Thursday, April 2, 2020

Monthly Mix: March 2020

(1) Waxahatchee - "The Eye"

Saint Cloud is a perfect album, start to finish. I have listened to it at least once a day since it came out. I recommend you all do the same.

(2) HAIM - "The Steps"

We all remember when this song came out, back on March 3, which according to my calculations was six hundred years ago.

(3) Worriers - "End of the World"

It's fun that a song about the end of the world is obsolete by the time it comes out. Fire, earthquake, hurricane ... feels like you're missing one.

(4) Dixie Chicks - "Gaslighter"

You know those people who think they are being clever by pointing out that nothing in Alanis Morissette's "Ironic" is actually ironic. That's basically how I feel about the use of "gaslight" here. Still a great song, though.

(5) Dua Lipa - "Levitating"

It's such an accident of history that these are going to be the COVID-19 albums, forever. This is the music you will remember when thinking about this time period years from now. Future Nostalgia doesn't fit the prevailing mood in the slightest, but here it is. While we were all sitting at home trying to manage a sense of overwhelming dread, we had this perfectly weightless disco revival album. I don't get it either, but it's working.

(6) Fenne Lily - "Hypochondriac"

Perfect for the time and place. Even though I had heard this song before, I will always remember it as the first song from Phoebe Bridgers' isolation playlist.

(7) Bright Eyes - "Persona Non Grata"

Is this already my favorite song with bagpipes? Can't really think of what its competition would be.

(8) All Time Low - "Some Kind of Disaster"

As the world changes rapidly, it is a comfort to know that pop punk will remain exactly the same forever. It will outlive all of us.

(9) KennyHoopla - "how will i rest in peace if i'm buried by a highway?//"

If you're a black kid making rock music, it makes total sense to me that you would look to Bloc Party as a role model. This song is fighting for space on 100 Songs for 2020 and 100 Songs for 2005 at the same time.

(10) Dua Saleh - "mOth"

Such an inspiring story (non-binary Sudanese refugee living in Minnesota), probably will have to settle for being the second most famous Dua for the foreseeable future.

(11) Hayley Williams - "Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris"

boygenius backing vocals!

(12) Waxahatchee - "Can't Do Much"

You know when a major pop star releases a new album and Spotify's New Music Friday playlist has like nine songs from the album interspersed throughout? That's what I want to do with this Waxahatchee record. Please just go listen to the whole thing. I know you have time.

(13) The Aces - "Daydream"

Since HAIM pushed their album release date back, can I interest you in Mormon HAIM in the interim?

(14) somegirlnamedanna - "hello i am"

So it turns out there are two people from rural Minnesota who think "Hide and Seek" by Imogen Heap is a perfect song.

(15) Carlie Hanson - "Daze Inn"

The only good trend of 2020 is pop songs with prominent electric guitar. More of that, less of everything else.

(16) KennyHoopla - "the world is flat and this is the edge//"

I did not know who this person was at the beginning of the month, and now I am anxiously awaiting new KennyHoopla material. It just checks all the boxes for me.

(17) Dogleg - "Kawasaki Backflip"

I've been reaching for calmer, quieter music lately, but if your quarantine response shades more toward restless energy and aggression with no place to put it, I highly recommend Dogleg.

(18) Bloods - "I Hate It"

Apparently directly inspired by the band watching 10 Things I Hate About You. Waiting to see if "retroactive soundtracks" becomes the new trend.

(19) Tove Lo - "I'm Coming"

This is good, but the original is probably ten times better.

(20) Dua Lipa - "Break My Heart"

A good song on its own, bonus points for reminding everyone that INXS were great too.

(21) Perfume Genius - "On the Floor"

Consistently great work from Perfume Genius, but I'm interested to know why he has also released radio edits for both of his first two singles. Is that an artistic decision or just an admission that the general public does not have the attention span for a five minute song?

(22) Laura Stevenson - "Time Bandits"

It's so easy to interpret all art in the light of our current emergency, but I think "Quit smoking baby, even though the world is ending" would be a great opening line in any era.

(23) Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - "Only Children"

Most people probably shouldn't work with their significant others. Boundaries, creating a separate space for the personal and the professional, etc. The exception is Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires, who should keep harmonizing like this forever.

(24) Craig Finn - "All These Perfect Crosses"

I saw Craig with The Hold Steady in London on March 7. It is striking now how much that day belongs to the Before Time: international travel, three airports, frequent use of public transit in two cities, restaurants, bars, a large public gathering in a small space, a gathering where I was smashed up against multiple strangers at all times for hours. It all seems impossible now.

(25) Brian Fallon - "Hard Feelings"

Every Brian Fallon solo project will always come with a tinge of disappointment that it's not a Gaslight Anthem project. Unfair, sure, but it's there.

(26) Eerie Gates - "Saw You Through the Trees"

Tender instrumentals brought to you by the guy from Wild Pink. Comforting!

(27) Georgia Maq - "Cold Summer"

As with Brian Fallon, I would love to hear some new Camp Cope, but this will certainly work in the meantime.

(28) Susanne Sundfor - "When The Lord"

Maybe you're not really into god-damaged orchestral Scandinavian pop, and that's fine, but you're missing one of the great choruses of the year.

(29) Empty Country - "Swim"

Probably not that many Cymbals Eat Guitars fans in the audience tonight, but since they broke up this is what Joseph D’Agostino has been up to. A lot more pedal steel, which is probably what I would do with my first solo album, too.

(30) Christian Lee Hutson - "Talk"

Key player in the greatest podcast episode ever. Just listen, I know you have time.

(31) Margo Price - "Twinkle Twinkle"

Co-produced by Sturgill Simpson, which you could have guessed based on ... literally everything about it.

(32) Muncie Girls - "Blankets"

Every band should follow Muncie Girls' lead and just start throwing their old b-sides out there. We need them now, even if they're not that good, it's fine!

(33) Sjowgren - "What Goes Around"

Always keeping an eye on the Bay Area music scene, pleasantly surprised that there still is one.

(34) U.S. Girls - "4 American Dollars"

Spoiler Alert: You cannot actually do all that much with four American dollars.

