Conventional and Unconventional Study Music

Over the years, I’ve had a long and somewhat tumultuous relationship with what music I use to study. Sometimes it’s too distracting, sometimes it doesn’t fit the vibe, sometimes it definitely needs lyrics, others, it definitely doesn’t. Here is a comprehensive, somewhat chaotic, journey into what music I use to study.


Let’s start with the basics: instrumentals. Two artists I’ve relied heavily on for instrumentals that aren’t just lo-fi or classical music are STRFKR and Louie Zong. STRFKR has an indie-pop feel whereas Louie Zong leans more toward jazz. These two artists are great for if I need to complete a reading, do some writing, or do anything that requires a bit more thinking.


Now let’s get a little bit more obscure: dance music. Do you have a task to complete that doesn’t require a whole lot of thinking? Dance music is great for this (in my experience). Think Pitbull, LMFAO, Daft Punk, Black Eyed Peas, or anything else that is fast-paced, good-spirited, and makes you feel like you can conquer the world (or an excel spreadsheet). 


Okay, now it’s time to address perhaps the most peculiar of the music I’ve used to study: “Mario Kart” music. Now, this certainly wasn’t my idea, I saw it on Tik Tok, but it worked. I’m unsure of whether it was just a placebo effect, or whether it was actually the real deal. However, I did get around forty minutes into the 10 hour loop of “Coconut Mall” on YouTube, and around half an essay written. The fast paced nature of the track and my familiarity with it due to many hours spent playing “Mario Kart” as a child make it perfect for grinding out something I’ve been procrastinating for a while.

I have a study playlist that centers around the more conventional study music if you’re interested in checking that out.

Until next time,


Classic Album Review

Album Review: “More Adventurous (U.S. Release)” by Rilo Kiley

ALBUM: “More Adventurous (U.S. Release)” by Rilo Kiley


LABEL: Warner Bros. Music, Brute/Beaute Records

RATING: 9/10

BEST TRACKS: “Portions for Foxes,” “Accidntel Deth,” and “It’s a Hit”

FCC: Explicit

The early 2000s were a time in which much indie music was being created, and in my opinion, this is some of the best of it. With singles “It’s A Hit,” “Portions for Foxes” and “I Never,” this album is chock-full of indie rock bangers. Rilo Kiley, a California-based band, has a very beachy sound, which can best be seen in tracks “A Man / Me / Then Jim” and “The Absence of God.”

Band members Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett are responsible for the writing of all eleven tracks on this 44-minute-long album, and they did an excellent job. They juxtapose a happy major-key sound with sad and poetic lyrics. Two of the album’s tracks, “Ripchord” and “It Just Is” are about the then-recent and tragic passing of singer-songwriter Elliott Smith.

There are moments where the lyrics feel kitschy and awkward, as they try to be political but at some points just fall short, but not enough that it ruins the listening experience of the album.

Jenny Lewis’ vocals carry this album, as Blake Sennett only did vocals on a couple tracks on this album, unlike in Rilo Kiley’s previous works. Her vocals particularly shine on “I Never” and “More Adventurous.”

“Portions for Foxes,” the strongest track on the album, is used consistently in the television series “Grey’s Anatomy.” Other tracks, like “I Never” and “Ripchord” were also frequently featured in various soundtracks in the 2000s.

Overall, this album feels like an embodiment of 2000s indie pop/rock, and is one of my favorite albums of all time.

Until next time,


Band/Artist Profile

Jack Antonoff: Pop Music Connoisseur

Jack Antonoff is a musician, writer and producer, who has been a part of many corners of the pop music industry. From being the guitarist and percussionist in Fun., to producing the soundtrack for the film “Love Simon”, to heading two of his own bands (Steel Train and Bleachers), to writing and producing for artists like Taylor Swift, Lorde, St. Vincent, The Chicks, Lana Del Rey: Jack Antonoff has done it all. He has done a great job of not only making a name for himself but also creating a sound for himself. So what makes his producing and writing so great? Grandiosity, honesty and a whole lot of synths.

