Well folks, welcome to my most indulgent, most confessional, most self-referential and truly most vain post on the blog. This is probably playing it up, but I’ve written a lot about myself on here. The dang header image is literally just pictures of me from the last 10 years layered on top of one another. There is nothing else except for pictures of me up there. What the hell. This post is by far the most personal writing I’ve ever done, so be warned that you’re gonna catch some of my real feelings getting through this, some of which are very dark, dealing with anxiety and depression. Watch out.
In short, this is a 2010s Retrospective. 500 songs that impacted my life as it happened in the 2010s, organized in chronological order. The first song that made a crater in my brain on Jan. 1, 2010 to the last song that left me spinning on Dec. 31, 2019.
Since 2014, I’ve accumulated playlists of songs throughout the year that made an impact on me. I then publish them at the top of the following year and include listening statistics and all that stuff. Real nerd things. The reason I do this is for one I’m obsessed with cataloging everything I do, and for two it’s fun to look back and definitively see when I discovered a favorite artist, when I was obsessed with a certain song or when something soundtracked a pivotal life moment. I’m constantly listening to music. The days where I don’t listen to a single song are rare. Life moments will easily overlap with a song I happen to be listening to. So if I wanted to immerse myself in how I was feeling at a particular time in a certain year, I could do that in a way by listening to the playlists. I’m also afraid to forget about things. Music comes out at such a fast rate these days I’ll just completely forget about a record I loved a few months after its release.
Because I started this in 2014, I had to go back and piece together playlists for 2010 – 2013. Once that was done, I decided to try and stitch together some kind of virtual quilt out of the 10 years of playlists, tracing a lineage of not only the development of my musical taste, but my personal growth as well. That’s what you’re reading here. The decade was a snapshot of some pivotal moments in my life: two graduations, two big moves, one rock-solid relationship, many friendships, getting hired, getting laid off, deaths in the family, political turmoil, personal anguish, celebration, euphoria, humor, pain, anxiety, love and more. For each of these songs, I tried my best to paint a picture of why that song is one of the 500 that impacted my decade. Some are just “this song is good, I listened to it a lot”, whereas others are much, much deeper and specific. This is very on-brand for me. Always oversharing and hyper-analyzing my own life.
For example, putting on one song will remind me of a time I went to Washington Square Park to read, but got interrupted suddenly by a sun shower causing myself and other park-goers to gather under trees while a jazz band played on a few feet away, unbothered. Another song will remind me of a specific bus ride I took from Philadelphia to NYC where my seat was broken. One will illuminate that I was reading Our Band Could Be Your Life during that season. A few demonstrate that I was very depressed. A few will show that I got better. A few will show how obsessed I was with Prefab Sprout at the end of the decade. It’s the theater of it all and unfortunately I’m the main character for the whole thing.
Unless I do a favorite live shows of the 2010s post, this will be my final collective post about the decade. The 20s have already given us enough impactful moments that it makes the 10s feel like a speck of dust. But it was fun to relive some of the “olden days”, especially now. Kind of like watching myself grow up. You can even click the individual header images for each year to bring you to that year’s individualized Retrospective post. That’s a lot of words though. Thanks for reading regardless.
Lastly, I made a Spotify playlist which unfortunately only has 470 of the 500 songs I listed here, but it’s something you can listen along to if you’re interested – find it after the jump. If the song is not on the playlist, it likely exists somewhere else on the internet.
2010 – Deeper Into Indies (#1-49):
2010 was all about discoveries and obsessions for me. 2009 was definitely my breakout year in getting into a lot of popular indie rock and pop like Phoenix, Animal Collective, Passion Pit, Dirty Projectors and Grizzly Bear, thanks to the late-fall discovery of sites like Pitchfork, Stereogum and Gorilla Vs. Bear. I kept that wellspring of excitement for a whole new world going into 2010, voraciously downloading free mp3s, combing old Best Of lists and picking out things that seemed interesting to me, and even starting my own blog to collect my growing collection of indie tunes. I learned how to search for .zip files (sorry!) and set a pace for keeping up with the waves upon waves of new music washing up on my growing shores. I even attended my first music festival in Pitchfork Fest. My mom drove myself, a family friend, two friends of mine and my sister down to Chicago and while my mom and the family friend sat on a picnic blanket within the festival grounds, my friends, sister and I went and saw Pavement, Best Coast, Washed Out, Beach House, St. Vincent, Big Boi, Major Lazer, Neon Indian, Local Natives and more. Holy smokes.
It was definitely fun looking back at my old Facebook posts from 2010 to see what I was listening to and what I had to say about it. For the most part my reaction to many things I posted were “OMGGGG THIS IS SOO AWESOME IT MAKES ME SHOOT RAINBOWS OUT OF MY EYEZZ” – which isn’t really too far off from how I describe Recommended Albums now. People do not change. You cannot learn new tricks.
- Owen Pallett – “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt”
I looked back on my Facebook posting in early 2010 and this was one of the first songs I shared. The album it’s off of also dropped on January 12 – talk about starting off the year strong!
- My Bloody Valentine – “Only Shallow”
Got Loveless for Christmas and really only listened to “Only Shallow”. Back in the day I would just ask for CDs for Christmas/Birthdays before listening to what’s actually on them. I had no idea what MBV sounded like, I just knew that sites said this was the best album of the 90s. Turns out they were right.
- Xiu Xiu – “Dear God, I Hate Myself”
Felt a lot of self hatred around this time. It’s so funny, but I would listen to this song over and over REALLY loud in headphones. Like obnoxiously loud. Just high school things.
- Yeasayer – “Ambling Alp”
The total flipside of “Dear God, I Hate Myself” with this empowering, feel-good tune that I was truly obsessed with in early 2010. One of the first albums I was really anticipating, really liked after listening a bunch, and then souring on once I started reading reviews. I hate that. On the record, Odd Blood is still a fantastic record.
- Vampire Weekend – “Diplomat’s Son”
Another early 2010 record. The start of the decade was so stacked!
- Local Natives – “Sun Hands”
In 2010, listening to Local Natives made me feel like the coolest guy of all time.
- Beach House – “Zebra”
Saw Beach House open for Grizzly Bear in 2009 without knowing who they are. I was instantly on board for Teen Dream and we all know what I think about this album now.
- Fang Island – “Life Coach”
I think the goofy cover of this album enticed me the most, but “Life Coach” with its even sillier video is what hooked me in as a high schooler. I don’t think I’d ever heard music like this and it made me want to “shoot freaking rainbow laser beams out of my eyez dood XD”
- The Thermals – “No Culture Icons”
Shout out to Hannah for getting me into The Thermals AND Neutral Milk Hotel, even though I know you’d just say it was thanks to your older sister who got you into them in the first place.
- The Avalanches – “Since I Left You”
Similar to the My Bloody Valentine blurb from earlier, I had no idea what the rest of Since I Left You sounded like aside from “Frontier Psychiatrist”, which I initially heard on NPR Music’s All Songs Considered podcast at the end of 2009. Since then it has become my favorite album of all time. Thank you Bob Boilen.
- Madvillain – “All Caps”
Discovering Madvillain and realizing MF DOOM was on Demon Days was a cool thing.
- Cults – “Go Outside”
One of the first early single Best New Tracks that I really got obsessed with. Driving around to this song was something special.
- The Radio Dept. – “Heaven’s On Fire”
An amazing song for high schoolers. Give it to them all.
- Tobacco – “Fresh Hex (feat. Beck)”
Thank you Beck for featuring on this crazy Tobacco song, opening the door to Black Moth Super Rainbow + the Tobacco universe.
- Delorean – “Stay Close”
We need more songs like this in 2021.
- Gorillaz – “Stylo”
On the day Plastic Beach came out my mom drove me to Best Buy so I could buy the CD with money I had saved up. Bless. An album that has somehow gotten better with age.
- LCD Soundsystem – “Dance Yrself Clean”
A true moment!! The drop for “Dance Yrself Clean”!! Are you kidding me??
- M.I.A. – “Born Free”
This song introduced me to Suicide (the band) so thank you M.I.A.!
- Sleigh Bells – “Crown On The Ground”
Showing this song to some of my metalhead friends in high school was always fun. I really do think Sleigh Bells and the second Crystal Castles record got me into “louder” music.
- Best Coast – “When I’m With You”
I gotta put this back in some rotations because it’s still a great summer jam.
- Janelle Monae – “Cold War”
Not sure what lead me to check out Janelle Monae, but The Archandroid was my first real experience checking out like a pop/R&B album. Still one of my favorites.
- Tame Impala – “Solitude Is Bliss”
Thighs chafed to hell. Tired as a dog. Feeling out of shape and alone. Listening to Tame Impala at 2am in a tent on a high school track. 24 hour relay, baby.
- Arcade Fire – “Month of May”
This was one of the first singles from The Suburbs
- Camera Obscura – “If Looks Could Kill”
To this day one of my Top 10 favorite songs. Will always remind me of landing in CT for the first time to visit colleges. What a weird time.
- Nada Surf – “Popular”
A song essentially made for teenagers.
- LCD Soundsystem – “Losing My Edge”
I was there. When LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge” introduced me to all these dude bands.
- The Futureheads – “Hounds Of Love”
Didn’t know Kate Bush at the time but man I loved this song! Found it after going WAY back on Pitchfork Best New Tracks.
- Wavves – “Post Acid”
Fandom for Wavves has taken a nosedive, but I played a lot of Majora’s Mask and listened to King Of The Beach in the summer of 2010.
- El Guincho – “Bombay”
BIG summer 2010 tune. BIG. Also the music video is the epitome of early 10s culture of Urban Outfitters/tumblr-level cool random imagery. I loved it.
- Big Boi – “Shutterbugg (feat. Cutty)”
I wasn’t a big fan of rap at that point, but this song and album were too fun to deny. Seeing him from afar at Pitchfork was pretty cool too.
- Arcade Fire – “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”
Another perfect senior year of high school song. Going bike riding to this right before the school year started… woof. What a feeling.
- New Order – “Age Of Consent”
I started listening to New Order on my replay of Super Mario 64 so I’ll always associate the two together. It works surprisingly well!
- Wild Nothing – “Chinatown”
Put this on every mix CD I made my friends 2010-2012 probably.
- Sufjan Stevens – “All Delighted People (original)”
It don’t get too much better than this, folks! Bonded with my freshman year roommate about this project. Thanks Sufjan!
- Buck 65 – “Blood Pt. 2”
Shout out to Dark Was The Night, a super gateway into all things indie at the start of the 10s.
- Kanye West – “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”
Not sure how I came across this song after thinking rap was trash for so long, but I think it was because I found the music video featuring Zach Galifinakis and Bonnie Prince Billy.
- Fiona Apple – “Criminal”
Aside from signing out Extraordinary Machine from the town library, I hadn’t heard any Fiona Apple until I watched the “Criminal” music video. I’ve gone on to do this song at karaoke and it rocked.
- DJ Shadow – “Midnight In A Perfect World”
A classic album I checked out and again, totally broke open my conception of what an album can be. Didn’t really know about instrumental hip hop at the time. Thanks DJ Shadow.
- Sonic Youth – “Teen Age Riot”
Finally listening to Daydream Nation was a good idea.
- GOBBLE GOBBLE – “Lawn Knives”
Shout out to Garrett for this one. Completely broke my brain open first listening to GOBBLE GOBBLE / Born Gold.
- Glasser – “Home”
Still one of my favorites. Where is Glasser now?
- Givers – “Up Up Up”
Don’t really care about this band anymore but I think this may have been their first single I heard. It made me think this was the future of music. It has so many aspects that I just hate in music now, but man it felt hot at the time.
- Deerhunter – “Helicopter”
One of those songs that when I heard it for the first time I kept replaying it. I couldn’t believe it.
- Women – “Eyesore”
Public Strain good album!! Let’s go!!
- Sufjan Stevens – “Age of Adz”
Never forget when a Best Buy employee yelled at my friend for pronouncing “Sufjan Stevens” wrong.
- LCD Soundsystem – “All My Friends”
Realizing that you’re never gonna have the same relationships with your high school friends after graduating and moving to another state while listening to this song? It makes the world feel so, so big.
- M83 – “Run Into Flowers”
To all my M83 haters out there… y’all are really dumb for hating on this track. I pity you all. Give this to all high school dreamers and make sure they don’t go extra cheesy on it.
- Kanye West – “All Of The Lights”
Driving around to this album right before winter break – euphoric feeling. Checking Pitchfork while working in the library during class to see the perfect 10 score – wild moments.
- The Strokes – “The Modern Age”
This was my favorite Strokes song at the time. A constant school-driving tune.
2011 – A New Beginning (#50-99):
2011 – the year I graduated high school. Clearly a big moment for most everyone in their life. I’d like to think mine carried extra significance because my family was moving from Michigan to Connecticut a few months after graduation. Yes everyone moves on from the little town we all grow up in, for the most part, but almost all of my friends could return to their parents house during short breaks and see each other. I would go back during the winter to see family, but it wasn’t quite the same.
Knowing this was an inevitability, I tried to pack in a lot of Michigan friend interaction in the first half of the year. Lots of driving around, listening to music with the windows rolled down. Visiting friends at their graduation parties, making final mix CDs for everyone, etc. The latter half of the year was obviously populated by my first semester of college, a period of time where natural growth is encouraged, as well as a “perceived” personal growth. Does that make sense? Either way I had it very good and made a few close friends with folks that lived on my floor and didn’t really explore much outside that. Despite the heartbreak of leaving the place I grew up behind, 2011 was a pretty solid year filled with friendship, fragrant nostalgia and best of all, some pretty solid new music.
- Smith Westerns – “Weekend”
Probably THE song that defined my final semester of high school, hanging out with friends and just generally trying to squeeze every bit of joy out of my time with them before leaving.
- The Knife – “Heartbeats”
Nothing much to say here. Just totally obsessed with this song. Unlike most people, this was the first version I heard and not the José González cover.
- Fatboy Slim – “Praise You”
I think I watched the music video for this song once a week for a few months. Just so entertaining.
- Zoo Kid – “Out Getting Ribs”
Shout out to King Krule.
- Purity Ring – “Ungirthed”
Truly mind blowing, this was.
- Lemon Demon – “BRODYQUEST”
I would walk around after school to this song playing from crappy speakers that plugged into the aux cord on my iPod and my friends would join me. What a pure moment.
- Smith Westerns – “All Die Young”
Ope, another Smith Westerns song. I’m tellin ya – this album really was all I was listening to in early 2011. I later saw them the day after high school graduation with a friend in Detroit. They opened for Yeasayer. Someone dove off the stage onto a very small woman who didn’t see it coming at all. It was awful.
- The Strokes – “Under Cover Of Darkness”
Loved convincing myself that this was a good song and album.
- Destroyer – “Kaputt”
The obsession with this song and album and artist came later, but this was the point where I was introduced to the mighty world of Destroyer and folks, it’s a good world.
- James Blake – “The Wilhelm Scream”
I wasn’t super into electronic music at the time, so James Blake’s spacey take on it was super mind-blowing.
- Jai Paul – “BTSTU”
Completely tore apart what I thought music could be. I listened over and over. Just incredible.
- Fleet Foxes – “Helplessness Blues”
Very much prophetic on how the rest of the decade turned out. How about that?
- Yuck – “Get Away”
So many incredible songs in 2011. Are you kidding me with this one?
- Gang Gang Dance – “Glass Jar”
Where are my “Glass Jar”-heads out there? This song is THE song! C’mon y’all!
- Tune-Yards – “Gangsta”
Was very much on the Tune-Yards train going through 2011, but I seemed to burn out on the album as the year went along. At the time I thought this was the wildest shit I’d ever heard.
- Tim Hecker – “In The Air III”
Played this for my AP psych class in some presentation relating to ear canals, brains… I don’t know. But just watching my old professor like, feel the air around her while listening to this was funny.
- The Weeknd – “What You Need”
Holy smokes I was obsessed with The Weeknd in 2011. I was 100% bought into the mystery of it all, and passing it all off as something subversive to mainstream R&B and stuff like that. Looking back it obviously isn’t, but I liked to think it was.
- Fucked Up – “The Other Shoe”
I’ll always associate this song with riding a lawnmower in the late spring. Like it’s been 10 years. Still the lawnmower persists. This is one of the best songs of the decade. Lawnmower.
