When not deciding is not bad

Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in place

When not deciding is not bad
Maya Shenfeld, “Under the Sun” [Bandcamp]

The best times to be struck with indecision are when you’re faced with too many good options. This inability to choose, I think, happens because it disrupts the very popular decision-making method of the process of elimination. Everything just looks so good. What a wonderful, specific feeling, and one I’m not sure I appreciate enough when it comes along.

Which is all to say I’m still not certain this week’s playlist is done, because there was so much I wanted to include, but I’m sending it now because there are also bad times to be struck with indecision, like now, as if everyone else at the table has ordered and I just need a minute. (Spotify, Apple Music)

“Suck,” Helenor

This is simply a great piece of songwriting, so much nuance adding so much to the overall success of the song. Starting with that plucked guitar line that tracks alongside the vocal melody in the verse, and that deceptively simple drum track (which I was a little obsessed with all week) that propels the song and shifts the song across its many moods.

“Vacuum,” Magazine Beach

Lurching shoegaze absolutely dripping with distortion. It may not seem like a lot, but it’s something to hear a band hold a song together and keep it upright and moving even as it’s crumbling along the tracks.

“Sister,” Kim Krans

Drone-y, Spiritualized-y space rock calms my soul like nothing else. It’s that tempo and that bassline, all root notes with that step-up, step-down pattern. It sets the stage for anything to happen above it. Love it.

“Bluetooth Hell,” Dancer

I love the mix of related genres here, shifting between tightly wound, C86 jangle-pop over to talk rock and back again. It’s a totally natural matchup, but it’s enough to dump any preconceived ideas about where the song will land next.

“Drum Jump,” Valentina Magaletti

Exactly what it sounds like.

“nine,” Louis Carnell, Green-House

These are the kinds of weird little—I think little? I can’t tell anymore—releases that make me miss going to record stores, specifically visiting the wall of staff picks. So many times I would glance across something there I’d never heard of, but the three-by-five card under it would stop me with a reference to another band or producer or some crossover with another artist I liked. Compare that to my feed, where Louis Carnell has been showing up for months because of this series of collaborations with artists I happen to follow, but the feed is too much, and I have ignored these, and I regret it. Anyway, this is a blissful reverie of a track and RIYL Green-House (which I do).

“my energy’s all over it,” gorse panshawe

New experimentalism—or, as it says on the Bandcamp page, “pagan jungle,” which I quite like—from the mysterious figured lurking behind Slugabed, whose 2019 album with a name too long to repeat here, was one of my favorites of that year. Ah, there at the end, that must be the pagan part.

“Hell of a Ride,” Nourished by Time

Another new one from Marcus Brown, and an antidote (for me) to really anything bad, ever. What an escape.

“Apophatic Melismatic,” Church Chords

Some serious DFA Records bass here. I love it, and I say that as someone who has never managed to click with LCD Soundsystem. (But I used to say the same thing about DIIV, and now I have to renege there.) This track, though, this track. I love the groove. Kinda house-y, kinda Stone Rose-y.

“Tuff,” Sibille Attar

Sibille Attar’s “I Don’t Have To” from 2018 holds a revered place in my listening pantheon. Those sincere, soaring vocals, those random, exuberant drums. So extraordinary and memorable. Which means every time she has a new song, the bar is set especially high in my mind, and it hasn’t been until this new one that I think she’s hit the same mark. Wow, it’s good.

“A guide for the perplexed,” Maya Shenfeld

An absolute blanket of sound here. So much depth and gravity and warmth. The entire album is something truly special, and at some point I’m going to need to talk about the whole thing. But for now, I’m taking it a song at a time.

“Photograph,” Medicine

This is from a pleasingly unhinged new album of Beatles (and solo Beatles) covers (and Beatles-inspired songs) by Brad Laner’s ever-reincarnating Medicine. As soon as I heard the album, I knew I had to include a song from it in this week’s playlist, though I’ve traded out which song it would be over and over. (Hello indecision!) For now it’s this one. By the time you listen to the playlist it may be another. Whatever happens, it’s gonna be great.