Every month since January 2011, Shaun Johnson has been making monthly playlists of his favorite music. As soon as the last couple days of the month roll around, Shaun starts a new playlist for the next month with whatever music he is jamming out to at that time. These playlists include any music that Shaun loves and are not confined to any specific genre or release date. The playlists usually include new music, but they can also include tracks from bands that Shaun is planning on seeing live that particular month.
These write-ups are solely for Shaun to promote the music he loves and to give him an outlet to write about music in a consistent manner! Don’t be afraid to send him your thoughts on his write-up or playlists on Twitter: @ShaunSJohnson
With the start of March and how February started, I think I have come to the realization that each month is going to start with the end of last month’s playlist leaking into it. March’s first chunk of tracks were songs sampled on Miguel’s “Do You…” seems like a track that was written with the thought that it would be sampled. The same goes for AlunaGeorge’s opening track to Body Music, “Outlines”. That track is simply unreal, it’s the first week of April and I find myself putting it on repeat while cruising on the interstate. AlunaGeorge’s “You Know You Like It” seems to have been overshadowed by their more popular single “Attracting Flies”. Both are really great tracks, I just enjoy “You Know You Like It” a lot more.
OSHI and Sam Gellaitry both made it back onto my monthly playlists again this month. These dudes are the future of music. They are going to be emperors of SoundCloud in the coming years. Gellaitry has already signed to Soulection Records based out of Los Angeles. I hope they sign OSHI soon. My friend and co-host of The EZPZ Podcast, Dan Brown, is confident that he will be on their eclectic roster soon enough. OSHI just made an appearance on Soulection’s Love is King compilation. The compilation is pretty solid, although only a few artists truly standout. Love is King was released as a celebration for Soulection reaching over 200,000 followers on SoundCloud. Gellaitry’s EP, Short Stories, is going to be one of my favorite releases of the year without a doubt. I hope he comes stateside soon. I would travel to Chicago, a 6-hour drive, just to see Sam Gellaitry perform. His performance in Paris at the beginning of March was put on YouTube and I have clocked a bunch of miles on the treadmill watching it. I suggest you check it out, Gellaitry is the future of music.
The boys in black and white (and floral green) have returned to my monthly playlists for the third month in a row. Their album, Hyperview, still gives me the chills. I absolutely love everything about Title Fight and how they are metamorphosing into something truly brilliant. The album didn’t receive nearly the amount of praise as their second album, Floral Green, but it did with me. I got to see them live on March 8th in Lawrence, Kansas with my friend and co-host, Nick Gandy. I needed to see them live, especially after their album, Hyperview, dropped. These dudes know how to put on a performance. I am bummed that I am missing their co-headlining tour with La Dispute due to class and work. It also didn’t help that the closest show to Des Moines, Iowa was in Chicago on Easter Sunday. I’m far from a religious man, but familial duties come with Easter Sunday. The same thing happened when Title Fight toured in support of Circa Survive, too! Such a shame, both those tours were monumental.
Okay, I am not giving credit where credit is due—the openers for the Title Fight show I caught in Lawrence, Kansas were phenomenal. Power Trip, a hardcore band, and Merchandise, manic pixie dream world indie pop. I loved the intensity and thrills that Power Trip brought to the stage. Kids were flying everywhere and going completely nuts. Merchandise wooed those same kids into a trance. The people that just watched Power Trip tear apart the stage stayed and watched Merchandise create something truly wonderful. The band ‘s music sounds like it should be played in front of English royalty. I can see why Title Fight wanted to tour with both bands. Loyal Title Fight fans love both their fast-paced, punk songs, usually led by Ned Russin and their soothing, whammy-bar abused songs, usually led by Jamie Rhoden. Both the opening bands brought a side of Title Fight to the show. I loved Merchandise’s set so much that I was kicking myself after the show for not buying any of their merch or material. I got their EP, Totale Nite, and threw the track “Anxiety’s Door” on my playlist.
I guarantee I will be getting the album’s logo tattooed soon enough. Title Fight is just one of those bands that makes songs that you take with you throughout your entire life.
