April Artist Playlist: Caleb Allan (Spring Thaw)

Every month we update a Spotify playlist that is curated by one of our members here at Chroma. This month is curated by Caleb Allan! Caleb is one of the newest official members of Chroma, although he has been playing in bands with all of us old-timers since the beginning. You can check out ALL OF HIS PROJECTS over here.

We update this playlist every month, so make sure to follow to stay up on the latest version! Here we go:

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There’s something magic about the day winter ends and spring begins. Even a cold weather apologist like myself has to admit it’s exciting to be able to shed your winter-induced shell and watch the world come back to life. The songs on this playlist are meant to be a perfect soundtrack for that time. Think of it like the first day you can drive with your windows down after winter: it’s barely 50 degrees, but the sun is out and you can hear the birds chirping and you’re being brave and leaving your coat at home for the first time in months.

An Introduction to the Album -- The Hotelier

Controversial take: this is the best emo album of all time. I love the patience in this opening track, just making you wait 3 and a half minutes for the payoff of hearing the full band. And hoo boy is it worth it.

Is it cheesy and cheating to start your playlist off with an opening track from an album that also says “introduction” in its name? Absolutely, but I make the rules around here, so you’re gonna have to deal with it.

Sun in an Empty Room -- The Weakerthans

I think this song is like a podcast theme or something? I honestly don’t remember how it came into my life, but it kinda feels like I’ve known this song forever. It’s about that moment when you’re clearing out a house, and you look back at the shell of the rooms you lived in and letting the memories and nostalgia wash over you. It’s sweet and melancholy.

Sonsick -- San Fermin

The horn parts in this song move me to tears. It feels nostalgic and hopeful and melancholic at the same time. Also, the vocalists from Lucious are on this track and WOWIE ZOWIE their emotional performance elevates it to new heights.

Familiar -- Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment

This song will make you smile and bob your head for its entire length. There are a few moments when some 808s drop in over the light guitar and horns that make up the backbone of the beat, and it turns this quirky, breezy head-bobber into a full on head-banger.

Keys to the City -- The Go! Team

Most music by The Go! Team has more of a summer vibe than a spring vibe, but some of their tunes just transcend the time of year and weather. They sound like somebody threw a motown bass and a punk band and sample-based hip-hop and a marching band and a 70’s tv show theme into a blender, and by some miracle it sounds amazing.

I Belong in Your Arms -- Chairlift

The bass lines in Chairlift songs effortlessly syncopate and move in directions that I would never imagine, which is simultaneously frustrating and awe-inspiring for me. The one in this song pairs magnificently with the washy, shimmery synths and a wild vocal performance that make for a song that makes me want to dance and cry at the same time, as all great dance tunes should.

Come On! Feel the Illinoise! -- Sufjan Stevens

If you’re listening to this playlist and you have never listened to Illinois before, I need you to stop what you’re doing and immediately listen to that masterpiece of an album. It’s amazing and emotional and beautifully arranged. 22 songs, no slouchers. I’ve probably listened to this song a hundred times, and the other day I noticed for the first time that it does one of my favorite rhythmic tricks (VERY quietly) where you have an odd-metered pattern and then you throw a pulse in 2 over it, so the emphasis alternates every other measure, like this:

1 2 3 4 5 | 1 2 3 4 5 | 1 2 3 4 5 | 1 2 3 4 5 |

I’m getting lost in the weeds a bit, but the point is that this song and the rest of Illinois are lush with lots of great hidden secrets to enjoy.

Katachi -- Shugo Tokumaru

I don’t know anything about this artist! I found this song years ago thanks to its gorgeous music video featuring a bunch of cut out pieces of colorful paper moving in stop-motion, and that video perfectly encapsulates what makes this song wonderful. It’s bright, cute, fun, and colorful. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpLBR38kVvY (Forreal check this out, it’s awesome.)

Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart -- Mitski

Yes I know that Mitski has been on like three of these playlists, but she should be on every subsequent one. I’m frankly disappointed that she’s not batting 1.000 on appearances. This song is beautiful and twisty and builds tension and then BAM those descending voices and trumpet come in and then DOUBLE BAM a KEY CHANGE?! Are you kidding me? This song rips.

The Rabbit, The Bat, and the Reindeer -- Dr. Dog

Fate is my favorite Dr. Dog album by a country mile. The songs are just so great and optimistic (for the most part, there are some good downers too) and this song is the most cheery joint on the album. It’s bouncy and just keeps building and swelling into a hopeful climax that makes me want to just get up and run, like everything is gonna be fine.

Cut to the Feeling -- Carly Rae Jepsen

CRJ is the queen. She writes perfect pop songs that have the intensity of being in love for the first time. This one makes me want to dance and then punch the sky and then smooch somebody I love. If you have only heard Call Me Maybe before and you’re thinking to yourself, “why is Caleb making me listen to some one-hit-wonder garbage?” I would highly suggest giving her album Emotion a shot, because it’s a perfect pop album.

Nobody Cares -- Superorganism

The sampling on this song is so cute, and I love it. The sneezes that are used to drop into the choruses slap so hard and the little “eww” breaks are so tidy it’s delightful. This band belongs in the late 2000s with other quirky, cutesy groups like Matt and Kim and Grouplove, but they’re actually from the now times! What a treat.


We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed -- Los Campesinos!

Los Camp are masters of the ol’ happy sounding song with brutal breakup lyrics trick, and this song is no exception. While you’ve got your windows rolled down and are enjoying the almost-warm air, really meditate on what it means to be doomed. I like to think about how the Earth is getting hotter and hotter and how some day only the rich will be able to survive while the rest of us die in the pollution-onset wasteland. The best Los Camp albums are Romance is Boring and Hold On Now, Youngster, but every album has at least a few killer tracks so give them all a listen.

—This marks the beginning of the rowdy section of this playlist, so buckle up bbs.—

Tokyo Vampire Hotel -- Tricot

Look, Tricot are very good, and we’re gonna keep putting them on playlists until everybody listens to them. There’s an interview with Kendrick Lamar where he talks about how he’s a jazz musician by default. That the music he naturally wants to create and gravitates towards is jazz. I think about that a lot and I think I’ve finally figured out that my natural inclination as a musician is to make and listen to whatever it is that Tricot is doing. The wild energy and soul-lifting melodies and the killer mixed-meter riffs are just everything I love in music. They’re great.

Felt Just Like Vacation -- Bomb the Music Industry!

Vacation by BtMI is an album about how the winter and being cold and seasonal affective disorder suck. And while I disagree with two of those three points, it’s still one of my favorite albums of all time. Jeff Rosenstock has an amazing ear for melodies and enough energy to power a small village and this album is wall to wall bangers about trying to fight off the sadness.


—The rowdy section is over now, so I guess jump back in here if you’re afraid of loud music or something.—


Yesterday -- Noname

Noname is amazing. Like, jeeze. This mixtape (Telefone) rips and you should check it out if you haven’t yet. The beats all feel light and simple and natural in a way that a lot of hip hop beats aren’t. And she can RAP. She always brings an interesting perspective to her songs that I want to hear more of. I dunno what else to tell y’all, she’s just the real deal, check her out.

It is You -- Natalie Prass

I understand that this sounds like a Disney princess staring-into-water song, but there’s just something so sweet and beautiful about Natalie’s voice and the chords and strings that make it rise above what it appears to be on the surface. Or maybe it’s exactly the same as one of those songs and I’m just trying to manufacture an excuse for liking something that I’m not supposed to like as a music snob. I’m not sure. But what I do know is that when I listen to this song, everything is kinda perfect and beautiful for a few minutes.

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Remember, you can follow THE PLAYLIST to get treated to more expertly curated playlists like this one every month from one of our artists! And remember to catch Caleb playing with one of any of the dozen bands he supports at dives in Chicago or at festivals this summer!