Group Feature: Our Back-to-School Playlist

We’re a month into the semester and already a few days into fall – back-to-school time moves quickly. There are classes, work, and endless introductions to be made. Keeping up with it all is daunting, but we’ve got some tunes to help you hold it together. Here are our picks to bring in the new school year.

Tanner Bidish, Visual Media Director: “Wake Up” by Sudan Archives

Sudan Archives released a self-titled EP with Stones Throw in mid-July, and since then – through the summer’s linger heat waves – I’ve been bumping these fire tracks. Experimental rhythms mix with R&B grooves and astoundingly graceful vocals. The result is a soothing tone so poised you feel moved to jam along with it.

While it’s a tough call, my favorite from the EP is “Wake Up”. It’s about knowing you’re good enough, even when you’re alone. It imbues confidence and acceptance, and for that, it needs to be on this list. Everyone needs a little of that confidence and acceptance when heading into a new semester.

Jon Fuchs, Music Director: “Moontalk” by Laurel Halo

“Moontalk”, one of the highlights of Laurel Halo’s new album, Dust, is one of the most mind-blowing songs to come out this year. It’s a warm, absurd pop song that works perfectly as a late summer/early fall banger, using a sunny, peppy beat that fits perfectly with the strange yet beautiful Japanese chorus.

Halo’s inner train of thought comes out in the lyrics, which put you in these strange, repetitive scenarios she makes up. The song’s energetic attitude and undeniably catchy instrumental are perfect for listening to in any scenario you can think of: in the car, in the shower, on your morning jog, whenever. It also makes for the perfect song to blast while you celebrate the last few weeks of blistering hot weather and embrace fall again.

Devon Hannan, Editorial Director: “Sportstar” by (Sandy) Alex G

After seeing this song performed live – next to one of my all-time favorite bands – “Sportstar” and (Sandy) Alex G keep getting better and better. Serving as a contrast to the rest of Alex’s 2017 release, Rocket, “Sportstar” may have seemed a little bit out of place. Maybe not as out of place (and absolutely killer) as “Brick”, but still pretty out there. Surrounded by a sea of folky banjo-soaked ballads, “Sportstar” had vocal distortion and piano chords dripping at every corner.

While this may not have been everybody’s favorite on the album, it still definitely deserves a spot on this list. There’s just something about this super autotuned, silly love song that reminds me of beer-doused, smelly fest weekends. The lines, “Let me tie your Nikes / Holding on for sport star / Let me wear your jersey / If you want to hurt me / Hurt me” just scream Mill Fest. (Not that I ever went, of course… But now that you mention it, if Mill Street bumped some Alex G, I might consider it.) Or maybe it reminds me of my economics class: I know my professor is saying something, but I don’t really care to know what it is. She just sounds really neat.

Justin Cudahy, Columns Editor: “We Got The Power” by Gorillaz

We are currently in the middle of one of the most politically divided times in our country’s history. With protests becoming the norm now, it’s just a matter of which will be the next one to result in a mass arrest or thousands of dollars in property destruction or a protestor getting killed.

“We Got The Power” is an ode to fighting for what is right and teaching us that if we work together, we can accomplish anything. In this track, lead singer Damon Albarn is joined by Savage’s frontwoman Jehnny Beth who reminds us that our history was built on protests with lyrics such as, “We did it before and we’ll do it again // We’re indestructible even when we’re tired”. Along with that, American rapper D.R.A.M. and Albarn’s longtime Brit-pop rival Noel Gallagher join in on the track’s optimistic chorus, pointing out “We got the power to be loving each other no matter what happens…”. It’s an important song that reminds ourselves as we go back to school that we are the future of this country, and it is never too early to move forward and start changing it.

Claire Klodell, Copy Editor: “Glowing Brightly” by Florist

Meditation comes in a multitude of forms. I tried yoga for a bit, but felt impressed and threatened by the woman over the age of 65 holding a handstand for longer than my lifespan. Silent meditation made me fall asleep, but listening to music has always reigned superior.

Florist began dropping spontaneous singles, hinting at her new album, If Blue Could Be Happiness. Listening to “Glowing Brightly” with my eyes closed makes me forget how much student debt I’m drowning in. It’s essential to find songs which cater to your emotions, for whatever you may be feeling.

Marvin Dotiyal, Staff Writer: “Weebi FM” by CANADIAN SOFTBALL

I am such a sucker for the mid-2000s post-hardcore sound—just bring the Drop C riffs and the angst-ridden screams to the table, and I am wholeheartedly satisfied. YouTube personality Jarrod Alonge milks the cheese to the max in Awkward & Depressed, taking alternative, pop-punk, emo, post-hardcore and other genre clichés to another level. Here’s one of them.

With a title referencing a Hawthorne Heights’ track, “Weebi FM” captures that nostalgic era in post-hardcore when Alesana was the shit and Ronnie Radke swung microphones back in Escape the Fate.

