Picture this: it’s the middle of a long week. Summer is so close but you’re trapped inside at work or school. You need some music to get you through the week because that new Gorillaz record ended up being pretty bad and Carly Rae Jepsen hasn’t released any new songs recently. Well don’t worry fam, I’ve got you covered. Here’s a little mixtape playlist I made exclusively for you. Unless you’re a Spurs fan.
“Morning Bell” – Radiohead
Some big personal news to kick this thing off: I think I get Radiohead now. Like, it just happened this week. I’m not totally sure what it was that finally clicked but the weird, icy vibes of Kid A, showcased especially on this track, really struck a chord with me. So yeah, I’m officially a snobby music elitist. My membership card should be arriving in the mail any day now and then I’ll never have to talk to you normies ever again.
“Sound The Alarm” – Saves The Day
How do people feel about Sound The Alarm? It seems to be one of the most overlooked pieces in Saves The Day’s catalogue, just getting lumped in with the trio of records between the band’s glory years and their renaissance. But here’s a hot take for you: I’d put it as the third-best Saves The Day album, trailing only the classics, Through Being Cool and Stay What You Are. It’s so dark and bleak but not in the hamfisted way of Daybreak and Under The Board, it’s aggressive in a way that harkens back to the raw energy of their first two efforts, and it features some of Chris Conley’s catchiest songwriting. It deserves more credit from fans and the title track, in all of its doom-stricken bouncing so is a testament to that.
“Die Young, Die Dumb; Not Soon” – Hellogoodbye
Hellogoodbye’s last release is an interesting piece. It’s predecessor was a masterpiece, but Everything Is Debatable takes a more grandiose approach, melding in an array of eclectic electronic sounds to build a more poppy sound. This song, however, folds in the jangly retro vibe of Would It Kill You?, creating a wonderful blend of all the best aspects of the band. Also, shout out to them for putting a semicolon in the title of the song. That’s a bold move, but it pays off.
“Sometimes” – The Obsessives
I really enjoyed The Obsessives’ sound as a duo, but there’s no denying that their full-band driven performance on their newest record is a huge jump. That’s most evident here, aided by a catchy, guitar line-driven chorus and a warm synth that makes the band sound huge.
“Edward 40hands” – Mom Jeans.
If I were President of Music I would make it a law that every song had to incorporate a Bob’s Burgers sample into it. Other things I would do as President of Music: make every show a three-band bill that’s over by 10, make every person go through a mandatory Carly Rae Jepsen appreciation course, change the national anthem to “Gasolina” by Daddy Yankee and, most importantly, erase Guns N Roses from existence.
“Second Letter From St. Julien” – Sorority Noise
Sorority Noise’s latest album is a harrowing take on grief in that extremely personal way that only Cam Boucher can tap in to. This track in particular is a beautifully constructed piece that uses its namesake’s signature guitar tone to create a haunting atmosphere.
“Out To Lunch” – Daddy Issues
I got to see Daddy Issues a few weeks ago when they came to town with Diet Cig and, having never heard them before, I was blown away. It’s a really cool brand of fuzzed out, snarky punk that feels so effortless.
“Don’t Take The Money” – Bleachers
Nothing on Bleachers’ first album caught my ear as much as his work in Fun. so I wasn’t necessarily expecting much from his new music. But man was I wrong. I think this is probably the best of the year so far. It’s perfect. Everything about it is literal perfection. From the sitar lines to the strangely captivating pre-chorus to the massive hook, it’s perfect.
“Peaceful Road” – City And Colour
In other news of the “Nick discovers other genres of music that have been around forever” variety, I’m kind of in on country music now. Between this and “Long Drives” off of Brian Fallon’s solo record, I’ve developed a soft spot for twangy slide guitars. This song pairs that with a really interesting near-double time brush hit on the drums that’s so understated it fades in and out of the background at times. Combine that with Dallas Green’s pristine voice and I’m all in on this Punks Go Country movement.
“Blue Bucket Of Gold – Live” – Sufjan Stevens
Carrie And Lowell is a bare bones, understated masterpiece. You know that, you don’t need me to tell you. So when Sufjan dropped Carrie And Lowell Live last week, I was curious to see why it was even needed, since the songs are already so stripped down in their original versions. The answer was obviously that yes this album was needed you big dummy because Sufjan is a genius and should be respected as such. The record comes to a head with its take on the closer, an ambient keyboard piece that Sufjan transforms into a soaring post-rock journey.
“Jinx Removing” – Jawbreaker
When I heard that my beloved Jawbreaker was reuniting to play this year’s Riot Fest, my initial thought was “This is incredible, I never thought I’d have the chance to see them!” That was followed by “Wait am I even sure that I want to see Jawbreaker at this point? What if a cranky Blake just phones his way through a performance and the prestige of one of my favorite bands is broken forever?” That was followed by “YO WHAT IF THEY PLAY JINX REMOVING HELL YEAH THAT WOULD BE SICK HOW MUCH ARE TICKETS TO CHICAGO?”
“The Rising Tide” – Sunny Day Real Estate
This year’s Record Store Day list didn’t have a ton that piqued my interest, but the reissue of The Rising Tide did. It’s a fascinating entry in the band’s legendary discography, embracing a weird sound that really reflected where the band members had ended up all those years down the road. The title track is a swirling number that takes so many turns along the way and really leans into the post-rock leanings that litter the band’s last record.
“Scooby Doo Bookshelf” – Mineral Girls
Support yr local emo scene.
“Emptiness, Pt. 2” – Mount Eerie
Judging by the size of their catalogue, I guess I’m late to the Mount Eerie train, but if there were ever a point to jump on it would be A Crow Looked At Me. You think you’ve heard sad songs before but that doesn’t prepare you for the force of this album, particularly this trod ding number. Read about the backstory leading to the album and then feel the weight that Phil Elverum pours into every note. It’s incredible.
“Pariah Carey” – bong mountain
This song has several things going for it. First, and most boring, is it’s a great emo-tinged punk song. Second, it’s title is a great pun, something I always look for in music. Third, the band name is top notch and raise some many questions. Is it a mountain of bongs? Is it a bong-sized mountain? Is it a mountain-sized bong? Is it like the Splash Mountain ride at Disney World but instead of animatronic animals it has dudes who really like 311? I wish I could give you these answers, but I can’t.
“doing all the things i used to do with people, part 2 (acoustic/rooftop version)” – Teen Suicide
I enjoy this band’s (and their frontman’s solo effort’s) brand of lo-fi chillness. And do you know what cranks that lo-fi chillness up even more? Acoustic versions recorded outside in the elements.