@ShaunSJohnson’s March 2015 Playlist

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

Shaun is EZPZ
Shaun is EZPZ

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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.

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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.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBVUyUTFYp0

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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EZPZ Playlist: February 2015

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February arguably started off better than any other months will this year. February is the month that Title Fight released their third album, Hyperview. The album leaked at the end of January, but that is not what I cared about. After a few listens to the leaked version, I realized I needed a higher quality version than the 128-kbps leak. I wanted to buy the 320-kbps version. Title Fight chose to go with an extremely different sound than their fast-paced punk from yesteryear. This time they were making their sound the most important aspect of each song. Without the best quality tracks, the album did sound a little muddy. I had to turn to read the lyrics to truly enjoy it to its fullest. Beside the vinyl, the 320-kbps was the best version to truly enjoy it. With producer, Will Yip, I knew the album was going to be nearly perfect. In 2012, their second album, Floral Green, was my album of the year. Even after having some sort of version of the album for over a month, I still need to let it settle in my stomach. Sure, I love it and it is easily my album of the year, at the moment, but that could all change within the coming months. Three of my favorite artists: Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West and Radiohead are all due to release albums this year.

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After a conversation with my friend, Nick Gandy, about 2015 being the tenth-anniversary of Armor For Sleep’s What to Do When You Are Dead, I had to revisit it. I usually spin a couple Armor For Sleep songs on a regular basis, but for some reason, it had been months. The album holds up impressively well. I still got goose bumps during tracks like “The Truth About Heaven” and “Remember to Feel Real”. Both of those songs are complete bangers. When “Basement Ghost Singing” flows into “Walking At Night, Alone”, I melt into a puddle of 17-year-old happiness. I’m very happy I managed to catch them on their farewell tour in 2012.

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At work, we listen to the radio. Usually, I hear the same shitty top 40 songs over and over and over again. Sometimes I don’t have very much patience for the pop-stations and I change it to oldies of some sort. One of my favorite songs that would play moderately frequently is a song called “Bennie and the Jets”. At the beginning of the month, I was having a rough time at work and then that song came on and my mood did a 180. I downloaded it later that night only to find that it’s an Elton John song. I didn’t hesitate to check out more of his stuff. I knew he was talented, but I had no idea how many older songs I liked were by him. What a talented man.

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I made a New Year’s resolution with myself to see some friends outside of the usual weekend alcohol binge. I made that promise true in February with a few of my good friends. I didn’t pressure anyone to join me because I had been drunkenly telling everyone I wanted to do something like this for what seemed like years. After reaching out to a few friends, I was happy to hear that all three would love the idea of getting lunch or coffee during the workweek.

The first friend I got coffee with was my good friend, Dan Brown. Dan and I met in March of 2013 at a mutual friend, Tyler’s birthday party. The night I met him also happened to be the night I met a good chunk of my current friends and my girlfriend, Lydia Hagins. There was something about him that made me almost instantly respect him. Before I got to know him at all, I respected him and I have no idea why. Maybe it was just the way he presented himself. He seemed eager, driven and far from content. At that moment, I think I felt the same way. It was an eerie feeling being in the same proximity as someone else that you could just tell felt the same way as you.

Even though I made a New Year’s resolution doesn’t mean that I actually planned on following through. Nobody as follows through with those, do they? Maybe it was actually something that I would bring up, drunkenly with friends just to make myself feel better. Dan Brown didn’t operate that way. He reminded me about it the follow Monday after his birthday in mid-January. We genuinely were hanging out at least once a week in February, just him and I, chatting about any and everything. I almost forgot how important it was to have a friend to just spill your guts to from time to time.

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In our conversations, he recommended I check out a record label from LA, Soulection. I didn’t really take him seriously right off the bat. I knew he had at the very least a decent taste in music. He liked some of The Chariot’s stuff, which I totally respected, and he also is the person that got a lot of people into RL Grime. One of the best conversations I have ever had under the influence was with him after the RL Grime show in Omaha, Nebraska in July 2013.

