Today I was biking through Golden Gate Park jamming to a song I just discovered – It’s called “Weight in Gold” by Gallant. It’s a brilliant song, making want to rock my body into a sea of sequins and rubies dressed in a sparkly Versace onesie only Beyoncé herself could pull off.
I’ve hearing so much great music lately – from co-workers on Slack, Youtube to Mp3 sprints, up in the club, on Spotify, out in the streets – and it made me decide to get all my favorite jams from the last couple of years on one page together for a feel good party of sorts.
This gathering of jams has truly been a journey – Music has the ability to take me places that only light years and black holes would be able to otherwise. As I was collecting all my favorite songs of the San Francisco chapter of my life I listened to each one through. Right from the little fold out chair at my desk I’m transported back to the first time I heard it, the stage of my life where I had it on repeat, the feeling when it comes on and I haven’t heard it in a long time, when a friend and I grab hands and hit the dance floor singing along to every single word.
This post is dedicated to those feelings.
Wolf Alice: Your Love’s Whore
To me, the song is about really f*cking liking someone and just wanting them to like you back.
I discovered this female-led, 90s alternative rock style band on Spotify, tempted to hit play only by the fact that we share a name. Fronted by this sexy, sometimes brooding waif of an English chick (think Twiggy on ketamine in fishnets and stilettos whose electric guitar weighs more than she does), they rock so hard. “Your Love’s Whore” to me is very emblematic of the Wolf Alice sound that defines itself on My Love Is Cool – Part hard, hard rocking/drumming/strumming, parts atmospheric laid-back, and a tad coy all at the same time.
Their concert t-shirt of this album cover that I got when they opened for CHVRCHES last year is one of my prized possessions.
Jamie xx: I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)
Jacob asked me to contribute my three favorite songs to our Customer Success 2015 winter playlist and I Slacked over this song as one of my selections. Total no brainer. “Umm Al,” he Slacked me back, “You know I have so much love for Jamie xx but this song is wildly inappropriate for a work playlist.” Was it? I took another listen. “Imma ride in her p*ssy like a stroller”. Hmmm, okay, point taken. But this remains a classic jam with the minimal Jamie xx and his little triangles providing the chillest beats, some filthy rap lyrics from Young Thug, and the Jamaican Popcaan adding a little sassy island flavor.
Julien Baker: Something
“Whatcha listening to?” I Slacked a co-worker one day and he Slacked me back this song. I think I started crying as soon as her sun-kissed electric guitar riffs off. This girl needs a hug, I need a hug after listening to this song. The heartbreaking regret you feel during a breakup, why is this happening, what can I do, what should I have done … Why are you leaving? This petite woman packs a serious power cord, a sullen solo female alternative to Explosions in the Sky who can deftly electrify sadness.
Banks (Larse Remix): Brain
Banks has a very cool, edgy moody vibe that permeates her album covers, music videos, and sound. I’m a big fan of her her first CD, Goddess, specifically “Beggin’ For Thread” and “Warm Water”, her voice a mix of feminine frail and confident rasp, depending on whether she’s vulnerable or in control.
Brain was one of my favorite tracks from Goddess – It’s dark and ominous, Banks singing slowly but surely til she rains her rage down upon us. I find the lyrics to actually be quite similar in theme to Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” (long live summer 2003) – Basically, you’re a jerk and always putting on a front trying to act like someone you’re not, I know who you really are so come back down to earth because you’re not fooling anyone.
I came across this house remix of Brain on SoundCloud and favored its more upbeat take on a song that otherwise makes you stop in your tracks and a take a beating.
Bomba Estereo: Amanecer
It’s almost impossible for me to stop and pick my favorite song from the album Amanecer – The entire album is off the chain, an energetic fiesta of pomp, amor, hype, and spice. The Bomba concert I went to last year was hands down the greatest show I have ever been to in my life. Some songs are an homage hermosa to the tropical beaches/vibes/lifestyle of Santa Marta, Colombia, a mashup of cumbia/champeta/pop/reggae/electronic. Li sings and raps and laughs her way through a mix of tracks and color that make you want to sway in a hammock on the coast or get so far down low in a sweaty Cartagena discoteca.
I chose the song “Amanecer” for this gathering of fav jams because it’s the first track on the album and sets the tone – Beautiful and nostalgic, but also grab someone, get out of your chair and feel it together. “Amanecer” makes me feel a mix of wistful yearning to be back down traveling around South America and soaking up the sounds of a land so sizzling, while at the same time wanting to jump all around the room waiting for “Caderas” to come on next.
