It's been a while since my last playlist, but as I mentioned recently, there's been a lot of good music released lately, so I feel like this would be a good time for a comeback. Not everything on it technically came out this year since I can't listen to everything the exact moment it comes out (although I did keep it entirely to at least "modern" acts), but it is at least all stuff that I've been listening to over the spring and summer, and this is as much a time capsule for me to look back on as anything else, so it makes the cut. I've also included a few thoughts about some of the songs included below.
I already wrote a full article about SUPERBLOOM by Misterwives, so you can go check that out here.
You ever just really, really love an album, and then the next one comes out, and it’s not as good, so you’re overly harsh on it, but then you go back later and realize it’s fine, it just the one before it hits you so hard that it would be difficult for anything that came after it to make you feel the same way? Anyway, that was sort of my thought process on The Chain Gang of 1974 between 2017’s Felt and this year’s Honey Moon Drips.
You ever just really, really love an album, and then the next one comes out, and it’s good, but the artist went in a really different direction, so you appreciate it but also recognize that you’re just really not on the same wavelength with it like you were for the last one? Anyway, that probably best describes my evaluation of RAC between 2017’s EGO (which I partially covered at the time here) and 2020’s BOY.
I didn't do a Best of 2019 Playlist last year (although maybe I could do a retrospective look? I kind of miss having one, and it could be fun. Watch this space), but Carly Rae Jepsen's Dedicated was one of my favorite albums of the year. I don't know if I liked it as much as Emotion, but the fact that it was in the conversation was already a high bar to clear. And much like with Emotion, CRJ released a follow-up B-Side album the year after, hence, this year's Dedicated Side B. And I think I like it better than Emotion Side B? And I kind of wonder how the full Emotion + Side B versus Dedicated + Side B comparison shakes out?
Also, I was tempted to use “Stay Away” as one of the songs since I really appreciate the gimmick of it and “Felt This Way” using the same lyrics back-to-back on the album for entirely different songs, but ultimately decided to spread things out a little more.
Speaking of “things that would have made a hypothetical 2019 list”, I liked MUNA’s sophomore album Saves the World a ton as well, but their only release this year has been “Bodies”, a collaboration with The Knocks. I also really liked it!
I feel like at least once a year, there's a band or artist that I get to a little late, just in time for a new album, and I end up going back through their older stuff and really liking that as well. Anyway, The Midnight filled that role this summer, so enjoy two songs from July release Monsters plus their older song "Jason".
I guess that statement almost applies to Alex Lahey as well, except that her most recent album came out last year rather than this year. I decided to go with a smattering of her stuff rather than focus on her most recent album. This is because the passage of time is fake and this list is entirely arbitrary anyway, so I do what I want. This is also the approach I took with Snail’s House (although I focused on his Alien Pop EPs from last year, plus 2020’s “Twinklestar”).
Speaking of "things I missed", I had kind of forgotten about Anamanaguchi's album [USA], which they had been teasing since as far back as 2014 and which had been hit with a ton of delays as the band went on to do other stuff. But it finally did come out last fall, and I'm glad that I found out about it this summer! And then they released a few more singles actually this summer, so I added one of those as well.
I was glad to see Neon Trees come back with their first album in six years without losing a step. I don't know that I have much else to add here.
Speaking of long hiatus's, I loved Youngblood Hawke's debut album back in 2013, and even saw them live in college. It's been pretty quiet since then, with a handful of singles, but they're finally releasing their sophomore effort this fall, and a few songs have already been released! Besides "Criminals", also of note (mostly since I only learned it by looking into it this upon the song's release) is "Find a Way", which you might recognize if you listened to RAC's EGO back when I recommended it in 2017. As it turns out, RAC's collaborator on the track, ALICE MK, was the side project of Alice Katz, one of Youngblood Hawke's singers, so the band's version of the track will be on their upcoming album. Sorry if this is a kind of long and winding side story that doesn’t mean much to most of you, but it blew my mind a little when I investigated it, so I had to share.
I think I liked COIN and Mystery Skulls' previous albums to their 2020 ones, but their new efforts are still perfectly respectable.
On that note, I preferred The Aces' debut album to 2020's Under My Influence, but it wasn't without bright spots. All in all, not too shabby for a sophomore effort.
I know very little about the Icelandic pop scene (…” he said, while including Of Monsters and Men on the same playlist), but I found out about Daði Freyr’s Eurovision entry “Think About Things” from the wonderful music video that took off online. The follow up “Where We Wanna Be” was similarly great, even if it could only get a shot-from-home video.
Scavenger Hunt really got “Next to You” in under the wire (it came out on Friday), but I love most if not all of their output and really vibed with it, so it was an easy last minute addition. It’ll be a good marker for “the end of summer” in my mind.
