Lo-Fi Downers and Hi-Fi Uppers to Get You Through Your Day

Isn’t it fascinating how music can effect our moods, pace our days, and generally add to the rhythm of everything we do? It’s… kind of like a drug. A very legal, mostly safe drug. Just like I need my coffee in the morning, and I might enjoy the odd cocktail at night, these artists and songs help pace my days through work and family life, and generally keep me on an even keel. Much like my friend and colleague Michelle McQuade Dewhirst’s excellent Slay the Slog playlist, this playlist is meant to be uplifting, although it leans much heavier into electronica.

Uplifting for me might be different than it is for you. I never do well with too much excitement before noon. I want my coffee and I want to focus on the task at hand, whether that be getting my kid to school, teaching a jazz history class, or simply catching up on the 14,000 emails in my inbox. Nothing has ever focused me and set me on a mellow but clear path like Boards of Canada. I’ve bookended this playlist with two selections from their album Music Has the Right to Children, which I highly recommend. I’m also including their Dayvan Cowboy as a chill morning tune to be enjoyed alongside selections from Tycho and Aphex Twin. Bjork’s “Hyperballad” might have some depressing lyrics, but I find a lot of determination in her way of lassoing the chaos. Daft Punk’s “Something About Us” reminds me how much I love and am loved.

Squarepusher starts moving me into the more active part of the afternoon, when coffee number two is doing its work and I can see the end of the workday. Lest I take myself too seriously, Ben Folds Five is there to remind me of my “Redneck Past” and Beck keeps things light and surreal with “Devil’s Haircut.” My mind wanders. Santigold reminds me why I go through all of the things I do as a “Creator,” and Tim Hagans reminds me of just how cool the trumpet can be. I guess I’ll practice some more.

The end of the day comes, and Thundercat turns out the “Lava Lamp” so Boards of Canada can strip away the drumbeat of the day and settle me in for sleep. I’ll do it all again tomorrow.

By Dr. Adam Gaines

Adam Gaines is an Associate Professor of Music at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay. Dr. Gaines teaches the trumpet studio and jazz history courses, directs jazz ensembles, and works with music technology. In the Green Bay area, he can be heard performing with Brass Differential. Dr. Gaines frequently travels to Slovakia and the Czech Republic to perform in jazz and classical idioms and to spend time with his wife Ladislava’s family.

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