Sam Recommends: “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” by Neil Sedaka

Neil enjoying the few records his thieving ex didn’t steal from him.

I can really feel for Neil on this track; it hurts when you find yourself on the wrong side of a break up. The blow to your self esteem is almost worse than the whole heart ripped out of your chest thing.

At the same time, I want to give him a friendly slap in the face, tell him to snap out of it, and to buck up the fuck up, buttercup.

The desperate pleading tactic has never worked for anyone, and he’d be a lot better off walking away with some dignity. And, Neil, don’t even think about texting her unless she texts you first.

Nope. Not even if she is hoarding your favorite records. (You know who you are, and I still want my White Album back.)

She’s just not that into you, Neil.

But, on the bright side, you’re a total dreamboat, and I’m sure you can find plenty of gals down at the sock hop who’d consider themselves lucky to be your rebound.

(Song recommendation by Samantha Lamph)

Kevin Recommends: “Halloween” by Siouxsie and the Banshees

                               Gazing at you with scorpion eyes.

The other day my wife asked me how old I was when my parents stopped going trick-or-treating with me. My response was, “They didn’t stop going with me. I stopped going with them when I was ten so I could stay home and scare trick-or-treaters.”

Candy was fine, but it wasn’t special to me. Getting to shroud myself in black, hiding in trees, and jumping out with a scream to terrify people into running away — now that was special. The mischievous delight I felt at scaring other kids (and some adults!) satisfied me far more than any candy did. If I could, I wanted to send people home a little wary, a little jumpy. I wanted them to go to bed a little haunted by thoughts of that one innocuous, suburban house with the shrieking child who jumped out of the bushes and made them drop their pillow-bag of treats in their panicked flight.

I like my Halloweens to be on the grim side, but as I’ve grown older they’ve grown more boring. They’ve regressed into yet another excuse to go to another party — only this time we’re dressed up in cute costumes!

Halloween is the night when the evil spirits go abroad, god dammit. People should be a little wary. They should be a little jumpy. Halloween should leave people a little haunted.

On this Halloween, what I really want to do is scare you, but it’s hard to do over the Internet (I mean, sure, I could link to some shitty jump-scare video below, but we’re better than that around these parts). Instead, I’ll settle for haunting you with a song. Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Halloween is a jangly, jumpy, unnerving tale of murder. It haunts me by sticking in my brain whenever I hear it. I hope it will do the same to you this day.

Happy Halloween!

(Song recommendation by Kevin Woodall)

Jon Recommends: “I Need a Forest Fire” by James Blake (ft. Justin Vernon)

The human experience is a clusterflux.

And that is a good thing.

For every peak, there is a valley… unless of course drugs are involved. Then everything is a plateau (albeit a symphonic and colorful one) until the comedown.

But eventually, down we go. We don’t talk about it much, but down is a great space to be comfortable with. For one thing, it helps you identify what the hell “up” is in the first place.

So down. But down with a purpose. Trailing Ariadne’s string behind you to find your way back after slaying the Minotaur that awaits.

For me, trips into the labyrinth start with this song and its lulling loop. “Another shade, another shadow.”

brb, got some shit to sort out.

(Song recommendation by Jon Johnson)

Kevin Recommends: “The Warmth” by Incubus

                                                 Incubus lololol

Dear readers, you have guilty pleasures. You know it. I know it. Everyone knows it. We all have those pleasures that make us feel guilty and exposed— the things we can’t share for fear of judgment.

Not too long ago your humble editors were discussing guilty pleasure music, and a mutual one both of us had was Incubus. Frankly, though, I’m not sure why we feel guilty about it. Incubus was the hottest fucking fire in the early 2000s. It would have been more lame if either of us didn’t like Incubus, to be honest.

Today, I want to change that line of thinking. I’m here to say fuck the “guilty” part of “guilty pleasure.” Own the music that brings you joy. Have the courage to like what you like. Fuck those who judge you for it.

Incubus’ The Warmth has a blunt, honest message that got me through some tough times when I was an angst-ridden sixteen year old, and it’s a message I’ll share with you now.

Experience the warmth before you grow old.

(Song recommendation by Kevin Woodall)

Keith Recommends: “Demon Host” by Timbre Timbre

Every Fall, as October creeps into the dark and scary territory, I like to reacquaint myself with my favorite stories, movies, and songs of the season. It has become increasingly more difficult to get into the season, with what seems to be the new normal of triple-digit heat waves in what was once the onset of sweater weather. While many of Halloween’s traditions have gone quietly into the night, as temperatures creep up and the inclination to spookify homes dwindles, the spirit lives on in our melancholy little hearts.

