Here are my first impressions of the latest from Ron Sexsmith, Sharon Van Etten, Norah Jones, Marc Martel, Finneas, Starflyer 59, Switchfoot, Global Genius, Tim Be Told, Waxahatchee, Haim, and Elbow.Continue reading
Since I was busy for most of this month writing up my Top 100 albums list for the last decade, I decided to put a moratorium on listening to new releases until I was done with that project, so that I could completely immerse myself in re-listening to all of those favorite album candidates. I made exceptions for newly released singles and whatever else Spotify’s Release Radar brought to my attention each week, just for the purpose of bookmarking new releases in order to listen to them in full when my project was done. At times it was hard to resist the temptation – especially since 2 of the artists from my lists put out new albums this month, another three surprises me with EPs, and also a member of one of the bands from my list put out a new collaborative album with a band I’d never heard of. So most of this list of new stuff I’ve been listening to for only the last week or so, ironically, covers artists I’ve already talked about in some capacity this month, with a few bands at the bottom of the list that are genuinely new to me.
Also, I realize I’ve got a slew of recommendations from others to get to, both in terms of favorite albums of theirs from 2019 that I slept on or just plain wasn’t aware of, and in terms of standout albums they’ve given kudos to from throughout the last decade that have piqued my interest for one reason or another. I’ll start on that daunting to-do list in February!
Meanwhile, here are my first impressions of the latest from Colony House, The Innocence Mission, Everything Everything, Switchfoot, John Reuben, Stabbing Westward, Sean Watkins & The Bee Eaters, Wolf Parade, and Bombay Bicycle Club.Continue reading
Before we get on with the next 20 albums in my decade-end list, I thought it’d be interesting to break down all 100 by which year they came out.
9 of these albums came out in 2010.
17 of these albums came out in 2011.
10 of these albums came out in 2012.
18 of these albums came out in 2013.
7 of these albums came out in 2014.
9 of these albums came out in 2015.
6 of these albums came out in 2016.
9 of these albums came out in 2017.
12 of these albums came out in 2018.
4 of these albums came out in 2019.
(Yes, I know that the numbers above add up to 101. One of these albums was re-released, and I’m having a hard time choosing which version I like better. That’ll be addressed down below.)Continue reading
2019 was a weird year for me, in terms of the music I enjoyed most. A lot of artists put out genuinely great singles, only to follow them up with lackluster albums, EPs as stopgaps between albums, or really nothing at all. It’s a good thing I was following all of my favorite artists on Spotify, as well as some newer ones I was curious to hear more from, or else I might have not heard a good quarter of this list until 2019, if ever. Usually the vast majority of my Top 100 songs for the year comes from my favorite albums released that year, with some spillover from the year before. While that’s still true in 2019, it’s worth noting that nearly a tenth of my list this time comes from EPs or compilations rather than albums, and close to another tenth of the list is made up of non-album singles, that have yet to be attached to a larger collection of songs (assuming that will ever happen at all). While this speaks to the ability of many of my favorite artists to strike while the iron is hot in terms of getting new music out, it also worries me slightly where the longevity of the album format is concerned. But that’s an issue to discuss when I get to my list of Favorite Albums for the year. My Favorite Songs list, while eclectic and probably whiplash-inducing at certain points, definitely required some tough decision-making because there were so many great songs that spoke to me this year. At the end of the day, whether a song is part of a larger narrative or not, that’s really all that matters – whether the song stands out to me as unique in some way, and makes me want to keep coming back to listen to it over and over again. And everything on this list passed that test with flying colors!