- The Joy Formidable – “Whirring”
I think I got this as a free download at some point? Maybe one of the most based free mp3 downloads of my life. This song kicks so much ass. Anyone who doesn’t get into it is a hater.
- Daft Punk – “Da Funk / Daftendirekt”
Bought this CD at Best Buy on a whim. Proceeded to just absolutely BLAST it while driving anywhere, especially with friends in the car, making them very afraid.
- Washed Out – “Amor Fati”
I got a “smart phone” and I listened to this song on 3G (lots of buffering) while waiting in the car once. It felt like the future.
- Shabazz Palaces – “Free Press and Curl”
Listened to this song on my crappy phone speaker via NPR’s First Listen in my driveway while throwing away old childhood possessions before moving. Now that’s some baggage.
- Elite Gymnastics – “Here, In Heaven”
I really love Elite Gymnastics. One of those songs that I was able to download for free and put on my computer when I accidentally wiped my library.
- Real Estate – “It’s Real”
If you didn’t drive around listening to this in the summer of 2011, what were ya listening to?
- Clams Casino – “I’m God”
The staying power of this track… the amount of beat creators it birthed… truly inspirational. Sometimes I’m haunted about not buying Instrumental Mixtape on vinyl when I had the chance.
- Lana Del Rey – “Video Games”
I was totally on the Lana Del Rey train in the summer. I fell off after convincing my parents to stay up late to watch her SNL performance, but listening to this song over and over that summer was great.
- Little Dragon – “Ritual Union”
Made individualized mixes for my friends before I moved but this song was on every CD I think.
- Gauntlet Hair – “Top Bunk”
There’s more on Gauntlet Hair later, but man “Top Bunk” was such a cool song.
- Ford & Lopatin – “Too Much MIDI (Please Forgive Me)”
I bought this CD on tour in Philadelphia in 2011 and it stayed in my car until I had to get rid of it (my car).
- M83 – “Midnight City”
If you weren’t jamming “Midnight City” in 2011 I gotta think you’re either too cool or started jamming it at a later date. This was around the time that I was using Reddit heavily and I sometimes think about commenting about “not being able to wait til I’m walking around on campus listening to this, thinking about my endless future” and some dude was like “oh man I just got goosebumps you’re so profound” completely genuinely, because that’s how the internet was back then.
- St. Vincent – “Surgeon”
I made a twitter account just to tweet out #strangemercy until the song was “unlocked”. Worth it.
- Das Racist – “Michael Jackson”
…but when the world needed Das Racist most, they vanished.
- Wild Beasts – “Invisible”
This is the song I associate with the month I spent in my family’s new house in Connecticut after moving from Michigan. Just spending most days playing Portal 2, unpacking, and getting stuff ready for college. Still a fantastic song.
- The Caretaker – “Libet’s Delay”
I think I put this record on in my freshman dorm room and my roommate was like “oh so you like old piano jazz huh?” And I was like “uhhh yes?” Not realizing that the concept of the album isn’t completely obvious to people. I don’t know. I didn’t think about anything. It’s good stuff.
- Neon Indian – “Polish Girl”
Aside from being a purely fun song, this was a tune that I seemed to bleed from my pores. I’ve had
- Young Galaxy – “We Have Everything”
Picked this track up from Gorilla Vs. Bear and have never looked back. Something about this song is so damn satisfying and wonderful, and it’s stuck with me as one of my favorite songs of the decade for almost 10 years.
- Cut Copy – “Hearts On Fire”
Cut Copy’s 2011 album had me LOVING this band earlier in the year, but when I finally checked out their 2008 album while walking around on campus – that’s when it really broke open. I almost entirely forgot about the 2011 album and started just listening to In Ghost Colours. Hilarious.
- Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – “Bright Lit Blue Skies”
Man. Ariel Pink has gone down the drain for real, but I was truly obsessed with Before Today for most of freshman year. This one hurts.
- Grimes – “Oblivion”
This was another moment when it really felt like the world was an artist’s oyster. “Oblivion” felt like a bulletproof track that had endless replayability and a great music video. Grimes’ previous releases had felt fun but nothing groundbreaking. This was like – OK her 2012 album is going to be my AOTY. It didn’t end up that way, but this is still a monster track. We know this.
- Future Islands – “Balance”
A glimmer of big Future Islands fandom for the future. I really dug this song but never went deeper.
- Beyoncé – “Countdown”
This might have been the moment where I started to break down the doors of not listening to major pop releases. It wouldn’t be until 2014 or 2015 when I fully started to get into it, but this was still fun.
- Azealia Banks – “212”
I remember not liking this song when I first heard it, but I just kept going back to it and liking it more and more. This is literally all I will say about Azealia Banks. It was a moment.
- The Goat Rodeo Sessions – “Attaboy”
Ultimate fiddle/violin nerd moment here.
- A$AP Rocky – “Bass”
This was probably the first time I had been actively excited about new hip hop – the end of 2011 with all that “class” of rappers like Rocky, Joey Bada$$, ScHoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar, etc.
- Oneohtrix Point Never – “Andro”
This album legitimately put me on edge the first few times I listened to it. I couldn’t understand what I was hearing. I remember putting it on once while eating alone in the dining hall on a rainy day in between classes. That was a good moment.
- Discovery – “Osaka Loop Line”
Listening to this song and experiencing New York City for the first time was a trip.
- Holy Ghost! – “I Wanted To Tell Her (feat. Nancy Whang & Juan Maclean)”
I’ve never heard the original but these guys smack the hell outta this cover I tell you what.
- Brian Eno – “1/1”
Walking around the Met listening to Brian Eno like “ah yes, I’m in college now so I understand art”.
- Boards Of Canada – “roygbiv”
Walking around the Met listening to Boards of Canada like “ah yes, I listen to intelligent dance music”.
- Kanye West – “Lost In The World”
Final night of first semester freshman year of college, just late at night chatting about life and shit with buddies, listening to “Lost In The World” on loop.
2012 – Fully-Weaponized Music Seeker (#100-#150):
2012 is pretty wild. REALLY wild. This was the first year where I had a salaried position that had to do with music: working as the assistant music director at my college radio station. Speaking of which, I devoted nearly all my time to the station – a hobby I wasn’t expecting to get into at the start of college had blossomed into a passion. I was now ingesting music that interested me along with the random albums I decided to review for the station’s library. I was also still trying to dig back into the past and listen to classic records I hadn’t heard of before. The older student DJs definitely helped me out with this one, with endless references to other projects brought up during our new music committee meetings and sitting in with them during their radio shows. Oh, and having my own radio show with my dear friend and roommate at 1am – 3am Saturday mornings was badass as well. Those cold nights walking back late after our shift with some friends are still burned into my memory.
Outside of the radio station, my 2012 was defined by starting my first real relationship, developing and deepening the friendships I had made in my first semester of college, and as for the summer: playing video games, doing things around the house and running on the elliptical. Pretty bless. Lots of great new music this year as well. Mad new music. You’ll see.
- Grimes – “Genesis”
I remember being at my friend’s beach house on Cape Cod with friends but like, making a blog post about this Grimes song? Cause it was so good? Song so good you stop hanging out with friends to make a blog post. It’s true. Thanks Marilyn.
- Koh Ohtani – “Epilogue ~Those Who Remain~”
I think when I was home for winter break I decided to replay Shadow of the Colossus. Good decision. I also realized in this day of the internet, I could probably download the soundtrack. I did. This late-game song is one of the finest pieces of VGM out there.
- Cloud Nothings – “Wasted Days”
I was a casual fan of Cloud Nothings before Attack On Memory, but clearly this album kicked things into overdrive. Such an awesome song.
- TR/ST – “Sulk”
Still one of the best songs of the decade. What a cool synth sound. That whole album really made you feel sweaty and sticky, like you’re in some claustrophobic club with poor ventilation.
- Trailer Trash Tracys – “Candy Girl”
Random pickup for radio station reviewing. Can’t remember what the rest of the album sounds like but this song stays in constant rotation. Obsessed.
- ScHoolboy Q – “Hands on the Wheel (feat. A$AP Rocky)”
Following 2011’s explosion of exciting new hip hop, having the two of these guys on one track felt like the biggest treat.
- John Talabot – “Oro Y Sangre”
Haven’t returned to this John Talabot record as much now but in 2012 it was an everyday type of record.
- Sleigh Bells – “Leader Of The Pack”
After being truly obsessed with Sleigh Bells’ first album, I was a tinge let down by their follow-up, but I remember just getting my mind blown by this track.
- The Field – “Over The Ice”
Walking around in blisteringly cold weather listening to The Field? Not much better than this ladies and gentlemen.
- Mister Lies – “I Walk”
This was another Best New Track that I clung onto as time passed. How can you not love this song?
- Lemonade – “Neptune”
Ok now this was a for real obsession. I’d play this on every radio show if I could. One of my most-played songs in my iTunes library and last fm.
- Julia Holter – “In The Same Room”
My introduction to Julia Holter. Loved this dang song!
- Burial – “Ashtray Wasp”
I was still in DEEP Burial obsession at this point with his Street Halo EP, so when this came along I was under, over, in between the bandwagon. Y’all I WAS Burial. It was all over.
- Elite Gymnastics – “Here, In Heaven 4 & 5 (CFCF Remix)”
I will take up the responsibility to teach the children about Elite Gymnastics. This sounds like it’s straight out of a Studio Ghibli movie. Also not available on streaming – please look it up!
- Jai Paul – “Jasmine”
Ripped this from YouTube the night it came out so I could play it on my radio show the same night.
- Beach House – “Wild”
When Beach House’s Bloom dropped – an obsession and a true moment. Enlightening music to a 19 year old.
- Chromatics – “Dust To Dust”
Listen to this while walking around at sunset. It’ll make you feel like you’re in a movie.
- Lone – “Raindance”
This came out right as the weather started getting nicer and I don’t think there could have been a better-timed release for that.
- Death Grips – “The Fever (Aye Aye)”
Looking back, the rise of Death Grips was one of the most exciting moments of new music consumption I’ve ever been a part of. The hype was off the charts and for good reason.
- Major Lazer – “Get Free (feat. Amber Coffman)”
A perfect summer song. Listen to this again if you haven’t in a while. Put it on a mix CD for my partner and we still think about this summer when this song comes on.
- Beck – “I Only Have Eyes For You”
I was truly, TRULY obsessed with this song. A cover of the classic song for a cool art exhibition called SONG1 by Doug Aitken for the Hirshhorn Museum in DC. I’d say the Hirshhorn is my favorite museum I’ve been to. Nice full-circle moment in 2016 there.
- Japandroids – “Fire’s Highway”
Putting this Japandroids album on some speakers while I dug up bricks in my backyard? Peak summer 2012 moment.
- Killer Mike – “Big Beast (feat. Bun B, T.I. & Trouble)”
Where were you when Killer Mike just completely throttled all of music?
- Father John Misty – “Funtimes In Babylon”
Randomly grabbed this CD from a bin at the radio station to review and it turned out to be one of my favorites from that year. Didn’t realize it was on Sub Pop, didn’t realize he was a member of Fleet Foxes. Didn’t care. Just good music.
- Laurel Halo – “Thaw”
Nothing made my skin crawl like this Laurel Halo record. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know my feelings on it. At the time it was just a “good record” with this song being the centerpiece.
- Mount Eerie – “Lone Bell”
Something about this song reminds me of the spider houses from Majora’s Mask. Anyone else get that?
- Clams Casino – “Swervin (Remix)”
Shout out to Clams Casino, soundtracking summers since 2011.
- Fiona Apple – “Werewolf”
I wasn’t really a super huge Fiona Apple fan until this album. This hooked me into what she’s all about. Still fantastic – Top 10 for the decade.
- DIIV – “Doused”
Go crazy! AHHH! Go stupid!!
- Frank Ocean – “Pyramids”
Listening to Channel Orange and playing Fire Emblem ROMs all day every day? That was my summer.
- Baroness – “March to the Sea”
Are you hearing the shredding on this record?? One of my favorite songs of 2012.
- TNGHT – “Higher Ground”
I was doing a lot of elliptical in the summer and this would be in my rotation every time.
- Moons – “Waves At Night”
This was a random song post on Gorilla Vs. Bear. I don’t think this group is even around anymore. But for me, it’s quintessential 2012 music. Just dreamy and mysterious.
- Ryan Hemsworth – “Slowed Summer Mix”
Ok this is kinda cheating but I have it in my iTunes as one long mix so it counts for me. Ryan Hemsworth, his remixes and his mixes ruled my summer 2012. He seemed to be everywhere, making new Soundcloud mixes all the time, remixing artists like Grimes and Frank Ocean. This has since been deleted from the internet, but if you want it let me know.
- Wild Nothing – “Midnight Song”
I gotta listen to Nocturne more. This was such a fun album to listen to early sophomore semester.
- Merchandise – “In Nightmare Room”
Seeing Merchandise at Willimantic Records was definitely a building experience. Absolutely obsessed with this record.
- Hundred Waters – “Visitor”
I really latched onto Hundred Waters’ debut. I didn’t see many people talking about it, but their sound was just so refreshing to me. So awesome.
- Submerse – “Tears”
Some of the first non-Burial electronic music I started enjoying.
- Tame Impala – “Apocalypse Dreams”
You ever listen to an album and think “Ok this is gonna be huge” – duh.
- Kendrick Lamar – “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”
You ever listen to an album and think “Ok this is gonna be huge” – another duh.
- Mac DeMarco – “My Kind of Woman”
Putting Mac DeMarco on in dorm hangs before he was everywhere and getting so many people to say “man who IS this??” made me feel very cool. I’ll take that in 2012.
- Parquet Courts – “Stoned And Starving”
Parquet Courts came and played UConn in the fall of 2012 and promptly blew up quickly after. Am I gonna give UConn the credit for this? Absolutely.
- Mustafa Ozkent – “Uskudar”
Started coming in contact with more music not from the US or the UK and was really loving what I heard. Turkish funk to start was pretty incredible. Also the cover with a monkey covered in wires? You can’t beat that!
- Hallelujah Chicken Run Band – “Manheru Changamire”
More non-US music – great highlife guitar from Zimbabwe. Just a fantastic record. A classic.
- El Polen – “Mi Cueva”
And more – psychedelic folk music from the mountains of Peru. One of my top favorites. I spent $40 for a OG press CD of this. It’s that good.
- Dean Blunt – “The Narcissist (feat. Inga Copeland)”
I recently found the base sample for this song and I couldn’t believe it. But it’s nicely done. Probably the most accessible thing Dean Blunt has ever done.
- TOPS – “Turn Your Love Around”
How can you not love TOPS? With this song they were instantly a band to watch for me. I’ve seen them live five times now!
- Have A Nice Life – “Bloodhail”
Although I’m not so much into them anymore, I was head over heels for Have A Nice Life for a while there. It helped they were from CT; it made me feel like I was supporting local music.
- Wu Fei – “Cloud Of Birds”
Just a beautiful track. Awesome guzheng playing.
- Hop Along – “Tibetan Pop Stars”
Discovered Hop Along at the end of 2012. I don’t remember seeing this album on many year-end lists, which just confuses me so much. This is one of the best albums ever, y’all. Cmon.
- Cocteau Twins – “Cherry-Coloured Funk”
Also finally started listening to Cocteau Twins’ Heaven Or Las Vegas and yeah, you could say I’ve been massively obsessed ever since.
2013 – Music Is My Job (#151-201):
In 2012 I was the assistant music director at my college radio station. In early 2013 I was elected as the music director, a position I held until I graduated in 2015. Listening to music, reviewing it, disseminating it, talking to people about it – all of it was my job. How sick is that? Very sick, it turns out.
2013 was marked by my music director role of course, but also moving off campus and overall widening my taste umbrella. I honestly can’t remember too much about the spring or fall of that year aside from a few choice releases, but the summer. Man, the summer. Living off campus in an old dingy house full of bugs (lovingly nicknamed “Bug House” by yours truly), working two jobs at the college archival library and the radio station, programming two two-hour radio shows, only having a bike to get around (and sometimes my friend’s car if he was around) – and just good times. Started seeing more shows, went to CMJ and met radio people for the first time, started getting into more “underground / not on blog” music, started making some new friends… it was all very nice. 2013 – a pretty good year.
