Phoebe Bridgers releases cover version of Bo Burnham’s “That Funny Feeling” for Bandcamp Friday

Photo by Christian Sarkine

Phoebe Bridgers has released a cover version of Bo Burnham’s “That Funny Feeling” exclusively via Bandcamp today, Friday, October 1st. All proceeds from the sale of the track, including Bo Burnham’s publishing, will go to Texas Abortion Funds – split evenly between Texas Equal Access Fund, The Bridge Collective, Clinic Access Support Network, West Fund, Jane’s Due Process, Fund Texas Choice, Support Your Sistah at the Afiya Center, the Lilith Fund, Frontera Fund, and Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, Inc. 

Phoebe’s version, which she has also been performing live on her North American current tour, was recorded in Los Angeles with Tony Berg, Ethan Gruska, Christian Lee Hutson, Harrison Whitford, Rob Moose, Sebastian Steinberg, Marshall Vore, Nate Walcott and Maria Taylor.

About the track Phoebe simply said,

“This one’s for Greg Abbott.”

Listen & buy the track below!

Julien Baker – Little Oblivions Album Review

Matador Records – 2021

It’s overwhelming to think of how much the world has changed since Julien Baker’s sophomore record Turn Out The Lights. Starting out tied to the contemporary American emo scene of the 2010’s, Baker along with her contemporaries Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus have all moved past their slowcore, quaint indie folk origins and created instrumentally rich records full that have propelled their careers forward. 

A phrase floating around on Twitter before this album came out was “depression, but with drums” and if i’m being honest, Little Oblivions fits that description nicely. There is of course a lot more depth to it than that but the added percussion, especially on tracks like “Bloodshot” and “Ringside” make you wonder what Baker’s music would have been like had this been the norm from the start? The percussion ranges from hard hitting acoustic snare beats and cymbals to minimalistic loops that you feel like were added in with painstaking attention to detail. 

Opener “Hardline” blasts your eardrums with a multitude of vibrant instrumentation choices, coupled with Baker’s acceptance of regression and struggles with addiction in the lyrics, making this a strong track to set off the album. It’s the first gut punch of many on Little Oblivions, with lyrics like “I’m telling my own fortune, something I cannot escape, I can see where this is going, but I can’t find the brake”. On her first release Sprained Ankle she claimed that she wished she could write songs about anything other than death, and even if it’s not always literally about death, Little Oblivions in a way has become a self fulfilling prophecy of sorts.

However, the expectations ‘Hardline’ sets for the rest of the record are hard to top. When Baker relied solely on her guitar and subtle ornamentations in her previous work, this made her songs a lot more memorable. In this case, it feels like there’s almost too much going on with Little Oblivions for tracks to always necessarily stand out on their own. “Faith Healer” and “Repeat” are the biggest departures from Baker’s sound, and despite some hard hitting, self deprecating lines, the by the numbers indie instrumentation becomes more of a distraction than enhancing the listening experience. The gospel inspired backing vocals on “Favor” provided by her Boygenius bandmates work well in a more stripped back context, even if it’s because the acoustic guitar lead is reminiscent of early Elliott Smith. 

Case in point, “Song in E” sees Baker reaching almost cinematic heights with lavish piano notes, each key hit with further deliberation than the last. It doesn’t need a full backing ensemble to get its point across and would feel unnecessary if this were the case. She holds nothing back expressing this desire for self punishment and validation through that rather than whoever she’s hurt giving her nothing in return, even if from the outside that seems like the mature option; “I wish you’d hurt me, it’s the mercy I can’t take.” 

Fans who wanted a fuller experience of Baker’s blunt autobiographical ventures will have a lot to sink their teeth into on Little Oblivions, alongside being able to channel cynical viewpoints and criticisms of herself into a form of empowerment rather than self pity or cringe. For the most part Baker is strongest when the instrumentation is minimal as too many of the songs on here don’t quite hit the same consistency of quality, despite the earnest songwriting. This is her biggest sounding album yet, but doesn’t always manage to make a lasting impression.

Phoebe Bridgers covers John Prine’s “Summer’s End ” and shares new version of “Kyoto” with Jackson Browne

Phoebe Bridgers has shared a cover of John Prine’s “Summer’s End” from his 2018 album The Tree Of Forgiveness with Jackson Browne providing backing vocals. She has also shared a new version of “Kyoto” from Punisher with Maria Taylor. These singles were released for the ‘Spotify Singles’ series in which Bridgers previously released live version of “Scott Street” from her 2017 debut Stranger In The Alps and a cover of The Cure’s “Friday I’m In Love”.

Bridgers recently sang on “Favour” from Boygenius bandmate Julien Baker’s new album Little Oblivions.

Listen to the new singles below.

Lucy Dacus releases new single “Thumbs”

Photo by Marin Leong

Lucy Dacus has shared new single “Thumbs”, a live favourite that was originally written in Autumn 2018. The new heartbreaking single features just Dacus’ swaying vocals over a distant synth pad as she tells the story of helping a friend to move on from a past lover. It’s emotionally fuelled and you can feel it in every corner of the song, with Dacus masterfully placing you in that moment with the weight of it all washing over you with the wind samples.

Speaking on the new single Dacus said:

Like most songs I write, I wasn’t expecting it and it made me feel weird, almost sick. It tells the story of a day I had with a friend during our freshman year of college, a significant day, but not one that I had thought of for years. I started playing it live a month or so later during the boygenius tour after Phoebe and Julien encouraged me to. I knew I wanted a long time to get used to playing it since it made me feel shaky, so I ended sets with it for about half the shows I played in 2019. Before I played it, I would ask the audience to please not record it, a request that seems to have been respected, which I’m grateful for.

Listen to the new song below.

Claud – Super Monster Album Review

Saddest Factory – 2021

This album is a debut in two aspects, being the first album from LA based bedroom-pop star Claud Mintz and also being the first release on Phoebe Bridgers‘ newly founded Saddest Factory Records, launched last October. Claud first gained attention for their woozy dream-pop infused “Wish You Were Gay” released back in 2019 followed by their Sideline Star EP released later in the year. Following on from the likes of fellow bedroom-pop stars Clairo and Beabadoobee, who have gained a loyal set of fans thanks to their intimate, yet sonically rewarding pop ballads. They now return with a coming of age album that is infused with heartbreak and yearning to be loved.

