Did you notice that the “I” in the title is uppercase? Bet you didn’t. Gotcha, suckers!
SOMEONE STILL LOVES YOU BORIS YELTSIN – Sink/Let it Sway – as described by tulio ospina
Got a love/hate relationship with the suburbs? These guys do, too. Their music spans across the quiet streets of suburbia (as reflected by their muted voices and understated but dancey tunes) while calling out all its underlying tenseness. Whenever I go back home, I always get the creeping sense that all my neighbors are judgmentally watching us from behind their shuttered blinds. The lifestyle is criticized here, reminding the listener of how small and far away from everything you feel growing up in the suburbs. “It’s a pointless, small place on a map in outer space,” they sing at the start of Modern Mystery.
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin also approaches their all-too-pristine Missouri neighborhoods with nostalgia. Even their band name harkens us back to a Cold War mentality that is today condemned but also romanticized. More than all that, however, their warm memories stream out of sunny childhood summers and angsty high school weekends when problems weren’t problems at all. They sing of first loves, surreptitiously getting high in your parents’ car, and that secluded lake with the old pier where you and your friends used to go swimming, treating these subjects with the seriousness Sofia Coppola gives to “The Virgin Suicides” and Gia Coppola regards “Palo Alto.” Listen if you like summer rock, teenage angst, and upbeat nostalgia.
BANKS x SNAKEHIPS – “Warm Water” – as described by linnea rivano barros
First off, shout out to Lawrence for introducing me to Banks via “Waiting Game” on an earlier playlist — really changed my life. I’ve since become absolutely obsessed with the singer’s gorgeous vocals and mesmerizing beats. As sweet and slow as “Warm Water” is, something about this mix is particularly seductive and makes me wanna dance! Or at least bob along to the beat as I mouth along dramatically, making convincing faces at my reflection in the mirror. The Snakehips touch makes good sense of the vibe I’m picking up. Listen to all of their songs for a host of truly enjoyable and surprising experiences, I promise. Dive in, friends!
BASTILLE — “Flaws – Acoustic [Live in Paris]” – as described by sophia laurenzi
If not for all the catchy but touching lyrics of “Flaws,” listen to it specifically for the line “look at the wonderful mess that we made.” If not for that line, listen to this version for Dan Smith’s voice—pure, husky, and perfect against his bandmate’s “ohh’s” and rhythmic clapping and stomping. If not for Dan Smith’s voice, listen to it for Dan Smith’s hair. how can you listen for his hair, you ask? ha, now you have to click this link.
HOLY GHOST! — “Hold On” — as described by tristan breeden
I really enjoy knowing that most of my favorite songs have stories tied to the moments I discovered them. I came upon this particular one while wandering through an H&M in San Francisco. It was catchy, it was upbeat, my pace happened to be in sync with the rhythm of the song. I had no choice: I needed to know who it was. So, I went from speaker to speaker, fraying my way through a dense crowd of shoppers, frantically googling the lyrics (Shazam was not helpful). Time was running out quickly, threatening to take the song away from me indefinitely. Fortunately, I found the name of the track right before it faded out into oblivion. My heart could now rest: the gem was secured and ready to be played on repeat at home.
This doesn’t tell you much about the song itself, but given the trouble I went through to get it here, you might as well give it a listen.
PORTER ROBINSON — “Sad Machine” — as described by alejandra salazar
Porter Robinson’s music makes me think of brush or paint strokes (an analogy that I think is a subconscious reaction to his new album art), and that’s how I’ve mentally mapped out his evolution as an artist. His first single, “Say My Name”, was so big and bold that I can’t even liken it to brushstrokes—more like haphazard neon Pollock-esque splatters moving in tune with the bass. His eleven-track, OWSLA-sponsored/Skrillex-produced debut EP release, Spitfire, is a bit more controlled but just as bold, creating fast, thick, broad strokes that work together in a very “big picture” sense. And in 2012, we get “Language”, which foreshadows a shift in tone and style that is fully formed by the time we reach “Sad Machine”: a much more delicate, subtle and nuanced way of creating his brand of EDM-based compositions, with smaller, lighter strokes that give away a keen eye for detail and a supreme mastery of the craft.
KISHI BASHI — “Bittersweet Genesis for Him AND Her” — as described by jackson wiley roach
I was listening to this song this afternoon on an airplane from Los Angeles to San Francisco, flying over the California coast. There were green hills and turquoise water, enormous white salt extraction pools veined with skeins of strange purple rust, grey marshes, the deep blue canals of Foster City, all the miniature buildings shining, the white wave lines moving slowly across the ochre water in the bay. Kaoru Ishibashi (K. Ishibashi => Kishi Bashi) often plays violin with Of Montreal. He just released his second album as a solo artist. This song may or may not make you want to invent the universe.
THE ACID — “Tumbling Lights” — as described by culture editor brittany newell
One word: chills. I love this song’s creepy-crawly build up, with the innocent Miyazaki-esque chimes tingling against grizzly electro feedback. Then the singer slithers in—reminiscent of Radiohead and the boogeyman and that subhuman voice that informs shoppers they have 15, 10, 5 minutes until closing and you’re lost and alone in the frozen food aisle and can’t find the exit and must accept that you’re trapped in a frosty white vacuum of blinking lights and food that lasts forever. Better grab a push-pop and settle in for the night cuz if this throbbing beat and ghostly voice are any indication, it’s gonna be a long and weird and wild ride. Cleanup in Aisle 666, please.
EURYTHMICS — “I Need a Man” — as described by performance editor bojan srb
A disco vixen version of Annie Lennox keeps shouting what she needs. What does she need? She needs a man. He doesn’t wear a dress. She needs a man. She needs a man. And he doesn’t wear a dress. He doesn’t shave his legs, and he doesn’t double-comb his hair. He doesn’t powder puff, he just leaves it rough. For all the time she spends describing the kind of man she doesn’t need, I’d give up my supper to meet him.
MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT — “Since I’ve Laid My Burden Down” — as described literature editor max walker-silverman
Kinda funny, ain’t it. The power of a voice and a guitar. I’ll spare you the sanctimonious metaphor about technology and progress…(but hey, there’s a good one there….)
EARL SWEATSHIRT ft. FRANK OCEAN — “Sunday” — as described by editor-in-chief lawrence neil
Even when he’s rapping and not singing, Ocean’s songwriting has both depth and emotion in content, and intricacy in its delivery and sound. It makes me wonder what he would have been like if he had been an author or a fiction writer. His zoom ins are specific and visceral, his zoom outs are thought-provoking and observant. The dirty, asymmetric, loose-drumhead beat mesh with a distorted guitar riff over the darkly reflective refrain: “All my dreams got dimmer when I stopped smoking pot / Nightmares got more vivid when I stopped smoking pot / And loving you is different, I don’t like you a lot.”