Posted in Music, Sunday Songs

Sunday Songs: 2/5/23

Happy Sunday, everyone!

It’s February now, and what better way to start the month off than with an excess of Super Furry Animals? I hereby claim no responsibility for any damages caused by any bipedal, masked, bear-like demon-creatures that may cross your path. They’re best deterred by repeated screaming, if you want my advice. And look out for the chupacabras while you’re at it.

Enjoy this week’s songs!

SUNDAY SONGS: 2/5/23

“The International Language of Screaming” – Super Furry Animals

I finally listened to all of Radiator (which I seriously think boasts one of my favorite album covers…ever, really. You really won with this one, Pete Fowler.) earlier in the week, and it just felt like pure fun all the way through. I know how vague of a description that is, but listening to almost every track (save for the downer “Download”) gives me the sense that Gruff Rhys and company had a blast recording every single song. Knowing that this comes an album or two before the masterpiece that is Rings Around the World, Radiator feels like the band keeping the cheerful, carefree spirit that they’ve always maintained, but just starting to get weird with it—they haven’t quite gotten into the flat-out experimental territory of Rings just yet, but you can see it peering through the cracks just as well. My only criticism that I can think of for Radiator is that some of the songs blend together a bit, but it’s not a complaint if they all sound almost as good as this one. “The International Language of Screaming” is a clear standout—it’s a concentrated shot of Britpop fun straight to the heart, pure and simple. Maybe it isn’t as weird as some of my other SFA favorites, but I can’t help but nodding my head to every “la la la la” and ecstatic “WOO!” every time it comes around on shuffle. It’s joy with a side of popping colors and punchy guitars.

“By the Sea” – Wendy & Bonnie

Apologies for the whiplash from going straight from “The International Language of Screaming” to this eeriness. But, as with far too much with this post, there’s an inevitable Super Furry Animals connection.

I first found out that this song existed because of “Hello Sunshine”; I distinctly remembered a part at the beginning that creeped me out as a kid, so, naturally, I set out to find it. Sure enough, it was a sample of this song (0:00-0:47 in the video), and the rest of the song is…just as creepy. Recorded when Wendy and Bonnie Flowers were 17 and 13, respectively, it’s a chilling, atmospheric song that feels just as gray as a cold, churning sea crashing against a rocky shore. Punctuated by seemingly random fills of soft drums and out-of-sync guitar strums, there’s a strange discordance about it. It’s clear that the vocals were intended to be the main attraction here, their lilting harmonies shining through the cloudy fog of the rest of the song. It’s a great listen, but at the same time, it’s strangely comforting to think that I’m still creeped out now by the same thing that I was creeped out at when I was 5. I still don’t get why I was freaked out by some random clip from Baby Einstein, but this is understandable. There’s really something about Wendy & Bonnie, huh?

“Everyday Sunshine” – Fishbone

“Everyday Sunshine” takes on a whole new meaning when you wake up on Monday morning and see that it’s -6° outside. Anybody else sick of winter? No? Just me?

Aaaaaaaand another whiplash-inducing left turn, but we’re back to happy songs, don’t worry! We’re back to what’s close to the epitome of happy songs, as a matter of fact. I found this one courtesy of my amazing mom, and I haven’t stopped nodding my head ever since. If Super Furry Animals tried to embody joy, this is inches away from the pinnacle of the feeling itself. Just like the colorful murals and fields of blue and orange wildflowers in the music video, “Everyday Sunshine” is a sunburst (no pun intended) of carefree ska happiness. Every note from the brass section and every drumbeat brings armfuls of hope, and you can’t help but look out at the cloudy skies and try and find that tiny sliver of sunshine poking through. It’s the perfect bandaid for every mood: happy? Play this song. Neutral? Play this song. Sad? Play it and dance by yourself until your troubles are but motes of pollen drifting away from the aforementioned field of wildflowers. Again, a big thank you to my mom for this one. ☀️

“True Blue” – boygenius

With that, we’re…back on the sadgirl train, but…this one’s at least not nearly as heartbreaking as “Emily I’m Sorry,” so…

The harmonies of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus obviously fit together like it was written in the stars, but even so, you can see whose songs are whose—and this is Lucy’s song, without question, even if the handwritten in the lyric video didn’t give it away. It has their signature melancholy written all over it, but somehow, it feels more on the tender side, like learning to love somebody after you’ve only just started to heal yourself. Dacus’ voice is a soft but pushing force, gently letting the song form itself around her as it swirls into the night sky, while the higher harmonies of Baker and Bridgers seamlessly flow through to the chorus and the bridge—I particularly love how Baker’s high notes come through on the bridge—”Because it doesn’t matter anymore/Who won the fight?/I’m not keeping score.” Songs like this really display the two sides of boygenius—it’s a song where one member takes the lead, but they still come together as a single, cohesive force of nature.

