josh’s top 25 favorite songs

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Bruce Springsteen

After sitting on this for several weeks, here are my all-time favorite songs at the moment. I tried not to overload it with a few artists, like Tegan and Sara, but multiple mentions did happen. Check out my picks, as well as a handy playlist of them, below.

 

25. “Hey You” – Pink Floyd

24. “Dancing on My Own” – Robyn

23. “Falling Slowly” – Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

22. “How to Disappear Completely” – Radiohead

21. “The Con” – Tegan and Sara

20. “Somebody Else” – The 1975

19. “Heroes” – David Bowie

18. “In the Air Tonight” – Phil Collins

17. “Hurt” – Johnny Cash

16. “Rockferry” – Duffy

15. “Tom Traubert’s Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen)” – Tom Waits

14. “Smokestack Lightning” – Howlin’ Wolf

13. “A Real Hero” – College ft. Electric Youth

12. “Like a Rolling Stone” – Bob Dylan

11. “Hey Jude” – The Beatles

10. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” – Joy Division

9. “So What” – Miles Davis

8. “So Jealous” – Tegan and Sara

7. “Born in the U.S.A.” – Bruce Springsteen

6. “I Fought the Law” – The Clash

5. “Take Me Home” – Tom Waits

4. “Heyday” – Mic Christopher

3. “Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues ft. Kirsty MacColl

2. “Bad (Wide Awake in America version)” – U2

1. “I Can’t Take It” – Tegan and Sara

Here’s a playlist of my songs (#5 isn’t on Spotify):

summertime = gal pals time

 

Here’s a playlist I made with the intent to be listened to LOUD, with the windows DOWN. Queer/ally electropop is the way to go. Here’s to the glitter and glamour that comes with summer – and to the first pride season I’m fully embracing! Put this on shuffle, and jam out.

Happy Pride gals, ghouls, and every shade of the rainbow there is.

xo always,

Jules

 

josh’s 2016 alternate grammys

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Tegan and Sara

I’ve always liked making personal awards ballots, especially for movies and, more recently, music. It’s just a thing I do. I made alternate Grammy ballots for 2008-2016 a while back, and I’ve updated last year’s to post on here. Jules will be doing her own ballot too, so look out for that. Check out my picks, as well as a playlist of the songs/artists below. Note: I’ve gone by U.S. release dates. (winners = *)

Album of the Year:

anti
ANTI – Rihanna
coloring-book
Coloring Book – Chance the Rapper
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I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It – The 1975
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Love You to Death – Tegan and Sara*
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A Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead

 

Record of the Year:

“Burn the Witch” – Radiohead

“BWU” – Tegan and Sara

“Kiss It Better” – Rihanna

“Somebody Else” – The 1975*

“What’s It Gonna Be?” – Shura

 

Song of the Year:

“Hang on to the Night” – Tegan and Sara*

“I Need a Forest Fire” – James Blake ft. Bon Iver

“I Need You” – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

“Lazarus” – David Bowie

“Lover, Please Stay” – Nothing But Thieves

Best New Artist:

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Francis and the Lights
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KAYTRANADA
lapsley
Låpsley
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Nothing But Thieves*
shura
Shura

Here’s a playlist if you prefer that sort-of thing:

review: harry styles – self-titled

HarryStyles._0_

Harry Styles. When I hear that name, the boy band One Direction and their big success on the pop charts come to mind. I’m largely disconnected from their music, and couldn’t name five songs if I tried. In fact, I had no knowledge of his debut album’s existence until it was released a few weeks ago. So, I’m pleasantly surprised to write that this is a great pop album.

Some of Styles sounds decades old. Styles’ influences are far from the boy band material he used to perform. The album relies heavily on soft guitar riffs and steady drums, complementing Styles’ smooth vocals for a very chill vibe. Yes, this album plays well. It’s readily accessible and doesn’t reach for the stars. At the same time, it’s a bold move for Styles, given the anticipation from his young base of One Direction fans and cynicism of others like yours truly.

Again, the album is littered with influences far removed from Styles’ previous work. Leading off is the soft “Meet Me in the Hallway,” which prominently features a jangly guitar, and feels akin to more celebrated artists like Beck, Elliott Smith, and Sufjan Stevens. Of course, “Sign of the Times” is the big one, appropriately the lead single. This has Billy Joel written all over it, as it’s a soaring pop ballad that feels larger than life, complete with gorgeous piano accompaniment. Meanwhile, the bouncy rhythm of “Carolina” feels very Harry Nilsson, and it’s a welcome addition. Modern pop often looks backwards, particularly in electronic sounds, but this is a most refreshing nod to yesteryear. “Kiwi,” sure to be a fan favorite, is a no-holds-barred, straightforward rock howler. If Styles were to make a record like The Black Keys, it might sound like this. But Styles and his beautiful vocals make their own way through these sounds, and get some of the best songs out of them.

