123 – Girlpool
I was stoked to make this list with Bill as he was part of the first round of people who came into the musicto community that I had not met. All I knew about him was from his Circle bio and that he knew Tracy – all good signs so far.
Choosing the first track is always a weird thing – so many places to go but – I was factoring Tracy’s love of the indie / alternative scene – the fact that as a sound designer, Bill probably had super attuned ears to the sonics of a piece and so I opted for a lesser known LA band with a track that I just adored and a soundscape that always put a grin on my face. Let’s see where this goes :-p
Lover’s Spit – Broken Social Scene
Andrew picked a great track to kick off the playlist. So I let that guide me to this fantastic song by my hometown faves BSS. This version isn’t as well known as the original and is sung beautifully by Feist.
Cold Fame – Band Of Skulls
Lover’s Spit is just so fucking chilled and yes – sonically amazing – several grooves in one gorgeous 7 ½ minute take – the beautifully downbeat first couple of minutes and you think the songs over only to be brought forward, lifted up and wrapped in sound – the vocal – the downbeat so imperceptibly behind the one – stretching space and time – growing in the most delightfully laid back way.
So my head is already turning to tracks that lull you in softly yet take you somewhere epic. Aside from having a particular awesome band name – Band of Skulls do this brilliantly – while the hook only makes sense to me half the time – I often can’t get it out of my head! ;-p
The First Song Band of Horses
Makes sense to follow Band of Skulls with Band of Horses, right? In this case it totally does as the track flows nicely from Cold Fame.
I remember listening to Band of Horses around ’07 / ’08. I’d subscribed to eMusic back in the day when you were downloading mp3s for relatively little (but at least you were paying something) and just listening to a huge amount of music. The band caught my ear for the lushness of their sound – this is a great example and has me running back to listen to The Funeral.
My ears are still resonating around tracks that build and grow and I know that M83 are going to have to make it on here at some point – so – with Wait – why not now?
Half Asleep – Alternate Version School Of Seven Bells
I have tix to check out M83 when they roll through Toronto in April, looking forward to it as they/he often tours with a live drummer. Worth it if you get the chance to see them live. In my head they feel in a similar vein to the Seven Bells and this alternate version of Half Asleep always does it for me.
The World I Know – Collective Soul
Half Asleep’s jangly guitar opening – the leads panning off into different speakers – creating patterns in my ears and mind and I’m already in before the vocal harmonies – it’s beautiful and puts a huge grin on my face.
I’m thinking of guitars – of presence – of the soft outro out of the School of Seven Bells track and this intro just leaps into my mind. We’re moving away from the slow build and straight into the warmth of a beautifully mixed piece of music. I adore the chorus on this track.
Wolves – Phosphorescent
I discovered this track while watching the film Margin Call. Good film. Great track.
Tired as Fuck – The Staves
I remember messaging Bill after listening to the Phosphorescent track – what a perfect mood shift – the transition out of World I Know was just perfect and allowed the list to go in a completely new direction. It’s what I love about making these lists – the unexpected moves – delivered so smoothly and in a way the algorithm couldn’t ever compute.
Not one to shy away from a more melancholic introspective approach – I was kinda geeked to get one of my favorite bands onto the list. The three Staveley-Taylor sisters are my idea of harmonic heaven. We saw them at the Troubadour before Covid and they can deliver it for real. While I’m a sucker for their second album there’s something about this single that spoke to the list – while it speaks to Wolves it does have an element of growth as the full band kicks in and that guitar solo!
My Moon My Man – Feist
More Feist to continue the vibe here. She’s got so much more to offer than 1234. This stomper is one of my faves.
What Can I Do (But Love You) – Joy Williams
I suspect I’m like most when my awareness of Feist is forever associated with the iPod nano – and you know what… – I’m really OK with that. Part of me wants to leap off into a long diatribe about how people who haven’t “worked” in music have such ludicrous ideas of what it takes to eat and survive and who’s standards make a Spartan look like Spicoli from Ridgemont High. But I won’t. I will say I thought it was a dope track and My Moon my Man feels in the same ballpark – but just – hipper and cooler and better and I’m glad it’s now in my ears.
But what I love about lists like these is that – we’re looking to create an experience – transitions count – and the full 40 seconds of “outro’ on this track have me rethinking where I’m going. I have my Spotify setup for a 5 second crossfade between tracks and I’m always looking for that “considered” hand off.
In my head – Leslie’s out there – at night – deep in the Canadian woods – old upright propped against a tree as she bangs out her love for the lunar glow and then – she’s called back in – and all we’re left with is the forest sounds and the memory – and then – Joy Williams takes up the mantle…
Blood Bank – Bon Iver
What can you say about Bon Iver that hasn’t been said already? Beautiful piece of music to nicely flow out What Can I Do. Andrew nailed the next transition with the classic Mazzy Star cut. Two singers whose voices drip character and genuine emotion.
Fade Into You – Mazzy Star
I’m a Bon Iver fan – for lots of reasons – mostly for the music – ‘cos I love it. His vocal – his harmonies – the instrumentation and overall vibe – For Emma, Forever Ago was one of those albums that moved by word of mouth. I’m literally now adding re: Stacks on to my 2023 listening list ‘cos I’m remembering just how much I loved it – and yet – like all great artists – he keeps knocking them out – and the lyric on Blood Bank – how fucking cool?!
