I got asked about doing a follow-up to my Summer Playlist post from last year, basically filling in the gaps of the rest of 2020. I enjoy doing these, and only covering a few months seemed like it would be easier and quicker than the last one, so I decided why not. I have a Spotify link below, but there’s also a full track listing at the end of this post. In the meantime, I’ve included a few random thoughts about some of the music.
I finally got around to listening to Caroline Polachek’s solo album Pang a little late, but wow, did I love it. There were a lot of songs from it that I could have gone with, like “New Normal” or “Caroline Shut Up”, but I wound up going with the title track and my favorite song from the album, “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings”. And I included her newest song as a third entry, partly to make up for the delay: a cover of “Breathless” by The Corrs that I did not recognize as a cover until I read the song credits while writing this.
Listening to Pang made me go back and listen to the third Chairlift album, Moth, since I missed it/slept on it pretty hard back on release. As it turns out, that record was also great, and I wound up listening to that one a lot around the same time. Again, there were a lot of options, but “Moth to the Flame” and “Show U Off” are great back-to-back songs that I had to go with.
Speaking of songs that I missed, I included “Some Kind of Magic” on a playlist a few years ago. I knew about the song from the credited artist, LVTHER, but for some reason I didn’t look into the featured artist, MYZICA, at all. I regret not doing that sooner; their debut album, Love & Desire, was full of fun indie pop, and it would have been a great album to listen to over the summer.
I really should have included something from the Sayonara Wild Hearts soundtrack on my first 2020 playlist. I felt like things were getting pretty crowded, so I could cut the thing I had already written about. But in retrospect… I probably listened to this album more than anything else in 2020. So I’m adding it now in recognition of that. You can’t go wrong with anything here, but the vocal/boss-level tracks (which feature Linnea Olsson and Jonathan Eng coming in to accompany main composer Daniel Olsen) are always highlights. I also included my favorite non-vocal track, “Laser Love”, which is more in line with the songs from the non-boss levels.
I learned about Roosevelt through early singles for his third album, Polydans. I included one of those, “Echoes”, but I decided to save the rest since the album itself is an early 2021 release and would probably feature on that playlist. It’s fine, though; I went through and enjoyed his older stuff, so I also added two songs from his last album, 2018’s Young Romance.
Also in the category of “artists with early singles for a 2021 album that will likely pop up again”, we have Pale Waves, Lake Street Dive (both already released), and The Family Crest (still yet to come, but basically just awaiting vinyl production to complete). (note: I couldn't find "Pride" on Spotify to add it to the playlist, so here's a link to the video instead.)
There’s less information on it so far than those four, but Bleachers also appears to be gearing up for a 2021 album release, their first since 2017’s Gone Now. I loved that one, as well as 2014’s Strange Desire, so this is probably the music I’m most excited for at the moment. Also, one of the first two singles, “Chinatown”, is a duet with Bruce Springsteen, which I feel like has to be a dream for noted New Jersey native Jack Antonoff.
On the flipside, there are also a few appearances here from artists who had lead singles on my Summer 2020 playlist. Beabadoobee’s Fake It Flowers was great, and feels like a solid ‘90s throwback in a way I wish I could better describe. Youngblood Hawke’s long-awaited sophomore album Edge of the World also released, and I dug that as well. It feels like a nice continuation of their debut album, Wake Up, and kind of feels like a throwback in its own way at this point. Just listening to it now and comparing it to everything else, compared with that experience for Wake Up, kind of shows how much the pop music landscape has shifted in the half-decade-plus since then, and I appreciate the greater clash now. And for I Don’t Know How But They Found Me’s Razzmatazz, I enjoyed it, but ultimately. not as much as their debut EP. But it may well grow on me still
Meanwhile, I thought Bastille’s singles, which made the Summer List, were also lead-ups to a potential album, but it wound up just being a small December EP. Oh well. I added the third single, “Goosebumps”, here as well. Also re-appearing with singles after making the Summer playlist: Anamanaguchi, KennyHoopla, Penguin Prison, and Wave Racer.
