing?

“Gemini,” was incredible, and this was the standout number from it.

Bright enough the begin the thaw of spring, but also kinda icy because… you know— we get snow in March in the midwest. 

Fun fact, my buddy J. RESSSSSSSSSSS has a legendary Rickenbacker bass, that was used in recording this album, if I remember correctly.

I’ll have to call him and check.

5. Laura- Girls

My brother and I were jamming HARD to this album when it came out.

Our music tastes were not as in sync as they once were at this point in time, but I recall us having at least one conversation about how this album kicked ass.

The bass is a lot more present than I remember, and it’s just as easy to sing along to as it was all those years ago.

6. Under the Hedge- Ted Leo and The Pharmacists

Man… I went through a BIG Ted Leo phase towards the end of college.

This was probably my second favorite song off of, “The Tyranny of Distance,” and it recalls a lot of optimism and happiness for me.

Pitch perfect as a pop song, this one is best for a mid-afternoon bike cruise on a sunny day.

7. Big Brother- Stevie Wonder

For awhile, this was my favorite Stevie Wonder song.

It’s something that manages to be fairly understated, even though there’s a lot going on, and I respect that.

Lyrically, it’s one of his more biting criticisms, and though blunt, when he sings, “I live in the ghetto, you just come to visit me around election time,” it hits hard.

Further adding to the brilliance of the song is the fact that it’s a really upbeat (almost celebratory) thing from an instrumentation standpoint, in spite of the song’s rather crushing narrative.

8. Sweet Angel- Jimi Hendrix

This is as intimate and slinky as Jimi Hendrix ever got (in my humble opinion).

I first heard this when I was 14 or 15, as my guitar teacher played it for me on a nylon string acoustic.

I knew it was very pretty sounding, but I just didn’t get it. 

Thankfully, that changed when I grew up.

9. Runaway- Kanye West

MBDTF came out like 5 months before I made this playlist?

In any case, I couldn’t get over this song.

Maybe I still can’t.

It might be Kanye West’s, “Stairway to Heaven,” for my money.

I don’t think we need another person diving into the brilliance of this piece of music, so I’ll just say that 10+ years after its initial release, it’s still a potent, incredible statement.

10. Heaven or Las Vegas- Cocteau Twins

While this doesn’t get my vote for the best tune from, “Heaven or Las Vegas,” it’s fully deserving of its title cut status.

The chorus is… I don’t know, the best part of every dream that you ever had and were unable to recall, until this made its way into your ear canals.

While I’m not sure I can say I’m, “old,” at 33, this song brings to mind a very vigorous, energized feeling within me, and reminds me of when I used to have more rosy, albeit naive opinions about art.

11. My First Kiss at the Public Execution- Blood Brothers

I know Blood Brothers really aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I had a few friends from college who really, really, loved them, and I would come to as well, the more I listened to their music.

There’s something about this that manages to be catchy, even though the vocals are borderline grating. 

This is some prime early-2010s scene shit, to be sure, but it brings to mind some people I haven’t seen in many, many, years who I miss dearly.

12. Ticks & Leeches- Tool

Is there a more simultaneously cathartic, terrifying, and invigorating moment in 21st century metal, than when Mr. Marynard screams “Suck me dry,” at the top of his lungs whilst Tool teeters on the brink of full-on Death Metal?

I’m thinking no.

This is another song that is definitely not for everyone. That said, if you’re in the right mood, this is 100% some of the toughest shit that ever came down the pipe, and you should check it out, if you never have before.

13. Toussaint L’Overture (Live)- Santana

I’ll just say this:

Everything that I love about Santana and his band’s music is dialed up to 11, here, and I’ll always be here for it.

Marvelous, marvelous.

14. California Love- Tupac, Dr. Dre, and Roger Troutman

Look, Dr. Dre and Tupac are good and all that, but let’s talk about Roger Troutman on the talk box, singing about, “Computer-puter-puter-puter,”

There will never be anything better.

15. Snake Pond- Raekwon

Rae’s followup to Cuban Linx II kinda flew under the radar, which is a bit unfortunate, because it’s pretty solid.

This was the album’s standout track by a mile, and it manages to be both creepy and slick.

16. Climbing up the Walls- Radiohead

For awhile, this was probably my favorite Radiohead song.

After listening to it again this past week, maybe it has that distinction, once again.

To be clear, this song is scary as shit and horrifying, but man— do they make both of those things sound awesome.

Pretty sure I read that this song is about home invasion and a serial killer, so again— not the best, but this is like a James Bond song by way of early Bjork, cut with heroin, bleach, and laundry detergent, or whatever scary-ass drugs people were doing in the mid-late 90s.

Probably going on repeat as I work tonight. We’ll see.

17. Cuddle Fuddle- Passion Pit

Something light, so we didn’t end on pure terror, yeah?

This song is kinda silly, but I still like it.

Not as great as, “Sleepyhead,” but what is?