Sam Recommends: “Last Time Lover” by Spice Girls

Look, I know I come off as being, like, really cool online*.

But the truth is I’m just your typical, run-of-the-mill Millennial woman who once had an all-encompassing obsession with the Spice Girls.

Yes, I was part of a Spice Girls fan club from 4th-5th grade.

Yes, each of me and my four girlfriends assigned ourselves a role in the group.

Yes, I wanted to be Baby Spice.

Yes, I opted to claim the role of Posh Spice so I could at least be my second favorite Spice Girl and avoid a fight I probably wouldn’t win being one of the more soft spoken girls in the friend group.

Yes, we performed a choreographed routine to “Spice World” at our school talent show in full costume, including hot pink and purple feather boas.

No, I don’t even want to estimate how much of my parent’s hard-earned money I wasted by printing full color photos of these lovely ladies from the internet when I was first learning how to surf the web.

When I went through my first bout of insomnia at nine years old, I tried to self-soothe by reciting the Spice Girls movie in my head. I had the dolls. I cried when Ginger Spice left the group and the Spice Girls as I knew them ended.

And now, whenever I hear any Spice Girls song, I’m reminded of those simpler times, and all of the other seemingly inconsequential things I cared about back then. Butterfly clips. Beanie babies. TGIF on ABC. Seeing Titanic in the movie theater, not just once, but twice. Rollerblading in my driveway, NSYNC and Britney Spears booming out through my hot pink Boombox. Making silly movies with my sister and our other friends in the neighborhood. My dreams to be a series regular on Saturday Night Live. Or an Oscar Winning actress. Whichever panned out first.

So, why did I choose this track when “Wannabe,” “Stop,” and “Say You’ll Be There” exist? Well, that’s easy. It’s because I still love “Last Time Lover,” even as a grown-ass, existentially-disillusioned woman with a full time job and dreams that are more grounded in reality.

I’m pretty sure this is the track that sparked my obsession with raunchy (Scary Spice would say “dirty) bass lines & lyrics oozing with sexuality. I’m listening to it on repeat now, in fact. You should, too.

*Just kidding. I know I only come off as being kinda cool online.

(Song recommendation by Samantha Lamph/Len)

Josh Recommends: “On Melancholy Hill” by Gorillaz

“Up on melancholy hill/There’s a plastic tree” are the first lyrics of “On Melancholy Hill.” Damon Albarn — the mastermind behind the animated band Gorillaz — doesn’t sing them as much as he does croon them. It’s soft, low, and intimate; at once both broad and personal, like melody of snowflakes tumbling from the sky for everyone to see but landing only on you. “Are you here with me,” continues Albarn, “Just looking out on the day/Of another dream”.

The plastic tree in question is a metaphor (because of course it is). Albarn is quick to inform us that we can’t get what we want, but we can have him. Our dreams, as lush as they may be, will always be out of reach. Instead, we must settle for what we can make. The tree stands alone on melancholy hill, made of plastic yes, but still real. Plastic is unnatural but not unreal.

We can make our own dreams. Manatees swim alongside submarines, objects both natural and fabricated diffusing through the water until they’re indistinguishable. If you look closely, you’ll spot the difference. Don’t look, says Albarn. Maybe your dream doesn’t look the way you thought it would, but does it matter how it looks when it’s real?

That’s the melancholy of “On Melancholy Hill.” An imperfect dream that’s real is better than a perfect one that we can never reach. Soft synths carry us through the song. Finding the dream is little more than “Just looking out at the day”. But that’s enough claims Albarn, it’s enough “When you’re close to me.” Finding the plastic tree, a small sliver of fabricated happiness, and having someone to share it with is as real as a dream can be.

That the tree is plastic doesn’t matter really. The presence is better than the absence.

(Song recommendation by Josh Sorensen)

Seigar Recommends: “Ella Sabe” by A. Frias

Seigar, the photographer, is back.

Alexis Javier Frias Herrera, better known as A. Frias, is a Spanish singer from The Canary Islands, Tenerife, who is into urban music. In his Youtube channel he brings together different music genres: rap, trap, R&B, and dancehall. From a very early age, he has been passionate about listening to reggaeton music, and that is what most of his songs sound like.

A year ago, this cute young dude with a very Instagram look decided to start composing songs, something he never thought before he would do. His videos on Youtube have so far received thousands of views and his Instagram account is close to the 6K followers, and this amount is growing everyday. He knows how to move people by showing his own world. He has some photographers and video makers helping him to pursue his passion.

