Staff Pix 2/24: On Repeat
The Milk Crate staff’s favorite tracks of the week from their ‘On Repeat’ Spotify playlist, presented with blurbs worthy of a promotional sticker on a jewel case. Tune in Fridays from 2-3 EST to the Staff Pix radio show.
BITTER by DACEY
This song’s been sitting in my playlist for months waiting for a Staff Pix feature. DACEY hooked me with the futuristic, electro, bass-heavy pop hit detailing the sweet revenge era that comes after a breakup. I heavily debated gatekeeping this song before selecting it for this week, but I think I’d be doing the great Milkers of Milk Crate a disservice in denying them this song. Personally, I don’t relate to this message, and this possibly would’ve been a better pick for last week’s theme if we’re talking about love/breakups/hatred, but if I could relate to this song, I’d never stop screaming these lyrics. I HATE describing songs as catchy, because it’s the least descriptive word ever, but “BITTER” is catchy. A small reprise is featured at the end of the track, almost as an added bonus hit, and pairs the first side of the “BITTER” coin nicely. This song is a certified must-listen.
American Boyfriend by Kevin Abstract
BROCKHAMPTON founder Kevin Abstract has a lot to say in this track. Off of his 2016 sophomore album, American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story, Abstract sings in a dreamy melody the difficulty of being queer and in love. Knowing the context of Abstract’s homophobic upbringing hits harder with lyrics like: “My parents wanna kill me, let ‘em kill me/I’ll finally be on TV.” I just love this song and everything about it. It transports me back into a world of nostalgia and a sense of longing for something that you want so deeply: a sense of acceptance.
You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC
I feel like a middle aged divorced man! Ever since Samia covered this during the encore at her concert a few weeks ago, I have regressed so deeply into my classic rock era. Not all AC/DC songs have discernable lyrics, but “You Shook Me All Night Long” is clear and definitely vivid, to say the least. Each verse is such a fun time, but my favorite lyric has to be “knocking me out with those American thighs.” The song is so humorously abrasive, catchy, addictive, and again, incredibly fun.
Polly by Dora Jar
There’ve been quite a few times where I’ve walked down the 2B stairs to do laundry and found myself movin’ and groovin’ to this song in a way that might offend my grandparents. It’s the groovy ridiculousness of “Polly” that embedded it in my brain folds, making it impossible to evict since I found it two months ago. Dora Jar’s work on this song is insane, from the funky guitar hook scattered throughout, to lyrics like, “Imma rip my face off and Imma dance for you.” Am I going to try so hard to impress this person I like that I rip off my skin and make it possible for them to see all of my facial muscles? Absolutely. Jar’s sound on nearly every track in her discography has distinctly ‘90s-’00s undertones and it is unabashedly fun and silly, leaning into lyrics—like that one—that almost feel too wild to be real. Also, can we talk about the little high-hat moments? Whoever the drummer was or whoever programmed the drums on this track deserves to be kissed on the mouth. Anyways, Dora Jar turned it with this song and I will never stop talking about the itch “Polly” scratches in my brain.
104 Degrees by Slaughter Beach, Dog
104 Degrees is a narrative ode to every self-described indie girl— and yeah, I’m including myself in that. It’s been on repeat for weeks in my Marshall Major IV headphones, the ones that seem to be adorning every girl’s head like they’re a mandatory part of the Emerson uniform. Lead singer Jake Ewald (of Modern Baseball fame) sings in an sprechgesang-esque manner, making you feel like he’s telling you this story first-hand— or like you might even be the subject of it. With a consistent tempo and simple composition, your attention is held for the entirety of the story. Yet, it demands to be listened to again and again. Relatable yet quirky enough to make you feel special, 104 Degrees will forever have a special place in my heart as my anthem— but if you’re reading this, I’m betting you could say that too.
