Every week at WSUM, our Music Director, Arthur, chooses his favorite new releases to add to our music library. In turn, WSUM’s Music Journalism Club shares what records they’ve had on repeat. From new releases to classic albums, here’s what the members of MJC have been listening to earlier this year when Arthur said he would do these weekly.
Sidney Gish, Ed Buys Houses
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Buckets of Fun”, “Homecoming Serf”, “Hexagons and Other Fun Materials”
RIYL: Girlpool, Soccer Mommy, Radiator Hospital
I cannot get enough of Sidney Gish. In December, I racked up 768 plays of her songs; given that most of that is from two albums, the replayability is clear. I think that speaks to the quality of Gish’s songwriting, whose chops are on display throughout Ed Buys Houses. The Bostonian singer-songwriter’s first album is full of references to suburbia, high-school dances, and dinosaurs both plastic and petrified. Gish’s lyrics are playful but not without substance, sung in rhythms that aren’t always predictable yet are clearly planned (the delivery of “And all the arachnids I’m supposed to eat by accident miraculously exit” on “Buckets of Fun” sticks out). Ed Buys Houses is devastatingly clever and all too familiar, in many ways reminiscent of the Ben Folds Five of the late 90s. A must-listen!
— Will Mandel
David Kauffman & Eric Caboor, Songs from Suicide Bridge
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Kiss Another Day Goodbye,” “Life Without Love,” “Life and Times on the Beach,” “Midnight Willie”
GENRE: Contemporary folk, singer / songwriter, americana, slowcore
RIYL: Red House Painters, Nick Drake, American Music Club, Sun Kil Moon
It’s hard to write about Songs from Suicide Bridge, the title is indicative, as one might imagine, of the music carrying an overwhelming sense of sorrow. This is the case, the album is nearly 55 minutes of regret and tales of tragedy, and while the album excels at delivering haunting slow songs, one of the strongest examples of this being the opening track “Kiss Another Day Goodbye,” there is much more going in this album than just dirges. For example, the intricate guitar work and songwriting of the tracks “Neighborhood Blues” and “Life Without Love” provide a more spirited take on the album’s depressive folk. While a term like “slowcore” wouldn’t come into fruition until many years later, I do feel that on some level the sonic palette of this album reflects some aspects of the genre, with its intimate performances and lyrics sharing some resemblance to a foundational bands within the genre like Red House Painters or American Music Club. Overall, there’s much more that could be said about Songs from Suicide Bridge, I didn’t cover the honest and harrowing lyrics that encompass the album, nor did I give a complete picture of how powerful many of the albums performances are. What I can tell you is that if you are in interested in emotionally heavy and poignant music Songs from Suicide Bridge is a definite recommendation.
— Matt Jarosinski
The Young Veins, Take a Vacation!, 2010, One Haven
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Cape Town,” “Young Veins (Die Tonight),” “Everyone but You,” “Lie to the Truth”
GENRE: Psychedelic rock, blues, alternative/indie rock
RIYL: The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Zombies, Panic! at the Disco (Pretty Odd Era)
Following their departure from Panic! at the Disco in 2008, Ryan Ross and Jon Walker spawned their own group, introducing the world to The Young Veins in 2010. Take a Vacation! is a project heavily inspired by the 1960’s, repackaging psychedelic pop for a newer generation with sweet harmonies, twangy guitars and simple lyrics narrating stories of love, deception, youth and desire. Elements of folk and blues are melded together to produce a sound that’s timelessly contagious, an album one can come back to over and over. Songs like “Change,” “Heart of Mine ” and “Cape Town” echo The Beatles’ Abbey Road, joyous songs with an air of celebration. The titular track, “Take a Vacation” is one that can be played in car rides with the windows rolled down, speeding one’s way to the beach. Simultaneously, tunes such as “Everyone but You,” “The Other Girl,” “Dangerous Blues” and (the underrated) “Lie to the Truth” tonally balance out the precedent delight as folksy blues lamenting over love. Still, the album as a whole manages to remain light, balancing mournful lyrics with a gleeful soundscape. Colorful, breezy, nostalgic and tethering just dangerously close to being a full-fledged 60’s tribute rather than presenting an original sound, Take a Vacation! manages to still sound fun, enjoyable enough to warrant multiple listens.
