February 27, 2021

Jesse's Winter Favorites

So I decided that 2021 officially started in February. 2020 can have January. New music is rolling out and it feels good. Now we all need to get vaccinated so we can hug and go to shows together again. 

Genders - "The World Fades Away"

I couldn't be more excited by the return of the Genders. With Sunbathe killing it in the meantime, maybe Genders is the side project now. Regardless, based on this single, the album is going to be amazing.

Kiwi Jr. - "Undecided Voters"

Cooler Returns is my first 2021 album on heavy rotation. Their lo-fi power pop is hitting the right notes for me right now.

The Quiet Ceased - "Gotta Move"

I've listened to this EP a lot more than I've actually hung out with my friend Eli. Luckily, it's really good and sounds like him and his world weary musings, just now accompanied by his beautiful and intricate guitar playing. 


The Bones of J.R. Jones - "Stay Wild"

A new song by a longtime favorite with some beautiful slide guitar. 


Wonderhorse - "Deleted Scenes"

When I finally got around to digging into the 2020 PDX Pop compilation, I discovered a familiar voice in a great new band. It adds an alt. country wash onto the lo-fi pop and everyday observations of LANDLINES or Alternative Milks.

POSTDATA - "Nobody Knows"

So my brother Eric definitely recommended Wintersleep to me back in 2016. Not sure if it didn't resonate at the time or if I never followed through, but I love frontman Paul Murphy's new solo album and now have a whole back catalog to explore. 

Corvair - "Oceanside"

I fun mix of male-female harmonies, catchy guitar and keyboard riffs, and self-described "arena rock sex jams,"which is an intriguing Bandcamp tag I hope catches on.

Lord Huron - "Not Dead Yet"

A family favorite delivers another cozy blanket of a song.


January 23, 2021

NightraiN's End of 2020 List

Wow, what a year 2020 was! Was it even a year or a concentrated decade? What a year 2021 has been already...

Like my QCM colleagues, I was all over the map this year in terms of my music consumption and never really focused enough to organize and consolidte a true "best of" list. I revisited some old, comforting favorites, went down some seriously obscure rabbit holes, and did intentionally and accidentally find a few amazing 2020 releases. I listened to A LOT of metal, especially during socially distance running therapy sessions. Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, according to my Spotify year-end recap, my most played albums of the year were the Moana, Frozen, and Evita Soundtracks -- I was stuck inside with a 3-year-old for a substantial portion of the year. When I wasn't being bombarded by Disney's finest, I did find time to enjoy, and would highly recommend, the following 2020 releases:

Algiers - There Is No Year (2020) Like most Algiers albums, this album jumps out of the speakers and kicks you in the face... or the balls... really whatever gets your attention the most. Even on the mellow-ish tracks, they bring it. The lyrics were especially timely and powerful given this past year. I get that not everyone is going to appreciate the forceful so-called "gospel-puck" sound of Algiers, but everyone should absolutely listen to it!

"I don't care if the whole world is burning, oh Lord (all men obey)
There's certain things I forgot I should fear, hey (all men obey)
Keep on screaming till your kingdom crumbles (all men obey)
It won't stop until I'm sure you hear, hey (all men obey)
I'm moaning on floor for your forgiveness (all men obey)
But here they coming, the four winds blowing
And four horses, I hear 'em coming
Sh, we're gonna start over there"



Ásgeir - Bury The Moon (2020) If There Is No Year was my kick in the face/balls album, Bury The Moon along with Blanco White's On The Other Side (2020) were my calming, mental reset albums. Ásgeir Einarsson's voice is soothing, the music can be almost trance-inducing, and although the songs sound sad-ish, the lyrics are generally uplifting. In most years, I think I would have enjoyed this album and White's On The Other Side, but not necessarily put them on a year-end list, but in this particular year their calming nature of these albums fit perfectly... plus, I did listen to a lot of metal to balance it out.

"Do you recall the things / That used to give us joy? / When our imagination / Could take us anywhere / Appearing in my mind now / Pictures from the past"


Delta Spirit - What Is There (2020) The night before the Mayor of San Francisco announced that a group gathering moratorium was going to go into effect stopping nearly all concerts and live events in the city for what now has been 10+ months, I attended the first night of what was supposed to be Delta Spirit's triumphant reunion tour. The show was supposedly sold out, but it was clear that many people elected to stay home because of the virus. It was my last true "night out" before the pandemic swept across the nation (Grubstake Diner included), so when this album finally dropped in September, I was eager to give it many, many deep listens. It does not disappoint. I love Delta Spirit, and this would have made my list in any year, but the connection to my last live show before the pandemic made it particularly special. Plus, I watched many Matthew Logan Vasquez livestreams during the summer.

