listening to Your Favorite Songs 2023, Part 9

listening to Your Favorite Songs 2023, Part 9

Holy moly, we're almost done with this blogging exercise. It has been a very rewarding journey. I assuredly will be coming away from this experience with at least a dozen under-explored or unexplored artists to dig into. Music is social!! There will be one more part - Part 10, the last 10 songs out of 100. And then we will truly be in The New Year and big things will be happening on this blog for sure. Thanks for hanging in!

(Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7, Part 8)

Certified Trapper - "Chemone (Come On Yeah)" (from @seanycinco)

A lot of the hip hop rec'd to me for this series has leaned toward the old-school: Nas reminiscing, Aesop Rock strolling, LaRussell and Sada Baby trading verses on a freestyle under the pergola. Milwaukee's Certified Trapper is definitely new-school. He's 22 years old and part of a contemporary wave of absolutely mind-bogglingly prolific rappers — check out his Soundcloud page, indulge in several luxuriant scrolls, and you won't even hit a year of output. In his column from November 2022, Pitchfork's Alphonse Pierre wrote that "taking in a Certified Trapper tape front-to-back just feels wrong, like watching TikToks in a movie theater." Just a dab will do ya, and "Chemone (Come On Yeah)" is an effervescent morsel of drum machine claps, Auto-Tune, and...recorder? I have no choice but to chemone along for the ride.

Ratboys - "Morning Zoo" (from @fgmarceau)

Let's gooooo Ratboys. Big year for Ratboys. This has big sing-along dive bar energy, big "Miller Lite, the Champagne of beers" energy, big coming of age energy. I haven't quite gathered the strength to fashion a fully fleshed-out theory of how the current "post-country" boom (Big Thief, Wednesday, what have you) mirrors the shift from '00s rock sleaze to 2010s "stomp clap hey" music....but it's on my mind. This particular rootsy rock moment feels less self-consciously twee and more authentically grainy than the one prior: more Wilco, less Lumineers. Hope you didn't donate your plaid flannels to the thrift store, cuz we're all going to need them.

Knower - "Crash the Car" (from @fourbeatss)

Well this blew my mind. The song's melodic framework recalls super early Michael Jackson balladry — I kept thinking of the song "Ben" specifically — but the details break it out of pastiche and steer it toward something much more expansive. Genevieve Artadi's singing begins so softly I had to crank up my headphones, but by the end it opens up to match the exquisite strings, the drums that get increasingly nice with it, and a burbling saxophone solo by David Binney that had me giggling with delight. Sentimental but not sappy, cosmic but not a cosmic gumbo.

COMMUTED - "freakin out (shallow bullshit about my mental health)" (from @shutyourPICKLES)

I love how stretched-to-its-breaking-point this song is, in so many ways. The guitar's strums are so fervent that the strings threaten to break. The tempo bops along at the pace of an anxiety-stricken heartbeat. The vocals strain with anguish. And the lyrics nail a particular "Aren't you tired of being nice? Don't you just want to go ape shit?" cusp-of-madness feeling, where you could do Anything, but end up doing Nothing: "I just wanna get fucked up all day / I want a fucking tattoo on my face / And then I wanna have sex on the train / But it's all just in my brain / Because instead I'm just freakin' out." I love it all, and I love the album art for COMMUTED's The Sad Computer too.

Yard Act - "The Trench Coat Museum" (from @mynamajefferey)

I don't think I've gotten this hype about a song about a coat since Cake's "Short Skirt Long Jacket." Well, that, and "Jacket" by Shallow Gravy. "The Trench Coat Museum" is a proper rave-up that starts sleek and gets busy quickly: cowbells, claps, riffs, general percussive mayhem. And beyond the outerwear theme, the lyrics do possess a touch of Cake-ly archness. "I'm reclaiming the trench coat," singer James Smith declares at the beginning of the song. He wears his when he's going off to war. The longer the coat, the tougher you are — "and mine drags along the floor." I never force my husband to listen to songs unless they're really good, and I pitched this one over text as "LCD Soundsystem x Cake x The Rapture," which, if you don't know him, is like laying out a cat trap and filling it with sardines.

Pynch - "The City (Part 2)" (from @GannonHanevold)

This London band spends the tentative first half of the song contemplating bleak, repetitive, poisonous city life ("Is this what we were made for / Living life on the fifteenth floor?") before rejecting the proposition entirely and indulging in a huge, atmospheric rock slamdown. These song selections continue to tantalize me in mysterious ways. A lot of the songs in this batch feel like they embody an "end of the night" / "you don't have to go home but you can't stay here" mood. The Muse knows it will soon be Last Call.

Oneohtrix Point Never - "A Barely Lit Path" (from @afuckingmohawk)

Again is not my favorite OPN production, but this album closer is definitely my favorite on its tracklist. Daniel Lopatin's ability to conjure such unadulterated emotion from complex and often harsh production continues to astonish me. My friend Matthew was correct that Oneotrix Point Never is probably the closest thing millennials have to a Brian Eno figure — OPN's equal adeptness with chartworthy pop, panic attack-inducing film soundtracks, and electronic miniature symphonies gives me confidence in his ability to also compose a Windows 95 startup noise.

Logan Ledger - "Where Will I Go" (from @FreddyArby)

Wistful, string-swept country that could have easily come out fifty years ago. It fits right in sonically with the Sammy Volkov from last blog, AND the lyrical theme ("They say you know when you know / I think I know / But where will I go?" kind of fits right in with "Morning Zoo" by Ratboys from just a few blurbs ago ("How long must I wait to decide that it's over? Well I don't know"). We are all out here just not knowing shit. Or we know, and we don't know what to do next. More songs about buildings, food, and decision-making.

me too, thanks. - "Stinger YRC" (from @NONBlNARY)

I am always down for a new and specific music subgenre. me too, thanks. ID's as "wizard emo." I looked into the meaning of "wizard emo" — it seems to encompass a broad approach that includes everything from wearing wizard hats at performances, to naming an album Icthlarin's Little Helper, which, when I googled it, leads to a page on the Old School RuneScape wiki about a particular quest...I'm down with all of it, I think wizards are cool. And "Stinger YRC" really rips: fast, rowdy, meaty drum fills...a touch of harmonica? A double-time ending? Into it.

ANOHNI and the Johnsons - "Scapegoat" (from @ohayeitsskye)

It's wild to think how I have grown up with the music of ANOHNI. I Am a Bird Now came out when I was just getting into 'indie music' in early high school, which means I have had the pleasure of hearing ANOHNI's voice for almost twenty years. On "Scapegoat," it has never sounded so rich or well-shaped. Her vibrato is so extreme, it often sounds more like a bowed string instrument than a human voice. And she channels it into a deeply affecting lament, calmly detailing the cruelty that seems to be endemic to the lives of vulnerable people: "It doesn’t matter what you’ve got to give / Or why you want to live / You’re my scapegoat / It’s not personal." You can hear it in the screaming guitars that close out the song: a searing censure of this way of life, and a deep longing for something different.

Thanks so much for reading this blog. Tune in real soon for the next batch of songs. And if you like I Enjoy Music? Tell a friend about it.