Listening to music is far more enjoyable than having your panicked breathing and sighs soundtrack your hardcore library study session. I have tested both of them—and let me tell you, the former only seeks to amplify the sensations of your state of distress. If someone shows up to the library without a set of headphones or earbuds, he or she is an alien. No one should have to listen to their body do…bodily functions while he or she is trying to make heads or tails about their calculus homework or Middle English.
This study session, avoid listening to your body hum its way back into your heart. Ignore everything and listen to the music, man. This week, I’ve compiled, just for you, of course, a playlist to help you in this unhealthy endeavor. As you stroll into the library, a premature prison sentence, if you ask me, plug your ears and jam out. Use your pens or pencils as makeshift drumsticks, head bang at your desk cubicle. Make a fool of yourself—you’re only in college once, after all.
1. “Mountain At My Gates” by Foals, off of their album, What Went Down.
If we’re being totally honest, Foals really fell off the face of the Earth for a while. While “My Number” off of their record, Holy Fire, kept them fresh in our minds for the past two years, I found myself craving something more after listening to that tasty opener.
Luckily, “Mountain At My Gates” came just in time and has my heart racing.
Yannis Philippakis spares no second to throw the listener back into the fray that is Foals. His voice is gravely and aggressive as ever. Bolstered by the incredible bass line and juxtaposed with the sweet-toned, high-pitched guitar melody in the first verse, it becomes quickly apparent that “Mountain At My Gates” is a musical phenomenon. There simply isn’t another song out there like it. Philippakis voice is pleading and desperate, not only for the sake of amping up the danger (“I’ll drive my car without the brakes … I see a darkness in my fate.”) or sensations of romance (“You show me a signpost for where I should go”) but also to make you do your f*cking homework. Why the hell are we in this library for!?
2. “It Is What It Is” by Blood Orange, off of their record, Cupid Deluxe.
Dev Hynes, if you ask me, can do no wrong. I think he’s one of the coolest guys doing music today. Socially conscious and musically talented–you really can’t ask for anything more.
“It Is What It Is” is a track laden with angular, short guitar notes and the marimba. When was the last time you heard the marimba in indie music? Never—that’s when. We need more marimbas in indie music.
When the marimba blends in with the bass, there’s something overwhelmingly melancholic about it. I mean, I suppose the title is a dead giveaway. “It Is What It Is” implies a certain complacency in the speaker’s fate—a fate that could be good or bad, but, no one writes music about happy endings.
Hynes has a warm, mellow voice, further amplifying this sense of complacency. However, when Samantha Urbani comes in during the chorus with her high-pitched, cool vocals, backed by softened synthesizers, something discordant happens. The stark contrast of the two voices leads you to a confusion where you think the speaker wants to fight life back, but loses that inspiration as quickly as it came.
That’s right; your paper is what it is. It’s too late for that extension. You’re going to be in that library for a while, my friend.
3. “Slumlord” by Neon Indian, to be released on his new album, VEGA INTL. Night School on October 16, 2015.
Let the melodious synthesizer lure you into a baffled trance of doing your work. The opening of “Slumlord” is nearly religious in the auditory experience it provides the listener. It bleeds slowly into the classic Neon Indian groovy bass, trippy-synthesizer runs and beats. Get up out of your desk cubicle and shoegaze to the instrumental interludes. Shake your hair and feel the beat. If you weren’t transported to another planet, do not pass “Go” and shuffle to the next song. You need to repeat and shuffle proper to “Slumlord.”
Alan Palomo has brought the 80s back to Brooklyn and did the decade proper justice as far as I’m concerned.
4. “Paradise” by Wild Nothing, off of their record, Nocturne.
Wild Nothing in “Paradise” takes atmospheric to a whole other level. However, I need you to forget the opening synthesizers in this piece temporarily. Let’s focus, together, on the cool guitar and the warmth of the bass. These two instruments come together to scream in our ears, “THIS IS AN 80S REVIVAL—WHY DID WE EVER MAKE FUN OF THE 80S IN THE FIRST PLACE, WE WERE FOOLS.”
Jack Tatum’s voice is loaded with malaise, reminding us of the power love has to temporarily blind us as suggested by the lyrics, “Crush me with the lie / And tell me once or twice / That love is paradise / Love is paradise.” His voice moans throughout the first half of the piece, seemingly weaving in and out of the musical abyss. It’s a pleasant, auditory black hole. You’ll find yourself floating within the (remember this?) synthesizer that rolls throughout the entire track.
Get back to work.
5. “How Can You Really” by Foxygen, off of their album, …And Star Power.
