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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!

Last Dinner Party: In my last playlist piece, I mentioned that I was excited for their debut album ‘Prelude to Ecstacy’ and that first single “Nothing Matters”* reminded me of Florence + the Machine”. I think I was a little blinded by the harp on that song; judging on the full album, they’re definitely going in a different direction (even if you put them both under the broader “baroque pop” label). For example, they don’t quite go for unusual instrumentations like that, and their choice of thematic elements seem very different.

Still, there’s a similar sense of grandness here, and a lot to take in and appreciate. Songs have soaring choruses, titles like “Caesar on a TV Screen” and “My Lady of Mercy” call majestic images to mind, and they do occasionally bring in strings and horns to augment that good old-fashioned rock sound. It feels equally like it could be scoring a dramatic theater performance or a pop concert, and I never got tired of relistening to it again and again.

*I’d still say this is the best song on the album, one of my favorites of the year, but I try not to reuse songs on multiple playlists. Still, I was tempted.

The Messthetics: The creatively-titled ‘The Messthetics and James Brandon Lewis’ was a fun step outside of my usual areas: as it says in the title, it’s a combination of jazz-rock-fusion band The Messthetics (a trio the features the former bassist and drummer from punk band Fugazi) and saxophonist James Brandon Lewis. It makes for an exciting combination of excellent musicians, jamming together in a way that sees them working in all of their influences from jazz, rock, and beyond; if you’re unsure of jazz or other more experimental stuff, give it a try, because it's very unique and accessible. I tried The Messthetics previous album, (‘Anthropocosmic Nest’), afterwards, and it’s also solid, but I found myself missing Lewis’s saxophone work.

The Best Stuff, but I got them from browsing other sites’ “Best of 2023” lists
(Functionally, this section isn’t too different from the last one, but it does help me split things up a little.)

Nourished By Time:
‘Erotic Probiotic 2’, the debut album of Marcus Brown aka Nourished By Time, was definitely one of the stand-outs of my delve into “Best of 2023” lists. Partly because the music sets itself apart so well from everything else; I haven’t heard much that sounds like this specific kind of blend of bedroom pop, chill synths, and ‘90s R&B (I was worried that was just me being out of the loop, but even other reviewers seemed to agree with the thought). “Rain Water Promise” is the kind of song I just think about sometimes late at night, and feel comforted.

Ratboys: Of the stuff I picked out from Year-End lists, I was kind of surprised that ‘The Window’ was one of the ones that I latched onto the most. I’m generally not a post-country person; I’ll hear it and go “that’s nice” or “eh”, and move on. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the songs were kind of just working their way into my head. Stuff like “It’s Alive” or “The Window” are just really well-written Americana-rock tracks, building to big, catchy choruses. And maybe it was helped along by Mic The Snare’s Deep Discog Dive on them, but I eventually picked up their previous album ‘Printer’s Devil’ and had a good time with that as well.

Temple of Angels: When I was checking out the “Best of” lists, I felt like a lot of the rock/alternative picks (where I kind of gravitate towards) leaned heavily towards Shoegaze? I guess it’s kind of having a moment. And it’s not that I hate shoegaze; I just re-listened to Lilac’s ‘There’s Someone Else in My Skin’ (which I put on my first playlist of 2023), and that still rips! But… in larger quantities, a lot of the genre can kind of blend together into mush for me.

Austin-based Temple of Angels’s ‘Endless Pursuit’ was the thing that kind of pulled me back when I really started questioning whether I actually enjoyed it. Like Lilac, they have just enough for me to grasp onto and really start focusing on different songs, even as I let the texture and vibes of the music wash over me, which really lets me start to appreciate the whole album more. There really are some great songs here, headed by “Tangled in Joy”, which is just an all-timer of a track, full of soaring vocals and ringing guitar work.

Chappell Roan: I actually checked out her 2023 album ‘The Rise and Fall of a Midwestern Princess’ in time to add it to my End of 2023 Playlist. It kept seeing play into the new year, partly because I found it so late, partly because it just slaps, but I won’t add it a second time. I will be adding her new single “Good Luck, Babe!” though, which continues her winning streak and has even started to cross over to the traditional pop charts.

Sydney Sprague: I actually don’t remember where I saw ‘somebody in hell loves you’ recommended, and I even overlooked it for a while. But man, once I gave it a shot, it grew on me something fierce; Sprague just has a knack for writing catchy alternative rock that worms into your ear and builds to big cathartic moments. Picking just a few songs to make the playlist was a pain, I could have easily picked half the album, but I had to include penultimate “terrible places”, which starts with anxiety-riddled musing before landing on a huge, guitar-driven climax that gets me jumping around in excitement.

