Posted in Listed

Favourite Albums of 2018

51k7S8+kLDL._AA327_QL65_5. Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour: Arguably the biggest country crossover into the indie rock world of 2018. Musgraves’ fourth major album release was as slick as they come but hard not to appreciate the quality of the songs. “Lonely Weekend”, “Space Cowboy” and album standout “High Horse” are the touchstones. But those are accompanied by opener “Slow Burn” and “Velvet Elvis”. While many of these songs could easily be featured in almost every commercial on TV, it doesn’t take away from the fact that virtually every one is a winner.

Mitski4. Mitski – Be The Cowboy : The first vocal on Mitski’s fifth album claims “you’re my number 1” which is fitting as this is topping album polls across the world. Clocking in at just over 33 minutes with most songs around the two-minute mark, it is easy to leave this one on repeat for a few hours. First single “Nobody” provides the longing that is at the heart of this album. The hard rocking “Remember My Name” is followed by the defiant “Me and My Husband”. There is a reason people keep talking about this album, the quick snapshots of music cut across numerous styles but most of all, it does them expertly.

trcy3. Tracyanne & Danny – Tracyanne & Danny : Quietly one of the most welcome returns to music was from Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell. Her voice is like a warm fire on a cold winter night. Here she appears with Danny Coughlan and together they create one of the best runs of music in 2018 from first track “Home & Dry” to infectious single “Alabama”. Second half highlight belongs to Coughlan with his 50s style “Anybody Else”. Overshadowed by bigger releases, this Merge Records release is an easy album to fall in love with.

41M5dXB2SNL._AA327_QL65_2. Courtney Barnett –  Tell Me How You Really Feel: In the disposable world of streaming and downloads, it’s rare that an album is a grower but Tell Me How You Really Feel did just that. Hard to get into at first, it feels disjointed and a bit of a downer album about touring but repeated listens prove that is not true. “City Looks Pretty” and “Nameless, Faceless” are dynamite indie rock songs. “Need A Little Time” features a pretty melody in the chorus and it’s all closed down with the melancholic uplift of “Sunday Roast”. Barnett tore the Winnipeg Folk Fest down on the Friday night this past summer. Too hard rocking for a lot of the crowd but was a glorious racket for the rest of us.

61KEfYl6iVL._AA327_QL65_1. Beach House – 7: When reviewing the latest Beach House on the Celebration Rock Podcast, critic Steve Hyden talked about how 7 does exactly what he wants from a BH album. This is pretty much bang on. “Pay No Mind”, “Lemon Glow and “Dive” standout and the rest of the album does a very good job of being atmospheric and ethereal. “Lose Yourself” is beautiful as is “Woo” but with an 80s synth feel. 7 glides along on its rails and is happy to take the listener to the next station for its duration.

Posted in Listed

10 Favourite Songs of 2018

10. G Flip – About You:  One of the earliest songs that caught our ear in 2018, this Australian released “About You” in February. The DIY esthetic was not just in the music but in the music video as well. The beat doesn’t drop until the chorus while a synth makes thunder like noises in the background. Sounding not too dissimilar from Grimes, “About You” announced a brilliant new talent.

9. Cherry Glazerr – Daddi:  Recording under the Cherry Glazerr moniker, Los Angelino Clementine Creevy delivers a wallop of defiance in just over three minutes. Asking “Daddi” what she should be doing, where she should be going and who to be f*cking but never wanting to actually hear the answer.  The verses are breathless before she shouts the chorus. This fiery track was a late entry into our top ten.

8. U.S. Girls – Rosebud:  Meghan Remy put out her second album on 4AD in March of 2018 and found quite a bit of critical acclaim. This single is memorable right from the first-string sounds before it falls into an up tempo lounge track. In typical U.S. Girls fashion, the great sound bed covers up that Remy is digging deep into lyrics about the government while using Citizen Kane as a jumping off point. One of the groovier tracks of the year.

7. Vital Idles – Solid States:  This minimal track from Glasgow’s Vital Idles hardly set the world on fire in 2018 but it certainly grabbed our attention. The simple guitar melody and deadpan vocals recall post punk records from the early 80s. “It won’t do, it won’t do” but somehow this track does and does.