Meanwhile, it’s good to see some bands kept busy during quarantine. Chromeo and The Struts both released short records to pass the time while stuck inside. Extra props to Chromeo, for making their usual catchy funk but with tongue-in-cheek, pandemic-themed lyrics like “Clorox Wipe” or “6 Feet Away”.
The Midnight and Scavenger Hunt both made my Summer Playlist as well, which led to me realizing that they actually collaborated on a remix earlier, before I was aware of the former band. I went back and checked it out, and it’s pretty great, melding one of my favorite songs from a normally summer-y synthpop band to the trademark darker atmospheres and soaring sax solos of another.
Speaking of remixes, “Stayaway” was one of my favorite songs off of MUNA’s 2019 album Saves the World, so I checked out the Now, Now remix when I heard about it out of curiosity. It somehow takes what’s normally a more serious, introspective song and makes it into almost a dance track while not losing what I liked about the original. I was really impressed, and it led me to check out more of Now, Now’s work; it doesn’t sound much like their “Stawaway” remix, but their 2018 album Saved is also great, especially the opening few songs.
What else to note… Panama Wedding released their first song in five years. Like Youngblood Hawke last time, they’re a smaller band that I really liked and even saw live, but who has gone silent for some time, so it’s good to see them back. Great Good Fine Ok, a big favorite of mine who normally releases a couple songs per year (they already have a few 2021 singles), only released “Progress” in 2020, which I liked. Machine Gun Kelly’s new album stuck with the pop-punk approach that I mentioned in the Summer List, and I liked it, especially the other singles. I also added 100 gecs to my Summer List, and I realize their style isn’t for everyone, but they have continued to grow on me.
I have one final note that doesn’t really fit here, but also doesn’t not fit here. I’ve written before about Passion Pit, one of my favorite musical acts. In Decemeber, Michael Angelakos, the person behind Passion Pit, began using his personal Soundcloud to release a whole bunch of demos, remixes, remakes, and various other previously unreleased music. I don’t know that any of it fits on a playlist, especially since some of it is a little rough, but I think it’s interesting as both a fan of Passion Pit and someone who loves seeing insight into the creative process. If either of those sounds appealing to you, maybe check some of that out as well.
Pixel Candle : Anamanaguchi
S.T.A.R : August Hotel
Goosebumps : Bastille feat. Kenny Beats
Care : Beabadoobee
Dye It Red : Beabadoobee
Chinatown : Bleachers feat. Bruce Springsteen
45 : Bleachers
Breathless : Caroline Polachek
Pang : Caroline Polachek
So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings : Caroline Polachek
Moth to the Flame : Chairlift
Show U Off : Chairlift
Clorox Wipe : Chromeo
I Feel Alive? : COIN
Begin Again : Daniel Olsen, Jonathan Eng, Linnea Olsson
Laser Love : Daniel Olsen
Inside : Daniel Olsen, Jonathan Eng, Linnea Olsson
Levitating : Dua Lipa
Pride : The Family Crest
Progress : Great Good Fine Ok
Clusterhug : I DON'T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME
Kiss Goodnight : I DON'T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME
ESTELLA// : KennyHoopla feat. Travis Barker
Only Time Makes It Human : King Princess
PAIN : King Princess
Making Do : Lake Street Dive
The Bear Prayer : Leather Tramp
Self Care : Louis the Child and COIN
Forget Me Too : Machine Gun Kelly feat. Halsey
My Best Friend’s Ex : Machine Gun Kelly and Blackbear
Stayaway (Now, Now remix) : MUNA
Dance Hall Blues : Myzica
We Belong Together : Myzica
Wait Just a Minute : Myzica
SGL : Now, Now
MJ : Now, Now
She’s My Religion : Pale Waves
Fly to Panama : Panama Wedding
Waiting for You : Paperwhite feat. Heather Bond
Better : Penguin Prison
Little Less Polite : Ripe
Yr Love : Roosevelt
Losing Touch : Roosevelt
Echoes : Roosevelt
Never Enough (Midnight Remix) : Scavenger Hunt
Wild Child : The Struts and Tom Morello
Searching for the Light : VHS Collection
Higher : Wave Racer
Madness : Youngblood Hawke
Savage Circle : Youngblood Hawke
Stupid horse : 100 gecs