As I do each year, I’ll give some insight into my reasons for picking the Top 30, and you can assume after that point that the ordering is somewhat arbitrary. Many of these songs (limit one per artist) are collected in my 2019 in a Nutshell playlist over on Spotify.Continue reading
Here are my first impressions of the latest from Barenaked Ladies, Switchfoot, Lisa Hannigan & s t a r g a z e, The Han Solo Project, Yeasayer, Iron & Wine / Calexico, Thrice, and Billie Eilish.Continue reading
You know you’re a huge fan of a band when a friend asks you how many times you’ve seen them live, and you realize you’ve lost count. It’s funny, because I haven’t really considered myself a massive Switchfoot fan for quite a while, probably since the mid-2000s when The Beautiful Letdown hit it big, and was admirably followed up by Nothing Is Sound and Oh! Gravity. Paradoxically, that’s my favorite era of Switchfoot’s discography, and yet I got to the point where I became downright sick of the most well-known songs from those albums being must-plays in their setlists. It’s probably because I saw them live several times that decade, and when I see a band live multiple times, I prefer to hear them play stuff from their newer albums, or if they’re gonna play old stuff, I’d like to hear a few I’ve never heard live before. The Beautiful Letdown is my favorite Switchfoot album (an area where I’d guess I’m agreement with the majority of their fans), but I’d be perfectly fine never hearing that album’s heavy-hitters “Dare You to Move”, “This Is Your Life”, or “Meant to Live”, from them ever again. I love those songs. A ton of other people do too, and I guess I can’t fault someone who shows up, never having seen the band before, for wanting the trip down memory lane. It was because of this (and a string of less than impressive albums in the late 2000s/early 2010s) that I cooled off on seeing them live for a while after witnessing a just-OK live set on their tour for Vice Verses in 2011. (Even then, there were a couple of Fiction Family shows in between, and the Jon Foreman solo show I went to this time last year, because he is simply one of my favorite people in the entire universe.) This year’s Native Tongue isn’t really one of my favorite albums of theirs, either, but 2016’s When the Light Shines Through was a pleasant surprise that seemed a bit underrated among the fanbase, and I kicked myself for missing out on their tour with Relient K that year (who themselves had just put out the startlingly excellent Air For Free). When they announced a tour with Colony House slated for this spring, I knew I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by.Continue reading
Album: Native Tongue
In Brief: Eh… it’s another Switchfoot album. A little heavier on the ballads and programming than I would like, but it’s not terrible. Every now and then, the band tries something inventive here that updates their sound just enough to not seem like it’s old hat. But a lot of it is Switchfoot by the numbers, which admittedly is kind of a tricky thing for them to avoid now that they’re 11 albums deep into their career.Continue reading
January is always the month when I get to catch up on recommendations from fellow music lovers that I wasn’t aware of in time to evaluate them for myself in the previous year. Thus, if you’re someone who knows me personally, or if you run a blog/YouTube channel that I follow, and you posted some sort of a “Best of 2018” list toward the end of the year, there should be at least one thing you recommended that I decided to check out for myself this month.
Here are my first impressions of the latest from Django Django, Iceage, Lovebites, Myles Kennedy, Kacey Musgraves, Snail Mail, The Nor’easters, Coldplay, Evanescence, Switchfoot, and a compilation from Blurescent Records.Continue reading
Jon Foreman’s “25 in 24” tour provided not only a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse at how his unlikely feat of performing 25 shows in 24 hours came to be a few years ago, but also reminded fans of just how deeply his conviction to live each and every hour of life he’s been given to the fullest still runs. This was a breathtaking show, with unique arrangements of songs from Foreman’s solo albums and a few fan-selected Switchfoot tracks, revealing entire new worlds of possibility behind even songs I’d known and loved for close to two decades.
It’s that time of year again where I run through the list of songs that inspired me, entertained me, or just plain got stuck in my head for amusing reasons, more than any other songs in the last 12 months. Most of these were released in 2017. Some came out in 2016 and I either didn’t hear them until this year or didn’t come to fully appreciate them in time for last year’s list. I’ve given brief explanations and YouTube links for the Top 30. For the rest… just check the reviews where they’re linked, if you’re curious.
And as always, many of these songs (limit one per artist) are collected in my 2017 in a Nutshell playlist over on Spotify.