Welcome to The Soundtrack, a column where we plumb the depths of our musical knowledge to bring you the best* (subjective) music to listen to for very specific life situations. This week is a special late edition – because we thought you might need something to help you slow your heart rate back to normal after a gruelling US election cycle.
When it comes to US elections, a lot of people used to say things like “who cares? We’re in Australia, not the US” but I think we’ve all woken up to ourselves now. The US is a world power – the world power, depending on who you ask – and hoo boy does Australia in particular love sucking up to it or what. We basically do whatever the flip they tell us to, which hasn’t always worked out awesome in the past.
This election has literally been absolutely batshit crazy. Serious scandals at every turn, a mouldy cheeto with hair running for President, a Very Cool Grandpa Who We Miss Very Much… whatever the result ends up being of this election, we’re all going to need a tallie and a chance to put our feet up because it’s over. I mean, it’s not actually over because the world feels very much like it’s on a tipping point, and whoever becomes President is going to have some tough choices to make, but hey! At least the circus is done for now. Democracy will have done its job again. Maybe. Again – depends on who you ask. At the time of publishing, Trump is leading, and that is 100% horrifying. One thing that appears certain is that most people are feeling pretty on edge about the state of global affairs. Hopefully, this playlist will help.
The Smith Street Band – Death To The Lads
The US Election really brought some horrifying rhetoric to the global discourse, the height of which culminated in Trump’s disgusting “grab her” comments and the widespread justifications of his remarks as just being what men do. To that we say a big, fat, resounding “nah”. Men are not rabid sex-driven animals incapable of empathy and respect. They’re complex human beings like anyone else, although they often unfortunately grow up in a culture that validates a “boys will be boys” philosophy, absolving them of accountability to their actions. That needs challenging, and for that to happen, more people need to speak up. Smithies have always been great at doing this. In a time where very stupid terrible people seem to be everywhere, it’s a comfort to be reminded that there are still people who are willing and able to call out shitty behaviour and attitudes where they exist.
Alabama Shakes – Hold On
Much and all as this song is about a personal struggle, the pervading sense of pulling through troubling times with a hardened resolve is pretty universal. And endlessly relevant to how we’ve all (mostly) felt over the past nigh-on-two years; just keep your head down and wait for this sh*tfight to be over. And bless your heart, bless your soul – now it is. This track is your private, if slightly grim, celebration of all things fatalistic and inevitable. Take stock of what’s past and prepare for a hell of a lot more holding on in the years to come, because this ride is about to get real bumpy. Thankfully, shouting along with Brittany Howard is a tried-and-true method of expelling demons from your soul, and you’re going to feel muuuuuch better about how this all played out after you do. Probably. For at least like, a couple seconds before reality sets back in.
Brian Eno – 1/1
This song, off Eno’s gorgeous, understated Music For Airports release, is literally just twenty minutes of pure, escapist bliss. It’s like a portal to another world, a peaceful, serene place where nothing bad ever happens and rich people don’t rule the world because nothing matters except lovely sounds. It’s extremely minimalist – consisting mainly of a recurring piano motif that evolves slowly, adorned by soothing embellishments – but that’s the beauty of it. The use of space encourages a safe, quieted mind, which is something we all need from time to time. Best enjoyed alone, with your eyes closed.
Kendrick Lamar – Alright
Before I go any further here, let me clarify that I’m not implying that whoever wins the election doesn’t have the capacity to do the people of America – specifically African Americans – great harm. And I’m also not implying that I, a white girl from Australia, am qualified to say who would be “better” for those people, either. Although I personally abhor Trump and know that by and large he doesn’t have vast amounts of African American supporters, Clinton has done and said awful things to/about African Americans in the past, so I get why mistrust may exist there. But I think I would be remiss to not include this song, which I know is not “for” me, but carries a very important sentiment and lord f*cking knows the visibility of struggles unique to PoC is completely essential to change.
Cloud Nothings – I’m Not Part Of Me
If you don’t agree with the outcome of the election, feel that the choice was between two people you actively mistrust, or even if you’re just feeling defiant about Australia’s role in the US’s military actions around the world, you’re probably feeling a bit “stop the world, I want to get off”. But you’re not alone in that – not even slightly. Cloud Nothings might look like they don’t care, with their flannos and minimal audience eye contact at gigs, but they sure know how to make an outsider feel comforted, like they’re not alone. You don’t have to be a part of what you disagree with. You can rail against it. You can push forward with a strong sense of self and stand up for what you believe is right.
Image: Deez Nuts For President