Great Songs from Q1 2020.

Spotify
https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6nlwJbmsIdW7r1rCJQOBkd

YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLy6csklabaGhjzpjDQTKKtP0NXxtYiKxm

It’s been a while since I was able to compile a full CDR’s worth of tracks to make another mix. There’s one on deck, but I’m trying to keep it a bit more diverse than simply new tracks that I’m hearing over the course of the year. That’s why I started this little playlist, one that takes all of the great songs that I’ve heard over the first three months of the year and gets them together. There is no present time limit for how many I can share. Even if I don’t necessarily dig the whole record from some of these artists, I’m happy to share some of the single tracks with you. Even if you don’t have Spotify, I’ve included Youtube links to individual tracks so you can check them out one by one as well.

St. Francis Hotel — Milkshake When I first heard this track, it was on Sirius and I was really digging it, really loving it, but got to a point where I thought, “WOW, this artist is totally biting Portugal. The Man’s style”. When it credited them, it only mentioned St Francis Hotel and left the “(feat. Portugal. the Man)” aspect out of it. I slowly accepted it and was like, “well, I guess I’ll take a clone/spinoff if I have to wait a little minute for a new PTM record….” When I looked the track up on Spotify, I saw the feature and it all made sense. Such a chill vibe, very early Portugal sound. Absolutely love it.
(Youtube)

Blis — Bad Weather The clean guitar and bassline of this track are direct descendants of early Silversun Pickups songs, songs which hold a sound SO near and dear to my heart that I almost can’t stand it. The same goes for the light and tight highhat on the basic drum beat that ticks along in the background. To compare this to something from SSPU, it goes without saying that it sort of falls into the same archetype of Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘1979’ as well. There’s a drowned out aggression, a thinned out and dynamic red line running through the fuzzy dream work that works as the song’s main anatomy. I could eat and drink off of this exact sound for weeks.
(Youtube)

Polica — Tata Back when Polica’s first record dropped, I was addicted to the dubby and lax approach at their songs. It focused a lot on the vocal leads and how they dressed up the almost barebones instrumentals that the band had arranged. This song has a lot more electronic backing than the impactful dual-drummer approach from their record which I loved, but the delicately placed vocals dance across the music deftly regardless, creating a head nodding groove which is a perfect little single.
(Youtube)

Floral — This Year Noodly guitar instrumental band with interesting repeater pedal work? It doesn’t take much to convince me that this is a song I want to hear over and over and one that I want to share with all of my friends. It’s bright and sunny, it bops and jangles. There isn’t a shred of melancholy or ever looking back. This is an accelerant.
(Youtube)

Charmer — Slumber A strong showing from a band I’d heard nothing about. A perfect hook, surrounded by that new post-pop-punk kind of jam with some flattering guitar work and an unassuming and humble vocal lead. This is a summer-at-dusk song, something that sits right at home on a skate video, but one where no one falls and everyone is sticking the landing.
(Youtube)

Gouge Away — Consider A couple of years ago when this band’s LP ‘Burny Sugar’ dropped, I compared their sense of kinetic energy and relentlessness to At the Drive-In which is in no way a small compliment. This song takes us directly back to that same vein, that very same buzz. The lyrics are yelled with urgency and aggression, like orders shouted in a disaster. Distortion and spiraling guitars seem to crash and writhe in the periphery, dissolving into a static and wailing spirit.
(Youtube)

Beach Bunny — Ms. California This record has been the surprise of the year for me, with its single tractor-beaming me into its core and a strong and unshakeable addiction to the full record. If I play the record once, I am required to play it two more times. It’s short, it’s sweet, it’s just right. It was tough to pick only one of the songs off of the record to share as part of this list, but the hook on this one is big and fun, one that really sums up what makes their entire record one that I can’t stand anyone to miss.
(Youtube)

Grimes — My Name is Dark (Art Mix) I was too excited to see what Grimes was going to do with her new record. She is one of the most creative individuals making music out there, from the bottom up. She has a vision for her music, a story behind it, and she manages to make the songs sound like vast chapters that rest in the halls of her mind. They straddle a line between pop and experiment, results that are gorgeous abominations. This one is no different, the distorted scream as a perfect example of that, and the “I hear them calling my name” in such a sublime sequence of notes amount to something remarkable. If you dive into this one with some headphones on, you’ll hear a whole universe of sound and science, a completely different experience than the manipulated and mechanical joy that one would hear in the wide open speaker scape.
(Youtube)

Tame Impala — Instant Destiny I am not specifically a Tame Impala fan as I haven’t really found myself getting lost in any specific records by him, but when one of his songs hits, it really digs itself in deeply. This one is masterful writing on a billion layered levels, with a brilliant hook and a swollen series of different musical styles blended within. This song is one that I can only imagine will be everywhere by the end of 2020. Simple and beautiful.
(Youtube)

Adult Mom — Berlin There is a strength in this song, kind of like one found in an Alanis Morrissette song or in the voice of Dolores O’Riordan. From heavy eyelidded drone to spring-heeled attempts to lift you out of a late night dreariness, there’s a special and beautiful communication at work here.
(Youtube)

