Midterms are — well, not over technically, as midterms are never really over, but — over. If you’re reading this, the worst is through (Note: this is known as the reverse-Drake formulation), and the weekend has finally come. What you do with this freedom is up to you — unless you don’t believe in free will — but we hope that the range of moods covered on this playlist cover as many of the options as possible:
Nick Burns, Staff Writer (njburns ‘at’ stanford.edu)
Sleater-Kinney — “A New Wave”: As my life lately collapses around me, I’ve gone nuts for Sleater-Kinney, the iconic all-female, late-90s three-piece who both emblemize the transition between punk revival and indie and perfectly suit my tastes in rock bands with female vocalists: loud, overdriven guitars and aggressive vocals just this side of melodic. “A New Wave,” from their 2014 comeback album “No Cities to Love,” has the familiar sinewy vocals and a pretty, gripping harmony on the chorus. The song has the band feeling simultaneously irrelevant and free: “No one here is taking notice / No outline will ever hold us / It’s not a new wave, it’s just you and me.” Translation: They’re not the icons they were in the late 90s, but no one’s holding them back anymore. Right now I also read this last line—“It’s not a new wave, it’s just you and me” as a call to reject the urge to doubt one’s personal relationships when they experience a shock and instead to trust in the rapport: After all, what is a relationship but “just you and me.”
Omar Rafik El-Sabrout, Contributing Writer (omarel ‘at’ stanford.edu)
Seu Jorge — “Rebel Rebel”: This song is made for lying down vibes: lying down in your hammock, on Meyer green, in a pool or, if you have no other options available, in your bed. The track comes off “The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions,” which are all covers of Bowie tracks (sans “Team Zissou”) recorded for “The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou.” The guitar riff is simple but moving, and the lyrics are infectious. The sweet, soft sound of Seu Jorge’s Brazilian Portuguese is not just soothing; it’s downright healing. That bliss plus the somber memory of Bowie’s greatness is enough to imbue anyone with a strong calm. And if you need a little more, the rest of the album should satisfy that craving.
Kendrick Shen, Contributing Writer (kshen6 ‘at’ stanford.edu)
Pink Floyd — “Comfortably Numb”: If you’re a die-hard Roger Waters fan, or you simply enjoy good ambient music to vibe along with, consider adding this number to your playlist this week. It’s a classic, and if sheer nostalgia doesn’t take you back to less stressful times, then perhaps David Gilmour’s sensual guitar solos will do the job. If you’re not about that, “Comfortably Numb” will also get you swaying and grooving before you know it.
Jacob Nierenberg, Contributing Writer (jhn2017 ‘at’ stanford.edu)
Carly Rae Jepsen — “Run Away With Me”: Fuzzies don’t really have midterms. Instead, we have a steady stream of essays or assignments of comparable difficulty, and you either chip away at them over the course of a week, or you learn to get good at writing them overnight. This is just a roundabout way of saying that I went to the record store last week when I probably should have been writing. While there, I found Carly Rae Jepsen’s “E•MO•TION,” which I’d been meaning to pick up for the better part of a year. I paid five dollars for a used copy of that album, and it’s probably the best purchase I’ve made in the last month. The album is drunk on ‘80s-inspired production, right from the opening number “Run Away With Me.” The first sound you hear is a saxophone that has been processed to within an inch of its life, and it’s both the cheesiest and the most euphoric thing you’ve ever heard. It only gets cheesier and more euphoric from there with its massive chorus, featuring a choir of Carlys chanting the song’s title. A friend of mine on Stanford Concert Network told me that they were eyeing her last year as a potential headliner for the Frost Music & Arts Festival; if that’s true, it’s our own damn fault for letting her run away without us.
Dylan Grosz, Staff Writer (dgrosz ‘at’ stanford.edu)
Anna Burch — “2 Cool 2 Care”: Though the title is enough of a statement on my study habits around midterm season (minus the cool), Anna Burch’s only solo track to date is making waves in the indie rock community and my study playlist. The laid-back vibe of “2 Cool 2 Care” allows you to close your eyes and imagine a world where there’s no stress to outperform your peers, no grade proportions, no scary curves. Though midterm season leaves us learning to forget, Anna Burch’s 60s homage leaves you with the memory of an escape from the basement of Green Library, albeit briefly, to ride away on Burch’s jangly guitars.
Damon French, Contributing Writer (damonf ‘at’ stanford.edu)
Brian Eno — “On Some Faraway Beach”: I want to live in the world of a Brian Eno song; everything this man touches comes away intricately detailed and enjoyable. “On Some Faraway Beach” is a great song even among a career’s worth of great music. Emerging with synths and echoey vocals swirling, the song gains force with an inevitability like the tide coming in. It continues to rise, achingly beautiful, and just when you think you can’t handle any more — Eno’s voice breaks in and carries you to sweeter dimensions yet. As you move on from midterm season, consider taking a moment, lying down and letting the warm water of Eno’s music carry you, like its narrator, away.
Jacob Kuppermann, Music Desk Editor (jkupperm ‘at’ stanford.edu)
Crying — “There Was A Door”: I know what freedom sounds like, and it is Crying. There’s no other way to explain exactly how a track like “There Was A Door” comes together, with its instant alchemy of instrumentalist Ryan Galloway’s faux-Van Halen riffs and death-defying synth lines and Elaiza Santos’ perfectly serene vocal performance, which carries a lyric that speaks to the power of sudden realization, of seeing the door that will take you away from your self-doubt. While these two halves may seem too much to sew together, their shared paths towards the unknown, whether sonic or personal, create a strange cohesion. It’s a balancing act of a song, but I can’t help but be rejuvenated whenever I hear it.