Honorable Mentions, Albums Division

Dead Pony: Dead Pony’s debut album ‘IGNORE THIS’ feels like a shot of adrenaline, and their hard-rock/post-punk sound immediately caught my ear. You have the normal crunchy guitars and driving rhythm section, and anthemic choruses, but with an added layer of unearthly synths and glitchy, chopped-up vocal samples. And Anna Shields’ vocals are just the perfect mix of strength and ringing clarity to tie it all together. It’s strange, I feel like there should be a name for their style, but I can’t place it for as much as I dig it; I saw them throw around phrases like “nu-rock” and “anti-punk”, which… aren’t really a thing. Weirdly (or maybe not, because I’m me), the only band comparison I could make was “CHVRCHES, but rock instead of electropop”, which seems weird, but I keep coming back to that. Maybe it’s just because they’re both Scottish, but it looks like they did play a few shows together last year, so maybe I’m not completely off-base. Either way, I’m excited to see more from them!

Girl In Red: Back in Summer 2021, I gave Girl in Red’s debut album an informal “Best Newcomer” shoutout for her debut album, and I think her sophomore effort ‘I’M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!’ is generally a step forward. It feels like a natural progression to her bedroom pop-indie rock style, and the record feels more even than the previous. I went back and forth on moving it (and ‘IGNORE THIS’) up to the top section (honestly, that division is kind of arbitrary, so just know both were close). My main complaints here were that I wish the album were a little longer; it clocks in at ten songs and just under 28 minutes, five minutes shorter than her first. Yeah, there’s something to be said for not overstaying your welcome, but this one feels like it needs, say, two more good songs to really flesh it out more (or just one more standout one, to match that record’s peaks); with that, there’s a good chance this would have rocketed to the top of my list. But again, I still enjoyed my time listening to it, and I’m excited to see where she goes from here.

Cheem: I covered their album ‘Guilty Pleasure’ on my 2022 Summer playlist, and I enjoyed their catchy “throw-everything-at-the-wall” hyperpop-punk style. They’re back at it with their short EP ‘Fast Fashion’, which is soaked in 2000s-nostalgia, and hit me with some of the most instantly-memorable hooks of the year in songs like “Motorola Razr” and “Charm Bracelet”. (EDIT: I also gotta give props for making the official music video for the former a YouTube AMV. That is executing on a vision.)

Arlo Parks: I wrote about loving her first album, 2021’s ‘Collapsed in Sunbeams’, a year ago, and apparently just… missed that her second album released literally 3 days before I published that playlist? I guess I wrote the blurb right before it came out, thereby missing any news about it releasing. Weird. Anyway, ‘My Soft Machine’ is another one of those follow-ups that feels like a refinement of the first one, perfect for reflecting and vibing on rainy days or slow evenings. Closest thing I have to a complaint is again that the first one might have higher peaks, but this one feels a little more even.

Chromeo: I’m a longtime fan of Chromeo and their fun electro-funk throwbacks, and I don’t know if their new release ‘Adult Contemporary’ is their best album, but I certainly wasn’t disappointed with it. I’m not sure it’ll win over anyone who wasn’t already on-board with their sound (or their focus on funky grooves at the cost of some goofy lyrics), but I enjoyed myself. I already included pre-release single (featuring La Roux) “Replacements” on my last playlist, and I was tempted to include it again (that’s definitely on my shortlist for favorite Chromeo song), but there were plenty of other good options, so I was fine spreading the love around a little.

I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME: I was never as into their debut album ‘Razzmatazz’ as I was the EP and singles that preceded it, but found the early releases for the alt rock band’s second album encouraging. And sure enough, I find myself going back to ‘Gloom Division’ much more than its predecessor. It feels like the songs have more glam and emo inspirations to them, which gives them the more memorable flashiness and theatricality that I thought the first album was often missing.

Elephant Gym: A Taiwanese math rock/jazz fusion trio, I gave their 2023 album ‘World’ a try and liked it enough to also pick up their 2022 record ‘Dreams’. I feel like I’m not well-versed enough in the genres to get super-specific into why I enjoy them; like, I know complex melodies and rhythms, unusual instrumentations, and skilled performances are all things those styles rely on… but Elephant Gym just feels so good at all of that. ‘World’ especially can either go down smoothly if you just want a pleasant listen, or you can really dig into it and appreciate all the intense craft at work; picking out highlights that feel like they cover the full scope here is tough!

Honorable Mentions, Single Songs

Jamie Paige: Paige has been promising her next album coming soon, but she’s been busy in the meantime, dropping a pair of vocaloid songs (notably “Hope Cafe” feels like a less-unhinged, more normal take on her Hatsune Miku bop-slash-shitpost “You’re Telling Me A SHRIMP Fried This Rice?!” from the last playlist). But the stand-out track might be “BUTCHER VANITY” from her side project Flavor Foley, a fun electro-horror banger about obsessive love.

