Playlist: New tunes from 2020, part four

Good morning, good morning. I hope you’ve all had a wonderful holiday weekend and if you celebrate them, a merry Christmas and a fruitful Boxing day… well, as merry and as fruitful as possible, given the circumstances.

We’ve finally nearly reached the end of this crazy year 2020 (give yourselves a congratulatory pat on the back). We’re now just two days removed from New Year’s eve and the unveiling of my favourite album of the year, and here I am unleashing the fourth part of my ‘New tunes of 2020’ playlist series. This is the first time in the past three years of doing these playlist series that I’ve actually managed a fourth part, even though it has always been planned in the past. And this is only partially because of life getting in the way of my blogging and playlist creation fun. In reality, one of the biggest roadblocks to managing a fourth part for the fourth quarter has, in the past, been the lack of quality new releases. I’ve always found that the new music release calendar trails off a bit after November, brand new music giving way to reissues and best of compilations, just in time for Christmas giving.

I was more successful putting together this fourth playlist this year because I accepted these limitations and decided to make this a b-sides compilation of sorts. The first half of these tracks are new tunes that came out in October and the first half of November and the rest are tracks that didn’t make the cut, for one reason or another, for the first three playlists of this year but were still great enough to share. You may want to check out the other three mixes first (here, here, and here) but I think you’ll find this one just as excellent.

So let’s have a look at some of the highlights of this ‘b-side’ playlist:

      • “Hold my hand”, a raucous psych-rock mess by Death Valley Girls, aka a song pulled from the pages of a book called “Why haven’t I heard of this band before?”
      • A heavy-duty, jangly bundle of energy called “Love comes in waves” off the debut solo album by Ride’s Andy Bell
      • “Stay out”, a banjo barn stomper off “Keeper”, the latest album by Canadian alternative country trio Elliott Brood
      • Isobel Campbell’s soft touch cover of Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ down a dream”
      • A super fun, eighties throwback called “On division st.” by Brooklyn indie pop act, Nation of Language
      • “Vibrant colours”, the dreamy single off the debut album by new Canadian artist, Zoon, cheekily coined moccasin-gaze

For those who don’t use Spotify or if the embedded playlist below doesn’t work for you, here is the entire playlist as I’ve created it:

    1. “Hold my hand” Death Valley Girls (from the album Under the spell of joy)
    2. “Trade it” Slow Pulp (from the album Moveys)
    3. “Waving at the window” Travis (from the album 10 songs)
    4. “For sure” Future Islands (from the album As long as you are)
    5. “Impossible weight” Deep Sea Diver with Sharon Van Etten (from the album Impossible weight)
    6. “Worth it” beabadoobee (from the album Fake it flowers)
    7. “Distant axis” Matt Berninger (from the album Serpentine prison)
    8. “Say less” Nothing (from the album The great dismal)
    9. “Love comes in waves” Andy Bell (from the album The view from halfway down)
    10. “Stay out” Elliott Brood (from the album Keeper)
    11. “Weight of the world” 5 Billion In Diamonds (from the album Divine accidents)
    12. “Barcelona” Twin Atlantic (from the album Power)
    13. “Runnin’ down a dream” Isobel Campbell (from the album There is no other…)
    14. “Southwark” Yumi Zouma (from the album Truth or consequence)
    15. “Electric roses” Basia Bulat (from the album Are you in love?)
    16. “I got the hots for Charlie Watts” The Exbats (from the album Kicks, hits and fits)
    17. “What I’ve done to help” Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (from the album Reunions)
    18. “Can’t get out” Woods (from the album Strange to explain)
    19. “Shake your diamonds” The Rentals (from the album Q36)
    20. “Chaos and confusion” Venus Furs (from the album Venus Furs)
    21. “Party with the kids who wanna party with you” Bad Moves (from the album Untenable)
    22. “The way things are” Porcelain Raft (from the album Come rain)
    23. “On Division st.” Nation Of Language (from the album Introduction, presence)
    24. “Bad girls forever” Pins (from the album Hot slick)
    25. “Vibrant colours” Zoon (from the album Bleached wavves)

And as I’ve said before, I’ll say again: Wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe and continue to be well. Until next time, enjoy the tunes.

If you’re interested in checking out any of the other playlists I’ve created and shared on these pages, you can peruse them here.

Vinyl love: Ride “This is not a safe place”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Ride
Album Title: This is not a safe place
Year released: 2019
Details: 2 x 12″ LP, 45 rpm, embossed lettering on cover

The skinny: “This new [album] finds Mark Gardener, Andy Bell, Loz Colbert, and Steve Queralt revelling in being back in a fully realized band. Yeah, there is more confidence and energy and a sense that they want to explore and experiment more with their sound. After five years back as a whole, this sounds like it’s the first time that Ride knows exactly who they want to be and it’s bursting out from all speakers.” These are some of the words I wrote about “This is not a safe place” when I presented it as my fourth favourite album from 2019. I also wrote about how I went out to one of my locals on the day it was released to purchase this fine copy, pressed to two slabs at 45 rpm. It sounds lovely and even more so with repeat spins. And yeah, that title is quite prescient with the times we are now living in, isn’t it?

Standout track: “Clouds of Saint Marie”

Best albums of 2019: #4 Ride “This is not a safe place”

Ride should need no introduction to any fan of the original wave of shoegaze and perhaps even to those fans of the bands that were influenced by them in the 2000s. “This is not a safe place” is the Oxford quartet’s sixth full-length and second since re-forming in 2014 after an 18 year hiatus.

I had approached the previous album, “Weather diaries”, warily and with plenty of trepidation. You never know how these things will work out, especially a band like Ride, who even in their short early days had two distinct periods of musical direction. Would they revisit their early, “shoegaze” sound that has kept their name coming up over and over again as such an influential group or would they continue down the road they seemed to be travelling when the group was rended by internal strife? Happily, it was more the former than the latter. And even more happily is that it wasn’t just a rehash of days gone by but the sound of a band tentatively dipping its toes back into the wave pool and finding the water just fine, spreading its water wings to surf out on the breakers with its years of diverse experiences.

In the two years since its release, I have regretted not purchasing “Weather diaries” for my vinyl collection so I decided with only slight hesitation to not make the same mistake for “This is not a safe place” when it was announced. I went out to one of my locals on release day and picked up a copy to spin later that night. After a couple go ‘rounds, I was pleased with my decision. This new one finds Mark Gardener, Andy Bell, Loz Colbert, and Steve Queralt revelling in being back in a fully realized band. Yeah, there is more confidence and energy and a sense that they want to explore and experiment more with their sound. After five years back as a whole, this sounds like it’s the first time that Ride knows exactly who they want to be and it’s bursting out from all speakers.

I had my favourites that first night but the favourites have multiplied with each listen to the point where I find it a task to point to a weak link on the album. My three picks for you are from among those early faves. Have a listen.

“Repetition”: Andy Bell was very proud of this second tune to be unveiled in advance of the album’s release, calling it perhaps the best song he’s ever written. As he says, it’s a great one for blasting, thumping bass and chunky drumming, the guitars roar and rumble and scream. Bell on lead here, meanwhile, seemingly sings about the lot of bands whose fans want the same thing over and over again. The energy is youthful exuberance and plenty of wash and drone and yet there’s something withdrawn and knowing about it. I could see having fun on the dancefloor with this one for sure.

“Clouds of Saint Marie”: In the days leading up to the album’s release, Ride unleashed this shining tune. Another Andy Bell penned tune, this one feels like a pop throwback to eighties indie. The guitars alternate between jangle and roar and the bass and drums just chug along. It could just be the title but there’s definitely a feeling here of floating high up in the atmosphere, watching over life down on the ground from a happy place far removed, keeping company with the bright sun. Bell whispers and sighs the beauty of love, letting it wash over all of us. So good.

“Jump jet”: “Jump jet” is like an explosion. It’s like the end of all things. The machine has failed and technology is crumbling and everything is coming to a disaster movie climax, the hero racing to save his or her family from the evil villain (or whatever menace, you pick). And Ride is performing the soundtrack to this final scene. The bass is driving, the drums are punishing, the synths are washing and pooling like dry ice fog, and of course, the guitars are firing above it all. It’s a song to play loud on your ear phones or speakers in your basement and just close your eyes to lose yourself for five minutes.

Check back next Tuesday for album #3. In the meantime, here are the previous albums in this list:

10. Chromatics “Closer to grey”
9. Elva “Winter sun”
8. The Twilight Sad “It won/t be like this all the time”
7. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds “Ghosteen”
6. The Soft Calvary “The Soft Calvary”
5. Orville Peck “Pony”

You can also check out my Best Albums page here if you’re interested in my other favourite albums lists.