This week has been unbearable. The ketchup came loose from the bottle of not-well-kept secrets about predatory men in Hollywood, and we've had to talk about it all week long, which is emotionally exhausting. It's also only the tip of the iceberg, with more stories and takedowns in other industries to come, I suspect. Trump continued to fumble in helping Puerto Rico, announced his plans to roll back ACA coverage, and decided the First Amendment isn't a thing he likes. California is on fire. And that's just the list of things happening off the top of my head.
If you're like me, you need some musical escape and empowerment, because you're feeling depleted. These great new songs have got you covered.
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings "Matter of Time"
I am having to fight off the urge to type out all the salient lyrics in this new song from the late, great Sharon Jones. Everything about it is designed to make the listener feel good and up, from that "oh yeah" call and response to the bright tone of the horns by the Dap-Kings to the driving bass line interlaced with eighth-note scale walk-ups on the guitar. And then the words: talk about an oh yeah. This track is a soulful sister song to the 1960s march tunes that protesters sang when demanding integration. It could be a long-lost track that the Staples Singers would have recorded. If you're feeling downtrodden after a long, hard week of fighting in the resistance, please put this track on repeat until you feel rejuvenated and can remember Jones' words: "all together we get stronger...it's a matter of time, until freedom will mean free."
John Legend featuring Chance the Rapper "Penthouse Floor"
Legend has been leading the resistance, as far as popular music goes, for a minute now. With this one he takes on one of the most complex topics out there: class struggle faced by black people in an economic system that is structured to keep them down. He does it with lyrical economy and elegance, on top of a groove that will not be denied. The video ends on a nice note, with enough room in the penthouse for everyone. I'm surprised by how touching I find that note of inclusivity to be, but again, it's been an emotional week.
Maren Morris "Dear Hate"
Morris released this a few weeks ago, just after the mass shooting in Las Vegas. She headlined the festival that was attacked, only the night before hundreds were gunned down. In writing about country music and its association with guns that week, I wondered where Morris was in the conversation because this track, lovely though it is, doesn't explicitly advocate for anything other than the abolition of hate. Since then, she's stated publicly that she is in favour of gun control and hopes other artists in country "become braver on their stances with it." Sadly, this is a track she wrote in 2015, after the mass shooting in Charleston, SC. Love still hasn't conquered all, but it is a comforting thought these days.
Bea Miller "Repercussions"
So look, this song makes me think about all the women who came forward to share stories of sexual harassment and sexual assault this weekend. Nasty women get things done. Cheers to everyone who rocked the boat and said fuck the repercussions, with a nod of appreciation to whoever created this delightful, yacht-rock influenced music.
Sleigh Bells "And Saints"
We are all varying degrees of not okay. This is not your typical Sleigh Bells song, which goes for the throat and is loaded with drops on every chorus. This is the slow burn of frustration put in musical form. This song gets at the burning, nagging feeling my insides have gone through since...well, the election, if I'm being honest. This is what constantly being on edge and pissed off sounds like. I wonder what it will sound like when the drop finally comes.
After my first job at MTV working as a music programmer, I can't stop trying to matchmake people with music they might like. So, I wrote a book called Record Collecting for Girls and started interviewing musicians. The Music Concierge is a column where I share music I'm listening to that you might enjoy, with a little context. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or leave me a comment below and tell me what you're listening to this week.
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