Nick Jonas: Jealous
I visibly remember sitting in a gay bar in the Castro called Moby Dick when this music video came on all the TVs. It was Nick Jonas raw in black and white and a simple tank top and my only reaction was, “Wow, Nick Jonas can get it.”
Dawn Golden: Discoloration
I heard this song at the end of an episode of Shameless, where Fiona and this guy she briefly marries were having f*cked up but really good sex due to some terrible situation that is common to the show’s plot. This song manages to be sorrowful but sexy all at once, which is how I remember sometimes feeling when I moved to SF.
Hugh Hardie: Tearing Me Apart
This song I came across as part of an awesome drum and bass mashup mix by Etherwood I found on SoundCloud a few years ago. I finally just googled the lyrics and found the song itself. Kind of makes me want to swing dance. Sometimes it’s nice to find a song that’s about heartbreak that just makes you want to get up and bob your head around and find someone else to tell you why I love you!!
GRiZ ft. Brasstacks & Eric Krasno: Gotta Push On
Jacob, my music soul mate, and I somehow discovered this song at the same time … Epic jam for the days where I’m feeling who am I, why am I here, what the absolute hell do I think I’m doing I know nothing about anything…But you know you gotta push on. Also something about the album art happens to remind me of the show Hey Arnold! so it feels very comforting that way.
Lolawolf: Jimmy Franco
I’ve always liked Zoe Kravitz, been a big fan of her dad’s. She came out with an album in late 2015 and it was totally unpretentious, a playful experiment of sounds and lyrics. One of the videos had Miley Cyrus doing a bunch weird sh*t in it. “Jimmy Franco” is cute, it’s just fun, she and A$AP look classy and cool flirting with each other all night. A song about feeling like ahhh I really like you, this doesn’t entirely work, but I’m still here so let’s just have fun and not worry about it til tomorrow.
Zoe Kravitz also held her own in Big Little Lies alongisde Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. How would the show have ended sans Bonnie?
Hazel English: Never Going Home
I heard this song after I’d been in SF for a year – For many years the one year mark has meant my time is up, off to the next or gear up for the unknown. The song has a very nostalgic California sound (it’s partly produced by Day Wave, another Bay Area artist) with that synthy, sun-kissed sound like it was recorded back in the 70s at a shoddy recording studio in Berkeley. Just watching the video now, which was filmed for sure up in the Marin Headlands, Baker Beach, and Twin Peaks after compiling the wardrobe from the vintage shops dotting Haight Street. And I’m not going home either …
Harpe: Kenton Slash Demon
It rained the entire winter here in San Francisco. Did not stop from December til I can’t even remember when I was emotionally removed from it at that point. There were evenings, dark nights before day lights savings time where it would be too dodgy and wet to bike home and I’d have to trudge thru the mindf*ck that is Civic Center to get home, the wind driving the rain perpendicular to my body and soaking every sediment of my being. I was into this song at that time, the blaring neon lights of 6th Street and City Hall turning my earbuds into mini raves and removing me from the sorrowful stretches of Civic Center insanity that you only find in this city of have and have nots.
Get Away: The Internet
R&B doused with that hazy California sun. I like the gender-bending Syd, she’s edgy and tomboyish but has a voice as sultry and sweet as Jhené Aiko. It’s also interesting to listen to a gay artist sing directly about being gay, ie, “Girl” being one of their most popular songs. I feel like a lot of gay artists, or maybe the more prevalent ones, still use gender neutral pronouns in their songs (Sam Smith) or just avoid the subject altogether (Ricky Martin) so definitely have to give props to Syd for writing songs about who she is, who she loves, and nothing less.
Rudimental ft. Sinead Hartnett & Will Heard: Treading On Water
Home by Rudimental was probably my favorite album of 2014, one that I listened to through and through. Every song is a completely new vibe, some heavy drum and bass, some extremely uplifting, beat-filled tracks featuring the absolute bombest of female British voices, i.e. Ella Eyre and Emeli Sandé. “Waiting All Night” is one of my all time favorite songs no matter if I’m happy or sad or heartbroken or bored or pissed off, once that song starts it doesn’t stop.
I saw Rudimental once in September 2015 and it was only pushed out of the number one spot for best show ever after Bomba Estéro. There are a total of about 10 people who make up the actual band, a bunch of blokes who are just so stoked to be on a stage playing music and dancing, and then there were the four singers featured on We The Generation who were touring with them. Bridgette Amofah is a tiny chick with one of the most booming voices I have ever heard sing live, she sang all the Emeli Sandé songs on stage at the show. She’s really cool to follow on Instagram because she dons a new daring wig almost every day.
