In the last two months I have become mildly obsessed with making playlists. This compulsion to accumulate all of my favourite songs that embody a certain emotion was brought about by something that I believed could only be remedied by music. It sounds cheesy and frankly, it is an overwhelmingly emotionally charged playlist that features 107 songs lasting just shy of seven hours. There’s no Celine Dion present but there’s plenty Leonard Cohen, Roy Orbison and Radiohead on it instead.
Compiling that playlist was extremely cathartic. It also made a tough time significantly easier because when I had to go about habitual banal parts of my routine. I was saved from trying to find a track that I knew would make me feel better or that I could relate to the sentiment of the melody or lyrics. Essentially, my brain was on autopilot and anything that made a simple task even easier was essential. When I bumped into people that I hadn’t seen I would steer them to that playlist within the first five minutes of the conversation. It became an emotional crutch that I became too reliant on. I attribute this attachment to the safety and comfort I found in those 107 songs.
It was, and remains, like a snapshot of how I felt during that time. Listening to it now I’m instantly reminded of how I felt when I played that particular playlist soon after it had been conceived. I listened to it exclusively for about two weeks until one day I was forced to stop, mainly because when you write album reviews you have to listen extensively to that work. If I didn’t have that responsibility I may still be going through those same songs for the thousandth time. Stepping away from it was important because it gave me time to reclaim my excitement of discovering new music and musicians – which would subsequently be a catalyst for another organised selection of related tracks – and to not become so dependent on one thing. I returned to that original playlist for the first time the other day. Immediately, I was struck by how different I felt listening to it having distanced myself from it. I realised that I had reached a point of not letting the sentiments affect me so easily. I won’t be deleting that particular curation anytime soon because I see it as a diary of sorts, a reminder of a time I thought I would find impossible to come through but with the right external entities – friends, family and seven hours of music – I got through it.
Around the same time, Frank Ocean started his blonded RADIO show. A new episode would bring a fresh playlist on his Spotify profile of the songs he played throughout the shows. The refresh of the playlists brings so excitement to the Saturday mornings when I see a shift in the titles and artists featured. It has become my favourite way of finding new bands, but also, looking at what someone puts on a playlist provides an interesting insight into a person. You can try to decipher a person’s headspace through the names they give a playlist or the figuring out the common thread between the songs to indicate whether it is a somber or euphoric collection.
Since then, I have made more upbeat compilations to enjoy whilst tidying, cooking, working, walking and every other time I listen to music. I’m always looking for an excuse to make a playlist for either myself or a friend. It so much fun compiling songs and sharing them with someone that you know (or at least hope) will really enjoy and appreciate the music that you love.
The I.L.Y’s – ‘Gargoyle / Bobo’ (Third Worlds)
“When are you going to stop doing things for no reason?” That is a question raised in the first of two videos shared by Death Grips side-project, The I.L.Y’s on Saturday. Fortunately, it would seem that the duo do not plan to stop making music anytime soon. It was announced recently that Zach Hill and Andy Morin will be releasing their third digital record, Bodyguard later this year. It has only been nine months since Scum With Boundaries was made available, we are made aware of how prolific Hill and Morin are with both this project and Death Grips. Despite having never performed live together as The I.L.Y’s or utilising publicity to promote their music, the side project have managed to gather a substantial following of existing fans and people who appreciate the songs separately from what you hear on Bottomless Pit and The Money Store. The video for these two new songs, ‘Gargoyle’ and ‘Bobo’ are true to the experimental and and absurdist nature of Hill and Morin’s creative output. We’re definitely excited to hear Bodyguard in full when it comes out.
Blood Orange – ‘With Him / Best To You / Better Numb’ (Domino)
The arrival of a new Blood Orange video is one that you should dedicate time to, especially if Dev Hynes’ Freetown Sound is foreign audio territory. This musical triptych combines three very different songs from Blood Orange’s third album in this nine minute long music video. The differences of the music is reflected visually with how Hynes choose to represent the songs visually. The social issue of black people being subjected to injustice on the street is portrayed in the ‘With Him’ vignette, meanwhile Hynes’ talent as a multi instrumentalist -in this instance, his abilities with the bass – are demonstrated casually as he plays in a lovely conservatory style living area. Finally, following a black and white story featuring a couple for the ‘Better Numb’ portion of this video we are given a minute long shot of Dev dancing in an empty dance hall. His movements show that he is in tune with his body and he uses it as another medium of artistic expression. It’s mesmerising to watch him dance and it, it will certainly get you off the couch to try emulate some of his moves.
Mount Kimbie Feat. James Blake – ‘We Go Home Together’ (Warp Records)
British electronic duo, Dominic Maker and Kai Campos of Mount Kimbie have been working away on their third studio album, which fans have been waiting for since Cold Spring Fault Less Youth which was released four years ago. Last week the band shared a Spotify playlist of songs that they have been listening to whilst working away in the studio which includes songs by rapper Jonwayne, rock experimentalists Ariel Pink and the always ambient Beach House. Such diversity would lead you to wonder how these artists will impact on how their forthcoming record will sound. Mount Kimbie’s current single, ‘We Go Home Together’ features James Blake is instantly enjoyable, it is moody and sultry, serving as a perfect segway to the band if you were not already familiar with their music.
Clipping – ‘True Believer’ (Sub Pop)
Clipping have been together for nearly ten years, over that time they have crafted a highly unique style of blending hip hop with abrasively industrial production that goes between very heavy songs to softer melodies such as heard on their latest single, ‘True Believer.’ The track is from Clipping’s second album entitled Splendor & Misery which has previously spawned videos for ‘Baby Don’t Sleep’ and ‘Air ‘Em Out’. ‘True Believer’ is visually aided by a black astronaut taking to space without his vessel, instead ascending to the sky unaided by man made methods of transportation, but as one can only assume, through his own belief of self. It’s a simple video but very beautiful and effective. Appropriately, Clipping received a nomination for a Hugo Award in the category of Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form for their current album. This award acknowledges and commends science fiction/fantasy under a number of mediums including literature,cinema, comics, visual art, television and music.
Beach Fossils – ‘Saint Ivy’ (Bayonet Records)
Another band with a four year gap between albums that feature with a new music video this week is Beach Fossils. The last time we heard from the American lo-fi indie trio they conveyed melancholic, jumpy and vibrant sentiments on ‘Sleep Apnea’ and ‘Shallow’, highlights from their last album. The band are set to share their third record Somersault on the 2nd of June via Bayonet Records. ‘Saint Ivy’ follows nicely after ‘This Year’, which possessed several Real Estate tendencies in it’s arrangement and production. With what we have heard so far from the forthcoming album it seems that we can expect lighter, jovial tunes perfect for summer evenings spent with pals by the canal beneath the sun.
Pond – ‘The Weather’ (Marathon Artists)
Australian psychedelic quartet Pond once had Kevin Parker (of Tame Impala) and Cameron Avery amongst its members and collaborations. The narrative of the video flows with a collage of vintage footage of glamourous ladies, extravagant surroundings and handsome business type men that you could imagine were originally used to advertise trivial luxuries like cars and aftershaves. Luckily, ‘The Weather’ is more contemporary in how it sounds, looks aren’t everything after all. The guitar, distortion effects on the vocal make no secret of the Tame Impala connection and overall this is ambient song tends to lack, it feels as though there is something slightly missing to give it that extra push from being a good introduction to Pond’s upcoming seventh album of the same name as the current single.