Hello, everyone! Now that the end of July 2017 is upon us, I welcome you all to the sixth installment of what is arguably my most obnoxiously titled series: “Monthly Monday Music Melange.” I am having a bit of a hard time believing the fact that the existence of this series has already lasted half of a year; on the contrary, though, this month specifically has felt very long music-wise (in terms of the month itself, not so much). Anyway, I hope you all had a great month, and maybe even can enjoy the songs that define this month of my life.
“Only a Child” by Gracie and Rachel
This song by Gracie and Rachel that I found due to an episode of All Songs Considered essentially exposes all of my deepest insecurities. Yes, “Only a Child” was likely not written for someone of my young age, but my fears that I am neither as perceptive, nor as ready to provoke large successes in my life as I think I am. Consequently, I have fostered an odd relationship with this somewhat melodramatic song throughout the month of July; its lyrics always humble me (almost to exasperating extents) as I listen to it while preparing for the day ahead.
“Mamchout” by Bargou 08
Right before I headed to one of the last days of my summer class in June, I stumbled upon a wonderful article entitled “NPR Music’s Essential Songs, Albums, Performances and Videos of 2017 (So Far).” One particular entry that I found fascinating was the description of Targ by Bargou 08, and thus, I made sure to check out some of the songs on the album. Immediately, I was enchanted by this passionate music, and looked forward to when I could hear even more of it. “Mamchout” really stood out to me, and the song has truly been a staple for me as I have walked around in the summer heat.
“Helplessness Blues” by Fleet Foxes
I also finally started listening to Fleet Foxes at the start of this month (though still not as much as I should be, to be honest). I had to leave the house soon after I took my first listens, so I quickly downloaded the lovely track entitled “Helplessness Blues.” The lyrics of this song have stuck with and inspired me, in addition to it remaining a fantastic song to listen to throughout summer drives.
“Walk Like a Panther” by Algiers
The beginning of July brought about mid-year lists from some of my favorite music critics, and one group that I saw brought up is Algiers, of which I had heard many positive reviews in the past. When I first heard “Walk Like a Panther,” I felt enthralled by the song’s passion and power. I could not help listening to the track throughout the month, as putting focus on the vocals and lyrics within it is always visceral experience for me; I can feel the performance in my chest every time.
“Valley” by Perfume Genius
As mentioned in my last music-related post, I am becoming a huge fan of Perfume Genius. Well, Mike Hadreas’s Tiny Desk Concert (featured above) only further solidified my feelings toward him and his incredible music. “Valley” in particular caught much of my attention, and this stunning song even became a favorite in terms of my walking playlists (a very important honor, in my book).
Also, I must note that a local Starbucks establishment played a couple of songs from the album No Shape while I worked on my post about Chicago’s Ferris wheels; such an experience is one that I may have gotten over-excited about at the time…
“Forever Summer Holiday” by Kero Kero Bonito
That is right, my friends, new KKB music has graciously been bestowed to us. “Forever Summer Holiday” is an incredibly adorable song upfront, but once I found out that this song is apparently about global warming, I began to appreciate what the track accomplishes to a greater extent. Just as with most of KKB’s music, the underlying meaning within this specific song is what makes it work as a summer hit for the generally cynical person that I am.
“On Hold” by The xx
This blog post is the second one of mine that has mentioned “On Hold,” as it was featured in a post I wrote entitled “My Semester in Songs.” Surprisingly, the electro-pop track has stuck with me (along with the music made by Jamie xx, by the way); in particular, I listened to the song much on the Fourth of July, since I found it to perfectly fit the mood of the night for me.
“The House That Heaven Built” by Japandroids
I remember waking up one morning in 2012 to a complimentary article in the Chicago Tribune about the band Japandroids. At some point afterward, I listened to their music, and somehow, the rock music I heard did not click with me. Trust me when I claim that this kind of process repeated multiple times over the next five years or so, up until July 2017. While attempting to write a thoughtful email, I ended up coming across a playlist on Apple Music that featured “The House That Heaven Built,” and I (thankfully) did not skip the song. In fact, something about the track worked so well with the situation that I could not stop listening to it, and I ended up listening to more of the band’s discography. By the end of that night, I realized why I did not enjoy “The House That Heaven Built” earlier on: The song is both a bit too indicative of the pop-punk music that I used to indulge in, and basically is what I have always imagined people who live in Wrigleyville listen to while partying at night. Nevertheless, I cannot deny the powerful energy of this song, and thus, I will continue to listen to it.
