I know finals are just around the corner, so if you’re stressed out here are a couple of my favorite songs to help calm you down and get ready to bullshit your way through some final project. If the playlist doesn’t help, you can always cry to the same songs on your way back to campus this summer.
“The Glow, Pt. 2”, The Microphones (2001)
“The Glow, Pt. 2” is the second song off the album of the same name and the continuation of “The Glow” from It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water (2000). Phil Elverum’s boyish voice sings of opening himself up to love and it blowing up in his face. He is now left to deal with his own mortality when he would rather curl up and die. The Microphones have a way of making me feel so small and insignificant, but they do so in the most beautiful way. The “my blood flows harshly” part is so haunting and intense and gives me chills every time.
“Oh Comely”, Neutral Milk Hotel (1998)
The longest track off the album In An Aeroplane Over the Sea, “Oh Comely” is a stirring ballad that is dark and slow. Most of the song is a single acoustic guitar and Jeff Mangum’s unpolished voice. The melody slowly rises multiple times before dropping back to the sullen guitar barely staying alive. The horns appearing near the end add an exquisite touch. Lyrically this song is so elegant, but its the non-lexical singing during the bridge and outro that leave me in tears as the song slows to a halt.
“Wasp Nest”, The National (2004)
The National begins their EP Cherry Tree with this simplistic beauty. Soft shaken bells jingle in the background giving the song an almost holiday feel, as if you’re riding in an open-sleigh. The graceful guitar riffs and deep lazy vocals create the most peaceful sound sculpture. This song just makes me want to cuddle up next to someone under a blanket sipping wine.
“Bad Diary Days”, Pedro The Lion (1998)
This track is so heartbreaking and gorgeous. The lyrics tell the story of a man figuring out his girlfriend has been cheating on him. Pedro The Lion creates a feel that is like “this sucks and hurts a lot… what do I do now?” Musically this song is not overly complex but the opening guitar note and intermediate riff are moody and alluring. The song slightly picks up in the last minute but retains its overall calm feel.
“Staring at the Sun (Demo)”, TV On The Radio (2004)
This is a bonus track from the album Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes with the full song appearing earlier on the record. Being just a demo, it is super lo-fi using little more than looped vocals. The song begins and is sung through the first verse. The loop suddenly stops, a couple words are muttered and they start the song over, using beatboxing to give it a stronger feel. Lead singer Tunde Adebimpe showcases his range with beautiful falsetto throughout the track. The simplicity and originality of this demo are excellent and leave me electrified.
“Still”, Volcano Choir (2009)
Volcano Choir formed in Wisconsin in 2005 as a collaborative project between the members of Collections of Colonies of Bees and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. “Still” is the re-recording of “Woods” from Bon Iver’s Blood Bank that was released earlier in 2009. This version features a full band as opposed to the Bon Iver’s version which is sung acapella. Long drawn out synths are accompanied by tiny glitches and little dings as Vernon sings the repeated moving phrase “I’m up in the woods, I’m down on my mind, I’m building a still, to slow down the time.” I’m can’t say this version is better than the original, but it is definitely worth a listen.