In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the worldwide protests against racially-motivated police brutality, it’s beginning to feel like everything is going to hell.
I made this playlist before the protests began and I wasn’t sure whether to post it, as I don’t want to detract from the important things being shared at the moment. But injustice and fear at this scale can be overwhelming, and being overwhelmed can lead to running away from things, whether it be social responsibility or personal health. My sister always says – “if you burn yourself out, you won’t be any help to anybody”.
So here’s a fun little playlist that acts as a soundtrack to a day in quarantine, in ten parts. I hope this helps you recharge, and maybe makes you laugh a little. Press play, step away from your phone or laptop, and just rest for a while. You deserve it.
A soundtrack to a day in quarantine.
1. Waking up feeling like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.
‘Beginning’ by LA Priest
‘Beginning’ and ‘What Moves’ were released last month ahead of LA Priest’s new album, GENE. The tracks are flirty, addictive (you will have “what moOoOoOVEs you” in your head for the next week) and gave high expectations for the record – which were more than met when it came on June 5th. Named after the drum machine that Sam Dust (AKA LA Priest) created himself, GENE is a feat in itself – sonically diverse and beautifully produced, it’s a record that keeps giving with every new song.
2. Scrolling very quickly through the news for optimum information with minimal despair.
‘Gospel For A New Century’ by Yves Tumor
Rock has increasingly influenced Yves Tumor’s electronic music and this year they released their most rock record yet – Heaven To A Tortured Mind. One thing remains consistent, however, and that’s excruciating honesty. Tumor’s music is unsettling, scary, beautiful, sexy, twisted – often challenging and always rewarding.
3. Doing a productive thing, but not the right productive thing.
‘Past Tense’ by Saint Mela
‘Past Tense’ is the last song on Saint Mela’s 2018 debut First Bloom (which, by the way, is an incredible record – rich in sound and feeling, and deserving of far more recognition.) Wolf Weston flexes her vocal and emotional strength in this a self-affirming, unapologetic ode to growth. Proud, angry, energetic and hopeful, it’s a song for those of us who are working hard to move forward, and refuse to be held back.
4. Making your fifth fully justified snack of the day.
‘Supalonely’ by BENEE and Gus Dapperton
Over the past few years, New Zealand artist BENEE has soared to fame with hits like “Soaked,” “Glitter,” and now “Supalonely”. This track is just really good pop music – emotionally vulnerable, feel-good, impossible not to sing and dance to, or to listen to just once. Let loose and jam out to this certified bop.
5. Standing very still and staring into the void, part 1.
‘You’re Too Precious’ by James Blake
James Blake’s new single, ‘You’re Too Precious,’ shows Blake continuing the experimentation with abstract electronic sound pieces that we heard with ‘When The Car Beside You Pulls Ahead.’ The track is a gorgeously arranged chorus of chopped, looped and pitched sounds which open out into tender vocals. It’s a song you can turn up and sort of drown in.
6. Going for your daily exercise and promising you’ll never take the outdoors for granted again.
‘Ravi’ by Caribou
Suddenly is the latest release from the prolific Caribou and true to style, it’s a brand new terrain of sound which still sounds unmistakably Caribou. I know this word gets chucked around, but I really do think this record is a masterpiece. It’s engaging, eclectic and intricate – truly all killer, and well worth the six year wait.
7. Attempting to shop for groceries without touching anything or breathing.
‘Shameika’ by Fiona Apple
Fiona Apple’s latest record, Fetch The Bolt Cutters, is a whirlwind of anger, anxiety and maniacal introspection. Fiona Apple has this incredible ability to get right to the core of how it feels to be human. This makes Fetch The Bolt Cutters a difficult but cathartic listen, particularly during a time where we’re all being forced to face ourselves and our humanity.
8. Drinking on a zoom call with friends and feeling semi-normal for a bit.
‘Claws’ by Charli XCX
how i’m feeling now is Charli XCX’s musical response to quarantine – made with the tools readily available and the collaborative help of fans via zoom calls. While expressing the boredom and emotional turmoil of lockdown life, the album’s sweet sweet PC pop still makes you feel all bubblegum and crazy in love for a bit, which we all really need right now.
9. Standing very still and staring into the void, part 2.
‘Polly’ by Moses Sumney
‘Polly’ is a single from Moses Sumney’s gorgeous new album, grae. The song is a stripped-back duet between voice and guitar that demands deep appreciation of the two instruments. It’s a style that all those who listen to Sumney will know he does so well. Not many voices have such range, control and ease of interaction with another instrument. The dance between guitar and vocals matches the thematic dance between darkness and desire, and makes this track perfect for lonely existential zone-outs.
10. Bedtime/something AM. What’s a bedtime at this point. What is TIME at this point.
‘Moonbend’ by Perfume Genius
The outro to our quarantine soundtrack is ‘Moonbend’ from Perfume Genius’s new record, Set My Heart On Fire Immediately. Michael Hadreas (AKA Perfume Genius) describes ‘Moonbend’ as a sort of supernatural spell for possessing and hiding in a body that lives for you. It also comes across like a kind of dark lullaby. It both cradles and scares you, leaving you feeling delicate and vulnerable. It feels a lot like opening up to someone.
I hope this playlist brings some fun and enjoyment to your day. It’s important to enjoy the little things during these difficult times. I know it can seem like everything is falling apart but – to quote the immortal Samwise Gamgee – “there’s some good in this world…and it’s worth fighting for.” Wherever you find it, hold onto your love, hope and kindness – because in the end, that’s what will get us through.
Be kind, stay safe and keep on keeping on!