Every Friday, Atwood Magazine’s staff share what they’ve been listening to that week – a song, an album, an artist – whatever’s been having an impact on them, in the moment. Here’s this week’s weekly roundup!
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:: QTY ::
Kelly Wynne, Chicago
This week, thanks to Atwood’s own, Nicole Almeida, I discovered QTY and boy, has it been thrilling. I’ve been constantly playing “Cold Nights,” a dark alternative track with a completely contagious melody, one that sounds nostalgic like a track I’ve heard before, yet holds its own with creative instrumentals and indie-perfect vocals. The tunes are true to garage rock, yet hold a modern air, one that never lets the grunge of any element become the main focus.
QTY sounds trustworthy. They sound like your oldest friends. It’s music that feels warm, welcoming, perfect for the winter weather and for moments you need a rock-based pick-me-up. With female and male vocals, QTY is a diverse group, with songs like “Michael” that sounds open and personal, and “Cold Nights” which feels chilly and distant. Yet no matter the song’s attitude, QTY forms a relatability and a sense of acceptance in each track. It’s familiar, yet new, and exciting in every new discovery.
:: “Mine/Yours” – Long Neck ::
Jimmy Crowley, New York
I’ve had Long Neck’s new single “Mine/Yours” on repeat since the band announced that they were signing with Tiny Engines earlier today. I was a fan of frontwoman Lily Mastrodimos’ earlier band Jawbreaker Reunion, and I’ve been a casual follower of Long Neck, but none of the old songs really struck me the same way that JR’s had. Now with a full band at her disposal, I’m in love with this version of “Mine/Yours,” which captures the feelings of wanting to maintain a sense of individuality while dating. Mastrodimos has grown as a lyricist since her JR days, as she sets scenes with descriptive language reminiscent of John Darnielle or Jason Isbell. Will This Do? Is certainly an album that I’m going to be looking forward to early next year.-James Crowley
:: Cage the Elephant ::
Sara Santora, Tallahassee, Florida
For this week’s roundup, I have a little bit of a throwback for everyone. Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to see Cage the Elephant. Naturally, I have been listening to them pretty much nonstop this entire week. With cold and rainy weather, I have been defaulting to “Cigarette Daydreams” which has been a personal favorite of mine since its release back in 2013. Being that I’m going through a bit of a transitionary period in my life, this song just seems to hit home now more than it ever has. The imagery created within this song is what’s always pulled me in, and I can see that opening scene “clear as day” (see what I did there??). But all jokes aside, there’s something so simplistic and beautiful about this song that has just made it a classic in my own little collection of tunes. Whenever things in my life have gotten overwhelming or heavy, I’ve defaulted to taking night drives with the music up, half lost in thought and half avoiding going home. It’s a reflective song, and I think it does a great job at capturing how lonely it can often feel to grow up and look back on your past.
:: “Hbls Mucho” – Vanessa Zamora ::
Alex Killian, Foster City, California
This week I’ve been listening to the Spanish rock jam “Hbls Mucho” by Vanessa Zamora, thanks to my girlfriend’s recommendation. I’m fairly decent at understanding Spanish and am slowly working on becoming more fluent, so I have a number of Spanish songs on my every day playlists. Needless to say I was really stoked to add this one to the mix! Zamora sings seductively about a lover she wants to keep seeing but who is incapable of keeping a secret. She wants the relationship to remain private, away from the judgement and inquisition of others, but it just doesn’t seem possible. The mid-tempo track definitely has a mysterious and brooding feel to it, which matches the context of the song perfectly. It’s flirty and fun, but in a way that feels just out of arm’s reach. With funky guitar riffs and plenty of synthesizers, it has an extremely danceable vibe and sticky lyrics to match. I’m looking forward to exploring more of Zamora’s discography, but for now I’ve got “Hbls Mucho” on repeat.
:: “The Trapeze Swinger” – Iron & Wine ::
Mitch Mosk, New York, NY
I’ve been listening to Iron and Wine’s poignant “The Trapeze Swinger” nearly once a day since he opened with it at last month’s Brooklyn Steel show. A throwback dating to before 2009 (originally commissioned for the movie In Good Company), this song has quickly become one of my favorite compositions Sam Beam (aka Iron and Wine) has ever penned. A soft ballad driven by a singular descending chord sequence, it feels much like a lullabye: Smooth background harmonies fall over a humble acoustic guitar pattern with grace, and it’s out of that warm padding that Beam’s voice emerges: “Please remember me, happily,” he sings calmly, an easy lilt in his voice. But there’s nothing easy about “The Trapeze Swinger”: The song is a suicide note; a letter from beyond the grave; a final bittersweet goodbye. That doesn’t stop the following nine minutes from being a thing of sheer beauty; the singer/songwriter delicately weaves a story out of relatable experiences and memories: “With bruises on my chin, the time when we counted every black car passing,” and “at Halloween, making fools of all the neighbors, our faces painted white, by midnight we’d forgotten one another.” The happy moments are tinged with a somber sadness; Iron and Wine mixes nostalgia and regret into his lyricism, wishing he’d spent lest time bemoaning the small stuff.
Chills inevitably overcome me on every listen, as Iron and Wine’s message sinks into my bones. Whether it’s with pleasure or pain, he’s singing about the little things – the everyday moments that we too easily take for granted, and let pass us by. It may be too difficult to enshrine them all, but we can all appreciate the artist’s heartfelt sentiment. Even as he recalls the suicide itself, there’s this stirring, otherworldly quality about his portraiture:
So please, remember me mistakenly
In the window of the tallest tower
Calling passers-by but much too high
To see the empty road at happy hour
Gleam and resonate, just like the gates
Around the holy kingdom
With words like “Lost and found”
and “Don’t look down”
And “Someone save temptation”
Meanwhile, his description of the depression that ultimately took him – out of lovesickness and everything else – is nothing short of brilliant:
But please, remember me, my misery
And how it lost me all I wanted
Those dogs that love the rain and chasing trains
The colored birds above their running
In circles around the well and where it spells
On the wall behind St. Peter
So bright, on cinder gray, in spray paint
“Who the hell can see forever?”
Devastatingly sad and incredibly moving at the same time, Iron and Wine’s “The Trapeze Swinger” is an effortlessly touching tribute to the everyday things that matter most in life, an overwhelming final goodbye in the face of mental illness, depression and suicide. That’s why Beam continues to play it to this day, and that’s why I’ve fallen in love with it.
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