The Chomp

The Student News Site of Gateway Regional High School

The Chomp

The Student News Site of Gateway Regional High School

The Chomp

The Student News Site of Gateway Regional High School

Jack Patrick’s Music Recommendations

A Thoughtfully Curated List of Jack’s Favorites
Compiled by Jack Patrick
A collection of album covers compiled quite creatively by Jack Patrick

Music recommendations 

Everyone has their own music taste, and in the age of streaming, algorithms, and fast-paced modern culture, new music is coming at you at all times and from everybody. I…will be adding to that. However, I am of the opinion that getting specific recommendations for artists/albums is always preferable to finding individual songs and not knowing what to listen to next, so hopefully some other people feel the same.

All of the albums and artists I am recommending are my of personal taste, my comparisons to larger genres may not be universal, so take everything with a grain of salt. Be warned, some of my opinions get very, very long, and very in-depth. I don’t often talk about my music taste, so I wrote down everything I’ve ever wanted to say about these albums.

TV Girl – Death of a Party Girl and Summer’s Over

TV Girl is probably best known in the mainstream for their handful of hits from their albums French Exit (2014) and Who Really Cares (2016). Although those albums are great, and the few popular songs (“Not Allowed”, “Lovers Rock”, “Cigarettes out the Window”, etc.) deserve their fame, I believe that some of the band’s lesser-known albums deserve the same attention. 

Firstly, Death of a Party Girl (2017) was my personal favorite by the band for a long time and also contains some hard hitters. The most well-known song from the album is “Blue Hair”, however nearly every other track is great. The opener, “Pretty Boy”, is a mellow flip on common tropes applied to some women, while also poking fun at an archetype of men. 

Deep in the album, the run of tracks 6, 7, 8, and 9 present song after song of varied sounds with well-written lyrics. “Cynical One” has a unique production of strings and zero percussion, and the lyrics talk of lost love. “King of Echo Park” picks it up again, while “Legendary Lovers” continues with a story about the refusal to accept change. The choruses present a series of opposites, which all creatively show the theme. The run finishes off with my personal favorite, “Every Stupid Actress”, which pokes fun at the rich and famous, while also critiquing Hollywood as a whole. Each verse takes a new perspective on the titular actresses, showing them more as victims of an insidious culture, rather than simply vapid purveyors of it. 

The album is certainly not flawless, the final song is a particular low point, slowing the production for a downbeat ending both lyrically and sonically, however, it is overall very impressive, and underrated among TV Girl fans.

The second TV Girl album I recommend is a collaboration album between them and the artist Jordana, named Summer’s Over (2021). If Death of a Party Girl was underrated, then Summer’s Over is practically overlooked. 

I believe that the album being a collaboration may have turned away some fans, however, the album overwhelmingly has the feel of a TV Girl album. Jordana does the vocals on most songs, and she has a beautiful voice that compliments the typical electronic, low-fidelity sampled feeling of TV Girl. Standouts from the album include the title track “Summer’s Over”, a song about past love, metaphorized as summer ending along with the relationship, “Jump the Turnstile”, a catchy song with lyrics telling a disjointed story using constant motifs of subways and train systems, “Better in the Dark”, a fast-paced yet mellow track that seems to be about refusing to act on your attractions towards someone (potentially due to insecurity), and “The Party’s Not Over”, a slow-paced closer that wraps up several lyrical parallels throughout the album, and is an interesting alternate way of how to do a slow paced ending when compared to Death of a Party Girl.

Both of these albums are incredible, and some of my favorites ever. Check them out! For each album on this list, I’ll give my favorite song from the album to check out if you do not want to listen to the whole thing, basically a “Too Long Didn’t Read”.

Death of a Party Girl TLDR: “Every Stupid Actress”

Summer’s Over TLDR: Better in the Dark”

Lorde – Melodrama

Basically every reputable music website and critic has sung praises for Lorde’s sophomore album, Melodrama (2017), however, I simply must add my own, because this album is just that good. In my personal opinion, Melodrama is the greatest pop album created to date and is the current peak of Lorde’s career.