“The Man Don’t Give a Fuck” – Super Furry Animals

“Out of focus ideology/Keep the masses from majority/Head space brainwashed, tumble dried/Left to bleed whilst vultures glide…”

…oh, so they just went and gave the GOP their own theme song, huh? On second thought…no. The GOP doesn’t deserve such a monumental banger.

I hate to double up here, but the Super Furry Animals train has left the station, and it’ll be an eternity before it reaches its destination. This song has quickly risen to become one of my favorites of theirs; it may not be as weird or experimental as some of my other favorites, but it’s a tight, four-minute burst of head-banging. From the deceptively slow build of the first minute, the music cascades into pure fuzz and drumbeats, and though the music drops out for short intervals, it never once loses its unstoppable momentum. It’s easy to see why this was one of their most popular songs: even though the chorus dominates almost the entire song, you can’t help but get up on your feet the minute the drums kick in. The slow creep of the vocals and jingle bells that starts at around the 2:30 mark builds suspense with a gradual layering of harmonies, building to a raucous screams that pushes right back into the ecstasy of the chorus. Almost 5 minutes of the same line (“you know they don’t give a fuck about anybody else”), and it never gets tiring—on the contrary, it’s already my second-most played song of the year, according to Apple Music. That’s an earworm for you.

Since this post consists entirely of songs, consider all of them to be today’s song.

That’s it for this week’s Sunday Songs! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Advertisement
Posted in Music, Sunday Songs

Sunday Songs: 1/29/23

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.

We’re reaching the end of the month now, and it’s shaping up to be another great year for music already! Also, we’re not even a month into this year and I’m already on another relentless Super Furry Animals kick, so…do with that what you will. It’s fine. Bring on the (Welsh) Britpop craziness.

Enjoy this week’s songs!

SUNDAY SONGS: 1/29/23

“$20” – boygenius

Just to check in…gays, are we all okay after this? Are you okay? Are you sure? Take a deep breath.

Breathe in…

…breathe out. This is really happening. Finally.

the glorious Rolling Stone cover, an homage to an older cover featuring Nirvana
PINS PINS PINS!!

To the elation of the girls and the gays (and to the dismay of a bunch of butthurt boomers in the comments of Rolling Stone’s instagram account, apparently), boygenius are back, and they’re already coming out swinging with three fantastic singles. Although all three showcase the joint talents of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus, “$20” is the true powerhouse of the trio. Baker’s vocals, from most of her solo work, tend to be restrained at worst, but she lets loose on this single, filled with punchy guitars and equally punchy lyrics. It never slows down, feeling more like riding a wave, thinking that you’re safe in the current, and then getting hit with a powerful mouthful of saltwater with what may be the best Phoebe Bridgers scream yet. More than ever, the harmonies of Baker, Bridgers, and Dacus fit each other like chiseled puzzle pieces, as though they were always destined to work together in near-perfect unison. Needless to say, I doubt I’ll come down from the boygenius high for a while here. I KNOW YOU’VE GOT $20.

“Ice Hockey Hair” – Super Furry Animals

If you described the bare elements of “Ice Hockey Hair” to me—nearly 7 minutes long, heavy on autotune, a minute-long outro with almost nothing but random beep-boops strung together—I doubt I’d be immediately sold. But that’s the magic of Super Furry Animals; they can take any number of weird, outlandish elements and string them into something that’s not only cohesive, but an instant earworm at that. Laden with heavy guitars and drums and backed by a consistent fuzz and an effortless vocal harmony, “Ice Hockey Hair” never makes me lose interest through all 7 minutes, going above just keeping a steady pace and making for the perfect, prolonged Britpop song. I barely ever like autotune, but what sells me about the way that Super Furry Animals use it is that they just embrace the weirdness of it—it’s not to make their voices sound better, it’s just to make it sound weirder, to make it blend into all the screeching static and beeping faintly humming in the background. They’re masters of making their voices into instruments, and not just that, but making them into something just as weird as what’s going on in the rest of the song.