I also love him for the support he delivers other artists – if you haven’t seen the mini documentary If I Was https://youtu.be/SEf89dBi17w – from The Staves as they recorded one of my favorite albums with him and his band up in Wisconsin – well – I highly recommend it.
But I’m feeling the melancholy that Justin seems to effortlessly infuse his tracks with – dystopian in its genesis and yet in this track – kinda optimistic by the end – but it’s the ambiguity that gets me and all I can think of is Hope Sandoval – standing in the shoreline amphitheater in ’94 – looking so fuuuuuuucking cool and singing words that you can take a million ways – of love – of loss – of life and just – yeah. I always wanted to be the tambourine player…
Her – FUR
A random find that fits in nicely here. Must check out more FUR!
Regeneration – The Divine Comedy
There’s something about the FUR vocalist’s tone – combined with the underlying groove – that has me thinking of the 50’s and early 60’s vibe. There’s something so wonderfully innocent to it – all jangly guitars and – to speak to the playlist’s theme – all enveloping and encompassing in its sonic embrace. I want to wrap myself up and forget that I live in a world where the AI could probably write something similar.
I’m thinking about a track from one of our early lists – Music to Open Another Door – curated by this beautifully enthusiastic Argentinian who’s second track “Motorcycle” by The Rumble Strips – wanted to go next – but again the transition wasn’t what I was feeling and so – fuck it – I took the slightly discordant ending to Her and went a little darker.
Hipped to this track by Jon from music to Fight Evil it became one of my favorite tracks of 2020 – for me it’s all about the chorus – the final one – when it all makes sense.
A Pagan Place – 2002 Remaster – The Waterboys
A beautiful dirge from Mike Scott that never gets old for me. Reminds me of hanging out at the beach in the summers of high school. Yes, I’m old. If only he’d play it live, at least he hasn’t when I’ve seen him in concert.
The Modern Leper – Frightened Rabbit
Ah – The Waterboys – I’m 16 and Whole of the Moon is the soundtrack to a fair bit of teenage fumbling ;-p I’m kinda stunned I didn’t follow this up with a Lloyd Cole track, but then – A Pagan Place is a different kind of track – more reflective of the celtic groove and I knew I was going up north for the next track 😝
If I can introduce anyone to Scott Hutchinson and Frightened Rabbit then – I tend to grab it. I don’t know why some bands end up clinging to your soul but – this band lives in mine – probably ‘cos Scott no longer lives anywhere. There’s a sheer unadulterated authenticity to his lyrics, and the groove he manages to create with his brother just lifts me up and plasters a shit eating grin all over my face.
There’s a brilliant video where Scott’s doing this for The Line of Best Fit at an outdoor festival in 2013 and it’s just – well – see the man do his thing:
When I Was Done Dying – Dan Deacon
When anyone asks me how I would define ’art’, I just show them this: Been looking for an excuse to put this in a playlist for a while.
Death Of Communication – Company of Thieves
I’m already hooked by the transition and then the vocals come in – and – I’m in 🙂
When I Was Done Dying is a perfect accompaniment to The Modern Leper – the kind of track that starts off unabashedly honest and just keeps doubling down. I’m working to get my body in shape for an Ayahuasca trip – I don’t know how brave I’ll be.
I’ve always admired the honesty of Genevieve and Marc – I’d love to see them live one day – maybe at The Illuvium in Traverse City, MI – that would be cool – could we make that happen?
I Heard I Had – Dear Rouge
A bit of a shift here but I guess I was in a Canadian content mood. Love the fast tempo. Not enough tracks above 125 bpm out there these days, especially ones welded to a juicy chorus like this.
Help I’m Alive – Metric
I’m grinning while I write this ‘cos – I was listening to the list earlier today – driving the streets of LA and this song came on – I was just grooving hard on it – the vocal and how it – just – do do do do do itsssssss – yep.
So the next track is from Metric – but not from Scott Pilgrim – from 09’s Fantasies – ‘cos obvs…
Dylan Thomas – Better Oblivion Community Center
First heard this track while watching Late Night with Steven Colbert. He has a surprising number of great bands on his show. This seemed like a nice way to wrap up the playlist. Enjoy!
Photo by Sonu John on Unsplash
About the Curators
Hey everyone! I’m a semi-retired mixer/composer/sound designer who’s been making mixtapes since I was 14. Looking forward to making more!
The first visual memory I have is that of the white upright piano in Singapore, Hell and the Dark Forces lived at the bottom, Heaven and the Angels at the top, they would play battles through my fingers and I was hooked.
As a psychology graduate I studied how sound affects human performance.
As a musician I compose instrumental music that stimulates your brain but doesn't mess with your language centers, leaving you free to be creative and brilliant without distraction.
As a curator I research how music can improve your life and create flow - I can tell you what music to listen to when studying for a test and why listening to sad music can make you feel better.
As a creator / contributor at musicto I’m part of a global creator community that collaborates through music. You can learn more about our community here.