Music for 12/5/19!!! Richard Dawson, Vampire Weekend, Clairo, Georgia

@@@ Richard Dawson: Jogging (Domino, 2019) Off the Guardian’s best tracks of the year and this one comes out rocking a bit strangely as one would expect from label Domino. Over the pretty standard rock guitars you get a slowly unfolding melody that jumps range and vibe. It’s an update on ’90s grunge with more sweetness. I like his singing but I don’t love the ’80s snare and I’m agnostic to a bit sour on the guitars. It’s all about the vocal melody and lyrics here. A minimalist retro synth comes in and I find it both weird and a welcome addition to the listening experience. It’s a 6 minute plus biscuit and I’m going to jump around minute 4 right around when the robot vocals come in and the whole things is morphing into a sci-fi rocker. Respect for the weirdness but not on my top of the year songs.

@@@ Vampire Weekend: Harmony Hall (Columbia, 2019) I might have peeped this track before but we’re good for repeats here. It opens with a couple of quite nice ascending and descending acoustic guitar lines before a piano part comes in and it’s that sort of indie sweetness that sounds like the sort of escapist white people business. I get the aesthetic and I appreciate the musicianship but I can’t participate. I’m happy to see Vampire Weekend expand past being a white boy African music outfit and get into Paul Simon territory as well as other similar sounds are triggered here.

@@@ Clairo: Bags (Fader, 2019) I continue to underestimate the appeal of classic indie/Velvet Underground style rock. Personally I’m done with it. Midtempo beats, slack vocals, simple guitar — these days more females are plying the boards with this formula than the gents. I could be wrong on that. If you’re not giving me a lot to listen to in the music then I want some ripping lyrics/vocal performance. I find the vocals here to be above average but not lifting the track noticeably. It’s a melancholic look back at an ended relationship. I do have to upgrade the drums, there are a lot of nice touches in the playing here. I’m an energy listener so when I don’t get the kind of performance energy I want it doesn’t work for me. Yet I do acknowledge millions and millions of people lap this formula up with a spoon.

@@@ Georgia: About Work the Dancefloor (Domino, 2019) Another Guardian track of the year, this time a Krautrock inspired dancefloor banging. Yikes, I hate these funkless Kraut beats though I do like the synth action and she’s working the diva vein pretty well. I’m not a fan of this drum machine snare sound but the spare, uncluttered mix allows her voice to come to the front. Not a track of the year for me, but I do get the appeal of this track.

YTD recordings listened to: 631
Good music, not list worthy: 379
Not good music: 214

Best: 0
Honorable Mentions: 0

Possibles: Retox, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, Slidhr, The Chewers, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Lozen, Erase Errata, Mastery, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Luther Dickinson, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Satoko Fuji, Moken, Juan Atkins, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Noname, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, Oddisee, RAM, Fiver, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Priests, Propaganda, This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez, Integrity, Tuba Skinny, The Expanders, Criolo, Billy Strings, Flowers of Sulphur, Portal, Lawaii, Etran De L’Air, Ruby Karinto, Elysia Crampton, Parquet Courts, Moskus, Kendl Winter, Tkay Maidza, Barro, Daniel Khan, Tallawit Timbouctou, Sumac, Tropical Fuck Storm, Harriet Tubman, Ammar 808, Anais Maviel, Chaka Khan, Pom Poko, Fried Egg, Horndal, Wyxz, Tarek Atoui, Hawktail, Saicobab, Shannon and the Clams, General Purv, Shipping News, Big Thief, Emma Louise, Andre Bratten, Nathan Corder/Tom Weeks, Oli XL, Buzzherd, Logistic Slaughter, The Muslims, Tobe Nwigwe, Saint Abdullah, Bug Martin, Kaleta and the Super Yamba Band, Toko Telo, Brittany Howard, The Garifuna Collective, Mariachi El Bronx, Bonnie Baxter, Danny Brown, clipping., Deafkids, Michael Kiwanuka, Kelly Moran, Canalon de Timbiqui, Pour Me a Grog, Loscil, The Good Ones, Sudan Archives