“Ella sabe,” the track I’m bringing you today, could be considered his art manifesto. “The chubby guy you used to laugh at, now is making you laugh,” he sings on a revengeful tone to the people from the past. He also confesses his dreams: “to live off music, to take his girlfriend around the world, buy a house, jewels and lambo…”. These dreams don’t differ from the American rappers’, but he presents them in an unusual Canarian way.

His main influences can be traced in the R&B from the 90s and 00s. Singers like Craig David, Ja Rule, Usher and also reggaeton figures like Arcangel and Cosculluela. “However, my main inspiration in music right now is Cruz Cafuné who is also from my island. Him and his ex band were the reason I started doing music,” he told Memoir Mixtapes.

He also exclusively told us, “in my songs, I usually talk about love and my daily stuff. I let myself flow, feeling the moment, but I also like changing the topics of the lyrics and the rthymn of my songs”.

A month ago, a Canarian rapper called Bejo sold a painting for more than 100 thousands euros on an eBay auction, in the Banksy style. So let’s wait and see how A. Frias paints his future.

Enjoy the video by La Penca Films.

(Song recommendation by Seigar)

K Recommends: “Kite” by Nick Heyward

My first car was filled with cassette tapes but always neared an empty tank. Those dandelion spring days approaching summer offered escape. The 1986 Ford Escort took me from suburb to suburb and adventured downtown with me. Bumper stickers spoke on my behalf but probably held the bumper on. I was years from having a reliable car: my glovebox fell off its hinge when opened. This was how my jaw reacted as I inched forward into my future.

My drives took me where the cul-de-sacs and video stores ended. Farmland began nearby in a holiday’s array of red and green tractors. Men in overalls and trucker hats waved like sunflowers and corn stalks in warm afternoon breezes. Still their addresses weren’t far from the mall and highway.

I worked to save $900 for this car that leaked and burned under the hood. It was the most expensive tape deck I ever owned. I’d buy a cassette just for one song. Others would unwind from A- to B-side. Tapes with only one song I wanted to hear held strong through the squelch of rewinds and playbacks.

One of these songs was “Kite” by Nick Heyward. I listened to it constantly. “Kite” is wondrous with reflective lyrics and dreamy strumming… a perfect accompaniment on open roads. Themes of moving forward and moving on caught my ear. High school was ending. I longed to sprint ahead, unprepared.

I didn’t know that college would present greater divides. I’d remain tethered to much of what I wanted to forget. I worked hard to stay afloat. Not letting anyone shoot me down was and is relevant.

I don’t drive much now. My tapes are in storage. In 1995 I’d park in the driveway and DJ for myself rather than go inside right away to listen. That car was a studio apartment filled with music, a basement library of records buzzing electric through a vintage turntable. No one could distract me when it came to my love of music. I’m still soaring.

(Song recommendation by k weber)

Emery Recommends: “Believe” by Amen Dunes

Here’s the gist.

It starts out kinda pop-y. Almost upbeat. It doesn’t stay that way.

When I was a kid I was afraid to die

But I growed up now

The first minute bleeds nostalgia. The guitar gently weeps along. Lyrics hint at death.

If I’m caught in the hour of dark

But we swerve, not just to his hour of dark; to yours. But he does it for you.

Then, around 2-minutes in, it changes. The tempo alters, the guitar intensifies. That change sends shivers down my entire body every time. Every time. When McMahon’s emotions shift, subtly, it gets to me. I hear grief. I hear loss. Maybe I’m projecting.

I’ll see you next go-round

Around the 4-minute mark, I’m feeling mortality in my chest, a hollow/weighty presence that reminds me of straddling living and dying — the threshold, liminality, betwixt/between.

Do it for you

I’m not down

Do it for you, yeah

Feel it, too

She’d say, she’d say

I’m almost hesitant to recommend this song, because “Believe” (and probably the Freedom album in its entirety) is music I’m fiercely protective of. You know what I mean. Like, I want EVERYONE to listen to it, but I also want everyone to FUCKING LOVE IT as much as I do. My relationship with this song — the memories, the things it evokes, what it and I have been through together — is private, but it also overflows into the public sphere, pressing on me to share it far and wide.

I will fight you if you diss Amen Dunes, but I’ll also be really really sad if you don’t love “Believe” and feel that kaleidoscope of emotions and the ferocity of mortality that accompanies it.

