Take my thoughts to the roundabout

And you will know me by the trail

Take my thoughts to the roundabout
“no sleep deep risk,” Still House Plants [Bandcamp]

Years ago, I would run around (and around and around) a nearby lake almost every day, no matter the weather, no matter how overcommitted or busy I was—and of course, the busier I was the more I ran. Why I mention this is because those runs used to be my most rewarding moments of listening, very likely because I am unable to tap and skip a song without twisting an ankle. So if I was listening to an unfamiliar playlist, I was forced into a song whether I initially liked it or not—and sometimes, in fact, I would come to adore a song this way.

Running soundtrack: a lot of garbage tbh [Instagram]

To be clear, my success rate here landed around one good song to 20 bad songs, so while I can’t recommend it as a worthwhile tactic, nonetheless I’m finally back to running after an extended time away (exacerbated by an Achilles injury then a pandemic than another Achilles injury), and it’s brought back so much to me, so many good things, that it’s all I can think about.

Now, here’s this week’s new (trail-tested) music. (Spotify / Apple Music)

“Colorado 1996,” Mimi Pretend

Dreamy, gaze-y, a swirl of beauty that’s indecipherable, save the piano (and later, the drums) and a heartbreaking sample from Silent Hill 2 (if you know the game, you know the one).

“Black Wig,” Ren Harvieu

Well this is wonderfully unhinged. Orchestral, soaring, psychedelic, and proof good things can come from responsible use of a theremin.

“no sleep deep risk,” Still House Plants

The way this song just hangs in the air, the space between the notes and drumbeats. The spareness of the first half sets up a second half that fills in the blanks. It’s perfect.

“Doves,” Armand Hammer, Benjamin Booker

A just-released bonus track from last year’s phenomenal We Buy Diabetic Test Strips, this is an exemplar of "songs that end up nowhere near where they started.” Unpredictable and magnificent.

“Pt. 1 - Prophet Harmonic,” Graham Reynolds, Peter Talisman

Generally speaking—and is there ever a better way?—I find movie soundtrack albums annoying. So often, it’s music composed in order to anchor a movie, not stand on its own. (And this is where Spotify loves to do me wrong—hey look an artist you follow just came out with a documentary soundtrack and its gorgeous and meaningless.) Anyway, this is the opposite of that: a composer known for soundtracks is doing some really interesting things without the constraints of a movie weighing down the music’s ambitions.

“These Sickly Flowers,” The Victoriana

For artists and audiences alike, goth works only when we commit to it. And this song commits—though to get more specific than “goth,” this is at the punkier, dancier, New Romantic end of the spectrum.

“Mirror 7,” Michael A. Muller, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

Did I need another beautiful ambient soundscape? I didn’t think so, but Jefre Cantu-Ledesma frequently proves how wrong I am.

“Tourist Language,” Flowertown

Last featured a few weeks ago, more of Flowertown’s lovey lo-fi. This had me thinking about the power of tape hiss and how at this point it should be considered a vital instrument alongside the guitars, drums, etc., to build this very specific aesthetic.

“The Killing Moon,” Paraorchestra, Brett Anderson, Charles Hazlewood

The classic Echo & the Bunnymen track, belted out here gloriously by Suede’s Brett Anderson for Death Songbook, a concert of (mostly) covers about death and loss recorded a year into the pandemic. That music is getting a proper release this year, and while I do love this track—the first single from the upcoming album—their versions (no longer online, unfortunately) of Mercury Rev’s “Holes” and Black’s “Wonderful Life” are particularly crushing.

“Analemma,” Maya Shenfeld

Why can’t church be like this? It felt like this one was everywhere this week—for good reason, it’s stunning—and it’s here too.

“Yellow,” Alvidrez

There is a kind of music—which is this kind of music—that feels so unrestrained in the expression of its own beauty. Something about it, about the way it’s unconcerned with grounding itself, with retaining any level of cool-headedness, it’s quite a thing. It’s just utter release.

“Octavia,” Laurel Halo

I can’t think of any album that seemed to enrapture more people (me included) in 2023 than Laurel Halo’s Atlas. And now we have this lovely, sweeping composition, recorded a couple of years ago and newly out this week.