Category: music Page 2 of 4

New Tunes Tuesday: Signal by Automatic. a debut with as solid of post-punk jams as I’ve heard in a while. standout track: I Love You, Fine ?

New Tunes Tuesday: Space Cadet by beabadoobee. music as fun & cool as the artist’s name. standout track: Sun More Often ?

Bandcamp Supporting Artists Affected by Pandemic – in which you’re encouraged to buy some great new music for yourself, and directly support musicians who can’t tour for a while ?

Bandcamp Supporting Artists Affected by Pandemic

As I’ve written here before, I love Bandcamp. Artists keep 80-85% of their sales on the platform, making Bandcamp the only digital music store that I feel as good about patronizing as I do about buying a band’s CD at their show.

And today, Friday, March 20, as the world is grinding to a pandemic halt and all concerts are off, they’re helping out those artists by letting them keep 100% of their sales today. I personally will be stocking the hell up.

Now, a lot of of the biggest names in music are on major label deals that aren’t sold by Bandcamp. But there are also a lot of really excellent bands, some of my favorites of all time. A non-comprehensive selection, in no particular order:

  • Sleigh Bells
  • Wussy
  • Moving Panoramas
  • Flock of Dimes
  • The Decemberists
  • boygenius
  • She Keeps Bees
  • Los Campesinos
  • Hop Along
  • Courtney Barnett
  • Heartless Bastards
  • The Besnard Lakes
  • Juana Molina
  • S / Jenn Champion (new old release!)
  • Summer Cannibals
  • Diet Cig (preorder!)
  • Gina Chavez
  • Automatic
  • Screaming Females
  • Chumped
  • EMA
  • Bleached
  • Torres
  • Waxahatchee (preorder!)
  • case/lang/veirs
  • Nervous Dater
  • Speedy Ortiz
  • Amanda Palmer
  • Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
  • Charly Bliss
  • Lucy Dacus

Now get over there and start shopping!

these free nightly opera streams from the Met are really good. bonus points for their app on Apple, Amazon, and Roku (no account or login needed, just select “free preview” to watch the day’s freebie in its entirety) ?

Except for not doing about 80 of my favorites, what a great show

Sleater-Kinney @ Moody Theater ?

the masterminds of Thievery Corporation returned to Jamaican influences (and artists) on 2017’s The Temple of I & I, and it’s so good. recommended track: Letter to the Editor, featuring Racquel Jones (good video, too) ?

once again this week my New Tunes Tuesday is a concert-related recommendation. I’d never heard The Paranoyds before they opened for Bleached recently, but I like their just-released debut Carnage Bargain a lot. standout tracks: the title cut and Girlfriend Degree ?

happened to have this album on for the 1st time in a while the other day, & as great song followed great song, I actually thought: this album is a masterpiece. The Guardian thinks so, too: Why the best album of the 21st century is Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black ?

for the inaugural New Tunes Tuesday ? – Siouxsie & The Banshees’ Peepshow. I usually recommend just one or two tracks, but this classic album has a great, consistent creepy theme throughout.

New Tunes Tuesday

Some years ago I thought I’d start posting links to some favorite music in my music library. I called this #musicMonday, and some of it was on this site, some on Twitter, it went back and forth. I had fun doing it, but rarely got much “engagement” (pardon my language) on Twitter, and so felt like it was a failure or waste of time.

In my ongoing social network rehabilitation, I’m thinking just the first part of that previous sentence (“I had fun doing it”) is justification enough. And so I think I’ll try it again, see how it goes. In honor of the weekly unveiling of newly released music on WOXY (RIP), the coolest radio station in Cincinnati back when we lived there, I thought I’d rename it and shift it a day.

Despite the “new” in New Tunes Tuesday ?, my criteria is the same as before:

Not “new” as in recently released, necessarily, but more like “new to you”. Or possibly not either of those, maybe just a pointer to some good music that you’d forgotten about.

loved the opening sentence of this As a black teenager, I loved Morrissey. But heaven knows I’m miserable now:

Dear Morrissey, I’m writing this to say, in a gentle way, thank you but no.

also liked this pragmatic assessment: “I’ve no time for him but still a fan of the Smiths.”