“Laughing With A Mouth Of Blood” – St. Vincent

Added bonus: the gloriously awkward Portlandia music video (“I could stick around for another song if you guys want” “no ❤️”)

Along with Super Furry Animals, I’ve stumbled into another St. Vincent kick as of late, and although I’ve always loved her work, I’m reminded of how rarely she misses (we don’t talk about MASSEDUCTION) in any aspect of her artistry. Actor is only her second album, and already, she’s showcasing her clear virtuosity—lyrically and musically. Even before her rightfully famous electric guitar shredding became an essential part of her music, Annie Clark’s complex, acoustic guitar pickings create an atmosphere that always feels alive, and with the added brass and driving drums, “Laughing With A Mouth of Blood” is a poignant landscape of a song that you can’t help but lose yourself in. St. Vincent’s music never loses its quality with the passage of time, and every listen feels like the wonder and joy of listening to it for the first time.

“Burning Airlines Give You So Much More” – Brian Eno

I was so used to seeing the album cover of Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy (now that’s a title) from really far away, so…am I the only one who thought that Brian Eno was wearing a beret, and it wasn’t just his hand patting him on the head? Is the hand about to give him the Gary Oldman cheek stroke, or is it just to cover up the pseudo-Riff Raff haircut?

…okay, I really shouldn’t be roasting the guy. He’s just doing his wonderful art-pop thing, and I love him for it. So much. Songs like “Cindy Tells Me” have further convinced me that I should listen to more Brian Eno, and this one I like almost as much (though it’s hard, considering how long I had the former on repeat back in October). For a song loosely written about one of the deadliest plane crashes of all time, it’s strangely laid-back, meandering along with bright, jangly guitars and synths in the similar tone. It’s a song to gently sway your head to, one to revel in the multi-layered composition of it as the guitars slowly climb up and down the scale. Brian Eno’s just doing his Brian Eno thing, and I’m so glad he’s doing it.

“Purple Haze” (Jimi Hendrix cover) – The Cure

It’s hard to take a cover and put a spin on it that feels completely new—especially if it’s Jimi Hendrix that you’re covering. But Robert Smith and company make it look easy, putting their signature goth touch on a rock n’ roll classic. Smith pulls the meaning of “haze” to an entirely different direction, layering the song with an eerie, synth-laden atmosphere and distorted vocals. It really does give the song the feel of a haze, like some kind of cloud or curtain that you’re walking through to try and find the heart of the song.Different pieces of instrumentation fade in and out, as though you’re losing consciousness. The guitars are understated, but I think it’s rightfully so—you really can’t touch Jimi Hendrix in that regard, for one, but it’s the fog of distortion and synths that make this cover so memorable. It’s a cover that wouldn’t be out of place at some kind of shady Halloween party (as most of the Cure fits anyway), a musical fog machine that transports you to another realm where you can’t seem to differentiate which way is up or down.

Since this post is all songs, consider this post to be today’s song.

That’s it for this week’s Sunday Songs! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Sunday Songs

Sunday Songs: 1/22/23

Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope this week has treated you well.

1/22/23? The month and the day add up to the year? You would think that would be somewhat auspicious. I wouldn’t know. I also saw a bunny on my walk to the dining hall this morning, so hopefully that should be some kind of Year of the Rabbit good luck. Happy Lunar New Year to all those who celebrate.

I’m back at school, and this week, I’ve already experienced a snow day on the second day of school and one of my professors saying that the whole class kinda “looked like the Mitski fan demographic” whenever somebody mentioned her and we all freaked out. He’s not wrong. Hello, LGBTQ community…

Anyways, we’re breaking away from the maroonish color scheme to bring you something more wintry this week. Fitting for the way-too-cold-for-my-liking temperatures we’re having over here.

Enjoy this week’s songs!

