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.
I think of all the records I’ve spent the most time with, the most unexpected joy came from The Prettiest Curse…the latest LP from Hinds. Amidst this global pandemic, we’ve all been seeking our own small joys, and nothing has been nearly as fun as this record (in my opinion). The opening three tracks alone are worth countless repeat listens (as my iTunes can attest). But, in the context of the record, there’s a very slight energetic respite falling those opening 3 tunes; you get a couple more thoughtful slow-burners before “Burn” jumps back in to establish the joyousness that is this LP. There’s this undying frivolity that seeps through the speakers when you press play on this one, and the only thing lacking in the video context is that same feeling and camaraderie, due to the filming taking place during the lockdown in Spain. Can’t get enough of this LP.
Hinds have just announced that they’ll be dropping their new record, I Don’t Run, on Mom + Pop on April 6th; they’ve done it in a fashion that’s straight to the hearts of the ATH team, with a soccer (futbol) themed video (their whole web site shares the theme if you’re so inclined). The video, and the song itself, encapsulate everything that’s great about the Spanish quartet. No matter what video they create, they always seem like they’re having one hell of a time; they make you wish you were in on the party. Plus, they always toss out a catchy lyrical nugget that has you screaming at the top of your lungs as you sing along; you can’t help yourself. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see too many folks out there having as much fun as Hinds…and that will always win me over.
The Parrots will probably get a lot of hype merely by their association with Hinds, but every time I hear this song, I get transported to their SXSW sets. They were some of the most energetic/enjoyable sets I caught that week, and this song was by far one of the most memorable. It even features a nod to Austin itself with the sporting of a Hotel Hot Burrito tee, so yet another reason for me to get behind this track. Their debut album Los Ninos Sin Miedo will hit on August 26th via Heavenly Recordings, promising to be a catchy bit of crunchy garage pop for us all.
Within the past few months it seems that this group of four girls from Madrid have been all over the news in the indie scene. Hinds(formerly Deers) have released a fair number of singles over the past year, building up the buzz around their lo-fi garage tunes and with good reason; each of these singles has been catchy and fun to sing along to, all while those slightly gritty guitars jangle on infectiously. Leave Me Alone is an impressive debut, filled with lo-fi tunes with a pop twist to them, though not much more than what the singles have been hinting at.
What’s great about this record is that it is unapologetically messy and raucous and never really too much so. Hinds reach a balance of precision carelessness, which you get on the louder, in-your-face tracks like “Castigadas en el granero, or Warts,” or any of the singles that youve probably already heard. The vocals on these track trade off between quick lipped solos and -sometimes together-sometimes not- distorted girl gang shouting. On paper, this doesn’t sound like something that would make a lot of sense, but it works alongside the tight knit guitar riffs. “Chili Town” is a prime example of how well this dynamic can shine and the band uses the variation in vocal style to give the track a tonal variety and climactic chorus associated with your favorite pop tunes.
The album ends with a succession of slower, less rowdy tracks, but the vocal performance doesnt shift: theyre sloppy-chic till the end. Of these ending tracks, “Walking Home” is the standout. With its the surfy guitar riffs and start and stop instrumentation it grabs your attention and holds you through the last notes of the record. The guitars on this song are catchy and light, while the vocals bring the lo-fi aspect to the mix.
And so at the end of Leave Me Alone Hinds have given you exactly what you came for, so you can’t complain too much; there are no bad tracks on the record. My only real qualm with this album is that these ladies dont stray too far from one style of track and one singular sound. Dont get me wrong, it’s a good one, but the lack of variety prevents excellency and lands on mediocre. Nonetheless, Hinds are destined to remain a buzz band through 2016, and I’m interested to see where they will go next for a sophomore record.
Madrid’s Hinds have been making garagey tunes since their origin in 2011, but this new track “Chili Town” seems like a big step in the right direction for the group. The song has got that classic garage feeling; light guitar riffs wave though the background as the wild and imperfectly loud gang vocals hit hard. To me, this sounds like the perfect hybrid between the crispness of surf rock and the grit of garage. I’m really enjoying the number, which sounds perfect for this summer heat. Take a listen.