November Repeat Playlist

I’m a regular re-reader, re-watcher, and the same can be said for songs. Sure, there are old favorites that always work, there are new discoveries, sometimes by chance, there are new albums we’re excited to listen to, and then again, and again. But some songs just grab you by the ear and I literally listen to them on repeat four or five times in a row. I would even go so far as to say it’s vaguely comforting in a world where you are peppered with offers of the newest hot thing every minute of your life. Yes, throw all that confetti at me, I don’t care, I’ve got my own!

Whole Heart by Rachel Platten

Fresh off her newest album Waves, I was excited to hear the new work after getting a feel for her musical energy and lyrics beyond Fight Song on her previous album Wildfire. This current favorite is a substantial pop-song with heart (no pun intended) that seems to follow a conversation about figuring out a relationship as I imagine it.

We were at the beach and you were hiding on your phone

You said nothing’s wrong, but something’s wrong

A powerful chorus rounds off the gentle, but firm point made in the lyrics. Romance and vulnerability without pathos or undue drama, as well as clear-cut vocals and a thought out story.

Cars+Parking Lots by Cimorelli

From cars and parking lots

I still think about him a lot

The last time we talked we fought

He’s gone but I never forgot

There’s always room for some nostalgia about our teenage years, especially when days are shorter and those autumn nights gradually turn to winter ones. Cimorelli effortlessly captures that teenage vibe of everything revolving around young love, and the sound just makes me think of all those classic 80s movies and the whole world (of course) being concentrated in one small town, during one summer, the universe of driving and dating, emotions running high and musical notes too. Great harmonies and easy to sing along to.

I’ll Make It Up To You by Imagine Dragons

‘Cause honey it’s been a hard year
It seems like we’re going nowhere
You’re crying inside your bedroom
Baby I know it’s not fair

This one is off their new album Evolve, which I’m enjoying very much. The thing I find coolest about Make It Up is how it takes off in the chorus, how the beat just picks up in the chorus, from contemplation to a firm statement, with a touch of wistfulness and, of course, hope. As always, the lyrics are observant, thoughtful and relatable. It also feels like a continuation of previous songs from other albums, like Every Night, which is similar to wondering about how characters you rooted for in a story were doing after you finished reading and then finding out in a (hopefully good, it can happen) sequel. Amazing guitar playing (heck, ALL the instruments) and soaring vocals in the background towards the end make me come back for more.

Don’t Hold Me Down by Colbie Caillat

Don’t hold me down
Oh, I was getting so far
Don’t hold me down
Cause I don’t wanna fall apart

This one is just always a good pick-me-up regardless of how I’m feeling and it’s been with me for years. Colbie Caillat’s trademark warm, energetic vibe and smooth vocals make for a feel-good, positive number that’s good for re-centering or just singing along to. It just fits in everywhere, anyime, any place.

Even The Rain by Gabe Dixon feat. Allison Krauss

You lean in close like I am your black umbrella
We run for cover, wind up in the doorway of a
Brownstone on the corner of west 17th
Out of the blue it’s coming down in sheets

I was shopping and heard the last lines of this in the background before it finished playing. It’s been around for a while. Luckily I remembered what I heard and a few keystrokes later I found this gem, which I couldn’t stop listening to since. It’s obviously perfect for the current rainy weather, but since it rains almost any time of year, its appeal is timeless. Obviously it’s more than being literally suitable to the weather outside. It’s the perfect blend of whimsical, romantic, quirky songwriting that makes me want to walk the rainy streets daydreaming under an umbrella.

 

 

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Imagine Dragons. Blank Space

A friend recently reminded me about this and it took me right back. Imagine Dragons played in Hamburg in October 2015, and while I was suffering from acute post-concert nostalgia a few weeks later, I stumbled upon this gem on YouTube. Do Imagine Dragons and Taylor Swift work? Yes, they do.

The band covers her hit single Blank Space in the BBC Radio1 Live Lounge and the result is basically enchanting. And kind of adorable.

It’s interesting to hear a song attached so firmly to one distinctive voice and style executed by other musicians, especially if it’s men singing what was originally performed by a woman and the other way around.

The band is visibly comfortable playing anywhere, being just as at home in a smaller, more intimate setting as in an arena teeming with thousands of fans. Clearly well-prepared as always and obviously enjoying their instruments and vocal contributions, their cover starts out in a pretty relaxed, but still playful, tempo that made me think of summer, looking back on what was and what was to come.

The seamless transition to Stand by Me surprised me initially, as I hadn’t known it was coming, but it is integrated perfectly in to the song and blends well with the story. “So, darling, darling, stand by me” sounds just a bit more rock as Dan Reynold’s voice gets louder and more gravelly, then calms down again. Imagine Dragons handles this cover with delicate precision, Wayne Sermon submerged in playing his guitar like only he can be, Ben McKee hitting all the right bass notes, Daniel Platzman giving it his all on the drums even if they are quieter and Dan Reynolds draping the lyrics “‘Cause we’re young and we’re reckless” with a new wistful energy. And they all sing.

At least after this everyone should know the oft-discussed lyric is definitely “Got a long list of ex-lovers”.

Imagine Dragons: Music Outside of Genres

Imagine Dragons is one of my favourite bands. Why? Partly for the same reasons as for many other listeners, though with a personal tinge. There is a honesty and clarity to their lyrics that is immediately felt, combined with just some really good music (all I can say, not being a music critic, but I’m saying it with such a lot of feeling).

It’s time to begin, isn’t it

I get a little bit bigger, but then I admit

I’m just the same as I was

Now don’t you understand

That I’m never changing who I am

Imagine Dragons. It’s Time

It’s also extremely refreshing to see a hard-working band touring and making music without dubious headlines accompanying them in the media or friendships with weird celebrities. These are 100% committed artists who project both humbleness and gratitude, not to mention mesmerizing talent.

Oh, and I like that they just don’t disclose what the band name means.

It’s still some weeks to go until I see them live, but being swept with memories from their last show, and to fill the time I went on YouTube. There I found this gem of an interview where they talk about their latest album, Smoke and Mirrors. The album is, as has often been mentioned, a departure from its predecessor, Night Visions, both musically and story-wise. It’s intriguing, bold and multifaceted – I’m taking longer to process the songs. But that same honesty and clarity are there.

In the interview the band also makes an excellent point that gets me excited as a fan, and also oddly relaxed. Vocalist Dan Reynolds says whatever genre listeners attribute to the music is fine with them, although they prefer to be seen as genre-less. But they are filled up by music and making it, and it is open to interpretation in all sorts of ways. Lacing up songs with a certain genre is a thing of the past, and I coudln’t agree more; though the freedom of conforming to one specific style also exists. Basically, there is room for everyone and everything.

“Whatever it is, we’re just creating music we like, music that inspires us”, says Reynolds. I want to hang out with them.

Here’s the interview: