Early Spring 2017 Playlist: Rise Up

We’re nearly two months into the new America, and here’s where we start to feel that lull, that loss of hope and will power and the siren’s song urging us to bury our heads back in the sand where it’s safe. The deluge of bad news, injustice, and outrage is constant and overwhelming, each day bringing fresh reasons to set our hair on fire. And so we have to constantly remind ourselves not to let this become the status quo. We have to repeat, over and over, that “This. Is. Not. Normal.” We have to sign petitions, make signs, set up monthly donations, sit through our lunches making phone calls to our representatives, and endeavor to keep the truth present in our lives.

So for this playlist, we wanted to gather the songs that make us feel a renewed sense of purpose. They make us want to wave our banner for truth and justice higher, to march and write and sing out, and to make them hear us, goddamnit.

These are songs to remind us to stand proud and strong. They remind us of what America actually is, what it can be, and what we need to fight for in order to make it that way. We’ve drawn from across genres and decades, from indie to platinum and everything in between. It’s not perfect or complete by any means, but we hope it inspires you to get up and go out into the world to fight for change and freedom and justice, with no regrets. We’re in this together.

As always, you can listen along here, on YouTube, or on Spotify (given certain copyright restrictions/limited availability of some songs, however, this month in particular we recommend you listen here).

Winter 2017: Make a Brand New Start of It

A new year has dawned and, for maybe the first time, we both returned from our beloved Bluegrass State after a holiday break with that cozy, fuzzy feeling of going back home. Somehow, without either of us realizing it, this madhouse of a city wormed its way into our Southern hearts. And while our roots will always be in Louisville, and we won’t be calling ourselves New Yorkers any time soon, we do both feel that we have claimed this here city — or at least certain corners of it — as ours.

So we’re starting off this year with songs that highlight our adopted home. New York has provided endless inspiration for artists, writers, and directors alike. But musicians especially continue to pay tribute to New York: From Old Blue Eyes to The Black Keys, people love to sing about this city.

Our criteria were simple: Each track on this playlist had to contain New York or one of its boroughs in the title. Put on a pot of tea, bite into your bagel and schmear, and relax to the rumble of the subway and the whoop of passing sirens. And as always, you can listen here, on Spotify, or on YouTube.

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Winter 2016 Playlist: Snowfall Songs

We love a good holiday song here at Z&S. Give us chestnuts roasting over an open fire, dreams of white Christmases, and dreidels made of clay, and we go positively cuckoo for carols. We abstain all year, you see, saving up for that sacred festive season, and then as soon as the clock strikes midnight on Thanksgiving night, the spirit of the season sallies forth from our earbuds and doesn’t stop until Christmas.

But amid all this holly and tinsel, sometimes you just want a little snow. Something non-denominational, holiday neutral, which can carry you past Boxing Day and into the new year. So this year, for our wintriest of playlists, we decided to diverge from our seasonal themes past, and present a playlist for snowy days and chilly nights, regardless of the date on the calendar (if we’re being perfectly honest, this decision may also have had to do in large part with the fact that we’ve done two holiday playlists on here already, and we’re running out of favorite carols to share).

From guitars and bluegrass to Broadway stars and one Nobel Prize winner, these songs are for the bare tree season. Pour yourself a big mug of cocoa, with some marshmallows and perhaps a shot of something stronger thrown in. Sugarplums are swell, but sometimes you just want to watch the snow fall. Listen below or on Spotify.

Autumn 2016: Rain-Soaked Highway

Autumn has rushed into Brooklyn. The air is crisp and cool. Zelda is unfurling her cavalcade of scarves. Kids are heading back to school. and Scout is heading back below the Mason-Dixon line on a 12-hour road trip to attend yet another wedding (she’s actually quite excited about this one), and Zelda is off on a journey her own this weekend, to our nation’s capital. So we’ve combined the wet October streets of New York in the fall and the open winding roads of the Appalachian mountains to bring your a road-trip playlist for a rainy day.

We’ve combined some of our new summer favorites, like Sarah Jarosz and Brandi Carlile, with old standby’s like Houndmouth, Ingrid Michaelson, and Audra Mae for a playlist that will propel you down the rain-soaked highway, be it in your mind or actually laid out in front of you. Lean your head against the window, and watch the world go by.

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As always, you can listen along here, or we’re on YouTube and Spotify.

August Playlist: Summertime Sunshine

Summer is coming to a close, and we’re all very sad about it. While we won’t miss the heat or the humidity or the smells of a New York summer, there is a distinctive scent of reality check in the air as we head into fall. So before the last of these long, lazy days fades away, we thought for our first playlist of our third year we’d give you a dose of sunshine and joy! These are songs that make us smile, that make us want to jump and wiggle and dance around our kitchens. Sometimes, that’s all we need.

