It’s been a crazy year, and a depressing year, so perhaps we all retreated more into our record collections to seek out that fleeting joy. On my end, I spent a lot of time running/walking in the ‘burbs, so these are the records that played the most in my life…thus they are my Favorite Albums of 2020. The validity means little to anyone other than myself, but since you stop by, perhaps come by and check out my list!
And, just an FYI…there are 30 bands, and I linked back to Bandcamp pages so you can buy directly from the artists…except that one band because apparently they’re too cool…even though that album rips.
We return to Rock n’ Recipes features with one of my absolute favorite musicians, Emma Kupa. I first stated my fandom with Standard Fare, but she’s gone on to her current projects Mammoth Penguins, Hayman Kupa Band…and, this month she’ll release her new solo LP. We caught up with her via email to chat about her songwriting process, the new LP, and she shares her go recipe for Vegan Banana Pancakes! It Will Come Easier is out Friday via Palo Santo Records and Fika Recordings.
If you’ve been following Emma Kupa since Standard Fare hung things up, then chances are you’ve likely heard live versions of “Nawlins.” But, with It Will Come Easier not too far away from the official release date, we finally get a lovely recorded version. I’ve listened to previews of this record quite a bit, and the strumming style and various accompaniment make this tune one of the immediate standouts, particularly when backed up against the stunning “No Easy Way Out.” That initial strum caught me instantly, filled with the accent of shakers and banjo; be weary of the chorus, as once those backing vocals get their hooks in you, you’re not getting away! Honestly, I think the soloing guitar is a nice touch; it kind of adds that light twist that shows a willingness to maybe throw something else in the genre’s mix. The LP drops September 18th via Fika Recordings/Palo Santo Records.
Avowed Emma Kupa fan here, and I’ve been fortunate enough to get a little glimpse at the entirety of It Will Come Easier. Today we bring you the album’s second single, and one that really highlights Emma as a singer. The video, and the song for the most part are pretty stark, just Emma and her voice; you do get some delicate string work to build in the slightest hint of texture throughout, though the focus remains on Kupa’s dynamic pipes. Honestly, her voice and lyrics make this entire record; I love the lyric below reminding us that “nobody’s a saint/and we’ve all got our problems.” It’s a good thing to keep in mind as we all hold tight to our relationships. It Will Come Easier is out via Fika Recordings/Palo Santo Records this Fall.
Make no mistake about it…Emma Kupa is one of my absolute favorite songwriters; I loved Standard Fare; I love Hayman Kupa Band and Mammoth Penguins (that MP LP last year is still great!). So, when she announced her new solo effort, It Will Come Easier, I nearly knocked over my chair to get a listen. It’s interesting to hear this track, as it seems to draw on bits and pieces of her musical career, from the folkier moments with the banjo to that ripping guitar line you can hear in the distance…but of course, its always about that distinctively powerful voice. It’s hard to not see this song’s lyrics through the lens of the last few weeks, however, as the protagonist seems fed up with facing the same dilemma time and time again…so even our art is starting to call us out. A beautiful tune, and one we’ll look forward to picking up when It Will Come Easier drops via Palo Santo Records and Fika Recordings this Fall!
You undoubtedly are aware of my Emma Kupa fandom. It seems like this is her year…she’s already released a great Hayman Kupa Band LP, she’s playing with Suggested Friends and in the last two weeks her band Mammoth Penguins have announced their newest album, John Doe. The angular chords chopping from the get-go kick off this new tune, allowing Kupa to rock a stellar vocal performance as the rest of the group fill the track with percussion. There’s almost a shuffling boogie from the chorus, keeping listeners hooked with that sugary pop vibe. Look for the new album on October 13th via WIAIWYA.
Two distinctive voices wrapping around each other isn’t always a success, unless its done by The Hayman Kupa Band. Darren and Emma tend to trade back verses on this new single, with a huge chorus really executing their united powers. Musically, you’re running through the fields on a sunny day, stopping from time to time to revel in the company of a great friend. Chugging chords help push the band’s pop objective with little percussive bits sneaking into the party from behind. Thanks to Fika Recordingswe’ll all be able to relish the joys of life when they release the band’s LP on July 21st.
Darren Hayman and Emma Kupa have frequented my playing rotation throughout the last several years, sometimes together, but mostly separate. Fortunately for us all, they’ve been keeping their unique songwriting process going, and now have their self-titled album ready for our ears. Our first tease is this delightful new tune, illustrating how two great songwriters can up the ante by combining their powers together; I dig the way they play back and forth with varying lines. The song, aside from the vocals, has this relaxed pop feel to it; the guitar sound is great, particularly with that semi-Western chord sliding away behind “no more bombs.” Look for their finished album from Fika Recordings on July 21st.
I recently wrote about how prolific Darren Hayman has been, having just released a new single for Fortuna Pop. Now he’s back with the Hayman Kupa Band, comprised primarily of he and Emma Kupa of Mammoth Penguins/Standard Fare. Emma opens up this new track claiming “I’m an asshole,” which is the self-deprecating humor that pervades the song, though it’s truly a song about longing for a partner. It’s hard to turn away from this sprite-ly tune…in part because it’s so great, and also because these two have been such a huge part of my listening as of the last few years. I particularly love Emma’s vocals just around the 2 minute mark. Enjoy this track, and keep your ears peeled for more from the band.
Tons of genres out there, but if you’ve been following our work, you know that I’m really partial to the indiepop scene. I scour the confines of the Internet for any and the best of the genre, and admittedly get tons of tips. So, I looked back through what had come out and wanted to throw a little bit your way…just another list of what I think was the best in indiepop in 2015. Still staying away from numbering. Also…some of this has made my other lists, but I wanted to expand on my favorite genre a little bit. Read more