Last weekend I went on a hike with the sole intention of getting a workout — the kind of hike I typically just power through, music blaring in my headphones, only stopping to lose a layer or sip some water. Instead, I turned from the paved path past the trailhead and stopped barely 50 yards up the trail because there was something about the late afternoon Daylight Savings sunlight and the perfect temperature and the birds I happened to hear just before I pressed play on my music.
I proceeded to stop approximately 67 times to take at least 67 photos of the trees and the little green weeds/wildflowers sprouting in the underbrush and the sun’s reflection through the still-bare branches, all 67 of which looked extremely average and are now lumped together into one green-brown hued block on my camera roll. But I digress.
I felt so energized by the sunlight and the tiny glimmers of green on the ground that I started thinking about photosynthesis, which I have not thought about in any great detail since ninth grade biology. I remembered, of course, that animal cells and plant cells have some pretty notable differences—namely that plant cells can turn sunlight into energy and animal cells cannot. Obviously. (Also, #mitochondriaisthepowerhouseofthecell.)
I have a confession to make. I was on such a magical sunlight-induced high that I legitimately pulled out my phone and Googled whether animal cells can have chloroplasts inside them, too. Just to check. Because maybe, just maybe… But no. (If you need a refresh, chloroplasts are the parts of the plant cell that are truly only responsible for photosynthesis. Like, there is absolutely no reason a chloroplast would be inside an animal cell. None. Zero.) Please don’t tell Mrs. Smith. I swear I deserved that Biology Award she gave me at the end-of-year ceremony.
What I really mean by all this Bio 101 nonsense is that spring is HERE, the sun is BACK, and things are HAPPENING. Coincidentally, I’m finally feeling quite settled and welcomed and happy in my still-new-ish Nashville home. I remain almost entirely dependent on Google Maps, but gosh, I’m starting to feel like I actually live here now! Yeehaw!
Anyway, if you have yet to catch on, this is the SPRING 2022 edition of I Made You A Playlist. Heads up—green is my favorite color. If it’s not yours, I’m so sorry.
angel in realtime. by Gang of Youths
I haven’t felt this strongly about an album in so long. I started digging into Gang of Youths’ discography after falling in love with this album’s lead single, “angel of 8th ave,” last year, and oh my god this band is a treasure trove. Dramatic real-life background stories? Check. Hidden family secrets revealed in song? Check. Anthemic stadium-worthy production? Check. Disarmingly honest and life-affirming lyrics? Check check check.
I am begging you to go on a walk and listen to this album in order, start to finish, and try your very best not to zone out or look at your phone too much.
I’ll bet you the first Dairy Queen swirl cone of the season that you’ll have tears in your eyes (or at least a lump in your throat) by the time you arrive at the last 30 seconds of the closing track, “goal of the century.” It’s an ALBUM-album, a complete body of work that tells a story and makes you think. I think I’ll love it forever.
If you listened and love it too and want more, here ya go:
Listen to this Tape Notes episode (a deep dive into the recording/production process — two hours long but totally 1000% worth it for the isolated background vocals alone)
Read this track-by-track breakdown by Chris DeVille for Stereogum
Listen to the band’s interview with Matt Wilkinson on Apple Music
AFTER DINNER WE TALK DREAMS by MICHELLE
A perfect spring-summer transition album! The harmonies! So good. “POSE,” “LAYLA IN THE ROCKET,” and “50/50” are some favorites, but the whole thing achieves porch-hang playback status.
Humble Quest by Maren Morris
Power ballad Maren is amazing, but understated Maren is my personal favorite, and her latest album is righttt up my alley. It’s pretty and poignant with pockets of playfulness, and it’s given me a new appreciation for producer Greg Kurstin (iykyk… / iydk, yes you do… he’s worked with Adele, Maggie Rogers, Sia, Beck, etc.).