(35) ELIO - "My Friends Online"

Born in Wales, raised in Canada is a pretty solid pop pedigree. And, as literally every review of this song has mentioned, timely since all of our friends are now online.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Monthly Mix: February 2020

February 2020

(1) Worriers - "Big Feelings"

The album comes out on Friday and I'm so excited that I'm not even thinking about whether or not Lauren took into account the fact that calling your record You or Someone You Know is just going to make people like me think of Matchbox Twenty.

(2) The 1975 - "The Birthday Party"

Every single better than the last. I love them so much.

(3) Christine and the Queens - "People, I've been sad"

Six songs on the La vita nuova EP and they'e all wonderful, we now start the arduous process of trying to figure out which one will be on our year-end lists. For now, let's go with the single. If Chris thinks it's the best, that works for me.

(4) Phoebe Bridgers - "Garden Song"

Okay, yes, the song is great, but here's the thing that's making me doubt my sanity: the opening lines ("Someday I'm gonna live / In your house up on the hill / And when your skinhead neighbor goes missing / I'll plant a garden in the yard then") at least imply that the skinhead neighbor went missing because Phoebe killed him, right? Right?!?

And yet I have not seen one review that references this.

(5) Grimes - "Delete Forever"

I reserve the right to change my opinion in the future when we've all been enslaved by Elon Musk's demon spawn, but as of right now Claire Boucher can pretty much do no wrong.

(6) Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - "Be Afraid"

Lead single from Amanda Shires' husband, his first new music since 2017 (unless you count most of the good songs from A Star Is Born). 

(7) I'm Glad It's You - "Big Sound"

The album isn't out until May, but the critics I follow on Twitter who have advance copies are unanimous that it is going to be one of the year's best. Future Poet Laureate Hanif Abdurraquib wrote a really good introductory essay for it.

(8) Archers of Loaf - "Raleigh Days"

I've never really listened to Archers of Loaf despite the fact that (a) a lot of people whose taste I respect love them and (b) the one song of theirs I know ("White Trash Heroes") is amazing. Now they're back with a new single that makes me want to revisit everything they've ever done.

(9) Hamilton Leithauser - "Here They Come"

I've never really listened to The Walkmen despite the fact that (a) a lot of people whose taste I respect love them and (b) the one song of theirs I know ("The Rat") is amazing. Now frontman Leithauser is back with a new single that ... look, you get it.

(10) Allie X, Mitski - "Susie Save Your Love"

The impressive thing about this song is that it doesn't really sound like Allie X or Mitski, and yet it's still really good.

(11) Waxahatchee - "Lilacs"

Doesn't seem fair that we're still twenty-five days away from hearing this album.

(12) Banoffee - "Contagious"

The first line of the Pitchfork review for Look At Us Now Dad mentions that Martha Brown played synths for Charli XCX on Taylor Swift's Reputation tour, and the review could just stop there. That's it. That is what this album sounds like. 

(13) Christine and the Queens, Caroline Polachek - "La vita nouva"

As an American abroad, there are so many ways to feel inadequate, but speaking one language in a country where everyone seems to speak several dozen is probably #1. On this EP, Chris sings in three languages over six songs, and ... come on, we all feel bad enough already.

(14) Sløtface - "Stuff"

New album Sorry for the late reply is consistently great melodic punk, but I'm highlighting this one because I respect a Britpop homage. It's like they're consciously angling to open for a Blur reunion tour.

(15) Purity Ring - "stardew"

For those of us who can already somehow feel nostalgia for 2011.

(16) Lady Gaga - "Stupid Love"

Look ... it is four degrees. It has not stopped raining since we got back from Africa. I'm sure this song is great. Please come back in three months.

(17) Sauti Sol - "Suzanna"

They love her in the chorus, but seem to hate her in the verses? Guys, I think I get why she left.

(18) Phantogram - "Pedestal"

You guys remember Big Grams? The supergroup made up of Phantogram and Big Boi from Outkast? 2015 seems like a different lifetime.

(19) Jay Som - "A Thousand Words"

Even though I now live 5,000 miles away, I will always have a soft spot for East Bay indie rock.

(20) Christian Lee Hutson - "Lose This Number"

Phoebe co-conspirator with an album out in May. This song is absolutely heartbreaking, but it starts out with a joke:

Bobby helped me track you down cause
I just saw your name in the paper
You said "Of course that reminded you of me
Don't you know that's how a name works"

And the fact that he can somehow do both in the same song is really impressive.

(21) Perfume Genius - "Describe"

A few spots above I mentioned that Hanif Abdurraquib write an introductory essay for the I'm Glad It's You album, and I guess this is a trend because Ocean Vuong wrote an "impression" for the new Perfume Genius record. This is my favorite trend of 2020, and it's not too late for Sally Rooney to write something about the new 1975 album.  (And now I'm going to spend the rest of the day thinking about band/author pairings.)

(22) Spanish Love Songs - "Losers, Pt. 2"

You know how some people get weird when you use the word "champagne" to refer to sparkling wine not actually from the Champagne region of France? That is how I feel about this band not being from Philadelphia. Feels like I've been lied to.

(23) The Radio Dept. - "The Absence of Birds"

Always room on a mix for Swedish dream-pop.

(24) The Strokes - "Bad Decisions"

I'm in favor of The Strokes trying to sound like The Cure. I'm opposed to it being almost five minutes long.

(25) Car Seat Headrest - "Can't Cool Me Down"

I love LCD Soundsystem, but I cringe a little bit whenever I hear that someone's new project has an LCD influence. Kinda wish this sounded more like Car Seat Headrest, to be honest.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Monthly Mix: January 2020

2020 Goal: Blog More Than Once

It's been a month, and there are so many great new songs, so let's talk about them! 

For me, a monthly mix is almost harder than a yearly retrospective, since in some cases we're talking about songs that came out days (if not hours) ago, and sometimes it's tough to form an opinion in such a short time. (For instance, "Physical" isn't on the list this month. It didn't really grab me on the first couple listens. By this time next month I could be telling you it's the song of the year. I have no idea.)

Anyway, all caveats aside, here are 35 songs to kick off 2020.