SUNDAY SONGS: 1/22/23

“Undo” – Björk

Vespertine is undoubtedly a winter album. Not in the “it’s January and everything looks dead” kind of way (which is entirely fair in this weather, honestly), but more in a way that recalls a cozy night in a warm house, snuggled up to the fireplace while watching a blizzard come down outside your window, knowing that your windows will be coated with frost by the time morning comes. There’s a resonant warmth that comes through with every track—which should be expected, with how much this album deals with the tender side of love. “Undo” seems to wrap you in an electronic embrace, combining an airy string section and a choir with skittering synths that recall a more hopeful “Kid A.” (puts said playlist transition in my metaphorical back pocket) At her very best, Björk can sweep me off my feet in an instant (see “Bachelorette”), but “Undo” is more of a gentle embrace, the slow wrapping of a scarf around your shoulders as you venture out into the cold.

“Grot” – St. Vincent

And speaking of songs that sweep me off my feet…

I’ve already talked about how much I appreciate different elements of a song coming together to form a seamless final product, but sometimes, the opposite can be just as powerful. “Grot” is all soft curves and razor-sharp edges with no in-between; the song open’s with a loop of Annie Clark’s delicate harmonizations, and by the next measure, industrial noise makes the song explode. Against the backdrop of her once light vocals, Annie Clark’s voice becomes commanding, biting in both its quality and lyricism—”Power doesn’t care what you want/power just wants to watch.” But just as quickly, the noise gradually fades away, the original loop circling back into focus as a string section gives it a more gentle backdrop, until all that’s left is the beginning of the song. “Grot” is proof of Annie Clark’s sheer power as a musician, and although she’s been my musical hero for years, this song makes me long for some future where she embraces the noisiness more. Not to say that everything else (excluding the utter betrayal that was MASSEDUCTION) that she’s done is near-flawless, but I want to see this side of her more.

“Really Really Light” – The New Pornographers

never forget the time The New Pornographers made kid’s merch

The news broke not long ago that The New Pornographers will be releasing a new album, Continue as a Guest (if there was ever a more New Pornographers-y name) at the end of March, with this song as the lead single. It feels like a welcome return to soul and form after their last album; In the Morse Code of Brake Lights was enjoyable, but ultimately, not exactly memorable. “Really Really Light,” however, glides along much like the ice skater in the music video, featherlike and brimming with brightness. It almost bubbles at the edges, the harmonies of A.C. Newman and Neko Case weaving together to make a song that feels lighter than air. Hopefully the rest of Continue as a Guest won’t disappoint—if it’s anything like this song, I think it’ll be a great album. I’ll hold out hope.

“Nobody” – Black Belt Eagle Scout

Another album coming out soon, this time from an artists with what’s absolutely one of the best band names of all time. After the sleepy, restrained melodies of Katherine Paul’s sophomore album, At the Party With My Brown Friends, the past few singles off of the upcoming The Land, The Water, The Sky have been a partial return to form—one that I’m absolutely excited for. The three singles off of the album thus far—“Don’t Give Up,” “My Blood Runs Through This Land,” and this—have reintroduced some fantastic guitars, making for a driving, uplifting sound that gives her sound all of the power it deserves. “Nobody” in particular is a nearly 5-minute chunk of alternative greatness, filled with soaring guitars and Paul’s voice, simultaneously airy and full of power and purpose. Lyrically, it deals with Paul’s relationship with Native American representation, especially in the music industry, making the chorus all the more powerful. “Nobody sang it for me/Like I wanna sing it to you.” Amen.

“(Joe Gets Kicked Out of School for Using) Drugs With Friends [But Says This Isn’t a Problem]” – Car Seat Headrest

This title: hilarious in concept, cumbersome when you’re trying to squeeze increasingly tiny text into a small box. Thanks a bunch, Will. What a guy.

“Drugs With Friends” was an unexpected blast from the past on my shuffle not too long ago, and I am all the better for it. Teens of Denial remains one of my favorite albums of all time, and the second this song started playing, I was transported back to the summer before high school, painting teal over the hot pink walls of my room and devouring Heart of Iron in a hotel room on vacation in Chicago. I often end up overlooking this song just because of how earthshatteringly wonderful tracks like “Cosmic Hero,” “Fill In the Blank,” and “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales” are, but it boasts just as much merit as any other song on the album. Leave it to Will Toledo to turn a tale of feeling monumentally miserable at a party (and making a series of questionable, acid-induced decisions all the while) into an instantly catchy indie song that would be impossible not to jump up and down to at a concert. Even in more irreverent songs like this, Toledo’s voice has a healing quality to it (and no, I’m not saying that because I had a massive crush on him in 8th grade…okay, maybe I am), moving like honey through the cacophony of guitars and noise. What an album, really.