The album title refers to a drawing done by Daniel Johnston titled Claud And The Super Monster and this idea of a superhero and monster merged into one is something that Claud inhabits on this album. Everybody’s got the good and the bad within them, but ultimately they’re just trying to do their best. Claud spent most of their adolescence moving from city to city, the inevitable fallout that this had on personal relationships can be felt throughout this album. Over various moods of indie-pop tinged musings Claud tells the story of somebody clinging on to love when ultimately it may be doomed to fail. The opening line of the glittery opener “Overnight” tells this exact tale, “I fell in love like a fool overnight”. Claud has previously said that they “feel love really intensely” and you can hear every ounce of the love that Claud wants to give, especially on intimate moments like on the intoxicatingly catchy “Soft Spot” where they sing “Pull the covers over our short hair, Pretend like the city wasn’t there”. They’re not even afraid to put aside embarrassment and share unpolished anecdotes like on “Pepsi” as they sing “I hate that you told me to masturbate, Instead of comin’ over”.

Perhaps one of Claud’s strongest assets that is explored on this album is their ability to turn experiences into unapologetically catchy melodies. You only need to hear the chorus line of “In Or In -Between” once to have it stuck in your head for days. Even on softer moments like “This Town” the serenity of Claud’s vocals reign supreme above every other aspect of the track. Bathed in psychedelic infused textures, there’s a certain natural cool to Claud’s vocal stylings, never straining too hard but always hitting the sweet spot of momentary bliss, the like of which can be felt all over “Soft Spot”. And she even invokes some of the tendencies of pop’s super queen Taylor Swift on “Jordan”, through its country tinged ballad flow, it wouldn’t feel out of place on Swift’s Red album.

It’s not just the modern pop greats that Claud leans on for influence though. There’s also hints of early 2000’s pop-punk on the misogynist put-down “That’s Mr. Bitch To You”. And on “Guard Down” they infuse elements of post-disco, with the obnoxiously gratifying back and forth groove. There can be moments however where the influence and genre fusing can become slightly off-putting. Unfortunately this is found during the second verse of “Guard Down” where Claud’s faux-rap interlude takes you away from the sweet tendencies the rest of the track offers and almost borders on the line of parody. It’s clear that Claud was obviously just having fun whilst making these tracks, but that sometimes comes at the cost of losing the rawness of the songs sound.

As this album progresses you can at times feel Claud get too fixed into her comfort zone of short indie-centric, flanger-infused ballads. On penultimate track “Rocks At Your Window”, the melody and guitar passage is oozing in raw longing, however as this song is just about to reach a potentially powerful climax it fades out. There’s a glimpse of where the track could have gone on the first chorus, but instead it’s exchanged for a short fade out of swirling synthesisers. And on “Pepsi” the 80’s inspired bass line and synth pop soundscapes never really bring the song to any new grounds that can’t be heard elsewhere on the album. Claud’s vocal don’t even feel as inspired here, that hint of understated prowess just feels slightly missing. But this album does end on a strong conclusion however with “Falling With The Rain”, a track that features Shelly, a band compromised of Claud them self, Clairo and former Toast bandmate Josh Mehling. The power pop groove breathes new life into the end of the album and Claud’s natural flair returns with her juxtaposing lyrics of “In my head, I hang on by a thread” that backed with a swirl of uplifting and dance hall worth instrumentation. The super monster metaphor still runs true.

For a first outing Claud has certainly set the bar high for whatever may come next, a bare bones album full of honesty and unpolished tales of a life of love. But for now lets just enjoy the pop-centric grooves that Claud has brought us and try and find the super monster within ourselves as we listen.

30 Best Albums Of The Year 2020

The one thing that has kept all us going this year is the amount of incredible music that has continued to flow out of every part of the musical spectrum. There’s been some truly incredible releases over the past twelve months, and we are forever grateful for every artist that has released music to keep us going through these truly wild times. With that said, we’ve narrowed down what we believe is the absolute best of the best of this year, it was no easy task, but to us this is the music that truly stood above the rest.

30. Armand Hammer – Shrines

Surely album cover of the year. This, their fourth album, reflects the angst and anger felt by many. Somehow they still come out sounding quite positive.

— Barry Tucker

29. Tony Bontana – Di-Splay

Witnessing an artist at their dawn is never always easy. However since Bontana’s existence in the musical world, his debut album only capitalises on his extremely concise and evocative musicianship. Di-Splay shows Bontana coming into his own, the album includes a great deal of features that highlights the extreme amount of talent that Bontana is amongst and works with. Godspeed to Tony.

— David Tucker

28. Hachiku – I’ll Probably Be Asleep

Anika Ostendorf releases her long awaited debut album, and her sound has never been fresher. Combining elements of dream-pop, shoegaze and indie rock, Ostendorf has created an album that’s as assured in its delivery as it is as catchy in its grooves. Recorded mostly by just Ostendorf herself “in whatever bedroom she was currently inhabiting” according to her Bandcamp bio, but this only adds to the raw and emotive sound she captures on this album. It’s the almost ultimate lockdown album, touching on themes of becoming grounded and accepting where your life is in the moment, except it was written over the course of the last two years. Perhaps Ostendorf knows more than we do? Either way one thing we know is that we have spent hours getting lost in the swaying sounds of this fantastic debut.

— James Pearson

27. Quelle Chris & Chris Keys – Innocent Country 2

Back for their second collaboration since 2015’s Innocent Country. It’s full of mellow tunes delivered in Quelle’s laid back style. Quelle says the theme of the album is peace. Not a bad shout.

— Barry Tucker

26. Lianne La Havas – Lianne La Havas

Full of soul, love and a huge helping of natural talent, Lianne La Havas’ latest album is rightly self titled. This album is La Havas through and through. Incredible vocal performances, woozy and dreamy songwriting and an abundance of confidence. Featuring one the most intoxicating riffs in the form of “Can’t Fight” that we named as one of the best songs of the year. And a truly mesmerising cover of Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes” that’ll leave you in utter awe at just how much new depth La Havas brings to this track, just listen to that vocal rise towards the end of the song.

Read our original review here.

