Giving Thanks to the 48th State: your fall break playlist

You did it, guys! You made it to break. Go and gorge yourself, you’ve earned it. Try to ignore that nagging feeling that pervades your life, filling you with a sense of dread that there’s work to do, essays to write, finals to study for. Kick back and jam out.

MAPEI — Don’t Wait – as decribed by eric eich

Music that lacks a human voice is nothing new. “Sandstorm” came out when I was in kindergarten, and I am still healing. Most of my middle school dances ended with lots of tears and bruises on my end, not only because I was chubby and tremendously unpopular, but also because every music teacher cum DJ bold enough to play that terrible track would inevitably incite a prepubescent riot. But if Autotune seems soulless and dubstep gets you down, look no further than Mapei’s “Don’t Wait” – just try to get its soulful sound out of your head. I’m sure that, somewhere in cyberspace, it’s spawned some great remixes, too, but for now I’m content with the snappy and simple original; its hackneyed but genuine lyrics have been ringing in my ears every day since I first heard it, and I think I’ll be walking in time to its beat well into the foreseeable future.

JOE PURDY — “Mary May and Bobby” — as described by justine beed

Joe Purdy. Man, this guy is good. His songs have the kind of lyrics that you can’t multi-task listening to. Don’t even try it. You have to just sit back and only hear his voice to really get the full effect. He’s a storyteller. Songs like “This Town” and “Mary May & Bobby” will have you in total rapture.  Check out this playlist on Youtube with open ears and an open mind. If you’re a romantic and love the folky musings of guys like Joe Pug and girls like Stevie Nicks than this guitar-playing poet is just the musician for you to listen to.

AOSOON — “Under” — as described by chase porter

There is something about a thick female British accent that just slaps me in the face (in a sexy way) and takes me with it.  The most recent accent, belonging to AOSOON’s vocalist Mariso Hylton from across the pond, takes us underwater and slowly drowns us with silky smooth London inflections.  Released in their 4-song EP What Is This About, AOSOON’s (standing for A lot Of Something Out Of Nothing) song “Under” effortlessly calms you down to a melody that flows like newly-formed streams in the bike lane on Escondido Road.  The British duo behind this song, singer and guitarist Hylton and bassist Many Folonruso, have only worked together for a year and a half and are already creating other enchanting songs like Skinny Strong and Ghost. In all of her songs, Hylton’s voice is tantalizingly beautiful, but maybe I’m just a sucker for British accents.

JAMES BLAKE ft. CHANCE THE RAPPER — “Life Round Here” (remix) — as described by clara galperin

Guys, it’s James Blake…and Chance the Rapper. Together. United. One. Two opposites sides of the vocal spectrum colliding somewhere in the cosmic depths of the musical dimension and creating a casual masterpiece. You’d think James’ pained poet moans are too much to pair up with Chance’s jolly-raunchy-rapper voice, but alas, they’re a damn delicious duo. And that alliteration came naturally, I promise. That’s the kind of thing this song does to your brain. FYI, I found it circa three weeks ago and I still haven’t managed to get it out of my head, jussayin, you’ve been warned.

KYSON — “Shadows Cross” — as described by colin le

It’s not very often that I come across noteworthy music videos, but Kiani del Valle’s performance to Kyson’s “Shadows Cross” manages to elevate an already mesmerizing song. Kyson forges a sound that lies somewhere in between melancholy and chill (a preliminary forecast to my upcoming week) while serving as a backdrop for Valle’s hypnotic piece. In between the rainfall samples and subtle beats, I find myself being lulled into a serene trance by Kyson’s slightly incoherent and forlorn vocals. However, I cannot entirely credit the cohesion of this music video without acknowledging the editing and fractal elements that tie everything together.  

OSCAR ISAAC — “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me” — as described by max walker-silverman

When the Coen Brothers team up with legendary musician and producer T-Bone Burnett, good things tend to happen. Burnett, who likes to be credited as a “music archivist,” is the man responsible for everything from the super popular O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack to the freakishly memorable Gypsy Kings rendition of “Hotel California” in The Big Lebowski. Their latest film, Inside Llewyn Davis is due to be released this winter, and follows a struggling folk musician through the harsh realities of Greenwich Village in 1961. I managed to see the film this summer at a festival, and it does not disappoint. The sound track, in particular, is yet another masterpiece. Burnett has thumbed his way through the lexicon of American folk music (a national treasure) turning up such gems as this downbeat contemplation. Though Dave Van Ronk recorded the song originally, Oscar Isaac, the star of Inside Llewyn Davis, takes it for his own spin.

ASHTRAYNUTZ — “City Life (Moods Remix)” — as described by jazzmin williams

This remix of “city life” is one of those songs that have to be on your late night cruisin’ playlist. Ashtraynutz is an up-and-coming soul jazz band from Amsterdam. Singer/songwriter Joël Gaerthé knows exactly how to make music that is mellow enough to relax you, but upbeat enough to make you feel good. It’s always nice to be home for the holidays, but sometimes being around too much family can be a little stressful, especially with annoying relatives asking about your major—or lack thereof. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, get in your car, roll down the windows, listen to this song, and feel yourself forget about all those deadlines coming up.

