- Brendan McKay
There are a few songs that, no matter when or where I hear them, immediately transport me to a different place. Most of this emotional teleportation is deeply rooted in my past - 'Free Bird' by Lynyrd Skynyrd will always remind me of driving home from lawn mowing jobs as a teenager in our family's old station wagon, my pockets $20 heavier and a smile on my face. The Rippingtons' 'Life in the Tropics' album equals family vacation in the Florida Keys, bombing around in a rental Maxima with my father looking for the best places to fish on an island we knew nothing about. And while perhaps not by choice, Rihanna's 'Umbrella' will forever be seared into my eardrums as the song of my first summer in New York City, an insignificant and somewhat insecure kid in a cacophany of chaos fighting to understand what 'normal' meant in this foreign place, but also fighting for space in packed bars to buy drinks I couldn't afford. This was at a time when Uber didn't exist so you hailed a gypsy cab in Lower Manhattan to take you uptown for the night, 'Umbrella' on full blast in the back seat and 'Umbrella' on even fuller blast the moment you entered the club after paying an eyewatering cover. No Spotify either, so there was no ability to search the universe for the perfect song to fit the perfect mood. But let's be honest - the only song we wanted to hear was 'Umbrella'.
But then there are those songs I hear that take me to a place that, while maybe familiar, I've never been to. Unsurprisingly, a lot of these newer tracks are accompaniments to drives I've never taken. And it's kind of cool when you can actually take a future memory and make it come to life. So, whatever your listening device, take a moment to throw on Mesa Redonda by Hermanos Gutierrez, close your eyes, and feel the arid heat of the California canyons raise the hair on your skin as the world comes alive .