Photo by Flickr user Sam Howzit (Creative Commons)
For some years now, I have made these monthly summaries of what I really, really liked that month.
Here is my summary of the releases I loved the most in JANUARY.
The list is in no particular order, but the ones I loved the most are marked with a red ||.
SINGLES I LOVED THIS MONTH
This month has been amazing for good singles! There are so many songs I really like this month, so it has been extremely difficult to pick only a few for this post. All the other singles I loved can as usual be found in the accompaning Spotify playlist. So, here we go:
Peaness “Same place”. I always get this combination of “I want to jump around” and “No, I just want to sit and listen and listen and listen” when I hear the music of Peaness. I guess their music work in both situations. “Same Place” is a really good upbeat song, with amazing vocal harmonies from several of the band members. The band recently signed to Alcopop! records, and will have a new EP out in a few months time.
Exam Season “Everything is salted caramel”. One of my absolute favourite songs this month. It has been played over and over again in this house, and it will be played a lot more. I don’t think it is possible to get tired of something this good. Fuzzy, jangly guitars and an infectious melody. Perfect.
Hater “Had it all”. This Swedish band continue to amaze me, like they have done again and again. The vocals move from my ears via my spine and to my heart. Jangly guitars, powerful vocals and a catchy melody. Give it a listen!
The New Pornographers “High Ticket Attractions”. I am a fan, and have been a fan since they released their first album in 2000. The chorus is amazing.
Enderby’s Room “Heartaches”. This is such a lovely song from London-based indie/folk band Enderby’s Room. Beautiful vocals by Emma Winston (Deerful) and perfect harmonies from Dan Mayfield (at least I think it is him). I love the horns.
Diet Cig “Tummy Ache”. Another of the songs that have been on high rotation in my house this month. The duo simply make great songs every time.
JFDR “Airborne”. Iceland’s Jófríður Ákadóttir has a voice many of you may know. She is 1/2 of Pascal Pinon, where she plays together with her twin sister Ásthildur, and she also plays in Samaris and Gangly. This is her solo project, and her debut album will be out later this year. “Airborne” is a song built around her amazing vocals, a piano and quite heavy, cut up drums. Unique.
You will find even more of my favourite singles in the Spotify list.
ALBUMS I LOVED THIS MONTH
Julie Byrne – Not even happiness || This was one of the first new albums released this year that really stunned me with its beauty. In this unpredicable and chaotic world, this is the music we need to calm down and rest our nerves. Byrne’s dark, soft and warm voice is so good for the ears, and for a restless body. (Spotify)
Zooey – The Drifters || This is a really pleasant listen! The French, London-based duo of Matthieu Beck and Marie Merlet make playful, relaxed loungy pop with a touch of early Saint Etienne (think Foxbase Alpha/So Tough), High Llamas, Bacharach, Stereolab and even The Beach Boys (in the BB’s most playful and experimenting phase). The Stereolab connection is strong, even if Zooey and Stereolab only have a few musical elements in common. Marie Merlet used to play in Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier’s side project Monade from 2003-2009 and in another band of Marie Merlet, the French retro pop group Lisbonne, Sadier contributed vocals to one of their songs. You should also check out Merlet’s solo project, Iko Chérie (Elefant Records) (Spotify)
Golden Fable – In the aerie || During 2016, the UK duo of Tim and Rebecca Joy have been releasing one song in the beginning of each month, and now in 2017 all of these wonderful songs have been put together in album format. I think “Ethereal” is a word that can describe their music. A strong album, again. (Spotify)
The Proper Ornaments – Foxhole || “Foxhole” is the second album from The Proper Ornaments, out on Slumberland Records.
