Letters from Somnolescent January 23, 2020

Somnolescent Radio: Winter 2020

by bulb

We listen to a lot of music at Somnolescent, and we’ve been gradually sharing more and more of it with one another. It’s entertainment, inspiration, and something to pour over fansites and music sites hunting down. Indie rock, folk rock, dad rock, things that aren’t rock, the lot.

Sometime towards the end of 2019, I got the idea to solicit a song from everyone in the group and compile them into something of a playlist for you to pick through. I asked each Somnolian to write a little bit about the song they picked to go along with their choice.

With any luck, we’ll be making this a seasonal thing. Let’s get to the picks.

borb: The Oh Hellos – “Constellations” (from Notos, 2017)

I’m in love with acoustics. Is that what you call it? The kind of songs where the vibe and instruments feel like something you’d listen to walking to poke rocks in a creek in the middle of a cozy land in the countryside. It inspires a lot of feelings in me. It reminds me of a few fond memories I’ve had living in the countryside. Does where I live count as the countryside? Regardless, I’m calling it that because when you go deep enough away from the noise of city influence, you find the shell of an old world and the clean watered streams that ran through it.

This feeling also finds itself in my thoughts for stories and just adventurous thoughts with characters. This song feels like something that would be played in the light of a campfire to the sound of crickets in the night. A lot of this band’s songs give me these vibes and its really what makes me enjoy their tracks. You can tell that the thoughts of exploring the natural world are thoughts The Oh Hellos have too.

fivewholeducks: Ball Park Music – “Whipping Boy” (from Every Night the Same Dream, 2016)

I love this upbeat, tidy little song. I can appreciate a song that’s bite-sized and leaves me wanting more as opposed to a 12-minute guitar riff that I forgot I was listening to halfway through. It’s fun, it makes me think of summer, and I can’t get enough of the chorus. These guys always have great harmony with their vocals, and the same applies here.

Sometimes I just need the musical equivalent of a light, tasty snack. It just happens that this light, tasty snack is one that I keep coming back to, like when you finish a family-sized bag of tortilla chips over the course of five hours. And I’ve been coming back to it for three years now.

dotcomboom: Shaimus – “Like a Fool” (from The Sad Thing Is, We Like it Here, 2009)

Like a Fool is such a head-banger, it’s hard to explain. Every single goshdarn word, guitar riff and ahhhhhHHHAAAAAAAAAAAA keeps me at the edge of my gershdang seat. And it’s my theme song by this point, send help. Shaimus is a band I’ve gotten real into recently, because every single one of their tracks are either: a bop, a banger, a jam, or all three at once. So good. Highly, highly recommended.

mon: Sparklehorse – “King of Nails” (from It’s a Wonderful Life, 2001)

I’ve always had a strange obsession with songs that have lyrics I can’t understand – whether that’s some of the french bops that Metronomy pushes out or the track Pablo Picasso by The Modern Lovers, something about the addition of lyrics to a song without a real story or message being told through those lyrics draws my attention. This specific song, by the now-defunct band Sparklehorse, is my personal favorite out of their album Gold Day – an album full of songs with nonsensical lyrics…I’d argue that it’s one of the best in the album, albeit it being pretty different from the rest of the tracks (save for one or two.) Sound isn’t really something I can describe, but I’ll tell you if you like tastefully noisy rock, this one’s worth a shot.

mariteaux: Earlimart – “Happy Alone” (from Mentor Tormentor, 2007)

Mentor Tormentor signaled Mark III of Aaron Espinoza’s quest to keep California sad, and this time, he had former girlfriend and Earlimart bassist Ariana Murray back in the fray to fill the keys. Perhaps the best decision the man made was to give her a microphone to go with it–“Happy Alone” stands as the debut for her warm, syrupy vocals, not to mention her warped lyrics. Not content to abstract, Ariana stuffs each verse with little leftfield details that add up to something much more affecting–airstrikes, egg timers, stuck clocks, going overboard. And that line at the start? “Would it be fair to say/That you’re in love with love?/…And is that enough?” Absolutely lacerating.

caby: Connie Converse – “I Have Considered the Lillies” (from How Sad, How Lovely, 2015)

I’ve been on a bit of a folk-y kick in recent months and have found many new favourites, which in turn made it a little difficult to pick a particular song to write about. Runners up include The Pebble and The Man by Bridget St John and of course Glow Worms by Vashti Bunyan. After much pondering, I decided on this gem. The entire album is a pleasant, melancholy listen, but this song is the one I’ve listened to the most. There are several reasons why I’m fond of this song, from its poetic and descriptive lyrics, to its message, to the comfy assonance in the chorus. Just a good track overall for being thoughtful and delicate, and definitely a good song to draw flowers to. Its sad vibes are only magnified by the singer’s tragic and mysterious end. Just a lot to like, a lot to be fascinated by.

taywen: Glassjaw – “Trailer Park Jesus” (from Worship and Tribute, 2002)

“I jumped ship into a burning sow. Had a ball, Atom Bomb.”

These are just a bit of the lyrics for this simple, yet bombastically melancholic song. The narrator is both screaming and cynically hissing his story about him cheating on his ex-girlfriend, but using metaphorical advances as a way to convey sympathy for the situation. This same narrator continuously tries to convince himself that it’s all a lie in the bridge of the song, but by the outro he believes that it is his fault and that he will never love again. In the end, Daryl Palumbo (singer) says it best,

“Tell the one about the man who dug out holes so deep, he lost sight of the world.”

About bulb

Group posts, recaps, and things we all contributed to. Hopefully, our hum-to-English translation is intelligible enough.

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