November Listening List

This has been a funny month in terms of music. Naturally, this list contains a pretty diverse set of albums chosen to fit my various and often wildly different moods, but there was also a pretty solid consistency among my chosen tracks. Lots and lots and lots of OCD going on here. And lots of discovery too.

Peter Gabriel – Us & Scratch My Back The Paris attack on the 13th was easily one of the biggest defining moments for this month and, obviously, had a huge impact on my musical tastes. I process everything—particularly every emotional impact—with music; it’s one of my go-to ways of coping and coming to terms with what happened. I also happen to be a creature of habit and sought comfort in an old favorite, Peter Gabriel. I listened to all of his albums at least once this month, but primarily found solace in Us (for my more uplifted, yet poignant moments) and Scratch My Back (for the melancholy ones). More will need to be said about Scratch My Back in the near future, as I don’t think it EVER got enough press when you consider its brilliance, but for now I will just reiterate that when you need to feel, Peter Gabriel is your man. He has a remarkable way of expressing profound emotion with his music, and his lyrics are never banal, rather, they are chock-full of simple truths about human nature and existence. All the love.

Dustin O’Halloran – Like Crazy (The Score) Besides that rather iconic moment, or perhaps because of it, I’ve been feeling all my emotions rather deeply this month. Everything seems to be heightened. Joy feels so intense that I feel like my heart might explode and sorrow or worry seem to drag me down a very long, dark tunnel (luckily this hasn’t lasted very long). And when I’m feeling particularly deeply, sometimes words—even the words of my beloved Peter Gabriel—really don’t cut it. Enter instrumentals! I watched Drake Doremus’ stunning film, Like Crazy, at the beginning of this month and couldn’t get Dustin O’Halloran’s understated score out of my head. I’ve been streaming it during my quieter moments when I need to reflect, but this is also great for long hours at the office.

Pokey Lafarge – Something in the Water Okay, so this was OBVIOUSLY going to be on here. I don’t think I’ve gone a day without listening to Pokey since seeing him live in October. It was that epic. And honestly, this album just gets better. The early jazz influences (particularly apparent in the horns) just slay me. I break this one out every time I want to feel good. I’ve also been doing a lot of dancing in my room late at night, and this is just the ticket.

Jake La Botz – I’m a Crow & Get Right Another surprise, I’m sure. Technically, I’ve been listening to all of his stuff this month (Pokey’s too, come to think of it), but of all his albums these are easily my favorites (“I’m a Crow” brought in the month and “Get Right” is finishing it). I love them both in their own ways, they both have beautifully poetic moments and sound so much like home it makes my heart hurt (in a good way). These were definitely played on Thanksgiving and often joined Pokey, The Mavericks, JD McPherson, and Johnny Cash on a master playlist I’d use for my morning commute.

August: Osage County Original Motion Picture Soundrack (Various Artists) & Score (Gustavo Santaolalla) Perhaps you are beginning to pick up on my soundtrack love? I started listening to them a lot in high school and old habits die hard. I’ve loved this one for years and I regularly return to it when I want a little taste of home. And since the film was all I wanted to watch on Thanksgiving (I know, I’m weird…) it has been played a lot lately. Santaolla’s minimalist, guitar-laden tracks are pure gold and the music supervision is just divine. This was also THE album that first got me into Bon Iver (yes, years after everyone else); their use of “Hinnom, TX” superbly complemented Adriano Goldman’s incredible cinematography showcasing Oklahoma’s desolate beauty.

Adele – “Hello” Was anyone NOT listening to this all month long? I heard it everywhere, and it literally made the internet explode (if I could have a dime for all the parodies that showed up on Facebook…). Okay, but seriously, it’s totally irresistible. Because sometimes you just need to sing at the top of your lungs about your exes. Or current dates. Or whatever. Except that I never really can sing along because Adele’s voice is so out of this world that I don’t hold a candle. So all I can REALLY do is just sit mutely and clutch my hand to my heart when she gets to the chorus. It also manages to be extraordinarily catchy: not in a get-this-out-of-my-head way, but in a let’s-listen-to-it-a-million-more-times way. Cheers Adele. The world is at your feet.

That just about does it! Honorable mentions go out to The Mavericks’ Mono, JD McPherson’s Let the Good Times Role, Mance Lipscomb’s Texas Songster & James Newton Howard’s Hunger Games scores (to get in the mood for the final installment). What have you been listening to?