Passion Pit released their first two singles off of Kindred mid-March. The singles are wonderful and I found myself listening to them non-stop for a week or so.
A Big Sean album would have never have been on one of my monthly playlists just a year or two ago but hey, we all change and grow as music fans. Dark Sky Paradise had some really fun songs. Although he is a strong rap/hip-hop artist on his own, Big Sean’s tracks where he collaborating with some of the biggest artists out right now are where he really shines. I especially enjoyed tracks like “All Your Fault” feat. Kanye West, “I Don’t Fuck With You” feat. E-40, “Play No Games” feat. Chris Brown and Ty Dolla $ign, and one of the catchier tracks released this year, “Research” feat. Arian Grande.
We have the radio on at work 24/7. Although the radio gives me twelve times more headaches than pleasure, sometimes I hear a song play on the radio that is really good. Throughout the last decade or so Cage the Elephant has released a lot of good albums. I never really gave them the time of day because I would hear them on the radio enough the way it. I really like their latest sing’e, “Cigarette Daydreams”, though.
Kanye West is one of two artists that I know has the ability to release an album that can make my top three albums of the year. The other being Radiohead. Kanye West released his first single off his new album, which just got a name change to Swish, was released in late March. “All Day” is a strong track but it isn’t really anything remarkable and will probably go down as one of West’s good tracks instead of great.
Kendrick Lamar released To Pimp a Butterfly on March 23rd. After one listen I was convinced that nothing could come close to topping it for my album of the year. After listening to the album from beginning to end, listeners are sure to be exhausted, but it’s the kind of exhaustion that one gets from completing the Boston Marathon. After an active listen, you know you experienced something that made you a better person. That same thing that made you a better person makes you contemplate how you think of the world around you. The tracks are stories in themselves and at the end of each song is a separate story that is told as a spoken-word poem by Lamar. The culmination and pay-off is at the end of “Mortal Man”, the last track on the album, where Kendrick Lamar pseudo-interviews the late rapper, Tupac. Judging from the conversation Lamar has with Tupac, he is one of the few rap/hip-hop artists to admit he doesn’t have all the answers and doesn’t know everything.
CHON released their debut album called Grow in March via Sumerian Records. The release of Grow couldn’t have been a better time for me. I was gearing up to see them open for Circa Survive and Balance and Composure on April 2nd at The Slowdown in Omaha, Nebraska. Just a few days before the show, I tweeted at the lead vocalist/bassist of CHON, Drew Pelisek and asked him if I could interview him for one of my classes. To my surprise, I got a “Yeah, no problem, dude”. I couldn’t believe it. Although many kids in my class gave the professor of my Media Production a lot of shit for never being organized and assigning a ton of projects, I appreciated it because of the fact that it brought me out of my shell. I interviewed Pelisek in the green room of The Slowdown with my sister, Shelby Johnson, manning the GoPro. Before and after the interview we got to watch Circa Survive from the VIP area backstage. It was a dream come true. The experience really opened my eyes and showed me that I can do this for a living! It gave me the confidence that I can do anything. The Saturday after the show I worked on the cutting together a video for the interview. I spent the entire day from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. working on the video. It turned out great and I got an “A”. After seeing CHON in Des Moines open for Animals As Leaders in July of 2014, I was already a fan but with just this one night, I became a lifelong fan of everything Drew Pelisek does with or without CHON.
Vance Joy has been on the radio for a year or so now with his song, “Riptide”. It’s a good song but I never really got into it too much. When I finished Better Call Saul, I was looking for a new show to watch. I had heard a lot about Transparent, an Amazon Prime exclusive, and their continuous push of the award-winning show on their app got me to check out the trailer. The trailer almost brought me to tears with the inclusion of Vance Joy’s “Mess is Mine”. Whoever chooses the music for the show and it’s trailers needs a raise.
In typical fashion, I added songs of bands I was about to see live to my playlist. With the Circa Survive, Balance and Composure and CHON show on April 2nd, I added songs to prep myself for one of the best tours of the year.
At the end of the month, Earl Sweatshirt released his single for his newest album which was due out just a week later. I snagged up the single, “Grief” with a pre-order from iTunes.