Best of 2020: Oceanator Talks Jeff Rosenstock’s NO DREAM

Elise Okusami on how the surprise album was her anchor through this stressful year.

I picked the Jeff Rosenstock record NO DREAM. It came out in May. He did another one of those surprise releases, where he was just like, “OK, here’s a record!”

It came out at just the perfect time for me. I was very much in the quarantine depression land. The record is just super high energy, and a tight collection of songs that all flow into each other really nicely. The themes covered a lot of what I and probably a lot of people had been thinking about, and felt very relevant to the time even though it was obviously written before it. 

He used to have this band called Bomb the Music Industry! — I started listening to them before I moved to New York, so I guess 11 years ago now. Then he started doing solo stuff, and this is his fourth solo record. My two favorite tracks on it are “Leave It In The Sun” and “Ohio Tpke.” The whole first verse of “Leave It In The Sun” hits me pretty hard every time. “Don’t let me know all the reasons that it probably shouldn’t work, or let me know all the things I’ll never do.” The next section of the first verse really gets me too, because there was a whole relationship thing I was dealing with, and that paragraph really spoke to me. And in “Ohio Tpke” at the end — “You’re the only person that I wanted to like me,” and he just keeps repeating that over and over. It always really gets me too.

The album was just this little thing to grab onto; I’d put it on at least a couple times a day, to anchor that especially stressful time. It feels like it’s dealing with a lot of the stuff I was dealing with leading into 2020. [It’ll] remind me of 2020, but it doesn’t feel like something that I won’t listen to next year because it was for 2020. It feels like it fits now, but I’m gonna love it for a long time. 

Jeff Rosenstock’s NO DREAM is available now, as is Oceanator’s Things I Never Said

As told to Annie Fell.

Oceanator’s debut full-length, Things I Never Said, sees NYC multi-instrumentalist Elise Okusami hyperbolically equating early adulthood malaise with apocalyptic destruction. The type of anxieties that form when thoughts bottle up and stress gets the best of you. Throughout the record, allusions to intrusive thoughts and depression-induced stasis are weaved in between references to falling skies, rolling fires, and the possibility of the world literally falling apart.

However, while Okusami’s emotional and physical solitude makes for a resilient foe, Things I Never Said is ultimately a record about finding comfort in the face of destruction, whether it be through appreciating the little things or forming a bond with someone you can mutually confide in about mental afflictions. There’s no concrete resolution to the album, but rather a vital reminder that love and friendship, both with others and herself, will always reign victorious in our darkest moments