Songs of the Week – 1/17/2020

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 1/17/2020.

  • Artist: Eminem
  • Song: “Stepdad”
  • Album: Music To Be Murdered By
  • Genre: Rap
  • Notes: Surprise! Another Eminem secret drop. It’s always a great morning when Em drops a new album, especially a nice shock when he hasn’t announced it first. And Music To Be Murdered By is not only his best album in years but also his most diverse.
  • Artist: Theophilus London
  • Song: “Marchin'”
  • Album: Bebey
  • Genre: Alternative Hip Hop
  • Notes: This is London’s first album in six years and third overall. Alternative Hip Hop is a pretty good label for him but this song has more of an Island reggae vibe to it. In fact, a lot of the record kind of has that laid back island vibe to it.
  • Artist: Hayley Kiyoko
  • Song: “Demons”
  • Album: I’m Too Sensitive For This Shit
  • Genre: Pop
  • Notes: Every time I hear her name, I think I’m getting Kaley Cuoco instead. Damn it – just too close. But I’m guessing this actress is also the better singer. This is pretty fine dance pop, though just a 5 song EP.
  • Artist: Gabrielle Aplin
  • Song: “Miss You 2”
  • Album: Dear Happy
  • Genre: Pop
  • Notes: It’s really surprising that Gabrielle Aplin isn’t a major star by now. Her music has evolved from mostly folky ballads at the start, to shiny, upbeat pop songs that fit right aside any number of women on the radio now. (I keep thinking Halsey but maybe that’s because she released an album this week too). But either way, if this album doesn’t make her a hit, then she’s never going to be one. But she’s excellent and deserves it.
  • Artist: Dustin Lynch
  • Song: “Ridin’ Roads”
  • Album: Tullahoma
  • Genre: Pop
  • Notes: Not quite bro-country but sung by someone who very well could be a bro soon – this is an album that should be a huge country hit making Dustin Lynch a household name soon. Well, in households that listen to country at least.
  • Artist: Anti-Flag
  • Song: “The Disease”
  • Album: 20/20 Vision
  • Genre: Punk Rock
  • Notes: Well, it’s about fucking time that Anti-Flag released a record during the Trump Administration. Their last one was in 2017 and we obviously hadn’t gotten to quite the state of the country that we’re in right now just as he was starting his presidency. But with Trump on the cover, you just know what you’re in for.
  • Artist: Whyte Horses w/ La Roux
  • Song: “Mister Natural”
  • Album: Hard Times
  • Genre: Pop,
  • Notes: Hard Times is the third album from Whyte Horses. This is pop music at the core but with all kinds of various influences. UK artists have raved about the band over the years and while I’ve never heard the previous records, this one is pretty great. Songs sound very familiar yet fresh at the same time. Good formula.
  • Artist: Of Montreal
  • Song: “Polyaneurism”
  • Album: UR Fun
  • Genre: Indie Dance Pop
  • Notes: I truly am fun. Of Montreal got that part right – well, they got the album right as well. If you haven’t listened to Of Montreal in a long while, they are not the super indie twee pop group they started out as. Their previous record and this one harken back to and 80s dance pop sound that’s catchy as hell.
  • Artist: Wolf Parade
  • Song: “Against the Day”
  • Album: Thin Mind
  • Genre: Indie Rock
  • Notes: Thin Mind is the band’s fifth album and this is filled with fun, keyboard/electronic driven indie rock.
  • Artist: Pinegrove
  • Song: “Dotted Line”
  • Album: Marigold
  • Genre: Indie Folk/Rock
  • Notes: “Dotted Line” is the first track of the New Jersey band’s 4th LP. Definitely get both a folk and rock feel throughout the album, which is decent overall but leads with the best track on the disc.
  • Artist: Suicide Silence
  • Song: “Feel Alive”
  • Album: Two Steps EP
  • Genre: Deathcore
  • Notes: Two Steps is an unexpectedly good EP from Suicide Silence after putting out a nu-metal record in 2017. The nu-metal sound is gone, at least from these four tracks and I’d call these the heaviest songs they’ve ever made. The tracks are rooted in hardcore but the Death Metal really comes through here. Their new album is out on Feb. 14th and I normally would have just waited for it to highlight a track but this is such a shift from the previous record that I thought it was worth calling out. It’s like they know they fucked up and are making up for it.
  • Artist: Amber Liu
  • Song: “Other People”
  • Album: X (EP)
  • Genre: K-pop
  • Notes: Amber Liu is Taiwanese but was born in the US, which kind of makes her brand of K-pop a bit unique. The album definitely has a K-pop feel to it, 9which is usually pop that’s about 20 years behind current radio trends) but with a definite influence from US pop music. It’s a neat little blend to be honest, though I feel like this is kind of America’s Got Talent music in the end.
  • Artist: Sons of Apollo
  • Song: “New World Today”
  • Album: MMXX
  • Genre: Progressive Metal/Rock
  • Notes: Cool supergroup, composed of drummer Mike Portnoy, bassist Billy Sheehan, keyboardist Derek Sherinian, vocalist Jeff Scott Soto and guitarist Bumblefoot – this is a pretty damn solid progressive metal/rock album that isn’t too far on the progressive side, so that pretty much anyone that likes rock/metal can find something to get into. The track here is the most progressive on the album. The record also comes with the instrumentals and a capella versions of the tracks. The instrumentals might be even better than the fully complete songs.