Each song from the album stands on its own as a story, save perhaps “Liability” (Reprise), yet the album as a whole tells the story of not only an entire relationship from the first meeting, the ups and downs, the breakup, and the healing, but also describes an entire night of a house party, with Lorde putting on her makeup in “Green Light”, and reflecting on the night in “Perfect Places”.

I could write about this album endlessly, so I’ll cherry-pick a few thoughts. Track 2, “Sober”, first establishes the metaphor of Lorde and her lover’s relationship as being a drug, and the track explores the fear and insecurity of what they’ll do once they are literally sober, no longer under the influence, and sober of their love. This metaphor is continued in following tracks, particularly “The Louvre”. The song discusses the relationship most directly, with Lorde understanding the flaws, but not yet caring. The following track, “Liability”, is one of two ballads on the album, and discusses the end of the relationship.

The most interesting track yet follows. “Hard Feelings/Loveless” cuts the album in half, with itself being split into two separate songs within one track. “Hard Feelings” discusses, well, the hard feelings that come after the end of a relationship. The production captures the whirlwind feeling of overthinking, as well as the harsh reality of being alone. Loveless flips the script completely, being a satirical and tongue-in-cheek song about not caring about love. 

From this point on, the album for the most part is about Lorde moving on from the relationship. Right after “Sober II (Melodrama)”, which feels more like a track representing the album as a whole rather than within the story (which fits for a title track), we get “Writer In The Dark” and “Supercut”, two standouts of the album. “Writer In The Dark” shows Lorde speaking to her past love, saying they will regret dating her because she now will write about them in her music. It also is the first song where Lorde is starting to move on, describing the “seasons changing (her) mind” regarding the relationship. However, healing processes are not linear. “Supercut” shows Lorde romanticizing the relationship in her mind, and thinking of how everything could have been different.

The album as a whole is incredible and is an absolute must-listen for any fan of pop music.

Melodrama TLDR: “Sober”

Janis Ian – Between The Lines

Okay. You got through the first two artists. I put two underrated albums by a semi-popular band first to spark interest, then an overwhelmingly acclaimed album by a famous pop artist to weed out the people who don’t particularly care. Now, you get to see the actual breakdown of my music taste, the albums that could be more obscure, out of popular culture, or I just feel are very close to me. AKA, albums that feel shockingly vulnerable to share. Good on you for not skipping most of the article. With that said…

Between the Lines (1975) is one of my favorite albums of all time, it is a largely forgotten classic of the folk genre that deserves to come back into the mainstream. Every song has heartbreakingly honest lyrics that capture the melancholy of life. However, the album is also incredibly hopeful, delivering with deep sadness a profound raw beauty. If you don’t enjoy deceivingly complex lyrics and metaphors, this is not the album for you.

Cover to cover, the album is flawless, with not a single low point in quality. It begins with “When the Party’s Over”, a beautiful song about music and dance, and falling in love. Honestly, probably the most directly happy song of the album. It doesn’t last.

“At Seventeen” is the most famous song off the album and Janis Ian’s biggest hit ever. When I asked many adults I know, such as a few teachers and my parents, they all knew the song. And yet, it only had 32 million streams on Spotify. Nothing to scoff at, but pennies when compared to a folk musician of a similar time, such as Bob Dylan, whose most streamed song has 356 million streams. The song also has not kept itself in the public consciousness, which is partially due to the lack of interest in folk music in general in the last 10 or so years. I believe this is a sore loss.

The song is a heartbreaking discussion of teenage angst and rejection, still relatable and important nearly 50 years after being released. The song feels sorrowful, yet not melodramatic, and still incredibly singable and listenable. It’s understandable why it was the main hit of Ian’s career.

To put this in perspective, in my opinion, every single song from this album deserves the fame of “At Seventeen”, and more. That’s how incredible this album is.

“Bright Lights and Promises” is a song that feels like faded beauty, using one of the lyrics “worn gold”. It tells of someone with nothing to guide them, wearing themselves down day by day. The exact occupation of the speaker is unclear, whether they are a showgirl or if the song is more metaphorical, but the beauty in the lyrics rings true nonetheless.

