Hear Hear: Playlisting Together
+ Phoebe Bridgers // The Strokes return // RIP John Prine
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Throughout this sad, strange month, I’ve noticed a positive trend in the music Twitter world: the return of crowd-sourced playlists. People are looking to each other for songs, opening their ears to stuff they’ve missed and revisiting old favorites. It’s part of a broader trend, covered here by Jenna Wortham in the NYT: coronavirus making the internet better. As she tweeted: “resources are being shared, bail bonds paid, groceries purchased, masks sewn. here’s hoping these tender new ways of collaborating outlast COVID.”
Obviously, playlists aren’t the same as bail bonds, groceries, and masks. But it’s still heartening to see people curating music with a collaborative spirit. Here are some of the best crowd-sourced playlists I’ve seen:
Songs about the power of music. WSJ critic Mark Richardson asked his followers: “What are some of your favorite songs about the power of music, how it makes your life better?” He compiled the responses into this celebratory playlist. [ft. ABBA, Daft Punk, Stevie Wonder, The Hold Steady, Van Morrison, Madonna]
The best opening songs from debut albums. Gold Flake Paint asked followers to tweet their top song that’s “track number one on an artist's debut album.” They compiled their 100 favorite replies into this Album 1, Side 1, Track 1 playlist. [ft. Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, Julien Baker, Mitski, Fall Out Boy, Charles Bradley]
How to survive quarantine, in 215 songs. Vox’s Emily VanDerWerff asked followers to name one song that would be on their perfect quarantine playlist, resulting in this excellent 6-hour, all-over-the-place mix. [ft. Outkast, Dave Van Ronk, The Beatles, Cass Elliot, Diana Ross, Dua Lipa]
New Songs + Albums to Stream
Follow the Hear Hear playlist to stream all these songs in one place!
“Kyoto,” Phoebe Bridgers. A stunner of a new single from Bridgers, who continues evolving her sound in exciting new ways — this time with a cathartic burst of horns complementing her hearty voice. (She also played it from her bathroom, minus horns, on Jimmy Kimmel.)
“Party With The Kids Who Wanna Party With You,” Bad Moves. The new single from this rising DC band follows up their stellar 2018 debut Tell No One with more propulsive, punchy punk riffs.
“Dying to Believe,” The Beths. This great Aussie band makes effortlessly hooky pop-rock, and the new single is no exception.
“Things Are Going Too Good,” Walter Etc. More people need to hear Walter Etc.’s addictive blend of lo-fi, surfy indie-folk. His new album is full of gems, and if you’re into it, his entire catalog is worth exploring.
Hamilton Leithauser’s album is finally out in full!
Theophilus London has a new mixtape. You might remember London from his memorable Kanye collabs, including the legendary “All Day” performance at the BRIT Awards. He’s always had a unique sound blending hip-hop, R&B, and indie rock, and the best songs on his new album do just that — especially “Only You,” featuring Tame Impala.
Another pandemic trend? Raw, acoustic covers from artists on Instagram, YouTube, and late-night shows. Here are four especially good ones…
Hayley Williams (Paramore) covered Phoebe Bridgers’ “Smoke Signals”
Eva Hendricks (Charly Bliss) covered Fountains of Wayne’s “Hey Julie”
Jim James (My Morning Jacket) covered Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me”
Paul Simon and Edie Brickell covered The Everly Brothers’ “I Wonder If I Care As Much”
RIP John Prine
More sad news this week, as beloved singer-songwriter John Prine died of the coronavirus at 73. I’ve compiled a selection of the many tributes and covers below…
On a special episode of All Songs Considered, Bob Boilen and Ann Powers looked back at Prine’s life and legacy in 10 songs.
Caitlin White’s tribute for Uproxx beautifully captured Prine’s ability to bridge generations — through his collaborations with Kacey Musgraves, Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell, and Margo Price.
A beautiful obituary from Annie Zaleski for NPR Music.
Finally, Hanif Abdurraqib wrote a wonderful piece about “the unique sadness of mourning the musicians who helped us grieve,” about processing the recent deaths of Ellis Marsalis, Adam Schlesinger, and Prine.
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