Anyone who knows me knows that creating playlists is one of the things I absolutely live for. Whether it be specific mood music, specific genre, or just whatever is bouncing around in my head that day, I always relish the opportunity to cobble together a list of songs to listen to that might not normally go together.
When Peter Vilardi proposed the idea of putting together a local COVID playlist, I jumped at the opportunity. Of course, I had already done four separate pandemic specific playlists – “This Too Shall Pass”, “We’re In This Together”, “The Struggle”, and “The Protest”. Each had songs specifically themed to the title, and each featured at least two Ohio bands. I decided to take those local gems and put together some driving music for you. In this trip, we’ll go all the way down Interstate 71, from Cleveland to Cincinnati. It’s ten tracks to keep your head screwed on straight.
Without further ado, I give you my Ohio Songs To Get You Through The Pandemic…. Man, that’s clunky. How about the Local COVID Survival Guide? That sounds much better. I hope you enjoy jamming to these songs as much as I do.
Jess Lamb – Beautiful
Right after the shutdown happened, Jess Lamb and The Factory did a couple of live streams, and this song was one of the first she played. Nobody sings like Jess or brings positive energy quite like she does, and the moment I heard her singing this song I knew I had to build a playlist around it. It’s a song specifically written to carry you through difficult times. There’s nothing complicated… you are beautiful, you are powerful, you can make it.
Truslow – Words of the Wise
It’s no secret how much I love Truslow and his music. In Words of the Wise, he asks a question of different people in how to survive difficult times. The sing-a-long chorus is guaranteed to bring you out of any deep funk you’re going through, along with the toe-tapping piano rhythm. In my darkest days over the last decade, Truslow’s music has always seeped into my headphones and lifted my heart.
Relient K – Pressing On
Canton, OH / Nashville, TN
I mean, come on. That’s a freebie right? I feel like there are a lot of RK songs that could have been chosen; Softer to Me, For The Moments I Feel Faint, Over Thinking, This Week The Trend… take your pick. The Canton boys don’t shy away from songs about self-growth and finding strength, and for me Pressing On seemed like the obvious song about making it through difficult times.
The Broken Relics – Don’t Look Back
Columbus, OH / Youngstown, OH
Going hand in hand with Pressing On, Don’t Look Back is up-tempo, positive and pushes the listener to a shared goal; not just survival, but thriving in life no matter what the circumstance may be. I tried to choose as many upbeat songs as I could, as to help the listeners find their way through dark and clouded times in life.
Grumpy Plum – Happy Trees
Of course, Happy Trees is kind of the opposite of that. But for a month before the pandemic, I found myself unemployed and grasping at straws as to how to persevere. It’s kind of an oddball in this list because it isn’t upbeat and has a chugging, melancholy feel to it. But if you dig into Tallulah Swasey’s lyrics, you can always find a way to persevere.
Forever Unknown – Don’t Know Where We’re Going
Forever Unknown are a wonderfully fun group of teens from Central Ohio, but when I first interviewed them, singer Micah Stromsoe-DeLorenzo told me that every song she writes circles around anxiety, but that writing about it helps her get through. The song is bouncy and bubbly and even during the worst of days it helped keep my toes tapping.
House of Heroes – Friday Night
The ultimate lament song, where singer Tim Skipper says “I don’t wanna spend this Friday night, like I had to spend last Friday night, dyin’ by the record machine”. And honestly, how do you make a playlist without House of Heroes? The band has 17 years and seven full length LPs worth of outstanding, poignant rocking tracks to choose from.
So Long, Stargazer – Rewind
“You can tell that this is music being made by a bunch of art majors”. I was talking to a friend of mine after a concert a few years ago, and that was how he described Columbus quartet So Long, Stargazer. I truly cannot think of a better way to describe them. All four pieces moving in Rewind combine to make a tapestry about surviving and persevering.
The Wet Darlings – Used to Be Better
“I’m good. But I used to be better”. If you’re a human being and you’re reading this, chances are you can relate to that sentiment. Also, if you’re looking for one of the greatest records ever released from Columbus, Beautiful Things by The Wet Darlings proved that they will always be a force to be reckoned with. Seriously, give it a spin if you haven’t done so.
TRVSS – All The Bugs
Columbus, OH / Cleveland, OH
All The Bugs is absolutely a protest song, with a lyrical theme about rebelling against a controlling authority, and not accepting everything you’re told. And as fate would have it, the song kicks ass musically, with guitarist Eric Kennedy shredding a screaming solo before the final chorus. You almost wouldn’t know it was recorded live, if the group didn’t tell you beforehand.
Lilieae – Level
Lastly, in what is probably my favourite song of 2020, we have Cleveland’s Lilieae. I don’t know if the song really conforms to the list I put together, other than the fact that it’s an outstanding composition. Singer Lydia Puccini doesn’t shy away from delivering her story while the rest of the band thunder through this one. Feel free to sing (scream) along!