BON IVER — “For Emma” — as described by bojan srb

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who like Bon Iver, and those who are lying to themselves. Yes, they’re no longer alt or anything like that, but I’m a pretentious boob – I like to dim the lights, sit back with my herbal tea of choice, and allow Justin Vernon’s impossibly high wails to transport me elsewhere. Maybe a cabin in the middle-of-nowhere Wisconsin. Maybe the first time I tried absinthe.  Maybe some of that weird Dramamine shit I did last summer. This particular gem is a conversation between Emma and her lover, whereupon he tries to convince her that they are meant to be together. She concedes that ‘with all his lies, he’s still very lovable’ yet sends him away, to fool others with his tricks. In the end, he recognizes that after all the foreign roads he’s walked, there is nobody quite like Emma. A worthy listen.

NEW WORLD SOUND and THOMAS NEWSON — “Flute (Clark Kent and Dead Robot Remix) — as described by sarika reddy

Who knew that fantastical, mythical flute would blend so viciously with trap? And yet, Clark Kent and Dead Robot’s remix of New World Sound and Thomas Newson’s “Flute” does exactly this. The epic bass drop, prancing Celtic-esque flute, and ratchet snare drum collide in this progressive piece to transport us to the fictional realm of medieval dance clubs in the Bronx (if that were ever a thing). Nothing speaks to merging genres as much as this mix of “Flute,” where (excuse my political incorrectness) Legend of Zelda meets Avicii meets Mike WiLL Made It.

CHROMEO — Sexy Socialite (Boys Noize Remix) — as described by quyen nguyen

Founded in Montreal back in 2004, Chromeo has consistently been producing solid feel-good tunes over the years. The duo is composed of keyboardist P-Thugg and singer/guitarist Dave 1. The two joked once on their MySpace that they might be “the only successful Arab/Jewish partnership since the dawn of human culture.” Known for creatively reworking 80s’ jams into modern synth-laden and irresistably danceable tracks, Chromeo’s recent track “Sexy Socialite” continues their streak and promises to be another of your guilty pleasures. The Guardian describes it as “Awash with Robin Thicke-style sexual politics and swaddled in layers of knowing irony, new track ‘Sexy Socialite’ is essentially Robert Palmer’s ‘Addicted to Love’ reworked for the 21st century.”

Listen to this Boys Noize remix and feel free to get groovin’.

SPECTRAL DISPLAY — It Takes A Muscle To Fall In Love — as described by brittany newell

I first heard this song in the opening sequence of a really slow French movie about a prostitute-slaying American psychopath on a bender in Paris. Needless to say whenever I listen to it now, those techno throbs and zinging synths make whatever I am doing (usually lolling in bed) seem 10x more significant. It’s one of those skin-tingly-but-not-too-overwhelmingly-epic songs that you wish was looped in the background of everyday life so that going to class would seem all the more broody and Euro-exciting. It’s the musical equivalent of a pair of leather pants that looks so good you wanna bob and skip with every step, YOU KNOW BRO? If I had to classify the genre I would say 80’s reggae goth, as perfected, evidently, by the Dutch. This makes perfect sense. Bien!

CRAFT SPELLS — “The Fog Rose High” — as described by cecily foote

Craft Spells do a lot of dreamy synth pop and this song is no exception. The energy is fun and it could totally be dance-y if you want that, but it also works for a chiller mood.  I think everyone I’ve played this for has responded positively, which is cool because a lot of the time my music is apparently too weird and underground and unfamiliar.  Another reason to jam this: lead dog of the group, Justin Paul Vallesteros, is a California native!  Check out the rest of Idle Labor if you’re into this.  I’m not sure how I feel about the album but somehow I’ve been digging this song since summer.

VAN CLIBURN with MOSCOW PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA, conducted by KIRILL KONDRASHIN — “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, op. 43, Variation XVIII” (Sergei Rachmaninoff) — as described by alec arceneaux

Maybe it’s having to format all of these submissions and links into tumblr, but something about writing this playlist brings out the Luddite in me. I’m kicking it back to acoustic instruments again, ensuring that this playlist doesn’t have any sort of flow to it. If you’ve made it this far, just peep this whole piece; the 18th that I’ve included is the emotional climax, simple, romantic, self-assured, exaggerated, empathetic, though it’s only compounded when combined with the tensions and crises before it. The whole piece is quite accessible and easily lovable. The version I’ve included is a Texan playing with a Russian orchestra a piece that was written by a Russian based on a four measure melody by an Italian who would dress up and claim to have sold his soul to the Devil. Don’t listen to math majors, music is the truest universal language.

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Check out our playlists from WEEK NINE and WEEK EIGHT

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