Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Top 25 Albums of 2020

Here are the best 25 albums of 2020. You must have these amazing creations in your collection immediately. Don't delay! 

25. Between You and Me by San Cisco

The musical growth of this band continues to astound me. They will be a treasure in my heart forever.


24. Letter To You by Bruce Springsteen

The Boss is back and he is not fucking around with this one. Always the optimist in darkness. 


23. 10 Songs by Travis

All of us experienced mental health issues this year. Travis is the perfect salve for this. So so glad they released a record this year!


22. On Sunset by Paul Weller

The Modfather continues to dazzle all of us with his wide and varied musical directions. Soak up that California sun!


21. It's Only Us by Monophonics

I tried to find one track on this record that I could put in my Top Tracks of 2020 but I couldn't. Why? Because the whole record is that good!


20. The Makarrata Project by Midnight Oil

A very much welcome return to the music scene from this Sydney band. A great project that highlights the struggles of native peoples everywhere.


19. Sanctuary by Gengahr

Soaring melodies and dreamy mindscapes are what this record is all about. One of the best new bands to come from Britain in this decade.


18. The True Story of Bananagun by Banangun 

A stunning debut from this Aussie outfit. Happy and fun music with several dashes of psychedelia mixed in for extra trippiness.


17. American Head by The Flaming Lips

Another instant classic that sends the mind on many inner journeys. I love watching the light bugs glow...

16. The Glow by DMAs

A full-on embrace and torch carry of Brit Rock has suited this Sydney band quite well. This one is very Stone Roses-y. How many awesome bands are coming out of Australia these days? Many!


15. Death of the Party by Magic Gang

So amped about this Brighton band bursting on to the scene in the last couple of years. Their sophomore effort is simply stunning.


14. Shore by Fleet Foxes

What is it about this band that creates such a unique place in my soul? They both caress and murder my heart at the same time.


13. Foolish Loving Spaces by Blossoms

The third record from these Mancunians sees them pursuing a more pop-based sound and it's bloody mags.


12. XOXO by The Jayhawks 

Ah, my local band that continues to make stellar music. All things Minnesotan...

11. Lianne Le Havas by Lianne Le Havas

It has been too long since Lianne's last record but this release made it well worth the wait. Just gorgeous...


10. Pwr/Up by ACDC What else can I say? It's a fucking ACDC record.


9. Wachito Rico by Boy Pablo

Swedish hipster turns out amazing debut loaded with fun pop and cool lo-fi vibes.


8. Wake Up by Hazel English

Ah, Hazel...Hazel...Hazel...your music is so beautiful and it breaks my heart in the most wonderful of ways. Your spirit time is 1962 and your style is DREAM.


7. Italian Ice by Nicole Atkins

Nostalgia on overdrive with this one. Is that an AM radio I'm listening to? Regardless, it's gold.


6. CTV3: Cool Tape Volume 3 by Jaden

Someone has been listening to The Beatles. And that someone is fucking awesome. Haters, go peddle your nonsense somewhere else. This is a tremendous record.


5. I Slept On The Floor by Another Sky 

This is the British band I'm most excited about this year. London (and the world) will never be the same. Like the others before them, they have taken the sword from the Lady in the Lake...

4. Junk Food by Easy Life

This record made me feel light-hearted at several points this year and I really needed it. I totally heart how the youth of today look at love.


3. Rtj4 by Run The Jewels

This dynamic duo is incapable of making a bad record. In fact, all they can do is make ridiculously awesome albums. The most relevant statement of the year and it couldn't have come at a better time.


2. Hate For Sale by The Pretenders

This hall of fame band of my youth kicked some serious ass this year. But, hey, that's what Chrissie does. She's been kicking my ass for forty years.


1. The Universal Want by Doves 

With each release, Doves set the landscape for our lives. It's usually dark but hopeful. It's always gorgeous and satisfying but it's not an easy ride. They've only made five records and two solo offerings but it's always enough. 

The Universal Want builds upon that legacy. It's an honor to call it The Best Album of 2020. 

Track #1 of 2020: Walking In The Snow by Run The Jewels

Run The Jewels have the best track of 2020. It perfectly sums up where we are at as a culture in 2020.

And every day on the evening news, they feed you fear for free 

And you so numb, you watch the cops choke out a man like me 

Until my voice goes from a shriek to whisper, "I can't breathe"

And you sit there in the house on couch and watch it on TV 

The most you give's a Twitter rant and call it a tragedy 

But truly the travesty, you've been robbed of your empathy 

Replaced it with apathy, I wish I could magically 

Fast forward the future so then you can face it And see how fucked up it'll be, 

I promise I'm honest They coming for you the day after they comin' for me 

This was written BEFORE George Floyd. These guys are just amazing!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Track #2 of 2020: Prisoners by Doves

Doves returned to the scene this year in full force. Thank God. The Universal Want is an amazing record and ranks right up there with all of the rest of their albums. This is my favorite track. 

Monday, December 28, 2020

Track #3 of 2020: My Swimming Brain by Blossoms

Blossoms have made 2020 much more bearable. Their second album came out in February so it's been with us all year. This track is not only awesome but it sums up my mind perfectly. 

Track #4 of 2020: Domino by Nicole Atkins

Nicole Atkins really nailed retro nostalgia with this track. Slinky and cool..

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Track #5 of 2020: Sangria by Easy Life

Newcomers Easy Life kicked off 2020 with this fabulous track that tells the tale of being separated from the one you love. I think these Leicester Lads have a very bright future ahead of them! 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Track #6 of 2020: Off My Mind by Hazel English

Hazel English has made 2020 much brighter with this track from her third release, Wake Up! The early 60s Spectoresque sound is really marvelous. 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Track #7 of 2020: Bittersweet by Lianne La Havas

How about some romance on Christmas Eve? Lianne La Havas has the perfect track for you and a loved one by the fireplace.  