(1) Ethan Gruska - "Enough For Now" (f/ Phoebe Bridgers)

Phoebe Bridgers is now a genre unto herself. If she has any involvement in a project, it is guaranteed to be worth your time, and "Enough For Now" is no exception. That said, Gruska deserves his share of credit as well. The fact that he can sing lyrics like:
And there's no other life
There's no living in another light
There's nothing special about you and I
We're on our own like everyone else
and make them sound comforting is what makes this song so special.

(2) The 1975 - "Me & You Together Song"

After years spent moving in a more transgressive direction both lyrically ("Love It If We Made It") and sonically ("People"), The 1975 return with a straight-ahead pop song whose lyrics could be the plot to a sappy rom com. And yet it's still great.

Also, please come to this awesome mini-festival with us in July:

(3) Banoffee - "Count on You"

Look, you know me. You know I wouldn't say something like "Imagine if Charli XCX wrote 'I Know a Place'" unless I really meant it.

The guitars at 0:58 are the best thing that has happened so far this year.

(4) Bacchae - "Hammer"

Greek tragedies are the new punk rock.

(5) Floral Tattoo - "She"

Somehow living up to the greatness of this Tweet:

Also, the fact that Los Campesinos! is such an obvious influence for so many young bands makes me feel both very old and very proud.

(6) Hayley Kiyoko - "she"

Pretty surprised this was not the best song called "she" released this month.

(7) L Devine - "Boring People"

I had never heard of L Devine before this year. I missed the meeting where we apparently decided that she has to be on every single "Artists to Watch in 2020" list.

That said, I get it.

(8) J Hus - "Repeat" (f/ Koffee)

This is a J Hus song on J Hus' album, and yet Koffee raps both verses while J Hus just handles the fairly minimal chorus. Seems like a strange decision on his part to take such a supporting role in his own song, but it works.

(9) La Roux - "Automatic Driver"

With most artists, I want innovation, experimentation, growth, etc. With La Roux, it turns out I just want her to make exactly this song over and over.

(10) Soccer Mommy - "circle the drain"

Twenty-two year old genius manages to incorporate basically every late-90s alt-rock hit into one song, despite most of those songs coming out before she was born. I truly believed I was the only person in the world who still remembered "High" by Feeder, and yet:
Vikram Joseph: Nostalgia is a hallucinogen; it blurs the distinction between times you miss and times you simply happen to remember more vividly than others, and, more disconcertingly, between places you have been and places that have only ever existed in your internal world. There’s something about “Circle The Drain” – with its soft golden hour hues, its fuzzy edges – that drives deep into whichever ganglion or cortex is responsible for nostalgia, and sends uncoordinated sparks and signals across its synapses, triggering a slideshow of fragmented memories that may or may not be memories at all. It reminds me of so many tangible things – the late 90s / early 00s guitar-pop of Natalie Imbruglia and Avril Lavigne, the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Today”, and (strangest of all) second-tier Brit indie band Feeder’s tender teenage stoner anthem “High” – but also of so much that is unreachable and unnameable – walks home from nowhere, composite daydreams from a hundred train windows, summers disintegrating into the building blocks of memory. As if getting older isn’t frightening enough, if I have this much capacity for nostalgia at just past 30 won’t I be slowly crushed under its weight by 70? But for now, while I can still think of myself as young, I’m grateful for this song – a gorgeous, dreamy downer – and for the synthesis of new memories from the glowing rubble of ones that came before.
(11) Waxahatchee - "Fire"

First single from an upcoming album called Saint Cloud, which, given that Katie Crutchfield is from Alabama, is almost definitely a reference to Saint Cloud, Florida, and not the Minnesota exurb where I went to college. Probably a good choice on her part.

(12) Mura Masa - "Teenage Headache Dreams" (f/ Ellie Rowsell)

I really like this, but if it kept Ellie away from making the new Wolf Alice record for even five minutes, it wasn't worth it.

(13) Hayley Williams - "Simmer"

Learning fascinating things about the alternate history of pop music:
The possibility of a Hayley Williams solo album has been on the horizon since the very beginning. In 2003, the 14-year-old Williams was signed as a solo artist to Atlantic Records, which envisioned her as a Top 40 pop singer, à la Avril Lavigne. She insisted on being in an alternative rock band. She won. And so, alongside the rest of Paramore, she wrote empowering anthems for misanthropic teens to mosh and rip their tights to.
(14) Wolf Parade - "Julia Take Your Man Home"

Of all the weird things Julia's man does in this song, the one that always sticks in my head is "He keeps talking about New Jersey!"

Am I going to talk myself into going to Utrecht alone to see these guys next month? Probably. (Really the only thing holding me back is that apparently they don't play anything from EXPO 86, which is a shame.)

(15) Twin Peaks - "St. Vulgar St."

We'll be in Africa, but they are playing Den Haag on February 15 if you hear this and instantly fall in love with them.

(16) Sløtface - "Tap the pack"

As we've learned, the quickest way to Maeve Wiley's heart.

At Cinetol March 31!

(17) Georgia - "24 Hours"

Fourth artist in a row with an upcoming concert to mention: if you don't feel like going to that Twin Peaks show, maybe go see Georgia at Paradiso. Please keep up our concert-going pace while we are on holiday.

(18) Rina Sawayama - "Comme Des Garcons (Like The Boys)"

There are some cringeworthy lines in here ("Every time you see me / It's like winning big in Reno / Don't fuck with me, hoe / Take you down like judo"), but if there was some way to wager on a song becoming a massive hit, I would put some cash down on this one.

(19) U.S. Girls - "Overtime"

In the St. Vincent tradition of completely reimagining your old songs, this one originally came out in 2013 and sounded nothing like this. (This is Jake Clemons from the E Street Band on saxophone, keeping up his dad's tradition of randomly showing up on great pop songs.)

(20) 070 Shake - "Guilty Conscience"

Not just the best thing about underwhelming Kanye projects anymore!

(21) Westerman - "Blue Comanche"

(22) Caroline Rose - "Feel The Way I Want"

Frequent readers of this blog will remember that Carl was all in on her back in 2018. If you're coming to her a little late, like I am, let me assure you there is still time.