Music for 12/4/19!!! Sharon Van Etten, Charli XCX, Lizzo

@@@ Sharon Van Etten: Seventeen (Jagjaguwar, 2019) All three tunes reviewed today come from the Guardian’s 20 best songs of the year. I’ve heard Van Etten’s music before and I haven’t understood the buzz. Doesn’t mean it’s not great, it means I don’t get it. This is the sixth tune on her 2019 record which is an interesting slot for a song of the year to come in. It’s a piano driven track with a straight beat and if you’re into 1980’s inspired rock this could work. She does feel free to take U2’s use of sonic textures and put it into an indie framework (and I like the way it was done) though the drumming here is pretty close to U2 drumming. I find her singing style to be too mopey for my tastes though I do see how the half miserable coffee bar people could feel this bigly. Just after 3 minutes she does let loose and I’m liking it a lot more but I could have used that energy right out of the gate.

@@@ Charli XCX: Gone (Asylum, 2019) I’ve peeped Charli XCX before and I haven’t been impressed. However, I do want some props for circling back when other people come forward and show love. This is an all right tune, I dig the synth sounds, they’re hot, but the beats are clunky as fuck and her vocals are all right but not something special. The Apple Music blurb says she has an unteachable ear for a hook. To be quite honest I don’t hear that. The outro 45 seconds has some very interesting glitched business I find interesting. Otherwise, some funkier beats would have made me enjoy it more. This is crazy ass non funky white people’s business.

@@@ Lizzo: Juice (Atlantic, 2019) #4 on the Guardian’s best songs of 2019. I checked out Lizzo on her last record and I checked the pre-release single for this record. I think the most daring thing Lizzo did was to pose naked on the cover, I give her mad props for doing that. However, that credit doesn’t carry over to the tune and frankly it’s a pretty cliche recycled disco track. It’s just true. She does solid above average work on the microphone but she’s certainly no Aretha Franklin, no lead singer of Earth, Wind and Fire, no freak like George Clinton. If the sounds were more original it would be more flattering to her vocal performance. I know she’s a big star but I don’t buy the hype here.

YTD recordings listened to: 627
Good music, not list worthy: 377
Not good music: 212

Best: 0
Honorable Mentions: 0

Possibles: Retox, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, Slidhr, The Chewers, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Lozen, Erase Errata, Mastery, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Luther Dickinson, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Satoko Fuji, Moken, Juan Atkins, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Noname, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, Oddisee, RAM, Fiver, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Priests, Propaganda, This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez, Integrity, Tuba Skinny, The Expanders, Criolo, Billy Strings, Flowers of Sulphur, Portal, Lawaii, Etran De L’Air, Ruby Karinto, Elysia Crampton, Parquet Courts, Moskus, Kendl Winter, Tkay Maidza, Barro, Daniel Khan, Tallawit Timbouctou, Sumac, Tropical Fuck Storm, Harriet Tubman, Ammar 808, Anais Maviel, Chaka Khan, Pom Poko, Fried Egg, Horndal, Wyxz, Tarek Atoui, Hawktail, Saicobab, Shannon and the Clams, General Purv, Shipping News, Big Thief, Emma Louise, Andre Bratten, Nathan Corder/Tom Weeks, Oli XL, Buzzherd, Logistic Slaughter, The Muslims, Tobe Nwigwe, Saint Abdullah, Bug Martin, Kaleta and the Super Yamba Band, Toko Telo, Brittany Howard, The Garifuna Collective, Mariachi El Bronx, Bonnie Baxter, Danny Brown, clipping., Deafkids, Michael Kiwanuka, Kelly Moran, Canalon de Timbiqui, Pour Me a Grog, Loscil, The Good Ones, Sudan Archives