I've included a few of the bigger pop hits that I listen to the most. On that note, I'm still shocked that "Break My Heart" by Dua Lipa has taken up most of the radio air time, since I've massively preferred "Hallucinate", but then again, I generally don't understand the Billboard lists, so whatever.
I never thought I'd like a Machine Gun Kelly song, but it turns out, he's actually pretty solid as a pop-punk act. "bloody valentine", as well as 24kGoldn's "Mood", while I'm thinking about it, have this really earnest simplicity in their style that really accentuates the feel they're going for. I kind of hope Kelly sticks with this approach going forward.
The 1975's Notes on a Conditional Form, at 22 songs and 80+ minutes, probably could have used some trimming, but I feel like that's kind of standard for them at this point. I will note, though, that "If You're Too Shy (Let Me Know)" might be their best song yet, which is an impressive feat.
If I had a "Promising Newcomer" Award, it would either go to KennyHoopla or Beabadoobee. Their most recent EPs (how will i rest in peace if i'm buried by a highway?// and Space Cadet, respectively) were my favorites of the summer.
My hypothetical Final Four for "Best Album of the Summer" would come down to Carly Rae Jepsen, MisterWives, The Midnight, and The Naked and Famous (with honorable mentions to Neon Trees and Anamanaguchi). The Naked and Famous is the only one of those four that I've talked at length about, so I'll just add that all four of their albums, from 2010's Passive Me, Aggressive You to this year's Recover, have been great, and "Bury Us" might be my favorite song of theirs.
A full list of the songs:
You Don't Think You Like People Like Me Alex Lahey
I Haven't Been Taking Care of Myself Alex Lahey
isabella Alex Lahey
Air On Line Anamanaguchi
On My Own Anamanaguchi
Train Song August Hotel
Unstable Bad Suns
Helicopter Bad Veins
WHAT YOU GONNA DO??? Bastille
She Plays Bass Beabadoobee
Worth It Beabadoobee
Not a Love Song bülow
Get Stüpid bülow
This Love Isn't Crazy Carly Rae Jepsen
Felt This Way Carly Rae Jepsen
Let's Sort the Whole Thing Out Carly Rae Jepsen
Outside Inside Castlecomer
Gone Charli XCX & Christine and the Queens
Into My Arms COIN
Maniac Conan Gray
Think About Things Da∂I Freyr
Where I Wanna Be Da∂I Freyr
Hallucinate Dua Lipa
TALK DEEP E^ST
Is It Just Me Ezra Jordan
Leave Me Alone I DON'T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME
All I Need Jacob Collier, Mahalia, Ty Dolla $ign
Coming Apart Joywave
how will I rest in peace if I'm buried by the highway// KennyHoopla
Malibu Kim Petras
Cool Knox Hamilton
International Woman of Leisure La Roux
Stupid Love Lady Gaga
bloody valentine Machine Gun Kelly
Be Kind Marshmello & Halsey
Tidal Wave Midi Matilda
Can of Worms Midi Matilda
love me true MisterWives
Easy MIYAVI, Betty Who, RAC
Weight on Me Mowgli's
Fighting With Yourself Mowgli's
Glass Casket Mystery Skulls
Fight For Your Life Mystery Skulls
Nights Neon Trees
Used to Like Neon Trees
Holy Ghost Neon Trees
Wars Of Monsters and Men
Hallelujah Oh Wonder
I Wish I Never Met You Oh Wonder
The Heat Penguin Prison
Down Low Penguin Prison & Lyrah
ICIMY Phoebe Ryan
Something Comforting Porter Robinson
Mirror Porter Robinson
a million other things pronoun
First Time Feeling RIPE
Next to You Scavenger Hunt
Summer Nights SIAMES
Slowdown Smallpools & morgxn
Twinklestar Snail's House
Cosmo Funk Snail's House
Invader Snail's House
If You're Too Shy The 1975
You & Me Together Song The 1975
Daydream The Aces
Zillionaire The Aces
Do You Mind? The Chain Gang of 1974
Ydlma The Chain Gang of 1974
Ariel Ariel The Griswolds
Aliens The Griswolds & Transviolet
Exit Sign The Knocks & Gallant
Bodies The Knocks & MUNA
Deep Blue The Midnight
Dance With Somebody The Midnight
Jason The Midnight
Bury Us The Naked and Famous
Come as You Are The Naked and Famous
Everybody Knows The Naked and Famous
Blinding Lights The Weeknd
American Cynic VHS Collection
Dreaming VHS Collection
AUTO Wave Racer
Tokyo White Lies
Too Hot in L.A. Woody and Jeremy
Criminals Youngblood Hawke
Ringtone 100 gecs