Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Monthly Mix: May 2023

(1) Remi Wolf - “Prescription”

Instant classic. First serious Song of the Year candidate since February. Written for Boots Riley’s wonderfully insane looking new Amazon series I’m a Virgo, and apparently written in less than twenty four hours, which is a level of genius that I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with one person possessing. 

(2) PONY - “Sick”

Soundtrack to your glittering Toronto summer. The label’s press release says that songwriter Sam Bielanski also does “voice work as Jazz Hooves on the current generation of My Little Pony” and I honestly can’t tell if that’s a joke or not.

(3) Chris Farren - “Cosmic Leash”

(4) Jeff Rosenstock - “LIKED U BETTER”

Great new singles from both halves of beloved pop-punk supergroup Antarctigo Vespucci.

(5) Spanish Love Songs - “Haunted”

Adding some fun synth-pop elements to the classic SLS formula of uncut existential despair. Probably the most upbeat song to ever open with the lyric “you pulled off the road so you could cry.” It’s summertime SLS!

(6) Sydney Sprague - “Smiley Face”

Toured with Jimmy Eat World last year which seems like a strange pairing until you remember they’re both somehow from Phoenix.

(7) Alex Lahey - “The Answer Is Always Yes”

Lahey’s new album is up and down, but it ends on an emphatic high note.

(8) Twin Princess - “Allston”

Like a modern day Ben Franklin, a story of growing up in Boston and moving to Philadelphia (like all good bands).

(9) Crooks & Nannies - “Temper”

Maybe this is just a personal taste thing, but I cannot stand this band name. Like, fingernails-on-a-chalkboard discomfort. I can’t even imagine saying it out loud. That said, they’re from Philadelphia (like all good bands), they spent part of last year opening for Lucy Dacus, and they write some undeniable songs, so I guess I’ll get over it.

(10) Stolen Jars - “Run It Wild”

Every single review references the fact that this was co-written by Greta from Frankie Cosmos, and I think it’s finally time to admit that I don’t know anything about Frankie Cosmos. But everyone else thinks Greta’s involvement is a big deal, so congrats, Stolen Jars.

(11) Shalom - “Happenstance”

Brooklyn-by-way-of-Maryland-and-South-Africa-and-New-Jersey is probably not a hyphenate I’ve used before, but I’m always looking for a unique perspective.

(12) Diners - “The Power”

Somehow another Phoenix band? Press release says this is a song about “eating the whole apple,” but apparently that’s a euphemism for living life to the fullest and not, like, actually eating an apple. Arizona is weird.

(13) Blur - “The Narcissist”

I don’t know how they’ll actually sound at these reunion shows, but wow that is quite a setlist.

(14) Tanya Tucker - “Breakfast In Birmingham” (feat. Brandi Carlile)

Please sign my petition to get these two to write and record an entire record together.

(15) Bonny Doon - “On My Mind”

Not just Katie Crutchfield’s backing band, but also … it’s pretty cool that they’re Katie Crutchfield’s backing band.

(16) Bully - “All I Do”

We’ve already hit the highlights from Lucky For You (“Days Move Slow,” “Hard To Love”) in previous mixes, but here’s one last reminder that it’s a really good album and you should check it out. 

(17) Hudson Mohawke & Nikki Nair - “Set The Roof”

Utterly hypnotic, feels like I could listen to this on a loop for hours.

(18) Beyonce - “AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM” (feat. Kendrick Lamar)

Beyonce + Kendrick reaches a level of talent and craftsmanship that makes it seem almost disrespectful to put it on a mix. We should be admiring this in a museum or something.

(19) Dua Lipa - “Dance The Night”

Does anyone remember a time before the Barbie movie promotional cycle? What was it like?

(20) Jam City - “Wild n Sweet” (feat. Empress Of)

Not saying it’s as good as “DJ” by Alphabeat (it isn’t), but the fact that it kinda reminds me of “DJ” by Alphabeat is among the highest compliments I can give a pop song.

(21) The Tubs - “Illusion pt. II”

Concerts are back, and good! (Part One)

(22) Blondshell - “Olympus”

Concerts are back, and good! (Part Two)

(23) Teenage Fanclub - “Foreign Land”

First single from their upcoming thirteenth album, and as far as I can tell there’s really no reason they can’t just keep doing this forever.