Anyways, I really hope Will Toledo’s doing okay these days. Long COVID is no joke. I miss Car Seat Headrest.

Since this whole post consists of all songs, consider all 5 to be today’s song.

That’s it for this week’s Sunday Songs! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Sunday Songs

Sunday Songs: 1/15/23

Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful week.

Winter break is over for me, but I’m assuming that the first week back to college will be low-key (ish? probably lots of syllabuses…syllabi?), so I should be able to keep up the schedule for a little while. In the meantime, here’s another mishmash of my music. Still sort of in the maroon/burgundy colored aesthetic for the second week running, I guess. Whoops.

Enjoy this week’s Sunday Songs!

SUNDAY SONGS: 1/15/23

“Angel” – Gavin Friday

I’d consider this song to be one of many mainstays of my childhood; if I think of being in my dad’s car at night, watching the moon pass by my window and wondering why it seemed to follow me, or even just pulling up to the bank parking lot, chances are, I’ll find this song lurking there. Even if it hadn’t been there for most of my life, “Angel” would be a memorable song either way. I’ve only heard a handful of Gavin Friday’s songs (and half of the ones I can think of are covers), but I can safely say that he has one of the most unique singing voices that I’ve ever heard; he can switch from a breathy, ethereal hum to a thick wail in a matter of seconds, and it dips down to a raspy whisper in the quiet moments in between. (“Shag Tobacco” comes to mind for the latter.) The musical range in just 6 minutes perfectly matches his mercurial voice, from the twinkling, starlike notes at the beginning to the humming synth undercurrent. It’s a musical patchwork quilt, but one so seamless that you couldn’t see the stitches in between each scrap of fabric. Beautiful.

“She’s My Collar (feat. Kali Uchis)” – Gorillaz

I tried. I tried not to double up on Gorillaz after “Left Hand Suzuki Method” last week. They’re just so good………guys……………..guys….

From what I know of the general opinions around Gorillaz, the fandom seems to direct a fair amount of ire towards this album, Humanz; most of the criticism seems to have come from the excess of collaboration that the band is now known for. My question is how that wasn’t applied to the hit-or-miss Song Machine Season 1, an album that heavily relied on…the exact same thing? Okay?? And yet, every single song I’ve heard off of Humanz has had me in a vice grip at some point or another—I haven’t listened to the whole album yet (soon, I swear), but songs like “Momentz (feat. De La Soul)” and “Charger (feat. Grace Jones)” feel like Gorillaz embracing the infectious, instantly danceable fun that makes their music almost never fail. “She’s My Collar” is another prime example—pushed along by a driving drumbeat that makes it impossible not to nod your head, Damon Albarn’s breathy vocals make for a song with the power to instantly cheer you up. My only minor nitpick is Kali Uchis; I don’t know a whole about her, granted, but her verse did feel slightly weak and almost off-key in places. Luckily, when her voice fades into the synths with a ghostlike quality, making itself as much an instrument as anything else in the background, it brings the song back to its cohesive, catchy glory. It’s been…three days now, I think, and I’ve barely been able to listen to anything else.

“Buses Splash With Rain” – Frankie Cosmos

It’s the classic sadgirl setup: “I’m the kind of girl/Buses splash with rain.” But like the Zentropy album cover, with its crusty white dog wearing a knitted hat and “Frankie Cosmos” written in bright, neon colors, Greta Kline juxtaposes her self-deprecating lyricism with her characteristic musical whimsy and brightness. Frankie Cosmos songs can be deceptive that way; although I haven’t listened to Zentropy in full, their songs often pair melancholy with the kind of instrumentation that brings to mind cartoon doodles of frogs and suns drawn on the corner of the page with little squiggly lines for the rays. Although this is only their first album, it’s easy to see from “Buses Splash With Rain” that Greta Kline and company had already begun to master what has become their signature style—short, bright indie pop songs that seem to radiate pastel colors amidst lyrical boredom or melancholy. The only downside to their music is that, because they’re so short, they sometimes blend together, but this one is certainly memorable enough to stand out from the barely two minute long crowd.