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Track #8 of 2020: More.Again. Forever by The Courteeners

The title track from The Courteeners' latest offering is like a chase scene on a darkened street that seems to never end. What are we chasing? Who cares? We just know it's cool.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Track #9 of 2020: Velour and Velcro by The Districts

The Keystone State is responsible for many contributions to our country and now they can add one more awesome one. The Districts released their fourth full length this year and it's a stunner. The stand out track clocks in at nine this year on my countdown. 

Shimmery indie-pop lovers rejoice! 

Monday, December 21, 2020

Track #10 of 2020: Atlas Please by Gengahr

We are into the best ten tracks of 2020 and I can't think of a better way to kick that off than Stoke's own Gengahr. Taken from their release Sanctuary, this track just pops!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Track #11 of 2020: St.Peter's Bay by Sarah Harmer

Sarah Harmer's beautiful story of St. Peter's Bay cast a massive spell on me this year. I want to visit that world on a long, relaxing vacation...

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Track #12: You Can't Hurt A Fool by The Pretenders

Chrissie came back in full force in 2020 with an amazing record called Hate For Sale. All of the tracks are stellar but this one really stood out as classic Pretenders. 

Friday, December 18, 2020

Track #13 of 2020: Falling For You by Jaden

Jaden Smith turned out a corker of a record this year. This young man is a stellar musician and artist. Here is my favorite track...

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Track #14 of 2020: ...Exclusively by Tiana Major9

The Year 2020 can be described in many ways. One of my favorites is the Year of Snuggling at Home. And no one is better at providing that soundtrack than Tiana Major9. So, find a loved one and curl up to this track. Who knows what might happen? 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Track #16 of 2020: Think by The Magic Gang

Brighton outfit The Magic Gang leaves zero doubt that the future of British music is in good hands. I'm super amped about where the direction this band is heading!

Monday, December 14, 2020

Track #17 of 2020: Blue Moon Rising by Noel Gallagher

I love the direction Noel Gallagher is going with his career. Psychedelic club music is the sound of the 21st century. His voice suits the style quite well. I also like the return to seeing Extended Plays from artists. Reminds me a lot of the UK single which I miss a great deal. 

Here is the title track from his latest release.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Track #18 of 2020: Fell In Love With The City by Another Sky

The future of Brit Rock is in good hands with London outfit Another Sky. What a shovel to the head stunner of a debut record. 

Here is one of many choice cuts...

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Track #19 of 2020: The Jayhawks: Homecoming

I love it when hometown heroes make good. I've been a fan of The Jayhawks since the mid-'80s, seeing them in all sorts of great bars and clubs. Some still exist and others (like the 400 Bar) sadly do not. 

Our treasure is still around...

Friday, December 11, 2020

Track #20 of 2020: Strangers by DMA's

Even though they are from Sydney, Australia, the DMA's are keeping the Brit Pop sound very much alive. Their latest record, The Glow, is aptly named as it fills the listener with sonic warmth. 

This track is one of the standouts and my favorite on the record.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Track #21 of 2020: Out of Reach by Bananagun

Bannagun burst out into the world last summer and it's never been the same since. Their first record (The True Story of Bananagun) is a start to finish corker. Here is my favorite track, clocking in at #21.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Track #22 of 2020: First Nation by Midnight Oil

A powerful return to the fold for Midnight Oil. After 18 years, it's so great to hear this band again! 

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Track #23 of 2020: I Hope She Loves Me Back by Boy Pablo

How many of us have hoped that "she loves us back?" The yearning in Boy Pablo's stand out track from Wachito Rico is universal. I'm looking forward to seeing the growth of this artist. 

Monday, December 7, 2020

Track #24 of 2020: Waving at the Window by Travis

Glasgow's Travis is a band perfectly suited for these darker, introspective times. In many ways, they are our collective therapists. 10 Songs is a pandemic record and the opening track sums it all up perfectly.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Track #25 of 2020: Darling, I Hug A Pillow by Morrissey

We are officially in the Top 25 and the Moz himself slots in here to continue our journey and exploration of the best tracks of 2020. His current release, I Am Not A Dog On Your Chain, is classic HIM.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Track #26 of 2020: Tell Me When You Leave Tonight by San Cisco

San Cisco is a very special band for me because my hometown of Minneapolis helped to break them in the US. Well, that and the fact that they make amazing music.

Their new record is magnificent. Here is my favorite track. 

Friday, December 4, 2020

Track #27 of 2020: Mirror Ball by Paul Weller

Paul Weller's latest record (On Sunset) shone brightly in 2020. The Modfather continues to make exciting, innovative, and relevant music six decades into his career. 

The opening track is my pick for #27 of 2020.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Track #28 of 2020: Will You Return / When You Come Down (Feat. Micah Nelson) by The Flaming Lips

Next up in our countdown is the opening track from the latest LP by The Flaming Lips. American Head is a true return to form for this band. What a stunner!

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Track #29 of 2020: Letter To You by Bruce Springsteen

The Boss clocks in at #29 with the title track from his latest record. How many decades has this guy been making music? 


Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Track #30 of 2020: Good For You by Spacey Jane

Next up in our countdown is this amazing track from Freemantle's own Spacey Jane. Man, I love a good guitar-driven pop song!

Monday, November 30, 2020

Track #31 of 2020: Yeah I Know by The 1975

It's that time of the year again! The best tracks of 2020 unfurled over the next 31 days in all their glory. I chose the odd number of 31 because I couldn't cut down the list any more than these tracks.

First up is The 1975 with a banger of a tracker called Yeah I Know from Notes On A Conditional Form

Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Cribs: Night Network (Album of the Week)

West Yorkshire's proudest sons The Cribs are back with their eighth full-length record. Wow, has it really been that long? I suppose so given they started their career back in the Dudes With Guitars era. 

Their new album is called Night Network and all the usual Cribs-y stuff is present (love, loss, pain, yearning) plus a much wider sound. The lads keep growing and searching!

Here is my favorite track...

Friday, November 27, 2020

Wallows: Remote

LA's Wallows have a brand spanking new EP out called Remote and it is completely MEGA. I continue to hope and pray that they continue to carry the torch of "Dudes with Guitars." 

