Sam Recommends: “I Miss That Feeling” by Tennis

I only recently got into Tennis.

They’ve been on my radar for years, since their debut album Cape Dorywas blowing up back in 2011/2012. But for some reason, I never took the time to listen to that album. In fact, I still haven’t gotten all the way through it.

I have, however, become absolutely obsessed with 2017’s Yours Conditionally. It’s one of those rare perfect albums for me, an album that I can listen to from start to finish, enjoying every single moment of that 36 minutes and 17 seconds.

But the song I’m recommending today isn’t even from that album. It’s a single from the same year: “I Miss That Feeling.” In doing my reading on the band, I learned that this song is inspired by Alaina Moore’s struggles with anxiety — a struggle I share.

I had my first panic attack in 5+ years last week. I was sitting in bed, relaxing and reading a great book. When I finished the book and closed my Kindle, I saw a strange flash of light and my heart started racing. I jumped out of bed and ran to the kitchen to get a glass of water, mostly to prove to myself that I was not having a seizure and partly to be in the same room as another human being who could call the paramedics if I was having a seizure.

I wasn’t too surprised by the panic attack. I know my triggers, and my life is a perfect storm of them lately. Feelings of personal and professional stagnation, worry that I’ve passed my peak as a human being. You know, the typical symptoms of an existential crisis.

I’ve also been feeling a bit of whiplash at being 30 years old…soon to be 31 in just a couple of weeks. I’ve been looking at some old photos on Facebook, photos from my college days, and even further back to the end of high school. I’ve also spent some time reading my journals from those days.

I can’t believe its been 10–15 years since that version of me was navigating the world. It certainly doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. And it’s even harder to wrap my head around what is perhaps the most basic truth of life: you can never go back.

They weren’t necessarily happier or even easier times. Yet I still feel nostalgia for them. A sense of loss for that phase of my life that’s over forever. That phase where I still had most of my major life decisions in front of me, when I was making my through life one unsteady step at a time. It was anxiety inducing in a different way, and I guess I miss that feeling.

(Song recommendation by Samantha Lamph/Len)

Emily Recommends: “Feel the Pain” by Dinosaur Jr.

I used to have this DVD collection of Spike Jonze’s music videos that I watched constantly. My teenage dream was to direct videos and his were my favorite: weird, innovative, and silly. Dinosaur Jr.’s “Feel the Pain” was one of the best in the collection.

I came late to the band’s body of work, but this –one of their most commercially popular songs, from an album many rank as their worst –was a song I’d always loved. Recently I heard it again, but felt like I’d really heardit; sometimes it takes years to have a song come on organically in the exact right moment. For me and this song, it was during a frustrating stretch of standstill highway traffic due to a left lane closing, when there’s nothing to do but think about all the stuff you don’t want to think about and pray someone will let you edge into their lane.

I went home and re-watched the video with commentary. J Mascis notes the clip was supposed to be much more violent but was edited to be MTV-friendly. In it, Mascis and Mike Johnson play golf in congested Manhattan, wildly weaving their golf cart through traffic. The camera tracks the ball soaring over buildings, breaking a man’s glasses and knocking him out. After, it’s picked up by a group of confused businessmen, so Mascis and Johnson club them until they’re subdued (and then some). The band members are numb to the pain they inflict as they continue their impossible game. Do they only succeed because they’re able to ignore the pain they cause, as well as everything else surrounding them, all the suffering, the crowds, the humans living their lives?

The video doesn’t have it, but the song opens with a cork pop, releasing the driving riff and hypnotic rhythm. Two parts repeat, the first gentle and the next chugging, deeper, mimicking the lyrics: “I feel the pain of everyone/Then I feel nothing.” The interpretation seems to fracture: the speaker as extreme empath to the point of obliterating his own senses, or the speaker feeling the pain, but simply not giving a shit. The enormity overwhelms; maybe we should stop trying altogether. Mascis passes another version of himself in the video, forlornly playing guitar on the corner. Could this be a glimmer of self-reflection, of guilt we can’t escape?

The song finishes with an insane guitar performance, everything controlled chaos, overwhelming you, and then it ends — bam bam. Then it’s nothing, just a buzz in your ears.

(Song recommendation by Emily Costa)

C. Recommends: “Epitaph” by King Crimson

Quite simply, “Epitaph” is one of the most stunning songs ever recorded. From King Crimson’s debut LP, In the Court of the Crimson King — a record, incidentally, that arguably created the progressive rock genre — the song crushes the image of what can be at all times beautiful, dark, ambitious, harrowing, and perfect.

An old friend of mine suddenly passed away a few years back. Someone I hadn’t seen in decades but with whom I still was in touch. Someone who was full of such charm, and laughter, and kind sincerity. She wasn’t yet forty.

