Buon giorno from Florence! Happy October - it's the most wonderful time of the year!
cmd+f has had yet another unannounced hiatus. I would apologize, but, like, I refuse to deliver y’all half-assed content. On the other hand, putting this out weekly (as my original mission has intended) would have been a nice reprieve from the relentless, horrific news cycle.
In this six week interim, I’ve been preparing for a vacation of a lifetime to Tuscany. Now I’m sat on my hotel bed in Florence with the window open, batting away plumes of cigarette smoke that’re wafting in from around the corner, and, well, I’m already starting to unwind for the evening and will let the Chianti do all of the talking.
So much has happened in music since our last letter: MNEK dropped his debut album, Rita Ora has been crowned with the title of having the most top ten singles of any female artist in the UK since the release of her single “Let You Love Me,” Gallant put out a collab with Sufjan Stevens, Metric returned to music with a smashing new album, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born has managed to get 100% of the people I know who’ve seen it proclaim they’re all head over heels for it, and Robyn announced she is dropping her new album on my mf’ing birthday in a week. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Phew!
To be honest, digging around for new artists in the last six weeks has been off my radar. It’s the start of Fourth Quarter, AKA the pop music holiday season, and I’ve mostly slinked back into old listening habits bouncing between 80s Italo-disco hits, 90s alternative tunes, and the latest Rita Ora single on repeat for hours at a time.
Since I am on vacation on the other side of the world, I’m also taking a break from writing about some emerging artists (sorry @ all of the wonderful emerging artists I’ve been stacking up for the past 2+ months), and embrace the Month of Halloween™. For this week’s cmd+f I’ve decided to link a handful of spooky playlists to help get you in the mood for this holiday season. The selection is a mix of playlist I’ve handcrafted myself over the years, a few playlists I’ve encountered along the way, and some solid albums to raise some spirits.
Next week we’ll have a very special guest delivering their five favorite new music discoveries. For now, tune in for some spooktacular tunes.
Remember: if you like what you hear, spread the cheer. Tell your friends about these artists and share the love.
P.S. If you would like to have this letter sent to your email every Friday, please head over to this link right here to subscribe to never miss a weekly roundup!
Spooky Classical for Halloween by unCLASSIFIED | Opening with Wojciech Kilar’s score for the 1992 film Bram Stoker’s Dracula, to John Williams’ “Hedwig’s Theme” for the Harry Potter series, to Beethoven’s timeless "Symphony No. 5 in C Minor," this playlist has nearly 6 hours of hair-raising classical arrangements. Listen here
Aventine by Agnes Obel | This is the fifth year in a row that Agnes Obel’s Aventine has remained my favorite album to listen to from September through the start of December. It’s quiet, icy, soothing, evocative, and stunning all at once. Obel, a classically trained pianist, layers her vocals over chords, over more vocals, over a lone cello, plucked strings, and like magic, weaves the most haunting album I’ve heard in my life. “Dorian” is a standout track and remains my favorite to listen to on repeat. Listen here
Pre-tober by cmd+f | In early September 2015 I kicked off my “Pre-tober” playlist series. As soon as the clock strikes midnight on September 1 every year, that entire month is deemed as Pre-tober – the time of year in which I start taking planning my costume seriously, dusting off the skulls in my cabinets, incorporating pumpkin spice into as many edible things, and shelving the summertime pop anthems. I've created a Pre-tober playlist every year since, but the original 2015 Pre-tober playlist is a mix of eclectic ambient tracks and dark pop bops. Listen here
Stay Creepy by Caitlin Lamain | For y’all who like Halloween themed lyrical content without it being blatant Halloweenie music, this playlist is for YOU. Listen here
TURN OFF THE LIGHT, VOL. 1 EP by Kim Petras | I am so reluctant to share this since Dr. Luke produced and co-wrote this entire EP. But: homegirl put out an entire HALLOWEEN EP. She even got Elvira, Mistress of the Dark herself to make a cameo on the title track. High quality pop music here, folks. Listen here
oooOooOOOOoo by cmd+f | Six Halloweens ago, I threw together my Magnum Opus of Halloween playlists. I carefully selected an hour and a half of off-kilter alternative tracks, mostly with eerie, electronic instrumentals, and uploaded the songs onto the now defunct website 8Tracks (RIP). For what? For some damn notes on my Tumblr. I burned the playlist onto a few CD-Rs, gave it to a few friends IRL, and bumped it in my car for months after Halloween (before I had an AUX outlet, before I even had a damn smart phone - I am almost certain I was still texting T9 in 2012… phew!). There is only one song missing on this Spotify list, and it’s because it was an audio rip from a YouTube video by iamamiwhoami that you can watch and listen to HERE. 10/10 recommend watching that video late at night :) For the full playlist listen here
New Music Friday Selects
Lay, the remaining Chinese member of the globally sensational South Korean boy group EXO, has released his third solo album this week, NAMANANA. He’s worked with some incredible top liners (uhhhhh Bazzi!!!), and made the ambitious decision to promote this album in the US. He’s recorded his album TWICE - once in Mandarin, and once in English. Also, the music video for the lead single is totally bananas: it's a steampunk USPS delivery through a desert seascape. I can't believe I just wrote that sentence, but, that's the plot. Oh, and there're good choreography. Listen here and be sure to watch this video
Troye Sivan linked up with Sigur Ros’s Jonsi for a song on the Boy Erased soundtrack Listen here
Khalid has a new EP, Suncity Listen here
Peter Bjorn and John have a whole new album!!! Listen here
You thought I was done talking about K-Pop releases? Aha. Last Friday South Korean group NCT’s sub-unit NCT 127 released their debut full length album, Regular-Irregular. They included an English version of the lead single “Regular” with ambitions of world domination. The visuals are slick, but the vocal harmonies on these songs are top tier (personal fav? "Fly Away With Me"). Listen here
2017 cmd+f alum Tove Styrke is out with a groovy little number, “Vibe” Listen here
cmd+f alum Ariel Beesly has dropped her 80s fueled self-titled EP. Congrats, girl! Listen here
Ten Fé have a sweet new single, “Won’t Happen” Listen here
How To Dress Well has a stunning new single, “Body Fat” Listen here
New The 1975 sounds like the Step By Step theme song Listen here
New Maggie Rogers single “Light On” has low-key MUNA vibes and I’m very, very into it. Listen here
A(lmost a)ll of the tracks shared in previous cmd+f letters, are archived into a single playlist on Spotify for you to follow here.
Subscribe to that playlist, share it with friends, or take some inspiration from the ever growing list to compile some of your own.
If you’re interested in listening to what I’m rinsing this month, you can follow my October 2018 playlist here (and here’s a link for my September 2018 playlist if you’re curious). There I will dump a hodgepodge of new and old songs that fit my mood and the trends of the month. Having a personal monthly playlist makes a year in review so easy. Share your playlists with me!
See you next week!