film noir detective pikachu

The longer and nerdier version of Dark Alley Jazz. We like short tightly edited things over here at trash garbage, but the room we found for an exception this time was, apparently, what if Detective Pikachu just really leaned into it. (I love Detective Pikachu.)

This is exactly what it looks like. Just shy of five hours of smoldering, dangerous, moody jazz, weaving video game music covers in with “real” jazz from the staples like Miles Davis and the new groundbreakers like Nubya Garcia. Put it on around your extended family and trick them into thinking you’re sophisticated.

The World’s Longest Elevator Ride

When I started working on this playlist, my goal was to create something that sounded basically like a liminal space, those sort of transitional, designed to be exactly the same locations that dot the American Midwest. It’s a playlist that’s supposed to, like a lot of what I make, embrace the concept of ambient music, in the sense that you should be able to listen to it if you want, or have it blend seamlessly into the background

When I showed it to Matthew he said “this makes me feel like I have been waiting forever to not get somewhere” and “like I’m on hold with my health care provider” and “like I’m in the menu of a mid-2000s, Mii-focused Nintendo game” and “like I died in a Walgreens”. I’m calling that a win.

a sunday morning where you wake up and it’s raining

gentle jazz and jazz-like things. jazz like [you know what jazz is] [insofar as anyone knows what jazz is]. jazz-like things like trip hop, lo-fi hip-hop beats to relax/study to, the last david bowie album, and whatever the hell pyramid song is.

honestly this one is pretty self-explanatory however you can listen to it when it’s not raining if you would like

Animal Crackers and Bodega Coffee

Ottessa Moshfegh’s novel My Year of Rest and Relaxation depicts a character who decides what she really needs, at the deepest levels in her soul of souls, is to just take a nap for a year. Her early attempts at the medication experiments required to do so leave her in intermittent and disorienting states of consciousness, begrudgingly awake, waiting for sleep to return in an emotional cocoon of old movies, animal crackers, and, paradoxically, shitty coffee from the bodega downstairs. It’s a hell of a mood. I truly can’t decide if I’ve had afternoons that felt more like this in the office before the pandemic or working from home during it. (It is not after the pandemic. It is still a pandemic.) (I sort of assume that sentence will always be accurate. It will never not be the pandemic now.)

A hazy playlist blend of work music, sometimes instrumental, sometimes incomprehensible. Ranges from the experimental free jazz of Harriet Tubman to the experimental noise pop of Sleigh Bells. Ranges from the soothing wisps of Grizzly Bear to soothing shoegaze of Broken Social Scene. There are two Grimes songs, and I’m sorry.

A playlist for this vibe:

Alternate Reality SimCity 3000 Soundtrack

So, my all-time favorite album is the soundtrack to SimCity 3000.

This sounds like a joke and I have no way to assure you it is not. So instead, I’m going to talk about what I like about it and what I tried to do with this playlist. Also, I think I might talk about Trash Garbage a little, because it’s my blog and I get to put whatever I want here until Matthew removes it during copyediting.

The reason I want to talk about Trash Garbage a bit is that when I sat down to earnestly talk about why I had picked songs out for this playlist I had a fleeting thought of “wow, how unlike this blog this is”. Which is true, but it doesn’t mean that this is out of place. What I liked about Trash Garbage from the inception is that Matthew and I really never had any intention of what this should be. The bulk of our conversations about this blog essentially boil down to one of us saying “this feels pretty Trash Garbage” and the other going “I agree, post it”. It’s that sort of creative freedom that’s actually enabled me to try doing some of this, which I would not have considered otherwise.

Bringing us back to the soundtrack to SimCity 3000, AKA my favorite album. Last year, I went through some personal hardships and needed something that didn’t sound like anything else I was already listening to. I discovered this soundtrack. I’m not really sure how; I think I had listened to other game soundtracks and this came up as related. (ed note but still fuck algorithms don’t forget this.) I didn’t know anything about SimCity (a thing that came up today, when I mentioned that I would post this, was Matthew saying “the description should be like an in-game SimCity notification or something!” to which I responded “I’ve never actually played SimCity”), but somehow found myself charmed by a very optimistic and charming album full of music that I think perfectly matches the idea of what some people endeavor to achieve with ambient music, creating songs that are fundamentally interesting to focus on, but completely capable of blending into the background. I became fascinated with this album, and it started to score every workday, and then eventually started to become the soundtrack to the time I was spending at home.

But obviously at some point you just listen to an album enough that you crave a little variety, and I found myself in the strange position of wanting to listen not to the SimCity 3000 soundtrack, but to music that sounded like the SimCity 3000soundtrack. Upset I couldn’t find those albums readily existing, I started to pull tracks that reminded me of it into a small playlist. Not only does this playlist contain music that simply sounds like SimCity’s soundtrack (“The Sheriff”, “The Mirage”) it also contains works that simply remind me of the plastic utopia of the Sims universe (all the James Ferraro that made it on here) and, finally, songs that the original composer, Jerry Martin, mentioned inspired him when he was composing this soundtrack (“Zombie”, “A Remark You Made”)

It’s obvious that I recommend listening to the original soundtrack as well, but I also feel obligated to point out that Jerry Martin runs his own website where he occasionally makes high-quality downloads of this music available for free. So maybe check that out, if this is your kinda thing.

Dark Alley Jazz

For when you’ve spent a lot of time wishing you were a private eye in a 1940s spy movie. Not in a “ah, the good old days when men were men and women were probably trying to kill you” way, but more in a sneak around and solve mysteries and fight off your adversaries, the greatest of whom is yourself, way.

This playlist is for Jazz to listen to while chain smoking in a speakeasy somewhere. Smooth but unforgiving, like the scotch you’re drinking or the memories of a former love you try not to think about.

checking your work email on monday morning

You like the taste of coffee. It has nothing to do with being More Productive. That said, you’d really like to get through your inbox before you finish this first cup of coffee today and/or panic.

This playlist is for quickly easing into a soothing sense of focus. It switches up genres enough to keep you engaged, but stays instrumental (you gotta read those emails, those words to focus on). There’s some lo-fi study beats on the nose, chillout on the palate, and a jazzy finish. Hopefully that’s the least pretentious thought you have this morning – again, you got emails to read. Maybe even write! Don’t worry, we’ll get you through the first hour and a half of your week.

this playlist also available on Apple Music