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Active Listening: Songs for when you connect

Things feel more isolated than ever, but music can bring us together.

The language used to describe the social platforms that dominate our lives tends to highlight opportunities for connection. Mark Zuckerberg’s latest pitch for Facebook centers on the app’s power at building communities, and Twitter incessantly brands itself as a space to learn about what’s happening in the world. And yet it can often feel like the world as it exists today is as lonely as ever. Staring at Twitter as real life events unfold thousands of miles away is certainly connective in some sense, but can also remind you of just how alone you are. The world outside is scary, and only grows more fraught with each day. Connecting with people, real people in your actual life, has never seemed more important and more difficult.

When it does happen, there’s something exhilarating about forming connections in the real world. Even if born from collective grief, or pain, the knowledge that another human being literally and figuratively feels you is remarkable. This week, we’ll look at a pair of songs that, in their reverence for connection, drive the point home.

Mount Kimbie, “Marilyn (Feat. Micachu)”

Mount Kimbie’s latest record, Love What Survives, is a delicately crafted album that at moments feels orchestral. The British electronic duo have a knack for elaborate arrangements that place an emphasis on the slightest of details, and on the track “Marilyn,” which is assisted by the singer Micachu, a subtle, warm energy courses through its minimal piano riffs and shimmering cymbals. The song’s chorus speaks to a budding connection: “I'm looking up at you, yeah / Are you looking up at me, yeah?”

Mike, “God’s With Me”

The cover of Mike's EP By the Water

The cover of Mike's EP By the Water

The Bronx-born rapper Michael Jordan Bonema, who performs under the name Mike, is something of a repudiation of the peculiar obsession with teenagers that has consumed the music industry. The 18-year-old MC’s angst strays from the vacant brand of emo rap that has turned a number of drugged out teenagers into premature celebrities, opting instead for something more heady. Mike feels the weight of the world through persistent and striking observation. On “God’s With Me,” a single from his EP By The Water, the rapper's lingering contemplations find him musing on life, religion, and loneliness. "I peep destruction in discussions over earl tea," he raps. The track ventures into personal territory, and with its freewheeling jazz refrain, feels like the type of conversation that would tip a friendship from casual to substantive.

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