Well, we’re back at it folks, scrambling back into the new year, which feels an awful lot like the last year, except, well, there are new tunes. I didn’t go too overboard, as I was trying to get my feet underneath me for another semester, so we only had about 10 news jams, but unfortunately, only 9 are available via everyone’s least favorite streaming service. Most of these are brand new singles, with a heavy focus on the forthcoming Slumberland catalog, courtesy of Artsick and Kids on a Crime Spree, plus some of our favorites like Modern Nature, Nah… and Husbands reminded us what they’re all about. So, have it. Stream on!
Modern Nature‘s latest album, Island of Noise, received a ton of accolades, though it still seems like folks passed it over on its release back in November. Perhaps their new video for “Performance” will entice you to visit the island, if you’ve yet to make it their for your first visit. The song revolves around the percussive elements, with Jack Cooper (Ultimate Painting) making sure the nooks and crannies are filled out on the edges, though still allowing plenty of space for thoughtful meditation on the your state of being. This whole LP feels timeless, almost avoiding genres and pigeonholing altogether in favor of crafting a listen that rewards with each spin of the record. It’s available now via Bella Union, and out digitally on January 28th.
When Modern Nature released How to Live, everyone I knew was quietly praising the work of Jack Cooper’s new project. But, not even a year on, the band is back with a brand new collection of songs, or at least 7 new songs. Our first listen is quite an expansive tune, though it feels much quieter in some respects. Things feel muted, while Cooper almost seems to deliver his words in a spoken fashion; I loved the horn work that comes alive in the first chorus, adding this jazzy touch to the song that gives it this poetic nature. This new record, Annual, will be released on June 5th via Bella Union.
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.
Year-end lists (or “best-of”s as most people term them) are extremely hard for me to compile. I listen to (and buy) a lot of music from day-to-day & despite my best efforts truly cannot keep up with the sheer magnitude of quality recordings coming out each year – and 2019 was a pretty fucking great year for music. So here’s my best shot at compiling a list of my “10 Most-Listened-To” albums from 2019 (plus five honorable mentions). They’re in alphabetical order to avoid any sort of ranking, because honestly ranking something as “best” or assigning a numerical rating seems antiquated & frankly diminishes great art, IMHO. (Trouble In Mind Records releases are excluded, for conflict of interest, but it’s safe to say that anything we’d be investing thousands of dollars releasing is – in our opinion – worth your time). Hope you enjoy & possibly discover something new. Support independent artists & record labels!
When Ultimate Painting abruptly disbanded, I wondered what would come of Jack Cooper. He’d released stuff with Mazes, as well as his own solo stuff, so we knew he’d be okay…though how okay I didn’t know…until now. His new project is titled Modern Nature, a joint venture with Will Young (Beak>, Moon Gangs). Our first listen is a majestic construction piece of slow-core, filled with layers that build upon one another as the song inches its way forward. Tickling guitar lines are aided by great cymbal work and the heavy softness of the vocals; the song moves forward and some horns and electronic flourishes begin to bubble from beneath the surface. This is absolutely gorgeous, and not at all what I would have expected, so I’m all the better for it. How to Live will be put on August 23rd via Bella Union.