The album also includes tracks that are generally more dialed down. “Two Ghosts” is a sweet little tune that features a standout line: “We’re just two ghosts standing in the place of you and me/Trying to remember how it feels to have a heartbeat.” While “Sweet Creature” and “From the Dining Table” – note the great line “Even my phone misses your call, by the way” – are largely stripped-down songs that would arguably benefit from the loss of the backing vocals, the intro to “Only Angels,” one of the weaker tracks, could be on almost any current alternative album. In addition, the production on “Woman” is a bit cluttered, yet it’s completely infectious, albeit a bit strained in the songwriting department. But one of the finest tracks is “Ever Since New York,” which sounds like a lost single from the early 2000s. Its chorus soars with “Oh, tell me something I don’t already know.” Not the greatest line on the album, but it works for this song. Overall, Styles hits more than he misses, and every song goes down smoothly.

Harry Styles took a risk here. His debut both plays it safe in terms of songwriting and scope, but also goes to great lengths to put himself out there. Going solo and finding his own musical identity seems daunting, and Styles appears up to the challenge. What this album lacks in innovation it makes up for with the bravery to go beyond the glossy arena pop LP that could have been. It defies expectations, and the room for growth is only encouraging, given this is his first solo outing. Styles might well be on his way to becoming an even bigger star, but he’s also a budding pop singer-songwriter with a new fan. Of course, One Direction fans shouldn’t be disappointed with his efforts, but hopefully Harry Styles attracts other listeners too. It’s one of the best pop albums of the year.

Best,

Josh

Harry Styles is available everywhere, including iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon.

someone new

Before I crossed the big pond, I always kind of thought that the way people spoke about travel was overrated. None of this “it’ll change your perspective on love and life” and “it’ll really open your eyes to the beauty of the world” phased me, even after I got off the plane in peak sleeping medication after-haze. As I’ve mentioned in my previous London blog post, I could not have been more incorrect and naive in that assumption.

Similarly to how I used to form homes in places instead of people, and only wore black even in the midsummer heat, I kind of enjoyed being a distant piece of shit, for lack of a better explanation. Dating, crushes, and love have never been for me. They’ve always been reserved for my friends, usually explained over a pint or three, and would always end with me making intense fun of them for their fleeting feelings of butterflies and connection, because let’s be real – I never had time for that shit.

Never did I expect to be on the other side of the mockery. But here’s the weird thing – no one mocked me.

This playlist is about someone new. Like, knowing you’re interested in someone if the stars align and then the stars do align, for once. It’s good. It’s all good. It’s sunshine glinting off marble buildings and smiles and prolonged eye contact that is more than just okay. It’s too short and you want longer and you crave something, you don’t know what, but it’s there. Whatever “it” is.

I don’t mind you coming here
And wasting all my time

I didn’t put my money on it, but I was hoping that you would be here
If I was something that you ever wanted, I’m all ears

If there are boundaries, I will try to knock them down
I’m latching on, babe, now I know what I have found

Let’s go out and get drunk tonight
Let’s pretend that we’re alone tonight
Let’s go out and have fun

You call me up like you want your best friend
You turn me on like you want your boyfriend
But I don’t want to be your secret anymore

xo always

Jules

 

review: tiny hueman

Our first review highlights Tiny Hueman, an indie rock duo from Philadelphia. “Kate” is the lead single from their upcoming EP, which will be released on multiple platforms on June 16.

Josh

Having listened to the whole EP, this single is a grower. It’s so chill that you might not notice the passion behind the easy vibes. “You know I only think of myself/Why you let me let you down?” opens the song, and it’s a killer line that clashes with the slow electric guitar riff. As the steady drums come in, the track slowly unfolds before breaking free at the end. The vocals are, at times, drowned out by the instruments, but the understated delivery doesn’t hide the honesty behind the vocal performance. Of course, the track is so short that it begs repeat listens, since its relaxed sound arguably hides the grit behind some of the lyrics. All in all, it’s a single worth checking out, a few times at that. Actually, the track sounds not unlike a DIY, more pop-friendly Arctic Monkeys, which happen to be a personal favorite. That may be a crude description, but it serves this single well. It’s a brisk indie rock tune that’s catchy and has some arresting lyrics. You can expect more of this from Tiny Hueman on their upcoming EP, but in the meantime, check out “Kate” below.

Jules

Tiny Hueman takes thorough inspiration from classic rock roots for their second EP. From smooth guitar twangs to heavier vocals and drawn out solos, it’s clear that the duo came back to pack these tracks in with a punch. The first stand out track is single “Kate”(released Friday May 26) , with a building and simple chord progression that hooks you in subtly, slowly, but in for the kill. The song has a nice break down into a summery jam that will leave you wishing for warm breezes with all the windows down. Upon listening to the rest of the record, “Kate” stands out for it’s gentle chords and honest lyricism, and creates a great middle breaking point within the EP. On June 16th, you can check out the rest of Tiny Hueman’s EP #2 – and I strongly suggest you do. My personal favourite was Lost, with it’s heavier lyrics and guitar lines reminiscent of the Strokes or Bloc Party.  My favourite piece of the track is when “ Your body’s wearing down my patience” is wailed into a twanging and lingering solo break down. Subtle additions of cleverly placed hooks and honest lyrics make this EP a rock enthusiasts dream.

 

Listen to Kate

Find Tiny Hueman on Twitter @tinyhueman