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The Pop Culture Wing of Hot Corner Harbor

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?