songs that dented my brain this year

maiki’s post on musical influence made me think about what tracks made a dent in my brain this year, too. I posted a big comment that ended up being more for me than for him, so here it is on my own blaugh, plus some more. I think that most of these songs actually aren’t from this year, but this is about what I’ve discovered.

I learned about M.I.A. relatively recently too (I’d heard Paper Planes, of course, but hadn’t followed her until earlier this year, when my coworker Shaun said “this solange song marks a Moment, just like how last year mia’s bad girls marked a Moment.” I was like, “bad girls?” and he was like, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE VIDEO FOR BAD GIRLS” and we watched it immediately and it blew my mind. Incidentally, I had thought that the aforementioned Solange track had not dented my brain, but pulling up the video now, maybe it did, at least for a while, there–the instagrammed-out visuals, the ultra style, the odd juxtaposition of the funky dancing with the slow movement of the song, that motherfucking british flag umbrella, the sunwashed mellowness of the sound, the smoothness of everything). So, onward to what I was trying to say in the first place: I love love love Bad Girls, and I especially love the truly epic official behind-the-scenes mini-documentary. “She’s actually crazy.” MIA’s out there, and graceful, and she’s got this fire in her eyes, and she is so so so feminine without ever begging for anything. It’s totally different from so many of the (especially female) singers/artists out there, whose only mode of interaction with the rest of the world is in a pleading manner. She’s fascinating to me. I think she blew my mind so much because she represents an alternative way to be feminine, or something.

On San Francisco:

  • Google Google Apps Apps, which makes everyone profoundly uncomfortable. Especially me. I live in the mission right now. Every time I walk home from the bart station, I pass these spraypainted words on the sidewalk on 24th at Valencia: “FUCK TECHIES,” because that’s where buses drop people off. I cannot even talk about this track ironically. Or unironically. Or maybe even at all. I try to talk about it (I do, I really do, to anyone that will listen, and to lots of people who won’t) and flail, hard.

  • Bucket Betch by Double Duchess, somehow irresistible in its joyful insistence. “We’re poppin’ up and takin’ over the place.” Something about the noise and the clapping and the jingle and distorted vocals and the San Francisco sunshine is happy and expressive and free and summer-y: “wait for it wait for it: HOORAY!” Pure exuberance!

What Spotify showed me:

  • Amon Tobin – Kitchen Sink (Clark Remix) – I like the soundscape of this. Magic and faeries in a warehouse with cogs and gears, machining grotesque forms of twisted metal, pixie dust detritus scattered across the floor. I don’t even know what kind of music this is or how I can find more. Spotify was like “since you listened to [something else, which I wish I remembered right now, because it would be a clue about what the heck genre of music this is at all], you should try this track” and I was like “okay” and then I was like “omg what is this I love it”

  • We’ll Begin Tomorrow by Release The Sunbird. Lisa made me a playlist of all the music SHE had run into when she started using Spotify (“I haven’t listened to new music for like ten years because that’s how long it’s been since I’ve walked into music stores and looked at CDs! It turns out all these artists are still making music, and look at all these new artists!”)

  • Another one from Lisa: Jolie Coquine by Caravan Palace. Turns out there is a wealth of artists doing old-timey-sounding blendy new music. Then there’s also Catgroove by Parov Stelar, who we didn’t see in concert when they were here, somehow.

Also from friends:

  • Holdin on by Flume. I really like Flume. This makes me think of springtime and possibilities and the little fluttery notes that go up are like birds taking wing. I’m begging Dawn to help me choreograph a belly dance routine to this song. Hip shakin’ mama!!!! I mean really.

  • Speaking of belly dance, Dawn showed me this gateway song: Simarik by Tarkan. It’s accessible and catchy and so so fun. She taught me a beginner’s routine to this. Months later, I got to bust it out at <a href="http://www.aynurgirginwesten.com/"Aynur‘s Gold Party, draped in gold beads. This happens to be one of the biggest Turkish pop songs ever, and so the universe aligned and everything worked out. I totally practiced in my head over and over again in my zipcar on the way to the gold party from k&a’s wedding, so much so that I missed my exit. I’ve had a lot of fun to this song.

