The Awkward Freshman Playlist

Editors Note: This is the first of our weekly columns from our eager contributors. Every day during the week we will post one column, and you can expect to see the same author’s work every week after that unless otherwise noted. Ellen Mayer’s column is entitled “The Awkward Freshman Playlist” and will chronicle her experiences at Tufts and the music that goes along with it. -MD

For freshmen, most conversations during the first weeks of school go something like this: Nice to meet you, (insert name), where are you from?† What dorm are you living in?† Do you know what you want to study? This conversation is unsatisfactory on oh so many levels.† To begin with, you know youíll forget a solid half of the people youíve met anyway.† And then, if youíre like me, what you really want to know is not whether youíre new friend is from Connecticut, Massachusetts, or New Jersey, but rather what music does he or she like.

Because this key question rarely enters into the conversation, Iíve had to do a fair amount of sleuthing.† Sometimes people make it easy and wear band T-shirts.† For example, I met a freshman in Dewick a few weeks ago that was wearing a Ted Leo t-shirt.† We proceeded to have a long and enthused conversation about the singer and his morphing style from punk rocker into, well, whatever he is now.† (If youíre not familiar, I suggest listening to the album Shake the Sheets).† What, Ted Leo friend?† Did you say youíre from Wisconsin?† Are you a fan of Bon Iver?† OF COURSE HE IS.† He has been to see intimate Bon Iver shows in Wisconsin basements.† So now, though I absolutely cannot remember his name, I will never forget where heís from or that we have common music tastes.

The music investigation continues on my floor.† I have now made a tour of every room on the hall to take stock of the music poster situation.† Between us, we have about 27 posters representing probably a dozen genres.† According to the blog, stuffwhitepeoplelike.com you can ďgo to any floor in a College Dorm and there is a 100% chance you will find at least one Bob Marley poster.Ē† My floor has three.† Good job Tufts for validating the white liberal college kid stereotype!† Incidentally if you havenít read that blog, it is absolutely hilarious and spot on accurate.† So yeah, get to it.† I believe they also have a book that can be found at most Urban Outfitters.

Then again, the point of all this music stalking is, of course, to learn about new music.† During the course of my sleuthing I found Scale the Summit adorning the walls of hall-mate Connerís dorm room.† Not only is this band completely new to me, it represents a genre that definitely does not exist in my iTunes library.† Hereís what Iíve learned.† Scale the Summit is a progressive instrumental rock band from Houston, Texas.† They have two albums out, Monument released in 2007 and the 2009 release, Carving Desert Canyons.† Conner suggested that I listen to their song, ďThe Great PlainsĒ off of their newer album.† I was dubious at first because I have little experience with instrumental rock but man did I love it.† I felt a sense of excitement and satisfaction that I usually only expect to find at live performances. The song seems to have different movements with varying riffs that each wring out of me a different emotion.† The musicians are clearly virtuosic and fascinating to listen to.† I was even reminded at times of intricate jazz guitar solos by the likes of Lionel Loueke (thatís a pretty obscure one.† Check out Gilfema; itís a great album).† I feel like my head is exploding with revelations of musical possibilities.† Clearly Conner and I have a lot of music-talking to do.

So Iím finally making the music connections Iíve been craving and Iím expanding my horizons, as all those Tufts admissions reps promised I would.† By the way, in case you were wondering, my name is Ellen.† Iím from Brooklyn, NY, I live in Hill Hall, and I have no clue what I would like to study.† I am not sporting a bandís t-shirt but I do have a Black Keys poster on my wall and Iím currently listening to Scale The Summit.

The Awkward Freshman Playlist

  1. Counting Down the Hours Ė Ted Leo
  2. Flume Ė Bon Iver
  3. Three Little Birds Ė Bob Marley
  4. The Great Plains Ė Scale the Summit
  5. Dunes Ė Scale the Summit
  6. Six and Three Ė Lionel Loueke
  7. Thickfreakness Ė The Black Keys

Ellen Mayer is a freshman who has not yet declared a major. You can contact her via email at Ellen.Mayer@tufts.edu.

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