Big Thief – U.F.O.F This record will likely keep it’s top slot when December comes. With it’s fuzzy romantic vibes and sultry tones from Adrianne Lenker, it’s a record that won’t allow just one listen.
Lizzo – Cuz I Love You I love this record as much as Lizzo loves herself on this record. It’s a fun, upbeat and righteous record.
Altin Gun – Gece Leave it to KEXP to turn me onto this one. Incredible.
Hot Chip – A Bathful of Ecstasy Get your groove on and dance to this record filled with love and beauty.
Anderson .Paak – Ventura Do you want to make it better? Anderson shows you how on yet another stellar record.
On March 26, 2019, the world learned that Ranking Roger of The Beat(AKA The English Beat to us Americans) passed over. I never saw them, I was a bit too young, but I loved their music growing up. His later band, General Public, was also a big favorite. I credit one source for becoming a fan, WLIR. I’ve written about this radio station here before. It was a one of kind, playing New Wave music, when the rest of the country was barely aware of it. I learned recently(by watching this documentary) that the DJ’s literally went to the airport and picked up singles from UK bands and shared them with the world right away. U2 developed an American audience due to WLIR. Pretty wild. And wow, did they love The Beat. Nearly as much as they loved The Specials, PIL, Duran Duran, Siouxsie and the Banshees and XTC, and so many more.
I am so grateful for the music that Roger brought the world. The Beat was a hugely upbeat band. How could one be bummed out if Mirror in the Bathroom or Twist and Crawl was playing? Roger was only 56. Far too young for any of us to leave the planet. But we’ll always have his beautiful beats to keep us smiling!
I feel rather fortunate to have discovered Australian artist, Julia Jacklin. My neighbor worked for her label and gifted me her first record(thanks Andy!) I put it on, having no idea who she was or what she sounded like. Her lyrics and beautiful chords hooked me in immediately.
I’ve been able to see her several times, but the first show was quite special. She was with her band, at a lovely and intimate venue, Mississippi Studios. We were all enamored by the set, and my show companion even managed to chat with her after the show(rare once artists get famous, eh?)
Since that show, I’ve seen her twice more. Each time attending the show with the same person(we’re super fans, okay?). Every time her lilting voice captivates me. She’ll back in Portland this spring and for Pickathon!
Her new record, Crushing, is not to be missed. It’s a record about love, travel and the experiences we all have around relationships. Each song feels like a tiny window into her world and her heart.
It’s not easy to keep up with prolific nature of the music world. There is so much good stuff available in every genre, it’s kind of incredible. I find much of my new music by listening to KEXP out of Seattle, WA. They are my curators and for that, I am grateful. These are not in any specific order.
Adrianne Lenke – abysskiss
Tender. Sweetness. Deep. Her voice is enchanting at times. Great solo record. I look forward to the next Big Thief album, due out in spring of 2019.
Mac Miller – Swimming
How heartbreaking that he’s gone, he was a true talent. This record is soulful and groovy, but always keeping an excellent pace. Get your sweet grooves on….
Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
I love the vibe and energy of this record. It’s almost too pop for me, but it’s so catchy that I can’t resist it. Can you?
Snail Mail – Lush
This is a beautiful debut record. Given that Lindsey Jordan is not even 20 as of this writing, it’s even more impressive. The whole vibe of the record is dreamy and a little inward, but not sad.
First Aid Kit – Ruins
I finally got to see the Söderberg sisters, this autumn. While I did not like their light show(way too over the top for their chill vibe), I loved the set. The band has put out several incredible records now, this fits divinely in with the rest of their catalog.
Ty Segall – Fudge Sandwich
Given my previous adoration of Ty Segall, it should surprise no one that he’s on this list. Fudge Sandwich is a record of all covers, but it’s still totally amazing. The Dead, Neil Young and more. Ready to rip?
Low – Double Negative
I surprised myself with this one. I am not a super fan of the band, but this record is different from their other work. It’s more like stepping into a dream, if dreams could be represented in musical notes, that is. Put this one on when you’re writing or reading or just to need escape for awhile.
Khruangbin – Con Todo El Mundo
I’m not sure there is more perfect Sunday morning music than this. Enough to get you grooving, but nothing to rile your senses.
Anderson .Paak – Oxnard
I’ve been waiting for more from this stellar artist. He’s got all kinds of great folks on it. J.Cole, Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar. Check it.
Lucy Dacus – Historian
I saw that her song, “Night Shift,” made into the top songs of the year by NPR. Rightly so, it’s amazing. But the whole album is worth your time. See also her effort with fellow singer/songwriters – Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers – boygenius.
Black Belt Eagle Scout – Mother of my Children
This is a moment when I am proud to live where I do. Portland is filled with some hugely talented, creative souls. Katherine Paul is one of them. She put out a catchy, provocative record filled with Pacific NW energy. I look forward to catching her live.
Blackwater Holylight – Self Titled
When I saw Blackwater Holylight a few months ago, I was pretty sure my face had melted off by the heavy riffs being thrown down. A sea of long hair both on stage and off, swayed right along with me. Based out of Portland – this band is all women, unusual for the psych genre. I love it, and hope to see more of that in the future. Turn this one UP!
Ty Segall & White Fence – Joy
Another great record by Ty Segall. Seeing them live this year was one of the highlights of the year.
Greta Van Fleet – Anthem of a Peaceful Army
A lot of you may disagree about this band being on here. I’ve read a number of mean things written about them. Including Pitchfork tearing them down. I don’t care. I ❤ this band. Just watch them here. Look at the joy on their faces as they play. This is what music should be. Unadulterated love and happiness pouring out. I hope they are around for a long time to come – won’t be hard, given they are all about 20 years old!