— James Pearson

25. Caribou – Suddenly

Dan Snaith returns with a more lowkey follow up to 2014’s Our Love, but his extreme craftsmanship and attention to detail remains prominent throughout. Manipulating sounds at his will, to create some of the most heartbreaking whilst simultaneously dance hall worthy beats yet. Acting as a retrospective on his relationship with others and his self, the majestry of this album lies within its ability to be raw whilst being full of joy all at the same time. “Never Come Back” is the perfect example of this, as Snaith looks back at the fallout of a breakup, backed by a highly intoxicating groove. Read here why we named it one of the best songs of the year.

— James Pearson

24. Ulla – Tumbling Towards A Wall

To witness an album so effectively dissolve music to its natural organic roots has never been so beautiful to witness. Sound moves in organic movement, tonal sounds trickle and slide through polyrhythmic trajectories. Ulla Straus composes each of the tracks with a keen eye for satisfaction. Sounds sustain before crumbling and swinging forming clusters. Listening to this album is the pure definition of chaotic beauty. Understanding a collective movement of all parts forming a complete whole.

— David Tucker

23. Perfume Genius – Set My Heart On Fire Immediately

Mike Hadreas follows up 2017’s No Shape with an album that shifts and twists through various styles of pop, shoegaze, country and industrial rock. Yet in each field of sound Hadreas has never sounded as confident as on this album. The one thing that binds all these varying sounds and moods together is Hadreas phenomenal vocal performance. He consistently pushes himself to see how intimate and simultaneously vibrant as he can get. There’s also room for one of the best alternative pop songs of this year in the form of “On The Floor” that has such a fantastic groove, melody and chorus that it’ll have you on the floor, either from dancing too much to it or reading deep into the lyrics.

Read our original review here.

— James Pearson

22. Off The Meds – Off The Meds

On their debut album, Off The Meds define their sound with a huge collection of absolute bangers. From start to finish the album contains addictive rhythms and lyrics that will keep you driven and motivated. The creativity of the sound being put into each of the tracks is so refreshing whilst making the tracks so much more enjoyable. Dance music at its finest!

— David Tucker

21. Bdrmm – Bedroom

It’s easy these days for any band with a reverb pedal and overdriven guitars to be classed as “somewhat shoegaze”. However there’s a feeling that needs to be captured when creating this music, and on debut album Bedroom, bdrmm define this mood to a T. Searing soundscapes, hard hitting riffs and lyrics that speak on themes of self-acceptance, anxiety and the disparity of youth. Their influences are clear, but the delivery matches that of many of the shoegaze greats.

Read our original review here.

— James Pearson

20. Katy J Pearson – Return

One of the most assured and confident debut albums released this year from Bristol based country, folk, indie singer-songwriter Katy J Pearson. There’s not a moment on this album that feels wasted or half-arsed as Pearson delivers one heartfelt ballad after another. There’s also a some truly captivating songwriting and storytelling layered within each song, just look at opener “Tonight”. But there’s also some fantastically groovy pop bangers within, such as “Take Back The Radio”, which we named as one of the best songs of the year. Pearson has finally declared herself as a modern country queen and we hope her reign is long and joyous.

Read our original review here.

— James Pearson

19. King Krule – Man Alive!

Archie Marshall’s bleak and blissful songwriting continues to be ever enchanting on third album Man Alive!. On The OOZ Marshall created a world for the listener to inhabit, but this time around he’s taken a look at the world around him, pondering questions of what the hell is going on? Through jazzy instrumentation and hazy soundscapes Marshall returns with perhaps his most succinct project to date, refining his sound to its purest elements. There’s also deep amounts of raw emotion laid bare on this album, from the isolation inspired “(Don’t Let The Dragon) Draag On” to the dreary ballad of “Perfecto Miserable”, Marshall is at his most vulnerable. Through all the despair and depression that’s infused within this album there’s also an underlying sense of hope, that things might just get better if we try. The blissful serenity sign off on closer “Please Complete Thee” is an embodiment of just that.

Read our original review here.

— James Pearson

18. Ana Roxanne – Because Of A Flower

Ana Roxanne has an incredible ability to transport you to a plain of absolute tranquility through her deeply meditative and evoking ambient music. As she intertwines elements of nature within her songs she allows you to reconnect with the world around you, realising its true beauty. Even just the simple mellotron arpeggio of “- – -” can take you back to memories and places you thought had long been forgotten. Read here why we named it one of the best songs of the year. The cover may be just a simple white sleeve, but within there’s so much more colour and vibrancy that can only be truly appreciated when you dive deep into the sounds.

Read our original review here.

— James Pearson

17. Pink Siifu and Fly Anakin – Flysiifu’s

Pink Siifu released NEGRO this year, a very angry and noisy album. In contrast, this collab sounds fresh and relaxed, and with its huge number of amazing contributors (Madlib and liv.e to name two), reflects much of their musical heritage, but is firmly a modern hiphop classic.

— Barry Tucker

16. I Break Horses – Warnings

A truly magical journey of dream-pop, carried by Maria Lindën’s dreamy vocals. Built out of Lindën re-imaging the soundtracks to classic films she was watching, Warnings is one of those hidden gems that just makes you stop when you first hear it. Infusing elements of 80’s pop and alternative electronic music, this album is as colourful as it is expansive. It’s easy to get lost in the many layered soundscapes that Lindën beautifully crafts, just look at opener “Turn”. Just over 9 minutes long and yet over that course it consistently moves and travels within itself, taking you along with it on a cloud of pure bliss.

Read our original review here.

— James Pearson

15. Clipping. – Visions Of Bodies Being Burned

The more brutal and bloody follow up to 2019’s There Existed An Addiction To Blood sees Daveed Diggs and co. create a true horror movie within an album. The flow and rhythm of Diggs’ deeply descriptive and potent storytelling is largely unrivalled. The production of this album is also a feat within itself, fusing elements of hip-hop, industrial metal and noise rock to make a sound that is as harsh as it is captivating, drawing you in with every listen. “Say The Name” is a perfect example of this as the ending descends into all out twisted chaos. Sequels always have the immense task of becoming bigger than the original, and Visions Of Bodies Being Burned does just that, with an unchallenged cool. There’s also an incredible amount of perfectly placed and effective features from the likes of Cam & China, Ho99o9 and Sickness.