So today I ask you a favor. Listen to this song. Feel this song. Love this song. Just don’t tell me if you hate it, okay? (Because you’d be wrong, anyway.)

(Song recommendation by Emery Ross)

Dan Recommends: “Mad World” by Tears for Fears

You may wake up one morning and wish you hadn’t. You may turn over in bed, check the time, and try to will more minutes into existence between 7:30 and 7:45. You may consider calling in sick, knowing you have the privilege of a job that lets you do so, knowing that a headache and sleep deprivation are perfectly adequate reasons to take the day, never-mind the fact they’ll subside after another two hours’ sleep. You may deem sleeping a little longer and arriving to work late — ten minutes at most — a good compromise.

You may finally get out of bed, finally put on some clothes, and finally brush your teeth. You may finally leave your apartment, forgetting your lunch in the fridge again, and you may finally walk to the train. You may finally put on your headphones and finally hear something other than the blood in your ears.

You may then encounter a song you’ve heard before, but it may now stand out differently; its electronic drums and droning synthesizers now perfectly underscore your every move, as you descend the station steps, swipe through the turnstile, and make it to the train in time to squeeze through the closing doors. You may feel a catch in your throat as the singer moans, “going nowhere, going nowhere.”

You may involuntarily suspend the ironic, self-conscious detachment you’ve constructed between yourself and the song’s refrain, and for once just listen:

I find it kind of funny

I find it kind of sad

The dreams in which I’m dying

Are the best I’ve ever had

You may be startled, remembering you’ve had dreams like this.

You may not be quite as histrionic as the song, yet the images that flash before you remain potent: the way your own birthday can be the most disappointing day of the year; schoolyard ostracization, where not even the teacher seems to see you; seeming to be stuck in an infinite loop.

You may find yourself completely devastated a mere three-and-a-half minutes into your commute, by a song you’d previously written off as kitsch.

You may turn around, go home, go back to bed. You may close your eyes and take a moment to thank the stars you’re not the only person who has felt or will feel like this.

It’s up to you.

(Song recommendation by D.R. Baker)

A Crowdsourced Valentine’s Day Playlist from Memoir Mixtapes

This week we asked you to share your favorite Valentine’s Day songs — the good, the bad, the angry, and the heartbroken — and you delivered. We’re so excited to share this crowdsourced Valentine’s Day Playlist with you all.

For your listening pleasure, here is the big ol’ list of your picks for the best Valentine’s Day songs. Over 150 tracks to cover every imaginable emotion. Over 9 hours of music to heal your achy, breaky heart (sorry, that song’s not on there).

Special shout out to Sarah Nichols, whose recommendation for Los Ageless inspired this undertaking.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

K Recommends: “Machinery” by Jason Loewenstein

I discovered Sebadoh in 1993. I became enthralled while hearing “Think (Let Tomorrow Bee)” on a college radio show. I bought their cassettes and CDs. I uncovered records by Lou Barlow. I missed the 1994 Sebadoh show in my hometown.

In 2002, Sebadoh bassist Jason Loewenstein released his solo debut, “At Sixes and Sevens.” He was touring nearby. Finally I’d see a member of my favorite band play! The weather and drive were treacherous. Maybe 15 people showed up. The music was excellent but I left early due to snow. I saw Lou solo a year later but didn’t feel social.

In 2012 I saw Sebadoh, reunited. I was 20 years deep in fandom but too shy to meet them. I’m just not into meeting bands. I’ve been to hundreds of shows and talked to maybe 5 artists!

I added Jason (Jake) on Facebook. He responded to comments, posted often, and added me/left comments. Those simple gestures to fans meant tons! It was on FB that I learned he designed the t-shirt logo I had tattooed on my leg in 2003. He even blogged about it: click to see!

Jake seemed very approachable. In late 2012 he was doing sound for Om, who was playing one state away. It was an opportunity to hear music and say hi/thanks. This show was mind-blowing with all the instrumentation. Genres complimented one another yet ranged from light to droning. I didn’t interrupt but wanted to say something. I wasn’t going to miss the chance to meet someone who was super cool to his fans.

I said hey when he wasn’t busy. He recognized me and we went out back for some air. No photos, no fangirl weirdness… music talk, nonsense on his FB, sound duties during Sebadoh hiatus. It was better than I envisioned a rocker meet-up being. No pretense, no awkward silences. We chatted for 15 minutes.

