K Recommends: “The Enchanter” by Budos Band

Instrumentals are not my most favorite thing, or so I said before really listening to jazz and hearing more recent artists like Dirty Three, The Olympians, a lot of post-rock groups and surf rockers, and Budos Band. What used to feel like an occasional novelty on a popular artist’s album — that one quirky instrumental song tucked inside, at the end or as a hidden track on CDs — has evolved and allowed my appreciation for instrumental music to take a turn for the better once I was introduced to bands who were fascinating in instrumental form. No longer resembling Muzak or meditation background, modern artists specializing in instrumentals gave me a huge appreciation of drums, guitars, bass, brass, synthesizers, and so many more noisemakers!

I got into Budos Band when a coworker recommended their first, self-titled album, back in 2005. That lively and spirited debut felt fresh and transcendent; a most fulfilling introduction into instrumental music for me that wasn’t in the indie or post-rock sections. Their sound was indescribable in few words but stretched across lots of genre territory.

Several albums and nearly 15 years later, their 2019 album, “V,” has a darker bent to the music. “The Enchanter” is just one of the tracks that doles out a bit of snarl. The drums get increasingly louder and almost match their signature horn stylings! There is a brooding rock feel with wicked organ and guitar break-outs! They still know how to roll with added funk grooves and danceable shakedowns! But there’s a sly 60s and 70s psychedelic element permeating this song and album a bit more.

Budos Band go deep and moody on guitars here and the horns seem to have grown horns to get to the fiery, growling niches in this song. Every album expands on their unique, core funky sound and just grows bolder in time! Listen to anything they’ve done!!!

(Song recommendation by K Weber)

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.10, Track 9

On a Maddening Loop by C.C. Russell

To read this piece, click the album cover below.

About the author:
C.C. Russell lives in Wyoming with his wife and daughter. His writing has recently appeared in such places as Tahoma Literary Review, Word Riot, Rattle, The Meadow, and The Colorado Review. His short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best Small Fictions, and Best of the Net. He has held jobs in a wide range of vocations—everything from graveyard shift convenience store clerk to retail management, with stops along the way as dive bar DJ and swimming pool maintenance. He has also lived in New York and Ohio. He can be found on Twitter @c_c_russell.

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.10, Track 8

Wanted by Lisa Fleck Dondiego

To read this piece, click the album cover below.

About the author:
Lisa Fleck Dondiego’s poems have appeared in The Westchester Review, Haibun Today, and in several anthologies, including Red Moon Press’s yearly anthology and in the Contemporary Women Writers of the Hudson Valley’s A Slant of Light. She has read locally at Cornelia St. Café and the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center, and has taught in the Learning to See workshop series at the Greenburgh Library in Westchester. Her chapbook, A Sea Change, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2011. She lives in Ossining, NY, with her husband.

Seigar recommends “About Work The Dancefloor” by Georgia

Green Georgia ready for success

Georgia released her debut album in 2015, and she made some noise, but maybe not as much she expected and deserved. If all the tracks on that record had been as good as the first four songs, perhaps everybody would know her by now. However, the daughter of Leftfield cofounder Neil Barnes has this second chance to gain that notoriety. Every list of the best songs of 2019 included the song I’m bringing you today. “About Work The Dancefloor is a disco party anthem with retro 80s synthesizers and hedonistic lyrics.

’Cause I don’t have much in terms of money now
I don’t have material gifts for you
You want me to stay a while, stay a while
To be in a moment with you
I was just thinking about work the dancefloor
I was just thinking about work the dancefloor
I was just thinking about work the dancefloor
I was just thinking about work the dancefloor

This singer, songwriter, composer, and drummer has focused on the nostalgia for the dancefloor in her new album Seeking Thrills, the first one to watch this year! In fact, Georgia told an interviewer: “I made this song after a weekend in Berlin entirely dancing in a few clubs and I realised how important the dancefloor is to people to give them a certain relief from their everyday activities.”

The video is a stunning production, visually connecting to the 80s and early 90s aesthetics and imagery. Her crazy fairy tale matches the visuals of Stranger Things, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and her catchy tunes and way of singing remind us of Robyn. The Swedish singer may be a strong influence in the sound of Georgia’s new album.

Enjoy the song and the video, and do yourself a favour: listen to Seeking Thrills first. This is one to include in the best of 2020 for sure.

(Song recommendation by Seigar)

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.10, Track 7

in the summer / it’s a pity by Jessie Lynn McMains

To read this piece, click the album cover below.

