Welcome to #MusicMonday here at the misfit moves blog! Each week I will curate a playlist for you that reaches across national and cultural boundaries. Whether you’re rocking out with your concert crew or pumping some jams in the background of an all-night work-athon, it’s important to keep things fresh. Let me do the work for you! This is a brand new idea, and I’d like your help. Please let me know what you’d like to see from this feature in the future. You can find the comments section at the bottom.
This week, we go to Thailand – deceptively named as The Land of Smiles. Millions of travelers are blinded by the dazzling beaches and friendly locals each year. I intend to traipse through the country myself in January, armed with ample naiveté and tempered with a dash of caution. I’m particularly jazzed about diving into Thailand’s rich folklore in Chiang Mai, and glimpsing some of the authentic Bangkok underground. I began my research on Thailand by doing the usual – reading guidebooks, browsing forums – but I feel an even greater curiosity after opening my ears to Thai music.
Put those headphones on!
The Cat – Soul People Say
To start here’s a brightly colored song with words in English, to ease us into our discovery. I don’t know anything about Thai artist The Cat but this track is from a compilation series called Thai Beat A Go-Go. Fun name. Though, if you’re in Bangkok and walk into a Go-Go Bar, you may get a different experience. Caution: the groove and funky-munky chorus in this song might cause your butt to shake in mysterious ways.
Caravan – Song of the Mountain Fighters (Kon Pukao)
Now that we’ve injected some fun into our dreary Monday – or whatever day you happen to be reading on – let’s learn something. Thai music from the 70’s reflected the yearning for social justice with a movement called “Songs for Life”. The band Caravan, made up of college students, was one of the first to push their political voices in this way. Listen to this lullaby – I won’t tell anyone that you cried.
Maleehuana – The Wind Varies
Another song in this style comes from 1994, courtesy of Maleehuana – yes, as in marijuana. Shockingly, they’re another group of college students who probably smoke the sweet leaf. Activism tends to come from the younger generation, and Thai music follows suit. The soaring vocals hit right in the feels, regardless of language barriers.
Limousine – Luk Thung (Khun Playboy)
Picking up the pace, we take a detour outside of the country to France. While the French have a troubled history in Southeast Asia as colonial rulers and instigators, nowadays they engage in a more positive cultural exchange. The French jazz group Limousine was so captivated with Thai music that they adopted the northeastern Isan region’s style for their album Siam Roads. Yodh Warong, a local orchid farmer/musician, helped them learn the ins and outs of his people. The result is a playful knot of “je ne sais quoi” and Thai-ness with ample percussive drive.
Yellow Fang -I Don’t Know
And finally, one of my new obsessions is Yellow Fang. These three girls from Bangkok kick so much ass. They play like a beautiful post-punk kaleidoscope, filled with quiet anger and determination. Their debut album is a perfect cocktail of thick atmosphere with a hard edge that could easily compete with the likes of NYC’s Interpol.
It’s a lot of fun going through playlists and related artists to find new music. I hope you like this idea and come back for future editions of #MusicMonday! I don’t profess to be an expert in the music I post – I just think it sounds good and has something to teach us if we listen. If you’ve got some knowledge to share regarding Thailand or its music and culture, please leave a comment below!