Observed: Jake is a musician’s musician with talents in playing, recording, and supporting music. I was jazzed when he released another solo LP in 2017!

(Song recommendation by K Weber)

Kimberly Recommends: “Sundown” by Gordon Lightfoot

My husband and I have pretty similar tastes in music across many decades of tunes. It is very rare that we will be listening to the music in the car or at home and come across a song on the radio which neither of us have heard — usually at least one of us knows every song. And most of the time when we come across an unknown song, it doesn’t really click with us within the first few measures and it’s onto the next song.

That wasn’t the case with “Sundown” by Gordon Lightfoot. We were driving home from dinner, taking the scenic backroads for a change of scenery. We were listening to a classic rock station and “Sundown” came on. Neither of us had heard the song, and we were about to switch to a different station because of that, but the song caught our attention. We just sat there, listening to the acoustic guitar and Gordon’s deep voice. Then the third line came in with a beautiful harmony, and we were both hooked.

I knew Gordon Lightfoot from “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” I was born and raised in Michigan, and the tragic story of the ship’s sinking in one of our Great Lakes is memorialized in this song. That song has a beautifully haunting melody with a bit of a sea chanty feel and had been the only Gordon Lightfoot song I could recall. After I heard “Sundown” I went through a phase of researching more songs by Gordon and then adding in other artists whose music evoked similar feels: America, Looking Glass, Seals & Croft, Cat Stevens.

A song has to capture my attention very quickly from its start, or I will likely never listen to it. It may not be the “right” way to listen to music, but that is my habit anyway. “Sundown” captured me in the beginning because the acoustic guitar was simple but had what I call a nice, round sound to it. Then Gordon starts to sing and I think the melody is catchy, and I absolutely love multi-part harmony. Two-part, five-part, I love them all. I think I hear a three-part harmony in this song, but I could be mistaken.

I am the type of person who likes a song first for the music, and lastly for the lyrics. I will like a song for the type of mood it evokes and only later ponder about the song’s meaning and what the musician was thinking about when writing lyrics. I couldn’t tell you what exactly Gordon was singing about in “Sundown.” When I hear the song, I picture a man talking to or about a woman who tries to make him stray from his current partner. He’s reminding her (or maybe even himself) that no good can come from spending time with this woman who’s creeping ‘round his back stairs.

My favorite lyric is, “Sometimes I think it’s a sin, when I feel like I’m winning but I’m losing again.” It makes me think about times in my life where I think everything’s going right and then I start feeling like something bad will happen soon, since everything in life can’t be right all the time. Which then makes me think of Alanis Morisette’s song “Ironic”…

In any case, if you like folksy, classical music from the likes of Gordon Lightfoot, America, etc. give this song a listen, and its beautiful melody and lyrics just may captivate you like it has me.

(Song recommendation by Kimberly Wolkens)

Seigar Recommends: ¿De qué me culpas? By Fangoria.

Juan Gatti (video Director) inspired by Hitchcock, Alaska being attacked!

Seigar, the photographer, is back.

The punk attitude of Fangoria has been present in the Spanish and Latin America music scene since 1989. Their initial acid house influence has changed into pop and rock electronic sounds. Their catchy songs have made it into the Spanish speaking countries music lists since that year. These days, their style is quite easily identified by their pop producer touch: Guille Milkyway (La Casa Azul).

In this gothic and emo video filmed by the prestigious photographer Juan Gatti, we can find some iconic images of the lead singer Alaska dancing with a sword. The beautifully-produced edition of the black and white images helps to enrich the track. The video presents the remix on Spotify that is even funnier than the original song with the featuring of Ms Nina and King Jedet, two reggaeton urban music celebrities, because Fangoria has never had prejudices against any music genre, and they want to live in 2019, not in the past.

The lyrics may be understood as a response to a press that takes too seriously their interventions on the media. And I say too seriously because to understand their words you must first know they are close to John Waters’ ironic philosophy about life, entertainment and society, or at least they have always talked about him as one of their icons. ¿De qué me culpas? means What are are you blaming me for? Alaska is everywhere on the radio and TV commenting on everything, so recently, some of her views have not been received as politically correct statements. However, apart from this theory, everybody will enjoy the song.

Alaska has said the question used as the title of the song may be asked to the world or to your couple on a love affair when you just want to say, “Stop, I had enough.” This would turn the song into a global or a feminist anthem.

Click and enjoy the catchy tunes.

(Song recommendation by Seigar)