Monday, November 23, 2020

AC/DC-PWRUP (Album of the Week)

When I first became a teenager, some adults in my hometown told me that if I listened to AC/DC, I was going to go to hell. In fact, they encouraged me to burn any AC/DC albums I had to save myself from eternal damnation. 

I didn't listen.

And now AC/DC is played at all major sporting venues and a wide variety of family events all across the United States. 

For those about to rock, WE WON. 

AC/DC is still going strong after all these decades. Their new record, PWRUP, is all the things we love about the band and more. It just rocks like crazy and reminds me of my early teenage years. Nostalgia is something we all really need right now! 

Here is the opening track...

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Tobacco: Hot, Wet and Sassy

I miss the club. I really, really do. Being able to dance, sweat, and meet interesting people doing strange things on the floor is something I will cherish even more when the pandemic has passed. 

Thankfully, we have Tobacco (AKA Thomas Fec). The Pennsylvania native just dropped his fifth record and it is a great salve for those of us missing going out. The whole record makes me feel like I'm there!

But I have to close my eyes...

Monday, November 16, 2020

Midnight Oil: The Makaratta Project (Album of the Week)

Hearing that Sydney's own Midnight Oil had a new record coming out sent me into a prolonged state of absolute glee that has lasted for several weeks. This is a band from youth, Gen X in all its glory. And they haven't made a record in 18 years! 

The Makaratta Project is a stunning achievement not merely for the band but also for First Nations peoples all over Australia. Here is the first track.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Plants and Animals: The Jungle

Montreal's own Plants and Animals are back with their fifth full-length record and it is quite wonderful. The Jungle has a very chill, destress vibe which I really need right now. It makes my mind go to new frontiers...

The whole record is like this...check it out!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The Mountain Goats: Getting Into Knives

There are some days when an inordinate amount of fun is required from music. The Mountain Goats fit that need perfectly. The Claremont, California natives have been making music for nearly three decades and they've always been a blast. Getting Into Knives is their latest effort and I highly recommend it. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Boy Pablo: Wachito Rico (Album of the Week)

Norway's own Boy Pablo has just dropped their first record and it is a dreamy kiss. Wachito Rico is thirteen tracks of sheer wonder. So many musical styles and so much insight into the human condition. I look forward to this artists's future output!

Friday, November 6, 2020

Emmy The Great: April / 月音

London's own Emmy The Great is back with her fourth full-length record. April / 月音 is a great achievement of introspection. Her music fills me with hope!

Monday, November 2, 2020

Bruce Springsteen: Letter To You (Album of the Week)

The Boss is back with a truly amazing record called Letter To You. This deeply personal album hits all the right marks and is perfect for our lonely times. Dude is still relevant in now his sixth decade in music. Wow. 

Here is the title track...

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Pvris: Half (Autumn Music Series)

If a song has a good driving, echo-y beat, invariably I think of autumn. It probably goes back to all those times I drove home from the U of M back to Wisconsin in the fall. "Half" by Pvris reminds me of that time even though the track came out in 2017.

Stunningly beautiful from this Lowell, Massachusetts outfit...

Monday, October 26, 2020

Bahamas: Sad Hunk (Album of the Week)

Bahamas' latest record may be called Sad Hunk but it's honestly anything but sad. In fact, it makes me so happy that music like this is still being made. Some may derisively call it "yacht rock." It will always be 70's soft rock to me, K-Tel style! 

This Toronto's latest offering is just as amazing as 2018's Earthtones. Here is the opening track...

Friday, October 23, 2020

Kevin Morby Day

I've decided to declare today (October 23rd, 2020) Kevin Morby Day. His music is perfect for autumn and he has a new record out called Sundowner. I've enjoyed the music of this Lubbock, Texas native for many years. 

He first caught my ear with 2014's Still Life. This is the track that really blew me away.

2016 saw the release of Singing Saw and this ridiculously amazing track.

Here is the title track from his latest record. This guy is just plain wonderful!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Cherry Ghost: Herd Runners (Autumn Music Series)

It might be snowing like crazy here in the North Woods today but I'm still thinking about the glory of autumn and adding to the ultimate fall playlist. 

My next entry is the now-defunct Bolton band, Cherry Ghost. Their 2014 offering, Herd Runners, is autumnal grist. Here is the title track...

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Travis: 10 Songs (Album of the Week)

Glasgow's Travis is one of the greatest bands of all time. They have been a huge part of my life soundtrack for the last two decades. Their ninth record, 10 Songs, is perfect for our era. Quiet, introspective, yearning, and loving all at the same time, 10 Songs delivers straight to the heart and soul. 

The opening track reminds all of us why this band is fantastic at emotional support in dark times...

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Elvis Perkins: Creation Myths

Elvis Perkins makes very intriguing music. It’s a cross between folk and psych pop which means it’s quite wonderful. The Manhattan native’s latest record, Creation Myths, is amazing from start to finish. Check it out!

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Dawes: Good Luck With Whatever

LA's own Dawes are back with their seventh full length called Good Luck With Whatever. Their elegant and nostalgic pop sound still continues to dazzle me. The title track is just wonderful...

Monday, October 12, 2020

Fleet Foxes: Shore (Album of the Week)

Seattle's own Fleet Foxes are back with their fourth full length and it's absolutely perfect for the fall season. Shore is a positively gorgeous record with all fifteen tracks sending the listener on inward and outward explorations. 

Here is one of my favorites...


The opening piano to the title track gives me all the feels. 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Nude Party: Midnight Manor

The Nude Party are a very fun band. They remind us all that there is great joy in music. These Boone, North Carolina lads have a good time ALL of the time and it's evident in their amazing music. 

Their second full length, Midnight Manor, just dropped. Here is a slice.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Bill Callahan: Javelin Unlanding (Autumn Music Series)

Maryland's own Bill Callahan is pretty darn perfect for autumnal tunes. Here is one of my favorites to add to your fall playlist. From 2013's Dream River...


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Edward Van Halen: Rest in Power

If God told me I could only have one Van Halen song to listen to the rest of my life, this would be it. 