A few months later they were playing at a festival I went to in LA, and I did nothing but hype them up to my friend and fellow festival goer. But as soon as their set started I knew something was off, and it appeared the band and the singers were having a massive falling out – They came out late, were clearly drinking out of red cups, were arguing with each other about who was going to sing (??), had a hype man who was like, “woo”, and then at the end one of the bandmates was like, “DO YOU WANT AN ENCORE??” and when the crowd responded “Sure, why not” he literally put on a CD of one of their songs and they all walked off stage. I came to the conclusion they’d been on tour for too long and it was high time for them to take a break, however, it was not appreciated.
But TBH – I would totally still go see them again 🙂
I didn’t love We The Generation like I loved Home, but I did jive with this song, “Treading on Water”. Sinead Hartnett is on “Baby” and “Hide”, which are two more laid back tracks from Home, and this particular song acts as a peaceful interlude on a rather noisy CD.
Bryson Tiller: Don’t
T R A P S O U L. Two things is great. I read somewhere that Bryson Tiller recorded most of this album in his Louisville bedroom, just messing around with Garage Band and uploading to Sound Cloud. I thought that was kind of adorable, he’s got grillz and Nikes on in the Instagram-inspired video and is tryna be hard, but all I can imagine is him sitting around his bedroom with a box of half-eaten Dominos while on Garage Band splicing together his voice and recalibrating the levels on his beats while his mom is shouting at him from downstairs to stop making such a racket. This track is sexy cool.
Coma Pony: En Domingo Las Niñas Van a Jugar al Parque
I can’t truly concentrate to write – creative write, bang out an email, compose a work document – unless I’m listening to lyric-less music. Coma Pony’s LP got me into Alternative/Indie Mexican rock. And after spending a week in Guadalajara, I’m totally into Mexican hipsters. I really like calmly jamming to this band’s dreamy guitars and seventies style. Méxicanos en todos mis sueños. I think they should jam with Hazel English.
Barzo: Dear Bob
This is a song and an artist I know nothing about, but I love songs like this especially when I need some concentration. I can close my eyes and let myself be taken over by visions of heavenly springs and butterflies chirping and flowers blossoming and the world in a place of peace and wonder.
After a wild night in The Mission that Faith and I will forever refer to as Empanada Night, I have been more and more down with reggaeton music. There is truly nothing better to bring you inappropriately close to both friends and strangers, grind up on each other, and wake up the next day with thigh burn equal to that of the first day back at the gym after a winter hiatus.
Fifth Harmony: Work From Home
MY JAM. Omigosh I love this song so much. While there is no piggy dancing to this song video on Youtube, I would vote for this Work song over Rihannas (sorry Rihanna!). This is the first time I am watching the music video, which is appalling.
Dojo Cat: Sometimes It Hurts
Wondering what playlist I found this song on. Deep funk, honest soul, retro heart. Cuts deep.
AlunaGeorge: My Blood
Been a fan of AlunaGeorge since discovering “Diver” on their Body Music album that came out in 2013. They blew up with “White Noise”, a song they did with Disclosure, but honestly white noise is exactly what it sounded like to me. “My Blood” is sexy creepy – George does some kinky beats, I like the trap incorporated into this one and that Darth Vader-esque ZHU voice that appears at the end. Aluna’s got a very recognizable voice and you can hear her English accent when she sings, which to me gives her songs a bit of a different flavor.
I actually heard their song “I Remember” right after discovering “My Blood”, it was the next song up on the Youtube loop. A very unique sound to it, it’s electronically wistful, sad, and nostalgic for a time and a feeling you can never have again with someone after you’ve crossed “that” line.
At the time I first heard “I Remember” I had started dating a friend of mine and we’re trying to figure out how to navigate the other side of that line. We really tried to make it work but for some reason all we could do was mess up and hurt the other person. Without fail. It was strange, the physical connection surprisingly raunchy and intense, likely due to the massive tension that always hung between us, but we lacked a mutual understanding regarding simple communication both written and verbal. I remember listening to “I Remember” and wishing we could go back to before the first time and never actually have it, because I ended up losing a friend.
Carla Morrison: Eres Tú
I was completely taken with Carla Morrison when I first heard this song. There was a prelude to the winter 2017 deluge one weekend in early October, and I spent the entire weekend on the floor of my apartment trying to put the pieces together of a puzzle of a white bowl of wonton soup with chopsticks (it came in a kitschy carry out container). It was incredibly difficult and TBH I never finished, but I did listen to Déjenme Llorar about 100 times through as the rain hurled down outside.
