The Chronicle Playlist: New Growth

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Justin Prather

(Photo by: Justin Prather | The Daily Utah Chronicle).

By Cade Andereson

 

 

All of our interactions and conversations now are in the context of the atmosphere of unease that has descended over the world in the past week. As a human species, we are collectively adapting and waiting. We are all waiting for things to get better but preparing for them to get much worse, caught in a surreal balance between a feeling that the world is ending and a feeling that life as normal must carry on. But the months of March and April already hold their own powerful spirit of transition and liminality, regardless of whatever else may be taking place. New growth is here, no matter what. Change is in the rain we fall asleep to, in the days that give us more and more sunlight and in the leaves that sprout from the bones of gray trees. 

During this phase of transition, as we quarantine ourselves or practice social distancing while civilization fundamentally changes before our eyes, music is more important than ever, and the spirit of spring is more important than ever. So, this alternative playlist, ranging from pop-folk to soft rock, is full of songs that feel like spring to me — music that makes navigating uncharted territory a little bit easier.

 

“Mountain Sound”
Of Monsters and Men

This is a band that radiates a spirit of exploration and discovery in all their discography. One listen to “Mountain Sound,” whether it’s for the first time or for old time’s sake, will instantly prove its status as the quintessential springtime song. 

 

“Jah Werx”
Susto 

The beautiful album artwork of Susto’s “& I’m Fine Today” screams “spring” before you even have a chance to listen. I always hear “Jah Werx” in particular as a sort of humanist anthem, an indie-folk testament on the spirituality there is to be discovered in the connection between mind and body and nature. The second verse depicts one individual’s growing awareness of seasons for life and seasons for death all in balance, while the penultimate verse’s lyrics “Lifetimes in a carbon place / It’s the breath in my lungs” celebrate this acceptance. “Jah Werx” warmly, kindly widens our perspective from egotistic to holistic. 

 

“Dreams”
The Cranberries

The late Dolores O’Riordan was best recognized for her comforting-yet-haunting vocals in this hit from ’90s Irish alt-rock group The Cranberries. Everyone and their dog loves the way “Dreams” makes them feel, and for good reason. The song is a celebration of change, particularly the way vulnerability transforms us when we embrace new great things that come our way. Let your fears of the future be assuaged by O’Riordan’s vocals — “Oh, my life / Is changing everyday / In every possible way.”

 

“Warm Foothills”
alt-J 

In their commentary on this song, also available on Spotify, alt-J explain that all band members collaborated on “Warm Foothills” with the British indie artist Marika Hackman and Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst. Each artist was recorded singing the entire song before the pieces were cut into single words and then pieced into a vocal collage. This communal spirit, mixed with the serene natural imagery the song conjures, makes for a beautiful springtime listen.

 

“World Wings”
Yoke Lore 

“How do we stay constant amidst constant changes — in time, in space, in body?” asked Adrian Galvin, the lead singer of Yoke Lore, during an interview with Billboard about the EP “Goodpain.” “Through all these changes, do we get anywhere?” he asked. If that isn’t a springtime perspective, I don’t know what is. World Wings begs us to step back from all the arbitrary rules, routines, and thought processes we’ve learned — and take a moment to ground ourselves in our natural instincts, to navigate using our intuition. 

 

“Sometimes”
Goth Babe

Few artists can so quickly carry away a listener the way Goth Babe does. Immediately we are transfixed by acoustic guitar strums that are soon accompanied by synthy bass and reverbs. To me, the lyrics almost don’t even matter too much because the emotion Goth Babe is striving for is so effectively created by the sounds alone. “Sometimes” certainly sounds like a love song, but it also makes me feel joy about open doors of any kind.

 

“Wild”
Beach House

If you have ever wondered what flying through a deep-green forest might feel like, listen to “Wild.” Beach House has such a unique way of turning familiar feelings upside-down and transforming them into psychedelic experiences. This piece is certainly no exception. As is the case with most Beach House songs, these lyrics are ambiguous enough to appeal to almost any subjective interpretation, but personally “Wild” feels like a testament to the natural impermanence of all things. 

 

“Telescope – Unpeeled”
Cage the Elephant

“Telescope” — specifically this acoustic version — is one of those rare gems that brings me total emotional consolation when I find myself exhausted at the state of the world. One of the most lyrically rich songs I’ve heard, it carries us through the wild ups and downs of the human condition and it ultimately tells us that it’s okay to be grateful, tired, optimistic and hurt all at once. 

 

“Flower Moon (feat. Steve Lacy)”
Vampire Weekend 

In many traditional Native American cultures, the term “Flower Moon” is a reference to the full moon in May, when wildflowers are in full bloom. Released last May, this piece captures a wildflower-esque feeling by weaving harpsichord, flute and trombone through Ezra Koenig’s and Steve Lacy’s upbeat harmonies. “Flower Moon” shares an experience of patience through the passing of time, of cautious optimism after introspection.

 

“Kids”
Current Joys 

Maybe I’m biased because I fell in love with this band last March, but I’ll always associate Current Joys with rainy days and the return to the world of the color green. “Kids” asks us to pause for a moment and listen to the story of our own growing up. How did the world look when you were younger? What have you sacrificed to be where you are now? 

 

“Family and Genus”
Shakey Graves 

The first verse of “Family and Genus” slowly asks us, “If I ever wander on by / Could you / Flag me down and beg me to / Drop what I’m doing and sit beside you?” The question is simple and sweet and it echoes through this folksy look at the nature of change in relationships. I always find myself swaying along and singing along to this one.

 

“Time Away From Home”
Summer Salt 

Here we listen to an honest albeit light-hearted confession of just how difficult it is to truly heal or confront necessary change. The lines “Shadowed in mountain / Afraid to move on / It’s hard to think I’ve been at this for days … Well give me some rain / wash me away” convey the experience of sometimes being unable to initiate transformation ourselves, and instead wishing for transformation to be enacted upon us. I think that’s the best part about springtime — changes far beyond our own control are taking place and we can ride that momentum.

 

“Lakehouse”
Of Monsters and Men 

Nostalgic, gentle and hopeful, this song is an all-time favorite of mine. “Lakehouse” reminds us that valuable growth will always take place, no matter the season. No music makes me more excited for change than this. 

 

This playlist can be found with other music recommendations from the Chronicle on our Spotify. 

 

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Editor’s note: Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, dry cough, tiredness and shortness of breath. These symptoms are believed to occur between two and 14 days after a person is exposed to the disease. If you have these symptoms and have recently come into contact with a person who is known to have COVID-19, or if you have recently traveled to an area with community spread of the disease, you should call your doctor. Areas with community spread of COVID-19 are believed to include China, South Korea, Italy, Iran and Seattle. If you do not have a doctor who you visit regularly, please call the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 or the University of Utah Health hotline at 801-587-0712. Do not go to a healthcare facility without first making arrangements to do so.