Replacing Every Weakness by Chamber
“You twisted the good in me / to use to your advantage / so I’m replacing every weakness within myself / with a jagged piece of anger.” More than just the hardest pre-breakdown verse ever written, these lines are a mission statement for the band who wrote them. Chamber, a mathy metalcore band from Nashville, sit in the perfect middle ground between Dillingeresque dissonance and gym-bro hardcore, sharp enough to make a Van Gogh of the unprepared listener, but in-tune with their emotions — chiefly, white-hot, frenetic rage. With panic chords aplenty and drums that make me want to punch a brick wall, “Replacing Every Weakness” should come with a “hazardous material” sticker on it, because whenever it comes up in my playlist, everyone within ten feet of me is in danger. Plus, like any good hardcore band, they’re even better live. So, if you’ve got some particularly hard labor that needs doing, or you just need a glorious burst of violent energy, try this one out (and try not to get hurt).
Don’t Need You by Genesis Owusu
Ghanian-Australian artist Genesis Owusu’s debut album Smiling With No Teeth (2021) was a critical darling that slowly overtook Best Of lists and alt playlists during the year of its release. Since that album, Owusu’s presence has been fairly nonexistent, and while we’ve been anxiously awaiting whatever he’s got on the horizon, “Don’t Need You” has been the fix to keep us going. The song is the closest thing Owusu has to a hit, and as a single it simultaneously embodies the catchiness and saccharine appeal of the greatest pop jams while still being completely left-of-center and bizarre.“Wait! Could this be true? I don’t need you! I don’t neeeed youuu!” might just be the ear-wormiest chorus I’ve ever heard in my life, and barking along to it is pure catharsis every single time. Lyrically, Owusu’s songwriting is a wonderfully weird stream-of-consciousness that sees him switching effortlessly from singing to rapping. When it’s all said and done, “Don’t Need You” is a song that you can’t help but smile at, and there have been more than a few times where I want nothing but this track to occupy the space in my headphones, preferably on an endless loop.
Heaven by Maude Latour
I have had this song on repeat ever since it was released last Friday, February 17th. Maude Latour has made a name for herself on social media and on stage by perfecting a formula for catchy pop songs. “Heaven,” is her latest single, a lovey dovey tune with whimsical synth and catchy lyrics that never miss a good rhyme. The chorus reads, “I could go to heaven with you, be that lucky seven with you, I could dress in denim with you, I can make your bed with you, now I got that venom in you, perfect chord progression with you, 11:11 with you.” Latour sings these lyrics without missing a beat, or taking a breath, and the song flows perfectly between chorus and verse. Some songwriters find it frustrating when they see other writers rhyme with the same word, over and over, but in my opinion, the subject of “you” in the song deserves the repetition to solidify the message of complete love and adoration.
Tonight Will Be Fine (Live) by Leonard Cohen
I’ve been listening to this song non-stop for the past week. It has a happy-go-lucky theme (and title, obviously) yet is filled with relatable and realistic anecdotes that deal with self-austerity and longing for the past or a different present. The mix of wistful lyrics and a cheerful country sound work to complement each other to bring an overarching feeling of nostalgia to the listener: “There's only one bed and there's only one prayer / I listen all night for your step on the stair / But I know from your eyes / And I know from your smile / That tonight will be fine.” As the weather has been getting colder and darker, this song has been a source of joy and a reminder that it will get sunny and warm again after winter! It’s a great tune to dance to — if you see me dancing alone in the Commons, it’s probably to this song.
Allen Street by Pretty Sick
Pretty Sick just seems like the epitome of cool. All of their songs have this charmingly undone, grungy feel, and “Allen Street” is just one of many that’s been ringing through my mind. From the song’s high-pitched opening, to the guitar scratching into the melody, to the moment the instruments come undone, slewing out a frenetic, energized finale, the song is just pure cool (or should I say pretty sick). The singer echoes this Daria-esque charismatic grumpiness into her indie-sleaze New York City lyrics. It’s the perfect song to listen to while you walk a little too aggressively fast down the street, suffering from main character syndrome– specifically the main character of a 90s movie.
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel
Does this song even need a reason to be on this list? I mean, it's Neutral Milk Hotel. They never miss and this song is no exception. As overused as the word is, kaleidoscopic is the word that comes to mind when listening to this song. It encapsulates all a song should be: an experience of emotions, a journey that draws you in deeper with each subsequent listen. “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” is beautifully tragic, impenetrable yet entirely accessible, and exquisitely melancholy. After all, there is a reason I’ve listened to this song forty-two times in the past three days. And hey, you don’t have to believe me, go give it a listen. Trust me, you’ll be doing yourself a favor.