A couple days after he recommended that record label, Soulection, he sent me a text about one of their newly signed artists, Same Gellaitry. Gellaitry is from Ireland and he’s only 18-years-old. On February 17th, Soulection released Gellaitry’s debut release, Short Stories EP. His Short Stories EP instantly set my brain ablaze. I got halfway through the second track, “Reflectionz”, on Soundcloud and bought it off of Bandcamp moments later. The EP is that good. I haven’t been able to go a day without listening to it. I am very excited for what the future holds for “Synth-E-Sam”.

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It was only a matter of time before someone uploaded on a remix of one of Gellaitry’s tracks on the Short Stories EP. When the 16-year-old from the United Kingdom, Oshi, uploaded a remix of “To Earth and Back”, Dan Brown made sure to ship the Soundcloud link my way. I thought to myself, “What do you know? Another talented child.” The track is almost better than Gellaitry’s effort. The second drop is way smoother on Oshi’s remix. I decided to check out his Soundcloud and Facebook page and get some tracks to jam out to on the go. I really like “I ❤ u” by him. I also think that his attempt at a fresh remix to Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie” isn’t half-bad.

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Adventures released their debut album, Supersonic Home and unfortunately for them it was on the same day that I was introduced to Sam Gellaitry’s Short Stories EP. A good week into March and I still haven’t given the album the fair amount of spins they deserve. I really liked the single and music video that accompanied it earlier in the February, but like I said, I just cannot stop listening to material from Sam Gellaitry and Oshi. I hope to give it a fair spin in the March or April.

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At work, when I don’t give a fuck and I get really sick of the radio, I’ll just put my phone on shuffle. It may not seem like a big deal, but with a bunch of co-workers around me, they can hear everything I am playing. It’s weird, literally everywhere else in my life I try and promote the music I love. I wear band t-shirts (almost exclusively, I have music tattoos (almost exclusively) and if you follow me on any of my social media accounts, you will get an weekly update about music (at the very least). I mean these blogs about my monthly playlists are evidence enough that music matters a lot to me. So, why is it that I am always trying to hide my music tastes at work? I don’t know. I’m not a psychiatrist. Anyway, on the last Sunday of February, I put my phone on shuffle. The last two tracks of Circa Survive’s Juturna played and I was instantly sent into a rush of my 16-year-old self. What a perfect album. I ran through the album, passively, a couple times that day. It still holds together really well.

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The following Monday, the last of February, I decided I should actually check out some of Paper Diamond’s stuff. Especially since my friends and I were planning on seeing him in Kansas City on Saturday (2/23/15). I went to his Facebook and downloaded an EP or two and his 2014 Summer Tour mix. The mix was especially good. Paper Diamond samples some really outstanding tracks. Spoilers: the tour mix plays a huge role in the beginning of my March playlist. See you all next month with my March playlist!

EZPZ Playlist: January 2015

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I started off the New Year like I always do with at least a few tracks from Death Cab for Cutie’s Transatlanticism and Photo Album. There is something about these albums that recalibrate me. They adjust my focus so I can set my sights on what I want to accomplish from the year ahead.

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With all the rumors and speculation brewing about Kendrick Lamar’s next album, I got back into Good Kid M.A.A.D City. That album stands the test of time with ease. I failed miserably in late-2012 when it was released by putting it off. I ended up hearing his single “Poetic Justice” and was instantly hooked. His third album is said to promise great things since the kid, himself, seems madder than ever.

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Title Fight’s third album, Hyperview, is one my most anticipated albums of 2015. I pre-ordered the download on iTunes to get the singles as they released. I also pre-ordered the exclusive vinyl on Kings Road Merch. When Pitchfork streamed the album in it’s entirety, I got up at five in the morning and listened to it three times before I was forced to get ready for class. Needless to say, I was extremely excited when I got word that the album leaked. I downloaded it as soon as possible. Even though the leak was a measly 128-kbps, I loved every second of it.

Title Fight’s Hyperview is streaming in full on NPR!

My most anticipated album of the year, Hyperview, by Title Fight is streaming in full on NPR. It gave me chills. This thirty-plus-minute “dream underwater” is perfect from opener “Murder Your Memory” to ending track “Night Vision”. Hyperview is a simply perfect album. I’m super proud of these dudes.

