Here are Artsweek writer Lorna Kruesel’s top tracks that she had on repeat throughout the past month!
“High and Dry” by Radiohead
“High and Dry,” a track from Radiohead’s 1995 masterpiece album “The Bends,” never fails to make me feel something — a trait in music I always hope is fulfilled when I put my earbuds in. Thom Yorke painfully sings at the beginning of the track, “You’d kill yourself for recognition / Kill yourself to never, ever stop / You broke another mirror / You’re turning into something you are not.” This set of lyrics is disturbing, but not foreign to the average college student. It seems as though working hard is the sole task for us college students, and the practice of self-care and relaxation is lost throughout it all. We “never, ever stop,” leading to burnout and distress when we don’t get the results we were working towards. Thus, a balance of work and self-love is necessary to alleviate the stressors and pressure we place on ourselves.
“DIRTY!” by JPEGMAFIA
“DIRTY!” is one of the strongest tracks on the newest album “LP!” from New York rapper JPEGMAFIA. Peggy (the catchy nickname he has garnered from his large fan base) is one of my favorite rappers of all time. This track has the quintessential Peggy sound; there’s a buildup present throughout the entirety of the track and it never fails at bringing an unexpected intensity. Peggy has released an album every year since his 2018 masterpiece “Veteran,” with 2021 boasting two new full length albums, “LP!” and “EP2!”. “DIRTY!” was also accompanied by a music video, and it is nothing short of magnificent. The entire music video is shot in front of a power plant with Peggy dancing and rapping while camera shots of an American flag come in and out of frame, likely a jab at American politics right now. Peggy uses different types of cameras throughout the video, giving certain portions an intense grain while others are given perfect resolution.
“Alberto Balsalm” by Aphex Twin
A cult classic in Aphex Twin’s discography, “Alberto Balsalm” encapsulates the absurd sound the British ambient musician has mastered. Alberto Balsalm is a shampoo in the UK, so many Aphex Twin fans believed that the beats in this track were crafted from the natural sounds of a barbershop, specifically the sounds of snipping scissors and chairs getting pulled in and out. Aphex Twin presents energetic beats that never become dull, allowing the listener to remain attentive to the task at hand while being able to groove to the beats.
“The Dead Flag Blues” by Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the iconic Canadian post-rock band, is known for their tracks having hefty time lengths. My personal favorite album of theirs, “F♯ A♯ ∞,” has a track called “Providence” with a time length of 29:02 ; the shortest track, “The Dead Flag Blues,” is 16:27 in length. “The Dead Flag Blues” is a masterpiece that is divided into four distinct parts. The intro section paints the world in an apocalyptic light, unsettling the listeners with lyrics such as, “We’re trapped in the belly of this horrible machine / And the machine is bleeding to death,” and “We woke up one morning and fell a little further down / For sure it’s the valley of death.” The remaining three parts of the track are instrumentals that never fail to amaze me. Start with this album from Godspeed You! Black Emperor if you are looking to get into their music! You won’t be disappointed.
“Jonny (Reprise)” by Faye Webster
“Jonny (Reprise),” the two-minute finale to the incredible 2019 album “Atlanta Millionaires Club” by Faye Webster, brings about a melancholic feel that I cannot get enough of. This song has been on repeat for the entirety of November. Webster’s lyrics in this track are beautiful; she sings, “Jonny, why couldn’t you be ready too? / I was ready, ready to be happy / Ready for that long look that never ends / And, now, I don’t know what to do.” This conclusion to Webster’s album signifies her moving forward and the act of letting go of past love and loss, which is something that always seems to take me longer than I’d like and is something that I have struggled with especially over the past year. Alas, songs such as “Jonny (Reprise)” make me feel heard, and perhaps that’s why I continuously come back for more.
“home with you” by FKA twigs
My personal favorite off of FKA twigs’ critically acclaimed album “MAGDALENE,” “home with you” features some of FKA twigs’ best vocals to date. Her voice is pure, angelic and so perfect that I can’t even give it justice with mere words. Throughout the track, heavy and dark beats come in and out, with FKA twigs’ almost “alien” voice shining through. When I reach the 2:41 mark in the track, my skin always becomes covered in goosebumps. This specific section of the song makes me feel like I am transcending; it’s one of the most beautiful things my ears have ever listened to. I highly recommend listening to this track if you are skeptical of my out-of-body experience with “home with you.” As FKA twigs writes about “MAGDALENE,” “A woman’s work, a woman’s prerogative, a woman’s time to embrace, she must put herself first. MAGDALENE is now.”
Check out the full playlist on the Artsweek Spotify account.