Playlist: New tunes from 2021, part two

…And I’m back. Did you miss me?

Don’t worry. If you didn’t even notice that was gone, I won’t be too hurt. I’ve had a great couple of weeks off from work and it was definitely nice to step away from posting to these pages during that same time. Some of my fellow bloggers may have observed that I was still reading and commenting on some of their own pieces so I wasn’t completely absent. And I will admit that I did spend a bit of time stringing together some words on music for this and some future posts.

But now I’m back and I’m ready to go, starting things off with part two of my New tunes of 2021 playlist. I’ve been doing these playlists for a few years now and they’re like a running diary of the new music that has been released during each quarter of the year and that has caught my ear. You can go back and have a listen to part one for this year here.

Months four, five, and six of 2021 have been, without a question, a more positive experience than the previous three were. Sure, we’ve had a third wave of this pandemic to contend with and here in Ontario, Canada, the government upped the ante on the lockdown and issued a stay at home order at the beginning of April. Since then, though, things have looked up. The roll out of the mass vaccination campaign has been going quite well. (Yours truly received his first dose of Pfizer in mid-June and is scheduled for dose number two on Friday.) Of course, the warmer weather has meant more outdoor activities and some semblance of normalcy. My wife and I have been out on walks, out weekly to the farmers markets, and have been getting out on the bikes pretty regularly. We also accidentally found ourselves at the Ottawa tulip festival back in May (see photo above) and we’ve already been out on patios to support some of our favourite local restaurant businesses.

And through all of this, I’ve also been purchasing, streaming, and listening to as much new music as I can. The twenty five songs below are just an example of the many tunes that have been brightening up my spring. Highlights include:

  • “I’m glad that we broke up”, a trashy, glam rock, firebomb of single by Du Blonde in a raucous duet with one of my discoveries from last year, Ezra Furman
  • Ex-Pains of Being Pure at Heart frontman Kip Berman stepped away from the reverb-drenched indie pop of his old band in favour of more stripped-down and rootsy indie folk as The Natvral and the track “New Year’s night” is just brilliant
  • The introspective and honest jangly retro pop of “I hope I never fall in love” is just one of the many great tracks off the new album by one of my favourite new discoveries of the year, The Reds, Pinks and Purples
  • “I don’t believe in anything” served to remind me of the pure joy and energy infused in the music of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, a ska-punk band that I just loved back in the 90s
  • I’ve known for quite some time that comedian/actor Matt Berry was also a musician but it took fellow blogger, Steve for the Deaf to turn me on to just how good he is and yeah, “Summer sun” is pure sunshine psychedelic bliss
  • “Paprika”, a happy little ear worm off Japanese Breakfast‘s third album, “Jubilee”
  • And last but definitely not least is “In the rain”, the nearly eight minute lazy sunday folk-rocker by another cool project by Ripley Johnson (Wooden Shjips, Moon Duo), this one called Rose City Band

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. “Down the river” Ratboys (from the album Happy birthday, Ratboy)

2. “I’m glad that we broke up (feat. Ezra Furman)” Du Blonde (from the album Homecoming)

3. “New year’s night” The Natvral (from the album Tethers)

4. “Price of blue” Flock of Dimes (from the album Head of roses)

5. “Everyone’s a winner” Flyte (from the album This is really going to hurt)

6. “I hope I never fall in love” The Reds, Pinks and Purples (from the album Uncommon weather)

7. “Can’t talk, won’t” Coach Party (from the EP After party)

8. “Desires” Art d’Ecco (from the album In standard definition)

9. “Change your mind” The Coral (from the album Coral island)

10. “The sun won’t shine on me” Teenage Fanclub (from the album Endless arcade)

11. “Shelter song” Iceage (from the album Seek shelter)

12. “Yoru ni” Teke::Teke (from the album Shirushi)

13. “I don’t believe in anything” The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (from the album When god was great)

14. “Hologram love” Linn Koch-Emmery (from the album Being the girl)

15. “Summer sun” Matt Berry (from the album The blue elephant)

16. “C’mon be cool” fanclubwallet (from the EP Hurt is boring)

17. “Poor boy a long way from home” The Black Keys (from the album Delta kream)

18. “Stay in the car” Bachelor (from the album Doomin’ sun)

19. “Paprika” Japanese Breakfast (from the album Jubilee)

20. “Smile” Wolf Alice (from the album Blue weekend)

21. “Beautiful beaches” James (from the album All the colours of you)

22. “Primrose hill at midnight (feat. Flyte)” Dizzy (from the EP Separate places)

23. “Already written” Azure Ray (from the album Remedy)

24. “Hot & heavy” Lucy Dacus (from the album Home video)

25. “In the rain” Rose City Band (from the album Earth trip)

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.