St. Lucia: There’s no new album announcement yet (later edit: well, no official announcement, but some newer posts seem to be alluding to something coming), but new single “Love You Better” has me excited; it’s just classic St. Lucia.

Lauren Mayberry: It sounds like the Chvrches frontwoman’s debut solo album is sadly being delayed due to label issues, so no sign on when that’s coming out in full. But in the meantime, I enjoyed her new single “Change Shapes”! I think you can feel some related frustrations coming through in it, but maybe I’m reading too much into it.

Nightlife: One year ago, I called Baltimore’s self-proclaimed “soulpunk boyband” one of my most exciting new artists. They seem to be still touring and working towards new releases, but in the meantime, they dropped new track “face2face”.

Caroline Polachek: “Starburned and Unkissed” is a banger, somehow haunting and comforting at the same time. It’s another one that just sort of floats up in my mind at night now.

Good Neighbours: A new up-and-coming duo, I heard “Keep It Up” during my local alternative station’s music discovery block and immediately got it stuck in my head. I’m excited to see what they do next, and if they’ll keep this sort of grand-scope feel.

Instant Crush: Another newer artist who’s definitely influenced by 2000s rock and pop-punk, stuff like early Paramore. “STAB MY BACK” is the standout that caught my attention, but there are some other good songs in their small catalog already.

I covered this electronic producer and their first few tracks last time, and they kept it up with a few more solid singles in the months since; I’ve included “Shining Star” and “Oddity” here.

LEASHES: I don’t have a ton to add here other than I love the tense, frenetic energy of their song “Instinct”.

Purple Disco Machine: For those that like disco-throwback EDM, “Honey Boy” and “Higher Ground” are strong singles.

Holly Humberstone and MUNA: The day after I put out my last playlist with the original song included, I learned that Holly Humberstone released a version of “Into My Room” where she duets with MUNA; good things all around here, so back onto the list it goes!

CRUISR: Another 2010s indie pop band that I really liked, but they only released a dozen songs (not even a full album, just a few singles and EPs). I somehow realized they released something back in 2022 that I missed, “Thick and Thin” which was itself the first thing they’ve released in three years. I don’t really expect I’ll hear much more of them, so I’ll take the pleasant surprise!

Miracles of Modern Science: Speaking of surprising returns (I have a couple of them, so bare with me), I covered this string-based alternative band a year ago and enjoyed them, but mentioned that they seemed unlikely to return. Music is a tough industry, and their final songs and silence in the nine years since seemed like an ending. However, they actually released a new song, “Birthday Cake”, back in April!

Atomic Tom: I haven’t had a chance to include Atomic Tom on many playlists; I found their 2010 debut album The Moment on a chance back when I was in high school and really enjoyed it, as well as their 2015 sophomore album and other follow-up output. I suppose they’re a fairly standard 2000s/2010s indie rock band, which is probably why they didn’t get super huge, but I think they execute on that framework really well and made great songs, so I’ve kept up with them. It’s been several years since they put out new music, and even that was them scrounging up work (although I appreciated the output!), but now they’re finally teasing a third album, and I’m excited for it!

Billy Joel: I played piano growing up, so Billy Joel was a pretty crucial part of my developing interest in pop and rock music. I don’t know that his surprise new release “Turn the Lights Back On” is one of his best, but there’s something about it’s weary sentimentality that I enjoy more and more as I listen to it. And relatedly, the video is simple, but it gets to me.

Upcoming albums: And of course, as usual, we have a handful of pre-release singles included here from albums dropping over the next few months. Porter Robinson (“Cheerleader”) had one of my favorite 2021 releases in ‘Nurture’, so I’m curious how his next release ‘Smile! :D’ will go; my early impression is he’s really leaning into 2000s nostalgia, which might go wrong, but I have faith he can pull it off (and early returns are promising!).

There’s also The Greeting Committee (“Where’d All My Friends Go”), and between how much I’ve liked the early releases and how much ‘Dandelion’ (featured on my Summer 2022 list) crept up on me over time, I’m already intrigued. And of course, we have some of my long-time favorites The Decemberists (“Oh No!) and Lake Street Dive (“Good Together”), who are happily chugging along and doing their normal things.