About the author:
Jessie Lynn McMains is a poet, writer, and publisher. They were the 2015-2017 Poet Laureate of Racine, WI, and currently write a reoccuring column for Pussy Magic. They are the author of multiple chapbooks, most recently The Girl With The Most Cake and forget the fuck away from me. You can find their personal website at recklesschants.net, or follow them on Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram @rustbeltjessie

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.10, Track 6

If You Don’t Want to Be with Me Just Say & I Will Go by Marisa Crane

To read this piece, click the album cover below.

About the author:
Marisa Crane is a queer writer whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Wigleaf Top 50, The Rumpus, Jellyfish Review, Hobart, Pithead Chapel, Crab Fat Magazine, Okay Donkey, and elsewhere. She is the author of the poetry chapbook, Our Debatable Bodies (Animal Heart Press, 2019). Originally from Allentown, PA, she now lives in San Diego, CA with her wife.

Sam Recommends: a medley of my top 10 Drake tracks of the 2010s 

If you’re anything like me, then you spend each November eagerly anticipating Spotify’s custom Wrapped playlists that conveniently compile your top-listened tracks from the year. This year, Spotify users got an additional surprise in their end-of-the-year roundup: their artist of the decade. While this feature might not be as fully-baked for newer Spotify users, I’ve been using the service since 2011, so they have PLENTY of data on my listening habits. Still, I was a bit surprised to learn that my artist of the decade was Drake. But with just a moments worth of reflection, I could admit it was true. I listened to a lot of Drake over the past 8 years, and while he’s definitely exhibited some problematic behavior in more recent years (texting young actresses, collaborating with Chris Brown), I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed many of his songs immensely.

That said, I definitely vibed with certain albums much more than others. Without further ado, here are my top 10 Drake songs of the decade:

10. “Shot For Me” (from 2011’s Take Care)

I still remember listening to this track on repeat in my first apartment. This song is a ruthless revenge track aimed at an ex. Whether or not it’s based on a real breakup, I’m not sure. But the message is clear. “Fuck you. You fucked up when you let me go, and I know you know it. LOL!” The assumption is that this ex is struggling with this realization, and using excessive amounts of alcohol to get through the pain (like you do…). Which makes the refrain & title, “take a shot for me,” so very savage. And if you relate more to Drake than to the ex in this story, then it is also so very satisfying.

9. “Childs Play” (from 2016’s Views)

This track is about Drake’s ambivalence toward a somewhat tumultuous romantic relationship. On one hand, this chick has assets, and knows what to do with them in bed. On the other hand, she doesn’t know how to act. Driving to CVS to buy kotex in his Bugatti…asking about past flings…acting up at the family-friendly Cheesecake Factory (even though she knows he loves to go there!) For now, it sounds like he’s willing to keep treating her better than she deserves (thanks to the impeccable child-rearing of Drake’s mama), especially since the only real effort required on Drake’s part is to take her to the mall and buy her a new outfit. It’s almost too easy…

8. “Hotline Bling” (from 2016’s Views)

My journey with “Hotline Bling” was full of twists and turns. My first experience with it was watching the music video when it started trending on Twitter. It was hilarious. Drake’s wholesome sweaters. Colorful yet minimalist set. That now-iconic dancing. I loved it right away, but in an ironic way. The love wasn’t really aimed at the song, but all of the memes it produced. But, with each listen, I grew to love the song and the lyrics. It’s another example of Drake’s talents in storytelling. I always seem to get lost in my thoughts when listening to this song, thinking about past relationships, and how radically people we thought we knew so well can change with just a little bit of time and distance.

7. “Hold On, We’re Going Home” (from 2013’s Nothing Was The Same)

From an objective standpoint, this might be Drake’s best song ever. It’s got everything you expect from a Drake track: a strong backbeat, an addictive rhythm, emotionally-honest lyrics, and a sticky, repetitive hook that’s fun to sing along to. But it also has a certain X factor that makes it stand out — at least to me — as a more sophisticated version of a standard Drake confessional track. It’s got a meditative quality to it; I find it beautiful and calming, especially on a long drive.

6. “Crew Love” (from 2011’s Take Care)

One of the main reasons I love this song so much is because it is the track that introduced me to The Weeknd. And while I don’t think any of The Weeknd’s later releases have ever met the bar set by Trilogy, I will always love that album, and will always be grateful to have found it when I did. That said, I do love “Crew Love,” and not just because it is a fun song to listen to when inebriated and want to pretend you are at a fun club with flashing lights.

5. “Feel No Ways” (from 2016’s Views)

If you’ve ever had a relationship or friendship go wrong, then you know that such an experience is painful enough on its own. But if you’ve ever had things go south with someone particularly toxic, then you know that the pain can be amplified times infinity when that person goes out of their way to be petty and twist that knife. This song provides a bit of catharsis for anyone whose had to cut toxic people out of their life in favor of their own growth, happiness, and/or sanity.