I implore all of you to lay down on your bed, tap the link on your phone, throw a pair of headphones on and slip away into this dreamy record.

http://www.npr.org/2015/01/25/378606787/first-listen-title-fight-hyperview

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Title Fight stream third single off of Hyperview, “Your Pain is Mine Now”

The new Title Fight album, Hyperview from Anti- Records is shaping up to be a real monster.

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In the new single called “Your Pain is Mine Now”, streaming on Vogue.com.

Title Fight is just getting better and better with each release. As you can hear in these first three tracks off of Hyperview, Title Fight’s two vocalists, Jamie Rhoden and Ned Russin, sound a lot different compared to the days of the Kingston EP from 2008. The band has really flourished, especially after their last album, Floral Green, from 2012. I cannot stop spinning this “Your Pain is Mine Now”. Jamie Rhoden’s voice is majestic, soothing and flat-out beautiful.

Check it out NOW!

http://www.vogue.com/8286273/title-fight-hyperview-song/

Pre-order the album now via iTunes or the band’s Kings Road Merch profile!

http://kingsroadmerch.com/anti-records/?id=1838

December 2014 Playlist

An announcement came at the beginning of December that got led to my most anticipated album of 2015.  One of my favorite bands, Title Fight, was releasing cryptic clips on their website for the last couple weeks of November. The clips were weird and had night vision type overlays. I was hooked! Title Fight’s Floral Green was my “album of the year” in 2012 and I’m sure Hyperview will not disappoint. Check out the details of the album here. Their first single, “Chlorine”, was released on December 2nd. I loved the song so much, it cracked my “top ten songs of the year” in just a couple weeks. Everyone should be on the lookout for Hyperview, come February 3rd.

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December is hectic when it comes to music. It’s the month I have to cram a bunch of albums in so I can make absolutely sure I did not miss anything for my “end of the year” list. Although, listening to albums this way is not ideal, it has to be done. I listened to Circa Survive’s Descensus, Run the Jewels’ Run the Jewels 2 and FKA Twigs LP1. All three albums are extremely good and made my end of the year list in some sort of way. Although Circa Survive was the only album to crack the top 10, all three could have if I had given them enough time.

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One of my biggest mishaps for music last year was not listening to Childish Gambino in any sort of way. He is one of my favorite rappers now after I gave his first album, Camp, a listen way back in January. Although, better known for his comedy and acting, Donald Glover has a lot going for him as rapper. Break the Internet is a little different than Camp. Glover has developed into a more mature person after his Instagram-therapy incident and Break the Internet seems to display that side of him just fine.

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After my friend Brandon’s Ugly Sweater party, we had a dance party and listened to an assortment of wonderful music. The dance “party” consisted of myself, my girlfriend, Lydia and friends: Alex and Brandon. The main songs that I remember dancing to were from Glitch Mob. So, I added some Glitch Mob to my list.

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As far as working out, I usually jam out to The Chariot and Every Time I Die to shed as much weight as possible before the end of the year. Instead, this month I jumped back and bumped to Code Orange’s Love is Love/Return to Dust.

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I find myself diving into Circa Survive’s Juturna at least a few times a year. December is a perfect time to do this because of the long nights and cold days.

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Title Fight releases details for their third LP!

After weeks of cryptic posts to their website, Title Fight released details on their third LP, Hyperview.

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(Artwork done by the wonderful John Slaby. He has done all of Title Fight’s album/EP artwork.)

Releasing February 3rd, via Anti- Records, it will surely be on my 2015 end of the year list, if not top it like Floral Green did in 2012.
Check out the video and lyrics for their first single “Chlorine” below!

Here’s the lyrics to “Chlorine”

Silhouette
of a violet view
Felt it fade
Was it too soon?

Hollow
You can’t hold it in

Poison in your mood
Chlorine eyes from you

Found your place
in a model face
Fell into
the violent daze

Hollow
You can’t hold it in
Pour out
all your emptiness

Poison in your mood
Chlorine eyes from you
Decorated blue
Opening a wound

Wound
Wound