Tuesday, January 12, 2021

First Listen: 2020 Leftovers and 2021 So Far

Artist: Ben Kweller
Album: Circuit Boredom
Quick Description: New album from the indie stalwart.
Why You Should Listen: Feels like a nice back-to-basics indie record.
Overall Thoughts: I think we all loved Ben Kweller when he started out, and I know I felt like I was losing touch with his music as I got older. This new album, though? A very solid listen that feels like the Weezer-esque indie rock we all fell in love with 20 years ago, but with some modern, mature overtones. As one of the first releases of the new year, it's a pretty great way to kick things off.
Recommendation: Give this a listen.

Artist: Fantasy Non Fiction
Album: Fantasy Non Fiction
Quick Description: Lovely genre-hopping indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: A number of these songs could easily become favorites.
Overall Thoughts: Ken sent this one over not long before the end of the year, and I think I was wholly and fully blown away by the second song. There's something truly special here, both from the songwriting to the way the band transitions from traditional alt-rock to more danceable efforts to midtempo jams to straight alt-rock bangers. I loved this, and you'll probably love it too.
Recommendation: An underrated effort from last year.

Artist: Scott Mackay
Album: Stupid Cupid
Quick Description: Silly classic country tunes.
Why You Should Listen: Does humor with musical chops right.
Overall Thoughts: Listen, if you are looking for serious Isbell-style songwriting here, look elsewhere. This is more Shel Silverstein on zoloft - an often-ridiculous but always-enjoyable country romp with songs ranging from heart transplant body horror to the title track telling the tale of love gone wrong. On first listen, I thought it was fine, but I've gone back to it a couple times since then and love it more and more. A great way to kick off 2021 musically.
Recommendation: Don't miss this one.

Artist: Rachel Brooke
Album: The Loneliness in Me
Quick Description: Great modern country with a classic twist.
Why You Should Listen: This is what you might have hoped last year's Margo Price record sounded like.
Overall Thoughts: Ken sent this over as one we missed, and I think we're both kicking ourselves that we didn't learn of Rachel Brooke sooner. A perfect voice with some outstanding songs here, this is an artist who has been around a while and yet made one of the better classic country albums in recent memory. You'll love songs like the title track of "The Awful Parts of Me," but you'll likely do what I'll do this week and start digging into her back catalog, as well.
Recommendation: Maybe the best album from 2020 we missed.

Artist: Viagra Boys
Album: Welfare Jazz
Quick Description: The latest from a favorite around these parts.
Why You Should Listen: They still don't take themselves too seriously, but that works for them.
Overall Thoughts: Ken and I both had the same reaction when we learned of "Sports," a song from their last album: we weren't sure how self-aware it might be, but we still loved it. For me, this album answers the question, as it appears that not only do Viagra Boys know exactly what they're doing, but they're incredibly good at it. "Ain't Nice" is a legit punk song, and the closing track, "In Spite of Ourselves," is a solid piece of songwriting. A great start for 2021.
Recommendation: Give this one some time this week/month/year.

Artist: Boy Jr.
Album: Starter Pack
Quick Description: A short album by a promising newcomer.
Why You Should Listen: This is quirky and artsy and rockin' all at once.
Overall Thoughts: One I didn't want to miss as a last minute listen, this came out earlier last year and has a lot going for it. I don't recall how I tripped up on this one, but she's pretty active over in TikTok land and "Drop at 1:01" is a really, really, REALLY good song. Can't wait to hear what's next.
Recommendation: Don't miss out on this one.

Of note:

* Horse Meat Disco - Love and Dancing (Some pretty fun disco music.)
* Thank You, I'm Sorry - I'm Glad We're Friends(A solid indie-punk flavored listen.)
* Fomosurfer - From a Dark Place (Definitely one of the weirder listens of late.)
* Grimes - Miss Anthropocene (Rave Edition)
* Miel - Tourist Season
* Slaughter Beach, Dog - At the Moonbase
* Four Tet - Parallel
* Steve Earle - J.T.
* Okay Kaya - Surviving is the New Living
* Aaron Frazer - Introducing...
* Moby - Live Ambient Improvised Recordings, Vol. 1
* Sumeau - This is Not a Dream


* The Very Reverend - Live at Rosa Mortem
* Psychic Energy - Post Nothing
* Ellie Goulding - Brightest Blue - Music for Calm
* Vatican Shadow and Salford Electronics - Temple Gas Mask
* Vatican Shadow - Persian Pillars of the Gasoline Era
* Mark Pritchard - MP Productions - EP 1
* The Lickerish Quartet - Threesome, Vol. 2
* awakebutstillinbed - Stay Who You Are

Also out:

* The Dirty Nil - Fuck Art
* Deluxe and Amine Haddad - Hitmarker
* Daydream - Mystic Operative
* The Dogs - Post Mortem Portraits of Loneliness
* Barry Gibb - Greenfields: The Gibb Brothers' Songbook
* Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine
* N8NOFACE - Bound to Let You Down
* The Soviet Machines - The Soviet Machines

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