Weekly Playlist #11: Yacht Rock, nine nautical-themed songs

February 6, 2013
  • Share

In the comments on our nine songs under 90 seconds long playlist, reader Glenn Schroeder suggested, “How about a playlist of nautical themed songs?” Challenge accepted, Glenn. Since, you know, seapunk is all the rage these days, we’ve compiled a list of songs filled with ships, sea creatures and a whole lotta water for your listening enjoyment. 

Subscribe to this playlist on Rdio.

Scott Heisel [SH]
Brian Kraus [BK]
Brittany Moseley [BM]
Jason Pettigrew [JP]
Cassie Whitt [CW]

AGAINST ME! – “The Ocean”

While many of the lyrics in this song are key to detailing Against Me! founder Tom Gabel’s transitioning into Laura Jane Grace, the overall vibe is a beautiful amalgam of nomadic spirit, hope, reflection, melancholy and the determination to follow your purpose in life. The confessional lyrics and loping beat offer the kind of moodiness you achieve in those moments when you’re all alone with just your head for company. You could switch out the nautical references and replace them with automobile vernacular (á la late-‘70s era Springsteen) and it would still capture Grace’s restlessness. And regardless of whatever darkness, fear or disconcert looms in your personal mythology, a mantra along the lines of “There is an ocean in my soul/Where the waters do not curve,” could go very far in helping you navigate those troubled waters. Hands down, one of the band’s greatest songs. [JP]

BRAND NEW – “Play Crack The Sky”

When Brand New released Deja Entendu, they completely destroyed everyone’s expectations of what a Brand New album should sound like. They went from being a moody Long Island pop-punk band to an even moodier and introspective indie-rock/emo band. “Play Crack The Sky” is easily the album’s best song. It also happens to be chocked full of nautical references, making it a perfect fit for this playlist. Of course, lines like “And I wished for one more day to give my love and repay debts/But the morning finds our bodies washed up 30 miles west” don’t exactly lend themselves to “yacht rockin’”—more like “the ship is sinking so here’s my final lament.” Still, you’ve got to give Jesse Lacey & Co. credit for making a song about crashing your boat, dying at sea and losing your love sound so utterly and depressingly romantic. [BM]

CHIODOS – “All Nereids Beware”

Beyond this one song, Chiodos’ breakout album, All’s Well That Ends Well, as a whole, is nautical-themed. It toys with water imagery throughout, repeatedly sampling crashing waves (“Expired In Goreville,” “Prelude” and “Interlude, Pt. I”), often utilizing aquatic-sounding keyboard riffs and (most obviously) paying ode to sea nymphs with its lead single “All Nereids Beware.” The song has all the captain’s tale motifs: “Where ‘X’ marks the spot,” “A shipwreck/(Left stranded)/A castaway,” horizons, treasure, “the high seas,” anchors and of course—nereids, legged mermaid-like sea sirens from Greek mythology. [CW]

PARK – “Which Wrist First”

Park are one of the most morbidly depressing emo-rock groups ever (know another band that printed suicide hotlines in their liner notes?), and lost-at-sea similes come in handy during the band's “Which Wrist First.” Before the song caves in under its weight, regressing into a sullen let's-end-it-all spiral, troubled frontman Ladd Mitchell manages to take his mind off things on the water. “I could open my eyes for a second and hope the sails catch us/I could open my eyes for a second/And hope that you just won't hear this/A shipwreck/An anchor/A slowly sinking sailor/Somehow, someway/Someone's bound to stay/It's in this grave we lay/Watery and saved.” [BK]

PUBLIC IMAGE LTD. – “Blue Water”

This track is 30 years old and it’s still annoying as hell. Recorded at the tail end of their glory days, Public Image Ltd’s “Blue Water” is flooded with John “Johnny Rotten” Lydon’s stream of consciousness rambling and guitarist Keith Levene’s assorted piano and synthesizer irritants. Between Lydon snottily intoning, “Splish, splosh,” and Levene adding an extra chord in the piano part to make the whole thing sound even more off-kilter, this song is pure sea-sickness. It couldn’t be more grating if the hole in the record was drilled off center for maximum wooziness. I often wonder what an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants based on this track would sound like. My suggestion: Make bath salts available as on-table condiments at the Krusty Krab and give Squidward Q. Tentacles an assault rifle. That should spread around the chum quite nicely. [JP]

SENSES FAIL – “Rum Is For Drinking, Not For Burning”

Back when MTV actually played music videos, Senses Fail took advantage with “Rum Is For Drinking, Not For Burning.” The Let It Enfold You favorite hooked new fans like fish with a big-budget adaptation that took cues directly from the song's nautical battle cry. It starts off with the entire band performing in the belly of a vessel (“Sail with me into the setting sun”), relocating to the so-cold-you-can-see-your-breath upper deck for the chorus (“All hands on deck/Stand hip-to-hip”), and it wouldn't be complete without those fancy vintage sailor uniforms (“I'm dressed to thrill”). [BK]



As far as modern pop-punk jams go, “Mutiny!” is second only to New Found Glory's “My Friends Over You” in the crucial category. What better way to rail against the idiocy of the music industry than with a solid pirate metaphor? Plus, the spoken-word breakdown (“In this vast network of sharks and minnows, where the minnows outnumber the sharks a million to one…”) seriously gives me goose bumps every time I hear it. BONUS SHINFO: The band used to actually throw out fake gold coins during this song on early tours, and if you got one and took it to the merch table, they'd give you something for free. That's a yaaaar-fully good idea, if you ask me. [SH]


THRICE – “Red Sky”

The closing track of Thrice’s 2005 album Vheissu is, by far, the most powerful. “Red Sky” tells the painful story of a ship’s crew as they resign their fate to perish in the grips of a deadly storm. Much like the waves in its narrative, the song swells and calms through heartbeat-like percussion, crescendos and key changes as vocalist Dustin Kensrue chillingly wails, “Know tonight we’ll make our bed/At the bottom of the sea.” The song builds to a mournful peak when it perfectly captures a voyager’s conflicting love and fear of the water he’s lost control of navigating. [CW]

FRANK TURNER – “Worse Things Happen At Sea”

In this song from Frank Turner’s debut album, Sleep Is For The Week, he sings about a relationship gone horribly foul, but reassures himself with the notion that “worse things happen at sea.” However, as Turner sings, “You made it clear you didn't care you never did pretend” and “I'll nod and smile and watch you in the arms of other men,” you get the feeling he’s not quite as over this relationship as he’d have you think—but that’s probably the point of the song. You’ll have to decide for yourself. Either way, just try not to blush when he sings the line, “And in the end, at least you never try to fuck my friends.” [BM]


We always like a challenge. So, submit your ideas for future playlists in the comments. Bring it!

Written by AltPress