"Alone, I've been on a bender for a year / Piss fit and perfectly happy to be here / Pass me the bottle, I've got nothing to defend / How good it feels to be home again"


William Elliott Whitmore - I'm With You (2020) In dark times, I often find that William Elliott Whitmore is an artist that I regularly turn to. His soulful voice and heartfelt lyrics meet the moment. He writes music about and for dark times. Great folk, Americana, bluegrass sounds on this one, but I listen to WEW because he puts your thoughts about life, death, politics, our great big social and psychological questions and thoughts into thoughtful, absorbable lyrics. With the album title, "I'm With You", WEW extending his worn hand out across the abyss and resting it on your shoulder letting you know that whatever you are dealing with, he's there with you. I believe it,

"The night is filled with wild creatures in this unfamiliar place / I take solice in the stillness / I take shelter in the empty space / I think we'll be OK ... And we're going to have to save ourselves / the cavelry ain't coming / and I know its just as well / we're going to have to save ourselves"





Alberta Cross - What Are We Frightened Of? (2020) An old flame. I watched + followed Petter Ericson Stakee's live streams and posts regularly over the last 10 months, and in many ways his commentary and songs served as a sort of soundtrack to the lockdowns. I don't know if any of the tracks like "What Are We Frightened Of?", "Find A Home Out There", and "Real Life and Disasters" were written with something like the lockdown and pandemic in mind, hard to believe they were since the album was released in June, but they fucking resonate, man.

"In desolation, we're empty and apart / We keep searching for a haven in our restless hearts."



Other Lives - For Their Love (2020) If Interpol, Arcade Fire, and Federale had a baby, that would be Other Lives. Maybe not fair to call them the "baby" since they've been around for a while, but that's the resultant sound at least. I probably have spent too much time reading into lyrics and interpreting them as a comment or critique on our current existence, but it's hard not to under the circumstances:

"Somewhere, we're laughing in faraway places instead / You'll say what you will when you know we're just hanging by a thread (Oh) / Take your time, take your time, don't lose your head"



Beach Music: Photo Ops - Pure At Heart (2020) & Cayucas - Blue Summer (2020) As we've been shut down, and outdoor time has become all that more precious, we've spent a lot more time at the beach. Cold days, rainy days, foggy days... it don't matter. Beach day, every day. But not every album plays well in that setting, especially if you're mostly soaking up the scenery in the relatively early morning or kicking the Size 1 soccer ball around. Pure At Heart and Blue Summer have been the perfect albums for all of these chill beach days. They both regularly pay mas tribute to The Beach Boys, naturally, but also have their own unique blends of dream and indie pop. From the two, "Live With Yourself" by Photo Ops stands out as a particularly poinent track during the pandemic.

Take a listen and support these dudes at the Bandcamp links above.



Hamilton Leithauser - The Loves Of Your Life (2020) I like (liked, maybe? if they are done done) The Walkmen, but I hadn't followed much of HL's solo projects over the years. But I was drawn in by the album art and track "Here They Come" when it was released in early April. I find the writing sometimes fun and funny, sometimes bittersweet and reflective, but appearly all of the songs are about specific people in his life, so, assuming that's true, the spectrum is understandable. Very listenable in all around the house settings, this one stood out during the many hours listening to music at home.

"I was a fool, I was blind / I kept my eyes shut half the time / All the lights, one by one, here they come"


Israel Nash - Topaz (2020) Among Other Earlier Releases This is not so much on the list for this particular 2020 release, but more for the fact that I listened to a very heavy dose of Israel Nash's entire catalog over the last 1o months or so.  I was WAY behind on this guitar-shredding psychedelic cowboy that blends Neil Young, The Beach Boys, Jim James, The Flaming Lips, and a number of others. But it was the song "Rolling On" from the 2018 release Lifted that really spoke to me during this moment in time... 

"I looked into the distance and in case you missed it / A thousand lights just faded out at once / Shouting from the rooftops to a ghost town all riled up / I knew I'd better keep the peace"

Very Honorable Mentions:

Sturgill Simpson - Cuttin' Grass Vol 1 & 2 (2020)
Nathaniel Rateliff - And It's Still Alright (2020)
Wolf Parade - Thin Mind (2020)
Matt Berninger - Serpentine Prison (2020)
Future Islands - As Long As You Are (2020)
The Dead Tongues Transmigration Blues (2020)
Orville Peck
- Show Pony EP (2020)

Spotify Playlists!

The Quarantine Playlist


The Apocalypse Playlist


And then this...


January 15, 2021

Larson's End of 2020 List

I spent a good portion of 2020 building what I call ‘the barn’. This project was part “since we’re home all the time I should probably fix that structure that is falling down in my backyard”, part “wouldn’t it be neat to have a somewhere different to hang out” and part “maybe if I keep building this the world will go back to kind of making sense.”

When compiling my list it occurred to me that I spent a lot of time listening to these albums while either working on or while drinking beer within said barn. This led me to a bonus rating system that serves no purpose. The “Barn Day” rating is how likely I was to listen to an album while building and the “Barn Night” is how likely I was to listen to an album during the barn in ‘bar mode.’


Also I feel like it should be known that the “Barn Day” albums required you to be able to hear things over the drone of an air compressor.


Here is my list of albums that helped me through 2020.

