COVID-19 Quarantine Playlist: Ian King | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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COVID-19 Quarantine Playlist: Ian King

’90s Alt-Rock Radio Deep Cuts

Mar 23, 2020 COVID-19 Quarantine Playlists
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As most of us are understandably stuck inside for the foreseeable future due to the necessary COVID-19 quarantine, we’ve asked our writers to put together Spotify playlists to help us all pass the time. Some will be mixes of music they are currently listening to as a means of getting them through the crisis, others will be centered on a particular theme, scene, genre, or decade. With each one we’ve asked the writer to also submit a photo showing some aspect of their quarantine life, be it their home office desk, hanging with their kids who are off school, or something else. Here is a COVID-19 quarantine playlist from Ian King, accompanied by a photo of Ian at his home office desk with his son.


I have been piecing together and tinkering with this playlist for a while now, but our current predicament spurred me on to finish it. This is not because being housebound means more idle time; being obligated to stay put in an apartment with your family and job can be just as demanding. No, the reason that I finished it is the same reason that a couple days ago I bought a large bag of Cool Ranch Doritos at a picked-over grocery store, and why I was happy when my wife brought home bars of Ivory soap when that was all they had. Forgotten norms from my youth have become an unexpected source of comfort this last week.

Growing up with music in the 1980s and 1990s meant growing up with the radio. Being from Seattle, I was spoiled in the ’90s to have not just a killer college station with KCMU (which became KEXP), but a legitimately great commercial alternative station with KNDD, aka 107.7 The End. (Great, at least, until after Entercom took over in the late ’90s.) Some of the songs they played back then that affect me the most now are not the classics or the second-tier nostalgia tour stuff, but songs by credible minor bands that broke through for a moment, or oddballs and aspirants that were given a chance by labels flush in the alt-rock years but burned out or never caught on. It troubles me how few Spotify plays some of these tracks have, especially The Dambuilders and Blinker the Star, but at least John Richards on KEXP still breaks out Dig’s “Believe” here and there.

In this spirit, I’ve tried to keep this playlist free of tracks that have over a million plays, but there are exceptions. Beyond local Seattle bands (which aside from Super Deluxe I’ve kept off here to avoid hometown bias and save them for another playlist), there is perhaps nothing that signals “KNDD in the ’90s” to my brain more than Kristin Hersh’s “Your Ghost”; plus I needed a transition out of Dead Can Dance. It was impossible to put Imperial Teen and Imperial Drag on a playlist without Superdrag right after; same thing with For Squirrels and Squirrel Nut Zippers. Lastly: these songs are firmly mid-’90s, except for the Ned’s Atomic Dustbin track which is early ’90s— I just couldn’t imagine leaving off the Neds.

Follow Ian on Twitter at @dearjerksmusic.

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