SNDTRK Volume 11
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SNDTRK Volume 11

Justin Laidlaw
Justin Laidlaw

This week marks the return of SNDTRK. I’ve been inspired to revive this series thanks to Mariel, one of my close friends. Many of our conversations include fawning over new bands we’ve discovered and songs we’re inspired by. Since I was a child, music has been a major part of my identity. If you catch me on the street, and I’m not listening to music, I am undoubtedly singing or rapping a song in my head. In the middle of conversations, certain words distract me, triggering melodies I can’t ignore.

If you’re new to SNDTRK, you can find all the previous pieces on my website here, as well as the playlist where the songs are housed here.

For volume 11, I’d like to share three songs with you. The first is a song from a band that was recommended to me by two different people in the span of a week. Song number two is a vivid memory from a weird time in my early 20s. And three is a song that I find myself revisiting often when I need to clear my head.

As always, leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter with your thoughts.


Carl Sagan

Night Moves

The story on music discovery I wrote two weeks ago was largely based on the overwhelming emotional response I had while listening to this song for the first time. It was one of those songs that come along at just the right moment. It pulled me out of this emotional pit that I was wallowing in. John Pelant, Night Moves’ lead singer, has one of the most unique, captivating voices I’ve ever heard, and Carl Sagan puts that voice on full display at the crescendo of the hook.

The cruel irony is that Night Moves actually played in Asheville two weeks  before I learned about their music. Two of my buddies drove down for the show. One night, when we were playing cards together, I played this song and Jad told me this was the band they went to see. The universe doesn’t always tilt in your favor.


Out Of Time

Pretty Lights

Pretty Lights has been a hallmark in my playlists since I discovered his music at the start of the decade. I saw Pretty Lights around 2012 with a bunch of friends at the Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte during an emotionally turbulent time, which, in hindsight, has been most of my adult life, it seems.

His most recent EP to date, Glowing in the Darkest Night, had been out for a couple of years at this point, and in heavy rotation. His music sat comfortably in-between my love for hip-hop and my growing appreciation for Bassnectar. The song that I kept revisiting was Out of Time. If there’s one thing that Pretty Lights can hang his hat on, it’s sampling, both in choice and execution. One of the two is a track by Carol Anderson called “Tomorrow is Not a Promise.” It takes only a few seconds for the sample to reveal itself. “Tomorrow’s not a promise, but I’ll wait for you.” The original is more of a romantic song but every time I hear that hook, it’s like the ominous yet comforting voice of God whispering in my ear. Hearing that song live was a religious experience. I cried. I cheered. And for a brief moment, I was a man out of time.

Monkey Suite

Madvillain (MF DOOM)

“This goes out to all my brothers doing long bids, and sisters who got brothers being fathers to the wrong kids.”

I don’t remember the moment I discovered DOOM the way I do Jurassic 5. I wish I could. His music speaks to me in ways that no other artists have nor most likely ever will. I find myself revisiting his catalog for so many different reasons: when I need creative energy, when I’m sad and need an emotional safe space, or when I want to show off for new friends.

It wouldn’t do justice to his music for me to try and explain it here if you’re not already familiar so I implore you to explore his catalog when you have a solid couple hours because it’s not something you can fully absorb without giving your undivided attention.

There’s a video that was released in March 2009 of Mos Def, a dynamic rhymer in his own right, reciting stanzas of DOOM lyrics, admiring their complexity and, at times, absurdity.

Mos Def declares that he “would bet a million dollars on DOOM against Little Wayne.” High school Justin, a known Weezy detractor, levied this in many arguments about Lil Wayne’s overrated status as a creative writer.

“He rhymes as weird as I feel.”
I share the sentiment.


Each Friday, SNDTRK will hit this site, providing you with three songs.

Ranging from music that has inspired me, invigorated me, or just songs that bump including fresh cuts and old classics. In doing this series, I want to share the connections I have to music and in turn, make a connection to you.

You can find the full playlist here.