Release Radar

It’s an unseasonably warm winter day. I’m taking a walk, enjoying the weather. My footsteps fall into rhythm with the beat pumping through my headphones. I’m listening to the latest album by Weezer. The sound is fresh, up-beat with fun lyrics, and catchy as hell.

What year is it?

Well, it could be 1994, the year Weezer’s introductory Blue Album hit the Towne West Mall record store. I remember well watching a pixelated “Buddy Holly” music video on CD-ROM. The trick videography was amazing, putting these hot new musicians in the diner right along the Fonz. And rocking out to “The Sweater Song” while I cleaned my room. Blaring “My Name is Jonas” on my fantastic plastic Koss headphones as I rode my bike down Mars Street, passing Andrea Mohr’s house, hoping for a not so chance encounter as I drifted by, looking ever-so-cool.

Or. It could be the year 2021, emerging from what was unequivocally the weirdest year in recollection. I’m listening to the newest album, “Ok. Human”. I am a huge fan of albums that are written as a story, something that you listen to all at once, and in order – the way it was crafted by the musicians. This is one of those albums – the end of one song blends into the beginning of another. The witty lyrics of “Grapes of Wrath”, the timeliness of “Playing My Piano” and the uplifting fun that is “Here Comes the Rain”. My stage of life couldn’t be further removed from the age of pubescence, yet here I am listening to music that speaks to me as personally as it did 27 years ago. Actually, these guys still have a sound that is distinctly Weezer. Did they not age as I did?

Before I move on from Weezer, I can’t fail to mention the joy that is the Teal Album, released in 2018. No one knew their life wasn’t complete without Weezer covering Toto’s “Africa” and TLC’s “No Scrubs”. And could anyone but A-Ha nail those highs of “Take on Me?”. Yes, yes they could. The album is unadulterated nostalgic joy.

But this post isn’t really about Weezer. Or just about Weezer, anyway. Like millions of my best friends, I listen to my music on Spotify. Spotify has a playlist that is updated every Friday called “Release Radar”. I’m sure other music services offer similar features. The music that is updated each Friday is tailored to me and my listening habits – the songs at the top of the list tend to be from artists and genres that I listen to most. (Although I’m constantly served tracks featuring Shaggy. Ok, but yes, I do like Boombastic. So that’s legit.)

The benefit is really two-fold. First, I am notified when my favorite artists release something new. When “OK. Human” dropped, I was all over it. Even better though is my exposure to new music and musicians. Exploring Spotify can quickly turn into a Wikipedia-esqe adventure, mashing the “Related Artists” button and falling fickly in love with each new sound. Thank you, Release Radar, for Patois, Local Natives, lovelytheband, Foreign Air, Yoke Lore, and so many more.

I think a lot of us sync our lives and memories to an ever-evolving soundtrack. My soundtrack over the years is coupled to the music that moved my soul at the time, whether it was Billy Joel, Weezer, Jars of Clay, Live, Smashing Pumpkins, Bush, Paper Route, Mutemath – and countless more. I’m glad for that. I take comfort in knowing that wherever I’m at, in 5 years I’ll be able to think back at this time, while I’m writing this blog entry, and “Aloo Gobi” will be playing in the background.


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