As summed up in a review of Bleachers’ second album “Gone Now” by Pitchfork, Jack Antonoff doesn’t create the sleek and palatable pop music that is typical of the Top-40 Charts. His sound, especially in his solo projects, is chock-full of horns, bright piano, synths and samples. The grandiosity of his second album, “Gone Now,” was compared to Elton John in a Rolling Stone review. This same larger-than-life sound coupled with a good hook makes many of the songs he writes/produces addicting. Some examples of this being “Cruel Summer” and “Out of the Woods” by Taylor Swift, “Green Light” by Lorde and “Strawberries and Cigarettes.” Not everything he produces is as extravagant as those though, he also knows how to produce a down-to-earth ballad as can be seen in “Crowded Places” by Banks and much of “folklore,” Taylor Swift’s eighth album. 

There’s a certain honesty that comes with a song written by Antonoff. The best example of this radical honesty is, “I Wanna Get Better,” the hit single off of Bleachers’ first album, “Strange Desire.” Antonoff has been very open about losing his younger sister, Sarah, to cancer when he was 18. “I Wanna Get Better” is an autobiographical excerpt from that low period in his life. Many of the songs he writes and co-writes have themes of self-improvement and/or insecurity, “The Archer” by Taylor Swift and “Liability” by Lorde are great examples of this. Much of his work with Bleachers touches on themes of growing up in New Jersey, young love, childhood and heroes. It all feels very authentic, and, like the New York Times put it, sets him apart from the methodical and scientific approach to pop music others in the industry favor.

The mixture of extravagant instrumentals, authenticity in his songwriting and his love for synths is Antonoff’s signature, and his approach has been rewarded with critical acclaim. He’s won four Grammys for his work and is still actively creating. He recently released two singles at the end of last year, “45” and “chinatown (feat. Bruce Springsteen)” ahead of an album release that should be coming sometime in 2021. Until then, you can check out a playlist by Spotify user Nathaniel Cruel that has every song Antonoff has ever produced.

Until next time,


Image courtesy of Tyler Garcia (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Miscellaneous Short Stories

Summer Rewind: Spotify and Summers Past

One of my favorite things about Spotify is the curated playlists made just for you, especially the yearly rewinds; it’s so interesting and gratifying to see how my listening habits change over the years. There was one playlist that caught my eye recently called “Your Summer Rewind,” which features some of my most-played songs from past summers. As I scrolled through the playlist, memories flooded back of when, where, and who I was during those summers.

There are the classic upbeat summer songs about being happy and loving the sun, like “Shotgun” by George Ezra, “Sunflower,” by Rex Orange County, and “Sunshine” by Tom Misch. But most of the songs are all tied to a specific memory,  place, or person.

Summer 2019, the summer before my freshman year of college, I was very emotional about leaving home, I even made a whole playlist about it. That explains “Nobody” by Mitski, “A Little More” by Catie Turner, and “A World Alone” by Lorde. A few weeks into college, I couldn’t stop listening to “Halo” by Beyonce, so that too, wormed its way onto my playlist.

Summer 2018, I listened to “Blonde” by Frank Ocean all summer, so “Pink + White” and “Nights” made it on the list. I remember listening to “Nights” for the first time at the pool with my friends, looking up at the stars, feeling whole. That summer, my friends and I decided it would be fun to memorize the rap in “Determinate,” a song from “Lemonade Mouth,” a Disney Channel Original Movie. I listened to it dozens of times, trying to keep up with the fast-paced lyrics, so many times, that it too made it onto my Summer Rewind.

Summer 2016, I was still mostly listening to pop music, and Jon Bellion had just come out with “The Human Condition.” “Guillotine,” was my favorite song off of that album, and it used to be my most played song of all time. Other songs from that album found their way on the list: “Maybe IDK” and “Morning in America,” just to name a couple.

Summer 2015, I discovered my love for music, and became obsessed with Troye Sivan. His debut album “Blue Neighborhood” and preceding EP “WILD” had yet to come out, so I was listening to “Happy Little Pill” on repeat. I can’t listen to it anymore because of the strong nostalgia it gives me, transporting me back to when I was freshly fourteen years old and not even a freshman in high school. But Spotify doesn’t know that, so onto the playlist it went. 