- ECO VIRTUAL – “Cumulus Fractus”
First song I got into in 2013 was vaporwave?? Sure, ok.
- Shlohmo – “Later”
Although I can’t listen to this song with the same kind of repetition that I could when it first came out, it’s still super solid.
- The Radio Dept. – “Where Damage Isn’t Already Done”
Decided to get back into The Radio Dept. and that was an incredibly smart decision. What a freakin’ tune.
- Beach Fossils – “Shallow”
When Pitchfork panned this release I said “ok that’s it – no more Mr. Nice Guy”. Clash The Truth is Beach Fossils best work and has SO many great songs on it. I’ve listened to it an insane amount of times. Shout out to Beach Fossils. Y’all are a great band.
- Grouper – “Living Room”
“I’m looking for the place the spirit meets the skin, can’t figure out why that place feels so hard to be in” – KILL ME LIZ
- Geinoh Yamashirogumi – “Kaneda”
Watched Akira for the first time in early 2013 and yeah that kinda ripped my brain apart. I was IN IT baby!! As a present aside, I added this song to my running playlist and it works, let me tell you that.
- FaltyDL – “She Sleeps (feat. Ed Macfarlane)”
Totally head over heels for this song. The album kind of faded away for me over time, but something about this song just effortlessly glides to me.
- My Bloody Valentine – “Who Sees You”
Where were you when MBV dropped? I was watching The Departed with some friends off campus and had to use my friend’s terrible middle-of-the-woods internet to pre-order the vinyl.
- The Music Tapes – “The Minister Of Longitude”
Seeing Julian Koster and The Music Tapes open for Jeff Mangum was a really sweet experience. I didn’t really know their music at the time, but going back and listening to this album was genuinely like being transported back to the gig.
- Fear Of Men – “Seer”
Shout out to Tiny Mix Tapes for introducing me to Fear Of Men. I think I knew they were special because TMT mostly featured music that was above my taste level and so this being indie pop/twee I was like oh ok, here we go.
- Grave Babies – “Over And Under Ground”
This album is mad overlooked amongst post punk people. Where you all at? Grave Babies are so sick! We need more music like this and not boring post punk bands!
- Waxahatchee – “Noccalula”
When I listen to this song: real pain!
- Swearin’ – “Kenosha”
Best thing about Swearin’s self-titled album is that it’s almost entirely too easy to listen to over and over. Which is exactly what I did for most of early 2013. So many killer songs. I could have put like 6 different songs in this spot.
- Quality Cinema – “Fleeting”
This is music made by a friend of a friend. It’s stayed in my “favorite songs” playlists since 2013. I still have never met this guy!
- Slow Warm Death – “SLEEP”
CC emo dudes – this is a project from the Snowing guy. It’s very good! Shout out to my very brief emo phase in 2013.
- Jay Reatard – “It’s So Easy”
Blood Visions is one of the best rock albums of all time no question.
- DJ Rashad – “Rollin”
Discovering footwork and DJ Rashad and Teklife – now that was a moment.
- Jürgen Müller – “Sea Bed Meditation”
Thought I found some cool archival release but it turns out it was all fake. Even so, I had this as my bed music for most of my mic breaks that summer.
- Laura Cortese – “Life Is Good Blues”
Was truly TRULY obsessed with this song in 2013. There was a day in April I listened to this song 24 times alone. That is not a joke. This song kicks ass.
- James Blake – “Retrograde”
Does anyone you know go back to the non-debut James Blake albums? I totally just dropped them the years after they come out. Even so, this song is still super solid.
- Deehunter – “Vox Celeste”
Deciding to get deeper into Deerhunter is always a worthwhile pursuit – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. “Vox Celeste” is a great song buried on an album that doesn’t have hits per se, but is still very good.
- Todd Terje – “Inspector Norse”
Discovering Todd Terje is a true moment. How could you not love this guy?
- Jai Paul – “Str8 Outta Mumbai”
Where were you when the Jai Paul bootlegs leaked? I was a sucker that gave the crook my money, but I guess it’s been nice to enjoy these files before Paul eventually put the record up for real.
- Sweet Valley – “Chaos Speed”
Again, this Wavves guy is trash, but man did I get suckered into his take on video game music + hip hop instrumentals.
- The Knife – “Full Of Fire”
Wooooooo this was fire. You know a nine-minute song is good when you keep hitting replay.
- Vampire Weekend – “Unbelievers”
One of my core albums of the summer. If Modern Vampires wasn’t part of your summer 2013 soundtrack… uhh… what the heck?
- HEALTH – “We Are Water”
Y’all ever listen to GET COLOR? This is a great album!! Obsessed.
- J Dilla – “Time – The Donut Of The Heart”
Had another HUGE Donuts phase. I was listening to this album constantly. It’s not hard to do! I think around this time I actually started getting invested in my last fm too, so the high scrobble count on this one was a big deal for me.
- Anamanaguchi – “Planet”
I think this song was in the Kickstarter trailer for this album and I knew instantly that I needed to support this project. It turned into one of my core albums of the summer. Pure happiness.
- Daft Punk – “Doin’ It Right”
Random Access Memories was my album of the year in 2013. I sincerely loved it. Now it’s aged like milk, in my eyes. Maybe I’ll come back around to it. “Doin It Right” is still great.
- Ultrademon – “The Bayou”
Remember sea punk? Remember that?
- Deafheaven – “Dream House”
I remember trying to like this so hard and not getting it for the longest time. But eventually I got there. I distinctly remember hunting down a loud ass cricket in my room and killing it while listening to this.
- Disclosure – “Voices (feat. Kaeble)”
Sounds of the summer! What a stellar album!
- Boards Of Canada – “1969”
I forgot what I thought was my favorite artist/band up until this point, but it immediately got forklifted outta there once I started listening to Geogaddi every day in the summer of 2013.
- The Mighty Hannibal – “The Biggest Cry”
This will always remind me of summer 2013 and working at the archival library. Decided to put this album on my phone and it was like every moment was a celebration.
- Kanye West – “I’m In It”
At the time I thought this album was just straight up bad. I couldn’t get past the lyrics. Now this is probably my favorite Kanye song and album.
- Julianna Barwick – “Pyrrhic”
Nothing feels more huge than Julianna Barwick’s music on Nepenthe. I played it on many of many radio shows that summer – I’m sure my listeners loved it.
- Beck – “Defriended”
I’ve said it once, I’ll say it one million more times. Why didn’t Beck make a full album in the style of his 2013 singles? They’re some of his best-ever songs.
- Aye Nako – “Cut It Off”
Where did this band go? I hope they’re ok. Their 2013 album is awesome and this song is one of the best hooky rock songs out there.
- SOPHIE – “Bipp”
RIP SOPHIE – YOU ARE SO MISSED. Never forget where you were when this hotness dropped.
- Julia Holter – “In The Green Wild”
I was pretty into Julia Holter’s 2012 album, but this totally wrapped me up in its universe. So fun and jovial and mysterious. Love it.
- Arca – “Knot”
In the leagues of brain breakage, 2013 had SOPHIE and Arca, really. The one-two punch of experiencing “BIPP” and then Arca’s &&&&& mix was like my brain having to accommodate some new language. I thought the mix was the most futuristic thing I’d ever heard. It’s in my Top 10 for the decade for a reason.
- Oneohtrix Point Never – “Zebra”
OPN broke my brain a good amount too with R Plus Seven. It’s taken me a long time to truly start to appreciate this album as a whole, but “Zebra” was always a fun time. Listening to it while walking around on campus made me feel like I was in dev mode on a website – seeing individual values and layers to some sort of code. So sick.
- Chelsea Wolfe – “Sick”
This is one of those songs instantly entranced me upon my first listen. I was purely just checking this record out for review at my radio station, but this song completely stopped me in my tracks. This is not comparing Chelsea Wolfe to Evanescence, but it puts me in the same place I would get to when listening to Evanescence’s debut in 5th grade. Some dark, cinematic expanse that gets imaginations going. Got deep into Chelsea Wolfe after this. So good.
- Infinity Shred – “Void Ripper”
Shout out to the Infinity Shred crew. This is one of my most-listened songs in my library. Still a constant rotation. Something about it is so damn satisfying.
- Crying – “Bodega Run”
Pure college feel on this one. The soundtrack to getting drunk and eating snacks with friends.
- Ovlov – “Where’s My Dini?”
Listening to this song makes we want to stomp through the floor. I’m so glad I caught onto this wave of Ovlov in 2013, because I feel like it’s definitely something I would have missed otherwise.
- FKA twigs – “Papi Pacify”
To this day one of my favorite releases ever. Twigs & Arca are a match made in heaven.
- Blank Banshee – “Eco Zones”
Madly obsessed with this Blank Banshee record. Anything that samples Donkey Kong Country or Zelda soundtracks immediately wins cred in my book. I’m easy like that.
- The Range – “Telescope”
The Range’s two albums are madly underrated! This guy gets no shine!
- Clams Casino – “Crystals”
Drifting on a snowy road with my friends from high school, blasting this song on the stereo, then going back to my friend’s empty frat house, playing OG Smash Bros and eating food out of their massive kitchen. Good times, those were.
2014 – Here’s To Feeling Good All The Time (#202-247):
Ok so when I look back at the 2010s, 2014 is the year that sticks out to me as the most hedonistic on my part. I was feeling good. The new music coming out was ultra exciting for some reason. I was connecting with a new group of peers in the College Radio Music Director group (you know who you are!). I attended SXSW for the first time. I attended Pitchfork Music Fest for the first time since 2010. I was going to shows more in general. My work at the station was growing, and I helped establish a weekday new music program that I had people on campus tell me they loved (that’s real! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!). Things just seemed to be working.
The biggest thing for 2014 though, like 2013, was the summer. I landed a part-time job (not an internship!) at a radio promo company in NYC that I would commute from Connecticut to. Monday through Wednesday I would take two early trains from south-central CT to NYC, work til 6:30pm, and get a late train out of the city, getting back home at 11pm. Then Thursday-Sunday I would drive back up to UConn for my radio show and do some little things around the station. When I wasn’t at the station, I would hang HARD with my roommates and friends that were still around the campus, resulting in many parties and undoubtedly the most I’ve drank in one year. Nothing hazardous, but definitely rambunctious. True college shit. I was living for the moment and although I had a bit of a down period in the fall, I feel like 2014 was the emotional peak of my 2010s. Wild times.
- Tirzah – “Inside Out”
Truly obsessed with this song for the latter half of 2013 + the rest of 2014. I’d play this song on my radio show every week if I could.
- Malcolm McLaren – “Madam Butterfly”
This is an absolutely amazing song and if you haven’t heard it before I suggest you change that. Ultimate 80s cheese with operatic singing, spoken word, ultra pop diva singing, and it’s all about Miss Saigon.
- TR/ST – “Are We Arc?”
Deeply infatuated with the TR/ST album in early 2014. Feels like you’re floating up a dark, sci-fi space station chasm with blinking lights and psychedelic northern lights.
- Holly Herndon – “Chorus”
Herndon’s 2012 album was a bit too obtuse for me at the time, but “Chorus” was like the world opening up. What a wonderful song.
- Future Islands – “Seasons (Waiting On You)”
Hearing this song for the first time (and seeing that Letterman performance) was like a “oh ok, this is going to be everywhere now”. And it was.
- Ava Luna – “PRPL”
Where my Ava Luna fans out there?? “PRPL” one of the best songs EVER!
- Frankie Cosmos – “Sad 2”
2014 was the year I think of as kind of the peak for the Double Double Whammy / Orchid Tapes / Exploding In Sound crew. That’s probably wrong now, but it really seemed like there was a lot more press for those labels than now, which is too bad. They’re still putting out great stuff! Frankie Cosmos is definitely bigger now, on Sub Pop and all, but this was still a magical time to feel like “oh here’s this super cool up and coming singer/songwriter making stupid, sweet songs.”
- Perfect Pussy – “Interference Fits”
I had entertained Perfect Pussy’s 2013 EP, but their debut LP was pretty awesome. This song still holds up I think. Quoted by Lorde and all that.
- Saintseneca – “Blood Bath”
Saw Saintseneca live in 2013 before knowing any of their music, but man Dark Arc was a breakout moment for me. My 2nd favorite album in 2014 and it still holds up.
- Jessica Lea Mayfield – “Pure Stuff”
Shout out to college radio music directors of 2014, specifically ones that also played this song.
- Sylvan Esso – “Dress”
Remember when Sylvan Esso was the hot hot thing? I still think this record is solid all the way through. But there are certain songs on here that will instantly transport me back to Spring 2014.
- Hundred Waters – “Murmurs”
2014 was truly Hundred Waters’ year for me anyways. The Moon Rang Like A Bell was my AOTY and I got to see them live twice. There was also a moment when a Hundo song came on before a show with friends and we were all like “oh man this is sooo goood”. At that point I was badly sunburnt at SXSW and was drunk off many beers.
- Wave Racer – “Streamers”
I had my radio show on the last day of final exams & papers to be submitted. This was also my final radio show of my junior year of college. I decided to only play high-energy, feel-good music. I also brought a six-pack of Shiner, trying to simulate the good time I had in Austin, TX. I was gonna be alone in an air studio in the student union with no one around, might as well have some “college fun™”. I drank the whole six pack, made sure to drink a good amount of water and ate food before bed, and eventually fell asleep. Foolishly, about a week before I orchestrated a quadruple breakfast date with three other couples before we all left for the summer to be the morning after my radio show. For one, I woke up late and tremendously hungover. For two, my partner was very mad at me. For three, I got to the diner (after a very hilly and twisty ride in the backseat) and my body physically could not accept any food (I tried eating plain toast and could not chew), and I had to go sit in the car the whole time. I eventually had to induce vomiting when I got home. My partner then ate cookies over me while I ached in bed, taunting me. Anyways, I always associate this stupid fun song with that stupid not-so-fun experience.
- Quirke – “Break A Mirrored Leg”
This was just some random track Pitchfork gave Best New Track. It’s been one of my favorites from the decade ever since I first heard it. Just unrelentingly intense. At the time I don’t think I had heard music that sounded like this before. Sounds like high-powered jets of air blowing your head around.
- Melody’s Echo Chamber – “Quand Vas Tu Rentrer?”
Another song that went on every mix CD I could manage. Got that perfect Kevin Parker production quirk to it, which is a song is rather demure and repetitive at the start of it, and then suddenly opens up in a big way with big, psychedelic instrumentation.
- Built To Spill – “Carry The Zero”
I only listened to There’s Nothing Wrong With Love by Built To Spill before this. Then when I started to check out Keep It Like A Secret I listened to it nearly every day. It’s perfect. I associate it with the early summer of 2014: waking up at noon, making food at 2pm, playing Bioshock Infinite and riding my bike around campus. Damn.
- Vanessa De Mata – “Nao Me Deixe So”
Took my first dip into Brazilian music in the late spring of 2014. I wouldn’t really go deeper than a few select songs on compilations I have in my iTunes, but this song went on nearly every mix CD I made for friends that summer.
- Babes – “ATMO”
Another song I put on nearly every mix CD I made in 2014. Just an easy track to like.
- Hiss Golden Messenger – “Sufferer (Love My Conquerer)”
Got really into Hiss Golden Messenger’s Haw mostly because it has a great album cover, but also because it’s a fantastic record to listen to while on a train.
- Slowdive – “When The Sun Hits”
I don’t think I had really listened to Slowdive seriously before the summer of 2014. I later got to see them perform at Pitchfork, which was amazing. But man, Souvlaki is quite the record, huh? Sounds especially great when you’re so deliriously tired on a commuter train at 7am.
- How To Dress Well – “Words I Don’t Remember”
Not really feeling How To Dress Well anymore, but man this was an everyday listen type of album that summer. Whenever this song comes on I still get down. Pure pleasure.
- Animal Collective – “Bleed”
Fall Be Kind is a fantastic EP and is probably the highest quality AnCo release in terms of consistency. What a brilliant song. Feels like you’re just echoing across space. Please make more music like this.
- Kelela – “Bank Head (Extended)”
Got to see Kelela live at Pitchfork fest and wow, it was so good. “Bank Head” is a perfect song.
- Radiator Hospital – “Fireworks”
Me anytime this song came on: “ouch!”
- Tennis – “I’m Callin”
Pure feel good jam. You can’t call it anything else. 2014 was the year of feeling good all the time. With Tennis, I was feeling good.