(23) Frances Quinlan - "Your Reply"

For the subset of people who (a) read this blog, (b) obsess about the lyrics to pop songs, and (c) grew up spending way too much time at church, do you think this lyric:

"According to John / Fear softens into doubt"

is a reference to 1 John 4:18: 

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." thinks so, but they are pretty consistently wrong about everything.

Anyway, that's a really good like, wherever it comes from.

(24) TORRES - "Dressing America"

If, like me, you're bummed out that Mitski has announced she's taking some time off, might I suggest TORRES?

(25) Margo Price - "Stone Me"

I did not expect to be listening to this much country music at this point in my life. A pleasant surprise.

(26) Worriers - "Terrible Boyfriend"

It remains true that Worriers have never made a bad song.

(27) Beach Bunny - "Cloud 9"

Do you understand Tik Tok? Me neither.

(28) Andy Shauf - "Neon Skyline"

First paragraph of the Pitchfork review references both Phoebe Bridgers and Jens Lekman, and if you can imagine what a synthesis of those two would sound like, you're pretty close.

(29) AJJ - "Loudmouth"

If you're looking for a fun topic for your moral philosophy thesis, let me suggest: "There's no such thing as truth / And you don't need to be a dick about it"

(30) Disq - "Daily Routine"

The Wisconsin renaissance continues. Following in the footsteps of Carlie Hanson, this is now two really good songs by people from towns I played sports against in high school (hello Viroqua!).

(31) Destroyer - "Cue Synthesizer"

A dozen albums into his career, it seems like this is finally Dan Bejar's moment.

(32) Twin Peaks - "Cawfee"

Twin Peaks are the only band to get two songs on the January list, which is a high honor for a band I didn't know existed two weeks ago. If you think the Rolling Stones were at their best when they were trying to make country music, you will love Twin Peaks.

(33) Pearl Jam - "Dance of the Clairvoyants"

Do you think Pearl Jam has wanted to be Talking Heads this whole time, or is this a recent development?

(34) ONUKA - "ZENIT"

Actually a December 2019 release, but if you're like me and you get your Ukrainian pop weirdness on a delay, you'll forgive its inclusion here. I just feel like people should hear it.

(35) Chromatics - "TOY"

Every Chromatics song is the soundtrack to a slightly shinier life than the one you are currently living.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Guest List Week 2019: Year In Review

I started doing Guest List Week back in 2012, and since then it has become one of my favorite annual traditions, something I look forward to all year long. Guest List Week has been a lifeline for me - it's a reason to reconnect with old friends, and a chance to get to know new friends better through music.

Over the last eight years, thirty-five different people have submitted lists, including both my oldest friend in the world (Hi Curt!) and six people I met in the last year, friends from Minnesota to California to Mexico (Missed you this year, Dio!) to The Netherlands (and I'm pretty sure Gene submitted at least one list from Nigeria), friends from school and work and dog rescue, friends of Ilana's who have become friends of mine, and even one person* who has both appeared on a list and submitted one. Two people (Congratulations Curt and Carl!) have participated all eight years, and a bunch of other people have only missed one (If you or anyone you know have information regarding the whereabouts of Ilana's possibly apocryphal 2014 list, please contact the relevant authorities).

* (So far!)

2019 marks the biggest Guest List Week ever with nineteen lists, and the fact that it is now spread over three full weeks means we probably need to rename it for 2020. To commemorate such a great year, I wanted to take a look at the list we made as a group, tallying up all of our picks to see what 2019 really looked like. So here it is.


In total, 407 different songs* appeared on at least one list, and 79 different songs appeared on more than one.

* (Defining a song to include all versions - for example, both the original and remix of Taylor Swift's "Lover" made different lists, that counts as one song.)

Our Song of the Year was a tie between Taylor Swift's "Cruel Summer" and the Charli XCX / Christine & The Queens duet "Gone," both of which appeared on seven lists. 

Our Top Songs (song appearing on at least three lists):

Taylor Swift - "Cruel Summer" (7 Lists)
Charli XCX and Christine & The Queens - "Gone" (7 Lists)
Dua Lipa - "Don't Start Now" (6 Lists)
Normani - "Motivation" (5 Lists)
Sharon Van Etten - "Seventeen" (5 Lists)
Better Oblivion Community Center - "Dylan Thomas" (4 Lists)
Bon Iver - "Hey, Ma" (4 Lists)
Sam Smith - "How Do You Sleep?" (4 Lists)
Lizzo - "Juice" (4 Lists)
Katy Perry - "Never Really Over" (4 Lists)
HAIM - "Now I'm In It" (4 Lists)
Billie Eilish - "bad guy" (3 Lists)
Alex Lahey - "Don't Be So Hard On Yourself" (3 Lists)
Vampire Weekend - "Harmony Hall" (3 Lists)
Kygo and Whitney Houston - "Higher Love" (3 Lists)
The Highwomen - "Highwomen" (3 Lists)
Big Thief - "Not" (3 Lists)
Ashley O - "On A Roll" (3 Lists)
Lizzo - "Soulmate" (3 Lists)
HAIM - "Summer Girl" (3 Lists)
Matt Beringer, Phoebe Bridgers - "Walkin' On A String" (3 Lists)
Carly Rae Jepsen - "Want You In My Room" (3 Lists)


With collaborations, features, and remixes, it's hard to say exactly how many artists made at least one list. If we restrict it to lead artist only, I can tell you that 61 artists had at least two songs that appeared on at least one list. 

Our Artist of the Year is also a tie, between Ariana Grande and Lizzo, both of whom had seven* different songs appear on at least one list.

* (Lizzo's appearance on Charli XCX's "Blame It On Your Love" would be an eighth if you're looking for a way to break the tie.)

