Sometimes I’m amazed by how profound an impact music can have on us and the way we go about our lives from day to day. Throughout my life, music has always been a palpable presence, not so much because I played the flute in school band for six years, but more so because my angsty teenage years were filled with wonderfully sad and angry punk rock that just touched my soul. After those years, my tastes opened up and bloomed, and I started appreciating more of the notes and melodies and subject matter in all genres.
Today, my taste in music is pretty eclectic. I like some of everything, although I tend more toward alternative rock and folk music rather than pop and rap. Yet, there are always those songs that suprise me and keep me listening, despite former prejudices against certain genres. Therefore, I hope to make music a frequent topic on Pleasantry. Whether it’s album reviews, concert recaps or simple round-ups like this one, I hope to write more about the music that touches me. And, given I have an hour-long commute to and from work, I don’t think it will be a problem.
If you have any song or album recommendations, please send them along, as I am always looking for new music to accompany me on my commute and during my creative endeavors. Here are my most recent discoveries for your listening pleasure.
“The Greatest” by Sia
This song has taken the internet by storm, as per the usual when Sia and Maddie Ziegler collaborate. First, the song. I really love Sia’s composition as those bright, singular notes at the beginning crescendo into a full-on motivational and inspiring dance-music. Every time I listen to it, I am inspired to make changes and do things that I have been either too scared or unmotivated to do otherwise. The sound is uniquely Sia and is wonderfully familiar for fans, while simultaneously intriguing for those new to her music.
Now, for the music video. The video has gone viral for its underlying message paying a tribute to the victims of the terrorist shooting at a gay night club in Orlando, FL in which 49 members of the local LGBT community were killed. The video shows Ziegler distraught at the immobile nature of her fellow dancers. They then begin to run and dance through an abandoned house until they collapse in a heap on the floor of warehouse.The final shot shows Ziegler crying, the tears running through the rainbows on her cheeks as she mourns the victims of the shooting.
The video is so powerful, especially considering the hashtag shown at the beginning of the video: #weareyourchildren. The video seems to portray everything a nightclub should be and the morbid chaos that ensues when an institution built on life and acceptance is attacked by anger and fear. The stillness of the children at the end combined with Ziegler’s tears is hauntingly heartwrenching. And I hope it sticks with the people who still believe gun violence and it’s horrible consequences are not real and present problems in this country.
Sweet Talk by Sinclair
Most of this new music came to me through Spotify on several of the playlists I have subscribed to. I first heard Sinclair’s “This Too Shall Pass” on the “Your Favorite Coffeehouse” playlist and was immediately taken with the simplicity of the song and the delicacy of her voice. This is one of those songs you need to hear when you are going through a particularly rough time.
There is a great article here in which Sinclair discusses significant transformations in her life that informed her EP Sweet Talk, the pinnacle of which was coming out to her family and dealing with the aftermath. When you hear about her family’s reactions, it gives “This Too Shall Pass,” so much more depth and emotion than I previously suspected, which makes the song and the rest of the album so much more potent. But you still get the feeling that this song could be about anything, including whatever you are going through in your life.
After hearing this song, I immediately downloaded the rest of Sinclair’s album, which combines her sweet, pure voice with electronic melodies and edgy subject matter. There is “Holla,” which is sexy and sultry, and just has that air of throwing caution to the wind and submitting to your more primal desires. Then there is “Heaven on Earth,” another slow song that seems to encompass her relationship with her wife in such a sweet, honest way that I think anyone whose ever been in love can relate to. My favorite by far is “The World is Ours.” This is such a great song. You can really hear Sinclair taking control of her happiness, which inspires me so much to do the same each time I hear it. While electro-pop usually isn’t my thing, the contrast between the melodies and Sinclair’s voice is so unique and I can’t get enough. I’m excited to see what she does next.
Lost by Jack and White
Despite their many albums and general presence on the alternative scene, I had never heard of Jack and White before last week — what a travesty. I found this album in the Discover portion of Spotify and immediately fell in love with the soft, folksy vibe of Lost.
This album, released in 2015, reminds me so much of another of my favorite bands, Of Monsters and Men. Both have this vibe that just draw you into this whimsical world that, for some reason, I imagine is comprised of foggy forests, never-ending greenery and the promise of the simple magic of existing. I have to say, this is the perfect album to fill out your craving for autumn. The band is comprised of Jack Matranga and Brooke White, who came together in 2011 and began producing their feel-good, indie-pop music.
Listening to the duo is just so pleasant, it really calms me down and takes the stress out of whatever I’m doing, especially at work. Their sound, especially on Lost, reminds me of the folk singers of the 60s and 70s, which is something I feel hasn’t been heard as much today with most bands and singers focusing on self-inspection and darker, edgier subject matter. While there are some songs on this album that deal with things like un-requited love, the overall vibe of the album is wonderfully light and soulful.
I could go on and on but I think I’ll stop here and save the rest of my new discoveries for a later post.
What do you think of these artists and their new music? How can music be used to change the conversation about the dangerous issues pervading our society? What new music would you recommend? Let’s talk.