003: Q3 Comfort Foods

A few of us share a song from July - September that's gotten us through this mess

Welcome to the third issue of Organ Grinder. Instead of the usual round table of album reviews, we’ll be talking about songs that we’ve kept coming back to, that have been by our side these past few months. We hope there’s respite here for you, too. —Jinhyung Kim

Hayley Williams, “Fake Plastic Trees” (Self-released)

Lianne La Havas’ rendition of Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” got a lot of buzz this summer, deservedly so. It’s soulful, revitalizing, but above all, it was unexpected. Anyone could tell you that if Hayley Williams were to reckon with The Bends-era Radiohead, she would crush it. It just hadn’t happened. It’s no small pleasure of mine that her debut solo album Petals for Armor is one of the most Thom Yorke-y things ever made, save for the “Lotus Flower” video. It was a personal highlight of 2020, coming from someone who has spent quarantine indulging in the creature comforts of my teenage years. With no reason to assume Williams also had sights on the past, her cover of “Fake Plastic Trees” was a pleasant surprise. Her approach to the song, an indie sacred cow if there ever was one, is patient and reverential. She hits all the tender, wistful beats without straining for the spotlight, the way many other singers have and will in the future (probably a good time to mention that she recorded it on the Voice Memos app). These days, the instinct to engage with timeless classics is analogous to the way sunflowers face each other when there’s no sun to reach for. Each pang of longing isn’t just there so we can rue our shortcomings amidst the current turmoil, but so we can express gratitude to Radiohead for creating something to sustain us through this. Those final words resonate bone deep: “All the time...all the time.” The plague will rage on interminably, but we’ll always have “Fake Plastic Trees.” —Zachariah Cook

---__-_ (More Eaze & Seth Graham), “Legato Crying” (Orange Milk)

Seth Graham’s Gasp was one of my favorite albums of 2018. It’s a tripartite fusion of musique concrète, the second Viennese school, and that MIDI-hued Orange Milk sound; listening to it for the first time, I had one of those rare experiences where I could both predict and be surprised by every sonic twist and turn. I hadn’t expected Graham to take such a rigorous compositional approach and bring it to a song so… well, tonal, for one, but also romantic, dripping with melancholy. However, his signature is unmistakable: the instrumentation here, while caressing and unobtrusive, is presented in isolated, ice-cold patches of timbre, dripping down sloping, cavernous walls of negative space and coalescing into crystalline shards before fading back into the abyss. It’s the perfect setting for More Eaze’s autocrooned whispers, which often just barely come into focus before dissolving into arctic environs. Her words are half-articulated reflections, imbued with a fatigued sadness that only manifests after the fact, in a space where the past is finished yet the future is unknowable. We live now in an eternal present, but that doesn’t make it easier to be in the moment. “The moment” used to be a dot I could run endlessly toward; I’m inside it now, and it turns out the interior’s infinite—I’ve no idea what to look for; I’m lost. But whenever I return to “Legato Crying,” I find consolation: a reminder of some warm summer night; a stillness in my loss. —Jinhyung Kim

Julianna Barwick ft. Jónsi, “In Light” (Ninja Tune)

words are only words to me if they are heard but they will always be words to you. i write google docs that no one reads but me, crafting my own subjectivity sans the harmonies, counterpoint, and syncopation or clinks, pulses, and bird chirps. i speak to god.

god is not a woman, they are pure force, the endless abyss, spiraling out of their own control—is it even happy with its omnipotence without omniscience? god has no forgiveness except for the gods that we make in our own lives who we grant forgiveness for forgiveness to be granted to us. we grant healing to curanderos and curanderas and curanderxs only for them to heal us. really, we are forgiving and healing ourselves. —Jacob

still from the music video for “In Light”

Thanks for reading this issue of Organ Grinder. Spend some time for yourself, today.