(compiled November 12, 2011)
Spotify playlist (not all tracks show up…see full list below):
Heavy Metal Drummer– Wilco
Old Pine– Ben Howard
California English– Vampire Weekend
Michicant– Bon Iver
The Wolves– Ben Howard
Rebellion (Lies)– Arcade Fire
Teenage Pregnancy– Cake
Ixtapa– Rodrigo y Gabriela
Unloveable– The Smiths
Lived in Bars– Cat Power
Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse– Minus the Bear
Rolled Together– Antlers
Other Ways– Trevor Hall
All To All– Broken Social Scene
Headshock– Tapes n’ Tapes
Nothing Brings Me Down– Emiliana Torrini
indi groove– Chinese Man
Bambi– Tokyo Police Club
Paper Bag– Fiona Apple
*all the songs are available for download in my dropbox folder (and also linked on my Spotify account!)
I recently got back into a Wilco kick after seeing that they are playing in NorCal (Davis and San Jose) in February. I was first introduced to Wilco about 10 years ago from my childhood friend Kaitlin Campitelli, who was always going to awesome shows and festivals as young kid cause of her two older brothers. Wilco kinda reminds be of a blend between Spoon and The Beatles…what a BEAST. ‘Heavy Metal Drummer’ was always one of my Wilco favorites. I love the abrupt beginning with the aggressive drum line, and I figured it’s a perfect way to kick off a playlist. I also really like Wilco’s ‘A Shot in the Arm,’ which I used to listen to repeatedly a while back, but hadn’t been reminded of until recently when listening to a badass playlist by my buddy Stuart Brock! I also got some great Wilco recommendations from my buddy (and great musician!), Charles Caskey. He’s in a band called Shayna and the Bulldog. Check them out sometime!
Ben Howard is one of my most FAVORITE new discoveries, and ‘Old Pine’ is probably my favorite of all his songs. Other favorites are ‘Only Love,’ ‘The Wolves,’ and ‘Cloud Nine.’
I love the opening lyrics, esp. the 2nd and 3rd line:
“Oh hot sand on toes cold sand in sleeping bags.
I come to know that memories
Were the best things you ever had
The summer shorn be down on bone and backs
so far from home where the ocean stood down dust and pine cone tracks.”
This songs otally makes me want to drive out to Big Sur and camp out under the stars and amongst the Redwoods for an entire summer. Doesn’t get much better than Northern California in the summer months….
I actually found out about Ben Howard from a post on Mumford & Sons facebook. The magical Mumford Men are fans of Ben Howard, so you know he’s gotta be pretty legit. Ben Howard is kind of like a Jack Johnson (but of the English breed) in that he started out as a professional surfer but then stopped competing professionally for the sake of advancing his music career.
You can read more about him here: http://www.rockfeedback.com/artist/3413/ben-howard/
Ben Howard is going to be at SXSW music festival this year, and I’m luckily it’s the first year I can make it!
Just like most of the songs on Vampire Weekend’s Contra album, ‘California English’ has many unique elements from various musical genres layered throughout, moving them beyond their usual “Indie Pop” label.
I love the following verse, mostly cause it makes me think of my scrappy roots where I was raised- Philly:
“Sweet carob rice cakes, you don’t care how the sweets taste/ Fake Philly cheesesteak but you use real toothpaste/ ‘Cause if that Tom’s don’t work, if it just makes you worse/ Would you still lose all of your faith in the good earth?”
Aside from ‘California English,’ I actually also really like the song, ‘Contra,’ off the Contra album, and I find the simple pairing of the hand drums and acoustic guitar to be quite beautiful. The lyrics at the end are also quite sweet: “Never pick sides, never choose between two, but I just wanted you, I just wanted you.”
I’m kinda bummed that Vampire Weekend hasn’t been touring lately. Hopefully they’re working on a new album!
Although I pretty much STALK every Bon Iver song (esp. after seeing him in concert in September), there is something honest and alluring about ‘Michicant‘ that makes it stand out from some of the others. Perhaps it is the first and the last lines of the song, both subtle, yet mysteriously sexy and FILLED WITH INTRIGUE:
“I was unafraid, I was a boy, I was a tender age
love can hardly leave the room
with your heart.”