- Hooray For Earth – “Say Enough”
I still say this Hooray For Earth record is mad overlooked. I was truly obsessed with this song and I still think it’s fantastic. Something about the vocal melody in the chorus still sticks with me. Guitars are also arranged really well to complement the vocals.
- Craft Spells – “Your Tomb”
I associate this song with one particular party that I was at in the late summer at a friend’s house. Probably the last big party of the summer. I played this on the speakers and people danced in the kitchen. I drank a six pack of beer and didn’t wake up hungover the next day. A lot of other people did. A final gasp of hedonism before being thrust back into “structured, non-hedonistic college”.
- TOPS – “Way To Be Loved”
If this wasn’t the song of my first semester of my senior year of college, I don’t know what is. So many nights spent in our apartment listening to this song. I love TOPS so much.
- Merchandise – “Green Lady”
Even though I was definitely disappointed by this Merchandise album, I made sure I listened to “Green Lady” 5x a day for most of the late summer.
- Ty Segall – “Feel”
I thought I was really cool as a senior in college. Don’t know why. Maybe cause I worked in NYC over the summer. Anyways, I was driving around with my friend and noticed my younger sister leaving class and decided to pick her up to take her to her dorm. I was blasting this record and I felt so damn cool. It’s hilarious. Don’t be embarrassed. It was a moment.
- Ricky Eat Acid – “In my dreams we’re almost touching”
I don’t think I’ve cared about Ricky Eat Acid since this album, but this instantly brings me back to my friends in the Music Director FB group. Shout out to all y’all holding it down in 2014.
- The Pillows – “Beautiful Morning With You”
Watched FLCL in a weekend – it has a great soundtrack!
- Bôa – “Duvet”
Also returned to Serial Experiments Lain after seeing snippets of it as a kid on Toonami or whatever. What a fantastic show with one of the best opening themes ever. Pure late 90s / early 00s feel.
- Portishead – “It Could Be Sweet”
Finally got actually into Portishead instead of just listening to “Sour Times” over and over. “It Could Be Sweet” is a peak fall song. Walking around on campus listening to this in the rain was euphoric.
- Mr Twin Sister – “In The House Of Yes”
Ok this was a true moment that turned into a lifetime’s bounty. I remember getting this as a music director and thinking “oh I remember Twin Sister, this will be a fine album, whatever”. Then I put it on and I couldn’t stop listening to it. It hooked me in almost instantly. I hadn’t heard any singles – just went in blind and it has become one of my all-time favorite albums. I talked about it to all my friends and would geek out with other music directors that actually checked it out. Pure classic.
- LVL UP – “DBTS”
I don’t think it gets more college radio in 2014 than LVL UP’s Hoodwink’d.
- Grouper – “Lighthouse”
Walking around campus on a foggy night listening to this album & song? Truly nothing better.
- Aphex Twin – “Aisatsana”
I’ve kind of forgotten about the rest of Aphex Twin’s 2014 album, but this song is pretty damn good. I was really obsessed with Syro though.
- The Smiths – “Well I Wonder”
Had a HUGE Smiths phase at the end of 2014. Realized that Meat is Murder is my favorite Smiths album. But I was just listening to them nonstop. For real. Morrissey is a trash can factory though.
- Burial & Four Tet – “Moth”
Wrote a lot of papers and studied a lot in one weekend and I think I listened to this song probably 20-25 times throughout that whole thing.
- Mitski – “Townie”
I don’t wanna say that I broke Mitski to UConn or radio promoters or anything, but I was one of the first people to buy the record on Bandcamp. Ok that sucks. Listening to Mitski in late 2014? A true moment, an amazing discovery and a complete obsession.
- My Bloody Valentine – “Sometimes”
Returning to Loveless in the fall is as constant as the birds migrating for the winter.
- Björk – “I’ve Seen It All”
I saw Dancer In The Dark in my college film class. As upsetting as it is, it’s probably in my Top 5 favorite movies.
- Mica Levi – “Love”
I still have never seen Under The Skin but boy is the soundtrack great. Peak depression playlist song.
- D’Angelo & The Vanguard – “Prayer”
Shout out to D’Angelo for ruining year-end lists everywhere.
- Jeremy Zuckerman – “The Legend Of Korra Final Theme”
Will never forget watching the end of The Legend of Korra and then immediately calling my friends to talk about it. Such a beautiful final scene. I was obsessed with finding fanart and uh fan fiction after that. The follow-up comics were alright. I definitely YouTube ripped this track into my iTunes.
2015 – “Real Life” (#248-299):
Ah 2015, the year I graduated college. Of course that’s a huge marker here. The first half of 2015 was pretty solid, however it was dappled with bits of breakdowns, mostly due to my academic schedule. I was ultra-ambitious and decided to get a minor in Spanish instead of just riding out my final semester on the easy side. I took four upper-level Spanish classes and although I really loved all my professors, some weeks the work load was immense and brain-breaking. This stress boiled over into some serious anxiety with friends and elsewhere. Not great.
Despite the adversity – I did graduate. I did get a minor in Spanish. I spent the summer as a virtual intern, giving me some time to breathe and enjoy the good weather and lack of immediate responsibilities (hanging out with my roommate for a few more weeks than expected was really nice). Then I got a job. Hell yes. Only problem was that the job didn’t pay me enough to move to NYC (they actually wanted to send me to LA first… uhh LOL), but my gracious coworker figured out a deal where I commuted from NYC twice a week and worked from home the other three days. Pretty sweet deal, honestly. He even let me stay at his place one night a week. Chris, I owe you my dang life. My partner also moved to Paris for a year of studying abroad, so that was the first time we’d spent an elongated time apart. The fall eventually brought me into a deep depressive state, realizing that I’d never see or interact with my friends like I did in college ever again. It was my first taste of “real life”, whatever that is.
- Yoko Takahashi – “Cruel Angel’s Thesis”
Binged all of Evangelion in a weekend, basically one day. That was a trip. I was also in Michigan visiting at the time. I could have been hanging out with friends but I just watched a whole season of anime.
- Yo La Tengo – “We’re An American Band”
This was kind of the a-ha moment for me with Yo La Tengo. For one, they’re a great band to listen to while in an airport waiting for your flight. “We’re An American Band” is probably my favorite song of theirs. Ira just wigs out on the guitar and it rocks. EARLY early 2015 – the YLT unlock moment.
- Mount Eerie – “Boat”
I was full on obsessed with Mount Eerie’s Sauna. Probably the first LP of 2015 I was truly head over heels with, shortly followed by FJM’s album. I remember playing this REAL loud in the air studio at my radio station and just crying out with the shrieks of feedback in this song. So unreal.
- Björk – “Stonemilker”
I think I cried the first time I heard this. I had just started really getting into Björk so a new album was amazing. Just so beautiful. Shout out to Michelle and Max, whom I saw Björk with at Kings Theater later in March. Extra shout out to Michelle for letting me stay at her place, too.
- Krill – “Tiger”
If your song doesn’t end with an ultra-cathartic wall of noise, what’s the point?
- Mulatu Astatke – “Tezeta”
Thank you Eric Andre for introducing me to Ethiopian jazz via his Amoeba What’s In My Bag vid. I feel like this is the song everyone knows, but man this really kept me from going off the edge in my final semester of college when I was taking four upper level Spanish classes. Ethiopian jazz is it.
- Pure X – “Every Tomorrow”
Not sure why I decided to get back into Pure X. I think it was just a record I decided to listen to while playing The Binding of Isaac (I combed through a lot of my backlog while playing that) and this album really knocked me out. Super underrated, dreamy and folky rock. It’s awesome. Syrupy.
- Grimes – “REALiTi (demo)”
I was pretty into “Go” back in 2014, and hearing the early single version of “REALiTi” was pretty encouraging. I didn’t end up liking Art Angels and have Grimes muted on Twitter so I can continue enjoying her music in peace. But man. The possibilities.
- Kendrick Lamar – “Wesley’s Theory”
The release of To Pimp A Butterfly was a MOMENT. Unreal. I’d relive hearing this album for the first time again if I could. Choosing the first song because you knew you were in for something else.
- Sun Araw – “Conga Mind”
Was a fan of Sun Araw for a few years, but I really tapped into On Patrol and Beach Head midway through my senior year. They were great to write papers to. Just puts me in a trance and I would bang out pages in minutes.
- Chasisty Belt – “Joke”
I think out of everything, Chastity Belt’s Time To Go Home will be the record that defines my final semester of college. The sound of fun and carefree times coming to an end.
- Red House Painters – “Katy Song”
Disclaimer – Mark Kozelek can go get stuck in a tumbleweed and buzz off somewhere we don’t have to hear from him again. But for some reason I chose to put this song in a radio show playlist without hearing it beforehand and it ended up with me just sitting in the studio leaned all the way back just moaning. Pure 90s angst.
- Prefab Sprout – “Wild Horses”
Finally decided to listen to Prefab Sprout after years of egging on from my mom. I think my friend Ross finally got me to try. Or Joel. Only heard Jordan: The Comeback at first but I could hear the potential.
- Sicko Mobb – “Kool Aid”
This mixtape is still so fun. You just had to be there for Sicko Mobb in 2014 + 2015.
- Hop Along – “Texas Funeral”
This Hop Along album is perfect. No further questions. “None of this is gonna happen to me within my lifetime” is an awesome to shout at the end of a song. Just so wicked. Another song to put here is “Happy To See Me”.
- Holly Herndon – “An Exit (feat. Amnesia Scanner)”
This song feels like you’ve been cut in half length wise and there are small alien scientists examining your innards on a spaceship moving at light speed. I’d play it very loud in my car and drive very fast.
- Donnie & Joe Emerson – “Baby”
Fuck the Ariel Pink cover. The original is the only way to go.
- Eskimeaux – “I Admit I’m Scared”
If you don’t get chills on that final crescendo moment I doubt you’re human. Big record for my partner and I in 2015.
- Juan Wauters – “Woodside, Queens”
Spent a lot of time driving in the summer of 2015 and this is a great driving record. Unfortunately one main memory I have with it was taking my car in for a tire rotation and the dude comes back and says I need to replace a tire unexpectedly. I didn’t have enough money in my bank account. Thankfully the guy gave me a discount. Shout out to that guy – he didn’t have to do that. But that’s where I was at at the time. Not enough money to get a tire replacement.
- Jamie xx – “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) (feat. Young Thug & Popcaan)”
Ok – early summer 2015 was pretty damn sick. Shout out to Shil and Bri and JJ for letting me intern for y’all for a month and a half before I got a job. I listened to this album while doing all my intern stuff.
- Angel Olsen – “Drunk and With Dreams”
Listening to this song alone in my bedroom at my parents house really started to solidify the feelings of “college is over, you will never see your friends again”
- Domenique Dumont – “Comme Ça”
Blessed summer discovery. One of the most peaceful, happiness-bringing releases of the decade.
- Seoul – “The Line”
Booked these guys a show at UConn with TOPS which was great, then they stayed at my apartment which was fun, and then I helped promote their record to radio. I even traveled to Boston later that year to see them again. Shout out to the Seoul boys.
- Mac DeMarco – “Without Me”
Probably the last gasp of Mac DeMarco fandom I had left. Right before he got stupid big. I still enjoy this mini album quite a bit, and I got the pleasure of promoting it to radio stations, so that was neat.
- Blue Sky Black Death – “And Stars, Ringed”
I don’t think I’ve listened to Blue Sky Black Death since 2015, but for some reason I listened to their album NOIR almost exclusively on the weekend I permanently moved out of my college apartment. For a while I was just riding out the lease and slowly moving things back in my little Ford Fusion. But extracting all the big stuff, I listened to this. It’ll forever be tied to a pretty big memory.
- Carly Rae Jepsen – “Gimmie Love”
CRJ fandom in the summer of 2015 was a moment, an obsession, a discovery. What a magical moment. Shout out to Pop Forum as well. I think that’s what the Facebook group was called.
- Battles – “Rainbow”
Realized I had never listened to Battles’ Mirrored outside of “Atlas”. Turns out the rest of it is really damn good.
- 2814 – “恢复”
To say I would listen to this song on every single train ride out of the city (which was at least once a week for half of 2015) would not be an understatement. It’s the perfect song to listen to on a late night train. I get emotional just thinking about it.
- Heathered Pearls – “Personal Kiosk (feat. The Sight Below)”
Ok this 2015 Heathered Pearls record is so maddeningly underrated. Go listen to it. Great album to listen to while driving around in the summer at sunset. Can confirm.
- Tame Impala – “New Person, Same Old Mistakes”
If you want a true movie sync moment in my life, I’ve got one. My partner left to study abroad in Paris for a year in late summer 2015. Being college sweethearts, we really hadn’t spent that much time apart from each other. On our last day together before she left we kept it together for the most part. But when I had to leave, the waterworks just burst open. We were BAWLING. Eventually I forced myself to drive away and my car started blasting this Tame Impala album as I was crying SO hard. We’re still together! Ain’t love grand?
- The Sundays – “Here’s Where The Story Ends”
This was one of those songs where I’d known it forever, but just not known exactly who it was by or what it was called. I’d say this was the beginning of me checking out older records in my backlog since I wasn’t listening to like 30 albums a week for my job anymore. Once it came on I was like, “ohhhhhh”. This is one of the best albums ever made.
- Tears For Fears – “Head Over Heels”
Another discovery of sorts. Hadn’t really gotten into Tears For Fears. Their Greatest Hits anthology is sooo sick.
- Sergei Rachmaninoff – “Lilacs, Op. 21, No.5”
I forget which Amoeba What’s In My Bag segment I plucked this from. Either way, this was another clutch find from that evergreen giving series – Rachmaninoff Plays Rachmaninoff. Solo piano record. I don’t have many other solo piano records I listen to, but if you have any you’d recommend, please tell me.
- Julia Holter – “Sea Calls Me Home”
My grandpa died in the early fall of 2015 and I remember listening to this record the whole time I was back in Michigan. It really made me feel like I was in some sort of dream sequence. I hadn’t experienced a death in the family as a conscious adult, so unexpectedly traveling back to the state I grew up in for an explicitly sad event was tough. But I also remember the gathering at a relative’s house with his friends and their families and recounting stories together. Satisfying balm for an urgent time.
- Majical Cloudz – “Heavy”
I don’t want to get too into it, but man. I was really, really depressed in the latter part of 2015. Being removed from the constant haven of friendship and human contact in college really got to me. I felt completely alien to the world. The Majical Cloudz album as a whole swallowed me whole, letting me exist in its weepy innards – “I’m not heavy, I’m nothing”. Melodramatic, yes. But holy hell, have you ever been depressed? Two friends arrived at my house to surprise me for my birthday and I could barely look at them. It was a mess.
- Life Without Buildings – “The Leanover”
Discovered Life Without Buildings in 2015. Now I can’t imagine building a life without Life Without Buildings.
- Sun Kil Moon – “Duk Koo Kim”
Like I mentioned earlier, Mark Kozelek has absolutely gone into the trash can, but I cannot accurately encapsulate 2015 without bringing up Ghosts Of The Great Highway and “Duk Koo Kim”, one of the premiere depression songs in my library. Just cut into me with an axe.
- Midlake – “Van Occupanther”
Had a HUGE The Trials Of Van Occupanther phase in the fall, inspired by trying to find the best autumn albums. Unsurprisingly this is a great album to listen to on a New England commuter rail like the Shoreline East.
- Natalia Lafourcade – “Hasta La Raíz”
Another mention of Amoeba What’s In My Bag, only this time they featured Natalia for her own episode. She had classic picks, but I just thought she was so charming and the little preview snippets of her music had me interested. She’s so awesome. I almost saw her live in 2018 but blew it. Oh well. Someday.
- Empress Of – “How Do You Do It”
Shout out to Erik Felix for jamming to this song with me while seeing Empress Of at CMJ. Relisten to this Empress Of record again if you haven’t recently. It’s still great.
- Broadcast – “Tears In The Typing Pool”
Heard this on a venue’s PA in between sets and definitely cried alone in a venue. Probably my final CMJ memory. Actually that’s a lie. My final CMJ memory was leaving Baby’s All Right as “Diamonds Dancing” was blasting and not saying goodbye to anyone, thinking about throwing myself in front of an M train. Just being real here.