(24) Lande Hekt - “Pottery Class”

Apparently opening for The Beths in Utrecht next month, which I just found out right now (it’s sold out …)

(25) Orange Dog Club - “untitled”

I mean, they’re called “Orange Dog Club,” what more do you need? Join the club! (Also, a pretty solid Strokes impression.)

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Monthly Mix: April 2023

(1) The Gaslight Anthem - “Positive Charge”

(2) Yaeji - “Passed Me By”

Something old, something new, etc. etc. Let’s start this month with two songs I love for completely opposite reasons. 

Gaslight Anthem are back with their first new music since 2014 and it sounds … exactly like Gaslight Anthem. Which is great! I wouldn’t want them to sound like anything else. They sound a little bit older … because they are. "Positive Charge" builds on Brian Fallon’s recent solo work (compare it to songs like “Rosemary”) while calling back to some of the band’s more mid tempo classics (compare it to a song like “High Lonesome”). It’s not 2009 anymore, and that’s okay. There can be great comfort in the familiar.

That said, Yaeji: I’ve never heard anything like this. Or maybe I have, just not as fully realized. With A Hammer feels like its own little world, one of those places where it’s fun to be a tourist as long as you’re comfortable with being out of place and lost almost all the time. Honestly, those are the best places.

(3) Indigo De Souza - “Losing”

(4) Wednesday - “Quarry”

Checking in on my two most anticipated albums of the month … they’re both great. Wednesday’s Rat Saw God is already one of this year’s critical darlings, and they deserve every bit of that praise. De Souza’s All Of This Will End has been saddled with some good-not-great reviews that I think are a bit unfair since many of them seem to devolve into the reviewer explaining the album they wanted De Souza to make. Well, we have this one.

Just a huge year for North Carolina indie rock.

(5) MUNA - “One That Got Away”

Operating at the absolute height of their powers right now. Truly can do no wrong.

(6) Jessie Ware - “Freak Me Now”

My theory is that it’s actually impossible to make a disco record that sounds good on Airpods while stuck late at the office looking out at gray skies during one of the coldest springs on record. I’m confident that a day is coming soon where That! Feels Good! will sound like the best music ever made, but it is not today.

(7) King Isis - “im fine, thx 4 asking”

Pretty confident this was my most-played song of the month. Oakland!

(8) Liquid Mike - “American Record”

Their new album is 11 songs and 18 minutes long. So yeah, listen to it a few times in a row.

(9) Militarie Gun - “Very High”

Slowly talking myself into their May 17 show at Cinetol.

(10) Kicksie - “You’re On”

That thing that Canadian bands do where they pull you in with these almost-too-sweet pop-rock songs with cutesy little spoken-word vocal sample drops and then you look at the lyrics and it’s all:

where is ur god?

they must be quiet today

today or every day

and it’s ur fault

Truly the duality of man.

(11) Bethany Cosentino - “It’s Fine”

Until recently, I just assumed Best Coast was already a Bethany Cosentino solo project. So now, days after I learned that there was in fact another guy in the band, she goes and releases her first actual solo single. Always staying one step ahead.

(12) A Place For Owls - “17/24/33”

I don’t think the title is actually a reference to the song “Stevie Nix” by The Hold Steady (“Lord to be seventeen forever / Lord to be thirty-three forever”) but let’s just say that it is because it’s more fun that way.

(13) Downhaul - “The Riverboat”

Small Albums picked this one as their #1 song of Q1 2023. I don’t think I’d go quite that far, but I get it.

(14) Dagny - “Heartbreak In The Making”

Norway checking in.

And now, four artists whose admirably consistent output this year has left me with absolutely nothing new to say about them, apart from that they keep making great music and you should check it out. 

(15) Hannah Jadagu - “Admit It”

Fourth single from Aperture, out May 19.

(16) Arlo Parks - “Blades”

Third single from My Soft Machine, out May 26. 

(17) Bully - “Hard To Love”

Third single from Lucky For You, out June 2.

(18) Christine and the Queens - “True Love” (feat. 070 Shake)

Second single from Paranoïa, Angels, True Love, out June 9.

(19) Origami Angel - “Thank You, New Jersey”

When I think New Jersey, I think surf-rock harmonies.

(20) Dragon Inn 3 - “I Can’t Stop”

Like opening a time capsule from 2011, a level of nostalgia that seems juuuuuust a bit premature.

(21) Jake Shears - “I Used To Be In Love”

The man put his 15-year-old dog on the cover art, this is the closest I’ve ever come to saying “I feel seen” unironically.

(22) Mo Troper - “For You To Sing”

Is there something more lo-fi than lo-fi? This is the lowest-fi.

(23) La Fonda - “Kaleidoscope”

Kinda just trusting No Earbuds on this one.

(24) The Clientele - “Blue Over Blue”

The Clientele: Yes! 

Eels: Yes! 

Songs By The Clientele That Sound Like Deliberate Eels Homages: Eh, jury’s still out.

(25) The National - “The Alcott” (feat. Taylor Swift)

I don’t have all that much invested in The National anymore, but it’s still kind of a bummer that at this point they pretty much just serve as a backing band for more interesting artists (Taylor, Phoebe, Sufjan …)

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Monthly Mix: March 2023


(1) 100 gecs - "Dumbest Girl Alive"

We are now a gecs household. Please update your records accordingly. If you’re on the fence, I highly recommend their Switched On Pop episode. 

(2) boygenius - "Satanist"

If you had to assign Satanist, Anarchist, and Nihilist to Julien, Phoebe, and Lucy, would you have put them in that order?

(3) Ratboys - "Black Earth, WI"

The rare eight-and-a-half minute song that could honestly be even longer. This song is a whole world.

(4) The Hold Steady - "Carlos Is Crying"

I know Craig Finn isn’t supposed to be the protagonist of every Hold Steady song told in the first person, but I do think he’d be really good at talking you through a mental breakdown in a dive bar.

(5) Bully - "Days Move Slow"

Fully on board with Alicia Bognanno’s pop turn.

(6) The Beths - "Watching The Credits"

Imagine having b-sides this good. Just imagine what that would feel like, writing a song like this and deciding that it just doesn’t fit on your album. If I wrote a song this good I would be kidnapping strangers and forcing them to listen to it. 

(7) Wednesday - "TV In The Gas Pump"

Rat Saw God comes out tomorrow. Brace yourselves.

(8) Worriers - "Never Quite Kicks In"

Lauren has made it clear that the lyrics here are meant to be read sarcastically as a diatribe against toxic positivity, but I still think “quiet quit your way to finding peace” is pretty good advice.

(9) Trust Fund - "Animals In War" (feat. Ex-Void)

Achingly beautiful collaboration from two members of the Friends of Martha Extended Universe.

(10) saturdays at your place - "it's always cloudy in kalamazoo"

I DON'T WANNA GO HOME YET! I DON'T WANNA GO HOME!!! When done properly, there's just nothing more euphoric than gang vocals.

(11) The Menzingers - "Bad Actors"

See The Beths, above. Just a song they had sitting around. Not even a part of their live show. And it rules.

(12) Taking Meds - "Memory Lane"

This has nothing to do with anything, but Taking Meds is going on tour this spring and their Bay Area date is somehow X Bar in Cupertino? What even is that?

(13) Indigo De Souza - "Smog"

Dutch physicist Niels Bohr famously said that the opposite of a great truth is another truth, and I assume he was talking about pop music, because “Smog” could not be more different than De Souza’s first single (“Younger & Dumber”) and yet they’re both great.

(14) Kara Jackson - "pawnshop"

Kara Jackson is a poet first, songwriter second, and it results in these phrasings and cadences that make no sense the first time you hear them and then sound absolutely perfect the second time.

(15) Christine and the Queens - "To be honest"

It turns out that this song is actually in English and I have not, in fact, subconsciously learned French since their last single.

(16) Meet Me @ The Altar - "T.M.I"

Past // Present // Future is a fun record but listen: If you are a young pop-punk band looking to be taken seriously, you just can't work with a producer who has previously worked with the Jonas Brothers. That fact will show up in every single review.

(17) Alex Lahey - "They Wouldn't Let Me In"

Upbeat indie rock as a means of processing childhood trauma.

(18) The Japanese House - "Boyhood"

Wistful dream pop as a means of processing childhood trauma.

(19) Shit Present - "Voice In Your Head"

Just constantly blown away by how many different accents England has. This one, apparently, is Exeter.

(20) Georgia - "It's Euphoric"

Georgia + Rostam is just a weird combination. Love them both individually, but I don't know if this works.

(21) Pip Blom - "Tiger"

Kicking off year five of trying to talk myself into the few Dutch indie bands out there.

(22) Generationals - "Dirt Diamond"

Still going strong while their “Fans Also Like” page is basically a graveyard of all my old favorite blog-rock bands: Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Free Energy, Ra Ra Riot, Architecture in Helsinki, Tanlines … I am five thousand years old.

(23) Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - "Middle of the Morning"

I still don’t really know how to relate to pandemic-related art. On the one hand, this song perfectly captures the isolation and hopelessness of that time. So, as an artistic achievement, that’s great. On the other hand … this song perfectly captures the isolation and hopelessness of that time. So, why would I ever want to listen to that?

(24) Jenny Lewis - "Psychos"

Holding out hope for June’s Joy’All, but the singles haven’t been great.

(25) Miley Cyrus - "Thousand Miles" (feat. Brandi Carlile)

Gotta admit, I was a little underwhelmed by Endless Summer Vacation. A Miley/Brandi collaboration sounds like a great idea, but somehow it just doesn’t totally work for me. Then again, sometimes you just need a twenty-fifth song for your monthly mix, so here we are.

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Monthly Mix: February 2023


(1) Wednesday - “Bath County”

We are now more than sixty days into 2023 and, for my money, Wednesday have released the two best songs of the year. “Bath County” is so good it’s infuriating. They build to a perfect chorus (“Every daughter of God …”) within the first minute and then they never go back to it. Any other band would repeat that hook six more times, but Wednesday has too many other ideas they need to cram into three minutes and ten seconds, and they all work. I cannot stress this enough: May 29. Upstairs at Paradiso. Ten euros.

(2) Indigo De Souza - “Younger & Dumber”

The other absolute knockout song from this month (with a great video to match). De Souza’s new album Any Shape You Take comes out April 28. This is the last track, and it feels like a last track. It feels like you’ve gone somewhere with her. From a pure songwriting perspective, this is a pretty straightforward country ballad. It starts there, and it ends there. But in between … wow. If I had to argue for a non-Wednesday song as a too-early Song of the Year candidate, it’s this one.  

(3) boygenius - “Not Strong Enough”

Wrote those first two blurbs before I heard “Not Strong Enough,” and I’m not going to go back and revise them so, hey, let’s get repetitive, here’s another Song of the Year candidate. It is exactly what I asked for last month: a boygenius song that doesn’t seem like it could/should just be a solo song for one of its members. Phoebe leads it off, Julien gets the best line (“Drag racing through the canyon / Singing ‘Boys Don't Cry’”), Lucy brings it home (leading on a final chorus that is still very much a collaborative effort). I didn’t think there was any way they could live up to the astronomical expectations for this record, but … maybe they will?

(4) Jessie Ware - “Pearls”

It’s so good. It really is. I just hate that it starts with the “la la la” bit. I don’t mind when that comes back later. I just don’t want to start with it. Also, a British woman whispering “excuse me” belongs to Wet Leg now. They own that. So it’s 95% perfect. That’s still pretty good.

(5) Caroline Polachek - “Smoke”

I only went to one concert in the month of February, which is disappointing, but what can you do? That one show, though, was anything but disappointing. Let me be the millionth person to tell you that Polachek is a star, and an electric performer. “Smoke” is the last song in her encore, and it lives up to that placement.

(6) Dim Wizard - “Ride The Vibe”

Supergroups! This is the guy from Bad Moves, the guy from The Sidekicks, Jeff Rosenstock, and Sarah Tudzin singing a song about Kevin Morby. I’m sure it’s a logistical nightmare to put together a collaboration like this, which is too bad, because I would like about twenty more of them.

(7) 100 Gecs - “Hollywood Baby”

By far the dumbest song on this list, and yet it leaves me with a huge grin on my face every time I hear it. I can say with 100% certainty that (a) The Singles Jukebox would have reviewed this, (b) I would have given it a [9], (c) the next highest score would have been a [4] at best, and (d) multiple very smart people would have given it a [0]. I don’t care. It’s great.

(8) Meet Me @ The Altar - “Kool”

The last time I fell in love with a Meet Me @ The Altar song, I pitched the idea of selling t-shirts that said “FEFE DOBSON DIED FOR YOUR SINS.” Sadly never got around to that. And, now that I think about it, Fefe’s more of a John the Baptist figure in this analogy, isn’t she? Anyway, this new one is a lot of fun. 

