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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Top 20 Songs of October 2015

Every month I comb through all the new releases and personally select the top 20 best songs released that month. Then I lovingly craft them into a play list for your--yes YOU--listening pleasure. It's like a mixtape of the month club, but via the interwebz. Follow my Best New Music of 2015 playlist on Spotify, for all the updates and rad new tunes.

The season of parties approaches, and while I may have bumped a lot of these jams (isn't that what the kids call it these days?) at my Halloween party, I feel confident that many of these tunes are solid enough to keep in rotation to NYE and into 2016. Moreover, it would seem that indie artists have been on a bit of a mission to appropriate and reinvent country music. A revolution that I fully approve of, and can't stop listening too. That said, October was a fantastic month for new releases, and it was very hard to whittle down my favorites to just 20 songs. All the artists are gearing up to impress for 'Best of 2015' lists. Speaking of which, why yes, of course I'm doing a 'Top 100 Songs of 2015'. Check back in December for updates.

'Amanecer' - Bomba Estereo : There's an awful remix version of this song featuring Will Smith. Ignore that trash. This version is much better. Still, it may finally break this band in the states, though they've been slaying it in their native Columbia and South America generally for years.

'Hot' - Powers : I'm assuming that this duo is intentionally over the top in a fun ironic kind of way. Even if it's for cereal, it's hard not to fan yourself when listening to this club jam #onfleek

'Freedom! '15' - !!! : often pronounced Chk Chk Chk now has a successful track record of record of reinventing disco with an indie edge spanning over a decade. This is their 6th full-length, and they've still got it.

'Pray for Rain' - Pure Bathing Culture : You might be surprised that this now Portland-based duo got their start playing with indie folk band Vetiver, since their music has a decidedly electro bent now. This song is simultaneously makes my feet dance and my heart yearn. I can't stop listening to it.

'Used To' - Mutemath : This band has been hit or miss for me. They blew up math rock in 2006, and I loved them for it, but then they fell into some formulaic stadium rock thing that was dismal. The new album is big without being pretentious.

'Bombs Away' - BOOTS : Though he gained some indie recognition with his band Blonds, Jordon Asher did not become infamous until it was rumored that he was the brains behind Beyonce's 2013 self-titled album. His debut full-length as BOOTS is filled with menacing beauty.

'No One Wants It to Happen to You' - Small Black : In 2013 Small Black released an album on Jagjaguwar that was a serious contender for best of the year, and now they're back. Best Blues is, as the title would suggest, more introspective, but still offers many sounds to appreciate.

'Silver Car Crash' - Magical Cloudz : 6th release in 6 years, Are You Alone? from this prolific Canadian artist has a dreamy, almost cinematic aesthetic. For example, this song is a contender for most romantic lyrics of the year.

'Sold' - Little May : So Baroque it's almost orchestral folk from a trio of ladies with sweet vocal harmony skills. The organizers of Lilith Fair would have swooned all over this. Plus the album artwork is impeccable, an increasing rarity in the digital age.

'Where'd You Go' - Boy & Bear : Rambly, catchy folk rock with a silver-throat frontman. Apparently, they broke out big in their native Australia. This is their third release and it sounds like they're ready to take the world by storm.

'Bitter Water' - The Oh Hellos : Classic big singalong, clap-along folk with mandolin trappings and playfully paired lady and male vocals. It may be classic, but this independent duo of Texans execute this style flawlessly.

'Demons' - Summer Twins : The veneer of garage and psychedelia we expect from Burger Records' bands with 60's pop sweetheart vocals from two bonafide SoCal sisters. Bonus for a sweltering guitar solo and vintage organ sounds.

'Legends of My Own' - Gun Outfit : Is lo-fi post-country a thing? Gun Outfit kind of makes it a thing, and I like it. Droney vocals and finger picking FTW. Check out the accompanying music video, which was shot on a Super 8 in Washington and the band's new home of LA.

'TXTN' - Conner Youngblood : A bit of a musical savant, it's rumored that he plays 30 to 40 different instruments. His contemporary aural explorations collide with his roots: born in Texas, and based in Nashville. You really need to check this out.

'Lay Down' - Son Little : In the '50s gospel met rock 'n' roll in wave that would become known as R&B. While artists like Mayor Hawthorne have revitalized later '60s iterations of this collaboration, Son Little tackles the early years when things were a little more raw. Sam Cooke, eat your heart out.

