Being an adult is like an endless parade, except instead of floats itâs things I donât wanna do.
When I was a kid I did things solely because they made me happy. I played Mario-Kart because it was fun. I ran around in the woods because I like to explore. When I went to the doctor it was so they could tell me how strong and brave I was and that I was developing well and then give me a lollipop. Now I have to call a doctor to make an appointment for 8 a.m. on a Wednesday because my head always hurts and I need to know that my left nipple twitching isnât a sign of cancer.
I know people jokingly refer to the sweet release of death, but it genuinely sounds like an inconvenience. Iâm not even good at making conversation during Thanksgiving dinner. Can you imagine the endless procession of extended family members youâd have to talk to while on your death bed?
âOkay, next up is Aunt Judithâ
âWho is Aunt Judith?â
âShe knew you when you were a baby.â
âOh yes, Iâm sure we were really close when I was an infant.â
âJust talk to her for a minute and be nice.â
Enter Aunt Judith
âHello! I knew you when you were just a baby.â
âSo, are you in school?â
âWell I was getting my degree in art history but now Iâm on my death bed, so no.â
âDo you have a girlfriend?â
âIâm 90 years old, I have a wife. Sheâs the soon-to-be widow wearing a black veil, standing in the corner, crying, and clutching my adult children.â
Recently, I started reaching out to some of the artists who have been the unknowing alumni of this playlist. You may recognize Sunflower Bean from their cover of âHarvest Moonâ that appeared in VOL. 2, as well as their cover of âLifeâs a Gas,â and their song, âIn Flight,â both of which appeared in VOL. 9. Their new album, Headful of Sugar, was recently released to extraordinary critical acclaim and has skyrocketed them to just under a million monthly listeners on Spotify. Below is an excerpt from my interview with Julia Cumming, bassist and lead singer of Sunflower Bean.
Miles Erickson: In 2016, you guys put out From the Basement, an EP that puts a sort of Mazzy Star, Faye Webster-ey, twangy chill pop vibe on some classic songs by Neil Young and Marc Bolan (among others). Your cover of âHarvest Moonâ ended up being your most popular song (up until it was recently de-throned by âMoment In The Sunâ). Since then thereâs been a pretty drastic shift in genre, from 2019âs King of the Dudes (which has a very late â90s post grunge sound), to Headful of Sugar (which totally embraces this sort of ethereal, electronic rock, synth pop aesthetic).
Has this shift been intentional? Has it been motivated by anything specific or was it just inspired by whatever youâd been listening to at the time?
Julia Cumming: We have been releasing music into the world together since we were late teenagers, so we always allowed ourselves to go through phases. Our band was never manufactured; it came out of a love for DIY music and venues, each other, and seeing live music. I think we always did what we wanted, and we felt the through line with our songwriting was strong enough that our fans would see it and move with us. We wanted to surprise them and we didnât want to be in anyoneâs box of who we were.
ME: Youâve explained in the past that âMoment in the Sunâ was written during quarantine, and is to some extent about being separated from the outside world and away from the ones close to you. Headful of Sugar was released just recently, in a time where the world has tried to move on from the pandemic. Here in LA, for example, weâre no longer even required to wear masks when we go into the market. Do you trust that the song is going to resonate with people in the same way it did for you guys during lockdown? Do you think it may be interpreted differently now?
JC: âMoment in the Sunâ is truly a song that comes from a place of happiness, and truly beginning to understand what matters to you. I think after all of this time, while weâre still in the pandemic (even though it doesnât always feel that way), people are more in tune than ever with what matters. My favorite thing about this song is that it does seem to bring people actual joy, and that was always my dream for it.
ME: Previously, publications like Oh My Rockness have called you âthe hardest working band in New York,â which is nice but it sort of implies that you donât get the recognition you deserve. How do you feel about that label? I can imagine that the label hits differently now that your Spotify listeners have doubled this month.
JC: That was one of the first and most important pieces about our band that put us on the map. At the time it meant so much to us and ,meanwhile, we didnât even know we had played the most shows out of any band in New York that year. Weâve always been proud of working hard.
Long Distance Listening Party Vol 10
This playlist is available on Spotify. Search âLong Distance Listening Partyâ or my user name, Mileserickson-354.
Kismet Kill, Haley Bonar
The Caption, The Phoenix Foundation
Daydream In Blue, I Monster
Le PĂ©nitencier, Johnny Hallyday
Only One, Kanye West
Get Got, Death Grips
Thatâs Entertainment, Morrissey
Rock Nâ Roll Suicide, David Bowie (Live â72)
Red Vines, Aimee Mann
Only One, Kanye West. The tragedy of Kanye West is that he produces amazing music thatâs impossible to discuss without clowning him. The man is a memetic reservoir of both genius songs and comedic material. A great example of this duality is in the fact that his most recent album, Donda, is named after his mother, who passed in 2007. Thatâs really sweet. Then he removed the album from all digital stores and re-released it as Donda 2. The implication here is that his mom had a sequel. Like sheâs The Empire Strikes Back.
Get Got, Death Grips. Iâm sure including Get Got and Rock ânâ Roll Suicide in the same playlist is some kind of musical blasphemy. Death Grips is the ultimate acquired taste. A musical iceberg that has driven music critics to madness when they try to explain why they like it. It says something that Death Gripsâ biggest fans are generally unable to attend their concerts due to being in a Ketamine-induced coma.
Miles Erickson is a recent graduate of CalArts, a published author, and is currently enrolled in a prestigious, four-year student loan repayment program. Long Distance Listening Partyâs vague intention is to discuss topics framed in the context of what Iâm currently listening to.