Our Top Artists (artists with at least three songs that made a list):

Ariana Grande (7 Songs)
Lizzo (7 Songs)
Carly Rae Jepsen (6 Songs)
Lana Del Rey (6 Songs)
Maggie Rogers (6 Songs)
Taylor Swift (6 Songs)
The Highwomen (5 Songs)
ROSALIA (5 Songs)
Better Oblivion Community Center (4 Songs)
Beyonce (4 Songs)
Big Thief (4 Songs)
Charli XCX (4 Songs)
Jenny Lewis (4 Songs)
Kim Petras (4 Songs)
Vampire Weekend (4 Songs)
Billie Eilish (3 Songs)
Bon Iver (3 Songs)
Harry Styles (3 Songs)
Maren Morris (3 Songs)
Martha (3 Songs)
Michael Kiwanuka (3 Songs)
MUNA (3 Songs)
The National (3 Songs)
Sturgill Simpson (3 Songs)

Full Breakdown

Here is a playlist of every song on every list:

And, because we show our work here at Burn Your Hits, here is every song and artist to appear on more than one list:


7 Lists

Taylor Swift - "Cruel Summer"
Charli XCX and Christine & The Queens - "Gone"

6 Lists

Dua Lipa - "Don't Start Now"

5 Lists

Normani - "Motivation"
Sharon Van Etten - "Seventeen"

4 Lists

Better Oblivion Community Center - "Dylan Thomas"
Bon Iver - "Hey, Ma"
Sam Smith - "How Do You Sleep?"
Lizzo - "Juice"
Katy Perry - "Never Really Over"
HAIM - "Now I'm In It"

3 Lists

Billie Eilish - "bad guy"
Alex Lahey - "Don't Be So Hard On Yourself"
Vampire Weekend - "Harmony Hall"
Kygo and Whitney Houston - "Higher Love"
The Highwomen - "Highwomen"
Big Thief - "Not"
Ashley O - "On A Roll"
Lizzo - "Soulmate"
HAIM - "Summer Girl"
Matt Beringer, Phoebe Bridgers - "Walkin' On A String"
Carly Rae Jepsen - "Want You In My Room"

2 Lists

Georgia - "About Work The Dancefloor"
Ariana Grande - "Bad Idea"
Charli XCX - "Blame In On Your Love" (f/ Lizzo)
Ariana Grande - "Bloodline"
Charly Bliss - "Capacity"
Megan Thee Stallion - "Cash Shit" (f/ DaBaby)
Big Thief - "Cattails"
FKA Twigs - "cellophane"
ROSALIA - "Con Altura"
The Highwomen - "Crowded Table"
Kim Petras - "Do Me"
Julia Jacklin - "Don't Know How To Keep Loving You"
SG Lewis - "Easy Loving You" (f/ Kamille)
Maggie Rogers - "Fallingwater"
Meek Mill - "Going Bad" (f/ Drake)
Jenny Lewis - "Heads Gonna Roll"
Kriss Kross Amsterdam - "Hij Is Van Mij" (f/ Bizzey)
King Princess - "Hit The Back"
Tacocat - "Hologram"
Hot Chip - "Hungry Child"
Nilufer Yanya - "In Your Head"
Illuminati Hotties - "I Wanna Keep Yr Dog"
BLACKPINK - "Kill This Love"
Angel Olson - "Lark"
Rosie Tucker - "Lauren"
Maggie Rogers - "Light On"
Taylor Swift - "Lover"
Better Oblivion Community Center - "Little Trouble"
Martha - "Love Keeps Kicking"
Maggie Rogers - "Love You For A Long Time"
Sturgill Simpson - "Make Art Not Friends"
Sturgill Simpson - "Mercury In Retrograde"
White Reaper - "Might Be Right"
ROSALIA - "Milionaria"
Martha - "Mini Was A Preteen Arsonist"
Miley Cyrus - "Mother's Daughter"
Saweetie - "My Type"
Charli XCX - "Next Level Charli"
Carly Rae Jepsen - "Now That I Found You"
MUNA - "Number One Fan"
Lil Nas X - "Old Town Road"
Jenny Lewis - "On The Line"
Sir Babygirl - "Pink Lite"
Tove Lo - "Really Don't Like U" (f/ Kylie Minogue)
YBN Cordae - "RNP" (f/ Anderson .Paak)
Woahnows - "Skin Peels"
Craig Finn - "Something To Hope For"
Brittany Howard - "Stay High"
Ariana Grande - "thank u, next"
Ciara - "Thinkin Bout You"
Maggie Rogers - "Tim McGraw"
Carly Rae Jepsen - "Too Much"
Mark Ronson - "True Blue" (f/ Angel Olson)
Bon Iver - "U (Man Like)"
Oso Oso - "the view"
Tanya Tucker - "The Wheels of Laredo"
ROSALIA - "Yo x Ti, Tu x Mi"


7 Songs

Ariana Grande ("Into You," "imagine," "NASA," "bloodline," "bad idea," "ghostin'," "thank u, next")
Lizzo ("Like a Girl," "Juice," "Soulmate," "Cuz I Love You," "Tempo," "Lingerie," "Good As Hell")

6 Songs

Carly Rae Jepsen ("Now That I Found You," "Want You In My Room," "Too Much," "Feels Right," "For Sure," "Party For One")
Lana Del Rey ("Norman fucking Rockwell," "Love song," "California," "The greatest," "Bartender," "hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have - but i have it")
Maggie Rogers ("Light On," "Say It," "Fallingwater," "Burning," "Love You For A Long Time," "Tim McGraw")
Taylor Swift ("Cruel Summer," "Lover," "Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince," "Paper Rings, "Death By A Thousand Cuts," "Afterglow," "Lover"

5 Songs

The Highwomen ("The Chain," "Crowded Table," "Highwomen," "Redesigning Women," "If She Ever Leaves Me")
ROSALIA ("Aute Cuture," "Con Altura," "Milionaria," "A Pale," "Yo x Ti, Tu x Mi")

4 Songs

Better Oblivion Community Center ("Dylan Thomas," "Forest Lawn," "Dominos," "Little Trouble")
Beyonce ("all of Homecoming," "Diva," "MOOD 4 EVA," "SPIRIT")
Big Thief ("Not," "UFOF," "Cattails," "Orange")
Charli XCX ("Blame It On Your Love," "Next Level Charli," "Gone," "Shake It")
Jenny Lewis ("Heads Gonna Roll," "Red Bull & Hennessy," "Hollywood Lawn," "On The Line")
Kim Petras ("Got My Number," "Do Me," "If U Think About Me...," "< demons >")
Vampire Weekend ("Harmony Hall," "This Life," "Sympathy," "Stranger")

