By Hayden Godfrey
The beginning of the school year comes with new experiences and new knowledge. With a clean slate to build from and experiment on, here’s a list of tunes inspired by blue skies, late nights and new beginnings.
“Eternally 12” by Melanie Faye feat. Mac DeMarco, 2019
Virtuosic guitarist Melanie Faye’s first and only single is a stunning listen, featuring neo-soul inspired licks and a groove that would make even the biggest jazz-enthusiasts shudder. Extra kudos to British Columbia native Mac DeMarco for the solid production throughout.
“Swimming” by Lunar Vacation, 2017
The delightfully unknown Lunar Vacation, a four-piece surf-shoegaze ensemble formed in Atlanta, sum up the late-decade indie scene perfectly. The group presents an adorable and catchy tune led by the heavenly voice of lead vocalist Grace Repasky and tight instrumentation all around.
“Got My Mind Set On You” by George Harrison, 1987
For some songs, simple lyrics work elegantly—even if they do inspire a Weird Al parody entitled “This Song’s Just Six Words Long.” The road-tested Harrison switched gears significantly after The Beatles broke up, turning to country inspired melodies and folk-inspired choruses like this one.
“Say It” by Maggie Rogers, 2019
The 25-year old songstress of Pharrell fame churned out a smashing debut record this year, after four years of one-off singles, stretches of writers’ block and folk experimentation. “Say it,” the record’s seventh track, has Rogers exhibiting her signature falsetto, complemented by the dreamy landscape her fans have come to love.
“Reelin’ In The Years” by Steely Dan, 1973
Steely Dan’s lyrics (and silky smooth musicianship) can inspire even the most sluggish of students. One of their signature songs, “Reelin’ In The Years” is an easy and fun bop with intricate drums, slick guitars and pleasant lyrics.
“If You Ever Want To Be In Love” by James Bay, 2015
One of Bay’s more upbeat and airy tunes, this single from his debut record blends elements of Americana, blues and soul to create a melody that is both blunt and easily accessible. Of course, Bay’s signature blues-rock riffs also make an appearance.
“Kodachrome” by Paul Simon, 1973
One of folk-rock’s most legendary figures, Paul Simon is also the owner of numerous pop hits that have graced the charts for nearly four decades. A jumpy and slick tune, “Kodachrome” is sure to inspire, invigorate and, most importantly, soothe.
“New Light” by John Mayer, 2018
Mayer’s previous works generally fell into one of two categories: modern blues or early-2000s pop-rock. His recent single, “New Light,” described by Mayer himself as a “summer bop,” is neither. Stringing together a catchy chorus with an irresistible backing track that lines up perfectly with the axeman’s slinging riffs.
“Valerie” by Steve Winwood, 1982
Though not as musically iconic as Amy Winehouse’s cover and jazz classic, Winwood’s synth-driven track can draw some head bobs and toe taps even in the darkest of times. An 80s dance staple, listen when you’re feeling a little down or need that extra skip in your step.
“Unsatisfied” by The Franklin Electric, 2013
This crisp, bite-sized track from the Montreal folk outfit is the perfect soundtrack to autumn transition. With youthful horns and simple-yet-effective lyrics, this track is sure to help even the weariest students with their transition out of the summer.
“Old Bruiser” by Hannah Cohen, 2019
The perfect tune to finish off a long listening session, Cohen and her partner, the refined and rugged Sam Evian, sculpt an elegant piece with standout harmonies and sorrowful lyrics. The rest of the record is also a great way to end off time spend exploring new music.