The third installment of The Phoenix’s monthly playlist series — where Phoenix editors make Spotify playlists of the best new music each month and then select some of their favorites to write about — focuses on October’s new releases.
This month’s playlist is filled to the brim with acoustic guitars and soft vocals, perfect for a chill fall vibe. There’s also a hint of angst, just in time for coping with Election Day, though another Phoenix playlist covers that.
The Weak Days – “The Fabric of Our Lives”
A tale as old as time, the story of an evolving love between a bard and a botanist — alright, maybe not the most common, but it’s original — comes in the form of The Weak Days’ first multi-song release since their collaboration with Foxy Dads on a split extended play (EP) in 2018.
Dustin Reinink and RB Roe, two-thirds of The Weak Days, wrote the six-song story together over the course of three years and are finally releasing it in the form of a larger-than-life EP (with a runtime of just 20 minutes) as well as a fully illustrated book to accompany it.
While the instrumentals are great in their own right, they rarely take attention away from what makes the EP stand out. Compelling vocals — including a guest appearance from Jessica Knight of the band Looming — coupled with great production allows the listener to truly be engulfed by the story, leading to what can only be described as a cinematic experience sure to inspire chills.
PUP – “This Place Sucks Ass”
Continuing on the theme of storytelling releases, the latest EP from Canadian pop punk band PUP, “This Place Sucks Ass,” leans heavily on singer Stefan Babcock’s ability to express emotion with his vocals.
Not in the sort of way pop punk vocalists usually do, though, as Babcock has a knack for playing a role with his voice even if the entire release isn’t dedicated to a single narrative. The second verse of “Rot” is a case study in melodrama as he sarcastically pretends to thank “the academy” for the performance he puts on for those around him.
The EP continues to get heavier and more sincere as it goes on, closing out with “Edmonton,” which comes in at just 70 seconds of heavy guitar tone, frantic drums and screams from Babcock — the perfect catharsis for pent up pandemic rage.
Field Medic – “Floral Prince”
The prince of pop folk and one of the last artists The Phoenix reported on in-person, Kevin Patrick Sullivan — better known by his stage name, Field Medic — dropped his fourth album Oct. 2. Sullivan has been teasing the release for some time now as the album came out just two weeks shy of the anniversary of the first single’s release.
Sullivan stayed true to his previous sound throughout the release, particularly on “older now (it hurts).” The walking-pace of his finger picking hearkens back to “uuu” off of his 2017 album, “Songs from the Sunroom,” and even carries the same cheerful bounce.
The album closes out with “TRANQUILIZED,” a dreamy soundscape made up of drawn-out vocal notes and slowed, melancholy guitar picking to match the song’s lyrics.
“I’m wreaking havoc on all my loved ones’ lives / Cuz I got nothing to offer / Cigarette butts and empty drinks / Asking for favors / Pay you back later,” Sullivan sings on the track.
Jeff Tweedy – “Love Is The King”
Jeff Tweedy — resident of Chicago’s Irving Park neighborhood and singer of alternative band Wilco — brought a more classic take on folk in “Love Is The King,” his first solo album in two years.
Soft vocals and acoustic guitars make up most of the album’s sonic landscape, and though Tweedy stays closer to the origins of the genre, he doesn’t fear straying away at times. “Gwendolyn” is accented by a bluesy guitar while docile percussion and bass keep the tune on track.
Tweedy, like The Weak Days, also released a book in conjunction with his newest project — “How To Write One Song.” The book outlines the artist’s creative processes and “Love Is The King” serves as a perfect testament to how well they work.