Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Best of 2018 - flatsound - hummingbird

A place is never just a ‘place’ but the sum of its parts equally; all the people that have passed through it, all the feelings tied to it, all the moments that have unfolded there—everything has history and it seems that Mitch Welling presents us with a chance to draw up some of this history from his EP, totaling seven songs, all of which are recorded in his house on Hummingbird Hill before he moved away. AW

There is a kind of monotony, broken in spurts by thoughtful, almost hesitant guitar chords. From a feeling of stability, there comes the very hint of change, in pitch and volume, in the undertone of static;  a kind of movement as if someone or something is going somewhere, almost mechanical and repetitive in nature. There is an abrupt shutting sound, leaving the track almost incomplete with garbled static and shuffling.

i trust that everything that happened to us 
happened so we'd improve 
everything is proof 
everything you do 

but you've got the softest arms i have ever known 
the softest arms that i could hold 
or that could hold me 

travel far away 
where the neighbors talk 
and i'll go away 
to an adjacent park 
i want to go to doose's market 
or anywhere there's a doose's 

because even the softest arms 
can't bear to hold 
such a fragile frame 
such a broken soul 
i've got a broken soul 

It should be obvious at this point that Flatsound’s music requires patience and a gut for indulgent quietness. But something I still keep forgetting is that listening to his extended plays is about as difficult as any of his hour long monstrosities. Everything here, from the breathy, whispering vocals, the anti-eventful song-writing, to the purposefully minimalistic and vague instrumentation, you will find either excruciating or absolutely astonishing.

Best of 2018 - Tom Rosenthal - Don't Die Curious

He’s racked up Spotify streams of around 55m, 22m YouTube views, and been courted by major labels keen to release his gently epic ballads, which channel Brian Wilson-esque whimsy through the mind of the classic British kook. “But why would I change everything to make just 20% of the money when I currently make 80%?” Tom says. “If you want to be the next Ed Sheeran, it might be beneficial. But I don’t.”

“This last year, I’ve sent out thousands of personalised notes to people. It’s nothing to do with songwriting, but it connects you to people in a (hopefully) lovely way. If you build the foundations of a strong house, it’s hard to knock down.” G

Best of 2018 - Anna McClellan - Yes and No

The road to Anna McClellan’s Yes and No was not just a metaphorical one. Born out of a long solo road trip McClellan took in 2015, the songs map her emotions of the two year period in which they were written like a highway is laid out before its driver. With decent savings, she set off due west, keyboard laid across the backseat, with little plan other than a call ahead to some friends and the idea that playing shows along the way would be cool. Though the trip lasted only four months, McClellan continued bouncing around from New York to Omaha and back, until finally settling in NYC in January of 2017. It is fitting that these songs were conceived in a period of restlessness.

McClellan’s singular voice mixes earnest intensity with nonchalant melancholy that puts the listener in a distant place, far away from other humans, as most of the subject matter deals with loneliness and internal emotional navigation. Often though, the songs stray outward and upward, pondering the confused nature of people, elaborating on the one thing we all cling to: the knowledge that no one is excluded from feeling weird sometimes.

“Onychophagy is the scientific term for nail-biting, a sub group of OCD, and I considered using it as the song title. And then I was like, I’m no scientist, I make songs. Nail-biting Song. It’s just a song about stress, and the internal rabbit hole one goes down, sitting at a table trapped in thought. All the time wasted thinking about what to do.”

Monday, December 10, 2018

Glitoris - The Policy (Part II) - 2018

Promo image

"‘The video captures everything ‘The Policy’ is about: women and minorities having to work much, much harder just to be perceived as competent relative to their male peers. ’The Policy’ video is about breaking free from societal norms and expectations and working hard to achieve what you want in life. We included snapshots of some of some amazing female leaders for inspiration!"

