Editor: Third Eye Blind have dropped their latest album, Our Bande Apart. When it rains, it pours, and the band also released a documentary chronicling the making of the record, How We Hold Each Other Right Now: The Making Of Our Bande Apart, as well as a new video for “Goodbye To The Days Of Ladies And Gentlemen.” As if that wasn’t enough, bandleader Stephan Jenkins compiled an exclusive playlist for Alternative Press readers. The collection of songs ranges widely in scope, featuring artists from Phoebe Bridgers and Bon Iver to Dua Saleh and Arthur Russell. As a result, it reveals not only the many sources of inspiration that contributed to the new album but also the depth and breadth of Jenkins’ taste.
Probably like you, music was a lifeline and a friend during the lockdown. Writing this for AP tonight, I realize just how much music I listened to in the pandemic and how much it encouraged me in the writing my album, Our Bande Apart. As I complete this list, I am certain I can make another one with an entirely different cohort of artists and be just as passionate about them.
Sylvan Esso — “Funeral Singers”
“All my friends are words…” This song spoke so poignantly to the heart of the pandemic. I was surprised to find not only did they cover it, but the song was written years before by Califone, as part of a movie soundtrack. When I wrote my own pandemic record, it felt incomplete without it. So with the help of Jeff Schroeder of Smashing Pumpkins, we created our own version, building off Sylvan Esso’s whimsy, into a kind of urgency. I am so glad to have discovered them.
Sarah Mary Chadwick — “Full Mood”
I think many artists experienced the same stripping of layers of artifice, defensiveness and being performative and started coming to their work with their whole self unadorned. That’s what the lockdown did to me at least. Artists like Sarah Mary Chadwick, who know nothing else, resonated all the more. Here is a piece of songwriting that puts me right in the bar next to her. She is Lou Reed in a new legacy, with a minimalism not even Hemingway can touch.
Jazmine Sullivan — “Girl Like Me” (feat H.E.R.)
This track sounds so raw and unforced that I suspect H.E.R. sang it in one take. That inspired me to do much of the same on our new album, Our Bande Apart. If you don’t force back tears when she starts to unwind, I suspect you are not listening.
Bon Iver — “PDLIF”
Every time I start a new album, I get inspired by the sonic landscape of an artist. By some kind of fearlessness or liberation or panache. More often than not, it’s coming from Justin Vernon. I feel a kinship with Justin as a writer, even though we have never met and sound nothing alike. Still, in a song like “PDLIF,” I hear an unmoored and fierce decency and a depth of arrangement that says, “Go ahead and be bold.”
Adrianne Lenker — “two reverse”
I always bristle at a question like “Who’s your favorite artist?,” but if pressed in that moment that was the lockdown, I would say Adrianne Lenker. I am always taken by the unapologetic and matter-of-fact humanity and sweetness in her work. I could have picked any song on her album songs, but here’s “two reverse”—because don’t we all know the feeling of criminality of needing someone long after it’s appropriate?
Phoebe Bridgers — “Garden Song”
It irks me that Phoebe Bridgers has had the “indie it-girl” mantel conferred on her because all of the Nylons, Vanity Fairs, etc. It robs listeners of discovering the brilliance of “Garden Song,” unfettered before her album Punisher was coopted by the apparatus. I love this song and the discipline she shows in being true in every note. It reminds me of John Coltrane. I couldn’t listen to Radiohead’s OK Computer for five years because of the media hype. I am grateful that with Punisher, I beat them to the punch.
Bombay Bicycle Club — “Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)”
I don’t know if I would have loved this song as much as I did without the pressure of the pandemic to make it pop, but then again, why wouldn’t I? It fucking jams. I literally danced around alone in my kitchen to this in the lockdown. And if you don’t believe me, just check my IG (@stephanjenkins).
Hobo Dave — “Thunderbird”
I don’t know anything about this artist except that he wrote this song, and he does not give one big fat flying fuck. We should all write songs that way. Also, surfing was the one clean life-affirming thing I could do in the lockdown, and somehow, Hobo Dave makes me want to surf. I can’t explain why. Listen to “Thunderbird” and perhaps something inexplicable and fine will happen to you as well.
Cautious Clay — “Cold War”
This is one of the few songs where the video actually illuminates the experience. Cautious Clay is skilled and confident enough to leave space to turn a small apartment in an outsized universe. His chorus doesn’t release so much as it compresses—it sinks down to the center of you with longing and hope. Isn’t that all of us in the lockdown? When so much of the big names in the beat-based genre are rehashed narcissistic and boring, Cautious Clay refreshes, and I am here for it.
Dave — “Titanium”
This is one of those raps that I vowed to learn verbatim, replete with a kick-ass British accent so that its rhythms and flavors would be ingrained in me. I haven’t even come close, but it appears there is still time. It’s heartening that I can still be freaked and enlivened by rap. It just so happens that these days, it comes from the U.K.
Dua Saleh — “umbrellar”
My suggestion is Dua Saleh should be massive.
Janet Kaye — “Heaven Help the Working Girl”
My hands down favorite song of the #metoo era. Spirited rockabilly country. I love it.
Klangkarussell — “Sun Don’t Shine”
Those of you who know I never let a playlist go by without one bouncy little house track, behold.
Arthur Russell — “This Is How We Walk On The Moon”
A bouncing violin warm and organic is wonderfully incongruous in the altered gravity of this song, making us dance around our houses as our inner hippies release.
pronoun — “just cuz you can’t”
She has no recording budget. She played the instruments herself in this shoegaze bliss pop, and it’s as urgent and smart as anything I heard in the pandemic.
Hockey Dad — “I Need A Woman”
Nasty lil surfer fux from Down Under.