Playlist #1: black
01. 33 God (Bon Iver) - Consider this a prelude to the angst that will come after. 33 God is from my favorite album of the year, 22, A Million. The album is the definition of tension/gray and is an amalgam of memories, connections, and spiritual dichotomies. Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) also doesn't shy away from biblical references/numbers.. 33 references Christ at the age of death... The single was released 33 days before the album... And the length of the song is 3:33. If you're wanting some context, the video opens with Psalm 22 "Why are you so far from saving me?" A perfect intro to this...
Consider the next 6.5 songs an attempt to capture the collective (and personal) angst of 2016. While it's likely outside many of your preference, I welcome you to sit in it.
02. Burn the Witch (Radiohead) - leads this movement for many reasons: 1. It was my first album purchase of the year (which subsequently resulted in months of full rotation). 2. It was one of only a few concerts I attended this year (this one with Grace). 3. The song helps set the tone for this compilation as its impetus was to bring awareness to the refugee crisis and the constant blame cycle our country/world seems to be in. 4. The video was purposefully created to sit in tension (i.e. greyness) of this premise and the hope we need. Watch the video here.
03. Anger (Sleeping at Last) - I love that my friend Ryan set out to write an "angry" song, because a) it's not his default as he's the most loving/kind guy you will ever meet and b) it's the emotion that sits underneath both of our personalities (both being 9s on the Enneagram scale). I've become very aware of this reality over recent years and seems like an appropriate summation of our countries emotion for the year. For the record, he did all 4 primary emotions, which can be found here.
04. Formation (Beyoncé) - Speaking of musicians pissed off... Beyoncé unleashed a tell-it-like-it-is collective that undoubtedly revealed more about her strength, pain, heritage, and sexuality than it did about Jay-Z. Please watch the video to experience middle-finger-up Beyoncé.
05. Your Best American Girl (Mitzki) - If you haven't figured it out yet, there is a tonality that frequented the year. This one not only continues this trend, but also embodies a familiar angst of not meeting (other's) expectations. Listen to it as a cry for "as is" acceptance.
06. I Don't Wanna Be Funny Anymore (Lucy Dacus) - And here it is again. Let's go humanity. Be yourself.
07. Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales (Car Seat Headrest) + While this is their first studio release, they made last year's favs with "Something Soon" (release via Bandcamp). I think I'm drawn to the subdued aggression that rears its head midst the mundane and the acknowledgement that "it doesn't have to be like this" – an appropriate conclusion to this movement. (And yes, the "killer whales" shoutout comes after watching Blackfish.)
08. As it Is (Ages in Ages) - This crew made their debut on the Favorites a couple of years ago with "Divisionary (Do the Right Thing)" and have followed with another gang-vocal-esque anthem. It's about surrender.
09. 1000 Times (Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam) + This duo is a combo of the lead vocalist for The Walkmen + instrumentalist/producer of Vampire Weekend (Rostam). I'm no stranger to repetitive dreams either.
10. Old Friends (Pinegrove) - On first glance, I thought this was going to be a cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Old Friends," but, in fact, this is the counterpart to the album's "New Friends" – which in tandem is simply a look at life's rhythm of old and new relationships. In this (song's) case, it's about our tendency to miss out on the present.
11. Alaska (Maggie Rogers) - Rogers came to the public thanks to none other than Pharrell Williams, who sat in awe of the song in front of a NYU master's class and offered only praise. I agree.
12. Conrad (SOHN) + I'm cheating a little here as this is a pre-release single as part of the forthcoming album to be released in January. SOHN is making his (Christopher Taylor) second appearance ("The Wheel" in 2014) on the Favorites and will undoubtedly show up again next year with the new album and his commitment to innovative jams. One of the few on my list yet to see live.
13. Weight in Gold (Gallant) + I owe this pick to my good friend @davidwswanson who gave me the rec. I've been obsessed ever since as it too embodies the tension, the burden, the anxiety, and the call for help.
14. I Can't Give Everything (David Bowie) + This is the first of three tributes to three extremely talented musicians who have passed this year. This is the last track on the album release that came two days before his death. It's full of emotion and presence - much like everything he did.
15. Finish Line / Drown (Chance the Rapper) + It is purposeful that Bon Iver is opening both playlists, while Chance the Rapper is closing each as I could have pulled from any number of songs from their albums. In this case, I caught Chance's performance of this song on SNL and was completely mesmerized. It's poetic and deeply spiritual yet immersed in tension. Please please please listen to the second half... the repetition of "And all that was left was his love" continues to be the reminder that I/we need.