(9) Snow Ellet - “Whiskey and Soda Pop”

Parents, if you don’t teach your kids about The All-American Rejects, who will? (Sarah Tudzin, that’s who.)

(10) Militarie Gun - “Do It Faster”

It’s so cool to see these Covid-isolation bedroom-recording projects turn into real live bands. Militarie Gun is the project of Ian Shelton, who has been in other bands forever, so it's not like he just discovered some hidden talent while locked in his house, but this is a different thing. This didn’t exist before. And now it does. Nice.

(11) Bully - “Lose You” (feat. Soccer Mommy)

Just a perfect collaboration because it gives Bully a little bit of a pop sheen and Soccer Mommy a little bit of an aggressive edge, which they both benefit from. I’d like to restate my above request for more supergroups - these two could do an album together.

(12) Hannah Jagadu - “What You Did”

Caught my attention a bit with 2021’s What Is Going On? EP, but “What You Did” is a huge step up in every way - it’s bigger, louder, it demands your attention. Excited to see what’s next.

(13) The So So Glos - “Everywhere Is War” (feat. Conor Oberst)

Not at all what I was expecting as a comeback single from The So So Glos, who you remember (you totally remember them, just humor me) as a garage rock band in the Titus Andronicus vein (“Son Of An American” made my 100 Songs for 2013 list a decade ago). Oberst’s involvement makes sense, as this sounds like a Digital Ash outtake with Deseparecidos lyrics over it, and those are two of my favorite Oberst incarnations, so yeah, I’m in.

(14) Carlie Hanson - “LSE to LAX”

I will never be objective about Carlie Hanson. Is this song good? I have no idea. Did I ever think I would see the La Crosse, Wisconsin, airport code in a song title on Spotify’s New Music Friday? NO I DID NOT. Finally, a pop star who probably has opinions about Rudy’s Drive In.

(15) Little Simz - “Heart On Fire”

The album version is good, but it’s become her go-to performance piece, and the (surprisingly very different) arrangements she put together for the BAFTAs and Colbert are both worth your time.

(16) Parannoul - “Polaris”

Here’s one final plea from me for you to check out the whole of After The Magic, still my favorite album of 2023.

(17) The Hold Steady - “Sixers”

Likely the last new THS single before I see them in London next weekend, I reserve the right to revisit my initial “good not great” reaction after I see them perform it live.

(18) LIES - “Resurrection”

Side project of the Kinsella brothers, who are (individually or collectively) the artists behind at least four critically acclaimed projects (American Football, Owen, Cap’n Jazz, and Joan of Arc) that I know nothing about. I think it’s funny to imagine me running into one of them someday and having nothing to say but, “oh yeah, you’re the guy from LIES.”

(19) Worriers - “Prepared to Forget”

Slowly coming around on the idea of a more laid-back Worriers, these new songs are good.

(20) Manchester Orchestra - “Capital Karma”

Their new album The Valley of Vision “doubles as an album and virtual reality film” and the director says that “experiencing the film in its intended 180-degree, 3D VR format feels like downloading a dream into your head” and … no. No thank you. That all sounds terrible. I don’t want your weird metaverse album. I just want good songs and, thankfully, this is a good song.

(21) Susanne Sundfør - “Alyosha”

Norwegian grandeur to see us through the end of the winter.

(22) Sløtface - “Nose”

Brassy Norwegian punk for basically the same purpose.

(23) Tyla - “Been Thinking”

Politely putting this one in a drawer labeled “Just Wait Until You Hear It At BOPS.”

(24) Sidney Gish - “Filming School”

The whole world is waiting for a new Rihanna album (feels unlikely). The cool kids are waiting for a new Frank Ocean album (I guess it’s possible). Middle-aged indie rock nerds are waiting for a new Wrens album (never gonna happen). And a small, vocal band of terminally online music obsessives are waiting for a new Sidney Gish album. And I get it. 2017’s No Dogs Allowed is such a fun, quirky record. She’s a charming live performer. And, honestly, what else is she doing? “Filming School” is a one-off for the Sub Pop Singles series, so it’s unclear if it is a sign of more to come, but I know I’d be into that.

(25) Janelle Monáe - “Float”

Two data points make a trend so, between this and Rihanna’s Super Bowl performance, 2023’s next big thing is putting absolutely no effort into something and yet somehow still coming off like the coolest person in the world. It’s not easy, but if you can do it, the upside is huge.