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Monday, June 8, 2015

Top 20 Songs of May 2015

It's late, but it's here: the Top 20 Songs of May 2015! Sorry for the delay, dear listeners. I've been exploring Mexico on a much needed vacation, and will eventually make it up to you with beautiful adventure photos. Now for your regularly scheduled programming.

Yep, yep, you know that I go
This is me on the regular, so you know

'On The Regular' - Shamir

First up on the top 20 tunes, is Shamir. Don't let his voice fool you. He's burst on the scene this past year with sounds that are both reminiscent of the best that 90s hip hop had to offer and strangely push the limits of the genre. He clearly owns his distinctive voice, and is looking for meaningful things to say with it. Keep an eye on this kid. Hot on his heals are a couple of more upbeat, dance-y tracks to get you in a good summer time mood. There's a new track from the bird and the bee called 'Will You Dance?', which offers a new more synth based sound for this indie pop duo from Los Angeles. Then Goldroom makes it rain with the help of vocals from Nikki Segal in a breezy track appropriately titled 'California Rain'. Up next, brace yourself for the raw talent of filous, a 17 year-old producer from Vienna, Austria. His pure catchy beats on 'How Hard I Try', made especially earnest thanks to guest vocals by fellow Austrian, James Hersey, are almost impossible to for your feet to resist tapping.

Zach Yudin released a couple lovely tracks under the name Oregon Bike Trails, before forming a band with his twin brother Ben called Cayucas. After a couple years of obscurity, Cayucas is finally releasing a full-length album on Secretly Canadian at the end of June. This first single, 'Moony Eyed Walrus', is a fun, rambling song that manages it keep a wide range of sounds cohesively together into something that sounds like a trippy beach day. It is quite promising. Django Django are back with a new album Born Under Saturn, their second release after their lauded self-titled album from 2012. 'Beginning to Fade' is a representative song for the album: their signature psychedelic sound remains, but it seems to have slowed down to take a little time to think. This could be a good thing, and certainly seems to have allowed the band to side step the sophomore slump. Surfer Blood also has a new album, 1000 Palms, and increasingly seem to be channeling Brian Willson, particularly on 'Saber-Tooth & Bone', which is actually making me like them a whole lot more. This is a more mature sound for a band that had previously sounded a little too much like inchoate garage rock jam sessions, and in a way that just did not sit well with me. ALSO, guess what, dear listeners?! Tame Impala is releasing a new album - THANK YOU SWEET MUSICAL GODS. This single 'Eventually' is a masterfully produced journey that bodes very well for the album, Currents, which will be released in July.

The Helio Sequence have released their 8th album, and have finally gotten around to a self-titled effort. These guys have had some ups and downs, but kept at it for 16 years, which is absolutely admirable. 'Stoic Resemblance' is a solid effort on a sold album. Mac Demarco has a new single, 'The Way You'd Love Her', with some truly spaced out guitar that makes his narrative lyrics all the more engrossing. 'Compound Fracture' is off The Waterfall, the seventh studio album from My Morning Jacket, and is a predictably solid effort from these indie veterans. Unpredictably, the new single from Destroyer, 'Dream Lover', is big and brassy with almost nothing in common to his last album besides the signature monotone vocals. It's a pretty brilliant departure, and I love it.

If you have not heard Leon Bridges yet, you need to get on that, like yesterday. In the past year he's released a string of soulful singles that have attracted a lot of attention, gaining his an opening spot for Sharon Van Etten and a deal with Columbia Records. The man sounds like Sam Cooke reincarnate. His songs, like 'River' will rip the heart strings right out of your chest.That's followed by 'Say What' from My Brightest Diamond, an artist I've admittedly been on the fence about. That said, this song has potentially made up my mind for the best. It's a really unusual song with unique guitar riffs and primal rhythmic vocals all layered with bold complexity.

William Fitzsimmons let's us take a softly quiet moment in this playlist with 'Pittsburgh' off an album by the same name, and also where this artist happens to be from. That's what this song sounds like: home, a hearth in winter, sun breaking through the boughs of a favorite backyard tree, and wistful homesickness. This makes way for new music from two of my favorite folk artists. First, The Tallest Man on Earth has finally released a new album, Dark Bird Is Home, and it sounds more like his break out Wild Hunt from 2010 than that bit of a slump that was last album. 'Darkness of the Dream' has that wide open quality that makes it perfect for singalongs on western road trips under big skies. King of banjo and songs that require hand clapping so hard that your hands hurt, Langhorne Slim, has a single with his band The Law called 'Strangers' that also requires whistling along, which I can only see as a plus (even though I can't whistle). It also has some pretty rad organ and horns. This is clearly the kind of song you'd end a set with at a sold out show, and everyone would be joyfully shouting the doo-doo-doos with you.

This playlist ends a little more than eclectic, but please bare with me, dear listeners. Be fearless in your listening. Listen to ALL the music! It's an important part of expanding your ears and your mind. Pokey LaFarge is a fun swing revival artist with southern leanings that perfectly walks the fine line between kitschy and quaint, somehow 'Something In The Water' works. Philly rap legends Jedi Mind Tricks have a new single 'Deathless Light' which has epic string samples and raw, ripping lyrics that sound as fresh as ever. Finally, Brendan Philip is a Toronto-based artist that is laying down some seriously weird sounds that he calls post R&B. This is some next wave shit for a genre that's seriously been needing some reinvention. Give 'The Feels' at least a couple listens and see if it doesn't oddly grow on you.

That's all for this month, dear listeners! June's top 20 songs will be published on time, so be sure and check back in a couple weeks for your monthly dose of new tunes.

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