The Playlist is the Piece

By Miles Erickson

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The Playlist is the Piece
Illustration by Miles Erickson.
“Long Distance Listening Party” is a new column by me, Miles Erickson. Its vague intention is to discuss topics framed in the context of what I’m currently listening to or what’s trending. Generally, these pieces are going to be accompanied by a playlist but because I was only invited to write for the Canyon Chronicle around the time you started reading this sentence, this week the playlist is the piece. I know that it’s a stretch for me to assume that you are actually going to listen to any of these songs because the newspaper (or I) told you to, but I hope that, at the very least, you scan the list, looking for songs that you already like in an attempt to validate your musical taste. This playlist is available on Spotify (Mileserickson-354). New songs will be added as we progress. You may not have listened to Cigarettes After Sex (CAS) before, maybe because the first person to tell you to listen to the pop band was probably a 19-year-old, libertarian heroin addict. Well, I’m the second person who’s telling you to listen to them and I promise you I am not a libertarian. CAS sounds like Mazzy Star and Slowdive had a much cooler, very jaded child. “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby” has more of a rhythm than a lot of Mazzy or Slowdive’s more popular tracks, just enough of a rhythm to make you sway back and forth when its 3 a.m., the party’s starting to die down, and you’re feeling kind of nauseous from all the beer. “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby” has a beautifully simplistic, understated beat with a baseline to guide you through the song and drums that sound like someone banging stainless steel baking sheets together three rooms down the hall. When listening to Outkast albums, it can feel like the two members of the group are trying to wrestle creative control away from each other. “Speakerboxx/The Love Below” feels like the child at the center of a contentious custody battle. Like Andre 3000 and Big Boi drew a line in the sand and said, “Okay, this half of the album is gonna be ‘90s rap, and this half is gonna be flamboyant, experimental, bubblegum pop.” “The Whole World,” however, is one of those times where the two artists’ respective voices combine to formulate something where both of their influences are equally represented. Released one year after “Stankonia” and two years before “Speakerboxx,” “The Whole World” feels like a perfect evolution of the former and a stepping stone to the latter. Lou Reed’s classic, jaded, deadpan delivery works astonishingly well over the song’s crunchy beats and artificial aesthetic. Damon Albarn’s soulful singing in the chorus brings it all together. A lot of weird, mismatched pieces coming together to create something completely original. “Hot Wax” is an Australian Psychedelic take on surf rock. It’s weird, kind of uncomfortable, and tangentially related to the beach, which is why it reminds me of Topanga. Playlist • “Nothing’s Gunna Hurt You Baby,” Cigarettes After Sex—An American dream pop band • “Some Kind of Nature”—Gorillaz. English virtual animated band (1998) • “The Whole World,” Outkast—is the first single released from Outkast’s first compilation album features Killer Mike and Joi. • “Sound and Vision,” David Bowie—Released January 1977 on side one of his album, Low. • “The Facts of Life,” Black Box Recorder—English indie rock band (2000). • “Hot Wax,” King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard—Psychedelic rock band from Melbourne, Australia (2010) originally a one-off when they played together at a party. • “Standing Next to Me,” The Last Shadow Puppets—The second single released in 2008,in the U.K. on Domino Records. Recorded: 2007. • “Anemone,” The Brian Jonestown Massacre—An American psychedelic rock band (1990). • “Pumpin’ for Jill,” Iggy Pop—“The Grandfather of Punk…” and so much more.

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February 4, 2022