Feel the angst: Moody music from public media people

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Earlier this year we asked public media’s musicians to send us songs so we could compile a playlist. We heard from 40 musicians from across the country, covering a wide variety of genres. This week, we wallow in angst.

Some might argue that all music is, in fact, sort of angsty. Musicians channel feelings into their songs. You can definitely feel the angst when listening to these.

The song “Halloween” by Heavy Looks exudes an upbeat type of angst. Rosalind Greiert is a broadcasting specialist for Wisconsin Public Television. Upon first listen to this song, I’ve crowned her queen of the relatable metaphor.

“Feeling like a Halloween pumpkin, feeling mushy, feeling kinda sunken. A permanent grin on my face but hollow on the inside,” she sings. 

“I wrote it soon after I moved to Madison, Wisconsin, with my then-boyfriend & our relationship wasn’t doing so well,” Greiert said. “It was after Halloween and people still had their jack-o-lanterns on their stoop, still smiling, but rotting away. I could relate with them.”

From a Halloween pumpkin to a ghastly ghoul, the song “Your Equanamity” by -ghost island- is a shoegazey, angsty instrumental. Roddy Nikpour is a production coordinator for KUER in Salt Lake City. He says he was inspired by bumper music.

“I’ve always been enamored by the instrumental post-rock used as bumper music for programs like Morning Edition,” Nikpour writes. “Plus, given that I work in storytelling all day, it’s fitting to go home and stew in instrumental emotionality.”

Don’t let the angsty instrumentals trick you — Nikpour promises he’s more upbeat in person.

“If you meet me, you’ll find I’m much cheerier than -ghost island- would lead on,” he writes.

Minnesota Public Radio’s Cody Nelson submitted what emotionally feels like a two-act play — half scream, half dream.

He says his band Straya’s song “Leach” was one chord progression that turned into a long, winding number. When he’s not reporting, he gets to make music at work, too — he scores the MPR News podcast Rivers of Oil.

Cayce Means is the technical engineer behind many of WNYC’s podcasts, so it’s only natural he makes music outside the office, too. His submission is from his band An English Place. “NY|LA Racket (Stop it)” has a driving beat and great vocals that remind me of the band Pearl and the Beard.

“Just feel bad, feel dirty, don’t know what more I can do. Just sit me right down and tell me you’re just a big baby so tough it out it’ll be okay.”

It’s apparently easy to be angsty in New York City — the next submission is from Caryn Havlik, also of New York Public Radio. “View From A Tower” by Mortals is as angsty as its cover art promises.

Check out the entire Public Media Rocks playlist.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misquoted the song “Halloween” as “feeling kinda something.” The lyric is “feeling kinda sunken.”

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