You probably grew up on the internet like me. Remember the world before TikTok? When Instagram still had that retro camera logo instead of the hideous neon atrocity it is today? When Club Penguin threw raves? Well, there are certain websites I avoided completely. Probably for the better, since I would have written an entire dissertation on the God Help the Girl soundtrack or something on rateyourmusic.com. However, I recently gave in and made accounts on rateyourmusic and last.fm. Here are some of my favorite finds and rediscoveries so far. The songs that slipped through the cracks, the ones I avoided. Enjoy! Add me @ loomer101 if you’d like to (;
I’m in awe of the camaraderie on rateyourmusic, amazed by it if anything. I wouldn’t have discovered this track by the artist, my little airport, without going through specific descriptors: twee pop, bittersweet, mellow, sentimental, longing. “When I Listen to the Field Mice” is not only an homage to the respective band but a swirling world of pastel and fleeting love of its own. Singer Nicole Au Kin-ying recounts memories and her attempts at writing a song in major7 because her lover admired that chord. The bubbly melody feels like you’re underwater on an overcast summer day. The clouds hang overhead. They pass slowly. As slowly as your feelings. She quirkily admits to an unrequited love; “So I use an Em chord after a D major7 / so I use an Em chord to stop myself feeling lost.”
Ed Maverick came to me as a suggestion from strawberryboy. A delicate romantic, his folky songs create a tender stillness shared between lovers in their solitary worlds. “Perhaps the best part of the song is that at times it’s hard for me to decipher between his outrage and his sadness. They seem to be intertwined with one another, the ohs wrap around you,” writes strawberryboy. The live version of “nadie va a pensar en ti mejor que yo” brings his longing into the light. He wants closeness, not just someone in his bed; “¿De qué sirve eso si solo quieres coger?” We hear the silences that audience members decide to fill up with their aches. It causes the intimacy to be unraveled and looked inside like a shadow box on display. Except, they add their own “ohs” to Ed’s despair. “¿De qué sirve verte si no te puedo tener aquí?”
“On a Highway” arrived on a whim––I simply admired the cover art of someone, or something, blurrily passing by. I am a huge admirer of Animal Collective but had never fully immersed myself in this particular EP: Fall Be Kind. I listen to it in spring, primarily at night, watching the cars along the motorway. The hypnotic pull of this song can cause the motion sickness that Avey Tare sings about, “On a highway / I’m sick from too much reading.” Whether you are watching the evening sky outside or looking out a moving window, the melody has beautiful twists and turns that make you feel at peace with the world.
I have to admit I haven’t listened to Yo La Tengo since I was sixteen and I thought I was serious. Now I am twenty and feeling more naive than ever. Their album And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out perfectly captures that tug and pull between adolescence and adulthood. “Cherry Chapstick” breaks your heart. I listen to it in the evenings, watching the sky turn from blue to black. Its distortion whirls around my bedroom as Ira Kaplan sings, “Clear as day, crawling home at night / Wondering why the girls don’t look at me when I walk by.” We are longing. We are reminiscing. We are left lingering in something that could have been. Fellow rateyourmusic user maccrash agrees that it “is the Quintessential Ode to adolescent alienation, even though it feels like it’s something larger than that.” He solidifies the importance of the guitar solo and its twisting qualities; “They somehow serve to bolster the already confused & lonely vibe that the rest of the song has already achieved to perfection.” We exist in this atmospheric soundscape and nowhere else.
A departure from Slowdive, Mojave 3 brings us softer, twangy tunes from Neil Halstead, Rachel Goswell, and Ian McCutcheon after being dropped from Creation Records in 1995. In the vein of dream-pop meets folk, “Trying to Reach You” is a ballad about potential heartbreak. The singer has a semblance of power over the situation; “I got a number on my wall / Someday soon I’m gonna call.” A call is all it takes to end everything, however, his confliction is causing hesitancy; “Finding an easy way to break your heart / Finding the hardest part is leaving.” Leaving someone guessing for too long can be troubling. He defends his choice by singing, “It takes a while before you really / Know what’s right.” Patience persists but it does not have to take forever.
Getting lost within the troughs of false spring, “DAYDREAM” by the Japanese dream-pop group Fishmans is the best way to float through it. My resident Fishmans aficionado chemtoast describes this eight-minute journey as “somewhat eerie but also chill, even if the music says otherwise through its ethereal melodies.” A dark cloud hangs over you like an omen, like a thought you are supposed to ponder upon but are refusing to do so. Shinji Sato sings, “夕日の中で / 静かな顔で立ってた あの人無防備な顔して / ぼんやりと ぼんやりと / ぼんやりと ぼんやりと 立ってた.” His croons are otherworldly, hints at something. Vague as if the vagueness itself is shadowed. It’s strange to think this is the last song they released on an album. A hesitant farewell that stretches its arms and takes its time. Drifting.
Often overlooked, I decided to give The Violet Hour a better listen. The titular track replicates the time of day you often pass by without realizing. An hour of waiting and searching, of breaking silences and creating laughter. A time that doesn’t feel much like anything while living in it, but feels like everything in retrospect. Alasdair MacLean leans in to whisper dreamlike poetry in your ear before he confesses, “The evening inter-city lights / I see your face each time I close my eyes.” The familiar guitar melodies overlap and unravel throughout the song like a patchwork of fond summer memories. We are waiting for liberation from our alienated lives; “Living life without love in your mother’s waiting room / Minute here by minute it’s like dying.” There is only moving forward towards nightfall. We let the street lamps turn on too early. Someday someone will ring the doorbell. A stranger will wave through the window. The photograph looks less grainy than when I remember taking it. “So that summer came & went & I became cold.”
Art Credit: Penelope Bernal
Ashley D. Escobar is a third-year student, music columnist, and author of debut poetry chapbook SOMETIMES (Invisible Hand Press). Her plan focuses on solitude and human connection through the lenses of literature, philosophy, and art. Her work can be found in MAI: Feminism & Visual Culture, Leavings, and BlueHouse Journal, among others. People watching is her favorite hobby, along with taking trains without any particular destination in mind.
B86 Columnist, College Politics Reporter, Outreach