The Spotify Diaries (or Catching Up on Music Pt. 3)
For years I’ve had this Spotify playlist with artists and bands that have been recommended to me by friends or that I heard in a movie or read about in some blog or magazine. For each artist, I’ll add a song, which is designed to act as a signpost, a street to walk down sometime in the near future.
But recently, my creatively named ‘Songs to Get’ playlist ballooned to well over 100 songs. So, over the past couple weeks, like an honest Kiwi bloke to a sheep, I’ve been delving in and giving it a good, wholesome shear.
For each artist, I start by listening to three songs before deciding if I should keep going. If they have a standout album, I might play that from start to finish. Sometimes I’ll find their style of music hard to interpret so I’ll keep listening until I reach a verdict.
Then I choose whether to delete the song and banish the artist from my memory, keep them in the same musical purgatory they were in already, or add them to my permanent collection.
I’m really enjoying the process so far. I’m uncovering a bounty of fantastic music. It’s like a pre-filtered mixtape tailor-made just for me. And it’s diverse too.
One criticism from the first two parts in this music discovery series (here’s part 1 & part 2 in case you missed them) is that they stuck to alternative rock – your usual suspects: Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, Patti Smith, Real Estate – but the tracks I’m revealing here are incredibly eclectic.
One minute I’ll be submerged in DeVotchka’s polka folk, the next I’ll be onto Shlomho’s chillwave. One minute I’ll be jamming to Bombino’s African rhythms, the next I’ll be tapping my foot to the Gotan Project’s French-Argentinian dub.
I also get tremendous satisfaction from removing songs from the playlist. It feels like I’m crossing items off a list, getting shit done. At last count I’m down below 70. The goal is 40.
Before we get to the songs, a quick aside about RJD2. I remember hearing ‘Ghostwriter’ in Washington DC towards the end of my high school days. Its fusion of soul, gospel, hip-hop was universally liked back then and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to add it to my collection.
And a special mention to the Gotan Project. I was introduced to their bubbly tango dub back in 2010, in Watford of all places, perhaps the last place on earth you’d expect to hear their exotic vibes. To set the record straight, it was a Portuguese dude who recommended them to me.
Gotan Project – Epoca
RJD2 – Ghostwriter
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – War
Devotchka – How It Ends
Shlohmo – The Way U Do
Bombino – Amidinine
Andhim – Bermudachords
Stay tuned for another update shortly. In the meantime, here’s the latest song list to listen to. And if you’re interested in world affairs, economics, neoliberalism and things like that, make sure you check out my long read on Empathocracy.