Photo by Flickr user Kevin Dooley (Creative Commons)
On the positive side, there have been some really good releases this month too, – a few good albums, some great singles and especially several wonderful EPs. On the negative side: Indie Christmas songs.
This time I want to share TWO Spotify playlists with you:
– The Best Releases of December
– ALL my 2016 monthly playlists in one huge playlist
Here is my summary of the releases I loved the most in DECEMBER.
The list is in no particular order, but the ones I loved the most are marked with a red ||.
Did you miss the other posts in this series? Click the link to view them.
SINGLES I LOVED THIS MONTH
From the singles in DECEMBER, these are the most notable ones:
Allo Darlin’ – Hymn on the 45 Their last single ever, and it has two very good songs on it. What a great single to leave us with. Goodbye, Darlin’. I will miss you. (Bandcamp)
The Color Waves – Play Along/The Sky I Saw. Even though I know that The Color Waves’ Garry Hoggan and Alison Eales are brilliant songwriters and vocalists, – two of my absolute favourites, – I am surprised and amazed every time they make songs together. Their new double A-sided single is another proof of their brilliance. These songs are so intensely beautiful! I rarely combine pure relaxation and intense focus the way I do when I listen to The Color Waves’ music and poetic lyrics. (Listen/Buy on Bandcamp)
Ice Cream Cathedral – Diving for pearls One of my favourite Danish bands return with a gorgeous new single. This time they have made a calm and soothing song with few instruments and the singer’s beautiful voice as the main focus of the song. (Spotify)
Bonobo + Rhye – Break apart I have a very soft spot for Rhye’s soft vocals, and Bonobo’s song and arrangement fits his voice perfectly. Relaxing soulful pop. (Spotify)
Strange Hellos – We are trouble Upbeat, fuzzy, great melody, wonderful supercatchy dreampop song. (Spotify)
Novella – Does the island know? Their second single from their upcoming album. Krauty, psychedelic pop with dreamy, layered vocals. (Spotify)
Hand Habits – Flower glass A delicate, slow song from the solo project of Los Angeles based Meg Duffy. Her vocals are stunningly beautiful! This is on repeat in my house. (Spotify)
You will find these and more of my other favourite singles in the December Spotify list.
ALBUMS I LOVED THIS MONTH
Tears run rings – In surges || The dreamy, blissful shoegazy songs (or Wavecore, as they call it) of Tears Run Rings have given me many good experiences through the years, and also this time the quintet manage to do just that. Despite its often fuzzy layers of guitars, it is a very calm and relaxing album. The soft vocals of Matthew Bice and Laura Watling add a lot of emotion to the dreamy atmosphere. I don’t think it is possible to write about Tears Run Rings without mentioning bands like Slowdive, early Lush, Pale Saints and Cocteau Twins, whom all seems to be influential to their sound. This album is really, really good. (Spotify)
Soda Fountain Rag – Lost Levels || The Norwegian indiepop queen Soda Fountain Rag has been releasing music for a long time, and on “Lost levels”, she has compiled 26 songs she made for cd-r releases, fanzine compilations etc from 2006 to 2013. Don’t worry about the huge number of songs. She knows how to say a lot in only a few minutes, so the whole album lasts only around an hour. There are some real gems on this one. (Spotify)
Hilma Nikolaisen – Puzzler || The bass player in Serena Maneesh, Hilma Nikolaisen, is out with her debut album, and it is a good one. It is definitely closer to pop than her music in Serena Maneesh was, but there are elements that remind me of them, like the driving bass line and psych feel of the opening track. The songs are good, and to hear them played together in album format is wonderful. Spotify)
Telefon Tel Aviv – Fahrenheit far enough || It is not often that I add purely electronic instrumental albums to these lists, but this album is worth mentioning here. It is very relaxing, despite its rhythms, and the glitched beats does not take too much of the focus. Slow moving songs with lots of interesting textures and melodies, and this is music you nod your head smoothly sideways to rather than heavily up and down. I feel that it has more in common with Erik Satie than Aphex Twin. Spotify)
