Another week, another playlist. Thankfully for me, we’ve only got 35 minutes worth of music across 12 songs. Unfortunately for me, this is a really consistent set of songs. Almost all of them could have ended up in the top five. Not only that, these songs easily trounce the majority of material from last week’s playlist full of new adds. If you haven’t already, go listen to the playlist. It’s probably the best one KTRM has put out this semester, and that’s saying a lot because we’ve had some stellar playlists thus far. Anywho, here are the top 5 best KTRM new adds from Nov. 18.
This song is fun! Can I just leave it at that? No? Alright then. “Cooler Returns” by Kiwi Jr. is jangly, indie rock rather reminiscent of power pop classic “What I Like About You” by The Romantics. Are Kiwi Jr. actively ripping off The Romantics? I doubt it, and even if they were, this track struts so much that you can’t help but enjoy it. Plus, “What I Like About You” wishes it had as tasteful of a guitar solo as this song does. It’s a fuzzy, wah wah laden thing of beauty that finds a fine balance between showing off and not trying to over-complicate things. In other words, it’s near perfect.
Last week I put in a track with some slight jazz inclinations. This week we’ve got a full-on jazz number featuring scat vocals, extended brass features and copious amounts of improvisation. All in the span of four minutes! Talk about a tight composition. My favorite part in the song comes from keyboardist Yohan Kebede who gives us this moody, lyrical solo that lasts for about a minute. It’s gorgeous.
Time for another comparison. “King of Misdirection” shares a similar opening riff to that of Styx’s “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights).” They have a similar melodic sequence, but “King of Misdirection” has a slightly simpler riff. Minor observation aside, these two songs couldn’t be any further apart from each other, musically speaking. “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)” is pompous arena-prog while “King of Misdirection” is closer to experimental soul music. It’s not afraid to turn heads, which is largely thanks to the offbeat instrumental passages that are neither overly flashy nor sparsely minimalist. Instead, it’s economical playing that challenges the listener by going down psychedelic, discordant pathways.
“Are you gonna talk about the lyrics?” asked no one ever. Look, I like a good set of lyrics as much as the next person, especially being that I’m a creative writing major, but I don’t go to songs for the lyrics. I go for the music. That being said, these are some memorable lyrics. While many of them are not appropriate for repeating, I will admit that “play Tetris till my eyes fall out” is a perfect encapsulation of what it’s like to be a teenager/young adult in today’s world. Moving away from that one line, it’s clear that this song excellently articulates the feelings of longing and despair many of us face during times of stress. This is all amplified by Little Hag’s dark, vulnerable contralto which gives the lyrics an added level of depth.
Before I reveal my number one pick, here are some honorable mentions.
The Doors meet REM. You’ve got bluesy psychedelia, a galloping rhythm, twangy guitar tone and a cowboy-like swagger from Josh Loftin. All this together and you’ve got a truly distinct all-American sound . . . by a bunch of South Londoners. Huh. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.
Icy new wave revivalism that is just as cold as the Russian winter that Molchat Doma have no doubt experienced. I might not know what they’re saying — because it’s in Russian — but that doesn’t stop this song from being an earworm.
And taking the coveted number one position for the best new add of Nov. 18. is…
Did I put this track at number one simply because it uses the marimba? Perhaps. Looking beyond the use of this wonderful percussion instrument, what makes this song great is its atmosphere. There’s an ominous undertone that pervades the song, only for everything to dissipate during the chorus which is bright, but not blinding. A wonderful bop.