half life (a 2020 playlist)

“Half of my whole life is gone,” Perfume Genius sings at the outset of his fifth album, Set My Heart On Fire Immediately. 2020 sometimes feels a bit like that, but I hope you’re safe, well, staying home when possible, learning antiracism, and putting it into daily reflection and practice.

I wait until the end of each year to share reflections on the music that sees me through, but I felt especially compelled to make a playlist at the halfway mark this time around. So, here it is: one song from each of the 25 projects I’ve loved so far. I hope you find something to see you through as well.

reading writing

“Suburban Wars” in The Athenaeum Review

In my latest for the The Athenaeum Review, I looked at two titles in Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 series, short books on single albums. I had some fun collapsing the intellectual distance between Nine Inch Nails and Arcade Fire in writing about their albums, Pretty Hate Machine and The Suburbs, respectively. Daphne Carr’s book on Pretty Hate Machine lands in my top three of the series, alongside Marvin Lin’s book on Kid A and Kirk Walker Graves’ book on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

You can read the review here.

Music Year End Lists

Soundtrack to My Decade

For the past seven years, I have reflected on the year behind me through the music I loved (2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013). I wanted to do the same for the decade, but had no idea how stressful that would quickly become (okay, I had some idea). The list that follows features 35 of my favorite albums, but at various stages of this process it numbered 100+. I even reordered every year and tried to imagine what my lists would have look liked for the first three years of the decade before I started this tradition. (Why am I the way that I am? Another reflection for another time…)

The point is, if you’re baffled by the exclusion of a particular album, it’s probably on my overall list somewhere. But the 35 albums that follow defined me more than anything else, and I couldn’t put the decade to rest without writing a few words about each.

All rankings are subject to change, so don’t hold me to any of this.