— James Pearson

14. Adrianne Lenker – Songs And Instrumentals

After Big Thief’s tour at the start of the year was cut short, Adrianne Lenker returned back to Massachusetts, rented a small cabin and said she would give herself a break from working. The exact opposite of that happened and the result of Lenker’s itching desire to write is Songs And Instrumentals. Recorded entirely through its entire process on analogue equipment, this album is intimacy defined to its core. The glistening guitars and floating melodies of “Anything” is enough to make anyone believe that they can find love. Lenker is at one with nature on this album and through the natural recording techniques and bird sounds placed throughout she perfectly captures that feeling of getting back to simplicity.

Read our original review here.

— James Pearson

13. Sault – Untitled (Black Is)

What a year for SAULT! Releasing their 3rd and 4th albums of soul with jazz, hiphop and Afrobeat tweaks. Inflo and Cleo Sol (whose solo album is also very good) have made tunes that in these difficult times, need to be heard.

— Barry Tucker

12. Charli XCX – How I’m Feeling Now

Charli XCX continues her incredible run of powerful future pop albums with her latest How I’m Feeling Now, an album written and created entirely during lockdown. It’s not only a showcase of Charli’s incredible songwriting talent, but her never diminishing work ethic. Packed full of bangers and dance-floor anthems that capture the desire we all have to simply be around people again. Opener “Pink Diamond” is an ode to the club and that feeling of joy from being within a big crowd where the only feeling that is going round is just pure joy. Produced in part by Dylan Brady, one half of hyper-pop masterminds 100 gecs, this album also features some clear cut production, almost feeling as if you’re inside a vacuum as every sound is pulled front and centre. The ultimate lockdown album shows just what can be done within the limitations of home.

— James Pearson

11. HMLTD – West Of Eden

The ethos of HMLTD is to never create two songs that sound the same, and boy is this album packed full of variety. From spaghetti western ballads, to post punk ragers to the text to speech Japanese glitch pop “Why?”, this album has it all. But just because the style changes that doesn’t mean the quality does. Each song is full of so much bravado that it’s enticing to try and guess where they will be going next. This album certainly packs a punch, just listen to the bass line of “LOADED”, whilst also being heartfelt and full of earnest on the 80’s pop ballad anthem “Mikey’s Song”. Read here why we named it one of the best songs of the year. A commentary on the disparity of modern civilisation, whilst also offering hope that we can start anew, this is certainly a capsule of modern life distilled into a downright joyously crafted album.

— James Pearson

10. Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist – Alfredo

The latest outing from Gibbs shows him team up with long time master producer Alchemist. Gibbs is an absolute professional when it comes to story telling. The way that messages and narratives are put together are a mix between humorous and sobering. This album yet again defines Gibbs as one of the most important artists of out generation. Alchemist provides the perfect landscape for an 80s film that Gibbs narrates.

— David Tucker

9. Nothing – The Great Dismal

There might not be a better representation of the bleakness that many of us have felt this year than The Great Dismal. Cathartic and devastating is the sound that encompasses the Philly band’s fourth studio album. Inspired by the images that emerged of a black hole, the band paints truly disturbing scenes both with their lyricism and sonic explosions. Touching on themes of isolation, extinction and human behaviour, the band have soundtracked, almost unknowingly the mood and collective feeling of this year. This album feels like it’s constantly trying to burst out of it’s soundscapes whilst simultaneously sucking you in to a great void of nothing. They have taken their already devastating sound and expanded it out into new and vibrant directions.

Read our original review here.

— James Pearson

8. Rina Sawayama – Sawayama

The debut from Rina Sawayama is truly enticing, showcasing her ability to blend and fuse genre’s and sounds through her extremely powerful vocal performances. Just look at the Marxist anthem of “XS” as the power pop verse’s crash into the chorus with the overdrive infused descending metal guitar lines. There’s also perhaps one of the best vocal performances of the year on opener “Dynasty” as Sawayama matches the swirling lead guitar line note for note, leaving you truly awestruck. Throughout its runtime this album never slows down, consistently offering new and exciting ideas that showcases how much of a natural talent Sawayama has. It’s like a festival where Sawayama is fronting every band. As far as debut’s go they don’t get much better than this. We’ll be keenly watching to see what Sawayama comes up with next.

Read our original review here.

— James Pearson

7. IDLES – Ultra Mono

Devastatingly brutal is the sound of IDLES third album Ultra Mono. This is the band at their most refined and potent. They narrow their sonic output out to be it’s most powerful and don’t leave any room for interpretation on their political stances. From the anti-war opener “War” with its spitfire like drum solo to the behemoth bass swells of “Reigns”, IDLES have concurred the studio to create their most black and white sounding album yet, or mono if you will. But even more hard hitting than the instrumentation is lead singer Joe Talbot’s growling vocal delivery. There’s anger, fury within his voice, but it’s all driven by love. Continuing to call out the small minded government that runs this country whilst simultaneously trying to unify everyone that listens to his words. Ultra Mono is a culmination of everything IDLES have become and holds its place as one of the most explosive punk albums released this year.

Read our original review here.

— James Pearson

6. Mary Lattimore – Silver Ladders

The greatest aspect of Silver Ladders is Mary Lattimore’s talent for evoking memories and telling deep and flowing stories with only the pluck of her harp strings. The intricacy of the movements that Lattimore intertwines into each song takes you into a deep space of acceptance and unity with the world. These songs are perfect for a cozy night inside or a late night walk through lamplit streets. Produced by Slowdive’s Neil Halstead, there’s also aspects of shoegaze sewn throughout, which can be heard through the cascading guitars on “Til A Mermaid Drags You Under”. Further evolving Lattimore’s sound to become so full of life and subtle beauty that you feel each note gliding over you, taking you further out into the blissful cosmos she creates.

Read our original review here.

— James Pearson

5. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – K.G.

Birth. Death. Taxes. King Gizzard releasing new music. These are the constants of life as we said in our review of K.G., the 16th (!!) studio album in ten years from the genre defying band of magicians King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. And if you’re looking for a place to start in their comprehensive catalogue then there might not be a better place to start than this album. Defining and refining the eccentric elements of the bands sound to an ever changing and yet continuously flowing tracklist, the self title of the album is truly deserved. Just listen to the transition from the woozy folk ballad of “Honey” to the Black Sabbath infused closer “The Hungry Wolf Of Fate”. Also featuring the bands take on a “90’s Turkish house banger” in the form of the groovy “Intrasport”. Adding to all that, this album was recorded remotely with the members being in various lockdown’s, they really are an ever chugging well oiled machine.

— James Pearson

4. Tame Impala – The Slow Rush

Kevin Parker has done it again. Arriving 5 years after the heartbreak fuelled and synthesiser driven Currents, The Slow Rush sees Parker take a look back at his life and where he’s going next. Although over the years Tame Impala’s sound has gone through many phases, one thing that has remained consistent is Parker’s incredible attention to detail for creating sonic landscapes and his studio wizardry. The sound might not be as clean as Currents, but there’s still so many layers and flowing melodies to each song that you could spend a day just trying to unpack one. Parker also embraces a more disco-centric sound on “Breathe Deeper” and “Lost In Yesterday”, whilst still keeping that flair of psychedelia about them. But almost by accident Parker soundtracked a pandemic with opener “One More Year” as the vocals swirl and chant “One more year” around the soundscape. Four albums in and Parker still has that signature flair of excellence that is ever present.

— James Pearson

3. L.A. Priest – Gene

It is rare that an album is so self aware of its existence within the first four words. “Shit is fiery fire” is just about the best way to sum up Gene. The sophomore album further establishes La Priest as one of the funkiest, electrifying and downright great songwriters of the contemporary alternative scene. Each track is flooded with an abundance of beautiful noise that makes every song all the more vivid and meaningful. Instruments fizz and bubble like the pot of a magical wizard. I’m not religious, but this is one priests sermon i’ve been attending every Sunday.

Read our original review here.

— David Tucker

2. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher

The amount of beauty and sadness that Phoebe Bridgers packs into her sophomore album is unmeasurable. The stories told and their heartbreaking delivery from Bridgers help establish her as one of modern musics greatest storytellers. This is the perfect headphones in the dark album. Sonically this album also pushes Bridgers sound design to its most enticing, there’s not a moment that doesn’t make you think, how did they do that? Just listen to “Garden Song”‘ and its crunching, almost watered down guitar riff try and push out of the mix as it chugs along. And of course it wouldn’t be a Phoebe Bridgers album without a soundtrack to the apocalypse. The incredible movement from guitar ballad to all out cathartic fanfare on “I Know The End” is a true testament to not only Bridgers’ incredible song writing talent but also as a retrospective on the modern day. Read here why we named it the best song of the year.

Read our original review here.

— James Pearson

1. Sorry – 925

This album has been the soundtrack to our year. Highly anticipated before its release and upon its delivery there was nothing to disappoint. This album simply gets better with every listen. Packed full of banger after banger, this is a culmination of the bands rise of the last few year as well as their incredibly intricate and subtly fierce songwriting. Casual listeners may just hear these as average “indie” songs, but there’s so much more to them than that. A certain mystique and spark of magic lies within every song, it’s hard to describe. Whether it be the almost deadpan delivery of Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen’s vocal delivery, or the incredibly haunting and often uneasy soundscapes that the band creates underneath a seemingly upbeat sound. “As The Sun Sets” is a perfect example of this, read here why we named it as the second best song of the year. The title 925 is a reference to Silver 925, but for us this album is pure gold.

Read our original review here.

— James Pearson

50 Best Songs Of The Year 2020

In a year of phenomenal music these are the songs we’ve had continuously on repeat, blasting through our headphones until we got sick of them, then fell in love with them all over again. There’s been some phenomenal displays of extreme musicianship, songwriting and studio wizardry this year, and these are the songs we feel bring all of these elements together in a perfect smoothie of sound. Yum yum in our ear drums (sorry). We’ve put them all together in one handy playlist for your listening pleasure as well which you can find here.

50. IDLES – Reigns

A showcase of IDLES new found production prowess, the huge distorted bass swells are the natural progression for a band revered for their unchallenged raw power. Reigning in their chaotic sound to it simplest form, whilst still retaining the grandeur.

49. King Krule – Alone (Omen 3)

First appearing at the end of 2019, Alone (Omen 3) came into existence by a power plant. The acoustic representation of the song would then have its second coming on the announcement of King Krule’s latest album Man Alive! In the album format, the song is a grunge absorbed slice of heaven. The track wallows in loneliness, a voice leaning over you at your lowest. Words of positivity and hope bellow across like a mantra. Guitar and voice give way to a hidden void. Archie Marshall proves himself yet again to be one of the most talented fucking humans. Don’t answer your phone, take the train and remember that you’re not alone.

48. PVA – Exhaust/ Surroundings

A showcase of the London based 3-pieces songwriting technical ability. Just as you think you know what’s coming next, the band will swerve into new challenging lanes. The switch outs from the techno club groove into blissful synthesisers and back again perfectly captures that feeling of euphoria on the dancefloor.

47. Nadia Reid – Other Side Of The Wheel

Simply put, this is a very beautiful song. As Nadia Reid embraces her acceptance of moving on from lost love she delivers a truly emotive indie folk ballad. Swirling soundscapes and a driving groove, Reid further establishes herself as one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets.

46. Overmono – Everything U Need

Evocative music is really hard to pinpoint. Everything U Need is a lesson on how emotion can be conveyed in the best way possible. Dance music with every element being lovingly treated and cared for. This is the melancholy banger that everyone wanted from this year.

45. Fiona Apple – Rack Of His

Three decades into her career and Fiona Apple isn’t ready to give away her mantle as one of indie rocks most revered stars. Reversing the misogyny often given to women around to men when she sings “Check out that rack of his, Look at that row of guitar necks”. Not only speaking from experience, but calling for all those who have also experienced the onslaught of male depreciation to speak out and find power in each other. Also featuring an off-key piano line that will climb through your mind for days to come.

44. Arlo Parks – Black Dog

This has certainly been Arlo Parks year, debut album on the way next year. One of the biggest catalysts for Parks sudden surge in attention was “Black Dog”. It’s hard to pick an element of this song that exceeds the rest as Parks’ emotionally impactful lyrics and vocal performance backed with simplistic yet moving instrumentation makes an all round heartfelt indie anthem.

43. Georgia – Never Let You Go

Confident and cool. That’s the feeling all over London based producer Georgia’s latest album and “Never Let You Go” is the pinnacle of that. Unravelling vibrant and explosive soundscapes backed with a shake-your-butt like groove culminate in one of indie pop’s best bangers this year. We can’t wait to hear this one in the club.