Jenny Lewis; what a voice, what a show.
@ ACL Live Moody Theater

Best of My 2018 Music

Time once again for my annual best-of music review! Each year, I pick my ten favorite new albums of the year, where “new” means new to me, not necessarily released this year. Any albums I bought in the calendar year are eligible for the list, regardless of when they were released.

Here are my 2018 selections, in alphabetical order by artist (I pick the top ten, but I don’t order them further than that). A playlist of all these albums is on Spotify.

Courtney Barnett, Tell Me How You Really FeelTell Me How You Really Feel, Courtney Barnett – An oddly weak opening track is followed by another solid album from this amazing singer-songwriter. Her collaboration with Kurt Vile wasn’t my bag, so I was glad her solo material returned to the clever lyrics, rocking songs, and Australian accent that made her debut one of the best of 2015. And no surprise that she sounds as good live as she does on her records. (concert pic)

Neko Case, Hell-OnHell-On, Neko Case – Another repeat artist on the list, Ms. Case gets the hat trick following her last two albums’ appearances (Middle Cyclone in 2009 and The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You in 2013). I’ve only seen her live at ACL Fest, but will rectify that in February at Bass Concert Hall.

Lucy Dacus, HistorianHistorian, Lucy Dacus – The repeats continue with Lucy Dacus’ second full-length album. More down-tempo than the one that was a best-of just last year, this one took a little while to grow on me. But the lyrics and her voice are as good as ever. I already have tickets to see her again (the day after Neko Case, as it happens).

Hop Along, Bark Your Head Off, DogBark Your Head Off, Dog, Hop Along – Their sound and lyrics as distinctive as ever, this band is becoming a real favorite. They put on a great show, and this is every bit as good as their previous album (a 2017 best-of). I also picked up their 2012 release, Get Disowned, which I found to be more of a mixed bag (see “Best of the Rest”, below). (concert pic)

Janelle Monáe, Dirty ComputerDirty Computer, Janelle Monáe – Finally, a debut artist on this year’s list. I’ve liked her music since 2007’s Metropolis, and really appreciated the concept albums she’s put together. But they also all have some low spots, and I rarely find myself listening to them in their entirety. Her latest is less concept, and more consistent throughout, in my book. We saw her at ACL Fest, and her show was fantastic. (concert pic)

Metric, Art of DoubtArt of Doubt, Metric – Following 2012’s Synthetica (a best-of that year), 2015’s Pagans in Vegas was good, but didn’t crack the top ten. Despite a late-in-the-year release, I’ve really enjoyed this latest from the Canadian indie-rockers. Here’s hoping they headline their own darn tour and stop opening for other, lesser bands (Smashing Pumpkins, pshaw).

Moving Panoramas, OneOne, Moving Panoramas – And here, at last, is a brand new (to me) band making it’s top-ten debut. This is an Austin-area group that opened at a Wye Oak concert I saw late last year. The dreamy, chill synth-pop makes this album the kind where particular tracks don’t really stand out, which in their case is not a criticism. They have new music coming out early in 2019 (One was released three years ago), and I can’t wait to hear it. (concert pic)

Nervous Dater, Don't Be a StrangerDon’t Be a Stranger, Nervous Dater – Another debut artist, this is just a fun, rollicking indie band. Perhaps their Bandcamp bio puts it best: “A Brooklyn band that is the music equivalent of finding out aliens are real but the documents are covered in T Bell fire sauce.” Or perhaps not.

Soft Science, MapsMaps, Soft Science – The last brand-new artist in this year’s best ten, with a really lovely sound. Somewhat shoe-gazey, but with propulsive rhythms that keep you nodding along, rather than nodding off. I’m looking forward to what else this band gives us, and I’ll be digging in to their back catalog while I wait.

Speedy Ortiz, Twerp VerseTwerp Verse, Speedy Ortiz – Last, but hell no not least, here’s another band making their third appearance in my annual best-ofs. First was Major Arcana on my 2014 list, then Foil Deer in 2017, and they just keep getting better. I also got to see their consistently great live show again this year. (concert pic)

That’s it for my ten favorite “new” albums of 2018.

