Mailing list


The Pop Culture Wing of Hot Corner Harbor

Monday, May 27, 2024

Music Monday: Start of 2024 Playlist (Tenth Anniversary Edition!!)

Just in the nick of time, we have a Music Monday update with my second playlist of 2024! This is another big one (covering my listening from January through roughly the first week of May, although this is mostly just for my sake; I'm not super timely, and mostly just check stuff out when I get around to it), but I had fun discovering some new music and then writing about it.

And this is a big playlist in multiple ways: next week (June 7th) is also the tenth Anniversary of Out of Left Field! I doubt I’ll have time to put together another big piece, so you can think of this one as the Big Anniversary Post for the occasion.

As usual, here are the links to the Spotify and YouTube Playlists, each in roughly-article order:

Notes: The same songs are missing on both playlists, so I’ll just link to those Bandcamps. You can find 7mai’s tracks here, alpha’s here and here (or their Soundcloud), Prom Nite’s here, and Lauryl Sulfate’s here. Also, in case any of my former English teachers are reading this, I know album titles are usually italicized, but I used single quotation marks here because Blogger has been making fixing formatting very tough, and I’d like to minimize that.

As always, you can read a full copy of the playlist at the end of the article. And remember, a lot of these artists (especially the smaller ones) can be found on Bandcamp, if you want to support them!

The Best Stuff:

Good Kid:
I'm not really sure how to describe their style? Every description I could find just leaves it at "indie rock", which feels overly broad. The closest thing I can think of is j-rock, but I feel a little weird calling a Canadian band that performs exclusively in English "Japanese rock", even if that is clearly is one of their major influences. But sound-wise, that probably is the closest fit. Although now that I think about it, I guess it is kind of weird that there aren't more English-language takes on that style. Either way, I enjoy it a lot, and ended up including songs from all four of their self-titled EPs here. The most recent one released back in March and has probably my favorite two songs of theirs, the frantic and frenetic “Break” and a high-energy cover of Laufey’s “From the Start”; limiting myself to just two selections per record was tough, but even with the high baseline, these two stood out as easy picks.

Bad Moves: I checked this DC-band out because I saw them compared to The New Pornographers somewhere. Not sure I would have made that comparison, but I do see it; they have a similar sort of power pop style, but with a higher energy and a little more stripped-down/straightforward? I started with their debut album ‘Tell No One’ and very quickly moved on to their follow-up ‘Untenable’. Picking songs from them was difficult; I could have really gone with any combination here and been happy, there really isn’t a clunker here, and any time I put it on, time just seems to start flying. It’s apparently been nearly four years since ‘Untenable’, and they finally released new singles in December and April, so I’m hoping for Album 3 soon!

Monday, January 29, 2024

Music Monday: End of 2023 Playlist

Just in under the wire, it’s time for another Music Monday Playlist! As usual, here are the links to the YouTube and Spotify playlists:

The notes on what’s missing: I couldn’t find 7mai or alpha’s songs on YouTube or Spotify, so I’m just linking their Bandcamp pages here. Also, I could only find Flood District’s music on YouTube, but it is on the Spotify list.

One thing I will note here: I’ve historically included YouTube and Spotify playlists in these articles that you can listen along to or sample. Those two platforms are the most requested ones, but I’ve been strongly considering dropping the Spotify one; the most recent reason being the platform changing their rules and demonetizing over 80% of songs on the platform. Essentially (assuming my understanding is correct), artists who can’t reach minimum average listens across their catalog aren’t eligible to claim royalties any more.

I didn’t want to just stop offering it without a warning, but I also don’t know if any of the artists I mention here fall under that threshold, so I’d push people to listen to the YouTube version if possible. Their payouts still aren’t great, but at least they aren’t doing that (to my knowledge). Also, maybe consider supporting ones you really like through Bandcamp or something (which is having their own issues, but nothing on that level); many of them have pages there, and that’s even where I find a lot of the smaller artists. And if the next playlist post I make doesn’t have a Spotify version, that’s probably at least part of the reason.

I feel like I usually have a strong outline here, starting with my favorite release and going down from there, but… I kind of didn’t this time. So instead, here are just my collection of thoughts, roughly assembled into the order they are on the playlist.

The Beaches: I had a friend recommend their new album Blame My Ex to me the week it came out. It was some fun and catchy indie rock, and I enjoyed it enough to check out some earlier EPs and singles (which also got some representation on the list). Several weeks after that, I saw them starting to pop up in more places, so I get to say that I was (moderately) ahead of the curve here! (Although maybe it’s just my local alternative station; their peak chart position feels low given how much it’s been popping up, or maybe it’s just slowly rising?)