The Colorist and Emiliana Torrini – S/T || On this album, the Belgian ensemble The Colorist Orchestra have made new songs together with the Icelandic artist (and former member of 4AD band GusGus) Emiliana Torrini, in addition to collaborating on new interpretations of her music. This live album travels on a path between orchestral pop, folk, jazz, experimental and electronic pop. I like it a lot. (Spotify)
The Holiday Crowd – S/T || It is so so so good to hear new music from Toronto-band The Holiday Crowd! Their debut album “Over the bluffs” has been played a lot here in this house, and their new, second album is definitely a new favourite of mine. Their new self titled album is released on the quality indiepop label Shelflife, and the 10 songs bring back lots of nostalgic memories from the 80s. Their sound has a lot in common with 80s indie like The Smiths or Orange Juice, and it works perfectly also in 2016. So many good songs on this album! (Spotify)
EPs I LOVED THIS MONTH
Squirrel Flower – Contact Sports || Squirrel Flower is one of the few artists who make me FEEL something every time I listen to her music. Every single time. While I am writing this and listening to her music, I am a tiny bit teary eyed. Her 2015 album “Early winter songs from middle America” was among my favourite albums last year. Simply brilliant. Ella Williams makes the most wonderful songs, with her strong and at the same time delicate vocals. It sounds like she is inside the music, – like she sings all her feelings out in her songs. Squirrel Flower’s music is quite unique, but if I have to place it in a “genre”, it will probably be something like dark, modern folk. This is perfect. (Spotify)
Exam Season – Mostly Homely || Exam Season are five boys from Ringwood, United Kingdom, and their debut EP “Mostly Homely” is just what I needed now. The EP was released earlier this year, in June, I think, but I just found out about it, and I am so happy I did. Their lo-fi, jangly bedroomy indiepop feels warm, with a good touch of melancholy and personal lyrics. The lovely, soft, emotional vocals of guitarist, singer and the band’s main songwriter Ed Watson is perfect for his music. Right now, when I am listening, I think this is as perfect as pop can be. (Spotify)
Chemtrails – Love in toxic wasteland EP || London 5 piece Chemtrails debuts with a superb distortion drenched EP with really, really good powerful garagy indie. Brilliant melodies. The EP is out on the quality label PNKSLM. I love it! (Spotify)
Grace Petrie – There’s no such thing as a protest singer || 2016 is a year where we really need protest singers. Grace Petrie is one of them, and she is good. She has a lot in common with the lyrics and music of Billy Bragg, and he has also recommended her on his very active Facebook page. We need more artists like Petrie. (Spotify)
Les Bicylettes de Belsize – Moving Pictures EP || On this new EP from LBdB, we again see Charlie Darling’s fascination and inspiration from old movies. This is sweet, melodic, musically interesting orchestral pop. Darling’s hushed and layered vocals fit the music perfectly, and along with the flutes, strings, piano and acoustic guitars, it makes the whole EP a very pleasant and calming experience. Now I need to see the films he’s singing about. (Bandcamp)
Various artists – Up to early EP || It was my deep love for Baths’ music that drew me to this EP from the label Friends of Friends. The 5 track EP is a taster of the upcoming 15 song album with the same name, out January 13. On this EP we get downtempo semi-electronic music that, like the title says, is perfect to listen to very early in the morning before the sun rises – or late in the evening when everybody else sleeps. Artists included here are Baths, The Album Leaf, Kyson, Robot Koch and Jensen Sportstag. The full album includes new songs from among others favourites of mine like Goldmund, Daedelus and Prefuse 73. This is a great, relaxing EP to listen to, and I am looking forward to the album. (Spotify)
Saintseneca – Mallwalker || This is something as rare as a good and original Christmas EP. Musically, the EP could fit any time of the year, and the lyrics are poetic and not too happy jolly merry jingly. The band is often put in the category “folk punk”, and this EP has both folky and darker, more aggressive elements, so I guess the genre fits well.
In addition to streaming this, you should buy it on Bandcamp if you like it. Proceeds from The Mallwalker EP will go to the organization Water For People (www.waterforpeople.org), a charity whose mission is to get clean drinking water to people. (Bandcamp / Spotify)
Merry Christmas and a happy new year from Eardrums Music!
Listen to most of the songs from this list on Spotify.