This Monday, September 7, marks the 133th annual celebration of Labor Day in the United States. If you’re a college student like me, this day is a blessing. For the one week we have all been in classes (let’s face it: it’s been torture), we already need a break. We can’t just swing back into reading one-hundred plus pages in a night like it’s nothing. We need to be eased into things.
Thanks to Labor Day, now you don’t have to use one of your three unexcused absences to sit around in your dorm room or residence hall to mentally prepare for the nightmare of a semester you have ahead of you.
As you sit out on the Quad, your backyard, or in your kitchen back at home, Labor Day is a time to relax and not think about all of the pressing work you have on your platter for the rest of the week. Take in the sunshine, pet a dog, maybe even eat a hamburger. The relaxation possibilities are truly endless as you slug around in leggings or sweatpants wherever you may be. Work pants? On Labor Day? Ha.
More importantly, however, kick back in the remainder of the summer sunshine with some good tunes. If your day off is soundtracked by French Montana, well.
You need a new listening device, new friends and obviously: new music. Guess who has your back this week?
“Hammock” by Millionyoung, off of his record, Amanecer.
All right, so I totally understand that not everyone has access to a hammock, but, for the time being, please bear with me and pretend you’re rocking back and forth on a remote island in a hammock.
The loud drum beat keeps you steady as you zone off on your day off. “Hammock” is a track that effortlessly blends not only the sounds of the electronic 80s, but also Latino-style guitar (it’s present throughout the entire song). With breathy vocals and guitars so melodic it sounds like it’s literally singing, you’ll no longer be concerned about the summer ending or worried about the work due at the end of the week. You’ll be dancing around in the sun with a cold drink in your hand.
That, my friends, is what Labor Day is all about.
“Lovin’ Start” by Betty Who, off of her record, Take Me When You Go.
I make it no secret that I’m a huge fan of Betty Who. So, let me reiterate it yet another time: I am a huge fan of Betty Who.
“Lovin’ Start” is a delicate song that inspires even the shyest of individuals to dance. Featuring Betty Who’s generally powerful voice in a stripped-down, whisper-like style, “Lovin’ Start” is an extremely exposed Betty Who song, lacking her usual thumping bass and heavy synthesizers. Don’t let that deter you, however—their absence is not an issue. Betty Who’s voice is as light as a cloud, taking you away from your current issues and letting you sit back and bob your head in musical approval.
“Sedona” by Houndmouth, off of their record, Little Neon Limelight.
“Sedona” is folk music for people with pop music tendencies. You simply cannot have aggressively loud rap music on a day off—it’s wildly inappropriate for this lovely day off.
Begin tapping your foot to the soft drum and nod your head along with the repeating piano line. Let Matt Myers’ crystal clear voice wash over you and purge you of your working sins.
Houndmouth is violently controlled to the point of listening frustration. You are eventually granted relief, thankfully. Towards the end of the track, the song begins to pick up in tempo and aggression. However, let the explosion of vocal soul and frantic scrubbing away at guitars and pianos ease your soul.
“New Jacket” by Literature, off of their album, Chorus.
I’m particularly fond of how the guitars are distorted to the point where they sound like they’re submerged underwater.
Taking serious inspiration from Johnny Marr’s of The Smiths guitar style, “New Jacket” is a track that does not demand that you listen to it, but rather silently appreciate it. It’s not overtly flashy or grating on the ears, but instead floats between your headphones as you gently rock away to some unknown location, far away from the workweek. Kevin Attics, the singer, sings with such breathless, carefree delight that it’s hard not to fall into the repetitive spell of “New Jacket.” Juxtaposed with waterlogged guitar and airy vocals, the contrast proves to be a very interesting listening experience.
“I Can’t Be Your Superman” by Skylar Spence, to be released on his debut album, Prom King.
Let’s pick it up a bit, shall we?
The bass line is relentless, hitting your ears right from the get-go. From that point on, it meshes in with the oddly-sexy low-toned saxophone to command you to dance. Certainly a stark contrast from Literature’s “New Jacket.”
Skylar Spence spits frustration over slinky jazz-style guitar, claiming that “[he] can’t be your superman.” With his monotone voice, it only sets to further prove his exasperated frustration with this unnamed individual. In short, it’s a blend of sounds that come together to really drive home the notion of the frustrated lover while simultaneously creating one hell of an end-of-summer dance track.
“Faithless” by Heavenly Beat, off of his record, Talent.
This song has been one of my favorites for about a year now. The bass is round, the string arrangement is simple and clear, the guitar is tinged with Latino style and the vocals are not the focus. The monotonity of John Pena’s voice forces you to think about the instrumentations happening beyond his words and, as a result, causes you to get lost in the swimming melodies and harmonies.
What better way to be lost, though?
“Game Of The Heart” by Donald Cumming, off of his debut album, Out Calls Only.
“Don’t / Don’t let it tear you apart!” is a good motto for just about anything. Thanks, Donald Cumming!
A modern song heavily relying on the great classics isn’t anything new. However, Cumming, a New York City native, approaches the tried-style with a distant, “I’m-too-cool-for-you” NYC style. The twangy guitar is fresh–the bass just enough to get your feet going. There’s nothing flashy about this track—it’s all about feeling good, which, on Labor Day, could you really ask for anything more?
“Breathe” by Télépopmusik, covered by New Navy.
Keep in mind that this song was written by a French electronic duo (no, not Daft Punk) and, quite frankly, the French really know how to pull together an awesome electronica song.
New Navy, however, took this cover a step further, infusing it with influences of smooth-jazz and chillwave. The sudden explosion of guitar and drum following the opening wispy vocals prepares you for a song that perhaps you’re ready to forget. New Navy, though, is having none of that negativity in their cover of “Breathe.” While they lull you into a brief period of auditory relaxation, it’s only a matter of time before the song breaks free once again and you’re up on your feet dancing to the delicate guitar melody.
“Do You” by Spoon, off of their record, They Want My Soul.
Britt Daniel has one of the most unique voices in indie rock and there’s not a soul on this planet who can tell me otherwise.
While you might be feeling frustrated over the whiny nature of his voice, it’s only temporary. Paired with a classic guitar sound, you’ll be singing along with the “do, do, dos” in no time. Complexity be damned, simplicity is the way to go. Featuring a great lyric, “Someone grab popsicles / Someone do somethin’ about this heat,” Spoon is here to help you enjoy your Labor Day while simultaneously understanding that the summer heat is oppressive and needs to end.
“Wonderland” by Bag Raiders, off of their EP, Waterfalls.
Let the gentle sounds of Bag Raiders’ synthesizer guide you into the solid beat that runs throughout this track. A song that runs uncommonly soft for the Australian-electronic duo, it’s only a matter of time before they explode into their dancey synth grooves that they’re so good at composing (hint: it’s post-chorus). Let the exiting repetition of the beginning synthesizer guide you to calmer shores as you ease into the evening of your glorious Labor Day.
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[Lead image via]