I moved to Madison from Chicago this winter and with any change comes a period of feeling of being lost/confused. It is a time of growth and with growth comes growing pains. Whenever I am going through periods of change; puberty, new relationships, breakups, moving, new career paths, etc. I find myself turning to music for solace, a way to keep me grounded.  

       When I was in Chicago my relationship with music had become more about going to see live music, a social experience, and a way to participate in and support the arts. I worked in the industry at radio stations and worked a bunch of festivals and shows. I had gotten older and wasn’t leaning on it at an emotional level, more just respecting it, enjoying it on my commutes or when I was cooking, and participating in the community.

      When I moved to Madison, music became something I started to lean on again as a tool for catharsis (winter in Wisconsin will do that to you, look at Justin Vernon). The harsh and weirdness of alternative rock music I have been listening to has risen to the occasion. You’re so cold so you feel these rushes of adrenaline, but the lack of sun makes you feel tired and moody and an intense desire to hibernate.

         I re-discovered the song “Heart Cooks Brain” by Modest Mouse when I was having a shit day at work (I’m a developer so I spend a lot of the day with my earphones in, blaring music, and  coding) and remembered that album, which I had never put together is on the same album as “Trailer Trash,” one of my favorite songs of all time. Realizing these two songs were on the same album brought it all full circle.

       Earlier this year I took a trip to Mexico and California. I made a dreamy playlist for the trip with Kevin Morby’s “I Have Been to the Mountain,” on it. We listened to it basically on repeat when I spent two days camping with my friend in Joshua Tree. Kevin Morby has stuck with me through the year. His music is perfect to listen to in the morning when you’re getting ready for the day, it makes you feel light and happy. An influence of his is Jason Molina, who makes croony weird funky rock music. One of his projects, Songs: Ohia, has an incredible song on it called “Farewell Transmission,” which has mad old school Modest Mouse vibes.

      Kevin Morby and Waxahatchee released two covers for the Musicares foundation (a charity supporting musicians’ health). When Waxahatchee and Kevin Morby toured together they bonded over their love of Molina. They did covers of “Farewell Transmission” and “The Dark Don’t Hide It.” They both kick ass and all the proceeds go to the Musicare foundation, you can buy the set of singles on iTunes.

       There is great comfort in hearing an artist tell a beautiful story musically and these songs match the mood if you too are in the winter funk.

Here’s the story in playlist form.

  1. Heart Cooks Brain, Modest Mouse

  2. Trailer Trash, Modest Mouse

  3. Long Distance Drunk, Modest Mouse

  4. I have been to the mountain, Kevin Morby

  5. City Music, Kevin Morby

  6. Farewell Transmission, Songs: Ohia

  7. Farewell Transmission, Kevin Morby & Waxahatchee

  8. The Dark Don’t Hide It , Kevin Morby & Waxahatchee

  9. Oh Baby, Micachu & The Shapes

  10. L.A. Poison, Micachu & The Shapes

January and February are hard, hopefully this playlist will make it a little better.

Be well and take care of yourself.