Underscores: I feel like Underscores has been on a solid upward trajectory. I liked her debut album Fishmonger, and I enjoyed her follow-up EP(?) Boneyard AKA Fearmonger even more (both featured on one of my playlists), but Wallsocket is yet another step forward. It’s an interesting album, one that focuses on storytelling and characters, a rare approach that I really love. We get stories about bank robbers on the run, young obsessive not-quite-stalkers, feuding small town elites… there’s a lot, and I need to give it another listen trying to piece together a larger narrative (it’s supposedly about the small town of Wallsocket, from the little bit of behind-the-scenes descriptions I’ve let myself read, but I don’t want to spoil myself entirely). It’s hyperpop, but the much more experimental end, the kind that pulls from any- and everything; you’ll get traces of pop-punk, folk, alternative, electronica… I’ve already included my favorite songs, “Cops and robbers” and “Locals (Girls like us)” on past lists and don’t like to re-use, but “Old money bitch” and “Johnny johnny johnny” are also solid choices.

St. Lucia: I called their fourth album Utopia one of my favorite albums on my End of 2022 Playlist, but one of my reservations at the time was that it ended on a relatively weak note. One of my favorite things about St. Lucia albums are that they tend to end on a high note: usually a longer track that starts small and driving, then gradually builds to some crashing finale to drive the whole thing home. Sure, maybe it’s a specific trope, but damn if they don’t do it well.

Utopia was missing that, and trying new things is nice and all… but the Deluxe version of the album adds banger “Two Moons” at the end, and gosh, does it just make things feel right. I love it. They also released an album of unreleased songs from their debut When the Night to celebrate its tenth anniversary, and “Poet” is here for that.

Lauren Mayberry, CHVRCHES: I’ve been working on a larger CHVRCHES post when I have free time, and it’ll hopefully be coming out soon. In the meantime though, I’ve added a song here from their tenth anniversary special edition of The Bones of What You Believe. Also, I loved lead singer Lauren Mayberry’s new single “Shame”, although I still haven’t seen news on if there’s a full album in the immediate future?

Monday, September 11, 2023

Music Monday: Summer 2023 Playlist

Happy Music Monday! It’s once again time for a playlist!

As I mentioned in my last playlist article back in May, this year I’m splitting my normal massive End-of-Summer Playlist into two smaller ones, with this one roughly covering music I found from May through September… except as I’ve said in the past, I’m also not very timely when it comes to new music anyway, so I guess it’s a little debatable how much those timeframes matter to anyone else. Ah well. I’m also doing my usual write-ups, except I felt less wordy this time, so it probably won’t be as long (although last time was also a little extreme in length, so maybe that’s for the best).

Here are the YouTube and Spotify playlists:

The notes on what’s missing: Mouse removed her music from Spotify, so that’s only on the YouTube playlist. I couldn’t find “Strange Luvv” by King Isis on either platform, so here’s a Bandcamp link. And 7mai doesn’t use either, so here’s a link to their Bandcamp page; the picks on this playlist come from the Gray, Pink, Yellow, and Violet “Colorful Palette” EPs.

And speaking of, as always, a lot of these artists have Bandcamp pages where you can purchase their music directly. So if there’s something that you really like, maybe consider throwing some money their way as well!

Carly Rae Jepsen, The Loveliest Time

Once again, Carly Rae Jepsen followed up an album release with a B-sides collection the following year. I don’t really have a ton to say here; Carly Rae Jepsen released an album of very good pop music? And I liked it a lot? Wow, what a shock, who could have guessed any of this!

It is kind of interesting that this one dropped the “B-Sides” label this time in exchange for its own (derivative) name, although it’s also probably the B-Side album that feels like it most strongly stands on its own, so it makes sense. It does feel like The Loveliest Time dabbles around in styles more than any of her other albums. I wish it had a song I liked as much as “Run Away With Me” or “The Loneliest Time” or “Want You In My Room”, but it’s also not hard to recommend songs like “Shy Boy” and “Psychedelic Switch”. Overall, I’m not sure if it’s my favorite of CRJ’s projects, but that’s a difficult catalog to stand out in, and probably partly personal taste.

PRIZM, All Night

This one was my big, new discovery while browsing Bandcamp over the last few months. I know that I have a thing for those sparkling atmospheric synths and haunting saxes and powerful vocals singing big hooks cutting through it all… but also, this Dallas-based duo makes it so easy to love it. They have the style down pat, writing banger after banger and polishing them to a gem-like gleam, and splashing them across the night sky with a sense of cinematic grandeur. The songs I’ve picked for the list (“All Night”, “Lost You”, and “Can’t Bring Me Down”) were all easy calls, instant classics that I immediately fell in love with, but really, there are no weak links on All Night. I tore through the rest of their releases and can recommend it all, although for the sake of this playlist, I included “Sober” (one of three recent singles, hopefully prelude to a new album?) and cover “Don’t Stop” (one of a trio of Fleetwood Mac covers they released; I like them all, but felt like this one was the most interesting, really putting a unique spin all their own on it).