The playlist is only fifty songs, but it felt like going through old photo albums, reading old texts, and opening a time capsule all at once. When I look through playlists from summers past that I made, I am reminded of the experiences I curated and fantasized, the summer I wish I had; that is not always representative of how things go, or what I end up listening to, it’s subjective. Spotify, a program made with code and algorithms, shows me the tracks I actually listened to most, a third party view of my past.



Miscellaneous Playlists

Australia Favorites

Australia is home to an amazing indie rock and indie pop scene, one I had not discovered until a few years ago. Despite a few Australian artists breaking into the American mainstream over the years such as Vance Joy, Troye Sivan, and Natalie Imbruglia, I had not explored the depths of the Australian music scene. Without further ado, let me highlight some of my favorite songs by some of my favorite Australian artists.

Courtney Barnett – Indie Rock 

  • “Walkin’ On Eggshells”
  • “Elevator Operator”

Mallrat – Pop

  • “Charlie”
  • “Uninvited”

Alex Lahey – Indie Rock

  • “Every Day’s the Weekend”
  • “I Want U”

Last Dinosaurs – Indie Rock

  • “Zoom”
  • “Andy”

Julia Jacklin – Indie Pop

  • “Pressure To Party”
  • “Someday – triple j Like A Version”

Hockey Dad – Indie Rock

  • “Sweet Release”

Tame Impala – Psychedelic Rock

  • “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”

The Jungle Giants – Indie Rock

  • “Creepy Cool”

Skegss – Indie Rock

  • “Spring Has Sprung”

You can listen to this selection of songs on a playlist I made just for you.

Until next time,



The Art of the Musical Cover

One of my favorite aspects of music as an art form is that it inspires more music. It’s safe to say that every artist or band has once been inspired by someone else, and a clear way to show respect for a song or artist that you love, is by covering them. Covers, sometimes, can even become more popular than the original, as can be seen with Whitney Houston’s famous cover of “I Will Always Love You,” originally by Dolly Parton. No matter the context, I love covers, so here are some of my favorites. 

“Swingin Party” covered by Lorde (originally by The Replacements)

Lorde, one of my favorite pop artists, loves bringing theater and drama into her music, which can clearly be seen in her cover of “Swingin Party.” This cover is perfect in so many ways, but perhaps my favorite quality about it, is that it fits so beautifully into her album, “Pure Heroine (Extended).” It takes a lot of skill and mastery for an artist to truly make a cover their own, but I think Lorde does an exemplary job of doing just that.

“Tim McGraw” covered by Maggie Rogers (originally by Taylor Swift)

Maggie Rogers puts a beautiful folk-pop touch on this originally country tune. Like Lorde, Maggie Rogers does an excellent job of making “Tim McGraw” her own. This cover is a Spotify Single, which is a series that Spotify does where they let an artist do a live version of one of their own songs, as well as a cover of a song of their choice. This cover came out in 2018, and I’ve loved it since.

“Say It” covered by girl in red (originally by Maggie Rogers)

Speaking of Maggie Rogers, girl in red did a Spotify Studio cover of “Say It” by Rogers. She puts a rock spin on the once folk-pop song, by making it more up-tempo (she shaves almost a minute off of the song) and adding more percussion and guitar. This cover was released in May of 2020, and was on repeat for several months of quarantine.

“Across the Universe” covered by Fiona Apple (originally by The Beatles)

Fiona Apple covered “Across the Universe” for the “Pleasantville” (1998) soundtrack, a movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Tobey Maguire. I’ve been on a Fiona Apple kick for the last year or so, and when I discovered she had a cover of one of my favorite songs of all time, I was ecstatic. She doesn’t change much from the original, and it’s so lovely and dreamy. Her cover is just over five minutes long, but it floats by in an instant. 

“Such Great Heights” covered by Iron & Wine (originally by The Postal Service)

Even though “Such Great Heights,” by The Postal Service has over 100 million streams on Spotify, I still believe it’s an underrated love song. Iron & Wine puts an acoustic spin on this electronic track, making it all-the-more touching and intimate. Like much of Iron & Wine’s discography, this song feels like a warm hug on a rainy day.

I adore all of these songs and the originals as well. I have an entire Spotify playlist dedicated to these, titled “covers and their counterparts,” which I would love for you to check out. 

