Every year lists start popping up. About now. Best of Album of the Year. Top song of 2019! Here at pickybs.com included. But I feel like there in lies only a portion of my year in music.
With the good and bad of the streaming era what comes is access to a huge pile of music that isn’t from this year! Be that bands that slip through the cracks, in recent years or older artists that never existed in my parents record collection. So many artists I get a recommendation from a friend or from some random article and it’s new to me several years or decades after release. This is even a central tenet of the picky bastards podcast, where we listen to a classic album based on the criteria that it is not new, we haven’t heard it before and it has some repute.
So instead of telling you about my year in new music, I’m going to tell you about my year in new music to me. Recommendations from friends, artists I’ve heard praise from on podcasts and bands I’ve stumbled on from trawling Spotify. In no particular order, here we go:
Yoni & Geti – Testarossa – 2016
This was a recommendation from my friend Paul. A dreary day at work got illuminated as he whatsapp’d me the track Madeline. Within an hour I was on my second playthrough of the album. It can be fun and playful, but really that’s a wrapper for something darker with most songs being full of sad melancholy. I’m an absolute sucker for that juxtaposition.
Giorgio Morodor – Assorted Music
Well he needs no introduction. Except to me. I knew him as that guy who Daft Punk wrote a song about album. But I read an article about him listing his best tracks and I realized I knew him all along. he was the mastermind behind Blondie’s Call Me and Donna Summer’s I Feel Love. And as it turns out a pioneer of electronic music. His range is amazing but The Midnight Express soundtrack is really where it’s at. Dark and broody. And he’s still going strong as he has modernized his electronic sound to be more digital while retaining 80s disco synth signature. I can’t help but both smile and bob my head to 74 is the new 24. Killing it.
Anderson .Paak – Assorted Music
Though this year’s album was pretty good (I lied. I just relistened and it’s very good), it also gave me an excuse to dig into the back catalogue. Apart from a brief fling with one of his debut I’d been overlooking him. But he’s been busy. 5 albums in 5 years. His prolificness and the fact that he’s making a fairly distinct R&B-adjacent sound makes me draw comparisons to Blood Orange. The big difference with Anderson .Paak is that he gets things right way more than he gets it wrong.
Meg Myers – Take me to the Disco – 2018
The album Take Me To The Disco was featured in a few end of year lists for 2018. I’m so glad I’d bookmarked this one as one to follow up. Soaring dark emotional synth-pop. It really ticked a lot of boxes for me. Though the vibe is 90s throwback, she updated that sound. I’m thinking a cleaner sounding The Cranberries and Alanis Morissette. Fantastic.
Laurie Anderson – Live in NYC 2001
Her weirdly robotic O superman surfaced while I had shuffle on and it triggered a deep dive. That’s when I found her Live in NYC album. Recorded a week after the 9/11 attacks it makes for strangely intense homecoming performance. The crowd is eerily quiet at the beginning. Her music can be quite coarse and at times cold so the whole thing is at times uncomfortable. But by the end you can hear the audience get louder in the applause breaks and laugh at her wit, like in Beginning French. It just feels like an emotional release as a community help process and try to reset after this traumatic event. It’s a pretty fascinating snapshot in time and hugely engaging piece of live music.
Ocean Wisdom – Wizville – 2018
This got recommended on a podcast (pretend you don’t hear that there are other music podcasts beyond PBs). This guy can really rap. Not only is he the fastest rapper out there, he has great lyrical dexterity and flow. Bouncing over the beats as he delivers his record paced rhymes. There are several big features on this album with Method Man, Dizzee Rascal and Roots Manuva, but Ocean Wisdom more than holds his own.
Words by Matt Paul.