DJ Jim Q's Playlist: Mystery
“Mystery”, huh, what an appropriate theme for the uncertainty many are feeling at the beginning of 2017. Who knows what insanity this year will bring us. I know I’m feeling uneasy about it. But a mystery isn’t always anxiety inducing; in fact, it can often be intriguing and exciting.
With music, I have always enjoyed a little mystery, both around the artists and the music itself. As a kid, I remember the way I used to imagine the members of Led Zeppelin all living in a castle lit by burning torches, way cooler than the reality I’m sure. With the emergence of the internet and access to everything under the sun, the veil has been lifted from most of the mysteries of the world, especially the hidden lives of our artists. Case in point, a quick google search reveals the dark lord himself, Danzig, shopping for kitty litter, come on, way to ruin the mystique. I’m mean how evil can he be if he is buying the premium litter for his kitty.
Mystery feeds the imagination, and imagination feeds our creativity. So what happens when everything is known? Now I’m by no means promoting ignorance—look where that has gotten us—but I would suggest that leaving some things to the imagination, keeping a little mystery, is good for our curious minds. I say embrace the mystery; that’s the way to grow. If we react to the unknown with fear and skepticism, we are shutting down the possibilities for progress and discovery. Learn to live comfortably and thrive without being so sure you have all the answers.
Themes of the unknown, the unseen, the unresolved, permeate the tracks included in this month’s selections. These 30 songs of mystery, intrigue and suspense will (hopefully) keep you listening with curiosity and bewilderment.
I started this playlist with theme song from the Netflix’s series “Stranger Things”. I really dig the “John Carpenter” inspired synth tracks used as atmospheric bed throughout the series (even more than the actual playlist of retro songs used to establish the time period). The original tracks created are spot on, those sweeping synth tones are reminiscent of the music used a lot in horror and sci-fi films in the 70s and 80s. They just have an eerie suspenseful tension to them, I’ve always loved that stuff. And Kyle Dixon does an excellent job at recreating that vibe.
Readers of my posts will know that every month I like to include at least one track from the theme-nominating chapter. This month, Mystery was put forward by the Houston chapter. When my friend found that out, she was very quick to remind me that Beyoncé is from Houston. I think her text message was something like “Hey you know who is from Houston?… BEYONCÉ!!!” I imagined her saying Beyoncé in an extended exited Oprah scream. Anyway, I have a complicated relationship with Beyoncé, and I have to confess, I don’t really get it. I mean I don’t dislike her, and in fact, I enjoy a few of her tracks, “Crazy in Love”, “Diva”, “7/11” and of course “Formation”, but I don’t understand the collective cultural obsession with her and her music. In discussions with her fans, I sometime feel like this guy
Maybe I should have left my feelings about Beyoncé a mystery, please don’t come after me.
I recently stumbled upon the Swedish lo-fi band “ShitKid”. With a name like that I had to investigate further. They are a three-piece band from Gothenburg. I love the rawness of these tracks, the sound is reminiscent of early Bikini Kill, or the less produced Lé Tigre stuff. Great attitude and catchy vocal hooks on this EP. In the song I included, “Oh Please Be Cocky Cool Kid” it seems the vocalist is appraising a mysterious character standing across the room, hoping the stranger is as cool as she wants them to be.
“Unknown Legends” is one of those songs that just transcends. When Neil Young first sings “Somewhere on a desert highway…” the hairs on my neck stand up every time. I don’t know what it is about these vague narrative songs about women protagonists that always make me a little emotional. I think this one in particular makes me think of my mother. She was always a bit of a mystery, in a wonderfully complex way. It’s a beautiful song and certainly mysterious in it’s own right.
Kilo Kish is just the best, she is so refreshing and unique. This record is honest and introspective and one of my favorites of 2016. In “this track” she explores the mysteries of God and faith, questioning her place in it all. Check out the “whole album”.
I closed out the playlist with MC 900 Foot Jesus quirky 90s song “The City Sleeps”. Over the holiday, I was discussing music with friends and his name was brought up. I probably haven’t listened to him in over 20 years. But when pulling together the playlist I remembered this track. At the time it is was certainly unique, it had a dark cinematic quality to it. He is an obsessive arsonist looking over the city describing his nefarious journey from fire to fire. The vocalist narrates the story almost like an old film noir internal dialogue. The song is a short story, like a little suspenseful mystery.
Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoy this months selections. If you do, please share them and give me a holler on twitter @jiquin. See you next month.