Other Stuff That I Really Liked:

Tragic Lovers: I’ve included singles from this post-punk band before, and they finally released a full five-song EP in ‘VALENTINE’. It’s a good time, lots of frantic high-energy, dark-and-smoky-vibes rock music

Anecdata: I included power pop/new-wave artist Anecdata’s album ‘Aucklantis’ last time, and I think his new album ‘A Better Plan B’ might be even better. The sci-fi concept feels even tighter (with looks at alien invaders and space-time riffs), the synths and guitars are even catchier, and I just overall really enjoyed myself. I’m definitely going to be checking out the follow-up album… which is already out (albeit too late for my cutoff), because he’s crazy-prolific.

7mai: I thought playlist mainstay 7mai (electronic/kawaii future bass) had wrapped up their ‘Colorful Palette’ series last October with the release of ‘White’, the tenth EP in the line. Surely, they had to be out of colors and therefore done, right? Nope; they released ‘Lime’ at the end of April, meaning there are so many more options in play than I realized. I have no idea how much longer they plan to keep going, but I still dig the music and will keep including it here.

Sponzi: It’s really short, but if you want more of that high-energy pixel pop/kawaii future bass/whatever-the-name-is sound, sponzi’s ‘Groove Adventure EP’ is also a lot of fun. Short, but very too-the-point, it’s firing on all cylinders from the drop.

Moontower: My regular search for more things that remind me of 2010s indie pop-rock continues, and Moontower is this playlist’s example. From the moment I heard their newest single “When I Say I Love You I’ll Try Not To Mean It”, I decided I needed to hear more, and I wound up going through most of their back catalog (including 2 EPs and their first album from last year, all of which are represented here).

Lovejoy: Another one of my weaknesses is sharp British guitar indie rock, so I was excited when I heard Lovejoy. I tried a couple of their EPs, the new ‘Wake Up & It’s Over’ and the older ‘Are You Alright’; I appreciate the use of horns on the latter, and both of them seem to use very dry humor in their writing.

A-P Connection: If you want more throwback funk/disco inspired stuff (or I guess if you find Chromeo’s cheekiness a little too much), French production pair A-P Connection also dropped ‘Sky Odyssey’. I don’t know that I have much to add here beyond “this is a fun dozen songs!”

King Isis: Oakland native King Isis’s new ‘shed EP’ is a more low-key follow-up to their ‘scales’ EP (one of my favorite “new artist” picks from this list a year ago); there’s still that blend of R&B and alt-pop, but they trade a lot of the big hooks and cathartic moments for a sort of simmering intensity. It’s not my go-to style, but it’s growing on me.

Smallpools: Smallpools is another small indie pop band I’ve been a fan of for years; I think I first wrote about them in one of my earliest music articles here nearly a decade ago? I don’t know that their new EP is their best work, but I still enjoyed it, and I’m glad to hear they’re still going.

Smaller Bandcamp Stuff I Want to Call Out:

Life Size Models: An indie rock band out of San Jose with a knack for writing songs that just feel big and sweeping. When I hit the chorus of “State of Mind” or “Coming Apart”, or the guitar kicks in, it feels exciting, and I can’t help but get caught up in it. I’m really excited to hear more from them!

Sorry Darling: It was a good few months for my power pop searches. Four-piece Sorry Darling’s debut EP ‘See This Through’ was another very solid find, and I’m excited to see what they do next. There are some solid tracks (like the track that shares their name and makes a strong first impression), but it also feels like there’s a lot of potential.

Princess Problems: ‘The Backwards Thank You’ is a solid album of indie pop with throwback soul influences. Narrowing down my pick of songs for the playlist was tough given the strong options, although I knew right away “Pussy” had to be one of them with its classic horn section and vocal harmonies.

Liquid Mike: If you liked Bad Moves’s power pop, but wanted even more punk elements to it, I’d recommend Liquid Mike. There are a lot of energetic guitars and odes to young foolishness and Midwest disillusionment, and they get in and out quickly while making an impression; ‘Paul Bunyan’s Slingshot’ is 13 songs and 25 minutes long, while ‘S/T’ is 11 songs and just 18 minutes. I started with the former album, which is more recent and I think the stronger album, but obviously liked it enough to start looking through their backlog.

AXOLOTES MEXICANOS: Shiny Spanish hyperpop with some pop-punk tinges. Songs like “La canción que escribiste” are instantly memorable.

Terra Nobody: I think their ‘Chaos Culture EP’ is an impressive debut; it’s indie pop with strong melodies that feels like it’s on a large scale, which is obviously something I go for. This feels like another one with a lot of potential, and I’m excited to see where they go from here.

Cyberattack: Electronic indie pop; I appreciate when artists marry more jagged and unnatural synth sounds to traditional pop songwriting, and I think their record ‘Hard Feelings’ does that well.