And there was a great melancholy in my heart. Death makes me sad. And music is where I go when I’m sad. But there’s more to it than listening to the sonorous notes and melodies, those sounds that makes us ache further. Sometimes there’s a concept in the lyrics, which could be either meager or grandiloquent, that whispers to our fibers. Something that points past the Sun and says “look — what’s beyond there?”

The wall on which the prophets wrote
Is cracking at the seams
Upon the instruments of death
The sunlight brightly gleams
When every man is torn apart
With nightmares and with dreams
Will no one lay the laurel wreath
When silence drowns the screams?

There’s always a hope we will understand our lot in this corporeal existence, that we can fathom our purpose for living. But to know that, we would need to wonder too our purpose for dying. Because, truly, what provokes death?

Confusion will be my epitaph
As I crawl a cracked and broken path
If we make it we can all sit back and laugh
But I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying
Yes, I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying

There’s nothing quite like Greg Lake’s vocals as he sings the above chorus, which also leads the ending section of the song. The anguish in his voice at the realization that he just doesn’t know what’s to come. Whether it be death, or just the demise of society or thinkers in general: there’s not only confusion, there’s pessimism wrapping its thick arms around that uncertainty.

Musically, the sounds are lush and gorgeous and at times sinister. Lake’s lonely bass, the odd and innovative drumming by Michael Giles, the mellotron and clarinet by Ian McDonald, the genius guitar bits by Robert Fripp: everything comes together. It’s a symphony housing a story (lyrics by Pete Sinfield) sung with impeccable precision by Lake.

It’s a song I come back to often, as it pushes me to question the reasons for existence. Not just mine but the lot of the Earth’s. It’s a song the lingers because of the weight of it all. Arguably, it’s the sound of my consciousness yearning to understand its place now and forever.

Dedicated to Sylvia Evans.

(Song recommendation by C. Aloysius Mariotti)

Kiley Recommends: “Wooden Heart” by Listener

Listener is such an appropriate name for this group of humans. The ideas and observations in this song require a stillness that only comes with listening intently. The music sways and swells and washes upon the shore of my heart, and although the band has seen members come and go, as Dan Smith sings, “we only have what we remember.”

I have to admit, I’m not the biggest fan of music videos. I usually prefer the first experience with a piece of music to be completely aural, and although I enjoy and make visual art, I often find the music video to be a distraction. I’m not interested in images that take away from the truth in the music and lyrics. Just give me the sound, man…

However, the video for “Wooden Heart” only strengthens the message. Perseverance. Hope. The will to live, even when you’re barely making it. I’ll dive deep one more time to try to save what I love.

I also urge you to read the complete lyrics on their own. They are pleading and humble, and they are brilliant. “My hopes are weapons that I’m still learning how to use right, but they’re heavy and I’m awkward. I’m always running out of fight.” The wisdom in these words paired with the rhythmic delivery and atmospheric guitars buoy my spirit.

It’s difficult to look at the world and not see the sinking ship. Corruption, violence, inequality. It’s enough to drive anyone mad, “but I still believe in saviors.” We have the ability, and even the responsibility, as human beings to spur each other on to better lives, to shock each other back to life. I hope this song has maybe helped in some way.

Sometimes all I need is 5 minutes to refocus. I just need 5 minutes of peace, 5 minutes of good music. After all, “everything falls apart at the exact same time it all comes together perfectly for the next step.”

(Song recommendation by Kiley Lee)

Philip Recommends: “Bend Not Break” By Alex Boye

There are songs out there that I like to call “necessary songs”. Songs that make the world a better place just by existing. Probably 90% of songs aren’t necessary. They don’t add anything to the world. That doesn’t mean that they are bad by any means.

One of my favorite songs of all time is “Cherry Pie” by Warrant, one of the greatest rock songs ever written. The lyrics, however, aren’t exactly adding anything to the world.

“Bend Not Break” by Alex Boye is, no doubt about it, a necessary song. Written for the purpose of saving lives, Alex Boye wrote this song for the purpose of keeping people going when they feel like killing themselves. As somebody who suffers from severe depression and is a quiet member of the mental health community, this song is super important to me.

The most helpful part of the song to me is every time he says “Not Today”. As in don’t kill yourself, at least not today. When I am at my lowest and feel like giving up, this is what I whisper to myself over and over in my head. Not Today. Not Today. Not Today. The message this song brings is “take life one day at a time.” If that is too daunting then one hour. Or one minute. Just never give up on life.

(Song recommendation by Philip Myers)

Erin Recommends: “Ride Out In The Country” by Yola


Everything about this song resonates for this country girl but this isn’t about me. This is about Yola.

