Midweek slump slammers: Roundup #4
This round, the category is women with deep, expansive vocals and instrumental talent. Maybe it’s the two-week stretch of humid thunderstorms we’re undergoing here in upstate NY. It makes me want to listen to music that cuts through that thickening fog or, conversely, builds a hazy world of its own.
If you have a song that has settled with you in a way you’d like to share, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Instagram @kkates_mariee and I’ll add ‘em on each week.
ICYMI: Each week, you can find a handful of tracks here that make me feel… many different things. Maybe they’ll make you feel things too.
“Making Love” – Sir Woman
I had the very lucky chance to see Sir Woman kill it in front of a sold out crowd in Austin over a month ago (opening for Black Pumas at Stubb’s) and everything about her band was exciting. What a way to see a large-scale show in person once again. Kelsey Wilson’s voice is soulful and sweeping and her accompanying vocalists and bandmates are extremely talented. They were this genuine, giant ball of energy that was such a joy to witness. These days, when I find myself feeling down, I feel particularly happy I discovered this act.
This track comes from the artist’s 2020 EP Bitch. A nice note, 20 percent of each purchase of Sir Woman’s Bitch merch (necklace $33) goes to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute to protect and defend the rights of Black transgender individuals.
“Invisible” – Grouper
Ever-hypnotizing, Grouper is my etherial security blanket. “Invisible” feels so intimate and pure. It starts out cautious, questioning its own journey as if to say, “Where am I even going with this?” Then, a simple stream of thoughts that blurs and fades, trails off and trips over itself. Familiar and tongue-twisted, it’s just someone trying to express a feeling of emptiness without knowing quite what to say–or being too afraid to say it out loud. How do you admit what you’re afraid of when the fear won’t let it leave your lips? Does it feel any more real when you do?
“I’ve run out of things to say / I found something / If you can see me, be sure to let me know / Hold down my shadow and tie down my sail”
What it feels like: It’s too dark and dreary outside to feel like you really need to get out of bed. Anyways, you’re still dreaming and you may not remember this feeling when you wake up.
“Familiar” – Agnes Obel
I first heard chamber pop artist Agnes Obel on the soundtrack of Netflix’s Dark. Let me tell you, (forgive me, meme phrase haters) whoever chose her work for the show understood the assignment. “Familiar” is haunting. It sits on your skin like pin-pricks and goosebumps. Obel also has a gorgeous and magnetizing voice. In songs like these, her vocals have an element of one you would hear faintly at the end of a dark hallway and follow curiously as the audience screams, “What are you doing? Don’t go down there!” The composition of this song, orchestral and cinematic, are engrossing. This song sticks with you in ways that make you question yourself. I highly, highly recommend exploring the artist’s full body of work.
What it feels like: I won’t apologize for setting a scene here that pulls directly from Dark. It begs for a cold and densely wooded scene (very mossy) in which you are being followed (or following?) a shadow version of yourself. Do you hope to find what you’re looking for or would you rather stay very, very far away?
“The Valley” – Emma Ruth Rundle, Thou
This really gets heavier as you scroll, huh. God, I love the way Emma Ruth Rundle emotes in her music.
“I want to step into the armor of another, stronger / I want to look once through the eyes of someone good / So I can gather up the names of our mothers / And wash away the shame and lift them to sainthood”
“But if you have given up in the valley / And if you have given all to its wake / It’s just another endless night fall around me / Just another fucked up thing I can’t save”
I’m so glad there are musicians who make work where we can escape to be vicious, angry, heaving, vindictive and gritty. These are spaces where we relate to each other’s need for release and it feels so gratifying to let go.
This song is part of a collaborative album with doom metal band Thou, May Our Chambers Be Full and they compliment each other so well. Vocalist Bryan Funck comes in at that perfect “release” moment of exploding sound.
What it feels like: A satisfying thunderstorm at your most somber moment.
“Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” – Nina Simone
I love this song so much and it’s been on my mind lately. Not only does Nina Simone deserve all of our deepest respect as an artistic icon, but this song is just so good. Written by Horace Ott, Bennie Benjamin and Sol Marcus and made famous by The Animals, it was actually Simone who first recorded the song on her ’64 album Broadway-Blues-Ballads. While both versions are perfect, in my opinion, they make you feel two very different things. One is an excellent ’60s rock song but Simone brings out that agonizing melancholy. She brings such a deeper level of “misunderstood” that goes beyond a romantic translation. It’s been recognized as an anthem of the Black experience as well as reflective of the artist’s tumultuous personal life.
Simone expresses such sorrow and vulnerability, you feel every word.
Thanks so much to everyone who shared songs that got them through the week with me on Instagram. I’m adding them here for our collective enjoyment. Follow along at @kkates_mariee where I’ll be posting my roundup and asking about your own favorite songs each week.
“Fuck the Industry” – Solange
“Idioteque” – Radiohead
“U Dnt Fk Me Up” – Sakima
“One in a Million” – Bosson
“Headshots (4r Da Locals)” – Isaiah Rashad
“Delusion” – Lewis Del Mar
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” – Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole