This is the list you’ve all been waiting for, well, sort of. This is my Top 20 LPs of the year. Admittedly, there’s none of the high profile hitmakers on here, but that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy those albums. I loved Purple Mountains just as much as the next person, same with Weyes Blood, but in a pickle, would I choose it over that Martha LP? Uh, absolutely not. Plus, I ran a lot this year because I got tired of being fat, so the majority of this stuff is pretty upbeat and “runnable.” There’s no order because all are equal under my ears.
What?! The Lucksmiths are sharing a new video? Didn’t that band call it quits in 2009!? Well, yes, but they’re putting out their very incredible Naturaliste on vinyl for the very first time since its 2003 release. The video takes a bunch of old video footage and compiles it into one giant story of nostalgic warmth; the band seem carefree and frivolous throughout, which is probably the way we’d all love to be remembered. I feel like the song speaks for itself, as the gentle shuffle of the guitar sound is something that’s filled my own record collection; they were one of the most consistent joys in music for so long. If you’re a fan or just getting turned onto it, the band will release Naturaliste this Friday.
Brunei’s Mirror Trash first popped up on my radar back in April, and every time that he pops out a tune, I get continually captivated. The pacing on this latest tune is so slow, it’s almost like you can hear yourself thinking, talking out your thoughts; the cavernous way in which the vocals were recorded also hint at that same vibe. I always marvel at how the simplest structures seem to embed themselves deep within your soul, and no matter how new-age-y that may sound, this tune definitely seeps into your pores with its carefully crafted pop sensibility.
Forgive me for expecting Mo Troper to continue crafting these hook-laden gritty rock numbers for his new album, Natural Beauty. It would seem that Mo’s completely flipped the script here, brandishing more of a penchant for pop than anything. The orchestration behind Troper’s songwriting has definitely added some great textural layers to this tune, but I’m still all about that chorus; I love the way his voice soars when he sings “when I was younger/it was fun.” This feels like one of those unexpected albums that you just fall in love with, trying to convince all your friends its the greatest things out there! Natural Beauty is out via Tender Loving Empire on February 14th.
If you ever gotten caught up in the great nostalgic feeling of pop music, then you’re going to find yourself immensely satisfied by the work of Human Barbie, and the band’s new video. While it flirts with these modern bedroom tropes, solitary and slow, it offer has this sort of melody that is indebted to the timelessness of pop craftsmanship. For me, it’s all about the chorus, kind of drifting in and out of your soul; I’m taken each time the lines “the grass is always greener” are uttered, accented by the faintest strum in the distance. This track appears on Get a Life, out on Poor Man Records early next year.
In case you didn’t know, Juillet, the new LP from En Attendant Ana, is ready to blow you away next year. I’ve spent a good deal of time with the record, and this has to be one of my favorite tunes on there; I got hooked immediately on the opening, sort of teasing you with this sharp meandering guitar line that precedes this heavy rolling drum beat, setting the groundwork for the vocals to come bounding through the track. Once they’re in, you’re tapping your toes with the melody, guitars swirling and churning through your ears. This is how I want my pop music! The band drop that new LP via Trouble in Mind Records (who did a great year end list for us HERE) on January 24th, so if you haven’t pre-ordered, rectify that immediately!
There’s a handful of really really great tape labels out there, and one that is near and dear to our hearts is Lost Sound Tapes, run by Jon Manning. He’s done an incredible job of curating, and I almost always find myself in love with a handful of his releases each year, like Olivia’s World and Lisa Prank this year! So, I reached out and asked him to pop off with some of his favorite releases…and here we are. Enjoy!
A couple of the tracks from this Pink Chameleons EP have hit our site before, kind of bringing back that dark psychedelic vibe into our radar. Personally, “Melting Face” might be one of my favorite tunes of the year, particularly when that chorus sort of drops in and courses through your veins…like the best song BRMC never wrote. In the end, however, one of the great things about Songs EP is that the band sound tight while traveling through various nods to their favorite genres; they seem to be honing their craft before your very ears, flirting with the edges of everything you love. I can’t stop listening to the delicate ballad that is “Reach Out,” which in the end might be my favorite of this batch of great tunes. “Smile” offers some sonic exploration from within the band’s sound, and then it’s closed out with “Word Out,” a tune that ends your listen with this heavy swagger that guarantees the band loads of coolness points. Songs EP is out Friday via Soliti Music.
Admittedly, I’m a sucker for a touch of a jazzy/Latin vibe working its way into pop music; it has the feel of a real classy lounge act, and I have no shame in saying I enjoy that. This track from Night Water is definitely of that ilk; it has the intimacy of a crooner working his way through a crowd. But, there are a few moments when the band get to flex their muscles appropriately, giving the song the right amount of punch to keep the track more than interesting. This tune appears on the band’s new effort, Leave No Trace, which drops on January 7th of next year.
As I’ve already gotten close to wrapping up 2019 in my brain, I’m starting to look forward to what’s in store for 2020. High upon that list is the forthcoming LP from Field Music, and today there’s another single to support that premise. It opens with this playful stick work and bobbing bass line, all before the lyrics and the guitar take their places in the track. It reminds me of some of the last Q and Not U LPs, but with a slightly more pop bent…neither of which is a bad thing here. I love how the guitar has this sharpness that contrasts the vocal melody as it rises and falls. This band is on fire; Making a New World is out in January via Memphis Industries.