Rest in Power, Edward...

Monday, October 5, 2020

The Flaming Lips: American Head (Album of the Week)

The Flaming Lips keep making records and I keep on loving them as deeply as I love my wife and children. Their latest effort, American Head, is a stunning display of aural exploration. They create sounds that I wish I had in my imagination and they are all beautiful. 

Sunday, October 4, 2020

A Certain Radio: ACR LOCO

How cool is it that A Certain Radio are still making records? It's been 12 years since the Flixton lads put out an album but it was worth the wait. ACR LOCO is stellar from start to finish. The diversity in style shows just how much this band has evolved from their post-punk years.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Chad VanGaalen: Weighed Sin (Autumn Music Series)

A slide guitar with some extra echo always makes for a good fall song. It was pretty chilly here in the North Woods and this track from Calgary's own Chad VanGallen is perfect for curling up with a loved one by a fire. 

Friday, October 2, 2020

Ariel Pink's Haunted Grafitti: Round and Round (Autumn Music Series)

LA's own Ariel Pink is a true American treasure. One of his tracks from 2010's Before Today has stuck with me very deeply since it's release now a decade ago. "Round and Round" is simply a stunning kiss...

Monday, September 28, 2020

San Cisco: Between You and Me (Album of the Week)

Freemantle's own San Cisco have just released their fourth record and the god-like growth of this band continues to stun me. Their core pop sounds are still there, of course, but now we have Bacharatic ultra lounge and cinematic wonder added to the mix. 

Great bands always evolve like this and the trajectory in front of San Cicso promises to be stellar. Here is one of my favorite tracks...

As a postscript, I'd like to add that being from Minneapolis and digging this band is extra special. Our town, completely around the world from where they live, helped break this band in the US back in 2012. I've seen them in concert four times and every show has been fucking amazing! 

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Delta Spirit: What Is There

San Diego's own Delta Spirit recently release their fifth full length and it's quite good. It starts out poppy and then finishes with several introspective, acoustic ballads. 

Great music for lovers everywhere...

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Missing Haven (Brit Rock Spotlight)

I miss Cornwall's Haven. What a truly amazing band that should have stuck around for the Dudes With Guitars decade (2000-2009). They had a lot of Dream Pop in them too that made their tunes really soar. 

Their first record, Between the Senses, dropped in early 2002 and is their best. Here are a couple of great tracks that illustrate their awesomeness. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Amen Dunes: Love (Montreal) (Autumn Music Series)

It's that time of the year again, folks. The Autumn Music Series is back!! 

Since this blog started, I've spent the fall months showcasing songs that are perfect for the season. Each has a certain quality about it...echo-y vocals, guitars and/or piano...colors to barren sonic landscapes...introspection...romance for crunchy leaf walks or by a roaring fire...quicker darkness, yet still somehow positive. 

First up is NYC's Amen Dunes. This track is taken from 2015's Cowboy Worship

As always, click on the tag below to create your own Autumn Music Series playlist! 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Doves: The Universal Want (Album of the Week)

Manchester heroes Doves are back after a way too long absence. The Universal Want is a stellar record and takes its place in the group's stunning pantheon of releases. This band is one of those bands for me, ranking right up there with other decade-defining bands like Kooks, The Subways, Stereophonics, and The Fratellis. 

On this record, Jimi, Jez, and Andy delve deeply into cosmic consciousness and individual spirituality, offering new insight into the human condition. Much of the time, it's quite dark but that's OK. 

Doves are here for all of us...

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Everything Everything: Re-Animator

Manchester's own Everything Everything are back with their fifth full-length record and fans of the outfit will be overjoyed. All eleven tracks are completely amazing and deeply channel their inner Radiohead

Here is a very chill track that is great to zoning out in the universe...

Monday, September 14, 2020

The Magic Gang: Death of the Party (Album of the Week)

Brighton's own The Magic Gang are back with a fab new record called Death of the Party. It grabs you right away with the opening track (featured below) and never lets up. For a sophomore effort, this one is shovel-to-the head stunning! 

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Orville Peck: Show Pony EP

Sometimes you just need a little Americana in your life. And it's OK if that Americana comes from another country. Canada's own Orville Peck has a great EP that is an addendum to last year's Pony. Show Pony is like one of those amazing treasures you find in an antique store. It just fits perfectly in your life. 

So so beautiful...

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Disclosure: Energy

Surrey's own Disclosure is back with more club stomping beats than you can shake a stick at! Their music is just so much fun and great for more than just being out on the scene. I'd recommend springing for the Deluxe Edtion as it has nine extra tracks. 

Here is the opener. Lets you know right away what kind of right you will be in for...

Monday, September 7, 2020

Jaden: CTV3: Cool Tape Vol. 3 (Album of the Week)

Stellar music sometimes comes from surprising places. Jaden Smith (son of Will and Jada) has just put out what could be the Album of the Year. Not kidding, folks. It's that fucking good.

Weaving in a lot of Beatles vibes, Jaden manages to straddle a variety of musical stylings with aplomb. I mean, there's even an ultra lounge track ("Falling For You") that completely melts my soul. Dude is 22 and has complete command of the history of music. 

Here are a couple of choice cuts.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

William J. Healy: Twin Heavy

The West Oxfordshire town of Carterton has produced a truly gifted musician named William J. Healy. His second full length, Twin Heavy, is out now and it's spectacular. Fans of ELO and solo John Lennon will LOVE this record. 

Here is one of my favorite tracks. 

Thursday, September 3, 2020

The Waterboys: Good Luck, Seeker

Mike Scott is a treasure of the world. Every couple of years he puts out a new record, it's awesome, and the planet bows before his godliness. The Waterboys' latest is called Good Luck, Seeker and it's rife with that core message. If you are trying to find something, follow the advice on these 14 tracks. 

Edinburgh rejoice! 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The Killers: Imploding the Mirage

Indie powerhouse The Killers are back with their sixth full-length record (wow, has it really been that long?). Imploding the Mirage continues the Las Vegas band's impressive run of stellar music. They helped to define a genre in the early 21st century and listening to their music today reminds me of how the years 2001-2009 were miraculous...

