Music Helps Deal With 2020 Uncertainty

There is so much uncertainty in the world.

We have every reason to be a little crazy due to a dangerous lurking virus, a human rights struggle with the Black Lives Matter movement, and an economic collapse which rivals the Depression. There is so much uncertainty. Put on top of all of that tragedy, the inability to go to work, a restaurant, or simply gather with friends and family. We are all facing difficult pressure inducing conditions. Sadly, we have no way of releasing the mounting tensions.

Yet, somehow, we keep putting one foot in front of the other. New music helps.

Have you created habits that help keep you sane?

I juggle many new activities to ease the heartache of missing my normal routine. I try to switch them up to keep boredom at bay. The intricate puzzles which splay out on my kitchen table help to refocus my thinking. I have a regular Zoom with music friends another state away. We rank songs on a music bracket ( similar to a championship basketball bracket) by a particular band or artist. It provides a fun activity while we gather, kid around, and catch up. So far, we have ranked the songs from The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Talking Heads, Steely Dan, Willy Nelson, Van Morrison, and Pink Floyd. Our next artist is Tom Petty, what an incredible discography!

I walk our neighborhood on repeat and sometimes bike. I am so thankful we have a lovely duckpond and park to visit. Spending a lot of time outdoors has made me more aware of nature. I have even seen families of foxes for the first time. Nature is revitalizing. I scattered wildflower seeds in my garden in March, and I enjoy watching surprise summer flowers appear regularly.

I am also working on a new embroidery project that has proven to be quite challenging. Reading books also helps to send my mind to unfamiliar places and spark a bit of imagination. There is also some serious Netflix watching. I worry that my giant supply of unseen shows might suddenly come to a halting end. Have any you might recommend? Cooking and cocktails is also a big thing too. Every night is a new adventure into what can we possibly eat that we aren’t tired of eating. So, dinner has become a new experiment. We take turns and collaborate for the evening meal. Honestly, I can’t wait to be seated in a real restaurant, pick my dinner from a variety of choices, and be served!

The past several months have been all about distraction. I am trying to find moments where I am not frantically following Twitter, and stumbling upon news updates which make my skin crawl.

The music blog has been in a holding pattern

I haven’t written much here at Immersed in Cool Music. I am trying to deal with the sadness of no live shows. So many venues are hemorrhaging money to keep their employees and their building leases. I have written my senators in support of Save Our Stages (please check it out- HERE) Then, on top of it all , it seems there are more allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct in the music industry. I do listen to amazing new music, but seem to be stuck with just adding it to my playlist. I hold onto it, instead of sharing it.

Don’t get me wrong, I have started several posts but then abandon them. Then, days pass and it becomes old and unimportant in the frightening scheme of things. Yep, I started this one about two weeks ago. I am simply pickier due to my intense need to find a bit of relief, or even support for expressing my internal rage.

This time, I am determined to push through every excuse I drum up inside my head. I will finish this post on my blog no matter how long it takes. Music and art are coming my way more than ever before. Surprisingly, there are those who can successfully use these difficult, uncertain times and create incredible beauty. I just have a harder time with it.

Listen with me and maybe for a little bit, we can forget the world is so damn wonky.

Fontaines D.C.-Post Punk

A Hero’s Death, from Dublin band, Fontaines D.C. was released just a couple of weeks ago. The latest album was only a year after winning the 2019 Album of the Year and a Mercury Prize nomination with their debut. They have returned to bring more of their punching, post-punk rock.

According to Partisan Records, A Hero’s Death

“Arriving battered and bruised – albeit beautiful – the album is anything but a re-hash of the swaggering energy from their first record. Instead the music is patient, confident, and complex – full of heady and philosophical takes on the modern world and its great uncertainty.”

