Daughters – “The Reason They Hate Me”
Daughters’ comeback album You Won’t Get What You Want is a punishing, physical album, and this track is the knockout punch that crushes your skull before melting your face off.
Perhaps the narrator –– ranting about his entitled, insufferable pig of a boss –– is finally burning that industrial hellhole to the ground. This is the soundtrack. Steel grinds against steel. Iron tentacles crash to the factory floor. And the narrator holds the torch, screaming manically at his pathetic employer, “DON’T TELL ME HOW TO DO MY JOB!”
It might be the fantasy of a maniac, but we’ve all been there, man. And this is the catharsis for anyone who’s ever been bossed around by some asshole who doesn’t deserve to be bossing you around in the first place. -colin
Father John Misty – “Please Don’t Die”
It’s a harrowing, nightmarish time for a person who wants to end it all. But in music we don’t often hear about the helpless desperation felt by that person’s loved ones. Joseph Tillman taps into this feeling on “Please Don’t Die,” the track’s soaring chorus a desperate plea from Tillman’s wife for Tillman not to go through with it. “You’re all that I have,” she begs. The lyrics read like a frantic text message.
It’s a gut-wrenching reflection of life at rock bottom. Whereas the anxiety was whimsical and silly on “Mr. Tillman,” this track is the undiluted, agonizing truth behind crippling depression. There’s nothing sexy about a downward spiral, especially when you’re at the top, watching someone you love and feeling like there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
Charli XcX – “No Angel”
“No Angel” exists in a quantum state. On one side of the slot, it’s all PARTY! BALLIN! ROBOT SEX! YEAH! On the other side they’re heartfelt scenes about what it’s actually like to live like that, from the perspective of someone who’s actually been there, and isn’t quite sure if they like it as much as they say they they do. The evidence lies in the interference; how the banger conflicts with and amplifies the humanity. In hingeing the hook on the phrase “I can learn,” it envisions a future of pop music worth being optimistic about.
George Clanton – “Make it Forever”
Nostalgia is a hell of a drug. It can make you think that the Backstreet Boys had something, like, totally rad man. And leave it to George Clanton, vaporwave alum, 100% Electronica founder, and pop music mad scientist to make a Titanic banger with a downbeat drum patter straight out of the 90s and a “whoa-oh” outro that sounds like the Backstreet Boys on acid, that somehow isn’t a treatise on “the good ol’ days.” This song is a breakthrough that sounds like it was made in a make-or-break moment and is both full of hope for the future, and the massive wave of energy we need to make a future possible.
Hailu Mergia – “Tizita”
There’s a point in most people’s lives where they have a sorta obvious but still powerful minor epiphany – every single person you see is the main character in their own story. They’re struggling and searching and doing incredible things and boring things too. Especially when you live in a big city, other people can sometimes start to feel like obstacles to be maneuvered around or engaged with in perfunctory way. But everybody’s story is special and most of them interesting. Like what if the cabby driving you from the DC airport was a legend of Ethiopian 70s soul jazz?
But you don’t have to know Hailu Mergia’s story to feel the deep joy, beauty and melancholy emanating from the first song on Lala Belu, his first album in over 30 years. The laid-back groove sets the scene pleasantly for the first 9 bars but when’s Mergia’s accordion enters, the song transports you to a groove that feels so special but as comfortable as your gramp’s armchair. It saunters between funk, soul and jazz as Mergia explores his various keyboards and Ethiopian scales.
Put this on and feel good for 10 minutes.
The Hold Steady – “Eureka”
It’s widely accepted that the best bar band in America hasn’t released a great album since 2008’s Stay Positive. It came as some surprise then, in 2017, that they quietly began releasing great music again. A series of one off singles (each with a b-side), most of which coincided with various shows across the country.The first factor that makes these songs what they are is the pure unabashed musical joy. Franz Nicolay being back on the key’s seems to be a driving force here, but everyone just plays their hearts out.The second is Craig Finn’s delivery. Once upon a time Craig barely sang. He did everything otherwise, but there was little melody. Eventually, he found something of a singing voice, and while personal growth is to be lauded, the songs just didn’t hit as hard.Craig is back to delivering these lyrics in every way other than singing. He shouts, talks, slurs, and spits the words like getting them out of his head by any means possible is the most important thing he can imagine. “Eureka” is the culmination of all of this. Craig brings a story worth hearing, and the band follows up. The important moment of the song, though, is when the music drops away and he says “No gods/no kings/let freedom ring.” It sounds fresh and novel and reminds us why we loved this band in the first place.
Restorations – “The Red Door”
When I hear the phrase “The Red Door” I think of two things. The first is the front door of Episcopalian churches, which flourish across the northeast where Restorations hail from.The second is from an episode of Community, where two characters argue about whose bar is the best, with the joke being that it’s the same. One character, Britta, heralds the “Red Door” over Jeff’s “L Street.” Both characters epitomize a certain kind of hipsterness that heralds gentrification, which is what this song is about.I have no idea what red door Jon Loudon is singing about, but I think about the cycle of gentrification. Old buildings like churches are knocked down for new structures such as bars. Those bars close and a new bar opens. The cycle of red doors continues, each erasing a little bit of what made the neighborhood unique. As the drums pound and the guitars wind, something dies. “She says ‘Don’t be so cynical, this might all be a miracle.’” Restorations don’t sound so sure. -Scruffy
Snail Mail – “Pristine”
A song worthy of the Titanic. This song won’t sink.
The guitar riff at the beginning is about as brutal as anything metal legends Niff Gorthrax have ever produced. The drums worthy of a Billy Zane feature. My head is spinning!
“And if you do find someone better, I’ll still see you in everything.”
This song has more quotable lines than a Friends reunion!
The best part of the song? Okay kid. I’ll tell you. There are a few parts.
Yea a few.
You know what kid? Actually this song is perfect. But yea I got a favorite part.
Listen to the whole thing but listen even harder at 3:30. This is where the song solidifies itself as a masterpiece. The little things make the difference kid.
Now go get em gumshoe.