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.

Playlist: The ultimate playlist

Well, hello there. Did the title catch your attention? Did you think it was hyperbole? Or perhaps a bit full of itself? I guess time will tell.

I’ve tried this before and have let the rope drop but somehow, this time, I think the experiment will work. My aim here is to create an infinite playlist, much like that of Nick and Norah, a playlist of songs that just continues to grow and evolve by itself, much like life and love does. I started adding songs to it a couple of weeks ago, just before the COVID-19 scare took hold for real here in Canada. I’ve since been spending a lot of time around the house and slowing life down quite a bit. The spectre of things has been weighing heavy and I’ve found myself wanting (even more so than usual) to rock out to some excellent tunes. I started things off with my favourite Manic Street Preachers tune from the mid 90s and have been letting my mood dictate things from there. Since I started the mix on that Sunday night in mid-March, I’ve added to it over a couple of different sessions while wearing earphones and sipping at a beer and now we’re up just past the 100 song and seven hour mark. A good time as any to share it with you all.

There’s no real theme for this playlist, unless you count that I am trying to include some my biggest and best tunes from across the decades. Of course, it reflects my own tastes, which tend towards the alternative and indie rock side of the musical spectrum, pretty much anything left of the dial.  So far I’ve name-checked punk and post-punk and post-punk revival, ska, goth, shoegaze, dream pop, indie folk, psychedelic rock, Madchester, britpop, new wave, alt-country, and art rock. I’ve danced and dabbled across the decades and I think thus far, haven’t included more than one song per artist. However, I don’t intend to continue that particular trend because a lot of these artists have way more than one good song and I don’t want to impose such strict limitations on this mix.

So depending on when you happen upon these words, whether just after I publish them today or perhaps even a year or two down the road, this playlist could last you a good evening’s drink or perhaps an excellent road trip or a weekend painting the house. It may get super unruly and daunting but that is okay. It could be that you might want to throw it on shuffle, though there is some sort of method to this madness, or you may just want to sample a segment based on a name or two piquing interest.

Give this ole playlist a follow and check in with me from time to time and might I suggest opening a beer as you do so. It might help you get into the spirit of things a bit more because, yeah, it is meant to be a party of sorts. Cheers!

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.

Playlist: Be my valentine

Okay. So here’s something that’s never been done before, at least not on this blog, or really, during any of my years of blogging. It’s true. I have never done a post observing this somewhat suspect ‘holiday’, a day that has been over-commercialized and become more about selling chocolates and flowers and overpriced dinners than spending time with the one you love. Still, as I’ve alluded to in previous posts, I do have a sappy side, a side that gets totally wrapped up in rom-coms and even the odd Hallmark Christmas film. And yeah, my wife and I typically do observe February 14th, usually in our own quiet way, but the odd time we have gone out for a nice dinner and paid exorbitant prices for roses.

It just so happened a few weeks ago that I realized I was due for a new playlist and the idea occurred to me to create one of ‘love songs’. Then, I quelled the idea, remembering the struggle Victoria and I had looking for appropriate songs in my collection that we could dance to on our wedding day. “Do none of your bands write songs about love?” she asked, frustrated and tired at one point during our search. Apparently not, was the answer, at least not in the conventional sense, the sense in which hair bands managed it in the 80s and out of which some R&B singers have made a career. Often the alternative and indie bands to whom I listen wrote beautiful lyrics that touched on love but did so looking at it not as a pure thing but one to be feared and revered, a bringer of both pain and joy. In short, not your typical love songs.

In the end, we found a handful to use, of which a few of them can be found in the playlist below. Of course, I had Victoria in mind while putting this one together, though I know she wouldn’t appreciate many of the tracks, still, there’s a little something for everyone. I’ve got some iconic tunes by influential alt-rock bands like The Cure and The Smiths, lesser known acts from the 90s like The Lowest of the Low and My Drug Hell, and of course, highlights from the indie kids of this new century, like Bloc Party and The Decemberists. I’ve got the whole list below, in case the Spotify doesn’t work for you, and included a lyrical gem from each song, just to give a glimpse of what you can be listening for as you peruse the list.

