Our Favorite Artist-Curated Playlists

When we ask artists to curate a playlist for The Dowsers, we request two things: a) their list of 10-20 songs, and b) a brief statement explaining their playlist concept. We’d like to thank all the artists who shared their collections with us this year—each provided a unique insight into their influences and obsessions. But we were especially amazed by the notable names listed below. They didn’t just provide us with a simple synoposis of their playlist, they crafted lovingly detailed liner notes that encourage you to follow along at home. Click on the links below for the full experience, and click here to browse our complete collection of artist-curated playlists.

Dennis Lyxzén’s Favorite Songs From the American Underbelly
The frontman for Refused, The (International) Noise Conspiracy and, currently, INVSN took us on a journey into the dark side of the States: “Growing up in the north of Sweden as a working-class kid there are certain elements of American culture that fascinate and enthrall … under the glamour and glitz, there’s a darkness and depth that give way to a more nuanced picture of America.”

Partner’s Favorite Songs to Get Stoned To
Listen to Partner’s delightful debut album, In Search of Lost Time, and you will quickly learn that Canada’s foremost queer-positive fuzz-pop duo are also massive potheads. For this Dowsers playlist, they reveal the songs they like to crank up when they spark up, from Young Thug to Black Sabbath.

Sweet Apple’s Songs of Sorrow Playlist
Sweet Apple is the power-pop supergroup featuring vocalist John Petkovic and guitarist Tim Parnin of Cobra Verde, and bassist Dave Sweetapple and drummer J. Mascis of Witch. (You may also know the latter from another band.) To mark the release of their second album, Sing the Night in Sorrow, Petkovic created this Dowsers playlist featuring songs from the record, and the classic tracks that directly inspired them, from Devo to the Get Smart theme.

Dale Crover’s Favorite Drummers / Buzz Osborne’s Favorite Guitarists
The founding members of veteran sludge-masters The Melvins provided separate playlists saluting the preeminent players of their respective professions—though they both skipped over the obvious names to shine a light on more unsung heroes.

Sparks’ Favorite Songs
Now approaching their 50th (!) year as a band, Sparks (a.k.a. Ron and Russell Mael) have been at the forefront of many crucial developments in pop music—glam rock, electronic disco, New Wave, neoclassical baroque ‘n’ roll—and have put their own singular, absurdist stamp on them all. As their fabulous recent release, Hippopotamus, proves, Sparks’ flair for extravagant art-pop and whip-smart lyricism remains undiminished. And as their contribution to The Dowsers attests, nobody puts together a playlist quite like the Brothers Mael.

Dälek’s Unsung Hip-Hop Heroes Playlist
Since the late ‘90s, New Jersey trio Dälek has been pushing hip-hop into harsh, dissonant realms, and their latest album, Endangered Philosophies (Ipecac Recordings), honors their reputation for raw rhymes, bruising beats, and extreme sonics. On this playlist, the crew’s namesake MC salutes his fellow rap iconoclasts: “This is a collection of songs and groups that move me. It is a playlist of underground musicians who each, in their own way, have pushed the culture of hip-hop forward. What strikes me is the sheer variety of styles, sounds, and experimentation here.”

Uni’s Ultimate Glam-Rock Playlist
Uni are a fab new glitter-rock trio from NYC featuring Nico Fuzz, David Strange, and Charlotte Kemp Muhl, best known for collaborating with Sean Ono Lennon in their psych-pop outfit The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger. The band recently released their starry-eyed first single, “What’s the Problem?,” with a full-length coming out in early 2018 on Ono Lennon’s Chimera Music label. To give you a taste of what to expect, the group curated a playlist that salutes their glitter-rock gods—and provided highly informative, totally fact-checked, irrefutable liner notes about each song’s creation.

Shirley Manson Presents: Take All of My Broken Toys and Fix Them All—A Sad-Songs-Only Playlist
Still flying high on their 2016 release, Strange Little Birds, and their summer 2017 tour with Blondie, alt-rock icons Garbage also recently released a coffee-table book chronicling their two-decade history, titled This Is the Noise That Keeps Me Awake. But on this playlist, frontwoman Shirley Manson reveals the songs she turns to when she wants to cry herself to sleep.

Tremor’s Latin American Gamechangers
Tremor recently issued the Ave Reina Mora EP, which finds the veteran trio continuing to fuse Argentian folk traditons and modern electronic production in fascinating new ways. For this playlist, they salute the artists who’ve been at the frontlines of Latin American musical revolutions dating back to the 1940s up to today. “LatAm Gamechangers is a playlist of Latin American musicians that are of defining influence in our band’s opinion. Their approach to LatAm folklore music was daring for their time. They took risks and, in some particular cases, they experimented with elements, sounds, and arrangements that sometimes took decades for the audience and even other musicians to catch up with.”

Los Macuanos Presents: Apocalyptic Political Theater
In the spring of 2017, Tijuana avant-electronic duo Los Macuanos released their third album, Epilogo, an equally impressionistic and visceral work that reverberates with the unrest felt all over the world this year. Their playlist of key influences also doubles as a history of politically provocative electronic music: “There are common threads in all the works featured on this list: a global-mindedness that still references regional politics; an exploration of the body and identity as affected by larger systems of oppression; and a decolonial and hyper-aware approach to cultural referencing. It is, in broad strokes, the sound of living in the perpetual, perceived end of history.”