42. Moses Sumney – Virile

Moses Sumney transcends genre to combine his emphatic vocal performance with a hugely expansive backing track that is both hard hitting and beautiful simultaneously. As he breaks down the contradictions of masculinity Sumney seeks to find the grey area in between it all in this groove filled banger.

41. Oneohtrix Point Never – I Don’t Love Me Anymore

Daniel Lopatin can paint sounds like no other. The sound of “I Don’t Love Me Anymore” is so addictive that it’s hard to not have this track on repeat. You’ll spend half the time trying to unravel every layer of sound and unwrap the deep vocal manipulations, but all this does is allow you to appreciate how much of a talented craftsman of sound he really is.

40. Kelly Lee Owens – On

A perfect combination of flourishing dream pop and techno from singer-songwriter/ producer Kelly Lee Owens. Showcasing her studio flair and ability to bend sounds to her will, continually evolving and expanding until it reaches its hard groove filled climax.

39. Dua Lipa – Hallucinate

A straight up pop anthem. It’s no doubt that Dua Lipa has made one of this years most confident pop albums in Future Nostalgia and “Hallucinate” showcases everything noteworthy about it. Highly catchy chorus, dance floor worthy groove and a supreme vocal performance from Lipa reaffirms her as one of pop’s biggest forces to be reckoned with.

38. Sault – Hard Life

Delightfully intoxicating groove, soulful melodies and a switch up that’s full of messages of self worth, further amplifying the pseudonymous collectives continuous messaging that black lives do matter. The mysticism surrounding the project only makes it that much more enticing.

37. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Straws In The Wind

King Gizzard have always been giving a retrospective of modern times within their music but this might be their most black and white song to date on the matter. “Pandemonium, selfish pigs
Headless chickens scared shitless, The media will never quit” declares singer Ambrose Kenny-Smith. Weird production aesthetics and more explorations into microtonal tuning sees the band stay as colourful as ever. Also featuring the best leaf blower solo in recorded history.

36. Bdrmm – A Reason To Celebrate

Pure shoegaze bliss. Borrowing from the founding fathers of shoegaze, bdrrm capture the explosiveness of My Bloody Valentine and melancholic joy of Slowdive to form a sound that’s as fresh as the Hull 5 piece’s faces.

35. Charli XCX – Pink Diamond

Recorded entirely during lockdown, Charli XCX’s latest album is a testament to her incredible work ethic and prolific output. Opener “Pink Diamond” is hard hitting ode to the club, that captures the longing we’ve all been feeling this year. Harsh beats, heavy hitting synths and shrink wrapped production make for yet another addition to Charli’s ever-growing list of bangers.

34. Angel Olsen – Whole New Mess

This is Angel Olsen at her most candid. Returning to a sound that was found in the early days of Halfway Home, Olsen crooning over crunchy reverbed guitars. Speaking on the feeling of constantly wondering how you’ll mess the day up, Olsen is raw in every sense of the word.

33. Ana Roxanne – —

The beauty of Ana Roxanne’s music comes from its assured ability to evoke memories you thought you’d lost forever. Put on some headphones and get ready to become lost in transcendence as the arpeggiated mellotron and emphatic ambient notes swirl and turn around in your head.

32. Axel Boman – Eyes In My Mind

Returning for a single outing, Axel Boman released Eyes Of My Mind back in April during the height of the pandemic. Being locked behind doors listening to the enchanting soothing house was a real pleasure in the abundance of sadness during this period. Eyes Of My Mind will always be seen as a reflection of hope.

31. Thundercat – I Love Louis Cole

Thundercat ventures into some his most progressive jazz yet, featuring his signature fast fingered flurried bass lines and a hard driving beat from none other than Louis Cole himself. A testament to the bassists extreme musical talent.

30. Caribou – Never Come Back

This song will make you want to dance and cry at the same time. With a deeply hypnotic groove and melody it’s sure to have your head bopping wherever you are. But dive deeper than the rich production that Dan Snaith brings once again and you see the producer/ songwriter trying to gain clarity of lost love, and whether the other person truly wanted to be there.

29. Nothing – Say Less

A brutal and chaotic chaotic soundscape that only gets denser with each listen. Guitars flailing and drums spiralling, there is a war going on within this song. Nothing have taken their already devastating sound and pushed it to new and exciting boundaries .

28. Kurt Vile – Dandelions

Kurt Vile has a supreme talent for finding true beauty in simplicity. That’s why this ode to a summers day spent playing in the flowers with his daughters is so elegantly pure and heartwarming. Each instrument and sound feels like it’s bursting out from behind a cloud, to shine light wherever it can.

27. Tame Impala – On Track

Kevin Parker’s take on a stadium ballad, sprinkled with his signature serving of flanger. As with most of Parker’s album from this the concept of time takes center stage, mainly the overarching fear that it’s slipping away without any progress, a fear that we have all felt this year. Without knowing it Parker perfectly captured the mood of 2020.

26. DEWEY – Is It Infatuation?

The hypnotic groove of this track will immediately draw you in, becoming truly infatuated with its melodies afterwards. A confident and bold pop ballad that is sure to be the first of many to come from Brighton based singer-songwriter Fifi Dewey.

25. Aleksandir – I Used To Dream

Aleksandir solidifies his name with his debut album. Released as a single, I Used To Dream, is a song acting like a lucid dream. The song propels and develops in a way that is extremely satisfying, yet completely unpredictable. Aleksandir is an absolute delight to listen to.

24. Rina Sawayama – Dynasty

Pop-rock ballad with a top level vocal performance from one of indie pop’s most exciting new stars. Just listen to Sawayma match the rising guitar solo towards the climax almost note for note, true musical prowess. A power anthem that is sure to be a staple of Sawayma’s live show, and we can’t wait to see it.

23. King Krule – Underclass

Jazzy, moody and a crisp saxophone solo, this is King Krule distilled into one powerful tune. Archie Marshall asks the question of whether he will still be loved at his lowest. Lush instrumentation that glides you through the hazy and deeply intoxicating mind of Marshall.

22. Clipping – Say The Name

Daveed Diggs and co. return with a more bloody and menacing follow up to 2019’s There Existed An Addiction To Blood . And this title track distills the album to its core. Infatuating beat and menacing chorus lines over a superb and continuously flowing delivery from Diggs descends into all out horror towards the back end of the song.

21. Okay Kaya – Comic Sans

A master craft of minimalism. A highly addictive chorus line and sparse production allows Kaya Wilkins to show off her greatest talent, vocal manipulation. Every listen brings something new to the forefront, it’s a song that keeps on giving.

20. Mary Lattimore – Pine Trees

It’s truly incredible the emotions and memories that Mary Lattimore can invoke with just the pluck of her harp. Layering melodies and warm synthesisers until you at once feel at ease, feeling as if nothing in the world could be wrong. Close your eyes and let the plains of flowing grass hills take over your mind.

19. Fenne Lily – Elliott

With heartbreak at its core, this emotional filled slow burner is as moving as it is intimate. It’s hard to pick one element that is more beautiful than the rest as the slow plucked guitar, sweeping violins and hushed vocals all compete to make you cry the most.

18. Lianne La Havas – Can’t Fight

As this sons builds through its many intricate layers there’s one constant that remains, Lianne La Havas’ immeasurable natural talent. Reaching a truly hypnotic and enchanting climax of sound that showcases La Havas’ delicately rich songwriting ability.

17. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Intrasport

Who knew that they needed a microtonal 90’s Turkish house banger? Well here King Gizzard are to deliver it, and boy does it slap. Infatuating groove and a deeply funky bass, this latest expanse on King Gizzard’s ever revolving sound is both hypnotic and sinister if you dive deep enough into the lyrics. “I used to dream about killing certain people” sings Joey Walker.

16. GUM – Don’t Let It Go Out

Jay Watson really is a force to be reckoned with in the world of psychedelic rock. When he’s not touring the world with Tame Impala or writing for POND he’s busy crafting huge sonic bursts of grandure, like in the climax of this song. When the sun eventually explodes and burns us all to a crisp I expect this to be exactly what it sounds like, unrelenting bliss.

15. Sorry – Rosie

There’s just something about the way that Sorry write songs that make them sound so familiar yet in a world of their own. A classic indie rock sound at its core, yet deep below in the production and flow of the song lies a darkness that feels like its trying to emerge at every opportunity. The almost dead pan vocal deliveries of Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen lure you in to somewhere that feels distant and yet oh so familiar.

14. Yves Tumor – Gospel For A New Century

Glichy melodies, sensational chorus lines and twisiting instrumentation. This song allows Tumor to show off their new found lead singer status. Taking the song and owning it with an unchallenged glamour throughout, instrumentally and vocally it’s one of the most enticing sounds Tumor has created to date.

13. Katy J. Pearson – Take Back The Radio

A confident and assured country/ pop/ indie anthem. A hugely catchy chorus and infatuating melody, it showcases Pearson’s fresh and vibrant songwriting talent. If this isn’t featured on the next season of Nashville (is it still going?) then what has the world come to. Bristol’s best kept secret has been given to the world, and it’s a better place for it.

12. Benny Sings feat. Mac DeMarco – Rolled Up

The combo we all needed this year. A simple, and yet tasteful expression of the blues we all feel at times shows that you don’t always need deep layers of production to make a fantastic song. DeMarco’s happy-go-lucky chorus lines paired with Benny Sings’ minimalist crooning melodies are a true match made in heaven.

11. Adrianne Lenker – Anything

Adrianne Lenker manages to create so much with so little. From Songs And Instrumentals, an album recorded in its entirety with analogue equipment, Lenker perfectly captures the intimacy of love. The combination of the caressing guitar sounds and Lenker’s emotive vocal performance is enough to make anybody believe in love.

10. I Break Horses – Turn

A gloriously magic and sonically layered 7 minute dream pop journey, guided by Maria Lindén’s radiant vocals. Twisting and turning over its run time, forever gliding to its next moment of pure bliss. Turn out the lights and let Lindén take you to new found depths of consciousness.

9. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher

The title track of Phoebe Bridgers sophomore album is an ode to Elliot Smith, without a doubt Bridgers’ biggest influence. Pouring her heart out to someone she’s never met shows just what it’s like to be infatuated by the idea of someone. Instrumentally this is one of Bridgers’ most hauntingly beautiful and delicately devastating tracks so far; I hope the rolling piano line is the soundtrack to the ascent to heaven.

8. Perfume Genius – On The Floor

The chorus and groove of this song is an infatuating as the emotions that Michael Hadreas sings of in this indie pop anthem. Fantastic production, feeling reminiscent of both 70’s funk and 90’s power pop this track is sure to have you writing letters to your teenage heartbreak asking where it all went wrong. Both emotionally fuelled and impactful.

7. HMLTD – Mikey’s Song

Bathed in 80’s power pop ballad nostalgia, this offering London based experimentalist indie outfit HMLTD has it all. An encapsulating melody, huge powerful chorus and gorgeous instrumentation. The band prides themselves on not having any two songs in the same style, well if they were to do more with this much bravado then I don’t think anyone would complain.

6. IDLES – War

An immediate and hard behemoth of an opener that sets the tone for the whole of IDLES third album, brutal. Both chaotic and controlled at the same time, the noise descriptions of lead singer Joe Talbot seem tongue in cheek at first listen, but soon you realise they are describing the horrors of real war. Affirming their political stance with no sense of mysticism about it, “This means war! Anti war!” cries Talbot of blistering guitars and searing synths.

5. L.A. Priest – Rubber Sky

Where Sam Easgate excels as a songwriter is his continual strive to push sounds to their absolute maximum potential. Recorded and played in its entirery by Eastgate this electronic pop banger not only showcases his multi octave vocal ability but also his ability to make sounds transcend into new planes of depth. Also featuring a truly dirty bass line.

4. Tame Impala – One More Year

Kevin Parker is a studio wizard and the opening track of The Slow Rush only enhances this notion. Almost gregorian chants of “One more year” circle around the soundscape as Parker sings of having to wait just a bit longer to be where he wants to, sound familiar to anyone? Unknowingly creating the psychedelic blissful sounds that soundtracked many peoples quarantine life.

3. Phoebe Bridgers – Garden Song

Phoebe Bridgers has a unique talent for sounding so huge whilst simultaneously delivering some of the warmest and softest sounding songs in indie folk. The watered guitar line continually tries to reach out over itself, just to be nurtured back down by Bridgers soft reminiscing of her dreams. It’s hard to describe just how much beauty is in hidden within the subtleties of this song, it’s best to just let it speak for itself.