I also love the soothing guitar riffs and effervescent hand chimes that lighten the solemnness of this melancholy song.
I saw this quote on a website a while back, and I think it pertains perfectly to this song: “When people hear good music, it makes them homesick for something they never had, and never will have.” -Edgar Watson Howe
‘The Wolves’ is the other Ben Howard song that has so many layers of EPICNESS and builds up intensity with each new chorus. His haunting howls and soulful faint drones add sincerity to the emotional lyrics that accompany the string elements and soft drum beat of this dynamic folk song. I love the end when he shouts in surrender: “We lost faith, in the arms of love.”
I am not a huge Arcade Fire fan, but when I heard ‘Rebellion’ live at the Bridge School Concert Benefit in October, I was blown away. I love the line: “People say that your dreams are the only things that save ya.” I also really like the intensity and anticipation that builds up with the chorus: “Come on baby in our dreams, we can live our misbehavior…come on hide your lovers underneath the covers.” SO GOOD.
‘Teenage Pregnancy’ (a puzzling name for a song without workd), off Cake’s newest album, Showroom of Compassion, is an unexpected medley of sounds that is not typical of the bands previous style. The song begins with a melancholy solo piano that is followed by a series of haunting arpeggios. Then comes the build-up at ~@45 seconds in: a buzzing organ, fuzzy electric guitar, and trumpet. Throughout the song, the opening melody keeps returning like a merry go round- the intensity rises, then fades, then returns again. So creep, but SO ADDICTING. Jensyn Hyman said it was one of her favorites off this playlist!
As with ALL of the Rodrigo y Gabriela songs, ‘Ipaxta,’ is a breathtakingly beautiful GEM. You cannot listen to this song and NOT nod your head feverishly to its intoxicating rhythms (as if you’ve been possessed). The aggressive melodies and undulating chords will bring chills to your spine and will make you drop your eyelids as you disappear into another world where guitar is GOD. I cannot believe I was lucky enough to see this magical duo UP CLOSE & PERSONAL at the San Francisco Oyster Festival in April. HOLY F*CK. My head is STILL moving….
‘Unloveable’ is a song that I was immediately drawn to when I first heard when I was you tube one day. The brutally honest (and somewhat desperate) lyrics are sad, but at the same time cathartic and enticing. My favorite lines are:
“I wear Black on the outside (It’s kind of funny cause I almost ALWAYS wear black….)
‘Cause Black is how I feel on the inside
I wear Black on the outside
‘Cause Black is how I feel on the inside
And if I seem a little strange
Well, that’s because I am
If I seem a little strange
That’s because I am.”
I first heard Cat Power’s ‘Lived in Bars’ from my friend Jensyn Hyman’s playlist, and it quickly became my go-to “lullaby” for the month. It’s just such a soulfully beautiful song, and listening to it over and over during my hectic experiments was the only thing getting me through such chaos. The particular line that gives me chills (always) is: “There’s nothing like living in a bottle….and nothing like ending it all for the world.” Another great Cat Power song is ‘He War’…(thanks to Andy Aiken for the quality rec!) Cat Power is a BEAST of a female icon, and I look forward to her upcoming album.
Although I named the title of this playlist “Unloveable,” the song that really resonated as my THEME SONG for this set of tracks was ‘Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse.’ Holy shit. What a delightfully SEXY and charming song. I can play it OVER AND OVER and never get sick of it. LOVE LOVE LOVE! If I ever get married (hopefully), I could totally see myself wanting this to be one of the first songs on the playlist. I love the whimsical guitar intro and the giddy transition that comes in sync with the first set of lyrics:
“Hey, let’s cross the sea
And get some culture
Red wine with every meal
And absinthe after dinner
We look good side by side
Walking back to the hotel.”
Totally makes you want to run away with your fantasy person and travel the world…no plans…no agenda.