Here is a performance of one of their new songs. So so good...

Monday, August 31, 2020

Burna Boy: Twice As Tall (Album of the Week)

Nigeria's own Burna Boy just dropped his fifth album and it's a total stunner. Twice as Tall makes me feel ten times as tall as I am because it's that fucking awesome. The depth of introspection on this record is remarkable. I found my mind wandering to uncharted territory at several points throughout the album. 

And it's not just the lyrics. The music makes you take an adventure.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Creeper: Sex, Death & The Infinite Void

Sometimes, actually a lot of the time, it's good to bang out to rocking guitar music. Enter Southhampton's Creeper. Their sophomore effort, Sex, Death & The Infinite Void, is out now and I highly recommend it. It's not just a good album, it's a fun and deeply passionate affair. 

Here is one of my favorite tracks. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Tiana Major9: At Sixes and Sevens

Need some chill in your life? Look no further than London's own Tiana Major9's latest project, At Sixes and Sevens. Like a gentle kiss on a breezy summer night, her voice soothes the soul with soul. 

The future of R&B is in good hands with this artist. 

Monday, August 24, 2020

Another Sky: I Slept On The Floor (Album of the Week)

The Holy Land of music has produced yet another amazing band. London's own Another Sky has just released their debut record, I Slept On The Floor, and I am completely in love with it. 

Dreamy, psychedelic, and art rockish all that same time, watching this band's trajectory is going to be an honor and a pleasure. 

Here is one of my favorite tracks...

Friday, August 21, 2020

Victoria Monet: Jaguar

Sacramento's own Victoria Monet has finally released her first project and it is an R&B breath of fresh air. Jaguar is nine tracks of soft velvet and solid soul. Her voice makes me shiver and offers a much-needed chill to the world. 

It's the first of a three-part release which will comprise one big record. I can't wait to hear the next two installments!

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Washed Out: Purple Noon

Georgia's own Washed Out (aka Ernest Weatherly Greene Jr.) is back with his fourth full length called Purple Noon. His take on the chillwave sound has been a most welcome addition to my listening library, particularly suited for dreaming on sun-drenched days. 

Here is the opening track from a positively stellar record!!

Monday, August 17, 2020

The Pretenders: Hate For Sale (Album of the Week)

The 1980’s were filled with Chrissie Hyde’s voice. Her band, The Pretenders, provided the soundtrack to many a Gen Xer’s adolescence. Their latest release, Hate For Sale, brings me back to those times even though it’s brand new music. It’s akin to a warm hug from a family member. 

All the classic Pretenders tropes are, anger, passion...with, perhaps, the wisdom of age. It’s an album any generation will adore instantly. Here are a couple of tracks.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Charley Crocket: Welcome To Hard Times

Like a cool drink of ice water on a hot summer day, Charley Crocket’s Welcome To Hard Times gives the listener a most wanted chill. I’ve noticed myself enjoying country music more and more as I’ve aged (like a fine wine) and that’s OK. This San Benito, Texas native has struck the right chord with me these days and I love it!

Here is the opening track.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Deep Purple: Whoosh!

If you could see me right now, I'd be grinning from ear to ear. That's because Hertfordshire's own Deep Purple has released their 21st album, Whoosh! 

It's all the things you'd expect from the vintage rockers with nostalgia running deep and wild. My days of air banding all come rushing back as I listened to these 13 tracks of wholesome goodness.

Here is the opening track...

Monday, August 10, 2020

Fontaines D.C.: A Hero’s Death (Album of the Week)

Dublin’s own Fontaines DC has just released their sophomore effort and it’s a corker! A Hero’s Death brings me right back to my Joy Division and Smiths days and adds in 2020 malaise. Their sound is both modern and post punk nostalgic at the same time. It just puts you in THAT mood, Gen Xers. You know what I mean...

Folks, this record is in immediate contention for Album of the Year. It will easily make the top ten. 

Yeah, it's that fucking good. 

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Courtney Marie Andrews: Old Flowers

Phoenix's own Courtney Marie Andrews has a wonderful new record out called Old Flowers. It's a perfect companion to lazy weekends with a romantic loved one. Whether it's brunch, a walk outside, or a late afternoon shag, this is your soundtrack for these moments and many more.

Here is the opening track. 

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Love Fame Tragedy: Wherever I Go, I Want To Leave

Liverpool's own Matthew Murphy (aka Head Wombat), has a new solo endeavor called Love Fame Tragedy and it is magnificent. You have to pay attention these days to find stellar pop music like this. 

Murphy brings all the "dudes with guitars" stuff from The Wombats and adds an 80's drive complete with towering synths to create a melange of wonderfulness. 

Here is one of my favorite tracks performed live! 


Monday, August 3, 2020

DMA's: The Glow (Album of the Week)

Sydney's own DMA's are back with a fantastic record called The Glow. I've been a massive fan of this band since the beginning and their new album consistently stretches their musical muscles in some surprising new directions. 

Being Brit Rock devotees, it's not surprising that the opening track ("Never Before") would be a send-up to the baggy pants, Man City scene of the early '90s. From there we head out into some serious synth driven pop that you just can't help but shake a leg to. 

And, of course, we have that classic Brit Pop sound...

The real gem on the record is "Strangers." Stunning and haunting...


This band's entire catalog deserves a place in your collection. Go buy their records!! 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Juice Wrld: Legends Never Die

My son was deeply saddened when Juice Wrld passed away. I'll admit to not paying that much attention to his catalog but his posthumous release, Legends Never Die, a fitting coda to his career, gave me a glimpse into the depth of this troubled artist. 

He leaves it all out on the table with this one, folks. It's an intensely primal scream for help which sadly never came. Every track is soul-piercing. 

A profound and engaging young man...

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Holy Wave: Interloper

When we think of Texas, we imagine hard-rockin' blues or Dixieland jazz. Perhaps even garden variety southern rock. Spaced out dream pop combined with psychedelia is decidedly not on the menu. But that's just what El Paso's own Holy Wave has brought to the world. Truly, they are an amazing gift to our planet. 

