The MusicPhile: Current Obsessions

I wanted to quickly share with you some reflections on a small handful of my current obsessions. These songs have managed to stick with me over the years.

5. “The Rip Tide”, Beirut

Coachella 2012 was a tremendous festival experience. There is something magical in roaming from stage to stage discovering new bands or revisiting favorites. Beirut, a solo venture turned group, was slated to play the Mojave stage. Casually, my friends and I stopped by to take in the all-encompassing sounds of Zach Condon’s flugelhorn, trumpet and trombone. After arriving home, I went back to Beirut’s albums and immediately became enamored with this track and all of its horn-heavy glory.

4. “Fake Empire”, The National

Yet another bouncy track utilizing horns, accompanied by piano and tinny percussion, it amounts to all kinds of indie rock goodness. I’d be remiss if I left out the baritone-laden lyrics provided by lead singer Matt Berninger. Honestly, I cannot put my finger on exactly why, maybe because they come off as romantic and hopeful, but I’ve always loved the lyrics “turn the light out / say goodnight / no thinking for a little while / let’s not try to figure out / everything at once”.

3. “You’ve Got the Love”, The XX (Florence and the Machine cover)

Lucky for us, the audio-only version is accessible on YouTube. I will merely state that The XX truly contributed their unique sound to this cover and nails it. I invite to you take a listen and enjoy:

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2. “The Trapeze Swinger”, Iron & Wine

This song is seductively brutal. If you have not introduced this track to your library, I implore you to do so. However, I should preface it with a warning: It will break your heart. It explores a love from its infancy to the cruel and pained outcome, as told by the deceased through a series of recollections. The song’s subject pleads with his love to remember him while toying with ideas of the afterlife. Sometimes an epic sad song does the trick.

“But please remember me, fondly / I heard from someone you're still pretty / and then they went on to say / that the Pearly Gates / had some eloquent graffiti / like, we'll meet again"

1. “Perth”, Bon Iver

I had the good fortune of seeing Bon Iver perform at the Chicago Theater, an acoustically perfect venue, mere days after the tour began. Their self-titled album had been released not long before, and I had fallen so in love with it in its entirety that the tunes would softly invade my ears as I drifted off to sleep each night. The band's performance of “Perth” left me impassioned. Two percussionists, along with seven or eight additional members on stage, combined with the soft blue stage lights that guided the matched rolling beats is something I will never allow myself to forget. Not to mention, Justin Vernon has one of the most mesmerizing, hypnotic voices and the ability to switch to his intense falsetto with such ease.

Reach the columnist at or on Twitter @rallykate. You can also follow her on Spotify at Katie Self.

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