Last year, in what I suppose was an unconscious effort to mimic the web’s unyielding drive to generate impossibly huge amounts of data, I began making monthly playlists. Originally, I was just trying to consolidate the new music I found in a given month (to make the year-end list-making process easier, I think), or jot down what I had on repeat or stuck in my head in one place. Once the playlists were up, though, and once I started adding whatever fit a particular mood I was in, they sort of became a map of certain memories, feelings, or themes, but expressed in earworms.
Like, there was the time I was driving a bunch for work and got really into (early) Modest Mouse. And And there’s also the fact that the middle of the year was super hectic, so I didn’t make any playlists.
January was mostly new music - a decidedly “new years resolution” vibe. February was two tracks, one off Sinai Vessel’s (excellent) “Brokenlegged”, the other a decade-old shoegaze track, because I just like shoegaze. Then the playlists stopped for a few months when I had a rough patch in life to work through. The juice was still flowing, but I didn’t take time to put it into cohesive lists…this may have been for the best.
In any case, I got back to it in early September, assembling a playlist that actually ended up working really well for me after the month had ended, even as I was compiling others for subsequent months. It’s a surprisingly coherent mix of what was new at the time (Brand New, to be specific) and what went along with my month. A few highlights - I saw Brand New right after Science Fiction dropped (and before the Jesse Lacey shit dropped), which was dope; I love The Glow, Pt. 2 a lot; and sludge/stoner/doom is really, really good for long night drives through the desert. (Or chapparal, whatever. I was going to Riverside. Close enough.)
The year’s end was a bit disjointed, and I think the lists reflect that. In November, I discovered a few side projects from bands that I adore (All Human, Adam from Fear Before’s new band, was a very pleasant surprise), and a friend released a fantastic record (Fire is Motion’s Still, I Try). I had intended to flesh November out a bit more, and December after that, but I ended up repeating a lot of the represented records more than I had anticipated. That, and I’ve been using the same Christmas playlist since 2012. Sufjan forever.
- A Black Mile to the Surface appears multiple times throughout the second half of the year. I like that album a lot; it’s definitely grown on me.
- I put Julien Baker on there when Appointments premiered around September, and then I saw her in December. Pretty neat. Her latest record is dope.
- Modest Mouse is fantastic music to do long solo drives to.
- I really couldn’t decide whether or not I wanted to keep to the Set Sail The Prairie naming scheme for the months. I think it’s because I thought I’d forget some of the names of months as they’re in different languages. I do so love that album.
- When I realized that Brand New’s Lit Me Up and Giles Corey’s I’m Going to Do It were both kinda grim, I thought for half a second to make October’s tracks veer into the spooky, but then I realized that I may accidentally start going into horrorcore. In any case, both of those tracks are pretty unsettling once they get going. Very heavy, in a pressing-weight-on-your-chest kind of way. Giles Corey - accurately named.