Until next time,


Miscellaneous Playlists

February Favorites

For me, 2021 has been about finding music new and old that is good quality and worth listening to. This is evidenced quite clearly by this list being composed of music with release dates that span from 1998 to 2020. Let’s not waste any time and get straight into my February Favorites.

“Let’s Get Out” by Life Without Buildings

Up first, we have “Let’s Get Out,” by Life Without Buildings, an arbitrary but joyous song comprised of slightly nonsensical lyrics. Despite this, it is so addicting to listen to, as the words and phrases seem to have no real meaning behind them, causing them all to flow into each other beautifully. The lead singer of the band, Sue Tompkins, talk-sings amongst an addicting guitar melody engineered by Robert Johnston, upbeat percussion headed by Will Bradley, and a groovy bass-line by Chris Evans (not to be confused with the famous Marvel actor Chris Evans). This song feels like sunny days in January, and I can’t help but smile as I sing along.

“When It Hurts so Bad” by Ms. Lauryn Hill

This year, I finally listened to the critically acclaimed album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” which as a whole has been a favorite of mine thus far in 2021. In the hook of this song, Lauryn Hill laments the question “When it hurts so bad, when it hurts so bad  / Why’s it feel so good?” Hill displays her stunning vocals throughout this song, especially in the chorus. The outro of the song, like a few others on the album, includes a skit of a teacher asking a classroom full of students what love is. Following that story throughout the album is very fun, and makes it all-the-more cohesive. This track is the ultimate song to sing along to in the shower.

“Tarantula” by Wavves

Despite what the title might make you think, this song is not about arachnids, but rather the perfect angry-for-no-good-reason tune. It simultaneously is an upbeat dance tune, while also having fairly nihilistic lyrics, which is my personal favorite type of song. The chorus loudly asserts “Every morning / Toxic waste / Everything sucks / If you don’t get your way.” Wavves makes great indie-rock tunes and this song is a prime exemplar of that fact.

“Simple Math” by Kid Sistr

Kid Sistr started releasing music last year, and it would be no understatement for me to say that I’m obsessed. “Simple Math,” is a beautiful indie-rock ballad about the hard cycle of getting over a relationship.  The chorus, which I love to poorly sing along to, goes “I keep falling back on simple math / It’s all I have / Trying to subtract you / Coming back to simple math.” The intricate lyrics, clean vocals, and slow and somewhat haunting instrumentation comes to a head at the end of the song, where the lead singer belts out the last couple of lines. Kid Sistr is an excellent band, and I especially keep coming back to this song. 

“The Breeze” by Dr. Dog

“The Breeze” is a folkier song from Dr. Dog, a band that tends to lean more toward the genre of rock. This track feels like a winter in the Midwest in a comforting way that I can’t put my finger on quite completely. The folky nature of the song feels like a mixture of Fleet Foxes and “Norwegian Wood” by the Beatles. I can’t speak high enough praises of this song and the pure nostalgia it brings to me, despite only listening to it for the first time a few weeks ago. The lyrics are poetic in nature, my favorite section being the first chorus, which goes “Do you feel like you’re stuck in time? / Forever waiting on that line / If nothing ever moves / Put that needle to the groove / And sing.” 

You can check out a playlist of my favorites, if you so desire.

Until next time,


Music News and Interviews

Interview with the creators of “8NIGHTS,” a Hanukkah love song: Dafna and Cameron Desnoes

Around a week ago, I was scrolling through the endless void that is TikTok, and came across a video where a girl said she recorded a Hanukkah song with a random guy who direct-messaged her on Instagram. She pleaded “Please blow it up so my mom doesn’t get mad at me for hanging out with strangers I meet on the internet.” The song playing was “8NIGHTS” by Dafna and Cameron Desnoes. I promptly opened my Spotify and streamed it and immediately fell in love. This Hanukkah love song had stolen my heart, and I wanted to interview the creators. I messaged Dafna on Instagram and 24 hours later, Cameron, Dafna, and I were on a Zoom call.

Where are you guys from?

Dafna: I’m from Boulder, Colorado.

Cameron: I’m from Indian Wells, California.

How did you guys meet?