Miss Lucy: I feel like I went hard on down-tempo electropop stuff in my past Bandcamp dives, and I kind of pulled away from that the last few months. Miss Lucy’s EP ‘Contactless’ was a big exception; they can nail that chill feel, but also songs like “Still Got Hearts” and “Chocolate” have some oomph to keep things from getting muddled.

Mystery Friends: This DC-area duo’s album Utopia is synthy dance rock that’s driven by some very strong grooves and lush synth textures.

Dreamstates: Fun, light, and bouncy dance-pop with an endearing DIY feel. I dug their album ‘DiscoNeck’, and new single “Buzz” keeps up the streak.

Wyatt Blair: The most concise description I can think of is “something like the Cars or Devo, but using the synths and production of late-’80s pop”. It’s a weird mix, because a lot of that style just screams “cheesy”, but I found it endearing and well-made. And something about being willing to experiment with a less-popular style interests me.

Real Friends: Their album ‘There’s Nothing Worse Than Too Late’ is straight-forward, meat-and-potatoes 2000s pop-punk straight out of the Chicagoland area. It’s catchy and absolutely nails the sound and feel.

Mad Sugars: I realize “indie pop-rock with a bit of a showy, theatrical flair” might not be everyone’s thing, but I enjoyed this. Their album ‘Personal Flair’ even feels like it follows a bit of a narrative arc following a night out, and even bringing in guest singers for different voices.

Prom Nite: A group with a classic new wave and post-punk sound that feels like they call back to early works of The Police.

ULTRABOSS: They describe themselves as “synthwave with an extra slice of electric guitar”, which doesn’t feel like it should be enough to set them apart. Maybe it’s the rest of the genre, maybe it’s just their quality, but I find that it does! If you’ve ever wanted “early The Midnight, but with guitar solos instead of saxes”, definitely check them out.

Daniel Hugh: ‘The Final Season’ is a short EP of indie electropop, but I liked it a lot. A lot of catchy synth sounds here.

Teens in Trouble: ‘What’s Mine’ is another good alternative-punk record. I liked some other records in this set more, but track “Playlist” is an absolute top-tier song.

Talker: I’m kinda split on this one. Half of Celeste Tauchar’s (hence the stage name) ‘In Awe of Insignificance’ is singer-songwriter alt pop that gets stuck in your head anytime, the other half can feel too vulnerable or even cringy when it hits you at the wrong time… but that also makes those song feel relatable when I’m in the right mood, which keeps me coming back to it.

Strange Cities: A sort of dark and foggy post-punk sound, befitting of their hometown Bay Area nights.

Thoughts on the Backlogs of Bandcamp Artists I Liked from The Last Playlist:

Gold Casio: ‘Disco Hits Radio’ was one of my favorite discoveries on the last playlist, so I checked out their earlier EPs, ‘Fever Dreams’ and ‘SINNERS’. The extra cohesion and experience helps the album stand above, but both EPs are still a ton of fun and feel like Gold Casio. Definitely check them out if you also want more.

Able Machines: A lot of the stuff I said about Gold Casio applies here as well; earlier EP ‘Pathological’ isn’t quite as ‘Digital Precision’ (the more-recent full album that I wrote about last time), but the group very quickly had an identity that they were honing, and they could write a song that sticks in your head from the drop.

Zoe Briskey: ‘Ultra Desire’ was another End of 2023 highlight, so I checked out her two previous albums, ‘Highland Avenue’ and ‘Heart Juice’, and this one was interesting in other ways. I enjoyed both, but there’s definitely more growth along the way; ‘Heart Juice’ has Zoe nailing down her signature sound, but the songwriting feels less experienced and it feels a little shaggier (which might be tied to the writing). ‘Highland Avenue’ goes for a totally stripped back sound to focus on the writing. There are good moments in both, and you can really see them working in tandem in the lead-up to ‘Ultra Desire’, which makes me very excited to see where she goes next.

Alpha: I followed up alpha’s two kawaii pop assort releases from last time by checking out their older collection ‘Archive-nium’. If you like kawaii future bass, definitely check this one out, there’s a lot of bouncy, electric tracks here. I like focusing on albums and EPs like that collection, but they’ve also kept releasing new singles, too, trying a slightly more mellow take on the genre (I hesitate to call it “lo-fi” because the lo-fi beats concept feels kind of opposed to this style, but that influence is clearly there).

Me and My Kidney: Another electronic artist I covered last time, who has a sort of harder future bass drum-and-bass sound. Their EP releases from this year have sort of drifted away from that as they explore new sounds, but for more like ‘Magical Girl Coma’ (their album I covered on my End of 2023 Playlist), I’d definitely recommend their 2023 full album ‘Sparkling Chaos’.