This quintet's latest release, Interloper, is a mind trip of a record. I've listened to it many times,  wandering around the hot sun and contemplating my place in the universe. Get lost in yourself and the world around you and pick up this album. 

Monday, July 27, 2020

Lianne La Havas: Lianne La Havas (Album of the Week)

Lianne La Havas is a sacred treasure. The fact that she is from London makes her even more of a gem. Her latest record, titled simple Lianne La Havas, is an absolute triumph.

Building on the power and complexity of her first two releases, her new album is 12 tracks of sheer love and profound passion. Every part of every single track is a beautiful kiss that warms my heart and soothes my soul.

Here is the opening track. When she sings, "no more hanging around" after the build up...good lord...


Friday, July 24, 2020

Athlete (British Music Spotlight)

London's own Athlete was a fab band in the Dudes With Guitars Era of the early 21st century. That's the decade from 2000-2009 that I personally have defined that began with The Strokes and morphed into a lot of cool bands playing guitar oriented indie pop.

The quartet made four stellar albums and then went their separate ways to pursue other projects. I highly recommend all of their releases. Here is a sampling.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Bdrmm: Bedroom

The spaced-out sounds of Hull's own Bdrmm are just the shoegaze salve we need for what ails us all right now. Cosmic mind journeys and self-actualization are plentiful on their debut album, Bedroom. I am so thankful that this style of music is still being made!

And, of course, it is from the Holy Land...

Monday, July 20, 2020

The Jayhawks: XOXO (Album of the Week)

My hometown of Minneapolis has one of the best bands in the world. They have been making incredible music for over 35 years. Every Christmas season they do a show in the Main Room when they come home to visit with family and it sells out, invariably forcing a second show.

The Jayhawks are a Minnesota treasure.

And, honestly, they are second only to Prince in terms of local music legends.

Their latest release, XOXO, continues the high standard set by their recent output. Louris, Grothberg, Perlman, and the lads have refused to give up on exploring new musical horizons and territories. I continue to be as amazed as I was when I bought their first record back in 1986 at the record store in the basement of Coffman Union.

Here is my favorite track from the album. So perfect for hometown heroes...


Saturday, July 18, 2020

Bob Dylan: Rough and Rowdy Ways

Bob is back with his 39th studio album and this time it's with all-new, original material, his first since 2012's Tempest. I've enjoyed his recent forays into the Great American Songbook but it's always much better to hear new stuff from this musical icon. 

Rough and Rowdy Ways plays like something you would hear on an old jukebox in a dive bar in the middle of flyover USA. Can't you just see the old couples dancing to this track?

His characters and their stories, as always, are vibrant and multi-dimensional. 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Ray Lamontagne: Monovision

The sweet, soft and soulful sounds of Ray Lamontagne's latest record, Monovision, have been in heavy rotation these last couple of weeks in my house. He is certainly a man out of time and seems more of a good fit for the mid-1970s. Yeah, it's kinda yacht rockish but who cares? It's amazing!

Here is an extra mellow track for those summer days with clouds...

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Spacey Jane: Sunlight

Australia officially has a new and amazing music scene with the likes of The Lazy Eyes, Bananagun, and now Spacey Jane. This Fremantle quartet magnificently adds to the garage and psychedelic sounds of this new genre from Oz. Their debut release, Sunlight, is a must-have for summer listening.

Here is one of my favorite tracks.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Bananagun: The True Story of Bananagun (Album of the Week)

Melbourne's own Bananagun have released their first record and it is an absolute stunner of a debut. The True Story of Bananagun taps into early 60's dream pop, early 70's soul, long afrobeat jams, and garage band psych-pop. Essentially, it's all the things I love about music. 

Here is one of the many amazing tracks from this album. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Khruangbin: Mordechai

If you are looking for a good album to shag to, look no further than Mordechai by Khruangbin. This Houston trio has produced an album blissful with amour, demanding an immediate search for a loved one. There are loads of 70's vibes on this record and it really shows on this track.

My heart was very much loved up after hearing this record. Feeling nostalgic!

Monday, July 6, 2020

Paul Weller: On Sunset (Album of the Week)

The Modfather is back with an absolute corker of a new record called On Sunset. Weller continues to be fiercely curious about musical styles, tapping into sounds that range from cinematic to soul to simple pastorals. He shows no signs in letting up in his lifelong obsession with exploring new ways to be MOD. 

Here is the opening track.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Woodstock: An American Experience

Check out this amazing film about Woodstock. I've been a fan of the American Experience for years and this documentary is a stunning look behind the scenes of the greatest music festival of all time


Monday, June 29, 2020

The Lazy Eyes: EP1 (Album of the Week)

Psychedelic pop fans should rejoice with the first release from Sydney's own, The Lazy Eyes. I make no secret about being a massive fan of this 50-year-old + genre of music but the first-ever album from this band is extraordinary. 

A perfect soundtrack for the summer sun. Here is the opening track


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Liam Gallagher: MTV Unplugged

Our kid from Manchester is back with a really nice collection of live and unplugged tracks, taped last year at Hull House. The Oasis songs always sound great but it's his solo material that really shines on this record. The live versions have much more power and honesty.


Monday, June 22, 2020

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Sideways to New Italy (Album of the Week)

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever is truly a fantastic name for a band. The good news is their music is every bit as awesome as their name. Their second release, Sideways to New Italy, just dropped and it's spectacular. This Melbourne band deeply fulfills the indie pop, jangly guitar dream of any listener.

Here is one of my favorite tracks from the record.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Doves: Carousels (Track of the Week)

Cheshire's own Doves are back with their first new music in 11 years. Their timing could not have been better. I really have missed this amazing band quite a bit. Their music is deeply personal to me and has been my soundtrack for two decades even if they only released stuff 12 of those years. Their entire catalog is timeless and should be purchased in its entirety. 

Hopefully, this new track is the first of many! 