And then there are all the rest of the albums. To complete my annual time capsule, I also make a playlist of favorite single tracks from all of the year’s albums that didn’t make the best-album cut, ordered not alphabetically, but in the best mixtape order I can manage. This “Best of the Rest” (minus the song from the 1992 Curve album) is also a playlist on Spotify.

  1. A Beginning Song – The Decemberists, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
  2. Act My Age – Dream Wife, Dream Wife
  3. Wish You Dead – Curve, Doppelgänger
  4. Go Loving – The Joy Formidable, AAARTH
  5. Never Giving In – Jenn Champion, Single Rider
  6. Become the One – Goldfrapp, Silver Eye
  7. Little Girl Blue and The Battle Envy – Skating Polly, The Make It All Show
  8. It Probably Matters – Interpol, Marauder
  9. Fire Drills – Dessa, Chime
  10. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino – Arctic Monkeys, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
  11. Singer’s No Star – Waxahatchee, Great Thunder
  12. Cake – Wussy, What Heaven Is Like
  13. You of All People – Wye Oak, The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs
  14. Buenas Noches, Desolación – Julieta Venegas, Algo Sucede
  15. Ben Franklin’s Song – The Decemberists, Ben Franklin’s Song
  16. Bummertown – Lola Tried, Lola Tried
  17. Jeannie Becomes A Mom – Caroline Rose, LONER
  18. Rusalka, Rusalka / Wild Rushes – The Decemberists, I’ll Be Your Girl
  19. Patricia – Florence + The Machine, High As Hope
  20. Night – Zola Jesus, Stridulum
  21. Let It Go – The Black Ryder, Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride
  22. Vulture – She Keeps Bees, Dig On
  23. Kids On the Boardwalk – Hop Along, Get Disowned
  24. Tea-Soaked Letter – Anna Burch, Quit the Curse
  25. Miracle – CHVRCHES, Love Is Dead
  26. Medley (The Hermit/The Flame Still Burns/Gold and Green/Living in the Country) – Ace of Cups, Ace of Cups

– saw band live this year
– link to concert pic


Past years’ bests: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

my favorite performance of my favorite song by (one of) my favorite bands: Wussy, Teenage Wasteland

Janelle Monae, life-sized & big screened

lots of music being streamed free from this weekend’s ACL Festival on Red Bull TV. bonus: there’s a Red Bull TV channel on Roku

Lola Tried @ Texas Craft Beer Fest



today’s the day! buy some music & help protect voting rights. for me that was the brand new Joy Formidable and the latest Lola Tried & Waxahatchee releases ?

great excuse to buy some new music on Friday:

“we’ll donate 100% of our share of the proceeds to the Voting Rights Project, a program led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to advance & protect the right to vote”

happy birthday, Shakespeare. you know it was hard to be the bard

? brand new Wye Oak? yes please

Best of My 2017 Music

Time again for my annual best-of music review! Each year, I pick my ten favorite new albums of the year, where “new” means new to me, not necessarily released in 2017. Any albums I bought in the calendar year are eligible for the list, regardless of when they were released.

Here are my 2017 selections, in alphabetical order by artist (I pick the top 10, but I don’t order them further than that). A playlist of all these albums is on Spotify.

Charly Bliss, GuppyGuppy, Charly Bliss – I don’t recall where I first heard of this fun, energetic little pop-punk band. The vocals and the songs themselves remind me a little of early Cardigans, which is a good thing. The AV Club agrees, calling this album “ebullient, addictive, and an instant classic”.

Lucy Dacus, No BurdenNo Burden, Lucy Dacus – What a voice, and a set of just excellent songs to showcase it. Troublemaker Doppelgänger is one of my favorites of the year, right up there with the very best songs in my library. I saw her and her band indoors at Stubb’s, it was a great show. (concert pic)

Diet Cig, Swear I'm Good at ThisSwear I’m Good at This, Diet Cig – I’ve been waiting for the first full-length from this dynamic duo since I put their EP and single on last year’s list, and it didn’t disappoint. Neither did their opening set in Nov. ’16 or their SXSW show at Waterloo. Don’t miss a chance to see Diet Cig live. (concert pic)

EMA, Exile in the Outer RingExile in the Outer Ring, EMA – Another brand-new artist for me, and a powerful one. A look over the song titles will tell you this isn’t light party music: “I Wanna Destroy”, “Blood and Chalk”, “Aryan Nation”, the list goes on. It’s good, hard, somewhat genre-defying music.