Cameron: Um, so basically I heard one of Dafna’s songs on TikTok and I was like “Oh my god, this is so good. This is amazing.” So I immediately looked for her Instagram in the TikTok bio and I DMed her and I was like “Dude, your music’s so good like blah blah blah,” and she was like giving generic responses and I was like “Hey you know, like if you’re ever… if you ever want to collab sometime here’s my SoundCloud, give it a listen.” And then she listened and then we just started talking about funny things and then long story short found out that she vacations in Palm Desert and she was going to be there when I was there, and that’s like five minutes from me and then it all worked out.

Oh that’s so cool, it’s like the circle of life because I found out about this song from TikTok.

Dafna: TikTok is just bringing us all together, y’know?

What was the inspiration/ where did you get the idea for 8NIGHTS?

Dafna: So, I have always kind of wanted to write a Hanukkah song that wasn’t about like dreidels or something stupid. Because I feel like most Hanukkah songs that I know are always just like… no one really listens to it unless it’s as a joke. So I wanted to make one that was actually something that more people would want to listen to because it’s a song, not just because it’s a funny Hanukkah song. And I think holiday songs are always better as duets which is why I asked Cameron to sing it with me. 

What are you guys’ favorite holiday traditions? 

Dafna: I guess just like being with family. Hanukkah is eight nights, it’s always hard to have all of us there, I have a pretty big family, there’s seven of us, so it’s hard to have all of us there every single night. But having at least one night where we’re all there eating dinner, lighting candles, and then like, that’s pretty much it.

Cameron: Um, kind of similarly, I really love my family, I love being back. I’m the youngest of four and everyone was gone to college and stuff, so especially when I was little it was great to just see everyone all together. And we do stupid events like family olympics where we make up little games or we’d play game nights after dinner and that along with just the idea of the holidays. We’re not the most religious family ever but I love the traditions we have and the presents we give, and getting matching pajamas and stuff like that, that’s what I love. 

Who are your biggest musical inspirations/role models?

Cameron: That’s pretty tough, but I would say I definitely find inspiration from a lot of different types of music. I’d say my favorite artist, and just one that I’ve always loved because of his passion is Bradley Nowell who was the lead singer of Sublime. I really like him, but I don’t know, I… come back to me for my second one, give me a second.

Dafna: I’d have to say Vulfpeck, they’re just my favorite band and I always listen to their music. Their music is fun and it always puts me in a good mood, so probably them. Or Phony Ppl, I just started listening to them too, and they’re more R&B-ish, and I really like them too.

Cameron: Yeah, I’m gonna stick with my first answer.

Do you have any party tricks or weird talents?

Dafna: I can like, creepily close one eye at a time. 

Cameron: My go-to nowadays is a mean stanky leg. I always pretend like I’m cooking up the pot, and I’m like “What’s that smell? What’s that smell? Oh, it’s stank.” Throw out the stanky leg on them every time. 

How did you each get into making music?

Dafna: My parents put me in piano lessons when I was like four, so that kind of like forced the whole music thing on me, but then I really liked it so I just kept doing it.

Cameron: I also was forced to do piano when I was younger but everyone in my family quit. Then I got into a little bit of musical theater and then a capella. And I just loved music so much, I was like “I have to do it,” and my senior project my senior year, was creating a band. Since then I’ve always wanted to be better at making music, which I’m not, which is why it was awesome to collaborate with Dafna because she is a great producer. 

Cameron, from looking at your Spotify this appears to be your first song, is this your first time working on a song, or just the first one you’ve released?

Cameron: So like I was saying, my senior project was a band and I was the head producer and I was definitely not qualified but, I tried to do some stuff and it sounded okay but I wasn’t confident enough to go through the effort of putting it on Spotify so I threw it on SoundCloud. I’ve always tried, the entire summer this summer, I really worked hard on trying to do my own stuff, but I wasn’t yet proficient enough in Logic that I could express what I wanted to sound like. So I guess the only reason why I was able to release this one was because Dafna is very comfortable with that and so I knew that if I was collaborating with someone who was very comfortable with producing, it would be awesome. 

What’s your favorite song right now?

Dafna: The Taylor Swift album that just came out, I’ve been bumping that, and listening to it like every day, it’s so good.

Cameron: “Hell N Back” by Bakar, if you know who that is.

Dafna: There’s also that one song from TikTok, that Cameron, you were talking about yesterday.