The lyrics are downright hilarious and sardonic, poking fun at the whole “weeaboo culture” (hence the title), not to mention Alonge’s impersonation of Radke’s vocals is unbelievably spot-on. This song is a total banger, just like the rest of the album. Check it out if you haven’t already; it’s the biggest circle-jerk of alternative genres – a musical masterpiece of satire.

Maria Lubanovic, Staff Writer: “Walking on a Dream” by Empire of the Sun

“Walking on a Dream” by Empire of the Sun is a bop for the everyman. It’s immediate indie-electronic bliss. The lyrics are fun, the beat is good, and it’s a great song for pretty much every situation.

The last album from Empire of the Sun was awesome and has a lot of other songs like this one. I wake up to this song almost every morning and it always puts me in a good mood. And honestly, the school year desperately needs feel-good songs. College is hard, man. Take care of yourselves.

Catie Bugos, Contributor: “Some Kind of Love” by The Killers

Some of the best things in life include The Killers, new music, and a soothing ballad. “Some of Kind of Love” is the newest single from their upcoming album, Wonderful Wonderful . Excitingly enough, the album will be the first studio album the band has put out since 2012.

With school starting back up for most people, “Some Kind of Love” encompasses a relaxing, 80s atmosphere for chilling out with friends or a significant other, or just staying up until three in the morning doing the unthinkable. The song emits a nostalgic feeling of lust and love, whether that be a lover or some friends. This track takes on a pretty heavy ambient influence in the backing layers. A choir of children can also be heard during the song’s bridge. Anyone in need of emotional support or is battling internal setbacks can easily relate to “Some Kind of Love”. Based on the three current singles out, Wonderful Wonderful is set to be an impressive piece of today’s rock music.

Hunter Bych, Contributor: “Stress by Jim’s Big Ego

Jim Big Ego‘s “Stress” is a song I find relatable in not only how I work, but also how it makes me feel about work, college, etc. I tend to use stress as a motivator for all my work by cutting deadlines close, but then afterward I binge watch something on YouTube until I get fidgety and start thinking about work again.

Thoughts about traveling, leisure activities, and relationships just kind of get pushed to the side when I have school and other things to think about. I justify it all by saying, “Travelling is expensive and I’m probably going to lose something or feel horrible about it or I probably would hate it”. The laid-back jazzy feeling that compliments the vocals and message of the song fits in perfectly with my morning routine. It’s an insanely catchy song that I don’t mind putting on repeat a few times, just to give me some sentience before class.

Emily DiAlbert, Contributor: “Navy Blue” by Hasani

The thought of heading back to school evokes dozens of emotions in everyone. For me, the main two are anxious and stressed. Over the summer, when I put together my own back to school playlist, I considered which tracks would calm me down when school got to be too much. My favorite song on that playlist is “Navy Blue” by Hasani.

“Navy Blue” uses calm, colorful electronic instrumentals and highlights Hasani’s silvery voice. The calmness of the song pulls you out of the stress of reality and places you into a serene utopia– it’s almost as if you’re floating through space while you listen.

When experiencing overwhelming emotions, it’s best to step back and take time for yourself. “Navy Blue” lets you escape life for a couple minutes to get grounded. Then, when it’s over, it’s easy to go back to kicking reality’s ass.

Eric Perzanowski, Contributor: “Sugar” by Vattnet

As a cold, jaded fifth-year senior, I have found myself becoming less and less excited for forthcoming albums. Perhaps I have been burnt too many times by lackluster efforts, or maybe I’ve put in too much hope that everything I hear will be a 10/10, album-of-the-year candidate. However, an album that had been on my horizon from the moment it was announced to the second it was released was the self-titled full-length from the newly rebranded Vattnet.

Getting ready for the day, walking to class, doing schoolwork, lounging around my living room, going to bed: all of these events have been given a Vattnet soundtrack. “Sugar” gets the nod for this feature because it wasn’t one of the three pre-released singles. Given that there are eight tracks, one of which is an interlude, the process of elimination came down to the lack of explicit lyrics. Darn those dang expletive laws.

Allegra Solomon, Contributor: “Sweet Sixteen” by Think About Life

“Sweet Sixteen” from Think About Life was a Discover Weekly gem I came across this summer that helped my summer playlist go from “good” to “great”. Vibrant from start to finish, the 2009 energetic hit is the perfect song to listen to as summer comes to a close and fall commences. It’s the kind of song you time your walking with just to get the full experience, and before you know it, you’re dancing in public places. There is no dull moment.

This three-minute and forty-four-second jam was made for mood lifting and windows down jam sessions in the car with friends. Catchy is an understatement, and the chances of you knowing the words by the end of the song are very high. Give the song a listen and see if you can make it all the way through without nodding your head.

Listen to our playlist here:

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