“How Can You Really” throws you directly into the fray of their controlled revival of that classic 60s sound. From the beginning, you might find yourself wondering what words finish Foxygen’s song title. “How can you really” what? I need answers, people. “How can you really” not do your work? “How can you really” ignore these playlists?
Sam France’s voice is barely audible, whining at every moment to grab your attention. However, there’s something hypnotic about his melodic whimpers paired with the feel-good poppy piano and the tender sound of the brass horns.
6. “Everything’s Fine” by Minks, off of their record, Tides End.
I love the crescendo in the beginning of this song. It’s Minks stating that they have arrived and they’re here to take you on a bass-groove space adventure. This song is the definition of shoegaze, so, once again, rise up out of your chair and glue your eyes to your dirty kicks.
The general moodiness of Shaun Kilfoyle’s voice (he moans throughout “Everything’s Fine”) suggests that everything is not fine and everything is not cool. However, his signature moaning voice only locks you deeper into your endless shoegaze. You know what’s not fine? This fifteen page paper monstrosity.
Shoegazing is very hard to do on library carpets.
7. “The Look” by Metronomy, off of their album, The English Riviera.
If the opening electronic, pipe-organ, short and sweet synthesizer doesn’t get you to shimmy your shoulders, you might as well go back to listen to your body do bodily things. You don’t deserve to listen to music anymore.
The lyric repeated in different octaves by various band members relieves your ear of the confusion caused by Joseph Mount’s voice. His voice is the definition of unique—and it can be troublesome for many. It is not your traditional “good-sounding” voice, but what fun would the music world be if everyone sounded the same?
Each instrument comes in separately—it’s not until the end that each sound blends together to break the dance-purgatory binds you had been confined to for the first three minutes. It’s not to say that the first bit isn’t enjoyable—it is, but there’s something undeniably bright and bouncy about the latter half of the track.
8. “Fabulously Lazy” by Franz Ferdinand, a b-side off of their single, ”Do You Want To.”
This song is painfully British in all the right ways—and it’s by a Scottish band. With angular guitars, an emphasis on the bass line and that accent? It’s a lot to handle.
“No one sees her lift a finger … Fabulously lazy.” Well, isn’t that a lifestyle we all wish we could have? It sure would beat sitting in the library-prison for hours on end.
Nick McCarthy’s voice is sweet, heavy on the English-accent, and delicate. While he spits fire about this unnamed, fabulously lazy woman, it sounds as if his voice threatens to fall apart. He states, “No one is left untouched / She’s so fabulously lazy,” suggesting that perhaps, the speaker, too, fell underneath her spell.
9. “Rule My World” by Kings of Convenience, off of their record, Declaration of Dependence.
I swear, Kings of Convenience are so good it infuriates me. It’s even more aggravating to know that they’re on this indefinite hiatus bullsh*t so who knows when they’ll be back together again.
On that note, I introduce to you, “Rule My World,” an acoustic and lyrical masterpiece. Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe switch pitches throughout the song, one singing high and the other singing low. The vocals alone makes for a very pleasurable listening experience. Combined with the short, warm guitar chords underneath the cold, self-depreciating, occasionally accusatory lyrics, (“I talk before I think / You shoot before you know / Who was in your line of fire”), “Rule My World” proves to be far more complex than one would think upon first listen.
I would hope so—I would imagine choosing an individual to “rule my world” isn’t an easy thing to do. But you know what does rule your world? Your endless assignments! Woohoo!
This is the one thing Hollywood failed to mention to us potential students when we were gearing up to go to college.
10. “If You’re Feeling Sinister” by Belle & Sebastian, off of their album, If You’re Feeling Sinister.
I always feel sinister when I’m in the library past midnight. I feel especially sinister when I have to keep myself up past that hour via the magical properties of coffee. Blessèd be the beginning of fall semester, amen.
Belle & Sebastian’s older catalogue can be easily categorized as quiet folk-pop. Stuart Murdoch has a gentle, soft voice that can lull even the most frustrated of souls into a work-time groove. Listen to the piano line just before the first lyrics; it has a sweet, sing-song tone to it that is the perfect introduction to “If You’re Feeling Sinister.” You can even hear the indistinct voices of children in the back, emphasizing the innocence in this song (this is quickly destroyed when Murdoch recalls how Hillary was “into S&M and bible studies / Not everyone’s cup of tea”).
If there was any track to listen to while trying to hold onto the remaining bits of summer—it’s this one. This song is gentle and dreamy—so stare out of the window and get lost in the sunset sky. Ignore your studies temporarily and take in the view.
If you were feeling sinister, perhaps you no longer do.
You can listen to this week’s playlist via Spotify below.
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[Lead image via]