I may be guilty of having used Spotify without truly exploring the increasingly complex app, but at some point over the summer a friend was talking to me about their Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify, to which I curiously responded, “What’s that?” My friend more or less gave me the side eye and said, “Are you serious? It’s right here, check it out.” He motioned for me to hand over my cell phone. I handed him a case-less, cracked screen iPhone, unlocked and ready to experience the technological wizardry he’s explaining to me that I, apparently, should already know plenty about. He clicks open my Spotify and shows me how to get to the mysterious playlist. I must admit, it’s pretty obvious. He exclaims, “I find a lot of great music on here.”
Since then, every Monday, I open my new Discover Weekly playlist, plug my headphones into my phone, and go on a run through Prospect Park listening to whatever music Spotify tech sorcery assumes I’ll like that particular week. Sometimes my playlist really sucks, especially when it decides to throw my ex boyfriend’s shitty new material on there, but there are other times Spotify sends me a song that completely penetrates everything I love about music and stays on repeat for the week everywhere I go. Just a few Monday’s back a song titled “Thinning” came on by a band I had never heard of called Snail Mail. I immediately saved the song and kind of forgot about it for awhile. I was sort of going through personal crises dealing with accepting a new job, devastating news plaguing the country, the death of one of my all-time, favorite artists, Tom Petty, and finally scraping the courage to ditch an elitist, egotistical man-child that was sucking the life (and confidence) out of me. I picked myself up, brushed myself off, and now I’m better equipped to focus my energy back into music and writing.
Yesterday I stumbled across an article posted by the NY Times, “Women are Making the Best Rock Music Today: Listen Now.” Due to my obsession with a number of contemporary female rock and roll leads, including but not limited to Cherry Glazerr, La Luz, and Sheer Mag, my interest was exceptionally peaked at just the title. I’m a woman (duh). I find certain female fronted bands to be both relatable and empowering. Understanding that we both struggle with the ever looming patriarchy, being a woman in a male dominated field, falling in love, failed relationships, and heartbreak from a female perspective, and so on makes the reality of it all a lot easier to digest. A number of the bands mentioned on the list were names I was familiar with, one of which was Snail Mail. I opened my Spotify and revisited “Thinning.” The bubbly guitar parts and complex changes against melancholy lyrics reminded me why I felt compelled to save the song in the first place.
After a little digging I quickly realized Snail Mail’s front-woman and band’s creator, Lindsey Jordan, was still in high school. She had been playing guitar since the age of 5 and before she found her personal footing in the music world she had been obsessed with being as good at guitar (and hockey) as the boys, a narrative any woman surrounded by men challenging her ability can achingly relate to. I felt an immediate tenderness for her music, that sounded far beyond her mere 18 years. Her quirky, awkward nature during her Audiotree interview and performance was humbling. She clearly didn’t want recognition for her age or gender but instead was working towards garnering praise for her raw talent and the years of hard work she has put into being a great songstress, guitarist, and lyricist.
Baltimore’s Snail Mail has slithered it’s way into being one of my new favorite get-me-out-of-suburbia-hell, minimalist, melodic, rock bands. Although they currently only have an EP, Habit, out, we can expect to hear a full LP from the band in the future.
[Header photo cred: Julia Leiby]