- Neil Young – “Walk On”
Decided to get into Neil Young and yeah, On The Beach is an amazing album.
- Stereolab – “Diagonals”
Decided to get into Stereolab and yeah, Dots And Loops is an amazing album.
- Future – “March Madness”
If you weren’t a fan of Future in 2015, what were you doing? Also I dedicate this space to spending so many nights at my buddy Chris’ place after work, watching vines and Attack On Titan on my phone, playing Fire Emblem Awakening (again) and him playing PUBG. Shout out to you, Chris. You really helped me a lot. I can’t thank you enough.
- Eluvium – “Under The Water It Glowed”
I forget who recommended this album to me. Maybe Eric M? Either way, this thing hurts. It makes me feel like I’m in a bubble at the bottom of a deep lake, with light barely filtering down to me and long patches of sea grass enshrouding me.
- The Stone Roses – “I Wanna Be Adored”
Never listened to The Stone Roses until 2015. Oops. Turns out this album is pretty good.
- Gillian Welch – “My First Lover”
Time (The Revelator) is a fantastic album to listen to while riding a train regularly. Probably the final “older” record I discovered in 2015. Obviously “I Dream A Highway” is the hit but at the time I was just going through the album over and over. If you haven’t heard this album, I recommend you change that as fast as you can.
- Joanna Newsom – “The Waltz Of The 101st Lightborne”
Promoting Joanna Newsom’s music in 2015 and attending her tour at King’s Theater (and subsequently crying multiple times) was a life highlight. The final harmony and instrumental breakdown on this track is just SO good.
- Fetty Wap – “679 (feat. Monty)”
Remember Fetty Wap? This is an extension of my Vine remembrance post here. But one night at my parents’ house I was alone for some reason and decided to make a bunch of Christmas cookies – I think I made three or four different types in one night and drank a whole bottle of wine I was going to bring to a friend’s house but backed out because the thought of socializing made me want to throw up. Long story short I remember listening to Fetty Wap, one bottle of wine in and thinking “holy fuck this is soooo goood”.
- Oneohtrix Point Never – “No Good”
Love a good self-deprecation song! No audible lyrics in this one, but it really hit me with a sledgehammer of “you’re broken”-ness.
- Jessica Pratt – “Game That I Play”
It wasn’t until the end of the year, after I put out my Best of 2015 list that I realized that Jessica Pratt’s On Your Own Love Again was in the Top 5 if not Top 3 records released in 2015. I rectified this in my Best Albums of the 2010s list.
- Grouper – “Alien Observer”
I’d say this was the start of my true Grouper obsession. I had enjoyed her previous albums, especially Ruins in 2014, but something about the winter/holiday season got me into A|A like nothing else. I think it’s because on my family’s long drive to Michigan I’d listen to music to help me fall asleep or would be good for being in a car for 12 hours. Grouper, Stars of the Lid, stuff like that. I think because the holiday season bums me out so much, Grouper was he perfect choice.
2016 – A Slow Degradation Of Mentality (#300-348):
Rahh 2016 – the worst year ever, right?? Kind of! The latter half of 2015 had eroded my sanity away bit by bit, with anxiety over every social interaction becoming more and more pronounced. Deaths of icons, political devastation, overall world-ending vibes, and intense personal battles scored my entire 2016. Not to mention kind of a crummy year for new releases (in my book, anyways).
The first half of the year was spent living at my parents house & commuting twice a week to NYC, the second half was finally getting my ass to move to the city. Thankfully I found something I could afford after saving my money by living at home and commuting. Unfortunately it happened to be with some of the worst people I’ve ever had the displeasure of interacting with in my life. Double unfortunately is that two weeks after I moved, I unexpectedly got laid off. The job I had moved to NYC specifically for had cut me free. I also had to keep my offing a secret, so no applying to similar jobs or trying to connect with industry connections. Bound in a suspended state of limbo. I eventually was picked up by a colleague, but it was a tough go of it. No stable pay, only commission. Woof.
Living in NYC and having that new freedom obviously had its benefits; from concerts, to food, to city life, but the unfortunate positions I was put in seemed like I was ripe to get chewed up and spit back out to my parents house. So was it all bad? No. But man, it was unrelenting.
- Slint – “Don, Aman”
I went to a New Year’s party where, I don’t want to be melodramatic, but this was essentially the vibe I felt from it. I spent time outside, sitting in my car, wanting to speed into a wall without my seatbelt on. I hated every word that came out of my mouth. It had only been six months since graduating college, but I felt more alien to my friends than ever. I was no longer one of them and thought I never deserved to be. I tried to socialize and reminisce and it backfired on me. I couldn’t keep up with these natural conversations anymore. I drove home and screamed until I couldn’t. Again, not to be dramatic, but this set the tone for 2016. I told y’all this was gonna be a personal dive. So that’s the truth.
- David Bowie – “Always Crashing In The Same Car”
Obviously David Bowie passing was completely devastating to wake up to. I’m glad it got me to return to his music after being dormant on it since high school. Low in particular hit me at this time. Bowie – the god.
- Cat Power – “The Greatest”
Not sure what inspired me to finally listen to Cat Power, but I chose The Greatest because why not. Couldn’t get past the title track. Not because it’s bad, but because I literally could not stop listening to this song. Great train riding album.
- Porches – “Be Apart”
I remember in early January my partner had to come back from Paris because they had a visa issue. I went from work in the city and drove to her parents house at around 11pm, then drove back to my parents house after 1am. (After riding two trains in the cold night, this was a lot). My fandom in Porches has drifted significantly, but this song was really hitting me that night.
- DIIV – “Waste Of Breath”
Haha hey do you think I identified with this song in 2016? You bet your ass.
- Holy Fuck – “Shivering”
Not the most year-defining song by any means, but I got this record early and for some reason I could not stop listening to this song. I thought it was the most addictive thing ever and to be fair, it’s super well-arranged and written. Great dynamic peaks and valleys.
- PJ Harvey – “Horses In My Dreams”
I vividly remember driving back from seeing friends from college in negative temperatures listening to PJ Harvey’s Stories From The City and endlessly replaying this song. I was teeth-chatteringly cold (I maxed out my heat and it was so cold that it wasn’t even working??) and felt just terrible
- Kanye West – “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1”
Cannot deny the huge impact this song had. Lyrics as the song goes on aren’t as great, but the beginning is pretty bulletproof.
- Massive Attack – “Risingson”
Got my first taste of walking between transfers in subway stations at night in 2016 and had a massive Mezzanine phase while doing it. Such an incredible album.
- Kedr Livanskiy – “Sgoraet (Burning Down)”
This song will always remind me of waiting in the freezing cold in the morning for the Shoreline East train and sitting in those hard leather/plastic seats and nearly falling asleep again before my transfer to Metro North. Also trying to promote experimental electronic Russian pop to college radio did not work in 2016. It totally flopped.
- Hiroshi Sato – “Say Goodbye”
My introduction to city pop. I think my buddy Ross posted about this on Twitter or something. Thank you Ross. This is probably the best city pop song. I also tie this song with reading the manga Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou in one weekend. HIGHLY recommend if you want a post-apocalyptic story that’s actually overwhelmingly peaceful and melancholy.
- Sarah Neufeld – “Where The Light Comes In”
Absolutely melts. Most of the Sarah Neufeld album is intense and dynamic, but this song is a perfect closer and so impactful. It spread me like a paste on a wall.
- Frankie Cosmos – “Embody”
Made me feel positive for a little bit. Someday in bravery, I’ll embody all the grace and lightness.
- Mitski – “Your Best American Girl”
OK Mitski is back FOR REAL and she is NOT playing around!!
- Joe Hisaishi & The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra – “Yamadas, Takashi & Matsuko’s Tango”
Have y’all heard this compilation of Studio Ghibli movie soundtrack moments done by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra? It’s special. I realized I had it on vinyl but never listened to the digital. Surprisingly, the My Neighbors The Yamadas songs hit me the hardest.
- The Beach Boys – “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times”
Big Pet Sounds phase at the onset of spring. Of course this song spoke to me in 2016.
- Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – “When I Try, I’m Full”
While this album brought me a lot of quiet peace, it also made me feel almost hollow inside. Or rather, it makes me feel like there’s a vast ecosystem of beings living inside me. So maybe that’s not hollow per se, but more I’m not in control of my own body. Does that make sense. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith good.
- Kevin Morby – “Destroyer”
One of the first songs I was really obsessed with in 2016. I had no expectations going into this Kevin Morby record and it turned out to be my #3 for the year, pretty sure.
- Whitney – “Dave’s Song”
Listened to this song a lot and thought about the not-so-distant memories of hanging out with friends in college and how they’ll never be like that again. I even knew after hanging out with some friends later in the summer and playing this that things would be different even after that. Fragmented, scattered and disparate.
- Prince – “Computer Blue”
It took Prince’s death to finally really listen to his music. I know. Terrible. From there I listened to Purple Rain almost every day for a month. I visited my partner in Paris and thought about Prince maybe the whole time.
- Death Grips – “Bottomless Pit”
Probably my last great gasp of being a Death Grips fan. I genuinely loved this album, but have since moved past more aggressive music like this. I do remember stomping around midtown after all Metro North trains were cancelled due to a 5-alarm fire literally melted the bridge trains take to get out of the city, trying to find somewhere to stay. Eventually ended up at my very kind friend from high school’s place, but man, I felt like I was on fire listening to this. “I fucked you in half” is a line for the ages.
- Jessy Lanza – “Oh No”
I was a fan of Jessy Lanza before, but Oh No kicked it into overdrive. The polyrhythms!
- Chance The Rapper – “No Problem (feat. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz)”
I carry a great memory of driving up to MA to hang out with some friends on the beach while blasting this record in my car on the way. You also cannot deny that Coloring Book was a moment in 2016. I wasn’t really into his older stuff, but this is great. It also has a GOAT 2 Chainz verse: “I’m so high, me and god dappin”.
- Kaytranada – “LITE SPOTS”
Another overwhelming bright spot of 2016 was Kaytranada’s 99.9%, my favorite album of the year. Overflowing with summery positivity and ceaseless grooves.
- Clams Casino – “Blast”
The first taste of new original Clams Casino material was quite literally a blast of fresh air. This song still slaps.
- The Avalanches – “Subways”
The Avalanches’ 2000 album Since I Left You is likely my favorite album of all time. Their follow-up, 2016’s Wildflower, came out the weekend I moved to NYC. To say the timing was right would be an understatement. Riding the subways freely without being bound to my parents house while LISTENING to “Subways” brought an intense euphoria I haven’t felt since. Although my year had been incredibly tough, I felt real joy listening to this record and walking around my new home in those first few weeks.
- Cole M.G.N. – “If U Let Me”
I also wanna give a big shout out to Cole M.G.N., a dude who usually works in the background (he just won another Grammy via his engineering work on Beck’s 2019 album) but his solo stuff and work in The Samps are so overlooked and genius. Shout out to you dude. “If U Let Me” is still one of my favorite songs.
- D.R.A.M. – “Broccoli (feat. Lil Yachty)”
“I’m beyond all this fuck shit” was essentially my motto for most of the summer. Two weeks after moving to NYC for my job I was notified I was getting laid off. Hell yes! I was obviously devastated, but I still had to work for another month and not tell anyone that I was about to be out of a job. I just had to be unbothered. I’m beyond all this fuck shit. Shout out to my man Rogo. We went through that. Damn.
- Frank Ocean – “Nights”
I almost didn’t include any Frank Ocean on this list, but truthfully this album did soundtrack a moment. It came out on a weekend I went to Connecticut to see some friends. That was nice. I also got maybe the worst stomach flu I’ve ever experienced and was probably the sickest I’d ever been since 2003, so the first time I listened to Blonde I was barely conscious, 1% of nausea away from throwing up (again), completely drained. Obviously upon first listen I did not like this album. But I eventually returned to it and of course “Nights” is the jam.
- Dntel – “Anywhere Anyone”
After getting laid off and trying to establish new footing in NYC, along with trying and failing to make stable friends, AND battling intense self-hatred, I felt exactly how this song sounds. Numb and floating in space. A dark apartment building with small, flickering bulbs illuminating disparate corners of my psyche. I’m incredibly happy I discovered this album because it’s one of my favorites, but man this song is a top-tier depression song in my mind. If you know any music like this, please show me.
- Jenny Hval – “Conceptual Romance”
I’ve written about this experience multiple times, but standing outside Joe’s pizza in the Lower East Side on a cold fall evening, watching people burn the roofs of their mouths on hot pizza, steam billowing out of their mouths while listening to this song was a cultural moment. It really felt like a dream. I later got to attend Hval’s release show for this record and it was one of the best I saw that year. Just marvelous. That show also introduced me to serpentwithfeet, so I’m doubly thankful.
- Young Thug – “Wyclef Jean”
Shout out to my friend Kate. We would geek out to this record at our office while no one else cared about Thug. Probably the first Young Thug record that really clicked with me.
- Carly Rae Jepsen – “The One”
I feel like I’m somewhat alone in thinking that this is the best song off EMOTION SIDE B. This might be my most-listened CRJ song. I’m truly obsessed and it hasn’t worn off.
- Ice Choir – “Windsurf”
Ice Choir are an incredibly overlooked band. Somehow poptimism completely passed them over at the peak of the movement. Their loss. Their 2016 album (and their 2012 one, to be fair) are some of the best examples of vibrant, heavily city pop-inspired pop to come out in the last decade. It’s music that just feels GOOD. Immaculately produced as well. Kurt Feldmann is a wizard.
- Ian Sweet – “2soft2chew”
This song is aptly titled, as this song is just SO dreamy and SO bright it almost feels like you’re chewing on an incredibly sweet candy and it’s frying your other senses. I haven’t gotten this into Ian Sweet since this song and record, but man I was obsessed.
- Merchandise – “Right Back To The Start”
The last gasp we heard from Merchandise. I was pretty into this record when it dropped, especially this song. I also loved the music video because I recognized that it was shot in DC’s Union Station. Aside from that, it’s got a funky synth line and a killer hook so I love it.
- Momoko Kikuchi – “もう逢えないかもしれない”
More city pop obsessions. I hadn’t really dug deeper than the Hiroshi Sato record I had listened to earlier in the year until this Momoko Kikuchi album, which is SO good. Probably THE city pop album of mine until mid 2018 or so. This is the third track on the album, and while it’s not considered one of THE tracks from it among other city pop enthusiasts, I thought the chorus is pretty unbeatable, the synthetic string melody is perfect, and it carries a level of drama that a lot of other songs from the time don’t have. I bought a lot of banh mis from a great shop while listening to this.
- Nicolas Jaar – “No”
Walking around in Tribeca in the cold rain listening to this song? With steam coming up from vents in the sidewalk? Then hopping on the M train at Canal and flying around that crazy bend going towards Brooklyn? A feeling like nothing else.
- Crying – “Well and Spring”
The last half of 2016 really felt like a strange dream. Moving to NYC, getting screwed with my job, living with truly hateful people… a true mixture of good, bad and ugly. Maybe that’s why this Crying song spoke to me most. It feels straight out of a fairy tale. My life didn’t feel real. And even thinking back on it now I can’t really comprehend what I felt. The rest of the Crying album is not like this, but I enjoyed the full record thoroughly.
- Big Star – “O, My Soul”
I made the decision to listen to a lot of Big Star on my birthday in 2016. It made me feel good. I hadn’t really listened to them before.
- Aldous Harding – “Titus Groan”
I was VERY excited to see Deerhunter live for the first time on my birthday, but I had no idea the whirlwind that was waiting for me in Aldous Harding. I wasn’t familiar with her music before this, but her piercing, ice cold eyes staring right into the souls of the audience, along with her own ultra-expressive face and vocal delivery won me over almost instantly. I remember hearing people after the show people around me knocking her performance saying she was “too expressive” and I wanted to push them over. Not actually, but kind of. I was a fan for life. Deerhunter was great on their own (especially when Bradford jumped down and said “it’s the birthday of someone in the front row” and proceeded to give the guitar to someone else for their birthday during “Twilight At Carbon Lake”, alas) but the most impactful moment I pulled away from this was being introduced to Aldous Harding.
- Sam Evian – “Carolina”
Wow. The stank groove faces I put on to this record are next level. I had been a fan of Evian’s previous group Celestial Shore quite a bit, but nothing could have prepared me for the absolute 72% dark chocolate smooth ripple grooviness that Evian brought to his album Premium. It’s just too funky. I was desperately obsessed.