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Katie Von Schleicher: Consummation

Katie Von Schleicher is a complete and total gem. This Brooklyn treasure's latest release, Consummation, has dazzled me in a myriad of ways over the last few weeks since its release in May. It's one of those deep, soaking records that slowly marinates like a carefully prepared meal. You adore it more and more as time marches on. 

A stunning achievement! 


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Run the Jewels: Walking In The Snow

Continuing on with my Run the Jewels lovefest this week, I thought I would highlight this track which has the line "I Can't Breathe" in it.

Sick chorus!

Monday, June 15, 2020

Run The Jewels: RT4 (Album of the Week)

RTJ has dropped a most timely record and it is magnificent. I've completely adored this supergroup comprised of Killer Mike and El-P since their first release back in 2013. Their music has never been more relevant. Go buy it.

Fight the power!

Saturday, June 13, 2020

The Robert Cray Band: That's What I Heard

Robert Cray is back with a stellar new record called That's What I Heard. I've been a fan since the early 80's and it's comforting in these unsettled times to know that some things never change. Cray shreds out 12 tracks of blues joy. Yes, that's possible! You can get happier after listening to the blues!!


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Dears: Lover's Rock

Montreal's own The Dears are back with a wonderful new record called Lover's Rock. Their orchestral pop noir sound has never sounded finer on their latest release.

I've enjoyed this album a great deal as I have been walking around town more due to the outbreak. It's a good soundtrack for exploring new neighborhoods and contemplating your place in the universe.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Nicole Atkins: Italian Ice (Album of the Week and Album of the Summer)

At various times in my daily life, my thoughts turn melancholy and overwhelmingly nostalgic for those halcyon days of listening to my crappy old AM Realistic Radio. It was 1978 when I got my first clock radio that was primarily used to wake me up for school. My mom was tired of me oversleeping so it made sense in practical terms.

But what I didn't expect was that little piece of junk was going to open me up to a world of music and set my mind, heart, and soul forever on the path of artistic righteousness. WLS was my church when I woke up, hung out with my friends in my room, and before I went to bed. My favorite artists today give me those same feelings that I had back in those amazing days of discovery of all the great bands from that time period.

New Jersey's own Nicole Atkins' latest release, Italian Ice, brings me right back to that 1978 bedroom in such an overwhelming fashion that I can barely cope with the waves of sentimentalism. Seriously, this record is shovel to the head stunning. The musical styles range from late '70s,/early 80's pop to soul music to an amalgam of Brill Building chic and psych-pop. It all mixes together in the most wonderful of ways.

Folks, this is your album of the Summer of 2020. Go outside, let the warm rays of sunshine wash over you, and listen to AM Gold warrior, Nicole Atkins!

Friday, June 5, 2020

The 1975: Notes on Conditional Form

The 1975 are a good band. In fact, they are an above-average band. And I like them a lot. But they are decidedly not as amazing as NME and other critics think they are. It's as if being critical of them these days is verboten to the point of absurdity.

The Winslow, Chesire outfit's latest release, Notes on Conditional Form, has several memorable tracks and combines a wide variety of musical styles. In many ways, it's a jukebox explosion of techno, bubble gum pop, and dream pop acoustic ballads. My view is that it's not as strong as their earlier efforts but it's solid.

Here is my favorite track

Monday, June 1, 2020

The Reflectors: First Impression (Album of the Week)

LA's own The Reflectors are staking a powerful claim on 1980's power pop with their debut record, First Impression. There is even quite a bit of early 60's beat music to their sound as well. Bottom line, they are just a lot of fun in a world that hasn't really been in the last couple of weeks. 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Wooderson R.I.P.

On the last day of school every year, I dig out the film Dazed and Confused, a wonderful story set on the last day of school in 1976 in Austin, Texas, and let its warm rays cascade over me. The music, the images, the theme, and the style all mix up in a beautiful much so that at various points throughout the 103 minutes of this absolute gem, I well up and, by the end, I'm usually crying.

It's not from laughter nor is it from bong smoke getting in my eyes. It's from a deep sadness so compelling that more often than not it is overwhelming. I find myself getting up from in front of the television and going outside to breathe the clean, crisp summer air...sucking it deeply into my lungs...hoping that my mind, body, and soul will be soothed. And I will remember that time clearly...and feel like I am there again.

Most of the time it is not soothed and I find myself left with a deep yearning that goes unfulfilled nearly every day of my life. The simple reason for all of this is the titanic melancholy I feel at peaking back into a world that is long gone and has been dead for way too many years...just like all those endless, youthful summers that were eternally magical...always...

The film was released in 1993 and did bring about a brief wave of 70s nostalgia but that was soon lost to new trends, ideas, and really fucking awful lifestyle choices. And that nostalgia was mostly filled with pretense although some bands like Oasis and Paul Weller sought to make a point of injecting Bowie, Zeppelin, and T Rex dripped style into their music and largely succeeded. Every year that goes by puts more and more distance between us and that wonderful world that Richard Linklater, the film's director, and writer, showed us. What is this world like?

It's a simple place filled with people and laughter. The women are gorgeous in their hip-hugging jeans and long beautiful hair. The men are extremely cool in their muscle cars, t-shirts, jeans, and chucks. There is no Facebook, no texting on cell phones, no iPods, nor DVD players. There's hanging out and actually having a live conversation while driving in a car and listening to an 8 track player as opposed to sitting in front of a computer. There are drive-in movies and drive-in burger joints. There's pot smoking in the bedroom and quick sprays of air freshener as the parents unexpectedly knock on the door.

Most of all, there is a lot of fun.