“Feeling Ok” by Best Coast
The night before my most recent trip to Chicago, I once again enjoyed the wonderful “Indie Replay” playlist on Apple Music, which features “Feeling Ok” by Best Coast. Typically, I skip through songs I am not terribly familiar with as I go through the playlists of others (I know…I am the worst), but since I was deep into the research process for an upcoming blog post, I let the song at hand play through. Instantaneously, the charm of the indie rock track impacted me, and I knew it would become part of the following day’s playlist. Just as predicted, I enjoyed the song while on the train to and from the city…many times, in fact.
“Leap of Faith (feat. De La Soul & Horace Andy)” by Mr Jukes
Another song included in my list of essential songs for my Chicago visit was “Leap of Faith (feat. De La Soul & Horace Andy)” by Mr Jukes. Throughout this summer, I have fully embraced this solo project of Jack Steadman; such a trend continued when I first heard this song ahead of the (wonderful) album’s release. Of course, being who I am, I knew that the track would suit my Chicago trip quite well, so I made sure to listen to it throughout the experience. What can I say? I just love classically conditioning myself to further enjoy amazing songs.
“I Can Change” by LCD Soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem is a band that I admittedly had vastly underrated when I first started listening to them just months ago, as I had expected them to not live up to the hype portrayed by other music fans. Well, my friends, I finally saw the light, and can now declare myself a fan of LCD Soundsystem. I listened to the band’s “Essentials” Apple Music playlist on the Fourth of July (a decision I believe was made because of my association of the vocal style to Franz Ferdinand, another band I listened to on that day), but listening to these songs on the following Monday and Tuesday made them really stick for me. “I Can Change” was an immediate standout for me at the time, though I now am a huge fan of many of their songs; in fact, I listened to the band’s music for hours while in the aforementioned Starbucks location, and even had a nice run as I enjoyed their discography. Seriously, I became mildly obsessed with LCD Soundsystem during this month.
“Westermarck” by Charly Bliss
Another band that I developed a slight obsession with, though this time mid-month, is Charly Bliss. I first heard of the band through NPR Music, as the album Guppy had been featured in many articles, including the “First Listen” series, of which I am so incredibly grateful for. To be honest, I appreciated the band’s music at the time, but the vocal style was just not something that I was used to. As I watched their recent KEXP performance, though, I was reminded that the hooks of their songs, and that of “Westermarck” in particular, are irresistible. Consequently, I found myself coming back to the song, downloading it, and listening to it increasingly as time went on. Eventually, I knew that I had become a fan of the band, and I basically binged on their music one Friday night (which included many replays of a wonderful acoustic performance of “Westermarck”).
“Your Eyes” by Bombay Bicycle Club
Beginning on a Sunday night a couple of weeks ago, I just felt so odd about everything, as all of my plans that I had looked forward to started to not pan out, leading me to questioning much of my actions. Bombay Bicycle Club, a band currently on hiatus that I have loved for years, had been on my mind at the time; thus, A Different Kind of Fix seemed like the perfect album to listen to for the funk I was in, and it turned out to be that way. As I walked around my college campus on following day, “Your Eyes” in particular pleased my pouting psyche (hello, alliteration). This song is comprised of the perfect combination of indie pop tendencies and melancholy, and for that, I will always be grateful.
“In Heaven” by Japanese Breakfast
Almost simultaneously, I gave my first listens to music by Japanese Breakfast, Michelle Zauner’s solo project, as I had seen many positive reviews of her new album entitled Soft Sounds From Another Planet. Although I had a positive first reaction to Zauner’s discography, the moment that I believe really kickstarted my upcoming Japanese Breakfast fandom was my aforementioned walk around campus, during which I listened to the somber, yet dreamy, pop song that is “In Heaven.” In a similar way to the other experiences outlined within this blog post, the song just entangled itself so perfectly with the moment in time that fascination with the song would inevitably last for the foreseeable future. In fact, for the rest of that week (and beyond) I listened to both of the Japanese Breakfast records many times. Honestly, these albums will likely be the ones that define my entire summer.