One of my favorites verses is:
“This light looks good on you
Morning came early
Sitting on a park bench
That’s older than my country
Two star hotel, hotel
Two star hotel, hotel
Two star hotel
Near St. Germaine
Two star hotel
Where the stars don’t mean (so cute!)
Stars don’t mean anything.”
I was so sad that I had to miss a Minus the Bear show in November because I was sick with a sinus infection. GRRRRR! Oh well…I will see them the next time they are in town. No doubt.
‘Rolled Together’ is a beautiful song with the sexy guitar intro and high-pitched, rolling vocals (which are coming from a DUDE, by the way!) It’s definitely one of those songs that easily sends shivers down your spine and leaves you feeling chilly.
‘Other Ways’ is a such s strikingly beautiful and captivating song, and I would never have found out about such a soulful artist if it weren’t for Jensyn Hyman. Although Trevor Hall is originally from South Carolina, he moved to L.A. as a teenager and is known to readily perform gigs all over California. Jenysn recently saw him at Slims in San Francisco this November. I would have gone with her but I had an animal study that I couldn’t get out of. Although Trevor Hall has a shaved head in his ‘Other Ways’ video, Jen says that he how sports very long, aggressive dreads. Pretty cool.
‘All to All’ is lovely uplifting song that put you in a “feel-good, let’s start over” mood. I feel so lucky to have seen this song performed live (for FREE!) at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass music festival in San Francisco this year. Broken Social Scene is a BEAST of a band, and they will forever represent one of the most creative, dynamic bands of this generation; you really do feel like you are listening to something unique every time you listen.
‘Headshock’ is a really awesome song by a band (Tapes n’ Tapes) that reminds me of Modest Mouse. I absolutely adore the base intro…always LOVE a good slappada base!
‘Nothing Brings Me Down’ is one of my favorite songs by another female artist who, like Cat Power, manages to soothe the soul like no other. I was first introduced to Emiliana Torrini a few years ago by my friend, Anita Nosratieh. There is just something so peaceful and enchanting about this song. The line, “Full of wine, unsteady…Nothing brings me down” always reminds me of my friend, Jensyn Hyman, cause she’s kind of a WINE-O (she agrees herself!). My favorite line of the entire song is: “The phones are off…the music’s on…Nothing brings me down.” (My ideal state of zen for sure.)
‘Indie Groove’ is a really siiiiiiiiiiiick song by Chinese Man, and artists recommended to me by my buddy Andy Bluhm. It’s got elements of dub, reggae, hip hop, jazz and funk….and it keeps you on your toes with twists and turns throughout the whole song.
‘Bambi’ is one of my favorite songs by Tokyo Police Club, one of the better indie rock/pop bands of the last decade. I love the high-energy intro of this song and the overall restlessness of its beat. This song goes out to Angela Echeverry, the badass neuroscientist chica who’s recently been teaching me how to handle rat brains. She loves Tokyo Police Club, and I hope that maybe we can see a show together if they ever come to NorCal again.
‘Paper Bag’ is another oldie but goodie song that I yet again was introduced to over decade ago by Kaitlin Campitelli. ALL of the lyrics to the song are amazing, but the verses that I particularly love are:
“I was having a sweet fix
Of a daydream of a boy
Whose reality I knew
Was a hopeless to be had…
But then the dove of hope began its downward slope
And I believed for a moment that my chances were
Approaching to be grabbed
But as it came down near, so did a weary tear
I thought it was a bird, but it was just a paper bag
And I said, “Honey, I don’t feel so good, don’t feel justified
Come on put a little love here in my void”
He said, “It’s all in your head”
And I said, “So’s everything'” but he didn’t get it (Haha, so good…)
I thought he was a man but he was just a little boy
Hunger hurts, and I want him so bad, oh it kills
‘Cause I know I’m a mess he don’t wanna clean up
I got to fold ’cause these hands are too shaky to hold
Hunger hurts, but starving works, when it costs too much to love.”
My girl Gina MaBarb told me that this was her theme song after I gave her this playlist. I love spreading the wealth! 😉