Spanning several genres, we’ve incorporated some old favorites (The Avett Brothers, Tegan and Sara, Stevie Wonder) and some new ones (Lizzo, Nick Santino, Vulfpeck). We’ve got some of Zelda’s go-to pick-me-ups (see: Pink Martini) and some of Scout’s (see: dat new JT tho). There’s jazz and rap and folk and indie tunes so sweet they’ll make your teeth hurt. Hopefully, there’s something on here to make everyone do their happy dance of choice. And as always, you can listen here on the blog or join us on Spotify or YouTube.

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July 2016: Forecastle Prep

We’ve written on this blog before about Louisville’s Forecastle Festival, one of the highlights of our musical year. It’s a chance for us to celebrate our hometown and its rich cultural scene, to jam to favorite artists and, most exciting of all, to discover new ones. Some of our favorite bands are Forecastle discoveries from festivals gone by — Wheeler Brothers, The Secret Sisters, Walk the Moon, just to name a few — all little bands getting their start whose sounds wormed their way into our brains as we lay in the sunshine on the banks of the Ohio.

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We’re heading back this year, for the first time in a while. And we’re super excited to see some of our favorite bands play in one of our favorite settings. But our curiosity is also itching for the bands we don’t know, wondering which one may become our new love. These are some of the groups that have peaked our fancy so far, from the bottom of the billings where hidden gems so often lie. From funk to folk and soul to rock, hailing from Nashville, Shreveport, Kansas City, Toronto, and beyond, these duos and trios and 10-piece ensembles have caught our eye. We’re studying up and listening in. And maybe, if we’re lucky, come next weekend our lives will get a fresh soundtrack. As always you can listen along on YouTube or Spotify!

Unknown Mortal Orchestra: So Good At Being in Trouble, Can’t Keep Checking My Phone

Sarah Jarosz: Father Adieu, Over the Edge, Build Me Up From Bones, Fuel the Fire

Caveman: In the City, Great Life

Liz Vice: There’s a Light, Empty Me Out

Anderson East: Devil in Me, Satisfy Me

Wild Child: Stones, Stitches

Banners: Shine A Light, Ghosts

Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear: Yellow Taxi, Live by the Water

The Suffers: Giver, Midtown, Gwan

Saintseneca: Happy Alone, Fed Up With Hunger, Blood Bath

Los Colognes: Baby You Can’t Have Both, Drive Me Mad

River Tiber: Let You Go, The City

Seratones: Necromancer, Don’t Need It, Get Gone, Chandelier

Future Thieves: Rosie, Just Sayin’

Myzica: Ready or Not, Wait Just a Minute

The Shadowboxers: Woman Through the Wall, Pusher Love Girl

June Playlist: 2016 Tony’s Study Guide

It’s that time of year again, y’all! The most theatrical weekend of them all, bursting with talent (and drinking game potential) — it’s Tony season! Now you may have heard tell, from us or from literally any news outlet in the world, about a little musical called Hamilton that is poised to sweep all of the awards. And we here at Z&S have absolutely drunk the Hamilton Kool-Aid (even if only one of us has managed to see the show in person…yet). But there were, in fact, other new musicals that opened on the Great White Way this season, several of them perfectly wonderful — from the Sara Bareilles-composed Waitress and the Bluegrass-infused Bright Star to Andrew Lloyd Weber’s latest, School of Rock, and the re-imagined Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. And frankly, we feel that these 2016 stepchildren are underrated, perhaps doomed to tout themselves as “Nominated in the Same Category as Hamilton” without much hardware to show for it (but that being said, anything can happen! It’s the Tony’s!).

And on top of these four original shows nominated alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brainchild for Best New Musical, there are also four shows up for Best Revival. If you’re not crying as Cynthia Erivo sings “I’m Here” from The Color Purple, we don’t know what to tell you (come to mention it, between Deaf West’s Spring Awakening‘s teenage death and angst and Fiddler on the Roof‘s xenophobia and refugee crisis, the ebullient romance She Loves Me is really the only cheery one in the bunch). So here, dear readers, is your homework before Sunday’s ceremony.  Listen to them well. If you find something you like, check out that full cast recording (almost all of which are available — we’re just waiting on Shuffle Along!). And don’t forget to tune in at 8 p.m. as James Corden leads us merrily through the festivities. With the suspense seemingly removed from many of the categories, any surprises will be all the more surprising, and win or lose it’s bound to be a hell of a night. The Tony’s are all about our shared loved for theater (musical and otherwise), and whoever the winners may be, surely we can all celebrate that.


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