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
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.
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!