“Panopticom (Bright Side Mix)” – Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel’s releasing a song from his new album every full moon this year? Are us Peter Gabriel fans just werewolves now? Not that I’m complaining. Lycanthropy sounds fun. Maybe.

The news broke recently that Peter Gabriel would be releasing his first album in over 20 years this year, and what else should I have expected than for him to come straight out of the gates, bouzouki in hand, with relentless creativity at the ready? It’s been a week since “Panopticom” came out, and it’s taken a little while to grow on me—to be fair, with how much of a chokehold songs like “Come Talk to Me” and “Not One Of Us” have had on me, he’s inevitably got big shoes to fill. But once it sunk in, Gabriel’s musical powers became all the more evident. The concept itself stands out as an antithesis to the concept of the panopticon, rather a means of us observing the theoretical Big Brother figure instead of the other way around. Surrounding it is an unexpected collage of music, beginning with lighter synths and descending into driving guitars that recall his earlier works. It’s songs like these that make me want to be somebody like Peter Gabriel once I’ve reached his age, continuing to be creative when I’m much, much older. You go, dude. We’re all waiting until the next full moon very anxiously…

“I Can’t Stand the Rain” – Ann Peebles

Two songs with ‘rain’ in the title? In one week? It’s more likely than you think.

After realizing last week that this is the sample from Missy Elliott’s “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” I have NOT been able to stop listening to it. Once the famous sampled section at the beginning starts to fade is where it kicks in—right at 0:18, with its chorus of steady drums and slowly rising brass. It’s an instant head-nodder that makes it impossible to move at least some of your body while you’re listening the second that the band invites itself in. Peebles’ crooning voice soars all the way through, selling every feathery waver as she calls to mind the pitter-patter of rain against a windowpane as she remembers an ex-lover. The only song that this song commits is being so short, but maybe that’s how it’s meant to be—a perfect, short-and-sweet classic. Without knowing much else about Ann Peebles, it’s easy to see how this became her biggest hit—it’s consistently catchy and pleasing to the ears in every way. Given how short it is, I won’t be surprised if this comes up in my apple replay once it starts up…this and “She’s My Collar” are gonna be WAY up there, I can’t stop listening to either of them…

Since this post consists of all songs, consider all of them to be today’s song.

That’s it for this week’s Sunday Songs! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Music, Sunday Songs

Sunday Songs: 1/8/23

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles!

I probably should’ve said something before tweaking my blogging schedule without warning, but I’ve decided to do a little something new instead of my weekly updates. I figured that I ended up saying most of the stuff I said in my weekly updates in my monthly wrap-ups, so this seemed like a more fun and creative use of my time.

Since last summer, I’ve been making graphics of songs that I’d been listening to during the week and shared them every Sunday, inspired by my brother. I’ve wanted to write about music more on this blog for a while, so I figured that I’d move my Sunday Songs to this blog as well to get the chance. As I said, these will probably replace my weekly updates, but you’ll be able to see everything that I’ve been reading in my wrap-ups at the end of each month. I know I’m going to enjoy writing about music more, and I hope you all enjoy the results!

the background format for this & all further Sunday Songs comes from a close up picture I took of the massive section of David Bowie CDs at Amoeba Records in San Francisco!

SUNDAY SONGS: 1/8/23

Gorillaz – “Left Hand Suzuki Method”

I can’t say anything about the whole album, but you know a band has endless talent when even the B-Sides (or G-Sides, in this case) sound just as good—if not better—than the original album material. I’ve been a huge fan of Gorillaz for years, but I didn’t hear about this one until it showed up in my YouTube recommendations out of the blue. And of all the things I expected to get from a Gorillaz song, Suzuki flashbacks was not one of them. I feel like I got whiplash the second I heard the sample of “Long Long Ago”, and suddenly, I was experiencing every piano lesson that I had from ages 5-7 (or something) as well as every recital that I ever attended at my old music school all at once. Whew.