Playlist: New tunes from 2019, part three

Now that we’re just about halfway through December and nearing the top three albums of my favourites of the year, I thought I’d share part three of my series of playlists of tunes that got me through 2019. If you missed them, you can browse, and perhaps even enjoy, parts one and two here and here.

The last time I posted one of these, I was bemoaning the length of time it took for my city to shake the dregs of winter from its cockles and here we are, almost winter again. In fact, we’ve already had snow here and though it has melted away now, have had plenty of the icky white stuff on and off since the beginning of November.

I had planned on doing one of these lists for each quarter of the year, at twenty-five songs a-piece, to have a total of 100 songs across the playlists. However, I was only successful at staying on target for half of the year and lost my the thread somewhere this summer. I upped the ante and managed to fit forty tracks in this particular playlist, bringing the total up to 90 songs for the year, a number with which I have to be contented.

Still, the size of the playlist is not meant to deter you, there has been some amazing music released in the last half of the year, particularly in September and October. And I can almost guarantee you’ll find something to like within.

Highlights include:

    • “Shine a little light”, the opening track off the first new album in five years by Akron, Ohio’s The Black Keys
    • “All my happiness is gone”, a song that along with the rest of the eponymously-named album, may have foreshadowed the suicide of Purple Mountains’ frontman David Berman
    • A bright spot (for me, anyways) off Lana Del Rey’s latest album was “Mariners apartment complex”, an album I found a tad long to be worthy of all the universal acclaim
    • “Lord Randall’s bastard son”, the lead off track off the self-titled debut by The Walker Roaders, a new project led by James Fearnley (accordionist of The Pogues), Ted Hutt (founding member of Flogging Molly), and Marc Orrell (founding member of Dropkick Murphys) – you pretty much know what you’re getting here
    • “Sunshine” by Blushing, one of the many standouts off the self-titled debut by this shoegaze revivalist group, whose sound owes quite a bit of debt to Lush
    • “Heavenly” is Cigarettes After Sex doing what they are doing on their excellent, late night, slow-burning sophomore album, “Cry”
    • Leonard Cohen’s son Adam finished off a bunch of songs started during the sessions for “You want it darker” and released a posthumous album last month, of which “Happens to the heart” is just one of the great tracks

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

1. “Shine a little light” The Black Keys (from the album “Let’s rock”)

2. “Bulletproof” The Soft Calvary (from the album The Soft Calvary)

3. “Hard to kill” Bleached (from the album Don’t you think you’ve had enough?)

4. “All my happiness is gone” Purple Mountains (from the album Purple Mountains)

5. “Alewife” Clairo (from the album Immunity)

6. “Leona” Strange Ranger (from the album Remembering the rockets)

7. “the one” Marika Hackman (from the album Any human friend)

8. “Sister Rosetta” Frank Turner (from the album No man’s land)

9. “Don’t cling to life” The Murder Capital (from the album When I have fears)

10. “A golden year” Lillie Mae (from the album Other girls)

11. “Clouds of Saint Marie” Ride (from the album This is not a safe place)

12. “Entitlement crew” The Hold Steady (from the album Thrashing thru the passion)

13. “Mariners apartment complex” Lana Del Rey (from the album Norman Fucking Rockwell)

14. “At the party” Black Belt Eagle Scout (from the album At the party with my brown friends)

15. “Desert man” Bat For Lashes (from the album Lost girls)

16. “Highwomen” The Highwomen (from the album The Highwomen)

17. “This is my fate” Pixies (from the album Beneath the eyrie)

18. “Dream reader” Frankiie (from the album Forget your head)

19. “The mother road” Chelsea Wolfe (from the album Birth of violence)

20. “Most of all” Vivian Girls (from the album Memory)

21. “Work of fiction” The High Dials (from the EP Primitive feelings, part 2)

22. “Lord Randall’s bastard son” The Walker Roaders (from the album The Walker Roaders)

23. “Terms of surrender” Hiss Golden Messenger (from the album Terms of surrender)

24. “Shockwave” Liam Gallagher (from the album Why me? Why not.)