In the Winter is an appropriate song for this time of year, and it is a dramatic piece telling a dramatic story of lost love. The choruses lift out of the minor key of the song into a triumphant-sounding major, clashing with the harsh reality of the lyrics Ian sings of her isolation and sadness.

The title track “Between the Lines” tells of both a doomed relationship, and also a consumerist and hypocritical culture that it parallels. The instrumentation is nearly Polka-inspired, a new sound on the album that I’ve come to enjoy with further listens for its intensity and franticness, fitting with the mood of the track.

“Light a Light” and “Tea and Sympathy” are two of my favorites off the album, both sharing similar, tragic themes. “Light a Light” sees Ian questioning if she is coming home, asking her love to light up her darkness, as without them she is lost. “Tea and Sympathy” feels like a sigh in song form. The song describes the good old days as being gone, as Ian’s love is gone, likely dead when you really look into the lyrics. She describes living simply, yet always living in the past, never moving on from her love. I really cannot do it justice, it is my favorite track from the album. It has beautiful string arrangements that just add to the tragedy of the lyrics.

If you take anything away from this article, anything at all, take away this album. It is so beautiful, so raw and powerful, that it’s honestly terrible that it has not lived on in pop culture the way it deserves to.

Between the Lines TLDR: No TLDR. Listen to the entire album. Seriously. Several times.

Weyes Blood – And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow

The most recent album on this list, And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow (2022) by Weyes Blood was one of my most played albums of the year. It’s the second part of a trilogy of albums that began with Titanic Rising (2019). According to Natalie Mering, the real name of Weyes Blood, Titanic Rising was a forewarning for disaster, while Hearts Aglow is an album told in the midst of it. The unnamed third album will presumably discuss the aftermath. Although Titanic Rising is the more popular album and has received much acclaim, I enjoy this album much more.

The album is only 10 songs, but still clocks in at over 46 minutes. Nearly every song on the album is 5-6 minutes long, excluding two 4-minute tracks, and two interludes. This might turn some people away, especially since short songs are preferred in the pop world, but I enjoy the long songs on this album. It gives each song space to say what it wants, without rushing it.

“Children of the Empire” is a track broadly about becoming disillusioned with society, but more specifically, as the title suggests, the literal and metaphorical children of a crumbling world. References to lost grandeur appear in the lyrics, and the topic of who is to blame and who is innocent in a failing society makes an appearance. The song ends with a plea to be free, the speaker revealing herself as a child of the empire.

One of my favorites is next, “Grapevine”. Mering discusses a past relationship that made her disconnected from herself. The song features allusions to California and James Dean, and the entire “Grapevine”, a highway in California, serves as a metaphor for fleeting romances and those you’ve left behind. The imagery is also incredible in the song: the chorus describes a lamp-lit camp, and combined with the vintage-sounding instruments (not to mention Mering’s gorgeous 70s-esque vocals), it feels like a technicolor dream.

“God Turn Me Into a Flower” is the longest track on the album, for good reason. The song is a slow dirge, being one giant allusion to the ancient myth of Narcissus, who looked at his reflection until he died. Mering flips this into something vaguely positive. Although the exact meaning is unclear, it seems to be about self-doubt and change, each verse ending with the title of the song, referencing the end of the ancient myth. After the lyrics stop, the song keeps going for nearly 3 minutes, an ambient and abstract blend of vocals, electronic synths, and nature sounds.

The two tracks “Hearts Aglow” and “And in the Darkness” follow, flipping the order of the album title. “Hearts Aglow” describes a night out at a festival, keeping hope despite existential fear.

One lyric in the middle of the song truly wraps up the album as a whole: “The whole world is crumbling, Oh, baby, let’s dance in the sand.”

In the chorus, Mering and her lover are literally riding a ferris wheel, and yet she stares at the water below and contemplates falling. The instrumentation of the song furthers this juxtaposition. It’s the most upbeat track so far, yet at the end of each chorus, when the water below is mentioned, strange electronic bells overtake the strings and synth. “And in the Darkness” is the shortest track, being a 15-second interlude of strings. Not much to say about it, although it is quite jarring after “Hearts Aglow”, which I’m inclined to believe is intentional. It’s almost like the dark strings of the interlude represent the negative emotions that were being hidden in Hearts Aglow.