I stumbled across her when Paste magazine recommended her album Walk Through Fire as an Americana album I should get to sooner than later. I clicked on it, listened to every song in one sitting, downloaded it and haven’t been able to stop listening.

Yolanda Quarterly or “Yola” grew up in Bristol, England in a home where music was banned but you know, she had a calling and followed it. The world is a better place because she did.

Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys produced this amazing piece of work, highlighting the talent of this woman. Every song on this album has a “this could be anywhere” and timeless resonance.

“Ride Out in the Country” quickly made it to the top of my playlist partly because this is who I am, the jump in my truck turn up the music, let the wind flow through my fingers, walk in the woods to sort things out, contemplate stories, find the perfect image or seek out answers.

The video here surprised me, didn’t see the shovel and hole coming but I love how she does it in a dress and work boots. It’s badass.

The album and Yola herself have recently been nominated for the Americana Honors and Awards. I know we haven’t heard the last of her.

(Song recommendation by Erin L. Cork)

C. Recommends: “Subdivisions” by Rush

Unlike anything else, music is the wormhole to my youth.

During the summer of 1981, my family moved from a small town in Southwestern Pennsylvania to Mesa, a growing suburb of Phoenix. The contrast between the two places couldn’t have been more vast. I was six, and this is where I grew up.

Equally as vast is the polarization between Rush fans and Rush haters. I don’t think this gap is larger with any other band in rock history, the zealousness between the two factions. I’m on the good side, of course.

One of the most immediately recognizable opening riffs, those synths, those lovely dark synths. It sets the tone. I am brought back to that suburban home at 143 East Jasmine Street. It’s the theme, the words. Peart’s lyrics are mine. He wrote my biography. He knew my mind, my emotions, my longings and struggles. “Be cool or be cast out.”

In the 80s, suburbs began to sprawl as families flocked to them. Arizona was a den of outside influences, a place for the re-locaters, such as my family. But I felt like I needed something else. I tried incredibly hard to fit in, I wore too many different personas so I could be friends with all the different types of kids in the neighborhood. Depending on the week, I was good to some, awful to others. It was an impossible balancing act just to be accepted. But man did I pursue it with such vigor!

“And start to dream of somewhere to relax their restless flight.” When I got older, I moved around quite a bit. Restless indeed. I think there is a direct correlation to that behavior and growing up in a suburb. It was difficult for me to be satiated in that environment: “In between the bright lights, and the far unlit unknown.” That was Mesa perfectly: Phoenix to the west, and nothing but dark desolate desert to the east. I was stuck in that limbo called suburbia.

I lived in that house on Jasmine Street until I was fourteen. That’s when my parents separated. It was also the year I started to really digest what music is. As opposed to something that previously brought either joy or sadness, it became that thing where I understood why it caused those affections.

I listen to “Subdivisions” specifically, and I am brought back to a plane of existence far from my current one. It’s a bittersweet place. But a song is like any form of art: the best ones take you on a journey, they get inside you, they linger afterwards. They make you think, feel, wonder.

And they bring you back. For better or worse. “Somewhere out of a memory of lighted streets on quiet nights….”

(Song recommendation by C. Aloysius Mariotti)

Erika Jane Recommends: “Thieves In The Temple” by Prince

*Some names were changed to hide their real identity.

Four years ago, Lewis, my schoolmate, joined a taekwondo session organized through his sister’s ballet company in Davao. I wanted to be part of it, too, but I just cannot ask my mother to join.

I’m a total copycat. Sometimes, when I know others joined any event that seem to help a lot for me, I easily push myself to get engaged. However, deep inside my head I know not all things end up good. Or maybe, I just seem to quit.

He was the only guy who could dance among my entire batch, and I had this sensation I was feeling deep inside. I tried to approach him but he usually brushed it off. So with the help of my best friend Vernie, I was able to befriend him.

Before I had to confirm that his involvement is not a joke, I was watching music videos of Prince in YouTube. His hit “Breakfast Can Wait” was my top favorite, coincident that there was this red lady kicking with her stilettos in the video.

Since then, every time Lewis gets into his taekwondo competition, Prince is always the playlist in my head. I keep repeating some of his songs like “Cream”, “1999”, “Free”, “Little Red Corvette”, and more.

In 2017, I was lucky to get one of his biography books titled after him in the bookshop, shortly before the management decided to change the establishment into an art shop just as calligraphy and lettering became a trend in the Philippines. After taking a glimpse on some pages of the book, there was one thing I learned about Prince: he was also a movie star. Can’t believe it? Me, too; I thought he was the first to do that.