Cameron: “Sensitive”?

Dafna: Yeah, that one.

Cameron: *Plays “Sensitive” by Serena Isioma*

Is there anything else you’re working on/ want to promote?

Dafna: I have an EP that’s coming out in late February or early March, the release is not decided yet.

Cameron: Y’know… I’m a loose cannon so get ready.

If you don’t want to wait until February or March to stream Dafna’s other music, you can check out her Spotify. She has two albums out titled “Submerge” and “I LOVE YOU.” Don’t forget to stream “8NIGHTS” which you can find on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, and iTunes. Finally, be sure to keep an eye out for Cameron, he’s a loose cannon after all.



Band/Artist Profile

Best of Rilo Kiley

Rilo Kiley is my personal favorite indie-rock band from the 2000s. With lead singer Jenny Lewis, lead guitarist Blake Sennett, Pierre de Reeder on bass and guitar, Jason Boesel and Dave Rock on percussion, this band came out with quite a few powerhouse albums throughout their time as a group. If you’re looking to get into some good quality indie-rock that screams “early 2000s,” you’ve come to the right place. Without further ado, let’s dive into the best of… Rilo Kiley.

“Portions for Foxes”

This tune off Rilo Kiley’s album “More Adventurous” is an absolute banger. This guitar heavy track about seeking physical connection to cope makes you want to scream along in the car with all your windows down. Funnily enough, this song was used in the pilot episode of the hit show “Grey’s Anatomy” and is used several times throughout the series whenever an allusion is made to the pilot. Everything about this song is classic 2000s indie-rock, and I love it. This is definitely the song I would recommend listening to first if you’re looking to get into Rilo Kiley.
Favorite Lyric: “’Cause you’re just damage control / For a walking corpse like me.”

“A Better Son/Daughter”

This ballad about the feeling of inadequacy and growing pains immediately became one of my all-time favorites upon my first time listening to it. Jenny Lewis’ whispering vocals in the beginning builds slowly into her borderline screaming toward the end. This track is one for crying to, but still a banger nonetheless. One of their strongest songs lyrically, “A Better Son/Daughter” fits perfectly in with the rest of Rilo Kiley’s album “The Execution of All Things.” I cannot speak highly enough about the album, and if I could include the whole record on this list, I would.
Favorite Lyric: “And crawl back into bed to dream of a time / When your heart was open wide and you loved things just because / Like the sick and the dying.”

“Let Me Back In”

This ode to Los Angeles has a beach-like feel with the main instrumentals being the acoustic guitar. There’s a powerful moment about three-quarters of the way through the song where the lyrics pause for an instrumental breakdown, and the percussion is the sound of clapping hands. The clapping gives it a human spirit, making this song one of my favorites by the band. Favorite Lyric: “And you can bury me when my body breaks / In the earth that created me, in the Golden State.”

“Spectacular Views”

Another lyrically strong track off of “The Execution of All Things,” “Spectacular Views” may be my favorite song by Rilo Kiley. The second verse of this song is just perfect. The band does make some interesting choices regarding instrumentation, with a squeaky recorder sounding breakdown after the second chorus, but I dig it. The track ends with a fragment of another song that’s woven throughout the album called “And That’s How I Choose to Remember It.”
Favorite Lyric: “You never knew why you felt so good / In the strangest of places / Like in waiting rooms / Or long lines that made you late / Or mall parking lots on holidays.”

“Accidntel Deth”

This track contains my favorite production in a Rilo Kiley song as well as my favorite Jenny Lewis vocals in a Rilo Kiley song. The upbeat production and springy instrumentals starkly contrast with the rather dark lyrics about death. With lyrics that read like poetry, this tune is my favorite off of Rilo Kiley’s album “More Adventurous.”
Favorite Lyric: “And the skin you call your home / Holds a heart that quits and knees that buckle in / And lungs that can’t breathe when they’re alone.”

“Silver Lining”

This song is very sonically different from the rest of the tracks I’ve recommended, but still a very strong contender nonetheless. Jenny Lewis’ vocals really shine through on this song about the end of a relationship. It also features my favorite instrument, the triangle, during the bridge; what’s not to love?
Favorite lyric: “And our bruises are coming / But we will never fold.”