Steed’s Best Albums of 2019

Getting back to new music in 2019 was really fun for me. During the first quarter I listened to five albums each week at random and then after that, I started listening to every new release of the week that was in the new release section on Tidal. I would listen to the first two tracks of every record and if I liked them, would listen to the whole album and if not, simply move to the next. That of course, leads to a shit ton of new music. And since my listening tastes are pretty eclectic, I feel like I can put together a pretty solid best of this year. Below is every album that I ranked 10/10 this year. Unlike my weekly reviews, this one’s in order starting with my favorite. Clink on the links to go back to my original reviews.

  • (#1) Bedouin Soundclash – MASS

There are only four albums in this list ranked 10/10 that I didn’t review and it of course figures that one of them is my favorite of the year. I originally said that I didn’t think anything would beat the Lizzo record for me but here we are! I’ve listened to this record a lot over the last few months and it’s so quirky and unique that I felt I needed to really give this some love. I didn’t write about it because I really didn’t know what to say at the time. But I have to try now – I’m not sure if I should call these guys alternative something or other, ska, reggae, rock, pop – could be any or all of them really. But whatever you call it, it’s been 9 years since their last album and it was well worth the long wait. There’s jazz horns, African music, strings, choirs and well, tons of exciting surprises around every corner. It’s one of those albums that I could talk about for days but you’d really have to listen to it to understand it. So do that and spare me wracking my brain for more words on this unique record.

Bedouin Soundclash, “Salt Water”
  • (#2) Lizzo – Cuz I Love You

Original review here.

Lizzo, “Truth Hurts”
  • (#3) Celine Dion – Courage

If you have told me that a Celine Dion record would be one of my favorites of the year, I would have went all Myles Garrett on your ass. But here we are. And there’s only two explanations. The first is that I’m getting old. I’m all-of-a-sudden in Celine’s wheelhouse. The other is that when Celine Dion comes calling for songs, you bring your fucking A-game. One of, if not the greatest voice of my era, commands only the best songs. And so, there’s really no reason this shouldn’t be fantastic. In fact, I have never listened to a full Celine Dion record before but frankly, every one of them is probably fucking fantastic. Because, Celine Dion. Because, Celine Dion.

Celine Dion, “Perfect Goodbye”
  • (#4) K. Flay – Solutions

Original review here.

K. Flay, “This Baby Don’t Cry”
  • (#5) The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of Reality

This is the third of the four records I didn’t actually review but this one was because I discovered it far after the release date. On the surface, this seems like an odd pairing – Les Claypool from Primus and Sean Lennon – but it works so damn well. This is the second album from the duo and it’s got three elements to it; funky bass-driven material like you would expect from Claypool, Beatleseque songs like you would expect from Lennon and a psychedelic progressive vibe through the disc. The riffs are spectacular, the songwriting top notch and the pairing simply perfect.

The Claypool Lennon Delirium, “Easily Charmed by Fools”
  • (#6) Pup – Morbid Stuff

Original review here.

PUP, “Morbid Stuff”
  • (#7) Gang Starr – One of the Best Yet

The final of the four in the list here that I didn’t review, this new Gang Starr record is the best pure hip-hop release of the year and it comes from a dude that died nine years ago. Guru was one of the greatest of all time and well, the album title is right on point – this record is one of the best yet. I don’t rank albums higher on nostalgia and I don’t need to here. DJ Premier created the beats and formed songs using never before heard lyrics from Guru. The result is an album that would have been one of the best yet no matter what year it was released in. And in an era where rappers mumble their way through records, it’s nice to have the articulate Guru in my ears even if it’s only for one last album.

Gang Starr, “So Many Rappers”
  • (#8) Prince – Originals

Original review here.

Prince, “Make-Up”
  • (#9) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Servants of the Sun

Original review here

Chris Robinson Brotherhood, “Chauffeur’s Daughter”
  • (#10) The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger

Original review here

The Raconteurs, “Help Us Stranger”
  • (#11) Terror Jr. – Unfortunately, Terror Jr.

Original review here

Terror, Jr., “Pretty”
  • (#12) Emily King – Scenery

Original review here

Emily King, “Can’t Hold Me”
  • (#13) Griz – Ride Waves

Original review here.

Griz, “Bustin’ Out”
  • (#14) Howard Jones – Transform

Original review here

Howard Jones, “Beating Mr. Neg”
  • (#15) Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real – Turn of the News (Build a Garden)

Original review here

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, “Save a Little Heartache”
  • (#16) Dorian Electra – Flamboyant

Original review here

Dorian Electra, “Musical Genius”
  • (#17) Mavis Staples – We Get By

Original review here

Mavis Staples, “We Get By”
  • (#18) Jimmy Eat World – Surviving

Original review here

Jimmy Eat World, “Congratulations”
  • (#19) Tuxedo – Tuxedo III

Original review here

Tuxedo, “The Tuxedo Way”
  • (#20) My Life Story – World Citizen

Original review here

My Life Story, “#Nofilter”
  • (#21) Good Fuck – Good Fuck

Original review here

Good Fuck, “Secret Meetings”
  • (#22) UB40 – For the Many

Original review here

UB40, “What Happened To UB40”
  • (#23) Yeasayer – Erotic Reruns

Original review here

Yeasayer, “I’ll Kiss You Tonight”

And there they are. A pretty solid year of music (not counting trap) if you ask me. In 2020, I’ll still be listening to the new releases each week but posting more on a track-by-track basis. And I’ll be expanding more Tidal catalogs out and taking some trips down the musical rabbit hole. Thanks for reading in 2019!