Mikey Collins - West Coast - 2018

Following the release of his debut solo album Hoick earlier this year, ex-Allo Darlin’ drummer Mikey Collins announces a series of remixes, which will appear over two EPs. Guest remixers include Johnny Winfield, Nicholas de Carlo, James Yuill, Jolyon Thomas, Ghost Culture and Ian Button (Death In Vegas/Papernut Cambridge). 

Best of 2018 - Ezra Furman - Transangelic Exodus

This is a collection of songs infused with the visceral, corporeal, often outright medical experience of transformation. Using the metaphor of humans becoming angels, hitting the road and fleeing society’s norms, Furman doesn’t shy away from expressing the pains that this process can entail.

You know I love you so bad
Like the kid skipping class in the bathrooms
Sneaking cigarettes underneath the football bleachers baby, so bad
You know I love you so bad
Like the kids growing up to be criminals
Tearing pages out the back of the hymnals
Love notes baby, so bad
Still remember so bad

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Best of 2018 - Death Cab for Cutie - "Gold Rush"

Ben Gibbard waxes about the many ways his native Seattle has changed over the past two decades, mourning memories of old buildings and intimate moments under street lamps before sighing: “Please don’t change/Stay the same.” The accompanying video follows suit, a dorky-haircut take on the Verve’s iconic “Bittersweet Symphony” visual that features Gibbard getting knocked around by rude passersby during a daytime neighborhood stroll, ending up trapped in a sea of pedestrians glued to their phones.

Capitulating to nostalgia is often an unwise stylistic choice, but perhaps Death Cab could look back a bit more in the future. The past doesn’t always have to be a hindrance—sometimes it can just be a nice place to rest for a while.

(Gold rush) Digging for gold in my neighborhood
(Gold rush) Where all the old buildings stood
(Gold rush) And they keep digging it down and down
(Gold rush) So that their cars can live underground
(Gold rush) The swinging of a wrecking ball
(Gold rush) Through these lath and plaster walls
(Gold rush) Is letting all the shadows free
(Gold rush) The ones I wish still followed me

Sigrid - Sucker Punch - 2018

“Sigrid only deals in unforgettable pop bangers. 2018 is hers for the taking” – The FADER
 “A sound bigger than anyone else” – Elle
“From a tiny city in Norway comes a young woman with a powerful voice” –NPR 
“…her ability to transform  her  truths  into  perfect  pop  with  integrity  and  powerful  skill,  Sigrid  might  just  be  unstoppable.” -PAPER
“Sigrid is crafting inventive and ever-catchy pop melodies with every track she makes” 
– V Magazine

C. SHIROCK - "Stand With Me Tonight" - 2018

The new music from C. SHIROCK is an evolution and a distillation of his previous work, cutting to the core of his identity, with a power and clarity not heard before.  Blending anthemic choruses, musical builds and releases with heartfelt and personal lyrics, the new music from C. SHIROCK delivers a vulnerability, urgency and an aching vocal that is uniquely his own. Driving rhythms and bass are anchors to the soaring melodies, layers of keyboards, and programming that call to mind the emotive, intelligent pop music of artists such as Peter Gabriel and David Bowie.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Best of 2018 - Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - Talking Straight

The one thing that 2018 could not take from us is the pure joy of a pop song. And yes, there were bigger ones, more emotional ones, but with “Talking Straight,” RBCF provided us with a song that felt so perfectly fleeting that it was incomparable in terms of pure indie-rock pleasure. “Talking Straight” is the sound of ’70s and ’80s FM Aussie-pop distilled to its purest form, an expertly-crafted geode of a song that sounds readymade for blaring over the radio. But the band’s attraction lies in their veracity. For all its hooks, the song feels incredibly whole, full of hard-panned riffs and stratospheric harmonizing. It’s akin to world-building, in a way, all the song’s small details adding up to make it feel bigger than it really is. RBCF’s songwriting tricks you into thinking it’s effortless, which is something we all needed this year. —Justin Kamp