2020, Agnes Obel, Alexandra Savior, Andy Shauf, artist, band, Blonde Diamond, Blue Hawaii, Bombay Bicycle Club, Born Ruffians, Braids, Canada, Caroline Rose, Celeste, Cold Beat, Dana Gavanski, Décollage, Destroyer, Devon Gilfillian, Disq, Easy Life, Forever, Frances Quinlan, Georgia, Group, Holy Fuck, Σtella, Just John, Lié, Moaning, Music, Musician, Musicians, Nap Eyes, Naytronix, Nobro, Ottawa, Patrick Holland, Peel Dream Magazine, Postcards, Rolemodel, singer, Soccer Mommy, Spotify, Squirrel Flower, Tame Impala, The Innocence Mission, The Rare Forms, Thundercat, Tops, U.S. Girls, UK, USA, Westerman
The first month of 2020 has passed.
Here are my picks of tracks that came out in January 2020.
Enjoy this playlist!
Squirrel Flower‘s I Was Borning Swimming dropped today on Polyvinyl Records.
About the artist and album
Squirrel Flower’s music is ethereal and warm, gushing with emotional depth that the listener can step into like a warm bath.
The band on I Was Born Swimming plays with delicate intention, keeping the arrangements natural and light.
The album was tracked live, with few overdubs, at The Rare Book Room Studio in New York City with producer Gabe Wax (Adrienne Lenker, Palehound, Cass McCombs).
The musicians were selected by Wax and folded themselves into the songs effortlessly.
At the heart of the album lives Williams’ massive, haunted vibrating voice and melancholic, soulful guitar playing.
The sounds expand and contract over diverse moods, cutting loose on the heavier riffs of “Red Shoulder” or “Streetlight Blues,” both recorded in her hometown of Boston, and holding back with atmospheric restraint on “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or “Belly Of The City”.
I Was Born Swimming begins with an Iowa drive down I-80 and continues to travel, poetically, between her college town of Grinnell Iowa, Boston, MA and New York City where the album was recorded. Throughout the 12 songs, landscapes change and relationships shift, “There’s so much in the record about movement and stagnation. Feeling stuck, needing to move, needing to stay still, swimming, falling, running, growing, etc etc.” said Williams. The album’s lyrics feel like effortless expressions of exactly the way it feels to change — abstract, sad and hopeful.
Where’s Dorian? Looks like Austra is going at it alone now.
Yesterday, Austra announced her return with the blistering new single “Risk It”.
Katie’s first new music since 2017’s Future Politics.
On “Risk It”, she pitches her voice up over a chorus of brass instruments to capture the desperation in feeling scared to leave a relationship. Austra sings: ‘I feel ashamed / It feels insane to seek you endlessly / Late night Remedy / But girl, I just can’t let you go.’
A song that I can’t get out of my head based on its old school R&B and soul music vibe.
Devon Gilfillian‘s song The Good Life just oozes that retro R&B/Soul sound.
Taken from the album Black Hole Rainbow which came out on January 10, 2020.
Think of the 2020 version of Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye and maybe Leon Bridges mixed into one.
While an artist can’t replicate what they did in their last album.
Case in point for Andy Shauf in The Neon Skyline which is the follow-up for the massively successful The Party that came out in 2016.
The album where he sets a familiar scene of inviting a friend for beers on the opening title track:
“I said, ‘Come to the Skyline, I’ll be washing my sins away.‘ He just laughed, said ‘I’ll be late, you know how I can be.'”
The LP’s 11 interconnected tracks follow a simple plot: the narrator goes to his neighborhood dive, finds out his ex is back in town, and she eventually shows up. While its overarching narrative is riveting, the real thrill of the album comes from how Shauf finds the humanity and humor in a typical night out and the ashes of a past relationship.
For The Neon Skyline, Shauf chose to start each composition on guitar instead of his usual piano. He says, “I wanted to be able to sit down and play each song with just a guitar without having to rely on some sort of a clever arrangement to make it whole.”
The resulting album finds its immediacy in simplicity.
While the arrangements on folksy “The Moon” are unfussy and song-centered like the best Gordon Lightfoot offerings, his drive to experiment is still obvious.
This is especially so on the unmoored relationship autopsy “Thirteen Hours,” which boasts an arrangement that’s both jazzy and adventurous.
This album has more of an upbeat guitar and mellow drum feel and vibe.
Miss the intimate and moody vibes from the Party from the songs like Quite Like You and Twist Your Ankles.
This is what makes Andy so unique and take on risks.
- The Neon Skyline
- Where Are You Judy
- Thirteen Hours
- Things I Do
- Try Again