- The Replacements – “Left Of The Dial”
I had never listened to The Replacements until fall 2016. Yup. Then I listened to The Replacements nonstop. If you were to put a gun to my head I’d probably say I prefer Tim, but I would change between that and Let It Be pretty equally. What absolutely fantastic records. I can’t say enough good things about them. If I gotta give my old place of work some credit it’s that I was finally put onto some classics I had been putting off for the longest.
- The Smiths – “Rubber Ring”
OK one final time: fuck Morrissey, but man I had a HUGE Smiths phase in late 2016, specifically revolving around Louder Than Bombs. The end of “Rubber Ring” is such a fun romp. The drum part in particular is solid.
- Rae Sremmurd – “Black Beatles (feat. Gucci Mane)”
I remember the first time I heard this song I thought my brain was on fire. I thought it was the weirdest mainstream pop hit I’d ever heard. I think I first heard it out of the window of some passing car near my apartment and I knew I had to listen for real. This was probably the last burst of joy I felt before the 2016 election.
- Guided By Voices – “Game Of Pricks”
I don’t think I’d ever listened to Guided By Voices until late 2016. I know. “Game Of Pricks” is an all-timer. Most people know this. I know it now. Or, in 2016.
- Weyes Blood – “Generation Why”
Obviously devastated after the election, but I lucked out in getting a ticket to a Weyes Blood show in a church with psychedelic visuals pretty shortly after she put out Front Row Seat To Earth. There was someone running up and down the aisles with incense, the handmade, projected visuals were enchanting, and of course hearing Weyes Blood’s songs after being so run ragged felt like an soothing oasis. Oh it also happened to be on the night Leonard Cohen died. What the hell.
- Andy Shauf – “Quite Like You”
I appreciated Andy Shauf’s music before this record, but this album really hit me like a pile of bricks. I was recommending it to everyone I knew, one person I know turned into an Andy Shauf superfan because of it. Such lovely, vivid storytelling via song. Still revisit this album regularly.
- Grouper – “Headache”
I mean, if anyone knows me they knew this song was gonna be somewhere on this list. This song was a paradigm shift. A cultural reset. A watershed moment. A piece of musical history stamped at the tail end of 2016. My most-wanted piece of vinyl ever. My #1 song of the 2010s. I listened to it probably 10-20 times in the few days after it was released. It came at the perfect time – post-election, plus holiday times, a particularly depressing and anxiety-fueled time for me. I had a rough go of it this year. It both held me in this floating pool of abyss but made me feel comfortable at the same time. A self-discovery, a complete obsession and a true moment. Thank you Grouper.
2017 – Rock Bottom and The Climb (#349-399):
Ok y’all now is where it starts to get real heavy. This is diary level shit.
Now a lot of people say that 2016 was the worst year ever. I won’t deny them that statement. 2016 really, really sucked. For me though, the first half of 2017 was the amalgamation of a steady year and a half’s worth of self-hatred, skin-rippling self-consciousness + an anxiety that barely let me leave my apartment, terrible work and home environments and of course suicidal thoughts.
I was dealing with an inopportune employment situation, living with the worst people I’ve ever met in my entire life (I would go home or visit my partner in DC nearly every weekend), dealing with a cockroach problem (love the paranoia of bugs crawling in your bed), and all my concurrent relationships were crumbling to dust. The current political climate did not help, of course, but I’d say most of this turmoil was more cultivated within the self and my immediate surroundings. I was staying up very late. I was telling my friends not to message me anymore and turning off my phone. Leaving groupchats. Telling people to forget about me. Dramatic shit. It was a poor scene. By and far the darkest period of my life. On one hand I would do anything for some sort of social interaction to help me feel something, feel wanted outside in this massive city. On the other hand though, I would also feel myself squirm thinking about my peers rejecting me, picturing them just spending time with me because they were paid off, or they derived so much pleasure from hating me.
Thankfully, with the help of my partner and parents, I did find a therapist (a hard thing to do in NYC!) in late spring that did help me get out of this hole. I only saw her for about two months (that’s what my insurance covered at first) but it did help me gain a new perspective. Likewise, certain songs and records that were released around this time took on a heightened significance; instead of keeping me in a spiderweb of anguish, it would empower me to rise out of it. Then things started to naturally fall into place. My roommates from hell all moved out and were replaced with three lovely, engaging people (shout out to y’all, if you’re reading) and I landed a new job doing what I had hoped to do when I moved to NYC in the first place. The weather got better. My spring allergies went away. I went to some truly inspirational live shows. I worked with some dream artists.
Sure, there were moments of darkness sprinkled within the latter half of 2017, but compared to the utter hell I had been living in for the past two years, anything was better. I wasn’t thinking about the thought of suicide any longer. I was never emboldened enough to take any further steps in the past, but the visuals absolutely populated every waking thought for a long time there. Those visions faded away. To my network of close friends, I thank you for your support and patience to help me get through this time.
- Chick Corea & Return To Forever – “You’re Everything”
Shout out to the Floating Points “What’s In My Bag” for introducing my to Chick Corea and this amazing record.
- scntfc – “Epiphany Fields”
This is a track from the great game Oxenfree. Despite me thinking back to this game fondly, one of the only reasons I played it was to give myself a reason to stay in my room longer. I also tried playing a ROM of Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night but emulating PS1 games is hard and the music was all messed up. Can’t have that.
- Björk – “All Neon Like”
I listened to Vespertine almost exclusively on the weekend of the Women’s March, which I was able to take part in with my partner, her friends, my sister and my mom. I didn’t listen to much Björk in 2016 after going hard in 2015, but 2017 I made the return in a big way.
- Julie Byrne – “I Live Now As A Singer”
Walking to the bodega during the first snow of 2017 listening to this new Julie Byrne album was a lovely moment. I probably bought some produce, a bottle of seltzer, chocolate covered almonds and a bag of chips.
- Dntel – “Connections”
I had become obsessed with Dntel’s Life Is Full Of Possibilities in 2016, and in 2017 I moved onto his 2014 album Human Voice. For some reason this track in particular spoke to me and would keep me grounded in the self-damaging thoughts stretches of time. Can’t think of 2017 without thinking of Dntel.
- Hand Habits – “Book On How To Change”
This debut Hand Habits record will always hold a special place in my heart. It was one of the first projects that I worked on my own when I was promoting music to radio on my own. I immediately connected with the record and I wanted it to succeed. It was played at KEXP and climbed up on the College radio chart. Hell yes. Musically, it struck the mood that I was suspended in for most of 2016 and 2017, semi-lucid and trying to find romance in the smaller moments. I listened to it a lot with my partner. I remember a few mornings when she’d come to visit and we listened as we were waking up + getting ready for our day, with morning sunlight pouring through my giant obnoxious window, heating up my room. Major shout out to Meg Duffy for radically affecting my late 2010s in a positive manner.
- Migos – “Slippery (feat. Gucci Mane)”
A big surprise was finding many tracks on this Migos album really good. I haven’t really listened to it since 2017, but man it hit at the time.
- Opaline – “Multiple Origins”
On one of the many weekends I went home in early 2017, I decided to try and meditate on the beach to find some kind of inner peace. It was also in the single digits outside and mad blustery. I tried to calm my thoughts while listening to this Opaline album. I think it just made me loathe myself more. So it goes.
- Hurray For The Riff Raff – “Living In The City”
The first record of 2017 I really fell in love with. Decided to go to her show at Baby’s All Right when they dropped additional tickets and it was an incredibly correct decision. I went alone, but felt one with the crowd.
- Kevin Krauter – “Fantasy Theme”
Many cold mornings spent waiting for the M train listening to this song on repeat. Feels like plucking away earthly tethers like flower petals.
- Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – “French Press”
I remember digging my car out of snow and ice in a train station parking lot with this song blasting out of the car’s speakers on a particularly warm winter day. That was a fun feeling. Such a great jam.
- Yves Tumor – “Limerence”
One weekend in early 2017 I went to a record fair in Queens to potentially grab some LPs and see some acquaintances I hadn’t seen in some time. I listened to the Mono No Aware comp on the way there and maybe the whole time I was at the fair. Despite seeing people I knew, I still felt nothing. I knew everything was superficial and no one would have cared if I didn’t show up. Another thing – I know this is out of my control, but there was even a booth for the label that put out the compilation at the fair, PAN, but they didn’t have any vinyl of Mono No Aware because of a shipping error. But it felt good to express that the record had really hit me to the label rep. It may have been Bill Kouligas himself.
- Björk – “Venus As A Boy”
There was a period of time where the only music I could stomach was Björk’s “Venus As A Boy”. All other music would make me roll my eyes or feel upset. This is a true fact.
- Broadcast – “You And Me In Time”
The perfect crystallization of my mental state in March/April 2017. Smiling, waving underneath a spotlight, drifting away into a sea of darkness. Everything in my life turning to dust. I apologize for being dramatic. This is what it was.
- New Order – “Bizarre Love Triangle”
A lone high point in spring 2017. Seeing New Order + being surrounded by old people with point and shoot cameras was a thrill. I didn’t think hearing “Bizarre Love Triangle” live would have been one of my most memorable concert moments, but it was. They’ve still got it.
- Kendrick Lamar – “DNA.”
This was an influx of pleasure and passion in a time where my life felt entirely grayscale.
- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Magneto”
Maybe watching the Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Skeleton Tree documentary at 1am was a bad idea.
- Colin Stetson – “Spindrift”
Seeing Colin Stetson perform live for the first time was something I’ll never forget. Just an overwhelming assault of sound and skill and athleticism onto every nerve. It was a sold-out show at Baby’s All Right in May. So many goosebump appearances.
- Aldous Harding – “Living The Classics”
So many songs I had buzzing around in my head since I saw Aldous Harding live in late 2016 I finally got to hear in the flesh when Party was released. My #1 album of 2017 so obviously it had a huge imprint on my year.
- Ata Kak – “Obaa Sima”
I finally discovered Ata Kak in 2017 and that’s cause for celebration on its own. One little modern aside I’ll plug in here is that he was going to go on his first ever North American tour in 2020. I had a ticket to the NYC show. We all know the end of this story, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less. Please come back soon, Ata Kak.
- Playboi Carti – “Magnolia”
This was my #1 song of 2017. A constant repeat on my commutes. An infusion of belligerent joy.
- Weed – “Leash”
I don’t want to say this song singlehandedly wrenched me out of a years-long depressive episode, but it definitely had a hand in it alongside therapy and reading Philip Roth’s Nemesis. Maybe it’s just correlational, but man this song is that invigorating. When the guitars take over about halfway through, it makes me want to run through a brick wall. Got no time to be full of dread when you’re barreling towards the center of the Earth.
- Chino Amobi – “PARADISO”
For some reason I’d listen to this song before and after therapy. Walking around in labyrinthian subway transfers thinking it’s doomsday outside when in actuality it’s a beautiful spring day.
- Kate NV – “Binasu”
Saw Kate NV open for Jessy Lanza and it was an eye-opening experience. What a fantastic performer. I had enjoyed her 2016 album Binasu enough when it dropped, but I returned with a renewed curiosity after her live show and yeah, the title track goes so hard. I ended up seeing Kate three times in the summer of 2017. You gotta take advantage of seeing those foreign acts in the US! Who knows, there might be a global event that stops that from happening for a long stretch of time.
- The Books – “That Right Ain’t Shit”
I worked in SoHo for half of 2017 and once the weather started getting better I would take the walk up to the 1st Ave 14th St L train stop as my commute home while listening to music. The Books’ The Lemon Of Pink was my go-to record for most of those times. What a lovely spring record.
- Kirin J Callinan – “S.A.D.”
Absolutely obsessed with this song and music video for most of 2017.
- Vince Staples – “745”
Shout out to my friend Allison, whom I visited in Philly in the spring of 2017 and I listened to this Vince Staples album for the whole bus ride there.
- Laurel Halo – “Moontalk”
Laurel Halo singing on record again was such a lovely treat. What a quirky and bubbly track. A song I associate with good times filtering back into my life.
- Boat Club – “Always Away”
This Boat Club album is a criminally overlooked piece of chillwave / Swedish balearic pop history. If you like all that stuff, you absolutely need to listen to this record.
- El Guincho – “Palmitos Park”
Saw El Guincho at Le Poisson Rouge on a HOT summer day and it may have been the best show I saw for the whole decade. Everyone was dancing and cheering wildly, the band was feeling it and the sound was BUMPING. Hearing old cuts off Alegranza and Pop Negro was incredible, especially since I had been listening to those tracks for seven years at that point. Felt lucky to be there.
- Mariya Takeuchi – “Plastic Love”
My infatuation and obsession with city pop really amped up when I finally discovered “Plastic Love” – not sure how, probably the YouTube algorithm. I’d like to think I got into it before the algorithm took it, but it’s unlikely.
- Smerz – “Because”
Smerz are the coolest duo of musicians currently making music and nothing you can say can sway me otherwise.
- Cocteau Twins – “Fifty-Fifty Clown”
HUGE Heaven Or Las Vegas phase in summer of 2017. Listened to it almost every day for a few weeks.
- Kelela – “LMK”
New Kelela music is always a momentous occasion. This was the first single off her 2017 record and I would listen to it at least three or four times a day for a month after it dropped.
- Oneohtrix Point Never – “Connie”
Seeing Good Time in the theater was an incredibly wise move. Also relates to my story of telling Robert Pattinson “good shit dude” as we were exiting the theater and him laughing awkwardly and saying thanks.
- Nosaj Thing – “Sister”
One of the better things to commute home to. A superior night record.
- Nami Shimada & Soichi Terada – “Sunshower”
Once you hear this song, you can’t go back to your old life. Your life will revolve around this song now.
- Zola Jesus – “Remains”
This Zola Jesus record was a huge record for me in 2017, but this song in particular was it. So powerful and cathartic. Seeing it live too was momentous.
- Alvvays – “Saved By A Waif”
Listened to this album for the first time while driving up from Connecticut to a friend’s vacation house on Cape Cod late at night. It made me excited to see my friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. Friend interactions still made me anxious and I contemplated turning around multiple times, but I think I’m glad I went. Anyways, hearing these songs for the first time while speeding down the highway made me laugh out loud multiple times. I also saw them in October alone and cried the whole time.
- Gauntlet Hair – “Mop It Up”
Got back into Gauntlet Hair unexpectedly. What a great record!
- Mount Eerie – “The Mouth of Sky”
Even though I was feeling better by the last quarter of 2017, there were still flashes of pure misery. Lots of listening to Mount Eerie’s Wind’s Poem during this time.
- Mission Of Burma – “Academy Fight Song”
I read Our Band Could Be Your Life in late 2017 and the lasting impact on me was that Mission Of Burma is a great band. I also associate this song with arranging the furniture in my room in a different way for a bit, a failed experiment for sure. My room was far too small and I had the perfect layout to begin with. I also got a haircut during this time. And bought some new clothes online. I had also bought a Sannhet shirt after seeing them live open for Baroness. This is all very specific I know.
- Circuit Des Yeux – “Black Fly”
Another song that makes me feel like the world is ending while listening. I think if I ever hear this song performed live I’ll pass out.
- Colleen – “A flame my love, a frequency”
A lot of time taking in the space and sounds of this Colleen album. A fine mist that moisturized my soul. Meditative pulverization. Scatter my consciousness across a plane of existence.
- Fever Ray – “To The Moon And Back”
Had the opportunity to promote Fever Ray’s new album to radio stations and I was on cloud nine. I couldn’t believe it. What an honor.
- SASSY 009 – “Feel me”
A true obsession. SASSY 009’s Do you mind EP came out late 2017 and quickly became one of my most-listened projects of that year. I’d listen at all times. It’s too good. This song in particular has a breakdown that’s just legendary. This song gets top rec from me.
- Hiroshi Yoshimura – “Blink”
First time I listened to this song I had to stop what I was doing and just live in what I was hearing. I had never listened to Yoshimura before. I teared up for real. This opened so many doors for me with his music and Japanese ambient as a whole. What a beautiful composition.
- The Blue Nile – “Headlights On Parade”
Not sure exactly who put me onto The Blue Nile but I remember being in a cab crossing the Williamsburg bridge after a show and tearing up looking at the NYC skyline.