'Real Blues' - St Germain : Active in the mid to late '90s, this is the first full-length from the French electronica artist in 15 years. After all this time, he still has an instinctual flow and crate-digging expertise, sampling Lightnin' Hopkins vocals.

'Nottamun Town' - LISTENBEE : This song reminds me of video game music...in a good way, though it does that jazz sample thing that Euro DJs seem to love. It's the second single from an artist with more remixes than originals. It'll be interesting to see what he does next.

'Fela' - NVDES : 3rd single from a brand new LA-based artist that hasn't even released an EP or LP yet. It's got a fun calypso beat, good build, and sexy dude vocals. Want to try and check this live ASAP.

'No Pixar' - RDGLDGRN : Pronounced Red Gold Green, this trio has the DC/VA style of rap mastered, a laid back mix of a range of influences including indie, electro, and rock. Confession: I can't help but 2-step to this.

'Kanta's Theme' - Chris Walla : The guitarist for Death Cab for Cutie for 17 years, Chris Walla began working on solo atmospheric ambient music in 2008. Last year, he officially parted ways with DCfC, and this new album would suggest it's all for the best. Here's all the contemplation and feelz from Transatlanticism with none of the bullshit teen-pandering of the Twilight soundtrack debacle.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Top 20 Songs of September 2015

Every month I comb through all the new releases and personally select the top 20 best songs released that month. Then I lovingly craft them into a play list for your--yes YOU--listening pleasure. It's like a mixtape of the month club, but via the interwebz. Follow my Best New Music of 2015 playlist on Spotify, for all the updates and rad new tunes.

Not sure what's in the air. Maybe it's the changing of the seasons? Something is different, and this month's playlist has a distinct vibe. I hesitate to be reductionist, but let's say it's emotional. It's got the feelz. All of them. The beginning half has a lot of pensive electo things going on. About half way through there's a generous dollop of emo folk punk before descending into blues influences. Perhaps you might think this is too much feelz? Well, it's autumn people. The days are growing shorter and our ancestors would have been worried about surviving the winter. It's not all pumpkin lattes and artistically layer clothing. Make some time for autumn equinox contemplation.

'Jealousy' - Robert Delong : The song that finally made me change my mind about Robert Delong. Okay, KCRW, I get it now - you can stop playing him hourly.

'Swings & Waterslides' - Viola Beach : If the Arctic Monkeys and Two Door Cinema Club made sweet love, it would sound like this. Such a sucker for that accent.

'Harpe' - Kenton Slash Demon : Two Danes signed to Future Classics create new deep house opuses with the summer jangles you expect from FC artists.

'Gone' - Ofelia K : Delicate dream pop with lullaby vocals and lovely harp-sounding samples. It would be interesting to see what she would do with a full-length.

'Instinct' - Ritual : Deep bluesy male vocals over softly echoing soundscapes makes for quiet, intimate moments. Very James Blake, but that's okay.

'No Harm Is Done' - Christine and the Queens, feat. Tungi Ige : Visceral polyrhythms bend at beautiful angles thanks to Héloïse Letissier a multi-media artist.

'Sleep In' - Telekinesis : Single on the 4th full-length from Seattle indie rocker Michael Benjamin Lerner, playful use of noise and found sound.

'Sleeping Alone' - The Cactus Channel, feat. Chet Faker : Surprisingly no-brainer collab. Chet Faker does spoken word to soulful, sorrowful instrumental Aussie band.

'Ordinary Feeling' - Here We Go Magic : A new, more acoustic sound for this band allows them to explore new spaces, beginning tentatively and then finding somewhere bright.

'Highway Patrol Stun Gun' - Youth Lagoon : Trevor Powers' 3rd full-length strikes the perfect balance between his last two albums. Kid's all grown up and still has it.

'All in a Daze Work' - Kurt Vile : Kurt Vile just keeps getting better and better. He's pretty much perfected the strange, half-crazed bard thing and we love him for it.

'Never Come Back Again' - Austin Plaine : Sometimes you just need some sweet, soothing banjo folk. If it comes with vocal harmonies, all the better. Thanks, Austin.

'Roaming Empire' - Maritime : The Promise Ring lives on through Davey von Bohlen's Maritime. Proving that emo punkers don't die, they just grow up.