The main songwriters and founders of the band are James Hoare (Ultimate Painting, Veronica Falls) and Max Oscarnold (Toy, Pink Flames), and this time they have thrown the fuzz- and distortion pedals out of the window and made a peaceful, intimate and melancholic follow up. The drums, bass and jangly guitars are present on some songs, but on most songs, the instrumentation includes just guitar, piano and their whispery vocals. Nice. (Spotify)
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Austra – Future Politics || Canadian band Austra has a fairly cold, icy, machine-like electronic pop sound, but singer and creative force Katie Stelmanis’ powerful and vulnerable voice and her lyrics make this a very human album. I love this. (Spotify)
Lost Tapes – We thought it was ok at the time (2013-2015) || This collection of songs released on compilations, EPs and singles by the Spanish band Lost Tapes make us understand once again how good they are as indiepop songwriters. When you listen to this album, it does not feel like a retrospective compilation at all. All songs fit so well together. It is a pleasure to float along in Lost Tapes dreamy pop-universe, and let their sunrays of sound warm you. (Spotify)
Cherry Glazerr – Apocalipstick || Rough and dirty indie with very strong pop melodies. They sing about things like wearing their underwear three days in a row, so if that is your thing, you may like this 🙂 . Sharp, fuzzy guitars, a singer who sings her heart out, very prominent bass-lines, pounding drums and an occasional synth. And very catchy melodies. (Spotify)
Toothless – The pace of the passing || I feel so good listening to this album! Partly because it is filled with brilliant songs, and partly because it is filled with creativity and interesting ways to write music while still keeping the POP in it. Toothless is a side project of Bombay Bicycle Club’s bassist Ed Nash, and on the album he has a number of collaborating singers performing with him, like Marika Hackman, The Staves and Liz Lawrence, and they all add some beauty to the songs. (Spotify)
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SACRED PAWS – Strike a match || Finally, an album from the duo Rachel Aggs and Eilidh Rogers! Both have been in bands I like before they started SACRED PAWS, like Golden Grrls and Trash Kit. This is a wonderful energetic indiepop album, clearly inspired by both DIY punk and African pop music. I want to dance to those mesmerizing rhythms! (Spotify)
Rose Elinor Dougall – Stellular || The former singer of The Pipettes is back with a POP album. There are some real gems inside here. The opener “Colour of water” got me instantly hooked with the interesting guitar parts and its motorik beats. At first, I found the album sometimes too clean and “radio friendly” for me, but it has grown and grown, and there are a lot to love here. Some wonderful songs on this album. (Spotify)
No Middle Name – Fondness || From the description on Facebook, No Middle Name is a “Lo-fi dream pop solo project from David Bailey of The Title Sequence”. Dream pop is definitively present here, but don’t expect reverb-drenched ambience and far away vocals here, like you often find on dream pop albums. This is more indiepop, light dreams, vocals with a presence and great melodies. I love this! (Spotify)
Allison Crutchfield – Tourist in this town || Crutchfield is the founder of the DIY punk band Swearin’, and this is her debut solo album. It’s a personal album, with powerful lyrics and it’s quite far from the punky bands she has been in before. The attitude is definitely present, but here she moves in several other directions and is more accessible. A very good record to listen to. (Spotify)
EPs I LOVED THIS MONTH
Blushing – Tether || One of the really, really strong EPs this month comes from Austin, TX dream pop quartet Blushing. This is their debut EP, and all the four tracks are amazing. When I listen to this, I am sometimes reminded of bands from the early days of 4ad, like Lush and to a lesser extent Cocteau Twins. Great songwriting! (Spotify)
Camp Cope / Cayetana – Split || Two trios that fit very well together in sound, – Camp Cope from Melbourne and Cayetana from Philadelphia, have made a split EP with two tracks each. All the songs are good, and I especially like Cayetana’s slow, dreamy indiepop track”trails” and Camp Cope’s opener “Keep Growing”, with a super-catchy bassline. (Spotify)
Anti Pony – Alexander || The Swedish duo’s debut single from 2015, “I go places”, is still one of my favourite songs. I was pretty excited when I heard that they would release an EP this month, and they didn’t disappoint. Four really good songs. (Spotify)
Swimming Tapes – Souvenirs EP || 4 great songs! Irresistibly catchy indiepop with chiming guitars and very warm, lovely vocals. The EP is a collection of their four latest singles. (Spotify)
Cate Le Bon – Rock Pool || Cate Le Bon’s own description of this EP: “”Rock Pool” is the killed darlings from the Crab Day sessions brought back to life on a classic 2-2 formation. Written under the same banner of the impossibly absurd and emerging to unimaginable bedlam.” Now that we know the backstory – are these songs that weren’t ok’d for her album good enough for an EP? Short answer: Yes, definitely. These songs are maybe more “pop” than the songs on her album, and I am pretty satisfied about that. She’s a pretty unique songwriter. (Spotify)
Tall Friend – Tawl Friend || 5 bedroom pop songs that feel very close and intimate, like you are in the room with them playing. I like that room. (Spotify)
Ariel Pink/Weyes Blood – Myths002 || This is an interesting piece of beauty – and a weird one. Very pleasant melodies, and very unusual arrangements, twists and turns. (Spotify)
Listen to most of the songs from this list on Spotify: