Heavy Rotation: September 2017

September’s Spotify playlist features a few repeat artists, and should technically include a lot of old standards. Most of those standards would be love songs because I got married on August 26, and I’m mostly listening to Rosemary Clooney and Frank Sinatra… But somehow I’ve still managed to feature a lot of new music that has been in regular rotation for the past month.

Features this month:

Tomo Nakayama

I first heard Tomo on NPR, but I forget which program and which affiliate station produced the piece, but I’m guessing it was out of Seattle. This was back when he was being interviewed to promote the film Touchy Feely. The song he played on air to promote the film (and a song he performs in the film as Ellen Page’s character watches) nearly stopped my heart it was so gorgeous. This song is, of course, Horses.

Fast forward a few years and, as a fan, I reach out to offer my living room to be a venue for Tomo’s upcoming tour here in Northeast Ohio. Not only is Tomo an amazing musician, lyricist and singer—he’s also a genuinely kind and lovely person. We found out it was around his birthday when he was going to be in town, so Cory made him a birthday cake and we made him okonomiyaki for dinner before he played.

He also became friends with my cat, Novella:

Anyway, it’s probably pretty clear why I had this album on my radar. The song on the playlist is one of my favorite from the new album, and makes me feel a little bit like I did when I woke up the morning of my wedding.

It’s a lovely album start to finish. I can’t recommend his music enough. Tomo is always writing songs that take me back to beautiful, floating memories… Pieces of Sky is like a warm blanket on a cool autumn evening. When it ends, I just flip the record and start over. It’s that good. (Buy it here.)

Phoebe Bridgers

It’s been a little while since I just stumbled upon an amazing record using the technology of today. These kinds of discoveries were more common when I would make time for weekly bin-diving at used record stores and would come home with armfuls of CDs.

I can’t recall the Spotify rabbit-hole that led me to Phoebe Bridgers, but I’m so glad that I followed that white rabbit. Her voice is hauntingly beautiful and simultaneously whimsical and forlorn, my favorite combination.

I love Stranger in the Alps so much that I included two songs from Phoebe Bridgers’ debut LP. (Buy it here.)

The National

I won’t say too much about Sleep Well Beast, other than I ran up and down the stairs of my house squealing with joy when my copy arrived in the post. In retrospect, this seems a wildly inappropriate reaction, considering the somber and melancholy themes of this album. I’ve never been shy about how much I love the music of The National. Being such a big fan, I’ve been waiting for this album to come out since 2013’s Trouble Will Find Me, which has been in my heavy rotation pile for the past 4 years. I’m glad that this follow up lives up, and joins their previous few efforts in my stack of regularly played albums.

It seems strange to me that I was feeling particularly drawn to such sad songs while my real life has been feeling so happy and hopeful, but I suppose that’s how it’s always been. My favorite songs have always had a slant toward melancholy, highlighting the beauty in the darker parts of life.

Plus, the weather is desperately trying to get cooler, and I think fall is on the way. All of this music will be perfect when the leaves have changed and I’m wearing wool socks every day. It’s my favorite time of year, and it can never come soon enough.

Bonus Content

A photo of me, taken by Tomo, covering a song about my state written by one of my favorite songwriters in my old apartment (Knowhere, Kent, OH):

View this post on Instagram

@icatchfoxes covering @damienjuradomusic in #Ohio

A post shared by Tomo Nakayama (@tomonakayama) on

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