4. “Passionfruit” (from 2017’s More Life)

Ah, another track about a toxic relationship. However, in this case, the toxicity isn’t coming from either of the parties involved as much as it can be attributed to the circumstances surrounding the relationship. Neither person is to blame for the failure of this love story. There’s still plenty of love and passion here, but that doesn’t change the fact that the relationship is failing, and it’s probably time to call it. Or at least time to press pause to prevent any further tension and animosity. Maybe they’ll have better luck when the situation is more amenable to their connection. I haven’t personally experienced a love story like this, but I have a feeling it’s a pretty common one, which is probably why this song resonates with so many people. In fact, both Haley Williams (of Paramore) and Benny Sings have covered this track.

3. “Blem” (from 2017’s More Life)

When I first heard this track, I had no idea what “blem” meant, but I used context clues to figure it out. A quick Google search confirmed my assessment: blem = wasted. In this track, Drake’s letting the addressee (potential love interest) know that he’s so fucked up that, for once, he might just tell her how he really feels. Similar to “Shot for Me,” I’m impressed by how Drake can build a song on top of such a simple concept (alcohol = truth serum), but find a way to twist it on its head to bring more nuance and emotion to the story.

2. “Cameras” (from 2011’s Take Care)

So, technically, this song appears as one half of a track, “Cameras/ Good Ones Go”. And while I don’t have anything against the second half, “Cameras” is the song that turned me into a Drake fan. This song serves as a love letter reassuring the addressee that, despite what she’s reading and seeing in the tabloids, she can trust him. And while he’s being photographed with other high profile celebrities, she has his heart. Whether or not Drake is to be taken at his word is hard to say, but he sounds genuine, and I’ve always found the song romantic and sexy. The music has a dark seductive quality, and the background vocals are utterly delicious. 😋

1. “Controlla” (from 2016’s Views)

I always have been and always will be a sucker for a sexy track. And in my personal opinion, this is Drake’s sexiest song. The innuendo/metaphor at the center of the lyrics isn’t anything we haven’t heard before. I’m often reminded of “I’m Your Puppet” by James & Bobby Purify when I listen to “Controlla”, for example. Though I will admit that this track is 100% raunchier and 100% less wholesome. Regardless, who doesn’t want to hear their lover say “I’m here to do whatever you want, exactly the way you want it”? Obviously, it’s a sentiment that withstands the test of time.

And here’s the playlist:

(Song recommendation by Samantha Lamph/Len)

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.10, Track 5

Volcano by Lisa Magnini

To read this piece, click the album cover below.

About the author:
Lisa Mangini is the author of a book of poems and four chapbooks of poetry and prose. Her work has been featured in McSweeney’s, Mid-American Review, Louisiana Literature, Memoir Mixtapes, and Ms. Magazine. She holds an MFA from Southern Connecticut State University, and is the Founding Editor of Paper Nautilus, a small press. She teaches English and creative writing at Penn State, and lives in the Nittany Valley with her husband and cat. For more, visit lisamangini.wordpress.com.

K Recommends: “Happy New Year” by Lightnin’ Hopkins

This is my kind of song as the new year rushes in and spins us extra-fast into a new decade. Bluesy, a bit moody, but with just a little bop and bounce, this song’s not focused on resolutions or a hurry to reinvent one’s self.

This track has that laidback feel I wish I could carry with me more often. Lyrics like “Happy New Year. It ain’t gonna worry me to death!” feel so good. Years blow by with so much excitement but also dread and drama… why not just live each day without piling on overwhelming and fantastical goals? This is a call to return to ease and living in the moment.

“Happy New Year” throws in a clever reference to the end of the previous year: “Don’t think about Christmas ‘cos Christmas just done left.” It’s a light-hearted nod that personifies the holiday as though it was a lover who jilted us. A true blues ode to a fresh new year!

The instrumental breakdown at the end is free and fun with a real boogie-down dance beat. But, true to classic blues form, Hopkins ends the song with a wolf’s howl of “OHHHH NEW YEAR” and the mention of having no one special in his life.

Ah, my kinda note to begin 2020… welcoming each day as it comes but carrying just enough heartache and good music to remind me I’m real.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, FRIENDS! It ain’t gonna worry me to death!

(Song recommendation by K Weber)

Memoir Mixtapes Vol.10, Track 4

Semi-Charmed by Emily Banks

To read this piece, click the album cover below.

About the author:
Emily Banks is the author of Mother Water (Lynx House Press, 2019). Her poems and essays have appeared in The Cortland Review, The Southampton Review, Borderlands, Superstition Review, New South, Glass (Poets Resist), and other journals. She lives in Atlanta, where she is a doctoral candidate at Emory University.