Orthodox — Obsinity This band sounds like it pulls a bunch of influence from Code Orange and Emmure along with some nu-metal stalwarts of the late 90s and early 2000s. The song is direct and graceless. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s heavy and if you’re looking for anything other than aggression and breakdowns, you’ve come to the wrong place. There is no nuance or hidden motive. This wears the coat that fits it.
(Youtube)

Loathe — Screaming This is one of the most interesting releases of the year. When I think back on what this record sounds like, I have this amorphous and fluid concept of it, one which has a hundred different influences. It sounds like when I would play my 250gb iPod on shuffle during long car rides. This song goes a lot of places, has tremendous places it soars to and powerful aggressions that it releases. Loathe has been remarkably able to blend the hook of a post-hardcore band throughout a wide run of the song and fit in some heavy screams without making it feel like it was crammed in to maintain a character. I’m probably going to continue to come back to this record for the entire year. Always a new thing to find with each listen.
(Youtube)

Stomb — Final Transmission Just a cool heavy instrumental track. I think what makes this one great over so many others within the same style is that it doesn’t try to make more of itself than what it’s trying to accomplish. Sometimes that level of restraint is an art in and of itself.
(Youtube)

Oldsoul — Time Moves A gorgeous track that drew my attention immediately with its powerful delivery throughout the verses. When it then came to the chorus, I was hooked. Such a well-written song, one which includes all of the energy of the band members, seemingly rowing as one in the same direction and with the same brimming passion when the song hits some of the more musical bridges. It almost gets heavy at some points, these guys are so brilliantly in sync.
(Youtube)

Caroline Rose — Freak Like Me Pouty lipped crooning wrapped around a loungy backbeat. This song is minimal and pronounced. There is a polish here that has a ton in common with so many of the female pop songs that have risen to global popularity over the last few years. There is even a piano sample that has a Soundcloud feel to it, one that is so faded and staticky that it’s perfectly left of center enough to keep it in the more underground world, but one that could rise and establish itself as an underdog hit.
(Youtube)

Caribou — Home I’m pretty sure this track dropped sometime last year in anticipation for Caribou’s record that was coming out this year. But it’s just so good that I had to drop it on this list. What a use of samples! An addictive backbeat and delicate vocals that operate as detail work in an already graceful piece.
(Youtube)

Boy Scouts — Wish This song sounds like it’s from a different time and place. The keys are moody and tell of a different setting, as the vocals lilt above still water sounds. This is a slow drift through a hollowed-out town, haunted by the stories of how you told yourself things would be. There’s organic sadness here.
(Youtube)

The Aces — Daydream Dude, this is a perfect pop song. This is what I want pop music to be. It’s got that absolute timelessness about it, a lightness about it that is completely addicting. I’m not sure how this track isn’t bigger and that it isn’t on every radio station. This is one you’re going to want to throw on your summer mixes. You like Haim? This one’s for you.
(Youtube)

Free Throw — Tips Are Appreciated These guys were always putting out high-quality stuff for me, but I think sometimes the emotion and the aggression can overwhelm a lot of what made the bed of the song fit. This one finds a perfect balance for what I have always loved about the band. Just angry enough to seethe but with the clarity to convey a message.
(Youtube)

Soccer Mommy — Crawling In My Skin That five note hook is UN.REAL. I kind of don’t like that I enjoy a song called ‘Crawling In My Skin’ with such fervor. There’s something about that phrase that tells a complete story, one that’s never worth celebrating. This is simply such a catchy song, one that’s written to be stuck with you forever. The opening 35 seconds is a loop that can be endlessly repeated, cycling delightfully without pause.
(Youtube)

Pinegrove — Moment Pinegrove has such a marvelous way of creating short songs that dip their toes in some kind of weird alt-country universe without going too far into that territory where it sounds like diving into niche country-western territory. Something about how bare it all sounds reminds me of Chris Connelly from a different dimension. It could have something to do with the way the singer looks. The three-note guitar repetition with the bend on the third note has me by the heart and the vocal delivery has a desperation to it, a crackling and confident uneasiness that steals what’s left of me. What’s brilliant about this record is that each song is over before you know it, telling its message with a flourish but no overflow. Completely taut.
(Youtube)

Bodysnatcher — Twelve/Seventeen This is such a no-frills pick. Breakdown. Screaming. Heaviness. Long pauses between cymbal hits. Angry/ugly face head nodding. There are elements of this song that remind me of some of the prime moments of the Remembering Never catalog.
(Youtube)

End — Pariah Such boundless energy in this one. The only way I’ve been able to describe this one is RELENTLESS. I absolutely love it. There are two parts (at 1:12 and then at 2:34) in this song that make me ball my hand up into a fist and put it to my mouth and say “OOOO HOO HOO HOOOO” as if I’m watching Jason Williams basketball highlights. From the moment the song kicks off until the moment it ends, it is on constant assault. SO great. Can’t wait for the full length to drop.
(Youtube)

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