'Feel Better' - Hodera : This is MY NEW FAVORITE BAND. GO listen to ALL their music NOW. Seriously, my home stomping grounds of the mid-Atlantic have been churning out the best music lately. Hodera is a fantastic new chapter in that region's signature sound of emo folk punk with epic singalong bridges. Meant for long walks alone in the woods and crowd-surfing in sweaty basements.

'I Don't Like Who I Was Then' - The Wonder Years : Speaking of mid-Atlantic punk, these veterans are still killing it after a decade of living out of a van and being generally scruffy. Kudos! Soupy's come a long way from playing the VW Hall in Lansdale, PA.

'Raise Hell' - Dorothy : Holy shit. This is some down home and dirty country rock from a lady with a killer voice. RIYL Black Mountain, The Black Keys, and single barrel bourbon.

'Tired of Talking' - LÉON : Not to be confused with the Italian DJ. This lady is from Sweden and knows how to sing the blues. Set to remix worthy, chilled out beats.

'Blue Honey' - Jimi Charles Moody : Scorching revival organs, big honky-tonk piano, and heartrending lyrics are all that's known about this mysterious breakout artists.

'Fell In the Sun' - Big Grams : This is an epic new partnership between Big Boi (Outkast) and Phantogram. The self-titled full-length is a contender for best rap album of the year.

'Bar Breaker' - Prof : Not to be taken remotely seriously, or listened to by the faint of heart. This is some intentionally ratched white boy rap from the Midwest with slick flow and hilarious lyrics.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Top 20 Songs of August 2015

Every month I comb through all the new releases and personally select the top 20 best songs released that month. Then I lovingly craft them into a play list for your--yes YOU--listening pleasure. It's like a mixtape of the month club, but via the interwebz. Follow my Best New Music of 2015 playlist on Spotify, for all the updates and rad new tunes.

As life continues to be short for all of us, I'm continuing with the TL;DR version of the month's top tunes.

    'Ain't Got Far To Go' - Jess Glynne : Soulful vocals set to big brassy instrumentals. You may know Jess Glynne from Clean Bandit guest vocals, but her potential is so much more.
    'My Gold' - KOPPS : Like Jock Jams with a weird dystopian twist. Much needed revisit to the genre?
    'No Mans Land' - Panda Bear : Panda Bear is back. Only good, strange things can come of this.
    'Down' - Petite Noir : Experimental electro with R&B vocals and at least some homage to Malian pop from 21-year-old South African, Yannick Iluga.
    'You're The Best' - Wet : After a breakout debut EP a year and a half ago, Wet are back. Thankfully signing to Columbia does not seem to have damaged their sound.
    'Drive' - Oh Wonder : After releasing a single a month for a year, this savvy London duo are ready to release a full-length that sounds just like their Insta. Yeah, it sounds sickening, but secretly you love it.
    'Never Be' - Meg Mac : Epic vocals and bare bones blues rhythms from an Aussie who's about to take the world by storm.
    'Come' - Jain : OBSESSED with this little lady. Globe-trotting roots give French pop a new twist. Wes Anderson is crying with joy somewhere.
    'Return To The Moon (Political Song for Didi Bloome to Sing, with Crescendo)' - EL VY : Matt Berninger (The National) and Brent Knopf (Menomena) collab. By their powers combined they're even better than you'd think.
    'June & Johnny' - Jon Foreman : Lead singer of truly awful band Switchfoot proves to be a surprisingly capable soloist in the vein of Bright Eyes. Plus, he likes Carter & Cash.
    'Times Square' - Destroyer : Dan Bejar starts from scratch again and strikes a lovely balance between some of his earlier sounds, plus sax solo.
    'Snakeskin' - Deerhunter : Is Bradford Cox feeling...happy? This new track positively jams until is disintegrates into the craziness we'd expect from Deerhunter.
    'Sleeper Hold' - Saintseneca : The kind of sounds that NPR Music drools over - folk with just the right indie edge for credible authenticity. But really, I like it.
    'Smile' - The Royal Concept : Tongue-in-cheek lyrics about SoCal from saucy Swedish rock band that probably have a leather-pants strut down pat.
    'S.O.B.' - Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats : If The Blues Brothers and Robert Johnson had a baby. Haven't liked a song about drug addiction this much since Old Crow Medicine Show's songs about cocaine.
    'Church' - Gary Clark Jr. : Actually makes you want to go to church and beg for salvation on your knees. Vocals and harmonica burn the tape and your soul.
    'Georgia' - Tiggs Da Author : American southern soul meets African beats with a distinctive accent, thanks to an English Tasmanian.
    'Good Times Roll' - Griz and Big Gigantic : Sicker than ill collab that's got to have Mark Ronson loosing sleep. I dare you know to let your back bone slip.
    'Chocolate Milk' - Coucheron feat. Rye Rye: Badass lady raps over some fun sounds, trippy and bit crunchy, by a Norwegian producer.
    'Pleasure This Pain' - Kwamie Liv featuring Angel Haze : There so much music out there right now that just sultry female vocals over ethereal sounds, which is turning into a mass droning bore. Thank god that this track adds something a little more weighty, and actually tackles some serious shit.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Top 20 Songs of July 2015