But the way Damon Albarn utilizes this sample in “Left Hand Suzuki Method” is a testament to his creativity as a musician; building off a creaky sample that’s meant to teach kids how to play music, he creates a collage of funky keyboards and thick, punchy guitar intervals that transform a simple song into a collage of instantly catchy sound. Genius. Again, how was this a B-Side? (Sorry, G-Side…)

David Bowie – “All the Madmen”

I forgot up until a few days ago that this Sunday also happens to be what would have been David Bowie’s 76th birthday, so I’m glad I’m writing about him today. Happy birthday, sir. ⚡️

This one’s a bit lesser known than most of his (extensive) catalogue, but it’s crept up to become one of my favorite, underrated songs of his. Taken from The Man Who Sold the World, it’s loosely based on his schizophrenic half-brother, who was in and out of the institutions that the song fictionalizes. As you’d imagine, it’s appropriately chilling in that sense, but it has a lighter, almost nursery rhyme feel to certain parts of it—flutes and light drums that almost sound tinkling—before launching into epic, sweeping electric guitars that have come to define much of his early 70’s material. It all culminates into one of the most simultaneously creepy and catchy outros that I can think of in any song—as the guitars blend into synths as the song closes, Bowie begins a clapping chant of “Zane, zane, zane/ouvre le chien” (open the dog), a line which he later confirmed to be nonsense, seemingly the final nail in the protagonist’s loss of sanity. “All the Madmen” makes me appreciate Bowie so much more a songwriter—with his combination of sharp lyricism and musical craft, every song is a story.

Missy Elliott – “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)”

At last…I finally know what my mom was referencing every time she said “Beep beep!/Who got the keys to the Jeep?”…

And my mom is also the reason why I found this song, after I told her about how I rediscovered “Get Ur Freak On”, and I’ve been listening to it nonstop ever since. Hip-hop isn’t usually my go-to, but even from the two songs I know her from, Missy Elliott is masterful at making a song so smooth and seamless that you miss the samples within—I just found out that the main structure of the song was sampled from Ann Peebles’ “I Can’t Stand the Rain.” Like “Left Hand Suzuki Method,” “The Rain” creates a collage of smooth, instantly catchy sound out of a single, looped sample, creating a wider soundscape that keeps my head nodding through all 4+ minutes of the song. This phrase is definitely going to come up constantly in these posts, but…yeah, I need to listen to more Missy Elliott. So good.

Fontaines D.C. – “I Love You”

I know shamefully little about this band—before hearing this one on a friend’s Instagram story, the extent of my knowledge of Fontaines D.C. came from their glowing Pitchfork reviews (I think this album that this song is from came out on the same day as Everything Was Beautiful and got best new music instead of it? Come on, Spiritualized deserved it…I digress…why am I so fixated on these things?) and some guy’s hoodie that I saw in passing at the Smile show (“oh, the album with the elk on it?” – my internal monologue). I’m liking this song enough to explore more, though; through my first and only exposure so far, I love how “I Love You” slowly builds tension and breaks it just as quickly. With the faint bass and twinkling guitar notes in the quite first few minutes, the drums build to a slow, tight crescendo as the vocals intensify and then return to the peaceful, strangely sinister place where the song came from just as quickly, fading to nothing but a few strained strums in the very end.

So thanks, anonymous friend, for the new song and possibly new band to listen to! Maybe another album to add to my hydra-like list of albums that I have yet to listen to?

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Despair (Acoustic Version)”

Going back to a mainstay favorite of mine for several years, here’s a beautifully uplifting song to take us into the rest of the new year. I know, look at the title, but stay with me: the song is more about overcoming despair than the despair itself, don’t worry. We’ll save my sadgirl songs for later. Although the original makes the uplifting message all the more prominent (because how else would Karen O. dancing on top of the Empire State Building in a rhinestone-studded jacket make you feel? Really?), there’s a certain intimacy that I glean from the acoustic version; whereas the original is a rallying cry for optimism and hope in spite of the darkness that life brings, this feels like a gentle comfort, a reassuring word whispered as you’re tucked into bed, promising that the monsters under your bed won’t hurt you after all. “Through the darkness and the light/Some sun has gotta rise.” Leave it to Karen O. and company to keep the light going in these uncertain times.

Oh, and I just realized that the original is almost 10 years old now, OW…

Since this post consists of all songs, consider all of them to be today’s song.

I hope you all enjoyed my first time doing Sunday Songs! I love writing about music almost as much as I like writing about books, so hopefully you can enjoy it too. I look forward to writing more about music in the future outside of just album reviews (although I’m VERY excited to review Cracker Island when the day comes). Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!