I’ve decided to start a new feature here on OverThinker Y: the monthly playlist.
At work, I spend a lot of time listening to music – sometimes on YouTube, sometimes on Spotify, but in either case there are ‘autoplay’ and ‘recommended’ features which end up taking me into new artists and genres I’d never have thought to look for. Because of this, I have a pretty eclectic playlist which changes from month to month, and I thought it might be fun to highlight a few tracks for your listening pleasure.
The format’ll go something like this:
Each month, I’ll pick ten tracks from my current playlist, plus two albums or EPs and (if I can keep finding them) one live show video or playlist of live tracks from YouTube.
It’s simple, but I think it’ll be fun! There may be some gaming tracks in there, but more likely than not it’ll be a bizarre hodgepodge of all sorts of things. Without further ado, then…
The May Playlist
The individual tracks I’m highlighting this month are:
1. Rush – Subdivisions – I’m always astonished how few people are aware of Rush, who are often cited by musicians as one of the most influential bands ever, and this prog rock track is one of my favourites of theirs. The synth lines are just so great.
2. Sigrid – High Five – rare is it that I find a pop or ‘top 40’ song that I actually like, but… well, this is one of those.
3. Snarky Puppy – Lingus – from the live album We Like It Here, this modern jazz track contains the facemeltiest keyboard solo I’ve ever heard in my entire life.
4. Martin Roth – An Analog Guy In A Digital World – ambient neoclassical electronica inspired by one of the albums we’ll look at in a minute, this tune manages to help me focus and take me on a journey at the same time.
5. Yat-Kha – Karangailyg Kara Hovaa (Dyngyldai) – if you’ve ever wanted Mongolian throat singing and traditional folky strings combined with distorted electric guitar rock soloing, this is the track for you.
6. ‘Terrestrial_Exitium’ on YouTube – Alan Watts Chillstep Mix #10 – okay, not technically one track, but these Zen chillstep mixes are some of my favourite things to stick on in the background and absorb the wisdom.
7. Jeremy Soule – Streets of Whiterun – I really think Skyrim‘s OST is in the discussion for best of all time, and this super-relaxing track is perhaps my best-loved from the soundtrack.
8. Nothing but Thieves – Take This Lonely Heart – indie band Nothing but Thieves genuinely haven’t ever done a bad song, as far as I can tell, and I can attest that they’re just as good live (even though lead vocalist Conor Mason is so ludicrously good that it feels impossible that he should be able to do what he does without any post-production).
9. Devin Townsend Project – Save Our Now – I’ve recently discovered metal legend Devin Townsend, and this song off the album Epicloud is super fun without being too heavy or inaccessible for non-metalheads.
10. The Doobie Brothers – What A Fool Believes – perhaps my dad’s favourite vocalist of all time, Michael McDonald’s breathy vocals are legendary whenever they appear in Motown, or in his work with Steely Dan or the Doobie Brothers. This song might be one of the best introductions to his unmistakable tones!
Frahm is a German composer who’s widely considered a piano and keys virtuoso; Spaces, like most of his recorded work, is a live performance involving looping, electronic effects, and astonishing build and release of tension before dramatic climaxes. It’s always based in his foundations as a classical musician, though, so it’s really a special fusion of the old and the new.
Mark Owen, on the other hand, is best known for being part of boyband Take That. His solo outing The Art of Doing Nothing borrows from his experience creating super-tight harmonies in that capacity, but is a much less bombastic affair for the most part. It feels surprisingly authentic, with polished ‘indietronica’ arrangements and production, and there are more really good tracks here than you might expect.
And, finally, my recommended live show for the month of May is Heilung’s LIFA, recorded at Castlefest in 2017. There’s not much point me trying to describe Heilung – just watch the show! – but basically it’s, like… pagan neofolk doomchant… something. Their lyrics are created from fragments of runic tribal writings in Proto-Germanic and other dead languages, and this live performance is really something special to behold.