- Yo La Tengo – “Today Is The Day”
Saw Yo La Tengo for the first time at one of their Hanukkah shows and they played my favorite song. I don’t know how I got so lucky. This isn’t my favorite song of theirs but I binged their discography for a solid month and a half at the end of 2017.
- Charli XCX – “Out Of My Head (feat. Tove Lo & ALMA)”
The start of a renewed Charli XCX obsession. Truly a masterpiece.
- Julianna Barwick – “Keep Up The Good Work”
After I got my wisdom teeth taken out I explicitly asked my partner to put this on the car stereo, then promptly fell asleep. Apparently I also started yelling at cars in front of us as well. I don’t remember doing that. She took care of me though, my partner. We watched half of a documentary about street cats, which was nice.
2018 – The Essential Oil Dimension (#400-449):
After two and a half years of poor mental health, terrible roommates and an unstable financial situation, 2018 was a breath of fresh air. Looking back at the music I picked for my retrospective post that year, it feels like everything was feeling good all the time. There were darker spells of course, but I feel like I was genuinely happier and enjoying myself more in 2018. Less bothered by social interactions. Less self conscious. Able to find happiness in exiting my room to interact with roommates or finding purpose at my job. More days spent in the summer going home, getting pizza and watching a movie instead of just collapsing on my bed and stress eating. Many days spent playing Fire Emblem ROMs (again) and listening to new releases + working on blog posts, with my computer on my big windowsill and the windows open. Still going to a stupid amount of live concerts. Going on lovely walks in the neighborhood and in Manhattan. Spending time with my partner in Boston and later Philly, exploring those cities and going on many lovely walks.
I’d say the biggest factor in 2018 though, as silly or stupid as it is, would be the creation of “The Essential Oil Dimension”, a playlist that I made in the early summer. I know making playlists is not some enlightened activity, but making this fictional alternate dimension for myself to mentally thrive in was special. I wrote more about it in its corresponding section below, but the EOD was what I wanted to base my life around: smooth, fragrant and feeling good. I’d say along with 2014, this was a year where I felt the best in my surroundings. I felt the warmth from the universe around me for the first time in a long while. I visited New Mexico with my coworkers in the fall and realized how beautiful it is out there. I bought a Nintendo Switch. Just finally treating myself after a period of pure hell. A year of healing.
- Charli XCX – “Roll With Me”
After being fully immersed in Pop 2, I decided to check out Charli’s earlier 2017 LP release, Number 1 Angel. It doesn’t hit the same, but this SOPHIE-produced cut is incredible. I listened for the first time in a Trader Joe’s and I felt like I was flying down the aisles with abandon.
- Miharu Koshi – “Ryugujyo No Koibito”
Really started diving into Japanese pop music from the 80s around this time, wildly grabbing albums from the time period that looked interesting to me. This one by Miharu Koshi, Parallelisme, is an overlooked gem in my eyes. “Ryugujyo No Koibito” is in the Top 5 best “city pop” tunes in my eyes. The vocal melody in the chorus is heavenly and SO weird, plus most of Yellow Magic Orchestra are on production. You cannot beat this.
- The Supreme Jubilees – “It’ll All Be Over”
Big moment with The Supreme Jubilees in early 2018 when the L train was down in the morning and I had to jump in a uber pool with like 5 other disgruntled Brooklynites. But I was zenned out. I was also wearing a big new coat at the time, so I was cozy.
- Prefab Sprout – “Bonny”
I think this was around the time I realized Prefab Sprout might be the best band ever. Steve McQueen became a morning commute staple to get me chipper and awake in the mornings. I remember many times cutting through an empty basketball court/cement kickball diamond lot on a sunny morning, mouthing along to the words with steam rising from my mouth.
- Jali Musa Jawara – “Haidara”
I’m gonna go on record and say this is one of the most essential African records of all time. What kind of authority do I have on the topic? Not much, but it’s beautiful and I think you’ll enjoy it. Gorgeous kora and balafon music from Guinea. There’s a kora player that sometimes busks in the Bedford Ave L train stop. I hope he’s ok.
- Beach House – “Lemon Glow”
Even though their 2018 album 7 didn’t hit like I hoped it would, I cannot deny “Lemon Glow” is a top-tier Beach House song. Clearly y’all like Beach House – their 10 Best Songs post is my most-viewed post like, ever. I feel like I listened to it five more times after the first time I heard it.
- I’m With Her – “Overland”
This was a wonderful, unexpected full-circle moment. Playing in a fiddle ensemble in high school, I worshipped musicians in the scene that Aoife O’Donovan, Sarah Jarosz, and Sara Watkins occupy. Seven years after graduating from the group, I’m promoting their collab record to radio and got to meet two of them at a special listening party. Woof. I also saw them three times in 2018. I even travelled to Philly to see them with my partner. Just wonderful performers and people.
- Peggy Gou – “Han Jan”
My fandom for Peggy Gou has taken a turn, but I cannot deny this early 2018 EP soundtracked many moments.
- MGMT – “Me and Michael”
Who woulda thought the return of MGMT would have been this good? A+ tune.
- Smerz – “Half life”
This song makes me quake in my boots. Do not mess with Smerz, people. They will destroy you.
- Everything But The Girl – “Before Today”
Finally decided to listen to EBTG after years of prodding from my mom, my boss and another coworker. Was not disappointed. “Before Today” has become one of my favorite songs ever. What an incredible tune.
- Caroline Rose – “Getting To Me”
Her early favorite of 2018 was Caroline Rose’s album, a constant beacon of positive pop that I was fortunate enough to see live at SXSW.
- G Flip – “About You”
One of 2018’s biggest moments was realizing I loved this G Flip song and seeing her perform it twice at SXSW. Seeing it for the first time live was mind-blowing, and then getting some friends to see her again and watching their reaction to when she jumps on drums was magical.
- Four Tet – “Morning Side”
One of the most magical shows I’ve ever attended and a ticket I bought months in advance, Four Tet at National Sawdust with his dynamic string light rig felt like pure magic. He incorporated a lot of “Morning Side” throughout the set, which is why I’m choosing this track. If you haven’t seen what his 2018 tour looked like, I suggest you go look. Being surrounded by these floating orbs of light was truly magical.
- Amen Dunes – “Believe”
I remember the first time I heard this song I had to stop what I was doing and just listen. I think I was on the phone with someone, which made things hard. Something about it just speaks to me. It was my favorite song of 2018 at the time, and it’s probably still up there.
- Kacey Musgraves – “Space Cowboy”
Golden Hour was a MOMENT in 2018. This record sneakily set the tone for the rest of my 2018, honestly. Golden, glowing, dreamy and feel-good. Thank goodness after a rough patch of years.
- U.S. Girls – “Rosebud”
This U.S. Girls album In A Poem Unlimited was my favorite album of 2018. Seeing them three times was likely what helped it get the leg up on other records. They are just AMAZING performers, something you NEED to see live at least once in your life. I once saw three shows in one night in the spring of 2018, like at CMJ or something: first Waxahatchee at Warsaw, then Young Galaxy at Knitting Factory, then U.S. Girls at Baby’s All Right. The USG show was their third of the night, all at Baby’s. They could have put on a tired, boring show, but it was electric. Fuck yes.
- Yo La Tengo – “Today Is The Day (EP Version)”
After seeing YLT for the first time at the end of 2017, I continued to dive deep into their discography. Do people know about this version of “Today Is The Day” on the EP of the same name? It’s awesome! YLT doesn’t kick the door down with rock on many of their songs, which is why it’s so sweet when they do. Ira is a guitar god! Georgia the drummer/singer? Amazing!
- DJ Koze – “Illumination (feat. Róisín Murphy)”
This was another tone-setter record for 2018. It seemed like the good feelings were just bountiful this year, with the DJ Koze album kind of marking the permanent arrival of warmer weather, reliable sunshine and overall enhanced serotonin. Thank you DJ Koze.
- Hop Along – “What The Writer Meant”
Had the immense pleasure of promoting the 2018 Hop Along record to radio and helping the band score their first-ever #1 at the format. What a magical feeling. Also got to see them live three times that year after missing them every time they came to town.
- Simian Mobile Disco – “Caught In A Wave”
One super overlooked record from 2018! The sound design of the choir flowing between minimal electronics is so beautiful. The album is called Murmurations, which is the name of the formations that clouds of birds make. It legit sounds like that – a formless, always flowing and changing cloud of sound and movement.
- Mr Twin Sister – “Gene Ciampi”
Just a fun little song my partner would sing along to a lot when we were hanging out together. Vibrantly remember walking to the T in Jamaica Plain with them + goofing around. Just good times. If you like Gene Ciampi, you will like his movies.
- Skee Mask – “Rev8617”
I LIVED in this Skee Mask record for most of 2018. Absolutely brilliant electronic music, and this song “Rev8617” has too many iconic moments to count. The one I always reference is when the bass is bouncing between channels around the midway point. Just incredible. I think one of my many bus rides back from Philly where I sat in a broken seat. Glad I don’t have to make those bus trips anymore.
- Oneohtrix Point Never – “Age Of”
Although I don’t really like Age Of as much as OPN’s other works, I had two major moments soundtracked by the record in 2018. The first was listening to the album during my first trip to the Whitney Museum, specifically in the visiting Grant Wood exhibition. The album seemingly revolves around some sort of fictional, post-apocalyptic feudal, agriculture-based society, which was a perfect pairing with Wood’s Midwest-minded landscapes and portraits. It was awesome. The second moment was seeing his amazing MYRIAD live show, which featured Kelly Moran, Eli Keszler, Kelsey Lu, Prurient and more featured. Wacked out visuals, sculptures, dancers, etc. Truly marvelous.
- Bernice – “Passenger Plane”
Talk about a breath of fresh air. This Bernice album is so refreshing and groovy and unique; another tone-setter for 2018, and leads into my next BIG landmark of the year which is right below.
- Joni Mitchell – “Blue Motel Room”
- Prefab Sprout – “When Love Breaks Down”
- The Flamingos – “I Only Have Eyes For You”
I’m sure everyone I know is sick of me talking about it, but in 2018 I made my all-time favorite playlist and entire alternative universe, the Essential Oil Dimension. It was inspired by seeing Destroyer live for the first time in early 2018 and trying to think of bands that occupy a similar, groovy, formless and weirdo space as them. It grew from there, becoming this golden-sunset-after-summer-storm alternate universe in my head, where splendid natural fragrances waft through open windows above cobblestone streets, neon signs of quiet bars flicker alive, stylish people come out of their hovels… things are beautiful. I experienced this vision somewhat while walking to meet some friends I hadn’t seen in a long time at a bar. It was warm. The sun was setting, kids were playing in an opened fire hydrant, people were setting off fireworks in the distance. I walked through a closed street with multi-colored flag pennants draped over it from scaffolding on either side of the sidewalks, while flowers and lush greenery exploded from planters protecting pedestrians from errant drivers. People were standing outside of bars and restaurants chatting jovially and smoking, nothing outrageous. People had music playing out of parked cars as they sat in neighborly circles outside their stoops, with an extension cord hanging from a third-story window to provide a phone charger. The Essential Oil Dimension is everywhere. You just need to apply the correct lenses to life and it will come to you, wrap you up in a lovely quilt and make you feel like a part of something. Yes, I realize I’m talking about a playlist here, but come on. It could be worse. I could be talking about a podcast.
- SOPHIE – “Immaterial”
Maybe my favorite song to walk around to in the city in the summer. Made me feel invincible. We all miss you so much, SOPHIE.
- Dusk – “Eyes In Dark Corners”
Whenever I went home to my parents’ house in summer 2018, my first choice to blast from the car stereo with the windows was this Dusk album. So fun to sing along to and just cruise to. Just a perfect summer record.
- Denzel Curry – “Clout Cobain”
Maybe the most addictive, catchy and hook-filled track of 2018, in my opinion. First time hearing this I was like “holy smokes”.
- Daniel Bachman – “Sycamore City”
As a long-time Daniel Bachman stan, hearing him go in this new direction was great to hear. Also as someone who loves listening to storms, hearing this song with heavy rain in the background was just lovely. AND cicadas? Come on now. I also saw Bachman perform live at a criminally under-attended show at Baby’s All Right that year.
- Rosalía – “Pienso En Tu Mira”
Can’t talk about 2018 without talking about Rosalía. She ruled my year and despite her album not hitting the way I would have liked, the singles slapped enough to completely shake up my year. She’s some major star now, but I still hope she makes music like this in the future.
- Tirzah – “Basic Need”
FINALLY a debut album from Tirzah. Although I was initially disappointed it wasn’t more like her early dancier EP work, it grew on me like crazy. No one making music like Tirzah right now. She is in her own lane. I also want to say I’ve bought tickets to two or three different shows of hers in NYC and they’ve all been cancelled due to visa issues. Please visa gods, let the US see Tirzah.
- Mitski – “Why Didn’t You Stop Me?”
I saw Mitski four times in 2018. Why didn’t you stop me?
- The Beths – “Little Death”
One of the best songs of the last decade!! The amount of air-drumming I do to this song should be illegal!!
- Yves Tumor – “Recognizing The Enemy”
I need to revisit this Yves Tumor record. I haven’t listened to it really since 2018. At the time it was like a breath of fresh air amongst some really stale indie releases.
- Yo La Tengo – “I Heard You Looking”
More YLT posting. I got to see them play in the rain at this outdoor festival on Governor’s Island with some sweet friends of mine that came in from out of town. Aside from a fight breaking out because this guy wouldn’t put his umbrella away, it was a great night. Take me back.
- Grouper – “Cover The Windows And The Walls”
Finally got to experience Grouper live not once but twice. First was in an old concert hall and I cried a lot. Second was in an old church where I was sweating standing up in the back of the hall. It was everything I wanted. I love Grouper so much. Thanks Dylan for the second show hook-up. I’m not sure if I thank you any other places, but man – clutch. I owe you a lot of good food.
- Lonnie Holley – “I Woke Up In A Fucked-Up America”
If you didn’t feel something the first time you heard this track, what the hell are you?
- Julia Holter – “Maxim’s I”
Somehow predicted Julia Holter was going to release a new album in 2018 by having a massive JH phase, binging Have You In My Wilderness and Loud City Song on my commutes. Magical summertime records.
- The Blow – “True Affection”
In 2018 I decided to re-rank my 100 favorite albums of the 2000s before I really got to work on planning my 2010s list. I had made a list in for the previous decade in 2010 but after looking at it, I realized I actually hadn’t listened to most of the albums on that list at the time of publishing. Hilarious. As a neat homework assignment / exercise, I checked out a bunch of seemingly-forgotten 00s classics, like The Blow (not forgotten with some people – this is a classic!) and “True Affection”, I mean, come on. Amazing.
- Mountain Man – “Guilt”
You can think about it. You can think about it all the time. And all the ways, you would have changed, or said, or did, or tried. You can think about it. And be mean to your insides, and forget you were 10 or 12 or even 25. But it could just be something, that happened that way, that makes you who you are today. And it hurts, but that’s alright. Love you. Thank you for supporting me all this time. I’m glad it’s better now.
- Connan Mockasin – “Con Conn Was Impatient”
LATE night coming back from a show (The Beths!), feeling spurned from “friends” and riding a M train alone listening to this track. Watching Manhattan from the bridge with this song, feeling sleepy. Real dreamy, tired feeling.
- Boris – “俺を捨てたところ”
Another good decision from revisiting the 00s for a bit was coming back to Boris’ Pink, which is just a NASTY album. The closer is of course incredible. 18 minutes of pure, seething noise. Ultra cathartic.
- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Jubilee Street (Live In Copenhagen)”
Of course seeing Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds live for the first time was a moment. How wouldn’t it be? Seeing some old coworkers at the show was surprisingly nice too, gotta be honest.
- Mr Twin Sister – “Echo Arms”
Mr Twin Sister are just the best. I went to two shows in one night and made it in time to see them perform this song, which was a magical moment. Need to see them again soon. I also gotta shout out the b-side to this single “Power Of Two” and singing it with my partner.
- Daughters – “Guest House”
This song is just the ultimate self-destruction anthem. What an album closer. I’ve written at length about it in my Top Songs of the 2010s list – go read about it there.
- Earl Sweatshirt – “Peanut”
Some Rap Songs is a great album but man the last two songs just destroy me.
