Mikal Cronin- Weight
I’m not really the kind of person that makes “Summer Jam” playlists or ascribes certain songs to certain seasons, but “Weight” really is the perfect summer song. Starting with the cheery simple piano opener to the fuzzed out guitar to the lyrics about not wanting to grow up, Cronin crafts a catchy song that will surely be in some indie movie about summer camp or a beach or something like that.
Bob Dylan – Boots Of Spanish Leather
Dylan gained acclaim in large part because of his political-minded songs, and those are a majority of the songs that are included in an “Best of Bob Dylan” lists. But I’ve always been partial to the more personal, emotional songs, such as “Boots of Spanish Leather”, where Dylan insists he would rather his lover return from overseas than send him any expensive or fancy gift.
The Mountain Goats – This Year
John Darnielle, singer/songwriter for the Mountain Goats, has written about some weird subject matter. A xenophobic H.P. Lovecraft in modern day Brooklyn, A man in a skeleton costume stabbing a man in a Super Man suit, whether or not they serve peanuts in hell. On “This Year”, and the entirety of the album it came from (The Sunset Tree), Darnielle turns his songwriting focus towards himself, and more specifically his childhood with his abusive step father. “This Year” is both uplifting and hopeless at the same time, as 17 year old Darnielle drives away from his house, eagerly anticipating when he can move out of his house a year from now.
Defiance, Ohio- Oh, Susquehanna
I know next to nothing about Defiance, Ohio, and couldn’t name another song in their catalogue. But I do know I love string sections and rousing full band singalongs.
Aesop Rock – Daylight
While there are definite exceptions, I’ve never been able to completely immerse myself in hip hop music. Yeah, there are definitely some extremely talented musicians in the genre, and this isn’t meant to denounce an entire giant genre and culture. I just can’t really get into the genre when it seems like most rappers either flaunt their wealth and importance (someone like Kanye West, or countless other less talented musicians) or consciously shy away from that stereotype while acknowledging that it does indeed exist (a la Kendrick Lamar, who I really like, but can never completely get into). “Daylight” which Aesop Rock released in 2001, seems to touch upon an emotion that isn’t necessarily absent from rap music, but is certainly lacking. In the span of four and a half minutes, Aesop shifts from bittersweet to melancholy to nostalgic to helpless, lamenting “All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day/ and put it back together my way”.
Jack White – Lazaretto
Because Jack White is still making the same bad ass simple rock music he was almost twenty years ago, and everyone should stop reading this and go listen to his new album (also called Lazaretto) immediately.