Other Assorted Thoughts:

Eddie EWI: This is kind of a silly pick, but: I heard “Bloopin” in a meme, a short, funky little jam played on an Electronic Wind Instrument, and liked it enough that I wound up checking out the full album. It’s fun, a bunch of short pieces that all sound like they’d be playing in a video game about a frog in a swamp or something, and I wound up listening to it a few times, so I figured I’d give it a shout-out here too.

Glass Beach: I checked out their two albums (2019’s ‘the first glass beach album’ and this year’s ‘plastic death’) on strong reviews and word-of-mouth, and I feel like I need a little bit more time with them. I liked what I heard on my listens, but also, these are both dense albums with a lot of ideas and long runtimes (both clock in at an hour or more), so I feel like there’s a lot that just hasn’t sunk in for me yet. I wouldn’t be shocked if something just clicks with me when I revisit them down the line, but even if not, I still appreciate them.

Mini Trees: I stumbled upon Mini Trees’ new EP ‘Burn Out’ on Bandcamp, and really enjoyed it, a small slice of singer-songwriter/indie rock that had some extra propulsion to it. So I went back and checked out her previous album, and… it wasn’t bad, but I just didn’t think it had that energy that drew me to ‘Burn Out’. I’ll check out what she does next, to see if this was a momentary detour or a new direction.

Allie X: ‘The Girl with No Face’ is a good electropop record, especially for someone who’s not really “in” that genre traditionally. There’s some solid meat-and-potatoes synth stuff here, and I don’t want it to sound like I dislike the record. It’s just… I think it’s worse than ‘Cape God’ (her previous album, which featured on my last playlist). But also, since I’m fairly deep into electropop stuff, I’ve heard better on that front as well, so it’s hard to not feel like it comes up short on two different scales. Like, I’ve also absolutely heard worse in this genre, so it’s not all bad! And to be fair, it’s not really the genre experimenting where it most notably falls short: there are just a few too many clunky bits in some of the writing, definitely more than I remember in ‘Cape God’. I also wish it had a little more of a direction, which, again, I feel like ‘Cape God’ nailed. I’m not really sure what happened on those ends, and it just makes it harder to appreciate this as just a solid, pretty good album. I appreciate artists branching out into new areas (especially those that I love), so I hate that it feels like I’m discouraging it, but this is definitely one where I couldn’t shake the feeling of “I wish this added up to the sum of its parts”.

Bleachers: Look, I’m a big Bleachers fan, I loved their first three albums, I think Jack Antonoff is a good producer, so I was excited for their new self-titled album. I tried to like it, and I just couldn’t. The catchy hooks and tight songwriting just isn’t really there, and there’s not that much to replace it, so it feels kind of rambling and distracted, without even much in the way of strong singles to anchor the rest. I even went back to ‘Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night’ (which I remember having a muted initial reaction to) for a re-listen and enjoyed it, with so many standout bits and favorite songs just flowing back to me as I went. I tried to take that perspective into another re-listen of ‘Bleachers’, and just couldn’t find any of that here.

Jess Glynne: Another pop album I was looking forward to but was kind of let down, which is rough given that it comes after a six-year hiatus. There are some decent songs here, but it doesn’t have the standouts like her first or even lesser second album, and it feels like it melts together a little. Some of it might be weaker writing and hooks, some of it might be that I’m less a fan of the producers she went with this time, some of it might just be the length (fifteen songs). “Silly Me” definitely got stuck in my head, though.

