Thursday, December 31, 2020

THE MAGISKA SONGBOOK: OUR BEST OF 2020


Magiska's Annual 2020 Mixtape with contributions from members of our blog. 
Hope you enjoy our mixtape…

Happy New Year!


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Best of 2020 • Bad Amputee • Convenience Kills


Best of 2020 • LOMA • Don't Shy Away


On December 26th, 2018, Emily Cross received an excited email from a friend: Brian Eno was talking about her band on BBC radio. “At first I didn’t think it was real,” she admits. But then she heard a recording: Eno was praising “Black Willow” from Loma’s self-titled debut, a song whose minimal groove and hypnotic refrain seem as much farewell as a manifesto: I make my bed beside the road / I carry a diamond blade / I will not serve you. He said he’d had it on repeat. 



​Best of 2020 • Sol Seppy • I.​A​.​A​.​Y​.​A Part One


What Sophie Michalitsianos has created, using barely more than her voice, piano, and cello, is magical, defying labels. Originally released as a private-press CD for her fans, I.A.A.Y.A, or I Am As You Are, is sublime, intimate, weightless, and comforting. The album takes its time yet feels urgent, like you need this music, this moment. 



 

Best of 2020 • Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus • Songs of Yearning




Songs of Yearning is the fourth RAIJ album and perhaps their most coherent single body of work to date. An enticing combination of eastern religious sounds and iconography, acoustic and electric instrumentation, and lilting, meditative vocals, Songs of Yearning features pieces in no fewer than six different languages: Greek, French, English, Latin, a Finnish dialect of Swedish, and Russian. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Best of 2020 • Luna • Marquee Moon


During the current pandemic, with Luna members spread around the globe, our former bassist Justin Harwood suggested that we record Television’s epic track “Marquee Moon." We recorded the song one instrument at a time in four different locations; Lee Wall recorded his drum track in Austin, Sean Eden tracked the guitars in San Francisco, Justin played the Fender bass in Auckland, New Zealand, and Dean Wareham sang and added guitar in Los Angeles. Britta Phillips sat this one out but does appear in the video. Justin Harwood mixed the song and assembled the video from iPhone footage made by the band members.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Best of 2020 • Porridge Radio • Sweet

The band’s once-minimal sound—reminiscent, back in 2015, of Frankie Cosmos’ witty Bandcamp-as-diary style—has scaled colossally, transforming into a fever dream that lifts every song. Where 2016’s Rice, Pasta and Other Fillers, recorded in their drummer’s shed, had a dark streak, Every Bad is unabashed sorcery. Margolin’s dusky voice and serrated riffs sometimes recall Polly Jean Harvey, sometimes the attack of early Karen O, but Porridge Radio has devised its own approach to guitar music. The songs balance stoicism with just enough cracked-open ache to feel human. In their quiet-loud dynamics are the exorcisms of a woman who knows that a whisper is often more tormenting than a scream. PF

 

A gift exchange between a mother and daughter is at the center of “Sweet,” the fourth single from Porridge Radio’s upcoming second album Every Bad. The gift is small—a light-up novelty pen—and the transaction is awkward. “And are you still so depressed?” the mother asks after explaining how the pen works, exercising dominion over a toy if she can’t do the same for her child. Porridge Radio, founded in Brighton in 2015 and helmed by singer-guitarist Dana Margolin, casts the slipperiness of self-formation in stark light, and wavers between pop and punk influences. Their songs are confessional, but without the meandering of a diary entry, made up of focused phrases rather than cluttered explanations.


Best of 2020 • Home Concerts


These home shows helped me survive!

The many shows on https://www.stageit.com



 




Best of 2020 • Lou Reed • New York Deluxe Edition


Recorded in late 1988, Lou Reed’s New York album sounded like he’d spent months glued to six TV sets blaring out a cacophony of bad news. Making sense of noise was always his trick and, given that he liked nothing better than turning observation into fast art, Reed managed to juggle references that ricochet from TV trash talkers like Morton Downey, homicidal killer Bernard Goetz, some bloke called Donald Trump, the Virgin Mary and questionable UN leader Kurt ‘just following orders’ Waldheim. 

Despite a bewildering set of references, Lou gave it a universal rock’n’roll thrust, reverting to Velvet Underground aesthetics – two guitars, bass and drums, with occasional glimpses of Moe Tucker on percussion. LOUDER



Best of 2020 • Squill • Moon Sessions


Lo-fi infused band adds a distant fragile heart to all of its' tunes. A dark, intimate record that grew from the solitude of the pandemic.