Every month I comb through all the new releases and personally select the top 20 best songs released that month. Then I lovingly craft them into a play list for your--yes YOU--listening pleasure. It's like a mixtape of the month club, but via the interwebz. Follow my Best New Music of 2015 playlist on Spotify, for all the updates and rad new tunes.

Life is short for me, and for you, so rather than wasting your time with my musical pontification, I thought we'd try a TLDR version of this month's top tunes. What do you think?

    'So Good' - Beat Connection : If you were looking for a summer party jam, look no further. This really is so good.
    'Holding On' - Julio Bashmore featuring Sam Dew : Old school disco samples at a new school BPM with distinctive falsetto vocals that ring like a bell.
    'Weathered' - Jack Garratt : Though provoking lyrics, epic use of the crescendo, and intriguing use of electro beats.
    'Gone' - Jr. Jr. : Artists formerly know as Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. venture into folktronica. Whistle along to the drop.
    'Amadeus' - Family and Friends : Hand clapping, foot stomping, finger picking good tune that appropriately ends with gang shouts and violin.
    'My Church' - Maren Morris : Strong gospel country voice worships Johnny Cash instead of Jesus. Praise be to dirty organ sounds.
    '24 Frames' - Jason Isbell : Jason Isbell finds a new voice sans The 400 Unit or Drive-By Truckers, burns with sage emotion and guitar solos.
    'Phone In A Pool' - Ben Folds : Ben Folds uses signature tongue-in-cheek, rambling story telling to tackle the topic of being an old rocker.
    'Dead Weight' - Mimicking Birds : Dark and increasingly complex layers echo and spin on for a full six minutes while maintaining constant awesomeness.
    'In Motion' - The Lighthouse and The Whaler : Surf punk vocals over alt rock riffs tinged in shoegaze sparkles somehow really works.
    'Fell You' - Julia Holter : Goddess of Baroque pop is back with a song about Mexico City featuring harpsichords. ***SQUEEL***
    'Jonah' - Kaya Stewart : 15 year-old daughter of Eurythmics' Dave Stewart bursts with raw vocals and stripped down production.
    'Seventeen' - Sjowgren : Beautiful and honest female harmonies over driving fuzzed out guitars from the Bay Area. Sure to blow up soon.
    'Desire' - Dilly Dally : 90s female-fronted grunge reincarnated. Overdue successor to Garbage/The Breeders/Hole torch of badassery.
    'Pretty Pimpin' - Kurt Vile : Kurt Vile borrows a page of out Mac Demarco/Lou Reed's book and get a little less country and a little more psychotic bard.
    'Mountain At My Gates' - Foals : Award winning UK rockers are intent on slaying it with their fourth studio full-length.
    'Come Down' - Wavves and Cloud Nothings : Wet dream of a post-punk collab finally comes to glorious fruition after much internet rumors. Act like you don't care about anything, but you secretly really care about this.
    'We Made It' - Born Ruffians : Now over a decade old, but these Canadians still go big with little to no fi.
    'Closure' - Jill Scott : She's back and badder than ever! Pure sass with your morning after breakfast (or lack there of). If she did a song with Leon Bridges, I might just die.
    'In The Wind' - Statik Selektah featuring Joey Bada$$, Big K.R.I.T. & Chauncy Sherod : OG style, laid back, smart rap from a former radio DJ with an up-and-coming cast of supporters.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Top 20 Songs of June 2015

Every month I comb through all the new releases and personally select the top 20 best songs released that month. Then I lovingly craft them into a play list for your--yes YOU--listening pleasure. It's like a mixtape of the month club, but via the interwebz. Follow my Best New Music of 2015 playlist on Spotify, for all the updates and rad new tunes.