6. SL – Genes (Feat. Chip):  “I’m flexing in my 20s, I was flexing in my teens” is my most quoted lyric from 2018. With his “Gentleman” track from 2017 having over 23 million views on YouTube, SL was picked by factmag.com to be one of the UK rappers to keep an eye on. While the rest of the lyrics on “Gene” are harder to follow for these 40+ year old ears, the chorus is pure fire.

5. Robyn – Missing U:  Released in September, “Missing U” was the lead single from the Honey album and it was a banger. In an interview with Time magazine, Robyn has said this is the track she spent the most time on over than any other, and it shows. Everything fits together perfectly. The cascading synths are propelled forward through the beat of the chorus in this perfect pop song.

4. Playboi Carti – Shoota (Feat. Lil Uzi Vert):  I’m not sure what it is about this single from Playboi’s fifth album but the piano at the start sounds like a call to arms for having a great time for two minutes. The music really kicks in just over a minute for the Playboi verse while the beat takes forever to finally drop. The “pecan drop” and “bestie” are ridiculous but add to the infectious fun of this track.

3. Courtney Barnett – Sunday Roast:  The melancholy track sounds like Courtney talking to herself. The fourth single from Barnett’s excellent sophomore album, suddenly takes an uplifting turn in the second half of the chorus when she sings “I know you’re doing your best, I think you’re doing just fine” and features a pep talk in the outro. It’s the sound of hanging out with friends, enjoying the quiet times and not just the nights out on the tiles.

2. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Talking Straight:  The Melbourne group’s debut LP featured several terrific guitar rock songs, none were better than this. The guitar melodies all meld together while vocalist Joe White nails the kick-ass chorus. This is the kind of thing you want blasting out of the car on road trips to the beach.

1. Otha – One Of The Girls:  If you base your track of the year just based on listens, this is the one for me. Otha quietly sings over a bed of electronic beats and synths. It’s a downcast track, sounding both defiant and sad at the same time. I came across it on Pitchfork then never heard or saw it anywhere else. It mysteriously appeared and disappeared that one day but got played endlessly in basement parties at home, by myself.

Posted in Album Reviews

Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel (2018)

41M5dXB2SNL._AA327_QL65_Courtney Barnett’s 2015 debut, Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit was a big hit with both critics and fans. Tracks like “Elevator Operator” and “Pedestrian at Best” treated audiences to Barnett’s witty banter mixed with early 90s guitar sound. Many tours later, plus a well-received effort with Kurt Vile, Barnett releases sophomore effort Tell Me How You Really Feel. After listening to the attention weary album, the title comes off more of an inward question than an outward one for the Melbourne artist.

First single, “Nameless, Faceless” features a jangly guitar melody until the chorus blows that away with distorted vocals singing the Margaret Atwood quote “men are scared women will laugh at them… women are scared men will kill them”. “City Looks Pretty” hits the ground running but slows down considerably half way in. Perhaps a metaphor for Barnett speeding through life then needing to rest. “I’m Not Your Mother…” is more harsh sounding and could easily have come straight from Nirvana’s In Utero.

Tell Me How You Really Feel is not as immediately likable as her debut. There is a tiredness to some of the tracks. “Charity” asks “You must be having so much fun/everything is amazing” before asking, “so subservient, I make myself sick/Are you listening?” The feature song here is album closer “Sunday Roast”. A sadness runs through until the uplifting chorus statement, “I know you’re doing your best, I think you’re doing just fine”. Barnett does not always make it an easy listen but one that reveals several gems through repeated listens.

8/10

Posted in Album Reviews

Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice (2017)

Released i51f6ijxhRgL._AA327_QL65_n October 2017 on Matador, the shaggy hairs Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile released an album that they had worked off/on for two years. Matador Records is a fitting company to have released this on as it has much in common with early 90s indie rock. It is a mixture of Pavement, Yo La Tengo’s Fakebook album, the bluesy grunge sound of Seattle, and a cover of Belly’s “Untogether” tacked on at the end for good measure.

First track and single, “Over Everything” sees Kurt and Courtney tripping over each other to trade verses about songwriting which is a topic revisited in “Fear Is Like a Forest”. Trading songs to cover, Kurt tackles “Outta the Woodwork” and plays it slow and dirge like while similar to the original, Courtney takes on Kurt’s “Peepin’ Tom” with just her guitar. Album highlight “Continental Breakfast” is funny and clever, “Blue Cheese” is slacker tunefulness. The album could use some editing in spots but overall this is a welcome diversion for fans of both artists.

8/10