Best of 2020 • Bleep 100 Tracks


Now in its 12th annual instalment, Bleep's 100 Tracks is the definitive guide to the best music of the year, available as a high-quality download.

A true journey of discovery, with the best tracks from our favourite albums, dance bangers, and unsung gems, ready for home listening or as a killer DJ tool.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Best of 2020 • Paste • 50 Best Songs


In 2020, each of us is a strange combination of shut-in and overexposed, rendering inner peace a luxury few, if any, can afford. So our humble hope is that even one of the songs spotlit below bowls you the hell over, only to bring you right back for more. To be clear, we’re confident they will—of the thousands of new songs we heard in 2020, and the hundreds voted on by the Paste Music team, we painstakingly whittled our list down to the 50 tracks we simply couldn’t live without. These songwriters spun gold out of sadness and loss, fear and yearning, a trip to Japan and the J.F.K. assassination. They overwhelmed us with walls of sound and stunned us with little more than their unadorned voices. They laughed in genre’s face, conjuring up funk, art-pop, Americana, emo, blues-rock, jazz, trip-hop, post-punk and the utterly unclassifiable—often in the space of a single song. Some of these tracks appear on albums we tapped as 2020’s best, and some don’t, but each one is worth every moment you’ll spend with it.

Best of 2020 • Carla J. Easton • Weirdo


Making music described as “glitter bursting from every chorus” and combining “the ominous glimmer of synth-wave with the maximalist fun of Carly Rae Jepsen’s ’80s throwbacks”, Carla J Easton is a pop songwriter with a back catalogue that would make most people envious.



‘WEIRDO’, a defiant pop album written over the course of a year spent sofa-surfing by Scottish artist, Carla J Easton (Teen Canteen), is set to be released on August 28th on Olive Grove Records. Following on from the critically acclaimed ‘Impossible Stuff’, which was shortlisted for Scottish Album of The Year 2019, Easton set to work writing and recording ‘WEIRDO’ with the help of Scott Paterson (Sons and Daughters) in CHVRCHES old basement studio in Glasgow. The pair met and became friends whilst playing in the live band for The Vaselines 2019 tour and began writing together after playing at The Boaty Weekender by Belle and Sebastian – a festival on a cruise ship round the Mediterranean. 

Best of 2020 • Exploding Flowers • Stumbling Blocks


Exploding Flowers is a L.A.–based band, comprised of current and former members of Alice Bag Band, Future Shoxxx, Cody ChesnuTT, Lassie Foundation, and Ray Barbee. Exploding Flowers’ unique brew of jangle pop is akin to ’70s-era Chilton/Bell, mid-’80s New Zealand guitar pop, L.A.’s Paisley Underground, and ’90s noise pop blended, mutated and swirled into their own modern-day hook-filled racket.


 

Best of 2020 • Cut Worms • Nobody Lives Here Anymore


The Brooklyn singer-songwriter belongs to a contemporary lineage of classic-rock devotees; his melodic gifts make this double album, recorded in Memphis, exceptionally warm and inviting. PF



 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Best of 2020 • Daði Freyr • Think About Things


Iceland's entry for this year's Eurovision Song Contest had all the right ingredients for a classic of the genre: disco beat, infectious melody, funny video, bespoke dance routine. With this year's competition having been cancelled and it being announced that new songs will be selected for next year, Daði Freyr, frankly, was robbed.

Robert Barry

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Best of 2020 • Kevin Morby • Don't Underestimate Midwest American


“At the time of writing the album, it felt like Katie and I were the only two people on earth—living out in suburban Kansas away from the chaos of our lives on the road and on the coasts and our days became very childlike and innocent: riding bikes, making up games and singing songs,” Morby said in a statement. “When we found ourselves back in a similar environment due to the lockdown, and it came time to make videos, I wanted to depict our lives in solitude from when I wrote the album.” PF




“‘Don’t Underestimate Midwest American Sun’ is my favorite song off of the new album, and the one I’m most proud of,” Morby says. “I consider space to be a prominent instrument on the song — and here it is as important as anything else you hear on the track. It was my goal to capture the vast openness of the middle American landscape sonically. To this end — there is a whole track of nothing but Texas air, birds and wind chimes living beneath the song.” SG

Best of 2020 • Waxahatchee • Saint Cloud


The unsparing indie style of Chan Marshall or Liz Phair remains, but Saint Cloud is something far bigger. It isn’t just talking to Lucinda Williams’ 1998 album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, it pulls up right beside it, a vivid modern classic of folk and Americana. It’s a record that suggests maybe if you slow down, life slows down with you, and everything is in bloom. PF 




