Thursday, June 04, 2020

Rockin' My Turntable in 2019.

Photo by Travis Wiens.
Well, I'm still 6 months late with this, but at least I'm getting closer to being back on track since my 2017 list took almost a year to get up. Progress? Progress!

It's worth noting that in the intro to my 2018 list I mentioned my listing habits had returned to normal when it came to new music. Of course I wrote that at the end of 2019 and since then they have returned to normal (as of yesterday, I've logged 344 albums so far this year).

2019 was a year for me slowing down, regaining control, and leaning on the familiar to get me through uncertain times. In this case you'll see "the familiar" has to do with sonic connections of the bands more so than. litany of old faves. Sure, there are a few stalwarts in here, but the vast majority are newer artists who hew to the sounds of my personal nostalgia and sentiment. So that's the basis of a lot of how these wormed their way into my head and heart, but if these were just bands trading on their influences it'd bore me (and you) pretty quickly.

The albums below are in total random order. The only potential organizing principle was that if the music is available on Bandcamp (my preferred platform for buying and streaming but mostly buying music) those are grouped first. Honestly, I haven't a clue why every band isn't on Bandcamp since I think Spotify is not a musician's friend and Soundcloud is fine but, again, doesn't seem as financially supportive to musicians as one would like.

So, let's go!

Bob Mould - Sunshine Rock

The granddaddy of indie punk shows no signs of slowing down. He's taken many detours over the years but he always seems to land in the power trio format and simply can't help himself from writing chunky guitar pop masterpiece after chunky guitar pop masterpiece.

Foxygen - Seeing Other People

Foxygen decided to take a trip down the groovier lanes of '60s pop psychedelia and I was and still am all in.

Weyes Blood - Titanic Rising

Don't kill me for saying this, but this is the album I always knew The Carpenters had in them if they'd just unleashed Karen.

Brat Curse - Brat Curse

Power pop on trucker's speed, with a vocal delivery that will have people singing Tripping Daisy tunes from their past. Urgent, immediate, and so much fun. Chugga chugga chugga!

PUP - Morbid Stuff

These cats never disappoint with raucous party punk that keeps the blood and sweat glands pumping.

Kitty Kat Fan Club - Dreamy Little You

Imagine a lottery ball machine filled with tiny globes of perfect indie pop bouncing all over the place and nudging against each other to be chosen unknowing that in fact they are all winners. That's Kitty Kat Fan Club.

Better Oblivion Community Center - Better Oblivion Community Center

You've heard this. Everyone has heard this. And there's a reason for that. But hopefully you didn't just hear the singles. Better Oblivion Community Center also put on one of my favorite shows in 2019, even though I think I went solo since my friend who was supposed to go that night canceled at the last minute. Big mistake!

Ex Hex - It's Real

This power trio whips out the polish and applies an '80s gleam to their indie power-pop numbers to take you down right in the solar plexus.

Dude York - Falling

This trio gets sharper and sharper and I've enjoyed watching them grow, especially as the guitarist and bassist have slowly started to more evenly split the songs they sing on.

Charly Bliss - Young Enough

One of my newer friends thought Charly Bliss was my favorite band of all time because of how much I played their music and talked to anyone who would listen about how terrific they are in 2019. While they aren't my favorite band of all time, over the years they have swiftly risen up my internal rankings ever since I saw them open for Veruca Salt way back when. They get better and better and better and if they top this album I just might explode.

Great Grandpa - Four Of Arrows

Another gang of youthful types who love '90s indie rock and explored the noise corners of that sound on their last album, only to shed much of the volume in favor of finesse on this huge step forward.

The Dollyrots - Daydream Explosion

I keep saying this because it's true: if Josie and the Pussycats released new albums they would sound exactly like this.

100 gecs - 1000 gecs

This was certainly the most memorable show I saw in 2019. If you have to ask yourself if you're too old to "get" 100 gecs then you're doing it wrong. You don't need to "get" them, you just need to submerge yourself in them. Also, I'm sure the duo behind the group's music has never heard of Atari Teenage Riot, but they are the spiritual sonic forefathers of 100 gecs—even if the gecs get the last word when it comes to crafting backward hooks.

Bleached - Don't You Think You've Had Enough?

These albums are indeed in random order, but I'm noticing a trend: Bleached also put on one of my favorite shows in 2019. Their set focused mainly on this album, so it was a slicker and more "disco" affair than one would expect from a band whose work often sounded as if it was made to bounce off garage doors and basement ceilings. But it was great, even if I think the singer in the band and me were the only people in the room not drinking that night.

Extra Arms - Up From Here

Ryan Allen and his crew never disappoint. Just listen to the whole thing already. Also a really fun show even if the cozy confines of the Montrose Saloon didn't seem entirely sure what to do Wirth the band when they started playing, everyone in the room was a convert bye the end. Bonus points fro keeping one of the owners of said Saloon dancing near the front of the crowd for most of their set.

Yeasayer - Erotic Reruns

It figures that just when Yeasayer releases an album that trims their flabbier tendencies towards excess in their music it would also be the band's final release. This deserved more attention than it got.

Starcrawler - Devour You

Another band with a phenomenal 2019 live show. They injected more glam into their tunes but the gutter is always half a step away in their music as it teeters on the edge of the abyss.

White Reaper - You Deserve Love

This is the album that should have made these cats an arena act. This is also the album that made me realize that the vast majority of groups the music press writes about and focuses on are much smaller than you would think when it comes to broader cultural awareness of their music, and that can set lopsided expectations divorced from reality. So while yes, in a different world You Deserve Love should have made these cats an arena act, in our world it's just a fan-fucking-tabulous album.

Telethon - Hard Pop 

These folks from Milwaukee are just cranking out hit after hit, and I can't get enough. Luckily they pace of their output is pretty speedy so I never have to wait too long for new goodness. Also? The album sounds just like it's title.

Tacocat - This Mess Is A Place

Yes, I think it's funny a band based in dreary (allegedly) Seattle would create such a terrific beach album. But they did, and it's great!

Radar State - Strays

When I wrote about this sorta supergroup I said,"The sound is all energetic, classic riffle and sing-along prompts that you'll fall prey to halfway through any given chorus. It's the sound of four people who share enough of a common background to keep things cohesive, but are different enough that none of this sounds like a rehash of their own bands." Yup.

Angel Olsen - All Mirrors

Grand. Eloquent. Stately. Baroque. Angel. Olsen. Outdoes. Herself.

Masked Intruder - III

According to my play counts over 2019, I played this album A LOT. It's pure release, and on top of it, Masked Intruder is just so much funny fun.

Dark Thoughts - Must Be Nice

As simple and loud as it gets. 'Nuff said.

The Regrettes - How Do You Love?

Sugar laced with cyanide and topped with bouffants hovering over sleeves of tattoos. At least that's what the latest album from The Regrettes sounds like to me.

Love In October - Shapes

These Chicago-based siblings continue to show a knack for kicking out condensed blasts of guitar pop bliss that, at the right moment, could also get you onto the dance floor.

Michael Kiwanuka - KIWANUKA

This album is a total '70s soul throwback that is absolutely sublime and made me immediately fall for Michael Kiwanuka. Don't worry though, even though it's got its dusty roots in a retro sound, KIWANUKA's immediate effect is all modern.

Miss June - Bad Luck Party

When Miss June played to a room of about a dozen people last year these kids from New Zealand could have just phoned it in. Who wants to play to an empty room? Wisely, they chose to rock the fuck out. (This is a tactic that works. The last time I saw a band play to so few people in that particular room while treating it as a stadium-sized sold-out crowd the band's name was Cage The Elephant. They turned out O.K.) Oh yeah, the music is great too. Still bummed I didn't have enough dough to buy a t0shirt at that show though.

The Futureheads - Powers

Still tighter than a wire even if they're not changing the formula. But if they did, then they wouldn't be The Futureheads.

Carly Ray Jepsen - Dedicated 

Did you get more and more frantic as you read, wondering how in god's name I could forget Carly Rae Jepsen?! I didn't!

You made it to the very end! Congratulations! And thank you! I promise my best of 2020 list will actually be published in 2020, or a week within its ending, at the very latest—we shall see!

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