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Music to Atone To

 New Magic Wand – Tyler, The Creator

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New Magic Wand – Tyler, The Creator

“I need to get her out the picture / She’s really fuckin’ up my frame / She’s not developed like we are.” Hmm, those are some truly intriguing lyrics from Tyler, The Creator. Tyler has been the poster child of controversy many times throughout his career…

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Sad Forever - Lauv

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Sad Forever - Lauv

“I just wish that I could wake up my mind...” Those are simple, yet powerful and relatable lyrics from pop musician Lauv (Ari Staprans Leff).  The key word from the lyrical excerpt is ‘mind,’ as he addresses personal mental health issues on “Sad Forever.” Interestingly, Leff touched upon such issues on the preceding single, “Drugs & the Internet”, dealing with anxiety and depression…

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Make America Great Again – Frank Turner

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Make America Great Again – Frank Turner

“Let’s make American great again!” Sigh, ‘Make America Great Again’ was the campaign slogan touted by President Donald Trump.  Philosophically, via MAGA, Trump painted the United States as a nation in danger – essentially ‘damned’ – yet entirely fixable thanks to his policies. Safe to say, MAGA fired-up supporters of the president, including members of the alt-right.  Furthermore, it also strengthened the resistance movement opposing the policies of 45…

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This Land – Gary Clark, Jr.

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This Land – Gary Clark, Jr.

“I see you looking out your window / Can’t wait to call the police on me.” Supremely talented, Grammy-winning blues, rock, and R&B singer and guitarist Gary Clark, Jr. has lots to say on “This Land,” the title track from his 2019 album.  The things he addresses definitely aren’t sugarcoated or the least bit comfortable…

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How Long? – Vampire Weekend

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How Long? – Vampire Weekend

“How long ‘til we sink to the bottom of the sea? / How long, how long?” After a six-year hiatus, Vampire Weekend returned with arguably the most ambitious album of their career, Father of the Bride…

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Next Up Forever – AJR

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Next Up Forever – AJR

“I kinda wish I was still a virgin / ‘Time to finally see what sex is like!’” Yes, that’s quite an eye-popping line from alternative-pop brother trio AJR. The song at hand, “Next Up Forever,” from the collective’s 2019 album, Neotheater, isn’t about sex in the least. ..

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Xanny – Billie Eilish

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Xanny – Billie Eilish

“I don’t need a Xanny to feel better.” Ah, for the second time on the Music to Atone playlist, following “x ANA x” (Badflower), Xanax plays a key role in a song. In the case of the Badflower record, frontman Josh Katz needs Xanax for regulation purposes (“I need x, ANA, x / Help me bury my thoughts”).  For alternative-pop teen artist Billie Eilish, she has a different perspective,…

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Armor – Sara Bareilles

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Armor – Sara Bareilles

“Underneath the leaves, Adam found Eve / Both of them found something sweet under the apple tree /…How the hell did Eve end up with all the damn blame?” Sara Bareilles has a valid point on “Armor,” which appears from her 2019 album, Amidst the Chaos…

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The World is Rated X – Marvin Gaye

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The World is Rated X – Marvin Gaye

“Oh, the world’s situation / Should be rated X, rated X.” The late, great Marvin Gaye has an excellent point there.  Gaye was never shy in terms of incorporating socially-conscious themes into his music…

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Party Pill – Cub Sport

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Party Pill – Cub Sport

“Yeah, I came out and I felt fucking free.”  That’s what a liberated Tim Nelson, the frontman of Australian collective Cub Sport asserts on “Come Out,” one of many songs addressing sexuality on the band’s self-titled album, released in 2019…

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Deep Dive – Reno McCarthy

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Deep Dive – Reno McCarthy

“Think fast I’m in over my head / Lose track I don’t know what I said / Fall back like I’m hoping again.” For rising Montreal alternative singer/songwriter Reno McCarthy, the apprehension is pronounced on “Deep Dive,” an advance single from his 2019 debut album, Counterglow…

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Robbery – Juice WRLD

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Robbery – Juice WRLD

She told me put my heart in the bag / And nobody gets hurt / Now I’m running from her love, I’m not fast / So, I’m making it worse…” Sigh, melodic, emo-tinged rapper Juice WRLD (Jarad Higgins) is experiencing the common symptoms of that devastating thing known as heartbreak …

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Preach – John Legend

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Preach – John Legend

“Every day I wake, and everything is broken / Turnin’ off my phone just to get out of bed.”  Wow, what a striking, telling opening lyric! On his powerful, thoughtful single “Preach,” Grammy-winning R&B musician John Legend voices the frustrations of many…

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Rollercoaster – India.Arie

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Rollercoaster – India.Arie

“This just in, another talented young black man / Thrown in jail, lost his life, just sitting on his couch, in the street.”  The spoken word intro of “Rollercoaster,” a highlight from Worthy, the 2019 album by Grammy-winning R&B singer/songwriter India.Arie speaks volumes. From the jump, it’s clear that “Rollercoaster” has a truly powerful, transcendent message, before Arie ever   sings one note…

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The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness – The National

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The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness – The National

“The system only dreams in total darkness / Why are you hiding from me? / We’re in a different kind of thing now / All night you’re talking to God.”  Alternative rock collective The National, led by Matt Berninger, have plenty to say on “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness,” a gem from their 2017 Grammy-winning album, Sleep Well Beast…

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Americans – Janelle Monáe

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Americans – Janelle Monáe

“I pledge allegiance to the flag / Learned the words from my mom and dad / Cross my heart and I hope to die / With a big old piece of American pie.” Ah, the pre-chorus lyrics serve as prime example of a vicious cycle of influence, as opposed to free, individual thought…

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January 11th, 2017 – Mike Posner

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January 11th, 2017 – Mike Posner

“The day my daddy died, I damn near quit the band /… The day my daddy died, I became a man.” Singer/songwriter Mike Posner is incredibly honest and vulnerable on “January 11th, 2017,” a highlight from his 2019 studio album, A Real Good Kid….

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Scorn – Marsha Ambrosius

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Scorn – Marsha Ambrosius

“Boy, you hurt me so bad / I’m scorn.” Uh-oh! Grammy-nominated R&B singer/songwriter Marsha Ambrosius taps into an emotional state that many women can relate to on “Scorn,” the 13th track from her underrated 2018 album, Nyla…

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The Joke – Brandi Carlile

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The Joke – Brandi Carlile

“You’re feeling nervous, aren’t you boy? / With your quiet voice and impeccable style…” Americana singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile instantly gets down to business on “The Joke,” an anthem of atonement for the bullied, marginalized, and under-represented souls…

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