Katie Crutchfield, who records music under the name Waxahatchee, released “Saint Cloud,” her fifth solo album, in late March, just as the country went into coronavirus lockdown. In the long months since, the album has become a talisman of the self-isolation era. On the cover, Crutchfield is barefoot, wearing a sky-blue dress, sitting atop a pickup truck the color of butterscotch ice cream, its bed wreathed with red roses. Rooted and easy, the eleven songs, which have earned Crutchfield comparisons to Lucinda Williams and early Dylan, warm listeners with hard-won sunlight and unexpected peace. NYer




Dean Wareham • Live At St Pancras Old Church London December • 2013


Played by Dean Wareham, Britta Phillips, Anthony LaMarca and Jason Quever. Recorded by Joel Cormack on December 5 and 6, 2013. Mixed by Britta Phillips. Mastered by Carim Clasmann. Artwork by Sharon Lock.



Saturday, December 19, 2020

Best 2020 • Advance Base • Live at Home


During quarantine, Owen Ashworth, AKA Advance Base has recorded a live album in his basement, titled ‘Live At Home’. The album contains live renditions spanning AB’s catalog, including standout tracks from 2018’s Animal Companionship.


Best of 2020 • JFDR • Dream On EP


The seven songs on Dream On include three previously unreleased songs and sees her revisit songs from New Dreams. Known for her raw lyrics and haunting melodies JFDR takes you on an inward journey on her latest EP. Lead single Drifter is soulful and grounded and kept afloat by somber piano and strings, performed by two frequent collaborators – her twin sister Ásthildur Ákadóttir and lauded cellist Gyða Valtýsdóttir (Múm).

Says JFDR on Dream On:

New dreams came out as coronavirus burst and the world was changing dramatically. I was about to go on tour but wasn’t quite ready and so I was secretly relieved. Much later, I thought about all the things that didn’t happen and I decided to investigate that space – the result is the EP you’re about to hear, Dream On. It’s a study on new dreams, a way to indulge in it. A kind of alternative version you might hear live. Unheard ideas coming to life, and now I can close that chapter and move along to the next and the next and the next.NT



Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Z Tapes • Sampler 2020



Thank you all for caring about our label and making our dreams come true. 

~ Filip & Z Tapes Team 

All digital profits will go towards Vagus - an organization helping homeless people, especially during Winter.

 

Z Tapes • Christmas Covers Compilation 2020



Christmas Covers Compilation to ease your mind and soul. Sending love and positive vibes! 

Cover art by Manon Raupp manonraupp.tumblr.com 
Mastering and track order by Adam Donoval abdonoval.com 

All digital profits will go towards Vagus - an organization helping homeless people, especially during Winter.

Best of 2020 • Pop Matters • Best Indie Rock


One thing does seem clear this year: guitar-driven rock music is making a comeback. Mind you, it never disappeared, but it seems it has been placed in the background in favor of pop, electronic and minimalist R&B experimentations for years. The majority of this year's best indie rock albums feature guitars at the forefront. Whether influenced by 1970s folk and soft rock, 1980s post-punk, 1990s alternative and grunge music, or indie rock from the 2000s, guitars are all over this list. It's been a difficult year, to say the least, but we hope that these carefully curated albums will serve as an escape and provide much-needed solace. POPMatters


What makes Fetch the Bolt Cutters such an extraordinary, surprising, and downright essential record is how it isn't about Apple so much as it's about other women: their friendships, their hangups, and the relationships they end up trapped in, mixed with Apple's pathos and gravity. It is a thundering, angry, and pointed album that feels liberated by the fact that the target of her wit and barbs isn't mainly herself or her lingering insecurities, no. This time around, she sets aim at the men who have never had to face any consequences for their actions -- and then proceeds to go for the jugular. – Evan Sawdey

Best of 2020 • The Paper Kites • Without Your Love (feat. Julia Stone)


In a statement, Bentley said he grew up listening to Stone’s music and her work was “pivotal in turning me down the road I went”.

“So to approach her and have her love that song and want to sing on it was an amazing full circle moment,” he said.

“She’s such an important figure of the folk revival in Australia and I don’t think we would be a band without them leading the way. It was a real honour to work with her.”