In “Holy Flux” is the other interlude, this one being much more robust. It’s largely ambient, made up of distorted vocals and synths singing a haunting harmony. The vocals are distorted to the point of near incomprehensibility, and it’s hard to tell where they end and the synths begin. It’s a really interesting track, that is a calming break in the album.

The last track I’ll discuss is deceivingly upbeat. “The Worst Is Done” is a song about the pandemic, and is an upbeat track with guitar and drums aplenty. However, as the song goes on, the lyrics reveal the facade of it. The verses discuss Mering’s experience in the pandemic, what she did, and what she wished she’d done.

The choruses, however, are what everyone else is saying to her, “But they say the worst is done, and it’s time to go out and see everyone.”

But, Mering’s doubt pushes back, “But I think it’s only just begun,” and, “I think the worst has yet to come.”

It’s brilliant songwriting, capturing a feeling I’m sure many others relate to; how are people supposed to just go back to regular life after living through a worldwide trauma like a pandemic?

And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow TLDR: “Grapevine”

Connie Converse – How Sad, How Lovely

The story of Connie Converse herself might be just as interesting as her album, How Sad, How Lovely (2009). Connie Converse was an aspiring folk musician in the 1950s, but saw little to no success, and altogether stopped playing music. In 1974, after issues with mental health and depression, Connie left letters to her family, saying she was going to start a new life in New York. She drove off and was never seen or heard from again. What makes it more interesting is that Connie Converse may have been the earliest singer-songwriter musician, doing it years before other folk musicians. This album is a collection of recordings from friends and family from throughout her life.

Converse has a very natural voice, which fits with her finger-picking guitar style. Her lyrics are creative, and have the feeling of classic folk songs. “Talkin’ Like You” , the opening song, has two distinct parts to it, and beautiful lyrics. “Roving Woman” is one of a few songs that give the imagery of classic western saloons, and is about a woman who perhaps doesn’t fit perfect societal standards, but she always gets saved by someone taking her home. “John Brady” is a lament over a dead man, whose love was stolen by someone else. The melody of the vocals and guitar is simple, but it emphasizes the lyrics and the simplicity of the song.

I particularly love the melody on the lyric “Six foot under where it’s shady.” 

“Playboy of the Western World” is about the speaker’s lover, and how he is seemingly perfect. However, it’s revealed that he has died later in the song. The lyrics and melody are fabulous in this one, all of the metaphors to describe the man are incredible. The specific melody that discusses a little bunch of flowers is so simple, but so satisfying to hear. “Father Neptune” is one of my favorite tracks off the album. The guitar is deeper, and the chord changes feel powerful between each verse and chorus. It tells of the wife of a sailor, and how she prays to Neptune to let her husband survive the wildness of the ocean.

“Man in the Sky” is another of my favorites. It tells of an old story of a girl falling in love with the constellation Orion. The verses in the song are all minor, while the chorus switches to major, which gives an uplifting feeling that I enjoy. Allusions to other constellations happen throughout the song, such as Canis Major and Minor, Cassiopeia, Draco, and Ursa Major.

The last two tracks I’ll mention are near the very end of the album. “How Sad, How Lovely” is a shockingly simple song, especially when compared to some others on the album. It simply tells of the sun setting, and the world transitioning to night. However, the way Converse describes this transition is beautiful, describing the sun at the end of the street, the lights turning on, and strolling lovers stargazing.

The closing track of the album, “I Have Considered the Lilies”, is the second most streamed song off the album, and is the first song I knew from it. It’s one of the few songs on the record where you can hear other people in the recording, and the impromptu talking intro to this song really sets it as a good closer to the album in my mind. The lyrics reference the Bible, but more than that it is about being content and satisfied, and the struggle of work. Converse asks how to be a lily, and how to live without struggle or doubt.

Along with Between the Lines, this is the album I recommend the most in this article. It’s certainly not for everyone, it’s very sparse, and anyone who doesn’t enjoy folk or perhaps classic country music will probably not like this. However, it’s very powerful, and incredibly moving despite the abstractness of some songs.

