I listen to a lot of music. Sometimes looking back at my Last.fm or Cymbal and wonder what the fuck kind of music fan I really am. But that’s mainly because I jump from genre to genre so often that I never stay in one place for too long. I’ve been obsessed with a handful of disparate tracks over the past week, and I wanted to take some time to discuss them here. Hopefully, there’s a little something for everybody.
Snail Mail - “Thinning” | Emo
I saw Snail Mail perform live with Girlpool back in May. I’d never heard of them, but they were middling the show, so they were probably quality, right? To say I was blown away by Snail Mail would be an understatement. I was beyond floored watching this band. The lead singer Lindsey Jordan is a transfixing frontwoman, and I’m amazed at the small collection of excellent songs she’s already created by age of seventeen. “Thinning” is a rumbling emo track that flawlessly captures the lethargy of a warm, lazy summer day in suburbia. It’s a track about the simple pleasure (and displeasure) that comes with wasting time.
Half Waif is the synthy spinoff helmed by Pinegrove’s Nandi Rose Plunkett. The outspoken frontwoman tackles issues of relationships, changing moods, and love in this haunting 3-minute track. It’s a song about losing your sense of self in the face of a relationship. Plunkett’s delicate, layered vocals intertwine over careful drum taps, cymbal crashes, and keyboard swells. It’s an enchanting track from someone that has more to say than words will ever allow.
Phillipa Soo - “Helpless” | Show Tunes
While it’s best experienced in a single sitting as a two and a half hour journey, I’ve recently started listening to individual cuts off Hamilton just to experience flashes of the show’s brilliance in quick, digestible chunks. “Helpless” is a goosebump-inducing track sung from the perspective of Alexander Hamilton’s love interest and soon-to-be-wife Eliza Schuyler. Backed by a chorus of female background singers, this is a love song that recounts the early stages of the historical relationship. It culminates in Alexander asking Philip Schuyler for permission to take his daughter’s hand in marriage. The song explodes in Eliza’s “I do, I do, I do, I do” as the background singers and Hamilton sing different refrains.
21 Savage - “Thug Life” | Hip-hop
While 21 Savage is usually known for overly-dark street music (or “murder music” as he calls it) “Thug Life” off of his recently-released Issa Album is perhaps the brightest and most summery song in his entire discography music. This shimmering ode to 2Pac explodes over a chopped soul sample that peaks with the song’s chorus “I’m thinking to myself you ain’t gang, nigga, fuck you / Feel like 2Pac, Thug Life, nigga, fuck you.” These lyrics provide quite a contrast between the song’s uplifting beat, but somehow it all comes together beautifully in a song that only 21 could have made.
Japanese Breakfast - “Road Head” | Indie Rock
While I have a full review of Japanese Breakfast’s sophomore album Soft Sounds from Another Planet coming up soon, I just can’t stop playing the album’s third single “Road Head.” In the self-directed video, Michelle Zauner finds herself in a toxic relationship with an imposing dark figure. The song itself is a dark but lush depiction of sexuality that ends with a spliced samples of a loop-board-interpolated Michelle placed over an absolutely hypnotic groove.
Vulfpeck - “Cars Too” | Funk
In this Pixar-punned funk song, Vulfpeck finds themselves in their most tripped out and relaxed state yet. It’s an absurdly groovy song, and slower than almost anything else in their repertoire. It’s proof you don’t need to be fast to be funky. In fact, you can slow things down to a snail-like pace and still find room for a bifocal-displacing guitar solo. A choice cut off of a near-perfect debut.
Julien Baker - “Go Home” | Folk
While she’s been on my radar for a while, I’m embarrassed it’s taken me until 2017 to discover Julien Baker’s Sprained Ankle. It’s a heavy-hitting and heartfelt 30-minute listen in which “Go Home” serves as the album’s stark final track. It’s thought-provoking, deflating, and gorgeous all at the same time. A ballad of pure, raw beauty that escalates without warning as Baker sings about skipping her medication and contemplating suicide. I can’t believe it’s taken me two years to discover this record, but I can’t describe how glad I am now that I have something this beautiful in my life.