I’ve had this one cooking for months and I am (finally) ready to call it done. As usual, we’re all over the place stylistically, but the connections are there if you look for them. From the poppy start to the folksy balladeer finish, I think these songs are as ready for springtime as I am.
The full liner notes are below and you can listen along on Apple Music or Spotify. If you follow my Sunday posts, you’ll recognize a lot of these from features over the last several months. I got lazy and didn’t link to them, but hey, there’s a search bar on the website if you’re curious.
Let’s get into it. 2021:April:
“Platonic” by That Brunette. An ode to loving your friends. Sometimes you’re trying to find them, other times you’re accidentally finding yourself. Great dreamy pop.
“Figure It Out” by Blu DeTiger. Ever been overwhelmed a bit? Ever thought, “It’s getting too loud, we’ll figure it out.” This song is for you. You’re welcome.
“Where Is My Mind” by Tkay Maidza. This synth-laden Pixies cover is a masterpiece. That feedbacky “where’s my / where’s my / where’s my” is dizzying in all the right ways.
“Call Me A Fool” by Valerie June. What’s the sub-genre for happy but sad love songs? This song is the current category queen. It aches so good.
“Both,” by Headie One. I love a lyrical theme like this – Headie One gives example after example of the good with the bad, the bad with the worse, the busy with the idle, and more. With every combination he makes us feel the weight of each pair.
“Ye” by Burna Boy. As discussed here, “ye” translates to “pain or pride or sorrow.” This song is so beautifully complicated and danceable all at once. I rarely repeat a song the number of times I have repeated this one.
“Harold’s” by Freddie Gibbs and Madlib. The reissue of Piñata just popped up on my feed, and if this is your thing, go start to back on the whole record. The samples are so good, Gibbs is… so Gibbs – and if this song doesn’t make you want to go straight to Harold’s and order “six wings, mild sauce / with all the fries you can give me,” nothing will.
“Shortcummings” by Sleaford Mods. It’s English Rage meets Beasties. The politics, the punkiness, the catchiness of it all – so good.
“Careful, Kid,” by The Staves. “So you cut your teeth before I did / no one cares / be careful, kid / be careful, kid / you’re just a kid / be careful, kid / if you’re running in the road / then you’re gonna get hit.” I don’t need to say anything else. Just take those lyrics in and listen to the sounds they choose to allow their voices to illustrate this feeling.
“Paper Crown” by Tele Novella. This makes me think of a modern-day show-tune, but it’s not (is it?). It’s so weird and perfect, and I’m really digging the lyrics. One example: “I want a love I can make with scraps on the floor.” So good.
“R U 4 Me” by Middle Kids. Ok, the first line is, “Daylight, eat a piece of cake to start the day right.” You in? Good. Because you’re not ready for the existential crisis in the chorus. This song is so smart and punky-pop catchy it hurts.
“Guest Room” by Future Teens. It’s not an insult, but this song sounds a little like a Disney TV movie candidate. How you can tell it’s not is because it’s full of raw lines like, “not sure which one I fear worse / (going young or getting old) / guess I’ll take whatever comes first / it’s not like I had a say in being born / (going young or getting old) / at least I’m not convinced I deserve either one anymore.”
“Stupid Boys” by Bleached. These girls are just so much fun. Can you even imagine what this song will play like at a live show? Stupid pandemic.
“Ways and Means” by Todd Snider. Snider’s got that Iggy-type of swagger. It’s an attitude thing.
“Confessions of a Futon-Revolutionist,” by The Weakerthans. I don’t remember what had me going back through Weakerthans songs (probably Pup), but goddamnit do I love this song. It’s the romantic side of the revolution that’s only rarely talked about. It’s no A Farewell to Arms, but it’s definitely a sweet glimpse at the affection between two people who have read A Farewell to Arms.
“Keeps Me Running” by Esther Rose. How many things can “keeps me running” mean? At least two.
“And It’s Still Alright,” by Nathaniel Rateliff. The guy says, “Say, times are hard, you get this far / But it ain’t the way that you want / I’ll be damned if this old man / don’t start to counting his losses / but it’s still alright.” Move forward, move forward, move forward. And it’s still alright.
“CRY,” by Jon Batiste. It’s not a message of hopelessness, but it is a message of compassion for the world. I still want to fall out of my chair every time I listen to that Robert Randolph pedal steel solo.
“You Should Probably Leave,” by Chris Stapleton. I think the tempo and the solo on “CRY” put me here. Instead of the weight of the world on Batiste’s shoulders, this is a Stapleton refusing to write a love song asking for his partner (or former partner perhaps) to stay. Don’t read that wrong, it’s still very much a love song, and by the last verse you may find yourself getting all choked up.
“If I Go, I’m Goin,” by Gregory Alan Isakov. Speaking of choked up, this came on in a particularly emotional scene towards the end of Wayne (now that was a show, check it out if you haven’t) and it wrecked me. It’s a perfect way to go out on this playlist, because I don’t know what else to follow this with except my own desire to start the playlist over from the beginning.
Heard anything good lately? I’m always looking for new music. Send me an email with your recommendations.