The Hotelier — “Piano Player”

It’s a sad fact of life, and one of emo’s biggest cornerstones: every single person you love will either leave you or die. Far away from the jaded anthems of their peers in the amorphous “emo revival” (Modern Baseball, Defeater, Neck Deep), Massachusetts quartet the Hotelier revel in this #woke-ness, and developing as a source of joy, rather than misery. Through a combination of tightly-wound indie rock instrumentals and eloquent, romantic prose, the band shape “Piano Player”–a highlight off their fantastic new album Goodness–as a celebration of love’s ephemerality. The band’s jangled racket sets the scene for lead vocalist Christian Holden’s detailed, tableau, which may well have come from a Tolstoy novel: a pair of young lovers spark their relationship at a packed party while an older woman looks on, remembering the 88 lovers she’s had over the course of her life. She–and we–know that their love will certainly fade, and but the song’s chorus proclaims a message of love-drunk defiance, with Holden slowly unspooling the word “sustain” like it’s the only word they know. Emo-tinged as they might sound, the band’s joyous arrangements gesture to a broader, starry-eyed optimism which offers a refreshing break from the usual fatalistic chatter. Sonically and romantically, it lives in the moment–if only more of us could make a habit of doing the same.—Zoe Camp
Radiohead — “Daydreaming”

The second pre-release single off May’s stellar A Moon Shaped Pool doubles as the score to a short film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. If the somber piano arrangements and sweeping strings (courtesy of the onion Philharmonic Orchestra) aren’t sufficient enough proof to “Daydreaming”’s cinematic heft, consider the events surrounding its release: Following the music video’s online premiere, independent theaters around the world screened the ballad’s haunting visual on massive screens, showcasing the piece’s existential despair in high definition. In Anderson’s video, a blank-faced, weary Yorke clambers through a series of 23 doors–or more accurately, portals–that lead him away from society (laundromats, parking garages, concrete tunnels) and into the wild, his ascent accompanied by those devastating string swoops. As the mournful pianos drift in for the eerie, calming finale, the haggard singer collapses in an icy cave before speaking in tongues (or rather, reverse): “Half of my love / Half of my life.” (Coincidentally, Yorke is 47, recently separated from his partner of 23 years–roughly half of his life and love.) You don’t need to be looking at a screen to feel the brunt of his journey on “Daydreaming,” but the band’s promotional framing reveals the track’s genius: one of the most impactful, essential crossovers between music and film thus far.—Zoe Camp

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