Posted in Listed

Favourite Albums of 2020

Women In Music Pt. Iii

5.  Haim – Women in Music Pt. III:  Released in the early summer, it took another six months before I really listened to the third album from the Haim sisters. Employing a number of musical styles, the band released another set of great songs including their three stellar singles from 2019. Highlights include first track “Los Angeles” and the pop rock of “Don’t Wanna”.

A Hero's Death

4.  Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death:  The fiery rock of the band’s debut Dogrel was our favourite album from last year. The band further expanded their sound with added atmosphere and nuance particularly on “Living in America” and “Love is the Main Thing”. Second single “I Don’t Belong” was a highlight as the minimal instrumentation allows singer Grian Chatten’s weariness to shine.

Fetch The Bolt Cutters

3.  Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters:  Fiona Apple’s first album in 8 years was a staggering accomplishment. It caught many ears when it came out to a locked down world reeling from the early throws of the pandemic. The lyrics are raw as Apple recounts terrible dinner parties, arguments with bandmates, and the fury of “For Her”. “Shameika” is the standout track for it’s uplifting childhood story one liner told over a rollicking piano.

Miss Anthropocene (Vinyl)

2.  Grimes – Miss Anthropocene:  Over the past few years, Grimes has been in the media spotlight due to her relationship with billionaire Elon Musk. Not always putting her best boot forward, it’s not always easy being a Grimes fan. But then the latest album drops and all is forgiven. An atmospheric and cinematic delight, the highlights are many. After a few dense soundscapes, the acoustic guitar of “Delete Forever” is standout as is the club beats of “Violence” and pop chorus of “You’ll Miss Me When I’m Not Around”. Grimes is an enigma and truly wonderous musician.

folklore

1.  Taylor Swift – folklore:  Famously in the summer of 2019, pitchfork.com went back and reviewed all the Taylor Swift albums they had otherwise ignored over the years. A year later, Swift released a surprise album in July. She once again worked with Jack Antonoff but also with new collaborator Aaron Dessner from The National. This news was catnip to introspective 40 year old rock fans the world over. At 17 tracks, the album might be a tad long but jumping around, it’s hard to find a wrong note anywhere. Swift makes it sound easy on a run of tracks from “Mirrorball”, “Seven”, the pop of “August”, and the heartbreaking “This is Me Trying”. Then right at the end of the year, Taylor Swift released yet another surprise batch of songs that once again sent music fans scrambling to download and endlessly listen to while parsing through the lyrics.

Posted in Album Reviews

Haim – Woman In Music Pt. III (2020)

Women In Music Pt. Iii

In 2019 Haim released a handful of great singles including “Summer Girl”, the angelic “Hallelujah” and the Savage Garden like “Now I’m In It”. Following up that run of success, the three sisters released their third album, Woman In Music Pt III back in June of this year. Producer/writers Ariel Rechtshaid and Rostam Batmanglij are back on board from the band’s last album along with singer Danielle Haim in production and full band on writing duties.

Taking in 60s soul, 70s singer-songwriter, 90s indie rock, and modern R&B sounds; Haim cast their net wide. Horns introduce lead off track, “Los Angeles” that works as a love letter to their home city. Distorted vocals appear on “I Know Alone” with a dance oriented, percussive chorus. Este Haim’s slinky bassline on “Don’t Wanna” is irresistible and “Leaning On You” recalls Fleetwood Mac at their poppy best.

The scratchy “Man From the Magazine” calls out inappropriate male interview questions with just a guitar and drum beat which is in sharp contrast to the electronic beats of “All That Ever Mattered”.  Similar to past work, all the tracks here sound like something the listener will have heard before but with the band’s own spin.  Woman in Music Pt. III is a fine collection of songs but one where the 2019 singles tacked on at the end are the standout tracks.

8.5/10

Posted in Listed

10 Favourite Songs of 2019

10. Lala Lala & WHY? – Siren 042:  A few Lala Lala tracks caught our ear in 2018 but not like this one with WHY?.  The atmosphere on “Siren 042” is a bit sad as Lala Lala apologizes and explains herself in the lyrics but at the same time loses her personality as she makes changes.  This got played a lot in the early mornings.

9. Loma – Half Silences:  The sound is haunting when members from Shearwater and Cross Records get together to record.  The only thing that would make this track better is extending the first instrumental passage for a few more minutes before the vocals appear. This is also our favourite video of 2019.

8. Bleached – Shitty Ballet:  After the release of their debut in 2013, we lost track of Bleached until this first track from their latest album was released in April. The band has a knack of getting songs lodged in the head and this one was no different as we sang, “don’t want to pretend it’s OK when it’s not” throughout the year.

7. Lizzo (Feat. Missy Elliott) – Tempo:  Easily one of the coolest tracks of the year. The steady groove never gets too hyped but always keeps the head nodding along. Lizzo has received all kinds of attention in 2019 and when you can get the queen Missy Elliott on your track, you know you’re doing something right.

6. Sharon Van Etten – Seventeen:  When Van Etten released her newest album, this is the track that everyone latched onto.  It sounds like a female Bruce Springsteen looking back on her younger self while screaming that “I know what you’re going to be”.  In this case, that’s a great place to be.

5.  Billie Eilish & Justin Bieber – bad guy:  Always liked this track but our ears really perked up on the Interrupters version which made us go back and listen to the original even more.  Eilish’s vocals are hushed like she’s hiding in a closet while the simple beat gives Bieber room to really roll with a great vocal performance.

4. Fontaines D.C. – Boys In The Better Land:  Hearing the slower “Roy’s Tune” did not prepare us for this energetic anthem that blared out of our car speakers all summer. Name checking James Joyce, this one also had us Googling what “only smokes Carrolls” means.  This one makes us believe that the (rock) kids are alright.

3. Haim – Summer Girl:  An early morning drive to work and hearing this on CBC Radio 2 had us hooked immediately. Missed this one for the summer but it made our autumn a lot brighter with the mesmerizing saxophone hook.  Almost makes us want to book a trip to LA and have this on repeat.

2. Lil Nas X (Feat. Billy Ray Cyrus) – Old Town Road:  One late evening on stereogum.com we read about the country chart controversy with “Old Town Road” then watched about 20 TikTok videos afterwards. Being purists, we liked the original better but the Billy Ray Cyrus version is fine too.  The “can’t nobody tell me nothing” is the lyric of the year and the fact that the track gets in and out as fast as possible gives the listener whiplash as they hit the repeat button 5x.

1. Vampire Weekend – Harmony Hall:  This was instantly one of our favourite songs of 2019 from the first time we heard it. Listening to the feature on Song Exploder recently, we got the original meaning of the song slightly wrong the first time around but found the actual meaning of beautiful plantation houses being used for weddings fascinating. The sound recalls early VW tracks but is musically far more complex and nuanced.  It may not be the lyric of the year, see above, but “I don’t want to live like this, but I don’t want to die” is certainly right up there.