The following year, when April came, the taekwondo trend came back. As school was about to end, my life was nothing but more of distortion as ever. I wanted to escape my fuss over Lewis and the rest of my batch mates, so I went over YouTube again and watched clips of Prince’s movies, like some from “Purple Rain”, “Under The Cherry Moon”, and “Graffiti Bridge”.

Then I had this idea of writing a book dedicated for him entitled All Time, Good Time together with the song “Thieves In The Temple”.

I could still remember the pictures of the music video coming in my head as I recall all my controversies for the last time around — how the static of emotional torture hit me and how senseless it is to have somebody who had nothing to do but play games. Lewis is smart; his gaming attitude just killed it.

Love come quick
Love come in a hurry
There are thieves in the temple tonight

They don’t care where they kick
Just as long as they hurt u
There are thieves in the temple tonight

Then, when I was out of my old school for my writing workshop that May, he invited me to join with the taekwondo team. Even so, it was too late; I already had a league of my own. Besides, what more could I get when I still have to pay the price of a thousand for the entire session? I shut it off. I said no.

Almost a year after, he finally got his black belt. I would have told him congratulations, but I guess it would become useless. Even being “friends” is no match to the turning point of my dramatic change in the aftermath of my distorted old life.

Well, I love looking at the lyrics rather than the music alone. For now, I just wanted to commemorate May with this, remembering all the lessons from the past, that I should not waste my time for all the nonsense stuff because I still have more work to be done.

Yup, Prince was right, though.

(Song recommendation by Erika Jane Roble)

K Recommends: “Supergirl” by Stereo Total

I earned a minor in French in college but I’ve never been to France or even Canada. I don’t encounter the language as often as I’d like to, but I am still enamored with French cinema and music.

I remember being treated to lyrics in English, German, French and Japanese the first time I heard the “Oh Ah!” and “Monokini” albums by Stereo Total. Near the end of the 90s, I heard their cheeky tune “C’est la mort” on our local college radio station and had to hear more.

“Supergirl” is a fun, dance-y offering and the alternating vocals taunt and tease like characters in French New Wave films or songs by Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. Even if you don’t know French, or the lyrics seem a bit ridiculous, you can appreciate the lively musicality and the homage to somewhere and someone new.

A bit more lighthearted fare, this song is such a fun toe-tapper with an endearing throwback style. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling doe-eyed and donning my faux eyelashes and ennui posthaste!

(here are the lyrics since there is both French and English spoken/sung throughout)

(Song recommendation by K Weber)

C. Recommends: “Moving” by Supergrass

Time moves, man: sometimes slowly, sometimes sideways, sometimes with unbearable celerity. But its constant is always motion.

Moving, just keep moving
’til I don’t know what I’m saying
I’ve been moving so long
The days all feel the same

Through time, we are propelled through space. We go from Day 1 to Day Now, a specific place along the line we travel from birth to death. But how do we distinguish if this day is unlike any other? The peripheral landscape might be different: the colours are greener? — the birds are chirpier? — the strangers seem to smile more?

And how does gravity affect the movement? Can it bend time onto itself, to where present me can kiss the forehead of 14 year old me, and I can whisper solemnly, “this will pass, young sir — just keep on moving.”

Supergrass is phenomenal. I hold them up there with Radiohead, and Oasis, as my favorite bands from across the pond during the last couple decades. And honestly, I think their discography, as a whole, probably outdoes those other two bands, as I adore all their albums. Their debut, I Should Coco, is a raucous display of pop sensibilities through a filter of English punk attitude (you’re surely familiar with “Alright” — which to me is what I think Ray Davies would have written if he were born in the late 70s). The whole album is downright anthemic.

Moving, just keep moving
Well I don’t know why to stay
No ties to bind me
No reasons to remain

Though they also didn’t rest on that formula. Their third release, Supergrass, is a masterpiece. It’s more “Village Green” than “You Really Got Me,” with lovely songs that might evoke English meadows on rainy afternoons. “Moving” is the lead track, and it reveals the perfect voice of Gaz Coombes. The song starts with that voice over an acoustic and subtle synth, through the verse. The chorus bounces in, with the bass and drums and electric guitar. There’s a beautiful juxtaposition between the two sections, which comprise the whole song (the third “verse” plays out with no vocals, but rather an outro solo that mirrors the verse vocal melody). It’s a simple song construct that is executed brilliantly.

Moving, keep on moving
Where I feel I’m home again
And when it’s over
I’ll see you again

Time, man. It moves. And we go where the line takes us through space. And we can only anticipate what our future experiences might offer us.

Until then: there’s Supergrass. There’s Gaz Coombes. There’s symmetry as we wait to live, as we move forward.

(Song recommendation by C. Aloysius Mariotti)