Wowowowow, what a winter. It seems like overnight we went from cold and dark days to the sun and new flower blooms popping up. I’m pretty sad that 2021 ended on a really sucky tone and of course, there’s always something energetically off with January (for my last 10 years at least). But damn, February got in the driver’s seat, hit the gas, and was like “ok we’re starting the year NOW.” No comment on March yet because while I’m over the moon that I got to see my best friend in Dallas for her birthday, the world is an expensive mess.
To wrap up Winter 2021, I’m sharing some of the songs on my playlist and thoughts on new releases from winter. Joe and Eden are springing into a busy season so I get to spill about the treasure trove of songs I encountered this winter!
The Walls Are Way Too Thin — Holly Humberstone
“Can’t stand all this tension, can you?”
I almost didn’t go to my friend Megan’s birthday party because I was just so frustrated with a few relationship issues I dealt with in early winter. All I wanted to do was listen, scream along, and cry to this song. I remember driving around trying to find parking around her apartment as I cried and sang to this song. It was honestly such a deep expression of the tension I felt in those relationship issues that I really kept shoving into a bottle. I didn’t feel like I could have this moment at home so it was cathartic to do it in the safety of my car where I could with a tear-stained face let it all out. The walls at home did feel really too thin and I didn’t have the energy to explain to anybody why I was drowning in tension.
Karma — Sarah Kinsley
“You say everything comes back around, it’ll haunt you…”
I was convinced that there was no song as supernaturally calming as “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac…until I heard this song by Sarah Kinsley. Very much inspired by “Dreams”, this song has a Stevie Nicks energy to it with a driving drum leading it out of a dreamy haze. I pretty much left this song on repeat all winter as I dealt with the consequences of those relationship situations I mentioned. I found myself entranced by this gorgeous song and then called out about the way I’ve placed unrealistic expectations in so many relationships. I didn’t realize how much I hadn’t been letting myself feel ok with mistakes.
Feel the Way I Want — Caroline Rose
“There’s only so much that a person can take. Too much abuse and somebody’ll break…”
I got to a point where I was so tired of feeling so sad and so drained all the time from fall/early winter that I decided to let it go and focus on rebuilding myself. This groovy song from Caroline Rose let me be honest about making space for myself and setting up boundaries. I remember listening to this song before going on a couple unsuccessful first dates and taking it as a validating song that it was ok that I wasn’t attracted to these dudes for one reason or another. Similarly, it opened the door to me realizing that maybe I’m not meant to be everyone’s bestie. Heck, I might even end up being someone’s enemy and I don’t have control over that. So why not make space for myself to feel the way I want to?
Portra 400 — Arlo Parks
“Making rainbows out of something painful…”
As 2022 started, I somehow mustered up the optimism to focus on making rainbows out of something painful. I focused on my word of the year as I began to find a way to learn and move forward from the painful experiences that came at the end of 2021. Slowly but surely I used Arlo’s beautiful lyrics as a way to inspire me to let my songwriting be my way of making rainbows out of something painful. For me, that’s what songwriting is: a place to express the pain I’ve gone through without feeling that I have to be put together. I felt really excited by the songs I started to write and produce in January, it’s a goal to continue making space for that.
Out of Time — The Weeknd
“Say I love you, girl, but I’m out of time. Say I’m there for you, but I’m out of time. Say that I’ll care for you, but I’m out of time…”
I LOVED listening to Dawn FM. The Weeknd really boldly started this year off with a great concept album. I found myself really gravitating towards this song from the album for that Japanese City Pop vibe but little did I know at the time that it was giving me voice to the end of a situation where I had seen my ugly little savior complex on display. The whole album gave me space to focus on what’s important in what felt like the end of the world as everyone I knew got COVID. I never knew I’d find comfort in Jim Carrey acting like a radio host in purgatory, but here we were I guess.
