September 2014 SHRN: Lets Get Classic, Lets Get Weird

September 2014 SHRN

Lets get classic because yeah, we need to nearly kick off the playlist with “September Gurls.” Is it a little pat? Sure. But the day before my birthday Big Star finally clicked for me—like when your little kid taste buds flip over and suddenly some always loathed foodstuff tastes inexplicably delicious. I am old enough to appreciate Big Star now I guess, a delicious treat on foggy days when Alex Chilton in my ears feels like heaven.

Lets get weird—just imagine this collection of artists at a dinner party. It’s a fun game.

I love Fall. The air feels so fresh and all the holidays are just around the corner, close enough that they’re pure fun without the fretting. And no matter how many years I’m out of school, the start of September always feels like the beginning. The beginning of a new year, the beginning of an adventure, the crisp leafy end to lazy summer days. It doesn’t matter how much that doesn’t cue up with reality—it some ways its been a lazy summer, but hardly the kind where you lie on the beach and snooze. This is Northern California after all, leave your bathing suits and concepts of summer weather at home.

It is the start of something, that’s for sure. In less than two months, I’m getting married to the delightfully tall human who stole my heart long ago. I put this list together after dumplings, in a giant coffee shop where we drank too much caffeine at night and grinned at each other between long stretches of typing.

Quick Hits:

  • Don’t stop at “Blah Blah Blah,” the entire Girlpool album is delicious lo-fi gold. I found out about them through this Maria Sherman interview in Wondering Sound. (And of course they’re putting out awesome freshman albums in their late teens, because didn’t you know that Generation Z is taking over the world and putting us all to shame? To shame kids, to shame.)
  • More gold? The Chef soundtrack. I’ve had this on repeat since July—see the movie too if you like feel good food-porn.
  • Come on Alabama Shakes, you’re the band for all seasons, ESPECIALLY Fall, but you gotta put out a new album. Please?
  • Sometimes I think everything I know about music stems from having accidentally read I’m With The Band: Confessions of a Groupie at least five times. A little random, sure, but also a plug for rediscovering The Flying Burrito Brothers a few times a year.
  • Every autumn playlist requires a dash of Talking Heads and Pavement.

What are you listening to? Let me know in the comments.

Top 5 Driving Songs (by Joshua)

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who sing along to music and those who don’t. I am completely unashamedly in the first category, and I tend to find those who just sit and listen to music weird. Especially when it comes to listening to music in the car: I go wild. I don’t just sing; I shout the lyrics over the pumped-up volume and air-drum (which is weird, since I have never been able to figure out how to play the drums). It pains me to get into my car every day, as I have long since blown out my speakers and cannot listen to music at any reasonable volume (by reasonable I mean insanely loud). But every few days I have to take a delivery while I’m at work and I get to take my boss’s car and it has a fantastically loud sound system. Driving songs, for me at least, are ones that are fast, fun, and meant to be played as loud as possible. You want the windows down, you want the wind whipping through the car, you want the bass pumping and the guitars screeching. You want to be going fast, you want the roads to be empty. You basically want to be in Easy Rider, except instead of Steppenwolf you want something much more. Don’t worry, my friend, I’ve got you covered.

“Wake Up” by Arcade Fire

It’s expansive. It’s gorgeous. It’s happy and light and it’s super easy to sing along to. It has everything you want in a song to open up a new drive. This song somehow always pops up on my morning drive in my boss’s car. I think its brilliance comes in its simplicity – it’s a simple guitar line, played with the perfect amount of distortion. Sure, there’s a lot of instrumentation going on, but nothing is distracting. It just flows so well. And the lyrics, about childhood slipping away, are just perfect to shout out to the world through your open windows. And of course, it has the ubiquitous Arcade Fire end-of-song tempo change. (Side note: this is the song that caused the speakers in my car to blow out.)

“The Midnight Special” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

For me, this song is cruising down a country road, dust flying out from behind your tires, in a car with bench seats and lap belts, pulling swigs from a bottle of Jack with your drinking buddy at your side. It’s a roof slapping, toe tapping, hand clapping good ol’ time. Basically, it’s the opening scene to the Twilight Zone movie (1983). Of course, sans the scare.

“A Bar in Amsterdam” by Katzenjammer

Oh, this song just makes want to drive fast. Really fast, like irresponsibly fast. If I ever got into a car chase with the cops, I may have to put this song on. It’s so frenetic. The way I like to describe this band to someone who hasn’t heard them is as if the Dixie Chicks had a baby with Satan which was then raised in a carnival. In Hell. The Hell Carnival is way cooler than your lame ass carnival.

“I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by Dropkick Murphys

This, for you faithful readers and friends out there, is not a song I’m expected to like. Maybe it’s because I like The Departed so much. Maybe it’s that insane drum line during the verses (they are truly ridiculous, right?). I don’t know. I normally hate punk music, especially the Irish tinged types. And I don’t tend to like Boston, either. But man, you put this on driving around the beltway and all the annoyances of driving (like getting stuck in traffic while driving a stick shift [aka, my personal hell]) just melt away. Sometimes you need a really angry song to get you through your daily commute.

“I’m On A Boat” by The Lonely Island featuring T-Pain

Randall Monroe of the webcomic XKCD had this to say about rap music:

And let’s be honest: It’s true. And this song sounds fucking awesome going 90 mph, and for added bonus, it’s on a list of driving songs and it’s a nautically-themed song. Also, T-Pain is hilarious.

(Note: Comic used without express permission but it and other many wonderful strips can be found at xkcd.com )