The sun is starting to come back after what feels like an eternity. Its no longer dark when I get off work at 5 p.m. I can finally open the windows so my cat can yell at all the birds she sees. I can go outside without a jacket and immediately regret it because I forget wind exists. Spring is around the corner, or at least the closest approximation to spring that we have here in Ohio.
Sometimes it can be tough to shake off those winter blues, so I gathered up a group of singles from the last month or two to help you get into that spring feeling. Whether you need something to pump you up, something to chill you out, or just some good, fun music, these songs have got you covered.
We’re going to start out, once again, with some good old fashion rock and roll. But this time, like, space rock and roll. One Way Out’s latest single, Black Lungs (and a Broken Heart) is spaced out rock at its best. There is a hint of echo and distortion on the vocals, the lyrics are subtly extraterrestrial for a while, and then on the bridge there is a whole news broadcast about aliens. I really like the timing between the notes before this little broadcast because every strum hangs in the air just a little longer than you expect it to. It adds a sense of foreboding to an otherwise lighthearted song.
Next up we’ll come back to earth with some good vibes. It took me a lot longer than it should have to truly appreciate the power of a good chill song. Right now, everyone could use a song that you can put on and just breath for a few minutes. Firestarter is the most recent single from Public Universal Friend’s upcoming album “Perennials” and it is a great song to just relax to. It starts off with a dreamy soundscape and bird sounds before the gentle guitar comes in, often punctuated by some distant riffs. The song occasionally swells, but never so much that it becomes overpowering. It’s just a nice song to close your eyes and vibe to. Also, while you’re listening to this nice, relaxing song, go ahead and google the story of the non-binary icon, the Public Universal Friend.
Now, we’ve centered ourselves, we’ve relaxed for a moment, let’s pick things up. It can be easy to add hip hop/EDM elements to a rock or metal song and have it sound out of place. Echobreak manages to merge these two seamlessly, making Black Lotus sound futuristic and really smooth. The intro made me think it was going to just be a straight up hip hop song, but when that guitar kicks in it was such as pleasant surprise. It’s like Oceans Ate Alaska’s last album, but with clean vocals. You have a very danceable beat underpinning some relatively heavy guitar riffs, and I wish I could see it performed live, because both of these genres shine way more on a stage than in my headphones.
Alright, let’s get a little experimental. When was the last time you listened to an instrumental song? Instrumental music is interesting, because it allows musicians to play with some weirder time signatures and rhythms that usually wouldn’t be possible with vocals. One of Tensor’s latest singles, Chrysalis, does a wonderful job of highlighting these possibilities. A bright, finger-picked guitar soars over deep riffs and chugging bass lines. Toward the end of the song, everything starts to become a little more frantic, and right before it seems like it will fall off the rails, it all drops out and your left with the single, distorted guitar, bookending the song. It’s just as technically impressive as it is just a groovy song.
And of course, you know I had to get some heavy stuff in here. In 2017, Bobaflex released their final album. After their last tour, the band decided to start doing something different, to put Bobaflex in the rearview. Out of those ashes rose The Lonely Ones. Their latest single, Change the Station proves they have no interest in simply living in the shadow of past successes. The song comes out of the gates swinging before isolating the vocals while all the instruments are turned way down, then smacking you right back in the face with the chorus. Even if you don’t headbang, the song will make you want to bang your head. It’s “grit your teeth and jump in a pit” music. If you’re hitting that 3 p.m. slump at work, put Change the Station on and you’ll be ready to kick the afternoon’s ass.
To keep the energy up, we’re going to venture into the punk rock side of things. Starting out with an incredible bassline that permeates the whole song, Doppelganger is the last single Unrivaled released before their debut album “Quarter Life Crisis” dropped at the tail end of January. It’s a great driving punk song that makes you want to get up and do something. Next time you decide to go out for a run, throw this song on to get that extra little boost you need. It does a great job of conveying motion without being such a breakneck pace that it is hard to keep up with. It’s just a damn good punk song, it would fit right in on a Tony Hawk Pro Skater soundtrack.
Now that we’re all pumped up, lets head into the weekend with some fun. Luckily for us, Thomas and the Work-Men specialize in making fun music and their latest single, Why Can’t I Ever Say No is a shining example of this. One warning, this song will get stuck in your head. You will be humming the chorus all day long. The vocals sound great, the guitar solo is slick as hell, the music video is absolutely delightful, what more could you possibly want from a song? And if that hasn’t sold you yet, there’s a horn section on the song! Once again, more people need to use horns, and Thomas and the Work-Men use them masterfully.
It can be easy to feel like there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel right now. Dealing with a pandemic, seasonal depression, and just the everyday stress of life can feel crushing. But the sun is starting to come out. The days are starting to be a little longer. The light at the end of the tunnel may feel incredibly faint, but it is there, I promise.
So, do yourself a favor. Grab some headphones, turn up some new, local music, and go take a walk. Get some sun on your skin, even if its just the half of your face that isn’t covered by a mask. Breath in some of that crisp Ohio air. And take a deep breath. We got this. We’ll be back at the Big Room Bar listening to our favorite artist again before you know it.
Click below for the complete playlist…
A Playlist For Spring…