This month's top 20 playlist kicks off summer bright and sunny with a number of upbeat dance tracks. When not giving enigmatic TED talks, Alan Palomo, aka Neon Indian, found time to release a new single, 'Annie', which is full of his familiar bubbly beats. I've had a soft spot for Neon Indian ever since I took a little trip at Virgin Mobile Free Fest and somehow ended up in the front room of his set in The Dance Forest. Twenty years after her debut, pop icon Robyn has launched a new project called La Bagatelle Magique, and their first release is 'Love Is Free', which harkens back to the golden Jock Jams days of the 90s while still maintaining a certain je-ne-sais-quoi edge. Then there's fresh-faced newcomers, Superwalkers, a Swedish duo with almost googlable history. Check 'em out now before Ed Banger Records scoops up their sweet euro, nu disco sounds and blows them up.

Over in Australia two electro darlings seem to have some decidedly new sounds brewing. Chet Faker's new single 'Bend' is dark, sparse and surprisingly lyric-driven. Between flawless production and bluesy vocals, Chet Faker is well on his way to cementing himself in the hallowed halls of producer fame. Even more surprising is 'Some Minds', a haunting shifting song from Flume with vocals by Andrew Wyatt. In a major departure from his self-titled debut in 2012, this is not a song you can dance to.

But don't despair, it's still summer. Tep No bring on the beach vibes with 'Pacing', a head bobbing tune almost made for drinking pina coladas to, with the perfect tickle of guitar riffs. Then former Craft Spells' drummer, Peter Michel, tries on some new musical hats as Hibou, a project that does an excellent job of channeling all my favorite things about Real Estate and DIIV. It's very promising, and we should all keep an eye out for a full-length from Barsuk Records this fall.

Irish, teenage songstress SOAK is back with her heartrending vocals and deeply pensive lyrics on a full-length, Before We Forgot How To Dream, which is chock full o' perfectly wonderful songs, though I picked 'Reckless Behaviour' to showcase. Beirut has been making music for almost a decade now, but they've still got it. I just can't get enough of their signature horns on 'No No No'. So brassy. So good. It pairs well with the weirdly worldly 'Margarita' by Mas Ysa, a musician that musicians love who is emerging from hiding in Woodstock to release an album.

Then we make some room for some more ladies, 'cause they're pretty darn awesome. Hailing from Los Angles, meet Miya Folick, who writes songs with brilliant train-of-thought lyrics and dreamy tones. It seems that she's represented by the Danger Village music collective, so this is another newcomer to watch. Next, soulful Lianne La Havas is back with 'What You Don't Do', and her voice is more powerful than ever. Seriously, she reminds me of a young Aretha Franklin. And, Wolf Alice has jumped across the pond to give us My Love Is Cool with the finely layered 'Bros'.

Plus, Matt Pond PA is back! Let us rejoice! The new album in the prodigious discography is The State of Gold, and it sounds a lot more ambitious. This is album is more uplifting and filled with big, crescendos of sound. It's almost dancey, which may alarm purists. Thankfully I doubt too many of those follow this blog. Which is good, because they probably wouldn't like Iron And Wine covering the Talking Heads. This is a cover of a perfect song that is somehow more perfect. Blasphemy! Fie. Ben Bridwell from Band of Horses lends the sweetest slide guitar touches. I'm so head over heals for this cover, which is something I almost never say. And, everyone's already talking about Wildheart, the new album from Miguel, so I'll just leave 'leaves' right here.

Blaring into mass attention are the L.A. post punkers FIDLAR, who in good punk fashion give approximately zero fucks. Someone give these kids a forty already. They're poised to blow up. (Wikipedia just told me that the brothers Kuehn are the sons of the keyboardist for T.S.O.L.--punk isn't dead--it just had babies--that are now in bands? WTF.) On the folkier side of punk, The Front Bottoms have released a super fantastic new split that proves they're really maturing into a force to be reckoned with. The harmonies on 'Cough It Out' practically beg to be singed along to. If this is making you feel old, you'll appreciate 'Girls' from Widowspeak, which takes a tired tone while languishing from youth envy.

We finish with a little country cherry on top from Kacey Musgraves. Don't let looks deceive you. This little lady ain't cut from top 40 CMT cloth. She has more in common with June Carter Cash than Carrier Underwood. Her new album Pageant Material is contemporary visit to country music's golden era, and refreshingly sparce.