Always on my mind

Sometimes there are songs that spark something sweet in you for a few days, weeks, months and then are gone in the blink of an eye. You’ll find them again going through an old iTunes folder, or clicking through posts friends made on your Facebook wall years ago. Gleaming gems, a past obsession, a slice of you you’d long forgotten. I hope I find these sparklers again in a few years, and think about the weeks when the weather slipped from summer into fall and I was biking down bumpy cobblestone streets, scraping my knees, staying out late, and thinking I was pretty lucky.

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Fat freddy’s drop

I called my Mom on my way to the show. I was nervous. It had only been three days since the horror of this weekend; the images of bloodshed and grief burned in my mind’s eye, fear and disbelief subtle but palpable in my home city. At work, we reported and wrote and thought about it all day. At lunch, the street next to our office was cordoned off with police tape. A suspicious looking car parked halfway down the street and a string of small explosions – though how far away we couldn’t tell – turned out to be a false alarm.

I didn’t feel brave. It was raining and I talked to my Mom, looking for reassurance. It seemed foolish to go to a concert; foolish not to. We can’t let these things limit our freedom, we both said.

As I’m checking my coat, wine glass in hand, drinking fast, a little claustrophobic in the crowd, my phone buzzes. My Mom, and then my brother, both suddenly anxious, both asking me to leave. I just don’t understand why you have to be there, my brother says – usually so even-keel, so quick to make fun of my tendency to overthink. I don’t know what to tell them – that’s what I say. I tell them I love them and I hang up.

I slip into the crowd. And into a dream. It’s ecstatic, delirious, loud. Everyone’s getting down. I keep my head down a little while, and start to move. The beat is so smooth. I feel safe and intensely lucky. Alive and totally enraptured. Fat Freddy’s Drop reminded me of the good things tonight. I’m so fucking grateful.

Tender Games – Notion EP

I fell under Tender Games’ spell with a track called “Lost”; a smooth, jazzy, knock-out of a tune that for weeks I found myself humming at night and waking up to in the morning. In other words— and another language— a classic “Ohrwurm.” Now Spotify tells me the German duo’s released a new EP, Notion. These are deeper mixes. And hey, the weather’s changing — it’s officially autumn in this part of the world — why not switch gears, revel in a little darkness. These guys are the real deal, and this is slow, sexy, swoon-worthy stuff. Hit play. See what happens.



Låpsley – Pick me up

The sun’s just set on the far side of my balcony and bottle of wine, but stateside you might be counting down the minutes left on the digital clock next to that open Excel spreadsheet. Or stepping onto the subway. Revving out of a driveway, into the California sunset (who knows).

And in that case: evening commutes. My favorite playlists are all about them. That galvanizing mix of exhaustion and possibility that hits at dusk, when you step into that evening’s freedom. There’s nothing better – when your last caffeine high has worn off and you’re suddenly stupidly tired – than leaving the office and a stack of finished or unfinished business behind you with a steady, seductive beat in your ears. Letting your thoughts untangle, your feet hit the pavement in time to something secret and soulful. Something simple. Plotting your next adventure, or heading home to revel in doing absolutely nothing.

Either way, hope you do just that.

jj – Still

This first post had to be a shout out to WalterCronkTight and D-Man – two favorite Cape Town brus who shared great tunes and more than a few bottles of whiskey with me one long ago semester abroad. Here’s to that perfect Penrose playlist and heady summer nights out on Long Street.

Still is an old favorite, picked up somewhere by chance, downloaded and first played one too many times on a particularly grey bus ride to Boston. It’s held up over the years, eery and surprising – though what I still love most is the quiet, trouble-making coolness of it, the concentrated way it swerves and seduces. If it feels like it’s over far too quickly, you’re totally right.