ACL playlist picks – songs from all genres to add to your rotation

todayOctober 25, 2023 64 2 5

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By Grace Wartman

Music Journalist 

This past weekend, I got to attend Austin City Limits at Zilker Park in Austin! With scary sights to get festival goers in the Halloween spirit, such as having to see Jared Leto in person and the black snot aftermath in my nose due to Zilker Park dust and whatnot, the festival was, as always, a mentally-healing, physically draining, excellent 32 hours of live music. Here are songs that stuck out to me over the weekend that you should give a listen to!

Image includes Hozier’s album cover of Wasteland, Baby!
Wasteland, Baby! by Hozier

“Talk” – Hozier

I didn’t think I would be mentioning Ireland two articles in a row, but here we are! All the way from Bray, Ireland, “Take Me to Church” singer Hozier returns to Texas for the first time in four years for ACL Music Festival. His voice live was nothing short of divine, and his performance accompanied by the golden hour lighting and faint breeze allowed festivalgoers a chance to relax after three busy days of festival-ing their hearts out. Hozier seems to put more emphasis on the background vocals than what we hear of his voice in the foreground of “Talk” – an approach we don’t seen often in his music. The gorgeous voice that Hozier is trademarked for really shines through in the background, especially in the chorus and second verse of the song. While I am still mesmerized by the songs where he hits impressive high notes and insane vibrato, it’s refreshing to see Hozier showcase all colors of his musical savvy – not just his voice.

Image includes The Breeder’s album cover of Last Splash
Last Splash by The Breeders

“No Aloha” – The Breeders

Stepping away from European indie-folk and back in time to 90s grunge, my next recommended track is from Ohio rock band The Breeders. The group consists of twin sisters Kim (guitarist and lead vocalist) and Kelley Deal (lead guitarist and co-vocalist), Josephine Wiggs (bassist), and Jim Macpherson (drummer). I chose “No Aloha” for this playlist because of the shift between a melancholy, somber mood to a heavier, quintessential 90s rock sound. If Garbage, The Cranberries, or Pixies are sounds you enjoy, then “No Aloha” is right up your alley.

Image includes Kendrick Lamar’s album cover of To Pimp A Butterfly
To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar

“King Kunta” – Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar clearly recognizes where he stands in Rap – he wears his status with charisma and cool.   ACL was the second time I’ve seen him live and both times, his stage presence had his multi-thousand fan crowds going crazy. Lamar’s ACL set was only around half an hour long due to some transportation issues he had getting to the festival, but his tardiness didn’t waver the crowd’s high energy and excitement to see him perform. “King Kunta” is from Lamar’s 2015 studio album, To Pimp A Butterfly, and was one of the first songs in his ACL set: the perfect setlist placement to get old fans, who made up most of his crowd, rallied up, creating high energy from the audience that remained ceaseless throughout his entire set.

Image includes Yves Tumor’s album cover of Heaven To A Tortured Mind
Heaven To A Tortured Mind by Yves Tumor

Gospel For A New Century” – Yves Tumor

Yves Tumor uses elements of psychedelic rock, hip-hop, R&B and electronic, but with such balance in a way that doesn’t confide them to one genre. They incorporate ‘80s elements into their look and sound yet have a futuristic charm to his creative approach — a charm that has certainly caught the eye of most of Gen Z. On the initial listen, Yves Tumor’s music seemed a little instrumentally cluttered, but after giving him multiple listens I’ve grown an appreciation for his experimentation and bending of instrumental norms. “Gospel For A New Century” perfectly exhibits Yves Tumor’s ability to create equilibrium amongst rock and hip-hop elements, and his utilization of trumpets and choir beautifully brings the “gospel” factor into play. The instrumentals in the song remind me a little of Gorillaz’s “Rhinestone Eyes” — most likely because of the four-count intro and heavy bass emphasis the two songs share. With that being said, if you like Gorillaz, Dean Blunt, Blood Orange, and have an eye, or an ear, for maximalism, give Yves Tumor a listen!

Image includes Suki Waterhouse’s single cover of To Love
To Love by Suki Waterhouse

“To Love” – Suki Waterhouse

The “Daisy Jones & The Six” star Suki Waterhouse began her music career seven years ago. Waterhouse’s music reminds me of Mazzy Star, Lana Del Rey, Cults, and Alexandra Savior with her dreamy voice and slow-dance style love songs. I’ve heard from a handful of people that her voice live doesn’t live up to the standard of her recorded material, but her vocals and overall performance were practically perfect at ACL. I chose “To Love” from Waterhouse’s discography because the ¾ time signature accompanied by the warmth of the background vocals and shoegaze-like guitar strumming create a waltz of a listening experience. Seeing this song live, with the visual elements of her sparkly pink romper and trademark windswept golden mane made the dance that is the “To Love” studio recording even more graceful and appealing.

Image includes Thee Sacred Soul’s single cover of Will I See You Again?
Will I See You Again? by Thee Sacred Souls

“Will I See You Again?” – Thee Sacred Souls

A song recommendation from another group that has mastered the art of balancing elements from multiple genres, “Will I See You Again?” by Thee Sacred Souls juggles percussive jazz elements, soulful bass and guitar melodies, and R&B vocal harmonies in a way that does not confine the band’s overall sound to one category. Listening to this group brings me back to a trip I took to a very humid New Orleans over the summer while also being the perfect music to have on as the weather starts to get cooler. On the band’s website, drummer Alex Garcia says that “things just seem to happen so naturally when the three of us are together,” – a sweet remark on the band’s creative compatibility that can definitely be heard across their discography.

Written by: Preethi Mangadu

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