Context can sometimes change the feeling of a song. Today, I describe three songs, and give them their own context, which may subvert your expectations.
Wicca Woo – “Detached”
THE SCENE: You are at a rowdy house party, this song comes on. The crowd is sparse and has quieted down, because most people have moved outside to the pool. A drunken man makes a subtle pass at you, prompting you to move away from the kitchen, where people keep going to refill their drinks. You glumly look around to see if anyone you know is nearby, but you only see that polite but disinterested girl wearing a baseball cap that greeted you earlier. You approach her to begin a new conversation, but she doesn’t realize you are headed her way and turns to leave. As you watch her walk in the opposite direction, credits roll over your face.
THE SONG: Living up to its title, “Detached” is unobtrusive. It could be on in the background for hours and that subtle bass line would keep me relaxed. The vocals are muffled in a strained whisper, but that, too, feels faraway and enrapturing. Fitting as a somber and ambiguous film ending.
Wicca Woo’s debut EP, Woo Wicca, is out now.
Kojey Radical – “Bambu”
THE SCENE: This video.
THE SONG: We don’t usually feature rap, but the audiovisual experience here is worth too much to not cover. The meaning behind it all is limitless: the lyrics, music production, images, and actions therein, all have moving purpose. The words are thought-provoking and delivered like a beat poem, emphasizing certain syllables specifically. My favorite line is “Can’t see the truth when it’s six feet deep.” This takes ‘burying the truth’ to a completely new level; explaining that it is six feet under suggests that not only are we hiding it, we murdered it and got rid of the body. This then brings to mind the very beginning of the track, when Kojey “used to walk past the cemetery” when he went to spend time with friends, imagining the lives they wanted. Oh, the irony: simultaneously, names like Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Freddie Gray spring to mind. Our own law enforcement erased their lives, and by extension, their truth, but we won’t allow the Truth to be completely extinguished.
Trails and Ways – “Jacaranda”
THE SCENE: You take a hike with friends through Griffith Park, but it is years ago, before the drought. The mountains are lush with foliage and flowers, at points creating pockets of shade where the path gets narrow, and occasionally leading to large clearings with soft grass to sit on. Everyone generally takes part in tomfoolery, undoubtedly including climbing a Jacaranda tree.
THE SONG: I love hiking at Griffith Park myself, so I’ll admit that wanting to see it not starved of water is more of a fantasy than anything. But I also don’t think Jacarandas grow on mountains, so this whole scenario is based on a falsehood. Either way, if we ever get any rainfall, I would honor the renewed flora with this track. It is so bright that you need shades, sunblock, and a hat to protect yourself from the UV rays. Like most of what Trails and Ways creates, it is also as catchy as Yogi Berra. And the cherry on top is obviously the fact that they made the word “Jacaranda” work so smoothly in a song. Magnificent.
Trails and Ways are releasing their debut LP, Pathology, this Tuesday, 6/2. Pre-order it here. Find more information about Trails and Ways on their website, and be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and tumblr.