This is usually around the time this semester that my procrastination hits an all time high. Halloween is over, and all I can think about is Thanksgiving break at the end of the month, and of course Winter Break and the end of the first semester. The drop in grades that always accompanies the middle of the fall for me coincides with an abundance of Itunes playlists, as I do whatever I can to avoid the stacks of papers that begin piling up pre-Finals. So as I put off a creative writing piece due in a week, I prepare a Monday Mixer playlist.
1 – Arcade Fire – “In The Backseat”
I like the new album, I really do. It’s hypnotizing and unique, and I’ve had it on repeat since last Tuesday. But right away I had the feeling something was missing. The emotional intensity present on their last three albums, especially their 2004 debut Funeral, is largely absent on Reflektor. “In The Backseat” is one of the few Arcade Fire songs that rely solely on Regine Chassagne’s vocals, and this emotional powerhouse of a song knocks it our of the park.
2 – The Gaslight Anthem – “Changing of the Guard”
Amnesty International release Chimes of Freedom in 2012, a 50th anniversary compilation of a bunch of artists covering Bob Dylan songs for charity. Most of the songs are pretty awful (unless you were one of those people that enjoyed Ke$ha literally sobbing through a cringeworthy rendition of “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright), but The Gaslight Anthem seemed to be one of the few bands that put some major effort into picking a song right for them and arranging it into an interesting track. It’s no Bob Dylan, but it’s good for what it tries to do
3 – The Tallest Man On Earth – “The Gardener”
Speaking of Bob Dylan, Kristin Mattson (The Tallest Man on Earth is his stage name, he’s actually quite short) is really the only artist that compares to Bob Dylan’s early folk albums. His high pitched yelp is unconventional, and he probably won’t be winning American Idol anytime soon, but it conveys a hell of a lot of emotion, and complements his furious finger picking guitar style. The Gardener is about a man murdering people to preserve the image his lover has of him, I think that’s interesting enough for a listen.
4 – Gogol Bordello – “Through The Roof ‘n’ Underground”
I’ve seen Gogol Bordello live four times, most recently when they played at Canopy Club over the summer, and I think it takes a year off my life every time. Their shows are as high energy as any EDM concert, the band hops around the stage, in the crowd, anywhere they can with seemingly limitless energy. This is one of their few slower songs, but it’s been my favorite of theirs for a long time.
5 – Young Jesus – “David”
Young Jesus is a Chicago band that sounds a lot like The National, puts on a great live show, and are a bunch of super friendly dudes. Here’s hoping they hit it big.
6 – The White Stripes – “Conquista”
Jack White singing in Spanish is badass. So badass it was included in the new Machete trailer.
7 – P.O.S. – Drumroll
I know next to nothing about mainstream rap music. I could name maybe two Kendrick Lamar songs, I really only listen to Kanye West because everyone else does, I don’t know how many albums Jay-z has released. But I stumbled across P.O.S. (and his rap group Doomtree) a few years ago, and haven’t been able to find a rapper that matches his intensity and production value in the indie rap world since.
8 – Kirby Kaiser – “There’s A Boy”
U of I shoutout! Kirby used to be a student here until she decided to move up to Chicago to play shows, and her music backs up her decision. She’s got an awesome voice and a super cool doo-wop sound that I love.
9 – The Hold Steady – “Sequestered in Memphis”
The Hold Steady’s 2008 release Stay Positive is a concept album of sorts, focusing on a murder investigation. This song begins the narrative, as the singer recounts meeting the suspected murderer. It’s super catchy and easy to sing along to, and the best song from an underrated band
10 – Neutral Milk Hotel – “Two-Headed Boy Pt. 2”
I’m still bitter about missing the ticket sale time because I had three finals that day.