3 Songs

Billie Eilish ("lovely," "bad guy," "i love you")
Bon Iver ("Faith," "Hey, Ma," "U (Man Like)")
Harry Styles ("Adore You," "Fine Line," "Watermelon Sugar")
Maren Morris ("GIRL," "All My Favorite People," "Common")
Martha ("Heart Is Healing," "Mini Was A Preteen Arsonist," "Love Keeps Kicking")
Michael Kiwanuka ("Rolling," "I've Been Dazed," "Money)
MUNA ("Number One Fan," "Motivation," "Stayaway")
The National ("Quiet Light," "I Am Easy To Find," "Rylan")
Sturgill Simpson ("Ronin," "Make Art Not Friends," "Mercury In Retrograde")

2 Songs

Alec Benjamin ("Jesus in LA," "Let Me Down Slowly")
Alex Lahey ("Don't Be So Hard On Yourself," "Welcome To The Black Parade")
Andrew Bird ("Bloodless," "Olympians")
Angel Olsen ("Lark," "What It Is")
Avicii ("SOS," "Heaven")
Beach Bunny ("Dream Boy," "Ms. California")
BLACKPINK ("Kill This Love," "Don't Know What To Do")
Charly Bliss ("Capacity," "Young Enough")
Clairo ("Closer To You, "Softly")
Craig Finn ("Something To Hope For," "It's Never Been A Fair Fight")
Dave ("Professor X," "Location")
DIIV ("Skin Game," "Blankenship")
Ed Sheeran ("Beautiful People," "Take Me Back To London")
FKA Twigs ("cellophane," "sad day")
HAIM ("Now I'm In It," "Summer Girl")
Hand Habits ("Placeholder," "Can't Calm Down")
Hatchie ("Her Own Heart," "Without A Blush")
The Head and the Heart ("See You Through My Eyes," "People Need A Melody")
Jamila Woods ("BASQUIAT," "BALDWIN")
Julia Jacklin ("Pressure To Party," "Don't Know How To Keep Loving You")
Khalid ("Better," "Right Back")
Mandy Moore ("I'd Rather Lose," "When I Wasn't Watching")
Mannequin Pussy ("Drunk II," "Who You Are")
Mark Ronson ("Nothing Breaks Like A Heart," "True Blue")
Miley Cyrus ("Mother's Daughter," "The Most")
Oso Oso ("the view," "impossible game")
pronoun ("run," "sadie")
Sam Smith ("Dancing With A Stranger," "How Do You Sleep?")
Sebastian Yatra ("Un Ano," "Runaway")
Slaughter Beach, Dog ("Good Ones," "Tangerine")
Stormzy ("Own It," "Vossi Bop")
Strange Ranger ("Leona," "Living Free")
Tame Impala ("Borderline," "Patience")
Tones and I ("Dance Monkey," "Jimmy")
Toro y Moi ("Freelance, "Who I Am")
Tove Lo ("Are U gonna tell her?," "Really don't like u")
Wilco ("Everyone Hides," "Hold Me Anyway")

Saturday, January 4, 2020

GLW 019: Lucas Richard-Posada




No matter the time of year, if I hear a good Latin song, it takes me back to summer days in Colombia sipping some strong cocktail by the beach. I get this sudden urge to dance, like a drum beat inside me that I must follow along. I’m never happier than when I’m listening and dancing to a good Latin song with friends at a bar or house party. Lucky for me, LatinX music is taking over the world and I can indulge in my vice often. "Despacito" by Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi might not be the greatest song ever created but it brought a much-needed genre of music into the mainstream. From superb collaborations over the years (Justin Bieber, Beyonce, Madonna) to Flamenco crossover, LatinX music is here to stay. 

As many other lists from people with much better music knowledge and taste than me have already been published, I decided I’d spare Aaron from more Dua Lipa song entries and bring some cultural diversity to the blog by focusing my list exclusively on LatinX music. Below is a list of songs from 2019 that made me dance, put me in a great mood, sing aloud (despite my terrible voice) and overall make me feel like I can take over the world. Numbered in no particular order.
  1. Rosalia, J Balvin – Con Altura
  2. Maluma, Ricky Martin  No Se Me Quita
  3. Lunay, Daddy Yankee & Bad Bunny  Soltera Remix
  4. Rosalia, Ozuna  Yo x Ti, Tu x Mi
  5. Reik  Raptame
  6. Pedro Capo & Farruko  Calma Remix
  7. Sebastián Yatra, Reik – Un Año
  8. Anitta, Becky G  Banana
  9. Sebastian Yatra, Daddy Yankee, Jonas Brothers & Natti Natasha  Runaway
  10. DJ Snake, J Balvin, Tyga  Loco Contigo
  11. Bad Bunny, J Balvin  La Cancion
  12. Play-N-Skillz, Luis Coronel  Que Bomba
  13. Juanes, Alessia Cara – Querer Mejor
Honorable Mentions

Madonna, Maluma – Medellin. Not a great song but how can I not highlight a song from a music icon singing about how great my home city is.

Maan de Steenwinkel, Bizzey, Tabitha, Kris Kross Amsterdam – Hij Is Van Mij. Thought it’s not technically a LatinX song, it sure sounds like one. The first time I heard this Dutch hit at Taboo, I was captivated by how much it resembles a reggaetón song; the beat, the rhythm, that drum inside me. I was hooked. 

Friday, January 3, 2020

GLW 018: Carl Anderson




This year I got back to listening to a lot of new music.  Good job, me!  And a lot of it is really good.  Good job, bands!

1. Julia Jacklin - “Pressure To Party”

I got so much pleasure from this perfect song this year.  The first time I heard it I got hooked by the end of the first verse.  I know where you live / I used to live there too.  Bang.   That’s how you make folks sit up and listen.  There’s something Lennon-McCartney about this song.  Maybe several things.  A great middle eight, pushing right to the peak emotion: God how it hurts.

