Quarantine playlists: what the BrooklynVegan staff is listening to in isolation this week
With the coronavirus pandemic keeping many of us home a lot more, music (and TV) is perhaps more important than ever. It provides solace during these crazy times and an escape from the endless scroll of news, and fortunately -- despite no concerts happening -- there is no lack of music to get us through. We've been posting several musicians' livestreamed performances on a daily basis and some of our favorite live concert videos every week day. We've also asked several artists to make playlists of the music they've been listening to in isolation, and several BrooklynVegan staff members/contributors have made our own isolation playlists too. If you're looking for something new to listen to, or old to revisit, maybe one or more of these playlists will do the trick.
We'll be posting new playlists weekly. Here's this week's:
Andrew Sacher (editor)
I spend a lot of time listening to very new music, as the playlist I made last week reflected, but especially in crazy times like these, the comfort of nostalgia goes a long way so this week's playlist leans much more heavily on longtime favorites. And even more so than last week, the tone is somber.
Bill Pearis (editor)
This playlist is a little more melancholy and meandering than my first. I knew I wanted to open with Louis Armstrong's "We Have All the Time in the World" (the closing theme to 1969 Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service) and end with Al Stewart's "Year of the Cat" (the best '70s hit to feature for solos in a row)...I just tried to connect the dots in-between which included a bunch of OG-4AD music and other diversions.
Though my playlist this week is not as gloomy as last week's, it was only after I had finished making it that I realized this new playlist included back to back songs with the word "Happy" in the title. The opening song with "from Exile" in the title was also not a conscious decision, though choosing one of my favorite non-Mazzy Star songs that Hope Sandoval sings on later in the mix was very much on purpose. Like that Jesus & Mary Chain song ("Sometimes Always"), most of the songs on this one are from older artists I love, though the specific tracks were mostly chosen for how they flowed into each other, and sometimes partially for their length (I really wanted an Orb song on here, and though "U.F. Orb" fits perfectly, it's also hard to find a good Orb song that isn't too long for a 60 minute playlist). Newer tracks that fit in perfectly are from albums that dominated our (and my) 2018 and 2019 'Best Of' lists.
Amanda Hatfield (editor)
For my second quarantine playlist, I put together a collection of songs that inspire me to get stuff done while socially isolating. Like the first, I tended towards a lot of slightly nostalgic late 2000s/early 2010s indie rock faves for this one, and this time I favored songs with a propulsive beat, in bright major keys to help keep me moving. Play this when you need to clean your apartment.
Jeremy Nifras (contributing writer)
While my playlist last week primarily focused on bleaker songs about isolation, this week I decided to go in the opposite direction, and brought together tracks that, in the wise words of Marie Kondo, spark joy. Some of these songs are more recent jams I've had in my rotation, including cuts from the stellar new Mush and Baxter Dury albums, and I also threw in some uplifting classics. During times when you feel the world is against you, there's probably no better song to put on than "I Won't Back Down."
Ryan Muir (contributing photographer)
These are a mix of recent songs that I responded to and had been listening to as well as an older collection of songs from some of my favorite artists that I had been revisiting, hoping they would inspire nostalgia-rich feel-goods. While listening, I picked out some of the familiar songs that stood out to me because their lyrics had taken on new meaning. I noticed a lot of songs about heartbreak and loneliness describe a lot of the same feelings we are all going through in terms of grief and emotional distance. It's funny how pop music seems trite and cliche until you reach an emotional extreme of some kind and then it can seem universal and deep. I tried to move past some of the sadder songs that stood out and pick dancier, more upbeat music that at the end of the day may help you, like it did me, get through your daily tasks in a livelier spirit.
Stephanie Augello (contributing photographer)
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with World War II history. To other people, it seemed like an odd topic for an 11-year-old girl, but between having an American Girl Molly doll, dancing to Glenn Miller's "In the Mood" in tap class, and being surrounded by nostalgia pieces that were catered to my grandparents' generation, it was perfectly reasonable to me. This past December, my step grandfather passed away at the age of 98. He was the last individual in my family orbit from "The Greatest Generation." Lately, whenever I think of them as the memory they now are, the first few measures of Johnny Mercer's 'Ac-Cen-Tchu-Ate' pop in my head. So, that's the first song on here. I added a few other favorites from that era, then transitioned to rock with The White Stripes' version of "St. James Infirmary Blues." The rest of the playlist is a mix of quarantine thought and general personal taste. Some songs hit the somber chords of this strange, anxious era ('Isolation,' 'Bird on a "Wire'); others are a more punk response to it all ('Murder the Government,' 'Take This Job and Shove It'); some are simply songs I've been playing on the guitar ("Los Angeles is Burning," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"); and others are songs from my fiancé Matt's regular work from home rotation ('March to the Sea,' 'Whatcha Got?,' 'I Dream in Lines'). Does anyone else think that Steve Albini looks way nerdier than he sounds?
Toby Tenenbaum (contributing photographer)
My quarantine playlist round two reflects the various mood patterns I’ve been experiencing during this period of isolation. Seeking the comfort of nostalgia (R.E.M.), acknowledging the bleakness (Alcest) and craving the reassurance of good pop music melodies (First Aid Kit). I’ve left things on an epic note of hopeful grandeur (M83).