Dinner Party Download, a podcast put out by American Public Media, has been on heavy rotation in my headphones since discovering it last month. Each episode the hosts pick pop-culture figures to deliver sure-fire jokes, recipes and conversation fodder to ensure a successful dinner party.
A few weeks ago I was hosting surprise birthday party for my dear friend Riley and trying to put together a solid playlist. I knew it had to have lots of 2 Chainz because that’s Riley’s deal but it also needed a lot of great music that could exist in the back of the room while still garnering attention (not to exclude 2 Chainz from that category). That, to me, is the perfect playlist.
That week, Dinner Party Download had the band Sylvan Esso stop by to make the perfect playlist. They recommended a song called “Cosmos” by a band called Porches for a nice outdoor cookout. Since I was grilling burgers I gave it a shot.
The 2013 record, Slow Dance in the Cosmos, has been wearing out my stereo ever since.
It’s a perfect summertime record with a sort-of shimmery reverb floating over the whole record, much like the shimmery humidity hovering over my entire state. The guitars are crunchy and the songs full of good riffs (but thankfully not built around them) so it is great for blasting with the windows down.
Each song is very honest with slightly under produced and shaky vocals. The redeeming quality is the delightfully baritone vocals are always delivered at 11 and full of confidence, making any imperfection sound intentional, practiced and incredibly earnest.
Outside of the shimmery, crunchy and honest feel, no two songs share much of anything else. My favorite, “Cosmos,” begins with some acoustic guitar, light keys and Aaron Maine singing:
“Pay no attention while I’m getting spaced out. If you can spell it, well you can do it. Spell it with me S-P-A-C-E.” The band comes slowly and then raucously as he proclaimed, “I don’t live here, I live in the cosmos.”
That feeling of existing in a different space than the people around you is one that resonates with me. Not to say I’m on some higher plain, I just feel like I’m on a different one in many public settings.
Others songs are much less raucous, like the sort-of-cute, ear-wormy “Franklin the Flirt,” or “After Glow,” which at times sounds like a Phil Collins song from the 80s, but one that rules super hard.
The record is 10 songs and exactly 30 minutes long – perfect sumer listen. If you’re in your yard as the sun is setting, get a beer and put on this record while you swing in a hammock. If you’re in your car and it’s hot outside, roll down the windows and blast it. If you’re air conditioner is broken and you’re laying on top of you sheets with that special someone (without touching because it’s too hot) turn it on and stare at the ceiling.
If you’re at a gathering of people you don’t understand, throw in your headphones and S-P-A-C-E OUT.