As I described in a post dedicated to this song back in October, “her sound is as if Patsy Cline and Linda Ronstadt had a surrogate child raised south of the border, born to strum the strings of a guitar and feel las emociones of all that is beautiful and heartbreaking in the human experience.”
SG Lewis: Warm
Another song for walks home on blustery nights last winter. Have not converted to any of SG Lewis’ other songs so far but this one gave my winter blues a comfort they hadn’t felt before.
Rihanna: Yeah I Said It
For my ficante. Buzz 465.
Nicky Jam ft. Daddy Yankee: Hasta El Amanecer
The ORIGINAL reggaeton jam of my life. Til Dawn, the remix. Daddy Yankee gold. Can’t wait for Nicky Jam this July. Oyéme mamacita…
Gallant: Weight in Gold
The song that inspired this post … I was apparently the only person at Alex’s pregame tonight who thought this song was turnt-worthy. I am watching this video for the first time right now as I type out these words and it’s exactly what I imagine when I hear this song. Diva lights, flossin’, and massive drops that cause your body to spontaneously thrust as it forces its way through the speakers.
Agnes Obel: September Song
A song for the days where you feel like Sylvia Plath.
Frank Ocean: Chanel
My co-worker / cubicle bud Luke OC loves rap music. He sent me this one. “Eh, it’s okay, it doesn’t really speak to me,” I Slacked him after my first listen. And then I listened on repeat all thru April, a month where I took a huge risk, threw a party, started a business, and kind of ran away from it all under the guise of Chicago and Mexico. Frank is calm and calculated in this song when he actually makes a huge statement with the line “My guy pretty like a girl” – Maybe calm and calculated resonates right now as that is what I want to be.
Danny Ocean: Me Rehúso
The song sounds like the breakup its talking about – It starts out clear and calm, like this is a rational decision we’re making, and then slowly gets more and more pleading and emotional in the chorus, what the hell, I refuse. I like the homage to pop, reggae, and reggaeton. I think there’s more to come from this guy.
Wolf Alice: Baby Ain’t Made of China
I liked this song on Spotify right before “Me Réhuso”, so they always lead one into the other. Another great jam from Wolf Alice that starts out polite only to build to and end with riffs and shrieks til the cows come in.
Big Brother and the Holding Tank: Ball & Chain
“Ball & Chain” by Janis Joplin was never my favorite Janis Joplin song. My all time favorite by Janis is “Maybe“. But this joining of Janis Joplin + the 60s psychedelic Big Brother and the Holding Company is epic. The night I heard this song on Big Little Lies I’d acquired a considerable amount of weed from a coworker who thought I could use some. I rolled the fattest joint I could imagine, sprawled out on my bed, and smoked that thing dry while this song boomed from my speakers. I just dared my landlord to tell me to turn it down. If only it were 1969.
Sigma ft. Birdy: Come Find Me
Sigma is a drum and bass duo who produced “Nobody to Love“, which is a song so dope that can make you feel stoked to be single in San Francisco. This song is filled with anguish and angst, and there is absolutely no one better than El from Stranger Things to show us what that feels like. This girl is beyond her age by approximately a million years.
Golden Boy & Miss Kittin: Rippin Kittin
Another song from Big Little Lies, specifically from a scene where Shalene Woodley’s character does something bad. This song definitely gives you an edge for whatever sorts of illegal activities you are going to be getting yourself into.
Going to sound like a hipster here but I just want to say that this was my favorite song about 9 months prior to anyone in the United States having any clue who Disclosure was. Can I get a medal please?
지코 (ZICO ft. Crush, Dean) – Bermuda Triangle
This song was sent to me today by my musically-inclined, Venice Beach-raised friend Alex. I am not sure what this song is about, it’s in some combination of Korean and English but the video is lit. I’m intimidated just watching it. K-Pop and K-Rap definitely get credit for having the most swagtastic flows of all time. I can get down with Korean hipsters too.
Luis Fonsi ft. Dddy Yankee: Despacito
There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who know that the original Spanish version of “Despacito” is where it’s at, and those who prefer the Justin Bieber remix (and even might go so far as to think that he wrote the song).
I have not met a single person in my entire life (or in the past two months since this song came out) who did not jam so hard to this song.
I do have to give props to the Biebs for this song because he does sing in Spanish for a considerable amount of time.
“Las paredes de tu laberinto”
SUBE SUBE!! … SUAVE SUAVECITO … POGANDO … POQUITO POQUITO …. TRECE … OH YEA … DESPACITO