Apropos of nothing, I’m going to listen my way through Paste Magazine’s 50 Best Albums of 2018. I have to start somewhere and it was a random purchase of Paste (in print) that led to my first hearing of The National, one of my favorite bands. I’ll be doing this at work, so please enjoy the slight frisson of wasting my employer’s time!
Yo La Tengo – There’s a Riot Going On
I have some knowledge of Yo La Tengo and I like them. Autumn Sweater and that one song that references Horse With No Name come to mind. This should be a good place to start. I’ve listened once through and nothing is jumping out at me. It’s all a bit dull and whisperey. But it generally takes me a few listens to warm up to anything new, so I have it on repeat.
Okay. I’m not being fair. Third time listening, and two of the first four have a kicky beat so far. Let’s see what the Paste review says… ” low-lit haze… atmospheric climate… throbbing percussion…” Oh, ok. This is meant to be super chill. Trouble is, that’s seldom what I’m in the mood for. That’s on me.
Blood Orange – Negro Swan
I’ve never heard of this artist. That’s exciting for starters. Most of the way through the first listen, I’m enjoying this. The bits of speech at the beginning of some of the tracks are oddly comforting to my podcast>music brain. And one of the voices really reminds me of Tricky. It’s also pretty low key but, after that Yo La Tengo, it’s a downright dance party.
Two listens through and I really like this album. I would go through a third time this afternoon, but I’d rather come back and listen later. (Ooh, maybe I’ll do that on Sundays or something.)
Ashley McBryde: Girl Going Nowhere
Looks pretty country from the album cover, but I’m going in with an open mind. Track two is full of good ol’ days nostalgia, which I never like. It’s especially challenging after immersing myself in the struggles of being black and queer with Negro Swan.
I mean, this is good music. It’s miles better than the yay-for-trucks-and-‘Murrica you think of as contemporary country music, but I don’t think I’ll listen to it more than once. That said, I did just put Livin’ Next to Leroy on my 2019 playlist though. A country song about opioid abuse feels very timely.
Those two paragraphs make it sound like I only like bummer topics in my music. Which… is kind of true. I don’t like heavy topics in TV or movies or books, so I think songs are my safe outlet to get sad for 3-5 minutes and then stop. #FunFactsAboutMe And, as I type that, she sings “If you ever get tired of being happy, give me a call” and I’m tempted to put that one on the list.