Categories
Playlists

Playlist: New tunes from 2021, part four

Well, we made through another year. It’s New Years’s Eve, a mere handful of hours left of 2021. I would normally be all optimistic for the new year, but I can’t help but question if things will really get better with the turn of the calendar. I saw someone post a meme recently on social media somewheres that gloomily said: “That moment that you realize that 2022 is pronounced twenty twenty too.” I laughed out loud because it rang so true.

Still, traditions must be adhered to. The countdown will go on, resolutions will be made and broken, young lovers will kiss at midnight, sparkling wines will be uncorked and guzzled, and of course, I will post the final instalment of my annual four-part playlist sharing some of the new tunes released during the year. You are welcome to go back and revisit parts one, two, and three, which include songs from the first three quarters of the year. And this final playlist, twenty five songs, much like the previous three, collects the bangers from the last three months. However, since new releases are typically scant at this time of year (the calendar usually being more full of reissues and box sets for Christmas), I bolstered whatever spots remain with the b-sides, or tracks that just missed being included in the previous three parts.

As rough as the year has been personally and for all of us collectively, we’ve at least had some great music being created and released to keep us going. In some areas of the world, things began opening up in the fall and live shows were being held, a sort of tease and taste of how things can be if they ever return to normal, and then, Omricon swept in to remind us that this pandemic isn’t quite beaten yet.

But let’s focus, just for a few minutes, on the joy of music, shall we? Right then.

Highlights of this playlist’s last twenty-five songs include:

    • “Still the same” is infectious synth pop from the latest album by Princess Century, the solo project of Maya Postepski (ex of Austra and TR/ST)
    • Always whimsical and dreamy and mellow rocking, Luna frontman Dean Wareham delivers fun on “The past is our plaything” from his newest solo album
    • On “Dying in LA”, Canadian indie electronic rock band, Gold and Youth, channels OMD and Simple Minds for the soundtrack of the film that John Hughes never made
    • And speaking of 80s revival, Nation of Language do their best impression of New Order on “Across that fine line”
    • It’s almost sickening how Elbow keep continuing to make untouchable and beautiful music each and every album but songs like “Six words” draw me in every time
    • Departure Lounge came out of nowhere earlier this year to release their first album in two decades and songs like the jangly “Australia” show why more people should have missed them
    • And finally, “(We like to) Do it with the lights on” is just one of many reasons I’m glad that Nicholas Thoburn didn’t stop making music as Islands, as he had threatened back in 2016

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, complete with links to YouTube videos:

1. “Pool hopping” Illuminati Hotties (from the album Let me do one more)

2. “Human touch” Pond (from the album 9)

3. “Still the same” Princess Century (from the album s u r r e n d e r)

4. “Mid-century modern” Billy Bragg (from the album The million things that never happened)

5. “The past is our plaything” Dean Wareham (from the album I have nothing to say to the mayor of L.A.)

6. “Aquamarine” Hand Habits (from the album Fun house)

7. “Bessie, did you make it?” Marissa Nadler (from the album The path of the clouds)

8. “Wasted” The War On Drugs (from the album I don’t live here anymore)

9. “Proud home” Lily Konigsberg (from the album Lily we need to talk)

10. “Miss Moon” Penelope Isles (from the album Which way to happy)

11. “Dying in LA” Gold & Youth (from the album Dream baby)

12. “Across that fine line” Nation Of Language (from the album A way forward)

13. “Turning green” Courtney Barnett (from the album Things take time, take time)

14. “It should have been fun” Pip Blom (from the album Welcome break)

15. “Royal morning blue” Damon Albarn (from the album The nearer the fountain, more pure the stream flows)

16. “Six words” Elbow (from the album Flying dream 1)

17. “Tell me tell me tell me” Rinse (from the EP Wherever I am)

18. “Australia” Departure Lounge (from the album Transmeridian)

19. “Too loud” Autogramm (from the album No rules)

20. “(We like to) Do it with the lights on” Islands (from the album Islomania)

21. “When I come around” Nap Eyes (from the EP Nap Eyes)

22. “When it breaks” Quivers (from the album Golden doubt)

23. “The right thing is hard to do” Lightning Bug (from the album A color of the sky)

24. “In the stone” The Goon Sax (from the album Mirror II)

25. “Jaywalker” Andy Shauf (from the album Wilds)

As always, wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe, continue to be well, and well, 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.