Full playlist below

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    Artist Song Release
    Good Kid Break Good Kid 4
    Good Kid From the Start Good Kid 4
    Good Kid Mimi's Delivery Service Good Kid 3
    Good Kid Osmosis Good Kid 3
    Good Kid Down With the King Good Kid 2
    Good Kid Drifting Good Kid 2
    Good Kid Alchemist Good Kid EP
    Good Kid Atlas Good Kid EP
    BAD MOVES Cool Generator Tell No One
    BAD MOVES Spirit FM Tell No One
    BAD MOVES Local Radio Untenable
    BAD MOVES Fog is a Funny Thing Untenable
    BAD MOVES Let the Rats Inherit the Earth singles
    The Last Dinner Party Caesar on a TV Screen Prelude to Ecstasy
    The Last Dinner Party Sinner Prelude to Ecstasy
    The Last Dinner Party My Lady of Mercy Prelude to Ecstasy
    The Messthetics and James Brandon Lewis That Thang The Messthetics and James Brandon Lewis
    The Messthetics and James Brandon Lewis The Time Is the Place The Messthetics and James Brandon Lewis
    The Messthetics Better Wings Anthropocosmic Nest
    The Messthetics Because the Mountain Says So Anthropocosmic Nest
    Nourished by Time Quantum Suicide Erotic Probiotic 2
    Nourished by Time Shed That Fear Erotic Probiotic 2
    Nourished by Time Rain Water Promise Erotic Probiotic 2
    Ratboys It's Alive! The Window
    Ratboys The Window The Window
    Ratboys Alien With a Sleep Mask On Printer's Devil
    Ratboys Look To Printer's Devil
    Temple of Angels Tangled in Joy Endless Pursuit
    Temple of Angels Waving to the Wind Endless Pursuit
    Chappell Roan Good Luck, Babe! single
    Sydney Sprague lsob somebody in hell loves you
    Sydney Sprague god damn it jane somebody in hell loves you
    Sydney Sprague terrible places somebody in hell loves you
    Dead Pony Bad Girlfriend IGNORE THIS
    girl in red Phantom Pain I'M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!
    Cheem Motorola Razr Fast Fashion-EP
    Cheem Charm Bracelet Fast Fashion-EP
    Arlo Parks Devotion My Soft Machine
    Arlo Parks Blades My Soft Machine
    Chromeo Got It Good Adult Contemporary
    Chromeo Words With You Adult Contemporary
    Elephant Gym Adventure World
    Elephant Gym (feat. YILE LIN) Happy Prince World
    Elephant Gym (feat. TENDRE) Feather World
    Elephant Gym Witches Dreams
    Elephant Gym (feat. Kaohsiung City Wind Orchestra) Wings Dreams
    Flavor Foley BUTCHER VANITY single
    Jamie Paige Hope Café single
    Vane & Jamie Paige FIRE!! singles
    St. Lucia Love You Better single
    Lauren Mayberry Change Shapes single
    nightlife face2face single
    Caroline Polachek Starburned and Unkissed single
    Good Neighbours Keep It Up single
    instant crush STAB MY BACK singles
    instant crush REDEMPTION ARC singles
    Andora (feat. Will Stetson) Shining Star singles
    Andora Oddity singles
    LEASHES Instinct singles
    Purple Disco Machine & Benjamin Ingrosso
    (feat. Nile Rodgers & Shenseea)
    Honey Boy single
    Purple Disco Machine feat Roosevelt Higher Ground single
    Holly Humberstone & MUNA Into Your Room single
    CRUISR Thick and Thin single
    Miracles of Modern Science Birthday Cake singles
    Atomic Tom Let My Show You How It's Done single
    Atomic Tom Heroes single
    Billy Joel Turn the Lights Back On single
    Porter Robinson Cheerleader (upcoming)
    The Greeting Committee & Flipturn Where'd All My Friends Go? (upcoming)
    The Greeting Committee Hopscotch single
    The Decemberists Oh No! (upcoming)
    Lake Street Dive Good Together (upcoming)
    Tragic Lovers Phantom VALENTINE-EP
    Tragic Lovers Sour Times VALENTINE-EP
    Anecdata Amelia Through the Looking Glass A Better Plan B
    Anecdata Andromedean Girl A Better Plan B
    7mai Muscat Verrine Colorful Palette: Lime
    7mai Four leaf clover LONG Colorful Palette: Lime
    sponzi Groove Adventure Groove Adventure EP
    sponzi Departure Groove Adventure EP
    Moontower When I Say I Love You I'll Try Not to Mean It single
    Moontower Long Hair Season 1: The Ballad of William Hollywood
    Moontower Lay With Me Season 1: The Ballad of William Hollywood
    Moontower Hit the Lights What Day Is It EP
    Moontower Poolside Season 2 (Air Take Care)
    Lovejoy One Day Are You Alright-EP
    Lovejoy Portrait of a Blank Slate Wake Up & It's Over-EP
    Lovejoy Call Me What You Like Wake Up & It's Over-EP
    A-P Connection (feat. Holland Greco) The Rescue Sky Odyssey
    A-P Connection (feat. Nate Williams) Life Changing Romance Sky Odyssey
    King Isis POISON shed EP