“Old Friends” by Pinegrove
Yet another band that I began to listen to throughout July due to my perception of many rave remarks from other music lovers is Pinegrove. Upon my first listen, my reaction was mostly comprised by surprise, but after I revisited their music sans expectations (and following my observation of many positive comments regarding their Pitchfork Festival performance, nonetheless), I started to understand the authentic and cathartic charm that the band’s music holds to many people. Watching their Tiny Desk Concert on one Tuesday afternoon is what really sealed the deal for me; not only is the audio of the performance itself very pleasing, but every song featured also just sounds so genuine in its performance. “Angelina” in particular remains a standout track to me, but the impact of “Old Friends” is simply hard to beat and perfect for many situations, as I have discovered, including writing blog posts, night drives, and walking through forest preserves.
“Could I Be” by Sylvan Esso
Discussions about Sylvan Esso are not new to this blog of mine; the duo have truly held my interest and love for months now. As I propelled myself through the writing process of a blog post on a Tuesday night (the same one mentioned earlier), I realized that I was in “Sylvan Esso mood” of sorts, and therefore, listen-throughs of their performances and albums took place. What also became apparent at this time was the fact that I had surely overlooked the duo’s self-titled album, and the song “Could I Be” in particular. From then on, the electro-pop song has been a writing staple for me.
“Recreational Love” by The Bird and the Bee
The Bird and the Bee’s connection to this blog of mine is eerily similar to that of Sylvan Esso, as both duos have been part of multiple music-related posts of mine. Time-wise, my knowledge of the duo at hand, though, is superior; I believe I have hit the one-year mark in listenership. Anyway, I find their music to be ideal for summertime, as to me, songs such as “Recreational Love” are sonically equivalent to the consumption of a cold glass of water, and/or the display of a perfectly-polished glass coffee table. (My mind loves odd associations, clearly.) The Bird and the Bee, in short, offer refreshing music that lets me handle situations with a clear mind, for which I am eternally grateful.
“Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen
Throughout my life, I have been surrounded by hardcore Bruce Springsteen fans. All the while, and up until this month, I had never really independently listened to his music. Both a documentary viewed by my family and the endorsements of people on social media finally led me to listening to a bit of Bruce’s music, though. “Born to Run” was such a cliché choice made by yours truly, obviously, but one has to admit that it is a fantastic and rousing song, especially while enjoying a summer night.
“New Energy (Live Through It)” by Daniel Avery
Thanks to social media (once again), I discovered my hidden appreciation for house/dance/electronic music in the month of July 2017. The way I heard Daniel Avery’s album entitled Drone Logic described about a week ago was just so intriguing to me, and immediately afterward, I took a listen to the album, to which I felt so immediately connected. This discovery of my suppressed taste inspired a bit of shock, because I generally do not listen to house music. Regardless, I had a hard time taking a break from this album from then on; the songs within are immaculate and pleasantly produced, and startling, yet incredibly listenable. Oddly enough, the tracks on this record sounded like great “biking songs” to me upon first listen, and while such circumstances did not come to fruition within this month, I have enjoyed the entire album while writing, editing, and taking walks. Why did I choose “New Energy (Live Through It)” specifically, then? Well, the song eerily reminds me of EPCOT Center, and as a fan of the park and its former & present background music loops, making this discovery of its reminiscence created an emotional connection to the song for me. Aww.
“Bones” by Crumb
Looking through the entertaining place that is the Indieheads subreddit and its various linked articles and corresponding recommendations just days ago led me to the band Crumb. I was quite intrigued when I first heard a bit of a song of theirs, entitled “Bones,” and as I browsed through other songs off of their EPs, my interest remained. Soon afterward, I read a comment on the aforementioned subreddit that indicated the existence of a saxophone solo in one of their songs. As a fan of saxophone solos (hello, “Machinist” by Japanese Breakfast), I eagerly looked around for this coveted moment, and subsequently found it within that first song of theirs I listened to. Thenceforth, my appreciation for Crumb skyrocketed, and I increasingly became enthralled by their jazzy and psychedelic music. I desired to avoid growing tired of their songs too quickly, though, so later in the day, I essentially forced myself to phase out my constant listens to their EPs. Most likely, one can easily guess that I am eagerly awaiting new music from Crumb.
Well, I hope you all enjoyed some of the songs mentioned throughout this post, and possibly even the stories, experiences, and perceptions of mine that went along with them. If you did enjoy any of the songs, please give thanks to the artists (and, of course, NPR Music, while advising them to hire me soon). Furthermore, I would appreciate any recommendations directed toward me, as I am always looking for new music to enjoy.
I send my best wishes to you all for the next month; let us make it a successful one!