Albums

Bartees Strange - Live Forever

Barn Day 6/10

Barn Night 8/10


This album ping pongs all over the place with genre and vibe and yet is so cohesive. An incredible feat and a fascinating ride.



Dehd - Flower Of Devotion

Barn Day 8/10

Barn Night 9/10


Quite possibly my album of the year if I was capable of thinking on those terms. The song “Loner” is perfection.



Future Islands - As Long As You Are

Barn Day 4/10

Barn Night 8/10


I was really excited when I heard the single for “For Sure”, however, it was the song “Born In A War” that completely won me over. Future Islands were also the first ‘live stream’ concert that we did this year and it was awesome and complete with an 10 minute pause before their encore which really made you wonder if they were coming back. Geez I miss live music.


Destroyer - Have We Met

Barn Day 4/10

Barn Night 7/10


I had totally forgotten about this album and then I made a playlist of all my 2020 music and I ended up re-listening to the whole album like 4 more times. I’m guessing ‘Destroyer Fan’ is set as a cookie in my browsing history for life.



Girlhood - Girlhood

Barn Day 6/10

Barn Night 10/10


Jesse mentioned the song “The Love I Need” in a group text one day and I haven’t stopped listening to this album since.



Haim - Women In Music Pt. III

Barn Day 7/10

Barn Night 7/10


I enjoy this whole album a lot. I enjoy the song “Gasoline” a shit ton. Also, Lindsey Buckingham wishes he wrote “Leaning On You”.



Hinds - The Prettiest Curse

Barn Day 9/10

Barn Night 7/10


These women are amazing. Shredding, longing, heartache and shittalk. Everything you could want in an album.



Idles - Ultra Mono

Barn Day 10/10

Barn Night 7/10


The only reason the Barn Night score is lower that I would like is that this album is so fun when it’s really loud. A lot of people like to have a lot of opinions on this band. I listened to a PodCast (that I enjoy) sneak diss Idles in like 3 different episodes and then wax poetic about the Deftones. I mean everyone’s entitled to an opinion but Deftones?! Yikes!


Kalis Uchis - Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios)

Barn Day 4/10

Barn Night 10/10


I learned about Kalis Uchis this year and listened to her 2018 Album incessantly in late summer/early fall of this year. I loved that album a lot and then she released this album. At first I had the standard “but this album isn’t that album” reaction. Then I listened to “Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios)” like a bajillion times...


Moaning - Uneasy Laughter

Barn Day 8/10

Barn Night 8/10


I think I learned about this band from an Instagram ad which means that I totally got target marketed which I’m ok with when it results in me finding an incredible album. I suggest you try the song “Stranger” if you haven’t.



Muzz - Muzz

Barn Day 7/10

Barn Night 7/10


I knew nothing about this album one day and then for the next 2 months I was listening to it constantly.



Run The Jewels - RTJ4

Barn Day 8/10

Barn Night 8/10


There is nothing I can say to re-stress how much the world needed this album this year.



The Streets - None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive

Barn Day 7/10

Barn Night 7/10


I REALLY WANTED SLOWTHAI TO BE ON THIS ALBUM BUT HE WASN’T. THAT BEING SAID IT IS AMAZING!


Tei Shi - Die 4 Ur Love EP

Barn Day 5/10

Barn Night 9/10


I used to think I didn’t like the first song on this EP then I realized that I was mistaken and in fact I like every song on this EP.



Tennis - Swimmer

Barn Day 5/10

Barn Night 9/10


I have yet to be sad that Tennis released a new album.



Waxahatchee - Saint Cloud

Barn Day 6/10

Barn Night 9/10


I almost didn’t add this because I think I only started listening to it in 2021 but guess what who cares! It wasn’t Katie Crutchfield’s fault that I started listening to this glorious 2020 album in 2021 right?! It is entirely my fault that I didn’t listen to this glorious album that was released in March of 2020 until January of 2021. I own this. I love the song “Fire” so much. Like maybe too much.



Singles

Not to be outclassed by albums.... Here are four individual singles that I loved this year.

Rich Brian - Don’t Care 


Nas - Car 85

Petite League - Joyrider


Chong The Nomad ft. Hollis - Take Two

Perhaps my song of the year.


January 13, 2021

Josh's End of 2020 List

Kaelin Ellis - After Thoughts (Spotify)

Sango - Da Rochinha 4 (Spotify)


Andrew Wasylyk - Fugitive Light and Themes of Consolidation (Spotify)



Letherette - Mander House, Vol. 2 (Spotify)


Alf Alpha - Arboelda (Spotify)


Khruangbin - Mordechai (Spotify)


Cut Copy - Freeze Melt (Spotify)



Machine Drum - View of You (Spotify)



Vinyl Williams - Azure (Spotify)



Freddie Gibbs - Alfredo (Spotify)


Aesop Rock - Sprit World Field Guide (Spotify)



Caribou - Suddenly (Spotify)



Desmond Cheese - Live Near Amsterdam (Spotify)