    King Isis NVR RLLY shed EP
    Smallpools Swayze Ghost Town Road (east)-EP
    Smallpools Motorbike (Wild Ones) Ghost Town Road (east)-EP
    Life Size Models State of Mind State of Mind EP
    Life Size Models Sorrowful Sounds State of Mind EP
    Life Size Models Coming Apart Seasons EP
    Sorry Darling Sorry Darling See This Through
    Sorry Darling Wish You Hadn't See This Through
    Princess Problems Pussy The Backwards Thank You
    Princess Problems Don't You Worry The Backwards Thank You
    Liquid Mike Drinking and Driving Paul Bunyan's Slingshot
    Liquid Mike Mouse Trap Paul Bunyan's Slingshot
    Liquid Mike Built 4 Nothing Good S/T
    Liquid Mike Holding in a Cough S/T
    AXOLOTES MEXICANOS La canción que escribiste 4ever
    Terra Nobody Inconsequential Chaos Culture EP
    Terra Nobody Reckless Chaos Culture EP
    Cyberattack Sure Thing Hard Feelings
    Cyberattack I Just Wanna Talk Hard Feelings
    Miss Lucy Still Got Hearts (On My Phone) Contactless
    Miss Lucy Chocolate Contactless
    Mystery Friends beck and call Utopia
    Mystery Friends serotonin Utopia
    DreamStates Buzz single
    DreamStates Travelling Light DiscoNeck
    DreamStates Burn Me DiscoNeck
    Wyatt Blair (feat. Active Decay) Without You Ricky's First Dance
    Wyatt Blair Change (Is For the Better) Ricky's First Dance
    Real Friends Tell Me You're Sorry There's Nothing Worse Than Too Late
    Real Friends Always Lose There's Nothing Worse Than Too Late
    The Mad Sugars Goodbye New Jersey Personal Space
    The Mad Sugars (feat. Monte Mader) Light the Fuse Personal Space
    Prom Nite Find That Party Prom Nite
    Prom Nite Disguises Prom Nite
    ULTRABOSS Nightcry Yachtmaster
    ULTRABOSS Prisoner of the Night Yachtmaster
    Daniel Hugh Follow Me The Final Season-EP
    Daniel Hugh Just for a Moment The Final Season-EP
    Teens in Trouble Awkward Girl What's Mine
    Teens in Trouble Playlist What's Mine
    talker IRL In Awe of Insignificance
    talker Growing Up In Awe of Insignificance
    Strange Cities Cage Moments Stolen
    Gold Casio Fever Dreams Fever Dreams-EP
    Gold Casio Last Song Fever Dreams-EP
    Gold Casio Make You Mine SINNERS EP
    Gold Casio Love vs Logic SINNERS EP
    able machines Intentions Pathological
    able machines Selfmachine Pathological
    Zoe Briskey American Spirit Heart Juice
    Zoe Briskey Cigarettes at the Citgo Heart Juice
    Zoe Briskey sugar Highland Avenue
    alpha colorize singles
    alpha peppermint Archive-nium
    alpha night dream Archive-nium
    alpha telescope Archive-nium
    Me and My Kidney Overgrown Sparkling Chaos
    Me and My Kidney Cotton Candy Cloud Sparkling Chaos
    Me and My Kidney Sugar Overload Sparkling Chaos
    Eddie EWI Bloopin Bloop Loops
    glass beach yoshis island the first glass beach album
    glass beach motions plastic death
    Mini Trees Shapeshifter Burn Out EP
    Mini Trees Burn Out Burn Out EP
    Mini Trees Carrying On Always In Motion
    Allie X Weird World Girl With No Face
    Allie X Galina Girl With No Face
    Bleachers Call Me After Midnight Bleachers
    Jess Glynne Silly Me JESS
    Vallis Alps Pulling Me Back single
    Lauryl Sulfate &Her Ladies of Leisure I'm Your Man I'm Your Man-EP
    Madame Reaper & the Gentlemen's Club Alright Tonight (This) single
    Snail's House Sound Traveller single
    Boy Jr. I Hope You Feel Terrible single
    again&again Daydreams single
    ARIZONA Sorry Now single
    Chiru-san Luminescence singles
    Chiru-san Bloom singles
    Candy Apple Blue Special Star single
    father koi, emma aibara do you miss me? single
    Great Good Fine Ok Breathing EXIST-EP
    HONNE Me & You Love Me/Love Me Not
    Sacred Skin Paranoid single
    June Jones Bubblegum single
    WINGTIPS Deaf Pursuit Exposure Therapy
    WINGTIPS After the Storm Exposure Therapy
    Josh Zaleha MGL single
    Josh Zaleha fwb psychosis
    Jukebox the Ghost Friends Again single
    CATBEAR I'll Meet You at the End singles
    Dirty Nice Like Best Friends single
    Megan McDuffee (feat. RichaadEB) Forgive Me single
    ElevenWAV, danesdanes ULTRAViOLETA single
    Gavin Turek Disco Boots singles
    Broken Record Midwest Rhino I Died Laughing
    Mom's Home Three Years What About What I Want-EP
    Parallels Sophia Supersymmetry
    Power Plush Leave Me Alone Coping Fantasies
    Diamond Day Fiction Feel Connect the Dots
    Hotline TNT Son In Law Cartwheel
    Wednesday Chosen to Deserve Rat Saw God

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