I have a migraine again by Miya Lowe
At the center of this song, Miya Lowe dares to pose the question: “What if there was a song on the Donkey Kong Country soundtrack that was a bombastic and atmospheric take on hypnagogic cloud rap?” Throughout the song’s nearly five minute runtime (although it feels natural enough to fly by in two), the eclectic production answers that question with a resounding “It would be one of the most danceable songs you’ve ever heard.” The glue of the story that Lowe crafts is the clunky bassline, which grounds its hypnotic synths and repurposed vocal tracks. That bassline proves its punchiness in the last part of the track, ushering in a final act that cranks it up to eleven, distorting familiar elements and giving the song a finale that makes you wish you could hear it all again… and again… and again.
Run Cried the Crawling by Agnes Obel
Feeling nostalgic towards the Sunday Nights when a new episode of “Euphoria” would drop has been compensated with the ever-so-beautiful story of “The Last of Us.” Time and time again, HBO reminds us of the angelic voice of Agnes Obel as her songs have been featured in “Euphoria,” “Big Little Lies,” and now “The Last of Us.” In episode 5 of “The Last of Us,” Obel progresses the bittersweet plot with her painstaking vocal runs and harmonies. My ears were blessed with the reminder of her sweet voice, and I have not been able to stop listening to her since. This week’s song, “Run Cried the Crawling,” is a callback to her voice shared in Euphoria. The song comes from Agnes Obel’s 2013 album, Aventine, and is featured in the middle of the album, serving as the climax of Aventine’s story. The songs featured before this one feel like an upward battle pulling Obel’s feelings out into the open. “Run Cried the Crawling” finally reveals what Obel is trying to say. Obel expresses at the end of the song, “I’m alright here in your arms, darlin.” Not only is the iteration of this lyric symbolic of the longing she desires for someone else in the song, but it also describes how I feel listening to her voice promoted in some of my favorite shows. Her music hurts so good.
Love You Like Before by 18 Carat Affair
I may have lied on my pick for this week. Logging onto spotify stats to be 100% accurate on my staff pick, I saw that my top two songs were “because i’m young arrogant and hate everything you stand for” by Machine Girl and “Pocket Calculator” by Kraftwerk. These are total opposites, but an odd sort of meeting of them is recognised in my third top song, which is 18 Carat Affair’s “Love You Like Before.” Vaporwave is a long forgotten genre, but it runs strong within my headphones. Being the 6th track off of their album Spent Passions 2, it leaves you questioning the act of dancing. Perfectly tuned with snare, electronics and the soft growling sounds of a voice begging for the past it is the ideal watching someone you care deeply for slip away from across the high school gym in your rented suit. Although fast paced, the album in its entirety takes you through the horror of news stations and broadcasts with their happy go lucky advertisements, and how fast the world's mood can change right from our tv sets. Even though released past the prime time vaporwave aesthetics era, 18 carat affair delivers a ballad of nostalgia for things I haven't even witnessed.
Broken Birds (Rest in Pieces) by Car Seat Headrest
Ever since his breakthrough with Twin Fantasy in 2010, Will Toledo has proven himself to be one of the world’s best songwriters time and time again. And while Nervous Young Men is almost never seen as one of Car Seat Headrest’s best albums, I think the sparse, vacant sound of the album really encapsulates the way in which Will Toledo works best. His songs are vague, rooting themselves deeply in metaphor and symbolism, and he uses this in Broken Birds in order to explore the complex themes of loss, trauma, and guilt. Being over eight minutes long, I think this song leaves plenty of room for introspection amidst the roar of guitars and the background of synths, inviting the listener to fill in the gaps with their own experiences.
Let Me Roll It by Paul McCartney & Wings
“Let Me Roll It” is a prime example of McCartney’s skill as both a lyricist and musician. There are only eight different lines in this four and a half minute song, yet they still evoke such visceral emotions. “I can’t tell you how I feel / My heart is like a wheel” is ingenious. His heart is spinning so fast when he’s around them, he couldn’t possibly articulate his feelings! At least, that’s how I interpret it. The way McCartney sings “My heart is like a wheel” is also incredible — it’s almost whiny, but it’s concentrated in how he pronounces “wheel,” and it just works so well. If I could listen to only one part of one song for the rest of my life, it would be that one.