How Sad, How Lovely TLDR: “I Have Considered the Lilies”

Individual Songs (Honorable mentions)

There are several songs I want to recommend, but either do not fit into the format I’ve used thus far or are simply particular favorites from albums I feel nothing strong about.

Trixie Mattel – Hello, Goodbye, Hello

Trixie Mattel is probably best known as a contestant on Season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and then the winner of Drag Race All Stars Season 3. However, she is also a folk/country musician (I considered adding her album Two Birds to this album, it’s pretty good so here’s a bonus recommendation!), and this song is from the acoustic soundtrack for the documentary about her, Moving Parts. This song was also my 5th most streamed song of the year, despite the fact that I only found it about a month before Spotify Wrapped released.

It features just guitar and vocals and tells of a past romance that affected Trixie even after it ended. The lyrics are simple, but very touching and emotional despite that. There’s a theme of time moving on and of a phone conversation.

In the chorus, Trixie asks that, if they have the time, “Share a dime on the line, here in Minnesota time.”

The repetition of “Hello, goodbye, hello” feels like a conversation on a phone, ending and starting over again.

I honestly don’t know why this song has stuck with me so much, but it truly, truly has. So, give it a listen!

Elizabeth Cotten – Freight Train

Another folk song (Can you sense a theme?)! Elizabeth Cotten was a folk musician who didn’t start her recording career until she was in her 60s. All of her music that I have heard is incredible, she is unmatched on the guitar. She was left-handed, and since she taught herself guitar, she played all of her songs upside down, with the guitar facing the wrong direction. It gives her songs a unique sound and style. Like Trixie, I considered putting her album When I’m Gone (1979) on this list, so here’s a second bonus recommendation!

“Freight Train” is Cotten’s most famous song, and it is incredibly powerful, in no small part thanks to the fact that it is well over 100 years old at this point. Cotten was born in 1893, and she reportedly wrote the song at 13, meaning it was written in 1906. Despite this, the song feels relatable and personal, and hearing Cotten sing it just furthers that.

The song was inspired by the freight trains passing by her home in North Carolina, and the lyrics, despite their simplicity, feel emotional and heartfelt. Cotten’s guitar playing is amazing as always, which furthers the mood.

There are several different recordings of this song by Cotten, and I would recommend the version from her album When I’m Gone, as it has the clearest audio quality and is, in my opinion, one of the better recordings instrumentation-wise.

Amy Winehouse – Love is a Losing Game

Hopefully, Amy Winehouse needs no introduction. Her smash hit album Back to Black (2006) gave her international fame, with it unfortunately being her final album due to her untimely death in 2011. However, Back to Black still stands as a modern pop classic, and this song is one of my favorites from it.

“Love is a Losing Game” splits the album in half, and is one of the songs most directly about heartbreak on the album. Winehouse’s soulful vocals are of course present, and the strings in the background of much of the song feel vulnerable when compared to the overall upbeat album. As for the lyrics, the repetition and variations on the main “Love is a losing game” lyric make the verses feel spaced out in the best way.

I also enjoy how the other lyrics play into it: in the first verse, Winehouse mentions wishing she’d never played the game, in the second verse, when the lyric has changed to “Love is a losing hand,” gambling is mentioned, and in the third verse, now with the lyric “Love is a fate resigned,” Winehouse mentions hopeless odds, and being “laughed at by the gods”, fitting with the theme of fate.

The simple structure of the song allows the emotions to shine through and emphasizes Winehouse’s vocal and writing prowess.

I pride myself on being mildly pretentious about my music taste, so be aware that I am knowingly giving up some of my cool-ness points by sharing my totally obscure, uber-amazing taste in music. In all seriousness, hopefully, some of these albums have resonated with you, and even if they haven’t, I implore you to check them out anyway! You never know what will be a surprise hit when it comes to music, in the charts, and in yourself.

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About the Contributor
Jack Patrick
Jack Patrick, Staff Writer
Jack Patrick is a junior, and a writer for The Chomp. He enjoys reading, writing, photography, and music. He mostly writes about current events, music, and potentially other things!
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