- Marvie Gaye – “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)”
OK don’t yell at me but I hadn’t listened to What’s Going On? until late 2018. What a perfect way to wrap up the year then to finally digest this masterpiece over and over. Hilariously I’ll also always associate it with buying a Switch after getting my winter bonus and realizing I was going to be in for a whole load more work at my job in 2019. Walking around in the winter rain listening to this record though. Amazing.
2019 – A New Lease On Life (#450-500):
I was riding high going into 2019. Despite being unexpectedly thrown into new roles work-wise and dealing with the stress of that, I was enjoying a great roommate situation, a bounty of live concerts, solid music being released and a renewed interest in working on my blog. I even got added into a Discord with some really cool people from around the world that introduced me to a ton of wild new music. Early on though, a health scare that may have been brought on my stress (consistent chest pain and an overall sense of doom) did throw a wrench in my sanity for the year. This fright spurred me to go fully vegan later in the year. Still doing the dang thing. Nice. The year overall was quite joyful, but was marked with a significant loss at the very end with the death of my grandmother – an unexpected and total devastation.
As a whole though, my 2019 was defined by traveling more, a renewed passion in odd music discovery, as well as preparing my massive 200 Best Albums of the 2010s list I published in 2020. It felt like everything was on a positive trajectory – work, life, relationships, mentality. My partner got into med school and moved to NYC, thus ending our long distance nature and allowing us to see each other at least once or twice a week. I went to the most shows I’ve ever been to in one year. I saw some artists I never thought I’d ever see in my lifetime. I was experimenting with cooking. I felt more “social”. I even started to forget about the people I tried so desperately to be friends with, which caused me so much pain from being left out years prior. Realizing that if a friendship starts to dry up after you stop being the only person keeping it alive, it was probably worth it to just cut off your end. That’s beside the point: things seemed to be looking up. We all know how 2020 went, but man, I gotta think about what would have been.
Either way, you’ve made it this far. Thanks for putting up with my indulgences.
- Hiroshi Yoshimura – “Creek”
First moment of 2019 was spent at the Whitney Museum on a cold, rainy January day, walking around listening to Hiroshi Yoshimura’s Green. The vibrating modular synthesis engine room was also present that day, so I spent some good time in there too. But standing on the upper decks of the Whitney looking out onto Manhattan while listening to Green? I could get goosebumps just thinking about it.
- Animal Collective – “Daily Routine”
Returned to making 10 Best Songs lists for Warm Visions with Animal Collective. I took a huge deep dive back into their catalog and realized my favorite song on Merriweather might be “Daily Routine”? The arrangement is great, and when the song breaks open into the huge, reverby piano part it’s so cathartic and freeing. I wish AnCo would make more songs like this, with space between the sounds and not so many zany ideas all exploding at once.
- Prefab Sprout – “Moving The River”
Get ready – there’s a lot of Prefab in 2019. I was essentially cycling through different songs on Steve McQueen to be obsessed with. At this point it was “Moving The River”. What an underrated tune. I could also fit “Horsin’ Around” in here – a true self-deprecating anthem.
- Toro Y Moi – “Who I Am”
Probably the first 2019 record I would listen to on repeat. Didn’t end up loving the whole thing and it wasn’t in my Top 50 for the year, but it’s definitely a fun listen.
- Eddie Kendricks – “My People… Hold On”
Shout out to Jesse T. for the recommendation on this one. What an incredible song. Obviously once you listen and you’ve heard J Dilla’s Donuts you’ll know what this song is, but maaaannnn. Obsessed.
- Prefab Sprout – “The King Of Rock N Roll”
Ok here’s more Prefab. Finally broke out of my Steve McQueen hole to try their other albums, only to get tripped up and trapped in the first track on From Langley Park to Memphis. Not to mention the song’s music video is amazing as well.
- Boy Harsher – “Lost”
Another memorable moment from early 2019 was getting ramen at Ichiran in Bushwick (with the single booths and everything) and then walking to Elsewhere to see Boy Harsher. I ran into Kodi M. and some of his friends and had a wonderful night. I likely stopped at a bodega on the way home and bought a carton of chocolate-covered almonds, a bottled milk tea and watched YouTube videos until 2am at home. Wow.
- Takao – “Sweet Dreams”
I pity the fools that aren’t down with this Takao record. Ok granted it’s a little-known Japanese ambient record, but whatever. Big falling asleep album for me. Sounds like a bright, sunny cold day.
- Prefab Sprout – “I Trawl The Megahertz”
Ok the final Prefab highlight of the 2010s. I hadn’t heard I Trawl The Megahertz until they reissued it in 2019, I’d listen over and over again, despite the massive length of the title track. A beautiful, poetic movie. What a pivot from pop to this. Amazing.
- Arthur Russell – “That’s Us / Wild Combination”
Wanted to make a sequel to Essential Oil Dimension, so I listened to a good bit of Arthur Russell to find inspiration. Thus, Rose Garden 2AM was born.
- Dawn Richard – “Sauce”
Definitely a huge obsession of mine. The beat is crazy and Dawn is an addicting personality. Probably the horniest song on this list.
- Masayoshi Takanaka – “Oh! Tengo Suerte”
I’ll always associate this track with finally officially buying a domain and turning this blog from .wordpress.com into just .net. What a moment! Also just look at the album cover from this record. Amazing.
- Flora – “Crush _ Melt”
Shout out to the first Discord I was added to. TOO many recommendations from there to count, but I’ll always associate this Varg album from early 2019 with those times. Walking around NYC in the rain, digesting all this insane experimental techno and outsider electronic music, trying and failing to get into drain, etc etc. I’ll also associate it with pain in my chest from eating paczki and pizza on Fat Tuesday and then thinking I’m having a heart attack. Not the best association, but that scare is what lead me to veganism, which I’ve enjoyed so far. Shout out to the Discord though. Hell yeah. Real comf.
- Tim Maia – “Você E Eu, Eu E Vocé (Juntinhos)”
- Cassiano – “Onda”
Finally got down into Brazilian music and even though I have so much more road to cover even now in 2021, my first stab with Tim Maia and Cassiano were wonderful. “Onda” is an all-timer song for me. Everyone should hear it. It was the sound of my Spring and Summer 2019, and what I listened to constantly down in Austin for SXSW.
- CHAI – “ファッショニスタ”
Seeing CHAI three times at SXSW? A good decision.
- Y La Bamba – “Boca Llena”
Walked all the way to the lower tip of Manhattan from probably around 23rd Street or so while listening to this album on one of the first warm days of 2019. Not the longest walk, but a fulfilling one at the very least.
- Brutus – “War”
Absolutely pummeling. I saw this song put to a segment of the Evangelion movie where Asuka is fighting the angels and it worked perfectly.
- United Sacred Harp Convention – “The Last Words Of Copernicus”
I think I discovered Sacred Harp through Mogwai’s What’s In My Bag. When I first started listening to it I was sitting on my floor at 2am, just completely mindblown. What incredible harmonies. Loved the passion behind all the singing too.
- Weyes Blood – “Wild Time”
I wasn’t sold on the Weyes Blood record immediately, but it grew on me steadily. Now I think it’s her second-best. Almost her top record.
- Little Simz – “101 FM”
Little Simz is a star. Watching her perform this song live as she jumped into the crowd was something else. Not sure I saw a more reverent crowd for a performer that year. People were simply in awe.
- Alyus – “Follow Me”
Discovered Strictly Rhythm and cuts like this via the xx What’s In My Bag vid. Nice!
- Holly Herndon – “Frontier”
After getting into Sacred Harp music, it was shocking to immediately hear a song that incorporated it. Of course Holly Herndon would do something like that.
- Erika De Casier – “Little Bit”
Erika De Casier was a moment. That moment is still going on, but I was listening to this record nonstop when it came out. Just perfect. Late 90s / early 00s fantasy purely distilled into how we think we remember that era sounding. Getting this record on limited vinyl in 2020 was a true power play.
- Vanishing Twin – “KRK (At Home In Strange Places)”
What a fantastic opener for a super overlooked record. Sweltering psychedelic melt, perfect for high-speed subway commutes & sunny city walking. Although I do have to say I have one memory of listening to this song after being released from jury duty (well, sort of: the judge was too busy on a previous case so we had to come back the following day – this went on for two more days) AND my debit card information was stolen after I used the 14th St Wells Fargo ATM (don’t use that ATM folks – it has skimmers for sure). Either way – I was listening to this album on a sparsely-populated M train on a weekday after experiencing the futility of the American judicial system and getting my card info yoinked and I STILL felt refreshed. Thank you very much, Vanishing Twin!
- Kasper Marott – “Drømmen Om Ø (Forever Mix ’19)”
My favorite song of 2019. Kind of cheating since it’s 14 minutes long, but it soundtracked many walks around so how could it not be up there. I specifically associate it with my time in jury duty (wait wait, stay with me here) and walking to this amazing little bakery my roommate recommended to me on my lunch breaks and eating a delicious matcha cake slice in the shade on a hot June day. Pure pleasure, baby.
- 100 gecs – “stupid horse”
If you didn’t have a 100 gecs moment in 2019, part of me wants to say “good, keep it that way” but seeing them live later in November was hilarious, so whatever. It was fun. I’ll leave that in 2019.
- Badge Époque Ensemble – “Undressed In Solitude (feat. James Baley)”
By and far my favorite discovery of 2019. I saw them open for U.S. Girls earlier in the year and slowly incorporated their debut record into my commutes. One hot day in particular, when the power went out in most of Manhattan and the subway lines were running limited, I had to find my way back to Brooklyn. Listened to this the whole time. It was sick.
- Sacred Paws – “Almost It”
Sacred Paws put on one of the best shows I saw in 2019, with loads of people in the audience dancing along real nerdily. I gotta imagine that’s what going to a Belle & Sebastian show is like. Nerds in business casual dancing to jangle pop. It was so sick.
- Lingua Ignota – “DO YOU DOUBT ME TRAITOR”
Of course listening to this Lingua Ignota album was a moment. If it wasn’t a moment to you, you probably listen to some real intense stuff.
- Megan Thee Stallion – “Cash Shit (feat. Dababy)”
- Rico Nasty – “Cheat Code (feat. Baauer)”
Finally listening to Megan Thee Stallion and Rico Nasty was a very good idea. Listened to A LOT of both when I went to North Carolina for Merge Records 30th anniversary party. Indie rock + Megan & Rico.
- Arthur Verocai – “Pelas Sombras”
Thank you Adrian Younge and your What’s In My Bag segment for introducing me to Arthur Verocai. Not sure how I didn’t catch this record in my dive into Brazilian music earlier in 2019, but I was just living in this record in late summer. Wonderful stuff. I also embarrassingly stopped a guy from Shazaming a song from this album at a bar and was like “OH DUDE IT’S ARTHUR VEROCAI IT’S SO GOOD” and he was like “uhhh ok?” – love being a music fan!
- Silver Jews – “Dallas”
RIP DCB. A full few days spent listening to nothing but Silver Jews and Purple Mountains.
- Friendly Fires – “Almost Midnight”
I seem to be the only person in my social circle(s) that cared about Friendly Fires coming back with a new record. This was frustrating that I was so hyped about this record but had no one to enthusiastically share it with. More for me. Listening to this walking around or on the subway is a rush. Seeing them live too was something special. So much fun.
- Jenny Hval – “Six Red Cannas”
Like Hval’s 2016 album, I was absolutely obsessed with her 2019 record. Magic happens at 1:25 in this song, every time.
- Bodywash – “With Heat”
Somehow found the perfect pairing for this song: at sunset on a cloudy day, with sun cutting through turbulent, dark clouds over the river. Just beautiful and numbing. So many musical moments made while waiting for the ferry to see my partner after work.
- Charli XCX – “Silver Cross”
Unlike with Carly Rae Jepsen, buying a ticket to go see Charli XCX by myself was a fantastic idea. Her show was absolutely bonk and I had a blast. Charli is a fantastic album as well, with “Silver Cross” being my top favorite at the time. I think “Gone” is at the top now, but it was awesome hearing both these tracks live. This album came out around the time I went to New Haven to see my close friends from college, the first time I’d seen a lot of them in years. Looking back, it felt like all we had to share was that life was hard, lonely, and boring. Work was hard. We were drained. We no longer had the bountiful youth we shared back in 2011-2015. It was a good weekend don’t get me wrong, but it was very much a “wow we’re not party animals anymore” type thing.
- Kelly Moran – “Water Music”
I enjoyed Kelly Moran’s 2018 album Ultraviolet well enough, but it wasn’t until mid/late 2019 when it became a constant in my commute listening. I eventually got to see Moran play in a church with incredible visuals behind her and it was a show I’ll hopefully never forget. It was gorgeous and moving. What a mind and what a performer. Listening to the vinyl REAL loud is also an incredible experience.
- Slayyyter – “Mine”
Ultimate pop pleasure. I wasn’t as crazy about the rest of Slayyyter’s music, but this deserves to be an all-world pop hit.
- Hailu Mergia & Dahlak Band – “Wede Harer Guzo”
Always a fan of Ethiopian jazz, but sometimes it fades out of the usual listening rotation. I heard this Hailu Mergia record specifically while waiting for pizza at Screamers in Greenpoint and I think I listened to this album at least every week for the rest of 2019. Nothing brings me peace like Ethiopian jazz.
- Anamanaguchi – “The C R T Woods”
Got to promote the 2019 Anamanaguchi album to radio, something that was pretty surreal to do as a fan of the band for nearly a decade. Best part is that the record is actually good. Was gonna see them in 2020. That woulda been great.
- Angel Olsen – “Dance Slow Decades”
My partner was super into this song for the latter half of 2019 – many nights spent together with this song being played over and over. “You might still have it in you, give yourself the benefit”. Burning and passionate.
- Dirty Beaches – “Lord Knows Best”
Had a resurgence of Dirty Beaches appreciation while going through 2010s records. Totally overlooked this gem when it came out. I put it on while walking home one night and the pairing of the cold wind and watching the water on the East River move was just perfect.
- Konradsen – “Roasted”
What a lovely tune to bring in colder weather and walk around to. Love walking around NYC and this was just the perfect accompaniment. I think I listened to this whole Konradsen album three times in one afternoon while out on a hat expedition. Embodiment of hygge.
- Lapalux – “Limb To Limb”
Find your best pair of headphones and listen to this song real loud. Just a masterpiece of sound design and atmosphere. Beautifully futuristic and inviting. Many nights spent listening to this song over and over, just jaw on the floor.
- Wednesday Campanella – “アラジン”
One of my favorite discoveries from searching for 2010s records I missed. Any fan of bombastic synth pop deserves to hear this record. Production and vocal performance on it are simply absurd. It doesn’t matter that the lyrics are in Japanese when the delivery is that good.
- Bowery Electric – “Empty Words”
Made a really great shoegaze/folk/drone playlist to match the greyscale fall skies of late 2019. I remember listening to it while driving to a friends house on Thanksgiving weekend: through the dense Connecticut trees, a fiery red and orange sunset was burning on the horizon, partially obscured by dark clouds. Plus something about dry car heat always reminds me of 90s shoegaze and slowcore. It was the perfect pairing.
- Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah – “I Own The Night (feat. Saul Williams)”
One of the only records where the first listen alone crystallized it as one of the best of the year, let alone the decade. It totally blew my brain apart. If you want a record that makes trumpet solos feel like the guitar solo from “Maggot Brain”, so loud and powerful and EMOTIONAL, you should listen to this. It’s a monumental record that I would tear up to while listening on the subway.
- Big Thief – “UFOF”
On a drive to Michigan to see my sick grandmother, which would be the last time I’d see her, I couldn’t get 10 seconds into this song without ugly crying. A few days later I found the LP in the wrong section at a record store. Of course I needed to buy it. It just popped up unexpectedly. You have to say yes in those moments. I don’t have any Big Thief songs on this whole retrospective, but their presence really came on like gangbusters at the end of the 2010s. They deserve all the fame they can get.
- Resavoir – “LML”
What a song to end the decade with. “I love my life, and it’s not over.” Thankfully that mantra was able to hold strong through 2020. This is cheating a bit, but on New Year’s Day 2020 at around 4am I was sitting in Chicago’s Midway airport, eyes glazed over, listening to this song, sighing after ending another year, this time surrounded by residual floating clouds of friendship and family.