Anthems for the Insomniacs: Top Five Late Night Tracks

1 Jul

It’s 2 in the morning. The silence of the world outside is almost overwhelming. ‘Normal’ people are fast asleep by now. You, on the other hand, are wide awake. Perhaps you’re lying in bed, mind wandering in the midst of a journey with no fixed destination. Maybe you’re at your desk, midnight oil burning away as you attempt to use the uninterrupted free time and creative boost of that ghostly hour. Or maybe you’re just awake because you have nothing better to do. Either way, you need a soundtrack – music to set the tone for your night, to capture the peaceful, bittersweet, beautiful nature of true late night. Luckily, you have us to provide you with five such songs!

5. Cayman Islands, by Kings of Convenience

Norway’s traditional musical export of black metal is heavily challenged by the indie-folk-pop duo Kings of Convenience (KoC). “Cayman Islands,” from the band’s 2004 album Riot on an Empty Street, sets the scene perfectly for an extended late-night session of intense pondering. Melodic finger-picked guitars flow and meld together in warm, rich, relaxing harmonies, and serve as the perfect backdrop for Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe beautiful, mellifluous voices. Øye and Bøe sing in perfect unison, in a vocal dance with neither leader nor follower.

4. If We Cannot See, by Devics

“If We Cannot See” by Los Angeles indie-rock outfit Devics features the same reliance on warm harmonies, but on a much more grandiose scale. Dreamy, ethereal piano chords shift into overwhelming shoegaze-inspired guitars, as soft breathy vocals whisper-sing lyrics full of beautiful melancholy. It’s almost as if this song was designed to inspire the late-night bittersweet artist in you.

3. All I Need, by Radiohead

Radiohead has always been known for the quality of their music, the emotions their songs invokes and their almost uncanny ability to musically portray your thoughts. “All I Need,” from the album In Rainbows, carries on this tradition. Thom Yorke’s moody, melancholic voice and lyrics underscore the low, driving bass-line, textured soundscape and drumbeat. Echoes of guitars and pianos turn up in odd, unexpected places. The song’s climax is paradoxically both chaotic and melodically refined. “All I Need” is a gloomy, realistic vision of everything in your life that’s going wrong, but what better moment to reflect on all that than while lying awake in bed at 2AM?

2. Take Me Home, by Sulk Station

Bangalore’s first real trip-hop duo are a class apart in India, and not just because there’s almost no one else doing what they’re doing here. Sulk Station’s Rahul Giri and Tanvi Rao have been getting rave reviews from anyone who’s been fortunate enough to hear them. “Take me home” from the album Till You Appear features Tanvi Rao’s beautiful voice in all its haunting, understated glory, admirably supported by computer-and-synthesizer based music that stands toe-to-toe with the best chill-step out there. This is the kind of song that perfectly captures that raw, soul-weary, tired feeling you have after a too-long day of non-stop work. Too awake and alive to sleep, yet tootired to get out of bed? Throw this track on, lay back, close your eyes and let Sulk Station take over your mind and soul.

1. Anthems For a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl, by Broken Social Scene

Broken Social Scene has been a critical darling almost since their inception, and is one of the few indie music collectives that does in fact do justice to the term “supergroup,” even if they do eschew the term. “Anthems For a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl” features everything you’d want in a late-night song. High, breathy, effects-laden vocals are sung over a lilting combination of soft strings, banjos, perfectly simple drums, and guitars that focus far more on atmosphere than technique (and rightly so). The song develops gradually, gathering momentum and building up to a sustained plateau that will keep you on a musical high long after the final notes have died down. Spend some time listening to the lyrics – in a few simple lines, they express what countless teenagers and college kids have gone through and continue to go through, as they grow up and find their (sadly all-too-often fake) identities. This song will both paralyse you and invigorate you, breathless, as your mind races with all the possibilities that lay before you.

– Manickam.

Agree with the top 5? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section! 

2 Responses to “Anthems for the Insomniacs: Top Five Late Night Tracks”

  1. Nachiketa August 5, 2012 at 2:05 am #

    Loved the Devics song..

  2. Macey Cross May 27, 2022 at 5:03 pm #

    I enjoyeed reading your post

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