25. “Stars are the light” Moon Duo (from the album Stars are the light)

26. “Sunshine” Blushing (from the album Blushing)

27. “Colossus of Rhodes” The New Pornographers (from the album In the morse code of brake lights)

28. “The sound of silence” Chromatics (from the album Closer to grey)

29. “Devoted to” Lightning Dust (from the album Spectre)

30 .”Skin game” DIIV (from the album Deceiver)

31. “All mirrors” Angel Olsen (from the album All mirrors)

32. “Never understand” The Building (from the album PETRA)

33. “Dexter & Sinister” Elbow (from the album Giants of all sizes)

34. “Hollywood ending” Starcrawler (from the album Devour you)

35. “Forgotten eyes” Big Thief (from the album Two hands)

36. “Digger” Great Grandpa (from the album Four of arrows)

37. “Shelter” Mikal Cronin (from the album Seeker)

38. “Heavenly” Cigarettes After Sex (from the album Cry)

39. “In the air tonight” Lucy Dacus (from the EP 2019)

40. “Happens to the heart” Leonard Cohen (from the album Thanks for the dance)


Finally, 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.


Best tunes of 2010: #9 The Black Keys “Tighten up”

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I don’t know if you’re superstitious or not. I’m not typically superstitious myself but I certainly believe in The Black Keys curse. Perhaps you’ve had a different experience and if so, please interject. Every time I (or any of my friends) have tried to catch The Black Keys at an outdoor venue, a festival or otherwise, it has rained like a sonofabitch. (And yes, that is the technical term.)

The first time I saw them was at Ottawa Bluesfest in 2011. I had queued up to get as close to the front as I could when the skies opened up. It came so quickly that I was soaked through almost instantly, as was my bag, so it was no use digging out my parka, nor running for cover. This storm was so violent that it, unbeknownst to organizers, likely weakened the integrity of the stage rigging so that when it stormed again the following week during Cheap Trick, the stage came right down. When The Black Keys finally hit the stage that night, it was only to do a shortened set, a fast and furious half hour that included almost no banter with the audience.

The following year, I was at Osheaga in Montreal and they were due to close out the Sunday night. It rained off and on all day but the rain gods were at their most furious during The Shins’ early evening set. It was enough to scare my wife and I and our friends, Jean-Pierre and Shannon, off for the night. Another Black Keys opportunity missed. (Incidentally, my friend Tim was at their show in Toronto the night before and it rained pretty heavily there as well.) I finally got to see a full Black Keys set in 2013, this time, again, at Ottawa Bluesfest. They were energetic and rocking and you guessed it, they were playing to a damp audience, most of whom were wearing rain ponchos or toting umbrellas.

“Tighten up”, or rather the music video for said song, was my first introduction to The Black Keys. I know that they had been slogging it out for years, nine to be exact, before their sixth album, “Brothers” hit the mainstream. The Akron-based duo had built quite the cult following with their raw, blues-infused garage rock but I had been pretty much oblivious to them. I saw the pretty hilarious video one morning on AUX TV, which I’ve mentioned before in these posts on my Best of 2010, and then, the next morning and the next. I wasn’t at all surprised to hear that the catchy number was produced by Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse. Pretty much everything this guy was touching around this time was turning to gold. And “Tighten up” really is pure gold.

Its playful beginning calls to mind a ‘whistle while you work’ type theme but quickly gives way to soul and angst, mostly on the back of Dan Auerbach’s Howlin’ Wolf vocal play. But his raunchy guitars and Patrick Carney’s musclebound drumming certainly don’t hurt matters. You actually wish you had your own drum kit in your living room to bash things out right along with Carney. It definitely sounds like he’s having a blast.

Yes, this is a song worth standing out in the pouring rain for. Enjoy.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2010 list, click here.