Kyle Craft – Full Circle Nightmare
I loved his first record, “Dolls of Highland.” So much so, that it took me a bit to get into this one. Once I did, it was a treat to listen to the superb, storied lyrics and layered melodies.
Melody’s Echo Chamber – Bon Voyage
This lovely little record fits right into my penance for dreamy, psych music. It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from her and wow, was it worth the wait.
Olden Yolk – Self Titled
One afternoon, KEXP had these folks on for a live session. I was transfixed. I think you will be, too. Stellar debut record – may there be more.
ParisAlexa – Hothead EP
I guess this is not technically a record, but EP is close enough. It’s in heavy rotation along with the track below.
Lizzo – Boys EP
Not sure there is a catchier song for 2018. Both lyrics and beats, it’s tight and sweet. Watch the video, too!
Sara Shook & the Disarmers – Years
This record is pretty deep on the country side of the music world. If that is not your thing, I get it. But if you are even remotely open to it, given this a listen. How you can resist “the bottle never lets me down the way you do?”
Marissa Nadler – For my Crimes
All of Marissa Nadler’s record are sweet and melodic. This is no exception, but she’s added a little more layers and a bit more on the production side. Sooth your heart and check it out.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Sex and Food
UMO records are always a great combination of dance grooves and heady lushness. Happiness abounds here.
Amine – ONEPOINTFIVE
Portland’s own Amine has made it big. I absolutely love his previous record, so I was psyched when this one came out.
Chaka Khan – Like Sugar EP
What? Chaka Khan?! These folks are from my childhood. But you will ❤ these beats. How can you possibly not dig this?
KiakGaku Moyo -Masana Temples
Heady. Groovy. Dreamy. Just what you want to listen to when you need to dip out of the world for awhile.
Cupcake – Ephorize
Not too often you hear women get down and dirty in their music. Then I heard this record. Love it.
2016 has been a tough year. I haven’t blogged much as most of my energy has been directed towards politics. So many great ones were lost!
Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial
This catchy record got an extraordinary amount of play this year. Not sure if it’s the 90’s vibe, the brilliant riffs, or what. I just love it.
David Bowie – Black Star
I bought this two days before the Starman fell to earth. What a stunner of a record. It would have made my list, regardless of Bowie’s passing. My heart is still heavy in a world without him.
Radiohead – Moon Shaped Pool
I am a huge fan, often referring to them as the best band in the world. That said, I didn’t love their last two releases. This record really shifted me back into loving their ethereal grooves.
Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service
I’m a big fan of 90’s hip hop bands like TCQ, The Roots, De La Soul, etc. When I heard this record was coming out, I was stoked. This record could not have better timing, this has been a crazy year in politics. Dig this track.
Frank Ocean – Blonde
Such beauty, such tender heart. Love this gem of a record.
Angel Olsen – My Woman
Angel Olsen’s previous record was sparse and beautiful. Here she maintains her divine energy while having much more layered and complex tracks. Just gorgeous.
Kyle Craft – Dolls of Highland
I caught Kyle Craft at an in-store here in Portland. I really love his voice, and his songwriting is outstanding. What a great first record!
Hayes Carll – Lovers and Leavers
A friend in Colorado turned me onto Hayes. His alt-country vibe may not be for those of you that are die hard indie fans, but I love it.
Michael Kiwanuka- Love & Hate
Thanks to the Netflix show, “The Get Down” I discovered this artist. Kick ass record and very important for our troubling times.
Weyes Blood – Front Row Seat to Earth
What a dreamy, gorgeous record.
Black Mountain – IV
I don’t usually put a record up that I don’t love all the way through. This one has a few songs that are so tremendous, it had to be on the list. Like this one.
Heron Oblivion – Self Titled
Huge fan of this band and their first record. It’s heavy, thoughtful and worth your time. Seeing them live was a thrill.
Jeff Buckley – You and I
A long posthumous record, but a great one. I often wonder what he’d be like, had he made it to 50. This cover just slays me.
Anderson .Paak – Malibu
Get your GROOVE ON people – Anderson.Paak will help! Such a bad ass record.
Kevin Morby – Singing Saw
I thank KEXP for turning me onto Kevin Morby. Sweet and catchy record.
Russian Circles – Guidance **
This record gets a spot here, though I only heard it recently. The person who shared it with me swore up and it down it would make my list. Well, look at that….
Weirdly, I started this post on Friday, his birthday. And today I finish it, in the early hours of Monday, after hearing of his death. I’m just heartbroken.
I’m not exactly sure when I discovered David Bowie. I believe I was about 13, gawky, just entering the world of teenagers, middle school and self discovery.
Before I began my lifelong love for his music, I was absolutely fascinated by the way he looked. Elegant energy seemed to pour off of him, shiny glam waves filling every photograph I could find. During my early teen years, his androgynous nature was a serious eye opener for me. A man could have that kind of energy? Wear eyeliner, feather boas and glitter? It prodded me into thinking about gender roles differently, giving me a much richer view of what and who men could be (only a few years later, Patti Smith would fill this role for women).
The first Bowie record that I fell in love with was Diamond Dogs. It’s dreary future landscape lyrics mingled with stunning vocals put me into a teen dream state every time I put it on. Then came Hunky Dory and Ziggy. When I attended boarding school – his music helped me to find connection with those who also adored him. One of my closest friends, Amy, and I would play Hunky Dory over and over again. She’d sing, I’d drum on the bed, and we’d stay up late into the night, swooning over his music. When Amy died in her early 20’s, I played that record many times “the girl with the mousy hair…” in her honor. I still think of her when I hear it, many moons later.
And now, David Bowie is gone. I could fill a book with how much I love his music. How hugely impactful he’s been to me and countless of other humans. He will be greatly missed by the whole world. We love you, Starman.