Weekly Playlist – In Focus

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Featuring Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, Taylor Swift, and Common

Last week, we had some fun songs on the playlist, including “Sky Walker” and “The Things You Used to Do.” Here is a sampling of some of the great songs that are in this latest edition of the Holyfield Weekly Playlist.

Brandon Allin: Eagles – Hotel California

I’m hardly opening your eyes to a hidden gem this week, but this song recently came on shuffle, and I was reminded of how much it means to me. Every time it plays, Henley and Frey’s lyrics transport me back to the moment I first heard it, nestled around a campfire on a cool, summer evening with the silhouette of a perfectly still lake in the background. The words fill my mind with vivid imagery the way few songs have been able to before, a trait that has forever cemented it a staple on my playlists. I can check out anytime I’d like, but I can never really leave.

Premal Bhatt: Lil Uzi Vert – The Way Life Goes

This one’s definitely a standout track from Uzi’s fantastic album, Luv is Rage 2. He samples British duo, Oh Wonder’s song, “Landslide” brilliantly. It actually made me check out their music; you should too. Lil Uzi Vert finds a perfect balance between turn-it-up and self-reflective emotion in his album. On “The Way Life Goes” it’s more of the latter. He’s looking back on a relationship, making peace and encouraging his ex to do the same, “I know it hurts sometimes but you’ll get over it…” If you haven’t already, check out Uzi’s new project, it jams.

Matt Bram: Cloud Nothings – Modern Act

Life Without Sound is gonna be one of those albums that see a resurgence towards the end of the year. This was the first new album I heard this year, so it’s had a long time to sit. I returned to it this week for the first time in months and was amazed at how familiar it felt. “Modern Act” in particular is a standout track of this year. The Cleveland four-piece might have a classic on their hands here with their latest album. New producer John Goodmanson allowed their grungey sound to flourish, similarly to how he’s produced Sleater-Kinney over the years. “Modern Act” is the band at their most accessible, though it’s also their best track.

Cody Conley: Kelly Lee Owens – Evolution

So, have you ever found yourself hoping to make the night feel a little like a Sofia Coppola movie, but you also don’t want to fall asleep like you might during a Sofia Coppola movie? No? Well, you know what’ll do the trick? Kelly Lee Owens’s debut album, an EDM qua dream pop affair that’s equally danceable as it is ethereal. One minute you’re at in a Cocteau Twins aquarium, the next you’re surveying the club from behind dark sunglasses. Seductive and engaging. Check it out.

Brooke Curry: Nothing But Thieves – Soda

Released September 8th, 2017, Nothing But Thieves’ sophomore album opens with a handful of tracks that experiment on the alternative electro-punk sounds showcased by their 2015 debut. The unexpected beginning comes to a climax between their title track, “Broken Machine,” and “Live Like Animals.” After this peak, the song “Soda” comes crashing down. Both lyrically and sonically, Soda is a breaking point. Every track prior was a dizzy disco dance of distortion and “Soda” is a gut-wrenching realization of unhappiness in a stripped-down state. The swirling guitars and falsetto stylings of lead vocalist Connor Mason create the feeling of floating around in a daze, not sure which way is up, “living off soda and cheap cigarettes.” I could also add a diet of Taco Bell and $5 Hot and Ready pizzas to that lyric, but then I’d just be projecting. Nothing But Thieves has released yet another fantastic record, and I highly recommend starting from the top and working your way through. Take a moment to appreciate “Soda” for the sonic realism it produces and, from that rock bottom feeling, the rest of the record will bring your emotions back up.

Grant Evan: Say Anything – Have at Thee

I’m just gonna gush here for a bit. I love Say Anything, “Have At Thee” especially. There is an earnest rawness to Bemis’ voice that you don’t get very frequently with pop punk. He has a great grasp of the English language and does poetically blunt things with his lyrics. “Have at Thee” is a bombastic vocal assault that can double up as screaming at a former belief structure. I just want everyone to love this band along side me.

Berto Gonzalez: Charlie Puth – Suffer

I am first and foremost a fan of hip-hop and R&B. I am also a big fan of a soulful crooner when the occasion calls for it. Lately for me, however, that occasion has been more frequently repeated. A genuine voice and a microphone just floor me for some reason. A deep passion for a man or a woman expressed through smooth vocal artistry has always touched the deeper side of my emotions as I’ve gotten older. Charlie Puth has busted through the forefront of my psyche in recent months and I can’t get enough. He reminds me of the beginnings of a young Justin Timberlake, mixed with the sensuality and gentlemanly swagger of Ne-Yo that can pull anybody that takes a listen into his grasp. His smash hit single “Attention” is far and away a Top 5 song for me this year, but the rest of this great solo debut album takes me to a fantasy of owning a swanky uptown Chicago penthouse overlooking the city lights — think Mel Gibson’s bachelor pad in “What Women Want.” I take in his impressive vocal range flowing through the piano riff and timely drums. They make you wanna just find a swanky lounge somewhere and maybe try and make a lost connection work again.

Akshat Singhal: Taylor Swift – Ready for It?

Taylor Swift’s first single off her highly-anticipated album, Reputation, was met by mixed reactions from hardcore fans and naysayers alike. It was a new, edgy Taylor Swift that many seemed to dislike because it didn’t go along with her public persona. Maybe that’s why I liked it. And then she released her second single off the album, “…Ready for It?”, which was even edgier (well, relative to T-Swift), but it was actually good. Starting from the throat clear just 9 seconds in, her “rapping” and lyrics present a Taylor Swift that we haven’t seen before, for better or worse.

Drew Steele: The Roots – I Remember

The Legendary Roots Crew have been making excellent music for roughly 20 years now. Not many artists or musical acts can lay claim to that statement. “I Remember,” as all songs on The Roots’ Undun are, is told by the narrator Redford Stephens. He’s reflecting on past mistakes and how his life of crime turned out. It’s somber, full of regret, and one of the best Roots’ record in their discography.

Matthew Thomas: Thrice – Hurricane

It was only fitting to include this track. The opener to Thrice’s 2016 album To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere, “Hurricane” develops much like a storm itself would. The song begins with a very Pixies-esque introduction, builds into soaring melodies, and explodes into a post-hardcore finish. As the piano keys tap away in the closing seconds of the track, one cannot help but imagine themselves picking up of the wreckage of the storm. Anyone currently living in Texas or Florida will find frontman Dustin Kensrue’s lyrics all too appropriate; “Another fight into the night until nothing else remains / How do we find harbor from the hurricane?”

 

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