  • The, uh, club version of the Wankelmut remix of the Asaf Avidan song, Reckoning Song (One Day). I had never seen or heard the original until JUST NOW, researching this comment.

  • This Get Low cover by Dan Henig which I cannot stop singing at the top of my lungs. This is a good one to really bellow.

  • Atish at robot heart on friday night this year. Obviously, burning man dented my brain rather severely. Atish also does monthly mixes. We go and find him every month at Tutu Tuesday.

I have given up on categorizing (and again, these are all things that are older than this year, but I just found out about them):

  • Major Lazer – ‘Get Free’ feat. Amber. First heard in a yoga class at work, started hearing it everywhere after that.

  • Aquarium by Nosaj Thing.

  • Just Can’t Get Enough by Depeche Mode lol.

  • Konstantine by Something Corporate, a band I’d heard of when my suitemate in 8b26 in 2000 watched her friend perform on Letterman for the first time, but I never knew this song, and I fell so hard and so fast, threw my entire body into it, overwhelmed by everything, longing, the unknown, the unknowable.

  • The album Far Away Trains Passing By, by Ulrich Schnauss, which is Dennis’ chill music, especially for when there’s traffic going across the bay bridge. Here’s knuddelmaus, which I really love. I’ve been having trouble sleeping, so I put this and Lullatone on.

“I guess this comment is really more for me than for you,” I said to maiki, in my comment on his blog. “In that case,” I continued, “I might as well list the other things that particularly dented my brain, especially earlier this year: End of Time by Beyonce, Sail by AWOLnation, Dream Catcher by Unicorn Kid ……..”

And, very recently:

  • Loud Pipes as well as everything else by Ratatat (like Montanita, and the chord progression in Gettysburg (there’s something so emotional about it, and sad, and uplifting too), but also seriously everything else by them too). I really like this a lot. A lot. That guitar. And a particular chunkiness to the beat. It makes you kind of slam yourself around, and I like slamming myself around.

  • Still Night by Pretty Lights. This track has really, really dented my brain in the last two weeks. For a little while, that five-note riff was the only constant thing in my head, reminding me that I was a person. Saw ‘em at the bill graham civic auditorium. Had a grand time. Light show with tons of gold spotlights on a disco ball, shards of all our brains scattered all over the room, lasers making shapes on the walls. They released giant giant balloons, and watching them float up and down over the crowd made us feel like we were underwater, undulating, pulsing, alive. We danced like crazy.

I’m sure I’ll think of other things. Oh! Buzzcut Season by Lorde, which I already wrote about. Can’t Hold Us because in Amsterdam, there was a night where we went to like 5 bars and this song played at ALL OF THEM and it was demonstrated to me so clearly that there’s some kind of river of ideas connecting at least these parts of the world that I got to get mixed up in. I only mention Blurred Lines because it was so big, made so many people mad, there were these awesome parodies, and when we went to Burning Man, Mustafa had to find internet to check on his what rhymes with hug.me website, which totally blew up and got written up and stuff!

I was about to write “DUH, there’s Madness,” and I even knew what I was going to write about walking home to Euc house for two weeks through Stern Grove and the eucalyptus trees with this in my ears but it turns out that was in SEPTEMBER OF LAST YEAR, not this year like I thought. There has to be a cutoff somewhere. I did still listen to this song a bunch this year, I think.

I’ll probably be unable to resist continuing to add to this, especially now that it’s some kind of stream-of-consciousness free-association look back at this year.

This has been quite a year for me.

What a year.

7 thoughts on “songs that dented my brain this year

  1. Yay I dented your brain! :D I’m still waiting for the chords for We’ll Begin Tomorrow to appear online so I can play it on banjo!

    PS I made a Spotify playlist of all these recommendations YAY

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