Pressure to act the right way around him
We're both in the crowd with people surrounding
Us, what do I do? Don't know how it works 

Pressure to not let the inside of my mind
Spill onto the floor for our friends to find
It, oh, what do I do? 'Cause God how it hurts

That little guitar riff after each of these verses, it’s all you need.  The guitars, bass, drums, all playing rhythm.  A final verse and then it’s just rocking so hard you can’t help but “ahhhahhha” and then wrap it up at 2:59.  Wow.

A premise of indie rock is that if you can write good songs, you don’t need virtuoso technique or novel production tricks.  Technically speaking, everything you need was well in hand by 1970.  You just need the songs.  Like this one.

2. Frances Quinlan - “Rare Thing”

This is the most beautiful track of the year, and the most unexpected to me.  No phrase cools my enthusiasm as consistently as “solo project.”  As in “Mick Jagger solo project.”  Ugh.  You already know it won’t work, and everybody knows exactly why it won’t work.  Even Spotify lists this track as “Frances Quinlan, Hop Along” as if it can’t bear to admit it.  So you can imagine my pleasure finding that this track is effing great.  “I know there is love that doesn't have to do with taking something from somebody.” My entire worldview is shook.  Let’s hope the album delivers on this promise!

3. Tacocat - “Hologram”

Tacocat’s new album definitely sounds like another step away from the garage, which is risky.  But it worked.  And it seems like everyone in the band stepped up.  Is that gated reverb on the drums?  “Sounds like Phil Collins” is not a phrase you would expect to see applied to Tacocat, at least not as a compliment.

4. Beach Bunny - “Dream Boy”

Very high expectations satisfied.  I thought last year’s “Prom Queen” was good but not exceptional.  (Now it has 33 million listens on Spotify.  How does that happen?  Not sure they can sell 100 tickets in San Francisco.  Not sure I even know anyone else who listens to them—Aaron?).  Well “Dream Boy” is exceptional, so don’t be surprised if you hear a lot more from this band.

5. illuminati hotties - “I Wanna Keep Yr Dog”

Tenderpunk pioneer Sarah Tudzin delivers again.  Everyone who has ever dated someone with a dog can relate—how has this not been done before?

You're alright but I wanna 
Keep your dog
This is the last night unless you let me 
Keep your dog
I know you want me close
But when you're gone it's her I miss the most
I'd rather keep your dog

Maybe this is one of those things that in retrospect seems like a totally obvious topic to write a song about, but if you approached it from a blank page it could seem an impossible challenge.  That could be right.  Tudzin can do amazing things.

6. Ra Ra Riot - “Bad To Worse”

Turning back to surprises, I would not have guessed that I would even listen to Ra Ra Riot this year.  I have a vague recollection of 2010-era singles from them. Come to find out they’ve kept on making albums for the last nine years and I’ve ignored them.  Are any of those tracks this good?  This song deserves some kind of best-achievement-in-storytelling award.

7. Woahnows - “Skin Peels”

There are three people in this band.  There are four in Martha.  So on a per person basis, these are the best songwriters in the UK this year.  Is anyone in the US listening?  Thank you Aaron for working to right this small injustice.

8. Martha - “Heart Is Healing”

I listened to this track the most this year because it is the first on the new album that I started listening to like 100 times.  Debatable whether there are one or two songs better than this one, but why would anyone fight over that, they are all great.

9. Better Oblivion Community Center - “Dylan Thomas”

We should all be grateful for how well this combination works.  I felt trepidation.  Bridgers is coming straight off one great solo album and one great supergroup album; Oberst peaked for me many years ago, and seems to form a band every few months.  Also, I wondered about Bridgers’ choices.  I mean, going from “You were in a band when I was born” to “you were in a band when I was four” did not seem promising.  Well I was wrong.  On this track together they manage to sound exactly like the best possible version of themselves.

10. Vampire Weekend - “This Life”

If not for being fully gobsmacked by the Ra Ra Riot album, I’d probably call this the comeback of the year.  This album sounds great, find a way to listen to it loud.

11. Jenny Lewis - “On The Line”

In my world, Lewis has grown from not-even-the-best-thing-about-Rilo-Kiley, to a you-really-should-listen-to-this artist, to pop royalty.  Long may she reign.

12. Sharon Van Etten - “Seventeen”

There has been plenty written about this song.  I’ll just agree it is a highlight of the year.  It even made Barack Obama’s list.  Put on your dad jeans and rock.

13. Wallows - “Remember When”

Another first album here, this one pretty solid, but only this track stood out for me.  Looks like it will not be released as a single.  In fact, this might be the best thing the band has done despite releasing almost everything else as a single.  Maybe there is something embarrassing about this track I’m missing.

14. MEMBA - “Schools Out”

This track was my electronic jam and played throughout my summer the way Purity Ring (R.I.P.) used to.

15. Mura Masa, Clairo - “I Don’t Think I Can Do This Again”

The lo-fi, dreamy lounge stylings of Clairo with a crazy drop.  I lose focus if I try to listen to Clairo for more than a minute, but just putting a giant EDM drop in the middle turns out to break up the plainness very nicely. 

16. Sir Babygirl - “Pink Lite”

No idea what this song is about.  Don’t even get what “pink lite” is.  Gotta respect taking a handful of lines that only sometimes even make sense and turning them into this rager.

17. Better Oblivion Community Center - “Little Trouble”

This is another summer tune I played a lot.  Is there a coherent theme behind the catchy verses and couplets?  Some of them seem to be just clever updates on “get off my lawn.”  Come on, Gen Z is too easy a target right now; we should be punching up, not down.  I wish I could find more to approve of, ‘cause I like listening to this track a lot. 

18. Alex Lahey - “Don’t Be so Hard on Yourself”

Best song on her sophomore album, you could do worse.

19. Nilüfer Yanya - “In Your Head”

My brother-in-law and I were sitting around playing “you should listen to this” and when I pulled up this track, after 10 seconds he said “No, no, absolutely not.”  I was like, WTF, you’ve only heard the intro, not even the song. Fortunately I am very good at ignoring what he thinks.  This rocks.

20. Martha - “Love Keeps Kicking”

You read this blog, and you can’t expect me to say anything more about Martha than what you’ve already read.

21. Sports Team - “Fishing”

Easy to imagine this middle England band is the social opposite of Martha.  In any event, they are nearly as conventional as Martha is radical, and that’s OK because they seem to own it.