Categories
Playlists

Playlist: New tunes from 2020, part one

I can hardly believe that we’re already a third of the way through 2020 and at the same time, with everything going on, I find myself wondering how it’s only the end of April. Indeed, the picture above was taken at the end of February, a mere couple of weeks before we were all sent to our respective rooms to think about what we’ve done, and even that fun weekend spent with friends seems so long ago now.

I started doing these “New tunes of…” Spotify playlists last year, the plan being to post 25 new songs from the previous three months, four times during the year, to have 100 great songs in total. I was only semi-successful at this last year and this year has already gotten off to a rocky start, seeing as that I’m only getting around to sharing this first playlist 2 or 3 weeks later than I was hoping for. To try to make up for my shortcomings, though, I’ve linked each song in the list to its respective YouTube video, in addition to my usually routine of embedding the complete Spotify playlist at the end.

This first playlist for 2020 sees a handful of old and some recent favourites of mine but also a lot of new discoveries. Highlights for this quarter include these:

      • I’m not a fan of everything on Okay Kaya‘s art pop sophomore album but “Insert generic name” tickles my funny bone and has me humming along every time
      • “Try again”, a great track off Andy Shauf‘s latest concept album, “The neon skyline”: hilarious, endearing, and relatable to anyone who’s run into an ex while drinking
      • It’s been five years since Cornershop‘s last record and more than a decade since they released one that I’ve loved but the latest, “England is a garden”, is pretty amazing and opening track, “St Marie under canon”, has had me bopping for weeks
      • New Zealand singer/songwriter Nadia Reid has quite the voice and how could I not fall for “Oh Canada”, a song about how she would like visit to my home country
      • “Ella” is something akin to something Enya or Loreena McKennitt might’ve done, but definitely darker and more haunting, and it’s got me curious about Myrkur‘s (Amalie Bruun, ex of Ex Cops) previous work
      • Just when I’d completely written off Mr. Morrissey, he returns after many years of disappointing me with a new album full of bangers, of which “Jim Jim Falls” is just one
      • “Can’t do much” is the third single off the latest album by Katie Crutchfield, aka Waxahatchee, and sees her cheerfully paying tribute to some of her favourite female singer/songwriters

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. “But you” Alexandra Savior (from the album The archer)

2. “Your light” The Big Moon (from the album Walking like we do)

3. “Everything else has gone wrong” Bombay Bicycle Club (from the album Everything else has gone wrong)

4. “Insert generic name” Okay Kaya (from the album Watch this liquid pour itself)

5. “Try again” Andy Shauf (from the album The neon skyline)

6. “Under glass” Wolf Parade (from the album Thin mind)

7. “I celebrate my fantasy” The Homesick (from the album The big exercise)

8. “Ms. California” Beach Bunny (from the album Honeymoon)

9. “I will not return as a tourist” Boniface (from the album Boniface)

10. “Baddies” Lanterns On The Lake (from the album Spook the herd)

11. “Everything has changed” Best Coast (from the album Always tomorrow)

12. “Alien with a sleep mask on” Ratboys (from the album Printer’s devil)

13. “Control” Brooke Bentham (from the album Everyday nothing)

14. “The main thing” Real Estate (from the album The main thing)

15. “Bloodstream” Soccer Mommy (from the album Color theory)

16. “Jack Parsons” Luke Haines & Peter Buck (from the album Beat poetry for survivalists)

17. “St Marie under canon” Cornershop (from the album England is a garden)

18. “Oh Canada” Nadia Reid (from the album Out of my province)

19. “Be your drug” Circa Waves (from the album Sad Happy)

20. “Give/take” Porridge Radio (from the album Every bad)

21. “Ego” Moaning (from the album Uneasy laughter)

22. “Ella” Myrkur (from the album Folkesange)

23. “Jim Jim Falls” Morrissey (from the album I am not a dog on a chain)

24. “Mark Zuckerberg” Nap Eyes (from the album Snapshot of a beginner)

25. “Can’t do much” Waxahatchee (from the album Saint Cloud)

Wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe, continue to be well, and well, 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.

