As the semester wraps up, so does this pregame playlist series. Realistically, only the bravest of us are going out during exam week, and unfortunately I’m too anxious about the end of the semester to appreciate the fact that it’s finally ice cream season. I tried to make this playlist serve two purposes: If it’s sunny, these songs feel nostalgic. If it’s nighttime, this playlist flips over and becomes pretty morose. Feel free to listen whether you’re hunched over your laptop in Butler or basking in the sun on Low.
To me, Mark Linkous is the epitome of the “tortured artist” type---he committed suicide in 2010 after years of struggling with substance abuse. His music definitely reflects his life experiences: The somberness of “Eyepennies” is mostly due to simple instrumentals and some minimal cymbal taps. This track features PJ Harvey, whose strong voice pairs well with Linkous’s weaker one. The result is beautiful.
Pity Sex: “Sedated”
Yes, the band’s name is Pity Sex. Yes, it’s self-indulgent, kind of shoegaze-inspired pop-punk, but all things considered, Pity Sex just sounds great.
James Blake and Bon Iver: “Fall Creek Boys Choir”
James Blake is one of those artists that successfully uses silence to heighten tensions in his music. What separates this track from others on this playlist is the fact that it’s not just a slow song---it deliberately makes use of silence, drawing on the occasional, unusually long pause to build up emotion. As usual, James Blake totally kills vocals by distorting his and Bon Iver’s voices and layering them.
Somehow, the Midwestern collective managed to infuse a classic twang into their music without sounding stale.
Mac Demarco: “Let My Baby Stay”
For all of Mac Demarco’s silliness, there is always a tenderness and ingenuity behind his work. That, in addition to the general accessibility of his music, results in him being pretty great for a variety of occasions. As he states in the beginning of this song, Demarco wrote this song for his girlfriend Kiera after they moved from Canada to Brooklyn. As great as this track sounds, the message and the lyrics are what I think are particularly moving.
Autre Ne Veut: “Counting”
Released as a single off of his debut album “Anxiety,” Arthur Ashin is definitely someone to watch in the upcoming years. Ashin’s work is easily identifiable by his occasional use of falsetto.
Bat for Lashes: “Laura”
The minimal instrumentals in “Laura” beautifully complement Natasha Khan’s huge vocals. Even within a single song, it’s so clear that the artist has a wide range, which contributes to the general melodrama of the track. Outside of that, the lyrics seem to be fairly standard for love songs and serenades, except for one lingering question: Who the fuck is Laura?
Have a great end of the semester. Hope you’re not all in tears or something.