Weekly Playlist – In Focus

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Featuring Barry White, AFI, and Listener

In last week’s installment of Holyfield Weekly Playlist, our writers picked some great songs from an assortment of acts, ranging from Snoop Dogg to Black Flag. Here is what they have for this week’s installment.

Brandon Allin: Seaway – Apartment

“Apartment” is our first taste of Seaway’s third full-length offering, Vacation, due out this September. Seaway’s formula is simple: playful, hook-laden pop-punk candy coated with boyish charm. “Apartment” is a paint by numbers youthful exuberance, the lyrical content as predictable as it gets, but that’s okay. Seaway haven’t set out to put the world ablaze, and quite frankly, it’s refreshing. They’re the pop-punk soundtrack to summer holidays without managing to feel redundant, a feat in and of itself. “All I wanna do is nothing with you” serves as a welcome reminder to slow things down and enjoy the little things in the comfort of those who matter most. It doesn’t hurt to have a soundtrack to those tranquil moments. Bravo, Seaway.

Premal Bhatt: Linkin Park/Jay-Z – Numb/Encore

No other way around it, Linkin Park lead singer, Chester Bennington’s death leaves a void in the music world. Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory and Meteora were the soundtrack of many of our tweener years and were the gateway for many fans’ introduction into rock music. The late Bennington sings his truths and emotions, battling his demons and allowing us to experience them with him. Although he’s gone, his songs will live on forever and provide evidence of his long, successful battle against the demons that took him away from us far too soon. Last week we honored him with the song that started it all, “In the End,” this week we’re going with a song that secured their place in music history: their masterful collaboration with Jay-Z.

Matt Bram: Listener – You Were a House on Fire

I’m adding this one because their latest single, “There’s Money in the Walls,” is not yet on Spotify. Look that song up right now on YouTube and I’ve effectively done my job. “You Were a House on Fire” was probably their best song prior to this new single. It is so deeply emotional that the power behind the poetry naturally overpowers the traditional song structure. Vocalist and bassist Dan Smith belts his heart out over percussion and an acoustic guitar. It is spoken word and acoustic punk at its absolute best. The band has since evolved into a fuller project, with their latest song not only being my favorite of theirs but one of my favorite songs of this incredible year. But it doesn’t hurt to remember their roots. “You Were a House on Fire” is one of the most unique-sounding songs I’ve ever heard. It’s simple in some ways but utterly beautiful and complex at the same time.

Grant Evan: AFI – Snow Cats

A couple months ago, some friends and I were discussing the current state of music; listing off a few of our new favorite modern artists. As we named new rap champions, pop wizards, and heartfelt folk singers we also seemed to reach a startling conclusion: we couldn’t name any new, great, well-known rock artists. The genre, at least how we understood it, seems to have not carried forward; relying on older artists to try and make comebacks. Many of these comebacks fell flat for me, either falling into old familiar patterns or forcing themselves to modernize so they can compete in a pop saturated market. But AFI, a band I had long given up hope in making a great album, finds a way to not only maintain their rock sound while evolving and maturing. It’s clear cut rock that stays true to the band’s origins. There is an evolution to their sound but the themes that persisted in their older work still linger on. I think the kids who fear that the genre has forgotten about them once again would take a lot of solace in this album.

Dustin Harkins: Gatsby’s American Dream – My Name Is Ozymandias

The human experience is often deluded by hope, the hope that there’s something out there genuinely as beautiful as it seems. This hope’s worst enemy is reality, which shatters our beliefs that the world has our best interests in mind, that music can solve your problems, that superstars can walk on water and take over the world if they wish. The commentary on reality provided by Gatsby’s American Dream vocalist Nic Newsham makes you wonder if the band’s complex song structures were chosen to provide a relieving breath of fresh air to pop punk, or if they exist solely to show how stale the genre around them had become. With cynical stanzas that make Emperor X sound like Katy Perry in comparison, Gatsby’s American Dream’s final lap made sure to burn every bridge on the way out, pointing fingers at the labels who treated them with no respect, their peers who produced a factory output of 3-chord “follow your dreams” content to create their own job security, themselves for being delusional enough to think what they have to say is important, and the fans who ate it all up and moved on to the next course. No one knows where the fire should start, but something has to burn.

Charlie McDonald: Motion City Soundtrack – Better Open the Door

Am I embarrassed that I went to Warped Tour at the age of 21, surrounded by screaming high-schoolers, all of whom were hopped up on Monster, Red Bull, and/or any number of heart attack inducing substances? Eh, a little. But that wasn’t why I was there. When I made this trip a few years back, it was to feel like a high school kid all over again. Listening to the bands that became the ones that elicit an, “Oh shit, nice!” when put on during road trips years down the line. A personal favorite is Motion City Soundtrack, specifically, their album Commit This To Memory. “Better Open the Door” in particular stuck out to me and brings me back to the simpler times. Times when instead of singing along to this song in a Snap, I had it in my AIM profile. Long live high school soundtracks.

Akshat Singhal: Green Day – Jesus of Suburbia

Following my theme from last week, my first addition to the playlist this week is one by a band that I listened to almost religiously throughout middle and high school. “Jesus of Suburbia” by Green Day was released in 2004 as a part of the band’s studio album American Idiot. The entire album, like much of Green Day’s discography, was centered around a political message, with this one centering around an anti-Bush agenda. “Jesus of Suburbia”, which is about a normal person who falls into the world of drugs and alcohol, as a rock opera with four different parts, the last of which kicks off his journey that the rest of American Idiot illustrates. Despite the fame of songs like “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Holiday,” this was the standout track for me.

Drew Steele: Barry White – Never Never Gonna Give Ya Up

So, I finally got around to watching Baby Driver — why the hell did it take me so long to watch this movie? It’s brilliant! And what makes the movie brilliant isn’t just the car chases or that Dr. Drew Baird went off the deep end (Jon Hamm is awesome in the film). The soundtrack accompanying every scene is damn near perfect. From the opening scene all the way through the end, the music of Baby Driver is what pushes this movie from a really good car chase-based film to a great one. Edgar Wright and co. definitely did some crate diggin’ on this. However, the song that really stood out was not an underground jam, but a Barry White classic. “Never Never Gonna Give Ya Up” has those legendary drums and overall instrumentals as well as White’s rich baritone voice is just legendary. Without spoiling the scene, all I have to say is that this song fits the scene it plays in perfectly and potentially the best scene in the entire film. Go watch Baby Driver and go listen to Barry White.

 

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