14 Tracks That Got Shortly Through Sophomore Year of Design School

With their band’s debut album arriving this week, Alexandria Maniak shares a playlist of the circa-2016 emo that gave the project its legs.

The good news, for those of you still in school, is that years from now you’ll still have vivid flashbacks to your college dorms, friend groups, and romantic relationships every time you hear certain songs that were either over-played on the radio or personally stumbled upon on Tumblr. The bad news is that that kind of goes away once you enter the workforce and the years start blending together—but the other good news is that, man, those college years really make an impression on you.

For Shortly’s Alexandria Maniak, those years had an added layer of significance in that not only did exciting new tracks from pop-punk and emo stalwarts within and outside of Detroit’s local scene like Dogleg, Oso Oso, and Kississippi affect her listening habits, but the personal relationships they forged with these artists ultimately led to Dancer, their debut LP dropping tomorrow through all three of those artists’ label home, Triple Crown Records. While the album has much more in common with the introspective, folk-informed pop of a group like Hop Along (that band’s ​​Joe Reinhart co-produced the album with Shortly), the inspiration Maniak found in the rowdy basement shows that went down in the Motor City circa 2016 can’t be ignored.

Ahead of Dancer’s release tomorrow, you can stream Maniak’s playlist of tracks hiding somewhere in the LP’s DNA below.

Mover Shaker, “No Backyard”
If you like loud, you would have loved Mover Shaker. Thank goodness I found Jack as soon as I moved to Detroit. Mover Shaker introduced me to DIY, and without them I literally would not be here. Michigania was the anthemic album everyone knew for two years before it came out. Years later, we had the privilege of touring together. I’ll never forget the feeling of screaming “You wanted more than you could take” with them on a stage in another state. This song is catharsis incarnate. 

Joyce Manor, “Eighteen” 

Just when I fell out of my honeymoon phase with design school, Joyce Manor, my favorite band at the time, saved me with Cody. This track started and that distortion put the biggest smile on my face. It sounds like the guitar is smiling. “Just find something to do and then do it.” Thanks, Barry Johnson! 

Dogleg, “Star 67”

New Year’s Eve 2016 leading into 2017: I’m at a very packed house show, dangerous in retrospect, and of course if it’s dangerous, then Dogleg is playing, and I am having the time of my life. I met Parker that night, who ended up being Shortly’s first drummer (and subsequent bassist). I still have the burned silver CDs with these tracks on them. They hit different through the speakers of a 2000s SUV. 

The Hotelier, “Two Deliverances” 

The Hotelier, in my opinion, is a legendary emo band. Remember when The Hotelier released Goodness? It was the most outrageous thing. The album art is pixelated online because it’s a bunch of naked old people standing in a field. It opens with the lead singer reciting a poem for an entire track. The second song feels like a glitch in the best way possible. I heard this album, had an existential crisis, and then attended my very first Bled Fest the next day—and never looked at snare tones the same way again. 

Julien Baker, “Sprained Ankle”

Julien’s 2015 album title track, made of looped harmonics, desperate lyrics, and beautiful swelling sounds. Julien’s music was so honest and, albeit painful, it made me feel like I could make music, too. Seeing her live was the first time I thought I could hear a pin drop in a music venue. 

Kississippi, “Indigo”

Speaking of sadness, Kississippi and I ran in the same emo DIY circles back in 2016 as well. This song has a really heavy bass that would shake the basement. This was the first song I heard by Kississippi. Zoe was a legend to me—the awesome singer from Kissy who was friends with my friends and understood shoegaze. I feel like we’ve grown up alongside one another, and it’s so cool to share a label now, too. Stream Mood Ring

Mom Jeans., “Scott Pilgrim vs. My GPA”

This song sounds like what fun sounds like. I heard it when it came to Bandcamp because I was very, very online at the time and I bought the whole album immediately. Turn a corner, they’re playing at my friend’s house show. Next thing I know, they’re blowing up, we’re on tour together, and I get to scream my favorite parts with them. Now I can’t hear it without smiling. 

PRONOUN, “A million other things”

A bouncy debut. This is a really, really good pop song. It’s fun to listen to and do some dances that involve sliding around in your socks and acting like you’re in The Killers. Alyse, thank you. 

Tancred, “Bed Case” 

Now, Now was my favorite band in high school, so when Jessica left and started Tancred, I was very, very excited. Come 2016, my prayers were answered and Tancred released a whole new LP. It was much dirtier than I expected it to be, and it has an air of confidence about it that I love. I love this sound. 

Oso Oso, “This Must Be My Exit” 

I knew this song before I knew Oso Oso. It was on every house show playlist. Jade’s voice is so unmistakable, too, so I noticed it every single time. It was awesome every single time. The song doesn’t try too hard, and Jade’s voice has a swag of its own. 

Phoebe Bridgers, “Waiting Room” 

After I realized I missed Julien Baker’s tour, I listened to the opening act in my living room. A college sophomore pining over the teaching assistant, playing acoustic guitar more often, I was in luck with “Waiting Room.” I was hoping she’d “tour again sometime soon.” Then, in 2018, I got to open for Phoebe during her Stranger in the Alps tour. It was a 250-capacity venue and she and her band crushed it (as well as the hearts of everyone in the room). It is absolutely insane how huge she is now, and she deserves every bit of the love. Even this oldie is still a top-tier ballad. 

Petal, “Silly Heart”

I used to cover this song as Shortly! Petal’s music was really cool to me. I was very much an indie kid, and I didn’t get heavily into electric guitars in general until my late teens. To hear a femme voice dominating a track with only an electric guitar was a strange and wonderful thing. 

Pity Sex, “Burden You” 

The androgynous nature of Pity Sex’s main vocals was one of my favorite things about the band—and geez, I love when Britty’s vocals are brought to the front in this song. White Hot Moon came out right around the time my fiance and I started dating, and they tried to paint the album art during one of our first dates while we spun the vinyl. It looked terrible. It’s hanging in the office. 

Shortly, “Matthew”

August 1, 2016, I released “Matthew,” my first single. I don’t know what I was even trying to do. I just wanted to write and record a song of my own. It was one of two options I brought to the table to record less than a month prior to the release. It was much to my surprise when the engineer my friend had set me up with was Mat Kerekes of Citizen. He ended up laying down bass and drums for the song. I begged for heavy jungle beats and he introduced me to Noah and the Whale. Later, Mat ended up demoing a lot of my Richmond EP as well.

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