— Ria Dhingra
Taylor Janzen, Interpersonal (2018, 2MM)
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “The Waiting Room”, “Stations”
GENRE: Singer/Songwriter, alternative/indie
RIYL: Phoebe Bridgers, Jensen McRae, Eliza McLamb
Taylor Janzen’s Interpersonal has been on repeat in my brain for months. The day I stumbled upon her music, I instantly fell in love. If you need a good cry, she is your girl! With only four songs on her debut EP, she has perfectly captured the heart-crushing realities of mental illness, abusive relationships and self-hatred under the guise of religion. The composition of each song is quite simple, usually only a guitar and vocals, but her lyrics and layered harmonies are the shining stars of this collection. With Interpersonal, Janzen proves herself to be more than capable of vivid storytelling and revealing the inner workings of a pained mind. Though she has released a second EP and a fair amount of singles since her debut, I am waiting on the edge of my seat for her first full album.
— Jillian Turner
Jeff Rosenstock, WORRY. (2016, SideOneDummy Records)
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “We Begged 2 Explode,” “Pash Rash,” “To Be a Ghost…,” “Perfect Sound Whatever”
GENRE: Alternative, punk rock, pop punk
RIYL: Modern Baseball, Remo Drive, Beach Bunny
There are favorite albums, and then there are albums that reshaped you as a person – scooped out the old, mixed it up, and threw it all back in – all the while saying, go about your day now, why don’t you? From the opening cut “We Begged 2 Explode” to the side 2 medley (conceived after a friend suggested to Rosenstock, “why don’t you just Abbey Road it?”), Jeff Rosenstock’s WORRY. grips you in a perfect storm of loud guitar riffs, gritty open-throated vocals, and a dissection of the energy-sapping cycles of commodification, commercialization, and alienation. Within the eye of this storm, Rosenstock screams, in perfect punk rock going-for-broke fashion, the question: what does it mean to love – art, each other, ourselves? His sound, defined and audacious as ever, underlines the agony, so often handled quietly, of always being sold something, of trying to thrive in life and love when haunted by the inhumanity that seems to creep around every corner of our lives – from a renovated apartment in a neighborhood facing gentrification to drones capturing images of protestors (fighting an internal battle, too, against collective cynicism and the apathy offered by consumerism). WORRY. hasn’t left my rotation since the first time I listened to it – like all favorite albums, at the exact time I needed to; in short, existential dread has never sounded or felt this cathartic.
– Anna Thompson
Celtic Thunder, Homeland (2021)
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Heartland”, Toora Loora Lay”, “Rise Again”, “Galway Girl”, “Buachaille On Eirne”
GENRE: Folk rock, Irish/Celtic folk
RIYL: Celtic Women, Il Volo
I must admit, listening to Celtic Thunder is the ultimate nostalgia for me – probably the first band I really listened to consistently and followed throughout their continuing over-decade-long legacy. The typically five or six member group has produced many albums over the years, and they are known for dazzling live shows with dramatic lighting and sound productions that add to their astounding vocal performances. The perfect example of this are songs like “Take Me Home,” where the band’s voices align in powerful, magnificent harmonies, while songs such as “Buachaille On Eirne” or “The Isle of Innisfree” showcase each member’s individual vocals. Aside from the incredible vocals that range from the intensity of “Heartland” to the cheer of “Toora Loora Lay,” it’s the way the songs are performed that make this album – among many of their others – so special. In the words of group member Ryan Kelly, people enjoy Irish music for the stories and memories, and from a mix of traditional Celtic songs to contemporary tracks like a remake of Ed Sheeran’s “Castle On The Hill”, this band knows how to make an audience feel at home, and that translates from the stage to the album.
— Martha Kowalski