1. The Cure “Lovesong”
“Whenever I’m alone with you, you make me feel like I am home again. Whenever I’m alone with you, you make me feel like I am whole again.”

2. Elbow “An audience with the pope”
“I have an audience with the Pope, and I’m saving the world at eight, but if she says she needs me, she says she needs me, everybody’s gonna have to wait.”

3. Blur “To the end”
“You and I collapsed in love. And it looks like we might have made it.”

4. The Rural Alberta Advantage “In the summertime”
“Once in a while, I know our hearts beat out of time. And once in a while, I know they’ll fall back in line.”

5. Teenage Fanclub “What you do to me”
“There’s something about you, got me down on my knees.”

6. The Cranberries “Dreams”
“Now I tell you openly, you have my heart so don’t hurt me. You’re what I couldn’t find, totally amazing mind, so understanding and so kind, you’re everything to me.”

7. The Postal Service “Such great heights”
“I am thinking it’s a sign that the freckles in our eyes are mirror images, and when we kiss they’re perfectly aligned.”

8. Coldplay “Yellow”
“Look at the stars, look how they shine for you.”

9. Depeche Mode “One caress”
“Just one caress from you and I’m blessed.”

10. James “Just like Fred Astaire”
“Meteors may strike the earth. Nations live and die. I’m the boy who got the girl who showed me how to fly.”

11. The Beautiful South “Song for whoever”
“I love you from the bottom of my pencil case. I love you in the songs I write and sing.”

12. Death Cab For Cutie “I will follow you into the dark”
“Love of mine, someday you will die, but I’ll be close behind, and I’ll follow you into the dark. No blinding light or tunnels to gates of white, just our hands clasped so tight, waiting for the hint of a spark.”

13. Oasis “Wonderwall”
“I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now.”

14. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds “Do you love me?”
“I knew from that moment on that I’d love her till the day that I died.”

15. The Lowest of the Low “Subversives”
“There’s something subversive about you and me, ’cause there’s a market-value on love and we’re getting something for free.”

16. The Smiths “There is a light that never goes out”
“And if a double-decker bus crashes into us, to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die.”

17. The Lemonheads “Alison’s starting to happen”
“I never looked at her this way before, but now she’s all I see.”

18. Bloc Party “This modern love”
“Do you want to come over and kill some time? Throw your arms around me.”

19. The Verve “Sonnet”
“Yes, there’s love if you want it, don’t sound like no sonnet, my lord.”

20. Chairlift “Bruises”
“I tried to do handstands for you, but every time I fell for you. I’m permanently black and blue, permanently blue for you.”

21. The Decemberists “We both go down together”
“And my parents will never consent to this love. But I hold your hand.”

22. Black Box Recorder “Andrew Ridgley”
“I came alive to the smouldering fire in your eyes. I love you now and I will ’til the day that I die.”

23. The Stone Roses “Ten storey love song”
“When your heart is black and broken and you need a helping hand. When you’re so much in love, you don’t know just how much you can stand.”

24. First Aid Kit “Emmylou”
“I’ll be your Emmylou and I’ll be your June, if you’ll be my Gram and my Johnny too. No, I’m not asking much of you, just sing little darling, sing with me.”

25. Björk “Violently happy”
“Since I met you, this small town hasn’t got room for my big feelings. Violently happy, ’cause I love you.”

26. Longpigs “On and on”
“All the songs that I’ve sung you, more often than you know. You’re the love that I’ve clung to more often than I’ve let it show.”

27. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros “Home”
“Ah, home, let me come home, home is wherever I’m with you.”

28. My Drug Hell “Girl at the bus stop”
“Girl at the bus stop, I wished for once that the bus would never come. She sat downstairs, I sat behind I couldn’t get her off my mind.”

29. Pulp “Babies”
“Oh I want to take you home. I want to give you children. You might be my girlfriend, yeah.”

30. Nine Inch Nails “Closer”
“I want to f*ck you. I want to taste you. I want to feel you.”

Enjoy. Happy (Saint) Valentine’s Day.

And of course, I’d be up for hearing what your own favourite ‘love’ songs are from the alternative and indie rock realms.

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.