Songs of the Week: 1/24/2020

In 2019, I was listening to every new release that came up on the Tidal streaming service. I would listen to the first two tracks at a minimum. If those didn’t strike some kind of chord, I moved on to the next one. If they did, I listened to the full album and then reviewed it here.

For 2020, I’m going to change it up a bit so that I can introduce the masses to more great new music that I can’t always put to words in album form. I’m still going to listen to all those records but instead of writing up full albums, I’m simply going to post links to “songs of the week.” This way, I can point out many more great songs and you can then go and hunt more tunes down yourself if you so choose.

So… songs of the week for the release date of 1/24/2020.

  • Artist: Pet Shop Boys
  • Song: “I Don’t Wanna”
  • Album: Hotspot
  • Genre: Synth-pop
  • Notes: Pet Shop Boys are one of my favorite artists of all time, so when a new album comes out, I have to highlight them somehow. Upon first listen, the album is so-so, certainly not up there with their best records but it’s pretty much vintage Pet Shop Boys, so it’s hard to argue with that. “Monkey Business” is a great song but it’s been out as a single for a month now, so let’s use “I Don’t Wanna” here.
  • Artist: Cold War Kids
  • Song: “Freedom”
  • Album: Strings & Keys
  • Genre: Alt. Rock/Pop
  • Notes: I’m only familiar enough with Cold War Kids to know that I don’t like them so I’m not 100% sure what this album is as it looks like it might have been a bit of a surprise release but it appears to be songs of theirs re-recorded with strings & keys…. hence the title. And have I ever told you I love a good cover song? Well, RIP George Michael.
  • Artist: Twin Atlantic
  • Song: “Oh! Euphoria!”
  • Album: POWER
  • Genre: Alt Rock
  • Notes: POWER, is the 5th album from this Scottish trio. I’ve never heard of them before but might go check them out based on this. The album is decent enough alt/electronic rock and this track is pure fun. Am I a sucker for tracks with multiple exclamation points in the title? Well, shit yeah!!
  • Artist: Mystery Jets
  • Song: “Screwdriver”
  • Album: Pretty Drone EP
  • Genre: Indie Rock
  • Notes: Rawk! Another band that’s been around for a decade-and-a-half that I’ve never heard of before. This is what I get for being out of the new music game for a decade-and-a-half myself, I guess. I’m not a big fan of this EP as a whole – I think the band could be pretty interesting but the other four tracks on this disc build and build to what you’d expect would be a rockin’ riff and they just don’t come. It feels subdued when it should be rockin’. But this track actually does crossover with that rock riff in the chorus and ends up being pretty damn solid.
  • Artist: Chase Rice
  • Song: “Lonely If You Are”
  • Album: The Album, Part 1
  • Genre: Bro-country
  • Notes: “The Album” doesn’t really show a lot of creativity there, so wasn’t expecting much from this up front but it’s good Bro-country and while I don’t know that creativity really applies in a genre that seems to simply recreate the same songs over and over again, it’s still a fun genre at that. I know tons of people that hate this style but I’ll take this pop-country crossover stuff every day of the week. Not ashamed to admit it. Used to be. No longer give a shit if it’s not cool to do so. Hat to the back, Coors light in hand. Do it.
  • Artist: Wire
  • Song: “Unrepentant”
  • Album: Mind Hive
  • Genre: Post-Punk
  • Notes: Including this here because it’s an interesting song from a classic post-punk group. But honestly, I no longer “get” Wire. Wire ceased being a go-to post-punk band decades ago and this certainly doesn’t sound like an album that anyone but Wire die-hards will love but this track caught me.
  • Artist: Annihilator
  • Song: “I Am Warfare”
  • Album: Ballistic / Sadistic
  • Genre: Thrash Metal
  • Notes: I used to be a big fan of Annihilator – I mean Jeff Waters is a great guitarist and has usually stayed true to a pretty traditional thrash sound in his music. Over the years though, his lyric writing has got a bit silly and creating what boils down to the same album over-and-over again has gotten old. This album sounds just like a Annihilator record musically but lyrically there’s something a little less lame about this album than the last few and thus, he’s created the best Annihilator record in a long while. If you like a traditional thrash sound, you can do much worse than this.
  • Artist: Thy Catafalque
  • Song: “A valóság kazamatái”
  • Album: Naiv
  • Genre: Avant-garde Metal
  • Notes: One man metal band, Tamás Kátai, has made some fantastic albums over the year and this is no exception. This track is from his 9th full length and blends everything that’s great about him. Heavy riffs, beautiful strings, psychedelic keyboards and weird atmosphere for effect. The album, but especially this song, pulls you in so many different directions that it’s jolting. In a good way, I swear.
  • Artist: Higher Power
  • Song: “Shedding Skin”
  • Album: 27 Miles Underwater
  • Genre: Melodic Hardcore
  • Notes: In looking these guys up, they are supposedly part of the “New Wave of British Hardcore” which honestly, I didn’t know was even a thing. But then again, I’m not really into much hardcore, so maybe I shouldn’t have expected to know. The album is pretty much what you’d expect from Melodic Hardcore. Some songs that fall more towards the Hardcore punk side, some that are very melodic and some like this one that might even have a tinge of nu-metal in it. I’m surprised I like it but I do – a lot.
  • Artist: Revolution Saints
  • Song: “Coming Home”
  • Album: Rise
  • Genre: 80’s AOR
  • Notes: Dude! Jack Blades of Night Ranger, Deen Castronovo of Journey and Doug Aldrich of Whitesnake and Dio. I mean, fuck yeah. It amazes me every single time I hear a record like this that sounds straight out of 1985 and yet these guys are writing new tracks. And it’s all been done – every riff and every cheesy lyrics. But damn if I ain’t hooked.
  • Artist: Tauren Wells
  • Song: “Citizen of Heaven”
  • Album: Citizen of Heaven
  • Genre: Christian Pop/R&B
  • Notes: Christian pop music is something I know virtually nothing about. I usually shy away from these records at all cost but since I’m listening to all new releases that show up in my stream, well, this was there. And the first two tracks caught me. The album is a mix of pop and R&B and frankly, I didn’t even realize it was a Christian record until the 3rd track was an excerpt from an actual sermon. But the first two tracks on this disc are like vintage boy band pop music just without the 5-man formula. We have one of those progressive non-denominational churches near my home, where there’s a full band and they play pop and rock songs including covers of rock bands and this record is pretty much that without the congregation.
  • Artist: Hanne Boel
  • Song: “Between Dark & Daylight”
  • Album: Between Dark & Daylight
  • Genre: Jazz/Pop/Rock
  • Notes: This is the first I’ve heard of Boel, though apparently she’s huge in her native Denmark. Wikipedia lists her as a pop, jazz, gospel and rock singer that’s been releasing albums since the early 80s. I obviously can’t vouch for any of her other work but this seems to be a jazz influenced record but contains mostly mid-tempo, well crafted pop songs.

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