Categories
Albums

Best albums of 2018: #3 Nap Eyes “I’m bad now”

Nap Eyes are a Canadian indie rock quartet led by Nigel Chapman. All four members originally hail from Halifax, Nova Scotia, but only Chapman remains there. The other three, Brad Loughead, Josh Salter, and Seamus Dalton, have all relocated to Montreal, which one might think would cause problems with recording new material. However, I’m learning that it’s actually not an uncommon situation these days with technology being what it is: bands don’t always have to be in the same room to record a great and cohesive album together.

But I digress.

I came across Nap Eyes a couple of years ago with their sophomore album, “Thought rock fish scale”, and happily, got to see them perform live for free at the Ottawa Dragonboat festival the same year. Their sound appealed to me right away. It’s lazy-sounding slacker rock but nowhere near the same vibe as Kurt Vile or fellow Canadian, Mac DeMarco, neither of which particularly appeal to me in the same sense. No. These guys remind me of an underrated 90s dream pop band called Luna but also very much of The Velvet Underground, particularly if “Sunday morning” had been the template from which all their catalogue was cut. It’s mellow but it rocks, and absolutely, Nigel Chapman’s conversational singing tone evokes those of Lou Reed and Dean Wareham. His lyrics are weird, seemingly stream of consciousness monologues, rife with both the mystical and the mundane, the loose frays and discomfiture not at all hinting at the career of his other life as biochemist. Yeah, they’re an interesting group.

“I’m bad now” is the group’s third long player and is seen in some circles as the final part in an unofficial trilogy. On this outing, they pick things up a bit. At moments, it’s quite upbeat in pace but I still wouldn’t call these songs rockers in the traditional sense. Sometimes they plod along and sometimes they burn slowly, hinting at a build that never quite explodes, and sometimes they just hum and tear, thrilling in the journey rather than the destination.

Like its two predecessors, “I’m bad now” works as a complete album, bucking the current trend towards singles. All eleven songs work just as well as standalone pieces as they do as part of the whole. So though it was a tough task, I have separated out three picks for you to sample. Enjoy.


“Follow me down”: This here’s a song about going for a walk and it carries on with a cheerful gait, the tap-tap on the drum rim, the bopping bass line, and the gentle strum on the guitar. It has the feel of old style folk music but with a wash of reverb underpinning it all. And Chapman is inviting us to join him on his early morning stroll, early to try to beat noise, physical and otherwise, that comes with all the people. But no matter, he’s got his earphones in: “Classical Indian ragga twenty minutes long. Then I listened to old American folk song. A little bit shorter, still a lot going on.” Keep up with him, please, he’s a got a good pace this morning.

“Dull me line”: “Dull me line, running abandoned race tracks in my mind. Dull me heart, heavy with bored and lazy disappointment art.” The chorus line, which in a bigger, stadium friendly band might incite a raucous sing-along, was Chapman both being frustrated with writer’s block and being easily distracted. The guitars are jangling and shimmering and often give way to messy, Velvet Underground-like mini-jams throughout the song. It’s a great tune to bop along to. Yeah, just close your eyes and ride the waves. Yeah, man.

“Roses”: Here’s an example of Nap Eyes in an upbeat, uptempo moment. It’s got a driving beat and roaring guitars and feels like it’s going to be much longer than its three plus minutes. It just has that feel, like you’re in for the long haul and you don’t mind at all, the rhythm is nice but Chapman doesn’t give it to you. Instead, he gives you more of his honest and insecure and curious thoughts in the form of lyrics. “Somebody sent you roses. Now what do you do with them? You’ve got no reason to trim them. No nice place to throw them. Because it doesn’t seem right to throw them away. Yet you can’t very well send them back the other way.” Hilarious and poignant and so much why I love this band.


Check back next Friday for album #2. In the meantime, here are the previous albums in this list:

10. David Byrne “American utopia”
9. James “Living in extraordinary times”
8. The Limiñanas “Shadow people”
7. The Essex Green “Hardly electronic”
6. Colter Wall “Songs of the plains”
5. Middle Kids “Lost friends”
4. Spiritualized “And nothing hurt”

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