By, Zach DiRenzo, Contributer
The beginning of a new semester can be intimidating, and it can take a few weeks to get into the swing of things. So, here’s a playlist filled with some of my favorite upbeat songs to get you excited and inspired!
If you enjoy any of the following artists, consider sharing their music with friends, purchasing their merch or going to see them in concert. Music is always there for us, so let’s support those who create it.
TELL THE TRUTH – Jon Batiste
If you aren’t already familiar with Jon Batiste, you’re missing out. Some of the highlights from his prolific career thus far include releasing over ten solo albums, serving as bandleader for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”, and composing jazz selections for the soundtrack to Pixar’s “Soul”. He is also this year’s most Grammy-nominated artist and is in the running for 11
categories, including album of the year for “WE ARE”. “TELL THE TRUTH” is a roaring song that showcases the musical power of Batiste and his band to the fullest extent. Last December, I was fortunate enough to see Batiste at The Bowery Ballroom, where he concluded the show by leading his entire band and the crowd out the doors of the venue, onto the sidewalk and around the block in musical procession, all on a Tuesday night. I love New York.
Hypotheticals – Lake Street Dive
In my opinion, Lake Street Dive’s “Hypotheticals” is one of the catchiest songs ever writ- ten. It’s also the perfect song to kick off their most recent album, “Obviously”, which has been in my listening rotation for almost a year now. Their play- ing has never been tighter, and they are truly firing on all cylinders, both in the studio and on stage. Seeing them live last June at Westville Music Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut, was my first concert in over a year at the time. It was such an unforgettable experience.
Love Comes And Goes – Lee Fields & The Expressions
“Love Comes And Goes,” the second track from Lee Fields’ stellar 2009 record, “My World”, has such a contagious groove. The chorus is infectious. It’s one of those songs you can listen to over and over again and still want to hear more of. Don’t sleep on Fields’ backing band, either. The keys, horns, guitar, drums and more are synchronized perfectly with one another, and you’re sure to become a fan by the opening chords of the album’s third song, “Honey Dove.”
Can’t Fight – Lianne La Havas
Last year, a friend sent me Lianne La Havas’ song “Bittersweet,” and I became an instant fan. Her self-titled 2020 release is such a phenomenal all-around record. It’s fourth track, “Can’t Fight,” starts with melodic guitar strumming that immediately captures the listener. “Paper Thin” and “Please Don’t Make Me Cry” are some of my other favorites from this album.
Make It Better – Anderson .Paak (feat. Smokey Robinson)
Anderson.Paak is one of the most talented artists making music today. Period. I enjoy the classic feel on the song “Make It Better” off his 2019 record, “Ventura”. Also, how can you not love a Smokey Robinson feature?
History Repeats – Brittany Howard
One of the best live performances I’ve seen this past year was Brittany Howard opening for My Morning Jacket at the legendary Forest Hills Stadium in Queens. The funky and timely “History Repeats” capped off her 13-song opening set, which featured tracks from her eclectic 2019 solo debut, “Jaime”, two commanding Funkadelic covers and a thunderous take on Nina Simone’s “Revolution.”
These Are The Days – Neal Francis
Clocking in at 36 perfect minutes, Neal Francis’ 2019 debut album, “Changes”, sounds like a classic record unearthed
from the ‘70s; nevertheless, its instrumental palette is timeless. Paying homage to artists like Allen Toussaint and Dr. John and backed with the sweet sound of New Orleans-style horns, Francis tells his inspiring story of introspection and redemption in 8 compelling tracks. “These Are the Days” is an immaculate song, and best encapsulates the spirit of the record.
Don’t Lose Sight – Lawrence
Siblings Clyde and Gracie Lawrence lead the soul-pop powerhouse that is Lawrence. Their most recent album, “Hotel TV”, released in 2021, manifests such a rich variety of styles, yet also brings them together in a cohesive way through its 12-song musical narrative. “Don’t Lose Sight,” the first track on the album, is an anthem about staying strong no matter what the world throws at you. I highly recommend seeing Lawrence live if you have the chance; their sold- out homecoming show at Terminal 5 last December was one for the ages.