“Background Music” and “Detour” are my current faves, but I daresay this is a bona fide no-skips situation?! I plan to pick it up on vinyl this week (the true test!) so I’ll keep y’all posted…
READ + WATCH
Hold up—pause. This is no longer a playlist newsletter, it is now a full-fledged ad campaign for Starstruck. It’s on HBO, there are now 2 seasons, the episodes are only 20 minutes long… It is utterly charming and perfect. I’m on a mission to alert the world to writer/creator/star Rose Matafeo’s modern rom-com brilliance, and I will not stop until you give this show a shot.
+ I’m already tragically behind on my 2022 Goodreads goal (surely my Starstruck obsession has nothing to do with this?)… Nevertheless, here are a few books I’m excited to tackle soon:
Time Is A Mother by Ocean Vuong
The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka
Pure Colour by Sheila Heti (I mean, do you SEE this cover?!? 🌿)
Allow me to introduce you to your new Instagram bestie, @maryoliversdrunkcousin. These fun little poems (written by Lyndsay Rush) touch on everything from Shel Silverstein fan fiction to egg shell-inspired wedding vows, which I realize both sound extremely random. Just trust me—she’s onto something here.
Time for more tunes! To me, this playlist sounds like those first few perfect days/weeks of spring, when everything feels so… possible, and things that have been right there all along somehow seem to be within reach for the first time in an eternity.
We’ve got punchy guitars, dance-y drums, dreamy vocals, a few 80s throwbacks, and some shuffle beats for an extra boost of serotonin. I hope the name speaks for itself, but just in case it doesn’t, allow me to clarify: These songs are meant to make you feel A) like you are a tiny plant cell performing photosynthesis and absolutely thriving on nothing but sunlight, or B) like you are a bird of paradise or monstera leaf slowly unfurling in real time. (Yes, I am on #planttok.)
Press play and charge UP!!! 🔋
Banger - The Droptines
The Start - Amber Run
Angelica - Wet Leg
All I Need Is a Miracle - Mike & The Mechanics
Here Comes The Sun - The Beatles
Heavy Heart - Bartees Strange
Single, No Return - Ten Fé
Staircase - Amy Allen
Soak Up The Sun - Sheryl Crow
Opening - Dora Jar
SGL - Now, Now
Way Way Back - Aly & AJ
Linger - The Cranberries
If Ever I Could Love - Keith Urban
Wild - Spoon
Ready or Not - Shakey Graves feat. Sierra Ferrell
Fanfare - Henry Jamison
Sunflower, Vol. 6 - Harry Styles
Every Little Kiss - Brucy Hornsby & The Range
unison - Gang of Youths
anotherlife - Nilüfer Yanya
Four Leaf Dream - Matilda Mann
Lost Track - HAIM
LAYLA IN THE ROCKET - MICHELLE
Who Am I But Someone - Kate Bollinger
Everything Is Simple - Widowspeak
Really Want to See You Again - more*
From The Back of a Cab - Rostam
The Getting By II - The Killers feat. Lucius
Stranger - Vampire Weekend
Mood Ring - Lorde
Slow Dancing - Aly & AJ
Me & You Together Song - The 1975
Big Shot - flor
Anything But Me - MUNA
Or HERE if you use Apple Music!
+ Bonus! Here, have some perfect spring albums, in case your al fresco festivities need additional soundtracking:
Keith Urban – Defying Gravity
HAIM – Days Are Gone and/or Something To Tell You
Hall & Oates - Abandoned Luncheonette
Labi Siffre – Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying
The Beatles - Abbey Road
Aly & AJ – A Touch Of The Beat…
Katy Kirby - Cool Dry Place
Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour
Widowspeak – Plum
Vampire Weekend - Father Of The Bride
See you out there!
Definitely feeling the Nashville vibes, country and Americana. I really like Maren Morris. Gang of Youths is now on my playlist, and your opening reminded me of myself. My wife often says, why are you taking photos of those things and wouldn't one or two be enough. Your opening hike reminded me of a hike I did in Queenstown, New Zealand. I took a blues harp with me and was disturbing the wildlife, jamming to myself as I walked down a fairly steep track. Didn't have the breath to play and climb up. The music was echoing through the hills and I was really enjoying myself until I came across a couple who were on their way up. I apologies for disturbing their peace, but turned out they liked what they heard and all was good.