To say that 2018 has been somewhat of a tumultuous year would be an understatement. It’s been erratic and transformative for sure, filled with chaos and excitement and monumental, life changing catalysts. Upheaval, though, doesn’t have to be a bad thing. But even good, it requires periods of adjustment, rejuvenation, and contemplation–especially for a classic introvert like myself.
I’ll refrain from details, as some of them–though entirely positive–remain quite personal, and I’m not ready to publicly divulge the specifics. What I will relay is that this series of consecutive transformations has reawakened my love for emotional, introspective music.
About a year ago, I stopped being a DJ on KSVR. While I now have my Friday nights free, I do miss the creation of playlists. Maybe it’s why I’ve gotten interested in blogging again.
Given this, I will probably be posting a few of my playlists here on the blog. The first, I dubbed Falling Man after the Blonde Redhead song, which was resonating deeply with me at the time of creation.
Now, I’m not going to touch on all of the songs in the mix, but there will be an embed of the full “mix tape” in its full at the bottom of this post. And I’m calling it a mix tape, even though it’s a playlist. Deal with it.
1. Beach House: Drunk in LA
We open with “Drunk in LA” by Beach House, off the 2018 Beach House LP, simply titled 7. After owning Sub Pop’s Loser Edition for a few months, I suddenly connected with it deeply.
It was “Drunk in LA” that drew me in. As with many on this playlist, it was the opening lyrics that did it:
Can’t help seeking corners
Of dark and deadend roads
Where the drinks keep pouring down
And the candles keep me warm
Something fragile coming soon
Listen to the song below and hear for yourself.
2. Jeff the Brotherhood: Endless Fire
As with most of the songs on this list, especially the seven I am featuring, the lyrics are a focal point. For a band that specializes in modern garage-based psychedelic rock, the lyrics Jeff the Brotherhood spits out are pure poetry. And it is songs like “Endless Fire” that prove this point.
Just so you know
Every single day I think of you
And if you don’t
I don’t want to know about it too
Is it too late to think it isn’t over?
And if you go to the region of the endless fire
Know that I may not be there
Read those again, and think about them in context to the end of a relationship. They’re really quite brilliant. (That is not synonymous with the changes that took place in my life by the way; quite the opposite.)
“Endless Fire” is the last song on the band’s truly remarkable LP, We Are The Champions (2011). In the near future, I’ll be writing about the band’s new LP, Magick Songs, and its place in Jeff the Brotherhood’s greater library of work.
3. Blonde Redhead: Falling Man
This mix tape takes its name from this Blonde Redhead song, which was on pretty heavy rotation a few weeks back during a few whirlwind work trips, one to Phoenix and another to Vegas.
The riding season (motorcycles) had just ended, and things were calming down at work, which meant that I finally had a chance to zero in and process on the events of the summer, and some pretty monumental personal changes that took place. But travel kept me at pretty much maximum sensory overload, followed by putting on a large-scale work event which included the same. So it wasn’t until just last week where rejuvenation occurred.
There’s both a present and nostalgic metaphorical torture in the vocals of Makino or Amadeo Pace (not entirely sure which) in “Falling Man” that is so raw and unapologetically emotional. The lyrics are highly introspective, highly alluring, and at times highly provocative. There are hints of self-discovery, where Pace questions himself, who he is, and what he has become. He knew who he was, but he realizes that those parts of him that he knew so well are no longer present.
I am what I am
And what I am is who I am
I know what I know
And all I know is that I fell
If only I could walk through walls
Then maybe I would tell you who I was
Yet I am just a man still learning how to fall
Again, this resonated deeply with me during the creation of the playlist: one catalyst after another over several months, paired with sensory overload–sometimes jumbling contradictory feelings and emotions–all of which led to borderline exhaustion.
4. The Stargazer Lillies: How We Lost
Mysticism comes in many forms, and I honestly believe that you can transcend time and space, and to an extent that separates your soul from your body through a deep, singular musical experience. You achieve this by zeroing out everything else; all thoughts dissipate, all other senses fade, and you are one with what you hear.
The first time I listened to “How We Lost” by The Stargazer Lillies, I had this sort of transcendental experience in which nothing else around me existed. I believe I was sitting on my couch. I set aside everything, closed my eyes, and let the record play. Aches and pains sliped away, stress of day-to-day life disappeared, and all that was left was empirically audible.
5. The Stranglers: Golden Brown
As I began to pull myself out of the mental conundrums that were spinning through my head, and as the exhaustion began to disappear, I rediscovered and fell deeply in love with The Stranglers‘ “Golden Brown”.
Dreamy and pleasant, there’s an air of love and understanding in this classic. Of getting swept away, and succumbing to the world, the experience, and the emotions. Like falling in love, it’s truly a beautiful thing.
6. Spiritualized: Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
There’s a word for it, the overlapping vocals, the different verses intertwined, but I can’t recall what it is right now. Maybe it’ll come to me in a few days, but then it’ll be too late. It’s what makes this song by Spiritualized so damn amazing.
Shoegaze-y instrumentation (but not an overwhelming, in-your-face style employed by masters like My Bloody Valentine) that sides on dream-pop keeps the song well-rounded, but the three overlapping verses are where Spiritualized embodies the overwhelming nature of love, devotion, and hopelessness.
7. Woods: It Ain’t Easy
I concluded the mix with “It Ain’t Easy” by Woods. One of their most emotionally vivid songs, pulled from one of my all time favorite records, Bend Beyond. I’ve been a fan of Woods for ages, and their more recent albums have injected elements of emotional prowess, but I believe their deepest tracks surfaced on that 2012 release. Hear for yourself below:
Mix Tape for a Tumultuous Year
Alright, so we’ve covered seven tracks from the playlist. In retrospect, it’s obviously a peek inside a tortured mind. Sometimes a few days’ rest is what’s needed for a transformation to come full circle; and looking back over the last few months, I find myself mystified at the culmination of these changes.
Where I was, even this short time ago, is not entirely who I am now. And who I am now, which is becoming clearer by the day, is not necessarily who I will be tomorrow.
Growth, both personal and interpersonal, is a wondrous thing.
Here’s the mix tape in its entirety:
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