One of my favorite band names of the year (slightly trailing pronoun in late polling).

22. Mannequin Pussy - “Drunk II”

This is not tender punk.  Is it even punk?  I remember Philly from the 80s as a classic rock town, where WYSP ruled and WXPN was for college nerds.  Now WYSP is long gone, and WXPN is a powerhouse in Alternative Rock (or whatever).  I don’t know Mannequin Pussy but imagine they grew up listening to hard rock canon.  Certainly this rocks the way you would expect.  “I still love you, you stupid fuck.”  I would hold up a lighter for that.

23. Jenny Lewis - “Red Bull & Hennessey”

Jenny Lewis can put together a jam band, and a damn good one.

24. Hand Habits - “placeholder”

A wise man predicted this would show up.  Easy to make it happen.

25. Slaughter Beach, Dog - “Tangerine”

Philadelphia continues to represent in the alternative universe too.  I heard of this project because of Nick Harris on guitar (from All Dogs, listen to "That Kind of Girl" please).  Now I hear it is also a guy from Modern Baseball.  That’s the kind of happy thing happens when a scene is so full of talent.

There’s a Hawthorne Boulevard in Portland, I don’t know if this song references that one, but if so it fits. 

26. The Regrettes - “I Dare You” 

File under: catchy LA garage pop.

27. Alex Cameron - “Divorce”

Cameron is a strong songwriter and gifted mimic, who usually adopted in his stories the perspective of the kind of guy we don’t really feel any need to hear from right now.  Maybe those stories of failure and frustration weren’t meant as grievance, maybe irony is not dead, let’s not fight about all that.  Here’s my pitch:  when he sings “I got friends in Kansas City with a motherfucking futon couch / If that's how you want to play it”—that’s pathos.  Hear the desperation and fear in the delivery of those lines.  “All you gotta do is say it: divorce.”  Or if you don’t hear it, move on, sorry to waste your time.

28. Maggie Rogers - “Light On”

Another summer favorite artist of Barack Obama (but it was for “Burning”).  I heard this playing in the mall and my mind went back to this Twitter moment.

Heart warming and stomach turning at the same time.

29. Andrew Bird - “Olympians”

Andrew Bird packs more musical ideas into one song than anyone else on this list.  Listening to this album puts more demands on the ear than I’m used to, and sure that impacts how much and how often I enjoy it.  But if that sounds like more of a feature than a bug, this is a must listen.  Plenty of other high points on this album. 

30. Twin Shadow - “Truly”

Another year, another hit from Twin Shadow.  One of these days he has to get huge.

31. Faye Webster - “Room Temperature”

Granted this song is about three minutes of her chanting “I should get out more,” but it really does make me think that I should get out more.

32. Rosie Tucker - “Lauren”

This is a very sad song that doesn’t exactly sound sad and I find it hard to say why that is.

33. Beach Bunny - “Ms. California”

I heard this song about three days before I made this list, so not sure how it will last.  It does seem like a fine expression of a certain role California plays in the American imagination, and therefore in our pop music.  Definitely better than Katy Perry’s song in any event.

34. Vampire Weekend - “Harmony Hall”

To repeat:  this is a great album and several other tracks could easily be on anyone’s list.

35. Aldous Harding - “The Barrel”

Her voice is so smooth, and this is a beautifully played track.  Another song I have no comprehension of at all:  “It's already dead / I know you have the dove / I'm not getting wet / Looks like a date is set / Show the ferret to the egg / I'm not getting led along.

Show the ferret to the egg?

36. Frankie Cosmos - “Windows”

The story so far: I listened to this album and liked it.  This seemed like a good track (also listen to the album please, it’s 17 tracks and not really singles).  Then today I found out who her parents are and not quite sure how that is going to play out.  On the one hand, Frankie Cosmos is about the most dumb-obvious stage name, so it seems a bit lame-ironic to use it.  Would it really matter if you went by Greta Kline, which is a perfectly fine indie singer-songwriter name?  Greta Kline from the upper east side – why yes, her dad is the actor.  Boy, I hope she doesn’t have some terrible relationship with her dad driving this.  Then I would feel really bad.  She picked a stage name and that’s cool, not like she needs any special permission to do that.  But the fact that she can talk to any creative person in New York with a phone call from dad is just weird to me, really weird for someone whose ambition is to sign with Polyvinyl Records or to open for Mitski (at least that’s what I imagine from this album).

37. Bibio - “Old Graffiti”

If you like to chill to somewhat ambient electronica that still sounds like pop music, this was a standout track this year.

38. Sambassadeur - “Foot of Afrikka”

While I personally was very excited about the return of Sambassadeur, they didn’t make that much of an impact.  Maybe their sound no longer strikes folks as current (fair enough) but I can’t help but think this track would have killed about four years ago.

39. Julia Jacklin - “Don't Know How To Keep Loving You”

Let’s have Julia play us out with a slow burn, it was her year.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

GLW 017: Mike Brand


GLW 018: Carl Anderson


Choosing the best former Fifth Harmony member who had a great duet and single this year was a challenge. Normani’s hit, "Motivation" is a perfect throwback and her duet with Sam Smith was also v good. On the other hand Camila’s duet with Shawn Mendes, "Senorita," was the most streamed song of the summer, but her solo work has struggled ("Cry For Me" is great tho). Normani takes the crown this year.

Another general winner this year? Spooky music. Across Billie Eilish, Kim Petras, 5 Seconds of Summer, Bishop Briggs, and Hayley Kiyoko we had a surprising variety of halloween appropriate bops. 

However, as a whole, there is one clear winner for the year. 2019 was the year of Ariana Grande. "thank u, next" at the end of 2018 set her up, and then with "7 rings" and her album she solidified her place in the pop pantheon. Closing out the year with her live album was her victory lap. 

Some other gentler narratives: 
  • For the second time Katy Perry has released an amazing lead single off a new album, and then fumbled it with the follow ups. 
  • Dua Lipa still feels like she could really hit but hasn’t quite made it to the top tier of divas yet.
  • Self Love is also having a moment with MUNA’s "Number One Fan" and Lizzo’s "Soulmate"