Bentley also noted ‘Roses’ was “an album of duets”, a collection of songs the band had written and wanted to record with specific artists they had in mind. NME

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Best of 2020 • Sports Team • Deep Down Happy


With an eloquence you’d hope for from a band made up of Cambridge graduates and an old-school penchant for slagging off their indie peers, London-based six-piece Sports Team have long given good interview. Pleasingly, their debut album suggests there’s enough musical substance to back up their fighting talk. Sharply observational lyrics skewering the mores of suburbia and middle England inevitably evoke the less boorish end of the Britpop spectrum. But where the Pulp and Blur of that era always sounded quintessentially British, Deep Down Happy more often takes its musical cues from US alt-rock, most notably the off-kilter melodies of Pavement and the boisterousness of Parquet Courts. Guardian


Sunday, December 13, 2020

Best of 2020 • SUUNS • FICTION EP



Suuns’ music sounds so twisted and squashed because it is usually the product of several competing influences. Guitars repeat like arpeggiated keyboards, crisp percussion jostles for space with drum machines, and vocals snarl and quaver like synthesizers. The frontman for the Montreal four-piece, Ben Shemie, once said, “I like this idea of pressure,” which is evident on their latest EP. Hyper-compressed lead vocals and instrumentation repel each other, with each element blooming and reducing like blobs of oil in water. PFork

Best of 2020 • Tyler Burkhart • Without you


 I can’t wait until this summer when you come home 

Let’s pack a picnic and we’ll head for the shore 

To the ocean that’s between us and all those miles 

that I don’t want to think about anymore 

without you

Best of 2020 • Yo La Tengo • Blues Stay Away from Me



Saturday, December 12, 2020

Best of 2020 • Dave Monks • On A Wave Goes Wild EP


On A Wave Goes Wild is part acoustic with added electric guitar flair. “It’s the most raw and unedited thing I’ve ever put out,” Monks said in a statement. “Is it an acoustic EP? To me, it’s more of ‘Live from the studio’ — the way we would perform if we were ‘on air’ at a radio station.”



Thursday, December 10, 2020

Best of 2020 • Gord Downie • Away is Mine

Away Is Mine is Gord Downie’s final solo recording.

Steered to life by “my oldest Toronto friend,” guitarist and co-writer Josh Finlayson, Downie recorded the ten songs of Away Is Mine in July 2017 at The Tragically Hip’s studio in Bath, Ontario, mere months before he died on October 17th that year.

A characteristically questing and idiosyncratic work that holds fast to its author’s unwavering artistic spirit, Away Is Mine is a contemplation on Gord’s life, written with his deft hand and forever inscrutable sense of humour even as he locked eyes with the Great Inevitability.

“This won’t be his last release, but these are the final ten songs Gord sang before he passed away. The last time he ever sang into a mic,” brother Patrick Downie wrote in a statement. “That’s pretty special to us.” KBM


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Best of 2020 • Rose City Band • Only Lonely




The song's lighter-than-air guitar, glistening lap steel, and rollicking pace captures the summer spirit of the album, calling to mind sunshine sparkling off the water of a lazy river. In contrast, the song's bittersweet lyrics delve into more melancholy territory, as Rose City Band's Ripley Johnson (Wooden Shjips, Moon Duo) explains:

"There are times when you're feeling so down that you wish you were just plain lonely. I think there's a sense of resilience in it, though, a determination to roll with the punches and push on through. I wrote the music a while back and figured it would be an upbeat kind of tune. I guess I was just pretty down when I got around to writing the lyrics." BWay

Best of 2020 • Album of the Year • Top Albums

 


Based on critics scores, some albums have more reviews than others, but it is a cool survey of the music of 2020



Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Best of 2020 • Pitchfork's 100 Best Songs


Whether your year was more “people, I’ve been sad,” “certified freak, seven days a week,” or “fetch the bolt cutters,” the best songs of 2020 provided a brief escape from the turmoil outside our windows. They offered a comforting shoulder to cry on, a lit match to long-simmering rage, and a temporary substitute for the dancefloors and mosh pits the pandemic stole from us. Until the day we get to gather again in sweaty clubs, packed basements, and sold-out arenas, we’ll keep turning to these 100 tracks to soundtrack our lives. PF


Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion rapped such a rich tapestry of filth on “WAP” that it earned a face-breaking 93 million streams in its first week and immediately went No. 1. This wasn’t a mere lyrical double-team, but two women in their career prime overpowering pop with a raw anthem attuned to the very specific frequency of certain pandemic urges; the rare instant hit that exists as a trend and future monument.

Best of 2020 • Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts • Let's Go Slow




Hamilton’s album gives us a variety of moods and tempos with a variety of production that ranges from a slick to a more pared-down approach; his vocals demonstrate that they are happy with either approach. Enjoy the journey. AMUK


The follow up to 2019's 'This Is The Sound' (which won an Independent Music Award for 'Best Indie Album'), 'Nowhere To Go But Everywhere' was written by Ryan during a long road trip across the USA with his dog Peaches, while coming to terms with his recent divorce. He describes the deeply personal collection as, “...a group of songs about heartbreak, and finding yourself.” EarS