Hop Along, Painted ShutPainted Shut, Hop Along – Another new band, with a solid album of clever, well-crafted indie songs. It took a listen or two for the singer’s voice to grow on me; now it’s my favorite part of their sound.

Juana Molina, HaloHalo, Juana Molina – I’ve been a fan of hers for years (her last album was a best-of in 2013), and this is another good addition to her catalog. Experimental, melodic, and lighthearted, it’s also good music to have on in the background while reading or coding.

Run the Jewels, Run the Jewels 3Run the Jewels 3, Run the Jewels – The first RTJ album I’ve really gotten into (thanks to Sound Opinions, I think), and it’s just fantastic. Their set at the ACL Music Festival was good, even though we didn’t know all the songs from numbers 1 and 2.

S, Cool ChoicesCool Choices, S – I discovered this year that a singer from the now-defunct Carissa’s Wierd has been making solo music under the short (and difficult to search for) name “S”. Quiet, poignant, lovely songs. She performed the entirety of this album live in her hometown of Seattle as a farewell to this project, but unfortunately our trip there missed it by like two weeks.

Speedy Ortiz, Foil DeerFoil Deer, Speedy Ortiz – Speedy Ortiz’s clever, literate lyrics and inventive noise pop have been a favorite for a while (their last album was a best-of in 2014). I’d seen them on Waterloo’s SXSW stage then, but was glad to have the chance to see a full show this year. (concert pic)

Waxahatchee, Out in the StormOut in the Storm, Waxahatchee – Their previous album, Ivy Tripp (see the track from that one below), was good, but their latest is a big step forward. A little uneven, but with a standout like “Silver”, and a memorably great show at Mohawk, this was an easy choice for this year’s best-of. (concert pic)

That’s it for my ten favorite “new” albums of 2017.

And then there are all the rest of the albums. To complete my annual time capsule, I also make a playlist of favorite single tracks from all of the year’s albums that didn’t make the best-album cut, ordered not alphabetically, but in the best mixtape order I can manage. This “Best of the Rest”, minus the Lola Tried song and the Grateful Dead live tracks (from bootlegs I dug up for shows that we saw live), is also a playlist on Spotify.

  1. Wiseblood – Zola Jesus, Okovi
  2. Not A Problem – S, im not as good at it as you
  3. Never Start – Middle Kids, Middle Kids
  4. In My Feelings – Lana Del Rey, Lust for Life
  5. Favorite Transgressions – Sleigh Bells, Kid Kruschev
  6. The Space Program – A Tribe Called Quest, We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service
  7. Let Me Out – Gorillaz, Humanz
  8. Should I Stay Or Should I Go – The Clash, Combat Rock
  9. Wide Awake – Deep Sea Diver, SECRETS
  10. Dangerous Days – Zola Jesus, Taiga
  11. Hello Sadness – Los Campesinos!, Hello Sadness
  12. Stranger To My Happiness – Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Give The People What They Want
  13. Simulation – Tkay Maidza, Tkay
  14. San Marcos – Lola Tried, Popsicle Queen
  15. Summer of Love – Waxahatchee, Ivy Tripp
  16. Rubin & Cherise – Grateful Dead, 1991-06-09 – Buckeye Lake Music Center
  17. New Speedway Boogie – Grateful Dead, 1992-06-28 – Deer Creek Music Center
  18. Althea – Grateful Dead, 1994-07-29 – Buckeye Lake Music Center

– saw band live this year
– link to concert pic


Past years’ bests: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

a holiday #musicMonday, a Christmas EP with no standards (more or less): A Los Campesinos! Christmas (2014)

for #musicMonday, the 2016 self-titled album case/lang/veirs. standout track: Supermoon

for #musicMonday, LOLO’s 2016 album In Loving Remembrance of When I Gave a Shit. standout tracks: Heard It From a Friend; The Courtyard

a masterpiece for #musicMonday: Sleater-Kinney’s The Hot Rock (1999). standout tracks: End of You; Burn, Don’t Freeze

for #musicMonday, Paul Simon’s 1990 The Rhythm of the Saints. standout track: The Obvious Child


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