What usually hits the spot for those vibes is Timbre Timbre, and nothing does it quite like “Demon Host”, a song about struggling to cope with death and fading faith. It’s just so eerie, and the perfect setting for the macabre table. So, close the blinds, light some candles, and feel the fear.

(Song recommendation by Keith Beshwate)

Nina Recommends: “Got to Give it Up” by Marvin Gaye

There are so many things I can say about this song but I’ll keep it short.

When this song comes on, it doesn’t matter what color or race you are, or if you can dance or not; it makes your feet move to the beat and words. I mean, I can be having a bad day, but as soon as this song comes on, joy enters my soul, and I can’t help but smile and dance. I dare you to listen to this and see if you don’t move.

(Song recommendation by Phoenix Rose)

Sam Recommends: “Genius of Love” by Tom Tom Club

You’re 21, it’s Thirsty Thursday, and you’re drunk on a dance floor at the coolest bar in your hometown.

Life hasn’t been doing you right lately. That’s probably why you’re here in this altered state of consciousness.

But the DJ slips this jam in between “Like a G6” and “Atomic Dog,” and damn it, you feel good. Better than ever, maybe.

You take your new friend by the hand, start singing & dancing along, spilling splashes of a strong cranberry vodka in your wake.

You’re gonna have some fun.

(Song recommendation by Samantha Lamph)

Dale Recommends: “T For Texas (Live)” by Waylon Jennings

Waylon has been around my life as long as I’ve been alive. When I was little, some of my first memories are driving around in my dad’s pickup (two-toned brown, me without seat-belt) and the song that stands out more than any other is Waylon off of his Waylon Live album doing Jimmie Rodgers’ classic, “T For Texas”. Waylon’s version is a near-magical update, full of all the outlaw spirit: loud guitars, Waylon’s unique lead playing, and a timeless sound that never ages. Now that I’m working on a podcast, Soutee, this song was one of the first I thought of to create that image of late 70s freedom.

Remember in this day of cookie cutter country, Waylon reinvented the genre with a blend of rock sensibility with a deep knowledge of the history of the music. The live album more than any explores that spirit of expanded possibilities that would have seemed impossible just a few years before, when ol’ hoss was about to quit that business until he decided to go for broke with an album that became his biggest hit. He had creative control, and he created something special.

Think of cowboy shirts with wide lapels, green shag carpeting and turning a speaker up too loud, hoping to capture the feeling of being in Texas in those heady mid-70s days. It never gets old to me.

(Song recommendation by Dale Wiley)

Jon Recommends: “Be Thankful for What You Got” by William DeVaughn

                               (Gangsta whitewalls optional.)

Life is challenging.

You get a bit over a century (at best) to kick around in the sand before you are buried under it. And the story always ends the same.

Tragedy at its finest.

Yet while the whole “ World going to shit” paradigm is a spicy aesthetic for your dashboard, as a way of life it is… well… fucking awful.

While seven minutes of effortless sounds and a tasty vibraphone solo isn’t going to change your worldview or alter your gut flora, the feeling it offers may have you glimpsing a different way of looking at things.

Listening to this song is the smoothest of reminders. No matter where you’re at, you’ve got something. If all you’ve got today is ten toes and a heartbeat, well I guarantee there’s someone out there with 9 toes who just had a heart attack.

 Just be thankful for what you got. Not because “This too shall pass” or some other meaningful-but-now-clichéd hashtag, but because the alternative is quite literally hell.

Baby steps, baby.

(Song recommendation by Jon Johnson)

Elise Recommends: “Call Your Girlfriend” by Robyn

Okay dude, if you are cheating on your girlfriend with Swedish pop robot, Robyn, you need to end things with your girl right now. I one hundred percent agree with Robyn on this one; it’s time you had the talk.

Beyond this advice, though, I think you can safely disregard everything else Robyn recommends on the subject of tactfully navigating the end of a relationship. Bless her heart, but the rest of the break-up advice in banger “Call Your Girlfriend” is straight-up trash.

So, yeah.

Don’t: use this song as a guide to terminate an adult romantic relationship.

Do: press play and have an immediate dance party.

(Song recommendation by Elise W.)