Our September issue launches tomorrow. Get ready by checking in with a few of our contributors, what they've been playing, and how it makes them feel:
Robert James Russell
So, when I’m working on a new project, I often pluck songs randomly out of the ether—yet, to me, they inhabit this new project, act as a soundtrack—and then listen to them in perpetuity. Like, legit, on repeat, nonstop. (My wife is mostly used to it now. But, still, I’m sure it has to be horribly annoying for everyone but me.) Right now, I’m working on a new novel that drifts through time and that plays well with my obsession with ambient, chill-wave, shoegazing post-rock-like tunes. So, this very morning, writing this, I woke up, made coffee, took my dog for a walk, then played the following (realizing they might not, no, fit those labels):
And then I played them again. And I was transported right back into the story. (And Shelley Duvall’s voice haunts every word I type, too.) There are lots more songs on my work-in-progress playlist, but these four, right now, hold the most meaning to me. They anchor me to this new book, help shake off the distractions so I can get right back to it. (Thank you, music. Thank you.)
I usually listen to KCRW out of Santa Monica while I work, and recently listened to José Galván’s show for The Lab. Some of it was familiar (Gang of Four, TV on the Radio, Portishead), and much of it was newish to me (Foster the People, Beats Antique, Alvvays). I love hearing a set where some young band is channeling Billy Squire, while another is reimagining 60s pop. I grew up discovering music on college radio, and it remains one of my favorite pastimes.
Last week my friend Melissa texted me, “Every time Nic [her boyfriend] opens Spotify and asks me to guess what you’re listening to, I guess Alkaline Trio, and I’m 100% right all of the time.” When Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba joined blink-182, I decided to check out his other band, and they’ve been my obsession for over a year. Alkaline Trio songs tend to be some combination of emo, macabre, clever, and self-deprecating. I really love their lyrics; for example, their song “Nose Over Tail” begins: “Crack my head open / on your kitchen floor / to prove to you that I have brains.”