2. Sorry – As The Sun Sets

It’s hard to describe just how hard hitting this song is whilst simultaneously being so full of suave. A truly menacing sound, the beauty is in the dense and ever expanding production. Quoting Louis Armstrong’s classic “What A Wonderful World”, Sorry seek to capture the emotional density of just simple life, and do it with an unchallenged cool.

1. Phoebe Bridgers – I Know The End

Phoebe Bridgers wrote the soundtrack to the apocalypse, and then the apocalypse happened. This hauntingly devastating and emotionally triumphant closer to one of this years best albums perfectly combines the beauty of Bridgers delicate guitar ballads in the first half, to break out into all out chaos in the end. Fanfares, choruses of “The end is here” and a final bow out scream from Bridgers perfectly captures the collective emotional whirlwind of this year.

Phoebe Bridgers – Copycat Killer EP Review

Dead Oceans – 2020

A “Copycat Killer” is the titled Phoebe Bridgers bestowed upon herself in “Saviour Complex” from this years standout sophomore album Punisher. It’s a reference to the amount of influence she takes from Elliot Smith, similar to when people copy serial killers for media attention as she put it, which can be heard throughout the albums melancholic moods and lyrics. This EP however isn’t directly linked to that feeling, whereas it’s stripped back and orchestrated versions of four songs that appeared on Punisher. Recorded along side Rob Moose, who’s worked with the likes of Bon Iver, Paul Simon, Alabama Shakes, John Legend and Taylor Swift previously, this EP offers a deeply intimate take on songs that are already oozing with profound emotion.

One of the main reason that Bridgers has found an audience within the often despaired is her naturally melancholic and yet subtly beautiful voice. Whether she’s singing about never wanting “to be your vegetable” on “Chinese Satellite” or “killing you, if you don’t beat me too it” on “Kyoto”, there’s still tenderness in her voice. And this EP serves as a hugely powerful showcase of it. Most vocal takes don’t sound wildly different to those on Punisher, however without the dense layers of sound design and vibrantly rich production and instrumentation that can be found on the album then Bridgers voice truly takes a form of its own. You can hear all the subtle emotion that she puts into each lyric or verse front and centre. She’s never over reaching or trying to battle against the flurries of string melodies, instead allowing her voice to become the grounding aspect of this EP. If there’s a voice that guides you to your eventual demise, you can only hope it’s Bridgers.

There have been countless occasions over the past decade or so where classic albums or songs have been orchestrated and given the classical feel, some with their merits allowing the songs to breath a new and symphonic life, and some less so. There are moments on Copycat Killer where the instrumentation soars and serves as an emotive and devastating backing to some of Bridgers most passion filled songs. “Saviour Complex” builds up with huge layers of delicate and serene violins to feel as though they’re about to explode with emotion. It does have advantage however over other songs, as the original does feature violins crooning out the same melody, so the difference is mainly just the sound embellishments and flowing guitar, but it still sounds as sprawling as ever. The biggest difference in sound on this EP comes on “Kyoto” as the grungy guitars and driving beat are replaced with just the gliding strings. It really does bring out the true dejection of the song, emotive and enchanting, showcasing Bridgers songwriting grandeur perfectly. The original gave a bit more drive to the album that stopped it from being too slow, but now it can be appreciated in a new, perhaps freer form.

With the new cinematic sound though however there can be moments where the orchestra and instrumentation can feel like they’re going off on too far a tangent from what made the originals so crushingly captivating. The dancing piano line of the original “Punisher” is so hauntingly elegant that it does feel missed. Instead the jagged melody almost feels out of time, losing the swirling flow that the original has. And the occasional interjections of leading violins seem to be going on a journey of their own, instead of providing a backing for the vocals, and at times feel awkward and loose. And “Chinese Satellite” features plucking strings that take place of the chugging guitars that clumsily stumble out of place just to lead into the violin line that features on the original track. By sticking as close to the original as it does, it doesn’t really offer any new elements or layers to the track that can’t be found on the album.

Although this might not be the most groundbreaking accompaniment piece to an album there’s ever been, it still stands as a testament to Bridgers natural musical talent. Showcasing that in whatever scenario or soundscape, her voice will still sound as emotive and moving as ever. It’s certainly been Phoebe Bridgers fans year when it comes to new music, whether it covers or originals and this EP is yet another captivating offering in the ever expanding Bridgers catalogue.

Phoebe Bridgers shares a cover of Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December”

Photo by Nona Limmen

In keeping with her annual tradition of releasing a charity track for the holidays, Phoebe Bridgers’ latest song is a cover of Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December”, released today on Dead Oceans. 

Produced by Tony Berg, Ethan Gruska and Phoebe, and accompanied solely byEthanon piano, the beautiful, melancholy rendition of Haggard’s 1974 track is a fitting end to a volatile year. Last year, Bridgers’ holiday single benefited Planned Parenthood. This year, proceeds from sales and streams of “If We Make It Through December” will go directly to Downtown Women’s Center, an organization in Los Angeles focused exclusively on serving and empowering women experiencing homelessness and formerly homeless women.

Bridgers released an EP “Copycat Killer” – a collaboration with Grammy-winning arranger and string player Rob Moose – last week. Punisher, her second solo album was named an instant classic, read our full review of it here.

Listen to the new cover below.

Phoebe Bridgers announces new ‘Copycat Killer’ EP

Photo by Frank Ockenfels

Phoebe Bridgers has announced a new EP Copycat Killers consisting of re-arranged string and vocal versions of songs of her latest album Punisher, set to be released on November 20th. She also released the ‘Copycat Killer’ version of “Kyoto”. Read why we named Punisher an instant classic here.

On Instagram Bridgers wrote: “Rob Moose and I made an EP of songs from Punisher with just strings and vocals. Our version of Kyoto that Rob says should be played at my funeral is out today, the whole thing is out digitally November 20th, and physically November 27th at Rough Trade. Art by my love Olof Grind.

A vinyl version is available to pre-order from Rough Trade here, limited to 1500 copies as part of their albums of the year list.

Listen to the new version below.

Tracklist:

  1. Kyoto (Copycat Killer Version)
  2. Savior Complex (Copycat Killer Version)
  3. Chinese Satellite (Copycat Killer Version)
  4. Punisher (Copycat Killer Version)