Lead singer Grian Chatten with Carlos O’Connell, Conor Curley, Conor Deegan, and Tom Croll, all met at music college in Dublin. They first bonded over poetry, and released two books of poetry, that haven’t been placed in any of their songs as of yet. The band got their name from the character, Johnny Fontane, in the movie The Godfather. In the movie, Fontane was a singer which Vito Corleone helped break into the music business. Fontaines D.C. added the initials “D.C.” which stand for “Dublin City”, when a band in Los Angeles had the same name.

The title track on the album shouts the repetitive memorable line, “Life Ain’t Always Empty” and surrounds the worrisome but hopeful thought with a blueprint of positive actions and reminders to construct a fuller life . They serve up the perfect pounding beat with multiple guitar jangle, emphatic vocals , and a haunting background of oohs and aahs.


Fontaines D.C. A Hero’s Death

Other listens-“Lucid Dream” and “I Don’t Belong”

Madeline Kenney-Indie Rock

Madeline Kenney is an Oakland, California singer songwriter and creative who recently released Sucker Lunch. It is her third album and it is a must listen. The music is gentle and rolling with a calming entity, but after diving deeper through multiple listens, it examines a multitude of feelings from almost every angle. Her sultry vocals add depth and beauty to the softness of each song. “White Window Light” is a gorgeous sonic exploration of love’s uncertainty with grace filled soft choruses and off kilter guitar chords. Stripped down, raw, and with hints of self doubt, it radiates truth and sincerity. Both radically needed in an uncertain world. Kenney has a gift of imagining the simple beauty of her love surrounded by white window light and translates her careful observations into a gorgeous song.

Madeline Kenney-White Window Light

Other Listens-“Sucker”, “Double Hearted”, and “Cut the Real”

Dehd-Indie Rock

Chicago trio, Dehd, returns with a studio produced album and many accolades of growth and amplified candor. The band is Emily Kempf, Jason Balla, and Eric McGrady. Each song on Flower of Devotion, provides a lush landscape of vocals, reverb, and wild vibrato woven craftily into the fabric of a powerfully confident band. The album is full of glaring songs which are really quite simple lyrically, but pushed forward vocally, creating a surprising intensity. It was so difficult to choose a favorite, but “Month” seems to nicely fit into the crazy pandemic narrative where there is so much doubt and I really don’t know what time, day, or month it is….


Other Listens-“Loner” and “Flying”

Sylvan Esso-Electronic Pop

It is three years overdue….but North Carolina’s Sylvan Esso recently announced the release of their follow up album, Free Love, coming out in September. I have been singing their praises for awhile now (Check out my other posts-Sylvan Esso Archives). “Ferris Wheel” is the first released track from the new album, I dare you to stay seated or still. It is a movement song that spins musically and is the perfect magical song of summer. It provides a much needed mood lifter.

Turn it up!

Sylvan Esso-Ferris Wheel

Other Listen from the new album- “Rooftop Dancing”

bdrmm-Modern Day Shoegaze

I haven’t watched much live music during the lockdown. I was a bit overwhelmed with the constant notifications and early on, the quality was a bit rough. Somehow, I stumbled upon bdrmm jamming on their back patio in England. I was mesmerized by their relaxed ease and the ethereal shoegaze they kicked out into the world. Originally a solo project, lead vocalist Ryan Smith decided to expand into a band; he roped in his brother, Jordan Smith, on bass before drafting Joe Vickers (guitar), Danny Hull (synth, backing vocals), and  Luke Irvin (drums). They just released their debut album, Bedroom in July. The Instagram live concert was in support. During this uncertain time there really isn’t much reason to celebrate, but some accidents can be a wonderful thing.

bdrmm-A Reason to Celebrate

Other Listens-“Gush” and “Happy”

I would love for you to tell me what songs you are listening to right now. What songs comfort you or charge you? What activities are keeping you sane? Looking for suggestions to add to my repertoire. I hope you are surviving all the uncertainty. Please stay healthy, wear a mask in public, social distance, and continue to wash your hands on repeat. Stay safe and be sure you are registered to VOTE!

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