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5 Songs We Can't Stop Listening To with Sylvan Esso

Sylvan Esso

Hear all 5 Songs We Can't Stop Listening To:

1. Babes – “Life Come Into Me”

The first line of this song is “What’s the point of life if life is only fleeting?” I don’t know what the point of life is, but one time I did ask Father John Misty.

Justin Barney: One last question, what is the meaning of life?

Father John Misty:

I’m actually going to answer this question. I definitely don’t think it’s the search for meaning. The most unfulfilled people I know are addicted to some sort of search for meaning. And I really think that there is no meaning. There is no innate meaning to life. It’s every human’s mandate to create meaning for themselves. I think that’s the function of meaning of and love and those things that don’t really exist unless you create them. Like, humans, we have these massive grotesque brains that are so big that we create meaning, but we are still so dumb that we can’t realize that we made it ourselves.


If we are manufacturing the meaning in our lives, some things that give my life meaning are listless existential defeatism, and overwrought glam songs. This song is both.

  • Babes' new album “Untitled (Five Tears)” is out Oct. 30 on Barsuk Records

  • Listen if you like: Harry Nilsson’s “Without You”, sad bedroom music, over-the-top-spacy-self-aware-cheesy-guitar solos to end the song


2. WebsterX – “Lately”

Something is happening in Milwaukee lately. It’s a movement lately. A forward stride that we're taking together lately. We are not New York. We are not L.A. We can’t afford to be divided like those cities lately. We’ve got to stand together lately. We’ve got to support each other always.

Lately it’s about team. Lately it’s about building. Lately it’s not all on me / it’s on the whole team. And lately we are that team. You and me we are that dream. Lately we’ve got to come together if we want to see that. Lately we’ve got to come together if we want to be that. We’ve got to come together if we want to see this city, its artists, and the people in our communities continue to grow.

It’s on the whole team lately.

  • Listen if you like: Milwaukee’s renaissance, NAN, selflessness


3. Sylvan Esso picks Kendrick Lamar – “Hood Politics”

Every week we ask an artist to tell us about one song that they can’t stop listening to. This week we asked Amelia Meath of the group Sylvan Esso.

Amelia Meath: I can’t stop listening to "Hood Politics" off the Kendrick Lamar record right now. It’s so good -- just the beat structure, and the idea of using the word ‘boo-boo’ over and over again, it’s so fulfilling. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything but by using it he infuses all this meaning. And also that verse, where he starts tripping over himself ‘get up what up I heard they opened up Pandora’s box’ like that, it’s like, AGHH! . And It’s right after he talks about how he’s owning so hard right now, and then he just slams everyone’s faces in the dirt with it, being like: ‘Yeah, I’m the best rapper. Have you noticed?’ It’s so good.”

  • Kendrick Lamar’s album “To Pimp A Butterfly” is out now on Top Dawg Entertainment

  • Listen if you like: Sylvan Esso, the transformation of the phrase “boo-boo,” possibly the best album of the year


4. Joanna Newsom – “Sapokanikan”

This is a song about faded legacies. It is a reminder that our lives here are short. And we spend a lot of time trying to make something that will last, but will ultimately be reduced, or completely forgotten.

And it’s told beautifully, using specific examples in the city of Manhattan. The song’s title, “Sapokanikan,” is a Native American word. Manhattan’s first empire. Reduced to a footnote. The first legacy to fade. Joanna Newsom moves on to talk about a mass grave under the Washington Square Arch. The inhabitants’ bodies, lives, and stories are forgotten. And John Purroy Mitchel, “The Boy Mayor of New York” who fought the political machinery of Tammany Hall, and whose tributes now rust in the park.

Honestly, researching this song was absolutely fascinating. It was like an archaeological dig in a song.

Ultimately the song deals with Newsom’s own mortality, the fact her life will be reduced to lines in print, and grappling with the truth that all memories fade.

  • Joanna Newsom’s new album “Divers” will be out on Oct. 23 on Drag City

  • Listen if you like: acute historic references, geography lessons, Paul Thomas Anderson music videos


5. Majical Cloudz – “Silver Car Crash”

In this song the lead singer, Devon Welsh, expresses that he is at peace with death because he is happy and in love. I am a sappy sentimental ball of mush, so I love a song like this. He is bearing his heart and telling this person how much he loves them and doesn’t wish to grow old.  Instead he tells them that he wants to kiss them in a car that’s crashing and they would both die laughing because there would be nothing left to do. It could come off as a bit too much, but it is balanced so well musically.

Instrumentally it sounds like a last second moment frozen in time. The car is crashing and he is looking into his loved ones eyes, and even though it’s all happening in the blink of an eye, he is thinking of all of this in that one last moment.

  • Majical Cloudz new album “Are You Alone?” will be out on Oct. 26 via Matador Records

  • Listen if you like: The Long Winters - “The Commander Thinks Aloud,” slow motion instrumentals, sentiment