Unfortunately, the group disbanded in 2013 after the release of their final album “rkives,” but they are remembered fondly by fans to this day. This was far from the end of the road for their lead singer, Jenny Lewis, who is still releasing music to this day. Other members also went on to continue a career someway or another in the music industry, whether it be through continuing to play live music or by owning their own recording studio. If you want to check out my picks, I curated this playlist for you.



Compiled by Caitlin: Year in Review

Like many of y’all, I was excited to see what my Spotify Wrapped had to tell me about my music habits from this year, but I was especially excited for the 100 song playlist that Spotify curates every year. It’s so gratifying and entertaining to see how my music taste has evolved over time. I want to share my favorites from that playlist with you guys and some memories I have associated with each song. Without further ado, let’s get started. 

“Beautiful Faces” by Declan McKenna

This single off of McKenna’s sophomore album “Zeros” is a guitar heavy indie-rock song and in my opinion, an unforgettable bop. Like most of McKenna’s songs, this one is a thematically heavy but sonically upbeat song. It reminds me of walking around campus and studying in NC State’s library, D.H. Hill, pre-pandemic.

Favorite Lyric: “Going to the stores, pullin’ socks out of the drawers / Of the people who you don’t love anymore.”

“Bittersweet” by Greer

This was one of my favorite songs in the beginning of this year. “Bittersweet” by Greer is an indie-rock anthem about a toxic relationship, and is by far my favorite song by the group. The verses detail the good parts of a relationship while the chorus touches on the bad moments. It’s a catchy tune about love, and definitely falls under the same thematically-sad-sonically-upbeat category I mentioned with “Beautiful Faces.” 

Favorite Lyric: “The solitude is now mine / We made it ‘cross the finish line / And left the whole world behind.”

“Friends” by The Lone Bellow

This mellow folk-rock song about the beauties of a strong friendship is another song that I loved pre-pandemic. The instrumentals in this song tug on my heart; the prominent percussion and strong horns make this song feel like home. Even though I only discovered it this year, it feels like one of those songs I’ve known forever, and I love taking solace in that.

Favorite Lyric: “Might punch the clock feel the void / Calling out like it did before.”

“Ceiling Won’t Break” by Finish Ticket

Okay so, this song made it into my Spotify Wrapped last year too, but it’s just such a classic I never stop listening to it. This is yet another indie-rock song (can you tell what my favorite genre is?) that reminds me of good times and got me through bad times. There’s never a time where “Ceiling Won’t Break” doesn’t fit my mood. Finish Ticket also sings “Lying Through Our Teeth,” which didn’t make it onto my Spotify Wrapped but is still one of my favorites nonetheless.

Favorite Lyric: I close my eyes, takes me away / And I go to better times, but reality draws that line.”

“Wrecking Ball” by Mother Mother

This song might have single handedly gotten me through the entire month of July. After hearing a snippet of this song on TikTok, it got stuck in my head for weeks but I kept forgetting to look it up. Funnily enough, a dear friend of mine put this song on a playlist she made me for my birthday and the rest was history. This indie-rock song, like “Beautiful Faces” and “Bittersweet,” has a rather dark theme, but a rather cheery sound.

Favorite Lyric: “You gotta see the artistry / In tearing the place apart with me baby.”

“So Much Better” by Evan Olson

This funky rock tune is very reminiscent of Barenaked Ladies. It has a very interesting story behind it, as it was lost in time for a few decades, and was rediscovered through the investigative journalism of PJ Vogt in episode #158 of the podcast “Reply All” which you can listen to here. This song, as well as the podcast “Reply All” got me through the beginning months of quarantine this year. The icing on the cake is that Olson is based out of Greensboro, North Carolina.

Favorite Lyric: “Long before I looked into your eyes / I saw a million stars start flashin’.”

“Nickel” by Flipturn

Discovering Flipturn this year drastically changed my life for the better. Their “Citrona” EP was essentially the soundtrack to my February and March. This rock anthem reminds me of better times but similarly to “Friends” by The Lone Bellow, it feels like one of those songs I’ve known forever. 

Favorite Lyric: “But wait, what about yesterday? / I was only five / And had so much to say.”

I hope you enjoyed hearing about my top picks from the year. Be sure to check out these songs here.