Quiet On Set — Remi Wolf
“Killin’ me, killin’ me, killin’ me, I just want to protect my energy…”
As I continued talking about boundaries with wise friends and my therapist, I came to the conclusion that it was important to protect my energy. And funnily enough, I found my adamant voice in this quirky jam from Remi Wolf. This is the kind of song that I love screaming along to in my car as I drive around LA because it’s just a fun song. Like, most of these lyrics are kind of ridiculous, but that’s why I love it. I remember her asking the crowd at Austin City Limits to open up the pit to this song. What a boss move. Not gonna lie though, the end part where she sounds like a little kid is strange, but hey Remi OWNS it and she can do whatever she wants.
Electric Circus — Bad Suns
“I loved you completely, so deeply, so briefly…”
I will spare you my full thoughts on Bad Suns’s Apocalypse Whenever for now because 1) already live tweeted my 3rd listen to the album, 2) the songs hit me deeper with more time that passes, and 3) as a result, I’m pretty much sure it’s gonna be my album of the year. BUT, I can’t not mention how this specific song shot me in the stomach. My “buddy” Christo (his words not mine) really called me out on the way I was acting in that situation that had blown up in my face. I felt like I kept trying to explain to this person that I really cared about them and had the best intentions to help them, but I had a hard time admitting to myself that in the end, we had hurt each other. I ended up feeling like I couldn’t be friends with this person in this season because of that hurt, so I chose to try to cordially keep my distance. This song is so artfully crafted because you feel the anguish of that dissonance of putting up false pretenses (on social media according to Christo) contrasted with the real pain of reality. I love everything about this song’s instrumentation, but you can hear that dissonance in the way the song transitions from the second chorus to the bridge. It sounds like the feeling of the mask coming off. God, I love this band.
mona lisa — mxmtoon
“I’m so tired of being a book on the shelf, tired of stories for somebody else, think that I’m ready to start a new chapter…”
The fact that this gorgeous song came out on my birthday really helped set the hopeful tone of this 26th year of my life. I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of being a muse so to have a song that gave voice to that, I swear I was driving around all sparkly and shit! I was really overwhelmed with love on my birthday and I’ve carried the love I got to support the newfound sense of worth I developed as I chose to stop dismissing myself. Maia is right, I am a work of art and I deserve to feel like it. I can be both the art and the artist.
Make of It — half-alive
“Therapy saw me naked, 26 years I’ve waited. Life isn’t what I made it, my past is what I make of it. Make of it, make of it, like these new shoes, I’ll break ’em in. Old best friends, I’ll pray for ’em. All my friends, I’ll pray for ’em…”
The way this song’s lyrics sound like my life right now is really crazy. Like, down to the 26 years I’ve waited. I’m in a place where I’m rebuilding myself, my relationships, my career, and it’s equal parts exciting opportunities and diligent discipline. I’ve realized that so much of my life comes down to daily and weekly habits and if I want to build a good life, I have to be mindful of that. It’s a slow build and I’ll break in these new shoes. This song in so many words explains my pursuit of love in everything I do as a way to ground me. Plus, in typical half-alive fashion, it’s a banger to dance to.
@elio.irl — ELIO
“Mmm, we’re talking just to waste time. Mmm, and I don’t wanna say goodbye, goodbye…”
I’ve been absolutely obsessed with this song lately and I debated including it in this winter season playlist because I’m pretty sure I’ll be listening to it on repeat for the next couple months. To me, it almost sounds like the sound of ice melting and flowers blooming. It also hints at the way life seems to be returning to in-person interactions again and the struggle that it is. Like, seriously how did I go from “I’m never leaving my house again” to “I’m visiting my best friend in Dallas for her birthday weekend” in the course of a season? I really missed hanging out with my best friends and I actually couldn’t sleep on Monday night because I was crying from not wanting to leave. I’m low key still recovering from last weekend because it was so sweet and restorative to my heart even though it’s the most sleep deprivation I’ve felt in two years.
Anyway, it sounds like we’re all up to speed on me. Stay tuned on what my favorite season of the year, spring, will bring I guess!