This fun reveals itself in a myriad of ways...a primary focus of which is to party with beer and pot. Looking at that the partying that goes in the film through the lens of 2010, the melancholy bubbles up and overwhelms me. In today's culture, this sort of behavior is either insanely surpassed by a whole host of unhealthy drugs like Chrystal Meth or is massively derided by narrow-minded people who view any sort of drug-taking as being The End. In some ways, the latter group is right. People smoke pot and drink these days for all the wrong fucking reasons. This is likely due to the fact that people are so much more stupid now than they were 35 years ago....Mike Judge's Idiocracy nearly complete and 500 years early:)

The dichotomy between today and 1976 is presented quite eloquently in the character of Wooderson (below, left), the first major role for Matthew McConaughey. It is my view that he is Linklater's answer to Joseph Campbell's mono mythical hero. Wooderson conveys universal truths about his place in history and transcends his own role in his culture while building new meaning regarding the relationship between the two. He is a Campbell archetype and he fits this role perfectly.

Stylistically, this is eloquently conveyed when he walks into the Rec Center with Randy and Mitch. The Tarrentino slo-mo backed with the choice track, "Hurricane" by Bob Dylan drives the meaning of this world home. The Rec Center was THE place to be back then.....even up to the summer before my senior year (1984). Every town had one filled with pool tables, Foosball, and later Tron and Missile Command. Sadly, these are all gone now as people just stay home in their little cyberpunk pods of entertainment. There is no face to face conversation or checking out girls or boys in person. Instead, we have and instant messaging via Twitter. Oh boy...

Every time I watch this film...every single mind drifts back to my friends' older brothers and sisters who lived through this age. As a 9-year-old in 1976, they were the coolest people (next to my dad and John Lennon) I had ever seen. But it wasn't just them. Even my mom, age 30 at that time, would not stop playing Dreamboat Annie by Heart and Rumours by Fleetwood Mac. Those records are also mixed up in my 70s dreamwarp Monet haze. When I listen to them, I think of Dazed and Confused and when I watch the film, I think of those records even though there were songs from either album in the film. They are inexorably tied together.

All of the characters in the film exemplify this haze but none more so than Wooderson. He's in his 20s but he still hangs out with teenagers. This would never be allowed to happen today (in our hyper fearful and giant leap of paranoia culture) as he would immediately be considered "weird" and possibly a pedophile. He parties quite a bit...getting his "third wind" for another round of drinking and pot smoking at 4am on the 50-yard line of the high school football field. Again, if this happened today he would essentially be considered a gun-running drug dealer who wants to destroy us all. In short, Wooderson would be labeled a loser by the narrow-minded ass hats who sadly define our socio-cultural context today...his actions...deplorable.

But he does all these things, though, throughout the course of the film while working for the city and contemplating a return to college....just like most of the people I knew back in the day. As he speaks of himself earlier in the film, one gets the sense that he generally has a handle on his life...he parties hard but works hard as well. Unlike the youth of today, he doesn't feel like he is entitled to anything.
Sadly, the youth of today imagine themselves as Vinnie Chase (Entourage) or a cast member of The Jersey Shore, and their idea of partying and fun is done within the framework of these images. It's empty...hollow...monumentally selfish...devoid of any real passion...completely lacking in the important elements of deep love. In short, it is nothing like the world of Dazed and Confused where people got ripped but it meant something. Ironic that the youth of today are far more "dazed and confused," than the youth of 1976 who honestly wasn't either at all.

We see wisps of the World of Wooderson here and there. A great example of this would be the voice of Kelly Jones and his music with Stereophonics. The Subways and the Stone Temple Pilots are two other bands that seem to have shining hints of this forgotten world. For the most part, however, it's gone. Our society has moved on and that wonderful culture that truly meant so much to me and many others is effectively dead and buried.

For the most part, people just don't live, love, and party like they did in the film Dazed and they did in the 70s. Either they are too square, too uptight, too boring or the exact opposite...too wild, too crazy, and far too out of control. Far too infrequently, I see a ray of hope.

On this rare occasion here and there, I'll sit with some friends...a few of the women in hip-hugging jeans...have a conversation that's actually in person...listen to some great music (playing actual vinyl!)...and remember...if only for a few, fleeting moments....that wonderful world. If I'm lucky, I might actually feel like I'm back there. Most times, though, someone will pull out a cell phone and look at their texts.

Rest in Peace, Wooderson. At least I will always remember you.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Badly Drawn Boy: Banana Skin Shoes

We haven't heard much from Bolton, Lancashire's own Badly Drawn Boy in the last few years. But he's back with a stellar new record called Banana Skin Shoes. A wide range of styles are present on this record but what struck me the most was the detail paid to the craftsmanship of each track.

Check out this instant dream-pop classic! 

Monday, May 25, 2020

Tim Burgess: I Love The New Sky (Album of the Week)

Charlatans' frontman Tim Burgess just dropped his latest full length and it is bloody mags! This Northwich, Cheshire lad has a solo career marked by amazing music. His latest offering has a decided stripped-down feel where Burgess's vocals are very much out front. It's quite heavy on classical instruments (piano, violin) which brings it to a down-home type of place. Our town is Burgess Town!!

I Love The New Sky has many gems in its 12 stellar tracks. Here is one of my favorites.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Hayley Williams: Petals For Armour (Album of the Week)

That 80's summer pop sound is in good hands with Hayley Williams. The Paramore front person has released her first solo effort entitled Petals for Armor. The deeply personal and vulnerable record has come out in stages. Last January saw an EP with the first 5 tracks. April brought us EP #2 with the next 5 tracks. Finally we got the full album with the last 5 tunes on May 8th. It's been an amazing journey with a brilliant finish for Ms. Williams.

This record is going to be with me all summer.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Happyness: Floatr

London's own Happyness are back with a fab 3rd LP called Floatr. Guitar oriented pop is something of a rarity these days so it's mega to see some lads out there still carrying the torch.

Their music brings me back to those early noughties days of dudes with guitars!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Princess Nokia: Everything is Beautiful and Everything Sucks (Albums of the Week)

I love it when artists decide, fuck it, I'm releasing two albums at the same time instead of one. Yeah, I'm that good. Guns and Roses did it. The Boss did it. And now Princess Nokia has done it...because she is that good. Everything is Beautiful and Everything Sucks are completely amazing. Each one reflects a different mood yet they somehow fit perfectly together as a single expression from an amazing musician.

Puerto Rican soul swirled with NYC attitude!