Album: A Southern Gothic
Quick Thoughts: We're big Adia Victoria fans here, and this album came out of nowhere a bit for me. I wasn't expecting new music, and I definitely wasn't expecting A Southern Gothic, which has a true feel that mirrors its title while still bringing the sort of songwriting and musical know-how that Adia Victoria always brings. Right now, I wouldn't be shocked to see this on both of our best-of lists this year.
Songs of Note: "Troubled Mind," "Magnolia Blues, "Mean-Hearted Woman," "You Was Born to Die," "Whole World Knows," "Carolina Bound"
Album: Been Doin' It For A Bit
Quick Thoughts: The album title accurately describes what this album sounds like, even though this Aussie singer-songwriter is only 23. There is some great indie rock here throughout. I enjoyed her initial seven song EP/short album, but this brings it all to another level. This is catchy song after catchy song with no end in sight, and if you like your indie a little more on the poppy side, check this one out.
Songs of Note: "Kitchen," "OUCH," "Clothes Line," "Song About a Boy"
Quick Thoughts: I've liked Bad Bad Hats for a while (and not just because of their name), but this album feels like a leap forward in their sound and approach. This is super accessible, oftentimes radio-ready music that will earworm its way into your brain with minimal effort - just try to listen to "Milky Way" without getting hopelessly addicted. I genuinely love this album, and I'm absolutely looking forward to getting back to it in what's been a busy new release period.
Songs of Note: "Always on Time," "Milky Way," "Detroit Basketball," "Awkward Phase"
Album: We're Trying Our Best
Quick Thoughts: This record caught me by surprise. I don't know much about this act, but the sort of jangly, bright-sounding indie rock works like a charm on an old R.E.M. fan like myself. I don't have a ton to say about this one on a whole, but this was such a great listen that I wanted to make sure I highlighted it.
Songs of Note:
Quick Thoughts: So we loved loved loved Whatever Happened to Avery Jane last year, a record that was more a compilation of older works than anything else. Little Hag is a proper band now, with a proper album debuting this week, and it's pretty much the perfect vehicle for Avery Mandeville to unleash her true power. The songs are super tight, the lyrics cutting and in-your-face, and they pretty much cement their place in our cold hearts. Just a wonderful listen.
Songs of Note: "Get Real," "Cherry," "Brass Knuckle Keychain"
Album: Lindsey Buckingham
Quick Thoughts: Yes, that Lindsey Buckingham. Fleetwood Mac is a classic act, but might not be everyone's cup of tea. Still, I gave this a shot because why not, and wow am I glad I did. There is some really solid songwriting throughout here (as one would expect), and you forget how solid a guitarist Buckingham actually is. This is a really great listen, and not in an "aging musician past his prime" way. It's a genuinely solid album.
Songs of Note: "On the Wrong Side," "I Don't Mind," "Santa Rosa"
Album: Comfort to Me
Quick Thoughts: The Aussie punks are back and bigger and bolder and it's just a lot of fun. I don't love punk music as a general rule, but this is a really solid listen with a ton going for it on a whole. I loved this record. It's brash and it's not shy about it, and that's awesome. If you like the heavier/punkier stuff, check this one out.
Songs of Note: "Security," "Guided by Angels"
Album: Pin-Up Daddy
Quick Thoughts: Wanted to highlight this one, as Rett Madison is a voice to watch out for. This is a little folk, a little rock, but it's super confessional and heavy without feeling depressing. I liked this a lot, you might, too.
Songs of Note: "Pin-up Daddy," "Kerosene"
Album: Fear & Fantasy
Quick Thoughts: I did not know that the surviving members of Morphine were still playing music until this past weekend. I don't know how I missed it, but it's such a good listen that I know I'll be looking back on their earlier stuff. If you loved Morphine because of Marc Sandman, this might not be the same, but if it was more the instrumentation, you'll find this to be right at home.
Songs of Note: "Golden Hour," "Drop Out Mambo"
Quick Thoughts: This is a rock-solid bluegrass listen from beginning to end, with some real memorable songs that showcase great musical chops and a fun name to go along with it. What's not to love?
Songs of Note: "Know It All"
Album: A Beginner's Mind
Quick Thoughts: Sufjan gets back to his folk roots with this latest effort. This collaborative effort is inspired by the horror movies the two watched during quarantine, which is pretty neat overall and gives these songs a little more oomph - certainly not surprising coming from one of the guys who wrote a song from the perspective of John Wayne Gacy... Still, good for longtime fans of Sufjan or folkies.
Songs of Note: "Back to Oz," "Murder and Crime."
Album: Kiss Off Kiss
Quick Thoughts: I've been a fan of Erin McKeown for a while, and her recent output has been solid, but this in particular is a rockin' good time. McKeown unleashes a lot of pent up energy here, and we all benefit from some of the most interesting songs she's put out in years.
Songs of Note: "Cupido Stupido," "Litany for a Minor Character," "Go Along / Get Along," "Landing Spot."
Quick Thoughts: So this is Poppy's first effort since her mainstream breakthrough, and first post-Titanic Sinclair album. It's distinctly Poppy, for certain, but it's definitely leaning more in the pop-punkish direction than the sort of metal-infused stuff that I really loved a couple years ago. This is really great, mind you, but it's different enough where it might be worth a look if you didn't like her previous direction.
Songs of Note: "Flux," "Her"
* Lil Nas X - MONTERO (This won't do it for everyone, but it proves he's the real deal and "Old Town Road" wasn't a fluke.)
* Alessia Cara - In the Meantime (A true return to form.)
* Jose Gonzalez - Local Valley (I'm looking forward to more time with this.)
* Telyscopes - Spectacol /// (There are a lot of truly interesting parts in this album.)
* Alexa Rose - Headwaters (Don't overlook this one in a busy couple weeks.)
* The Queers - Reverberation (Covers album!)
* Public Service Broadcasting - Bright Magic (The sort of vaporwave/hauntology stuff I love.)
* The Ziggens - Oregon (Sort of like a bizarro version of The Coral, but in a good way.)
* The Felice Brothers - From Dreams to Dust (The Felice Brothers don't always work for me, but this is quite good.)
* Ada Lea - one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden (A solid listen with many good moments - "damn" is a dark horse song of the year candidate.)
* James Vincent McMorrow - Grapefruit Season
* Mac McCaughan - The Sound of Yourself
* The Ophelias - Crocus
* Film School - We Weren't Here
* Caleb Landry Jones - Gadzooks Vol. 1
* Solemn Brigham - South Sinner Street
* Lyra Pramuk - Delta
* Injury Reserve - By the Time I Get to Phoenix
* Becca Stevens and The Secret Trio - Becca Stevens and The Secret Trio
* Alex Paterson - Connecting the Dots
* Spencer Cullum - Spencer Cullum's Coin Collection
* Amon Tobin - How Do You Live
* Cold Beat - WAR GARDEN
* Natalie Imbruglia - Firebird
* Pool Boy - All Inclusive
* Bess Atwell - Already, Always
* Andy Shauf - Wilds
* Jelly Crystal - Freak Show
* Alice Hubble - Hexentanzplatz
* Spencer Cullum - Spencer Cullum's Coin Collection
* Joyer - Perfect Gray
* Proc Fiskal - Siren Spine Sysex
* Caitlin Jemma - True Meaning
* El Da Sensai and Jake Palumbo - Solving Cases
* HELIOCHRYSUM - We Become Mist
* Manu Delgado - Environ Me
* Cocktail Slippers - Shout It Out Loud!
* Mini Trees - Always in Motion
* We Were Promised Jetpacks - Enjoy the View
* Anna Egge - Between Us
* MarthaGunn - Something Good Will Happen
* Nora Brown - Sidetrack My Engine (Pure, beautiful bluegrass.)
* Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and Emile Mosseri - I Could Be Your Dog (Prequel)
* Brigid Mae Power - Burning Your Light
* AMAZONDOTCOM - War Bride
* Rakhi Singh - Quarry
* Fatima Yamaha - Build Back Bangers
* Laura Jane Grace - At War With the Silverfish
* Breeze - Mixed Up
* 2PrivateMatters - Doubts Run Out
* Izzie Walsh - Ideals EP
* Sweet Nobody - We're Trying Our Best
* BAYLI - Stories From New York
* Hannah Georgas - All That Emotion (acoustic)
* Wolfy - Lofi Beats to Study and Take Me Home To
* Blood Red Shoes - ON THE HOOK
* Metronomy - Posse EP Vol. 1
* Alisa Amador - Narratives
* Machinedrum - Psyconia
* The Beths - Auckland, New Zealand, 2020 (It's rare that I feel like a live album is mixed well, but this is mixed well.)
* Various Artists - I'll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to The Velvet Underground and Nico (Solid options here.)
* Jesca Hoop - The Deconstruction of Jack's House (Reworks of her 2020 album.) * Willy Mason - Bàs Slaodach (Instrumental reworkings from his recent album, this is an odd but compelling listen.)
* Matt Pond PA - The State of Gold (Reissue!)