Tag Archives: Carly Rae Jepsen

In Review: Music Of 2019 (20-11)

Well folks, it’s that time of your once again where I look back on the wealth of music that I have listened to over the year and try to separate out a Top 20. Since I spent such a long time deciding on top albums from the rest of the decade, the number of albums that I’ve listened to this year is reduced compared to last year. My diving into the world of podcasts didn’t help either.

This year, as this post takes such a long time to put together and write-up, I am going to be limiting myself to one paragraph an album rather than droning on and on. I’ll still be doing my top tracks though, as that’s always fun.

#20 – U.F.O.F. by Big Thief

So many people have raved about the two albums that Big Thief put out this year and whilst, yes, U.F.O.F. has ended up on my countdown, it still feels like I’m missing out on something that so many other people have found here. As it is I find both of these albums to be beautiful pieces of folk music that are great to reading a book to. U.F.O.F. just happens to do it a lot more for me. Maybe, like Margo Price’s debut, these albums will haunt me and continue to grow in my estimation. I listen to tracks like ‘Terminal Paradise’ and can really see that happening.

Top Tracks: Cattails, Betsy, Terminal Paradise

#19 – Girl With Basket of Fruit by Xiu Xiu

This album is responsible for getting the phrase “my three-legged pig” stuck in my head for a full month. It’s such a clash of noises that, at times, feels like the initiation rites to some sort of rural cult. It’s also an album that is such a mindfuck at times that, if I am in the wrong mood, rubs me completely the wrong way. When I am in the right mood, it’s like a firecracker has been set off in my imagination that cannot help but spin off bizarre and contradictory mental images.

Top Tracks: Pumpkin Attack On Mommy and Daddy, Girl with Basket of Fruit, Normal Love

#18 – Wildcard by Miranda Lambert

I’ve been a fan of Miranda Lambert since she released ‘Kerosene’ way back when (God knows how I came across it) and a new album by her is pretty much guaranteed to end up being somewhere in my Top 20. Wildcard is another solid entry into the Miranda Lambert canon and sees her trying to redefine herself within her present rather than looking to her past. She’s been through a lot of heartache and it does continue to show here. She taps into her fears on the beautiful ‘Settling Down’ and, on other tracks, it feels like she’s getting back to the old humorous that I got to love back in the days of Revolution and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Top Tracks: Settling Down, Fire Escape, Mess With My Head

#17 – Pony by Orville Peck

Gay cowboy music sung by a man with a beautiful classically trained baritone that wouldn’t be out of place in Twin Peaks. I picked this album up as a bit of a curiosity of having an openly gay man sing country music – ended up with mood that has become a meme between myself and one of my co-workers. It’s an example of why it’s dangerous to start with the best track, it took me a long time before I could get to the meat of the album as ‘Dead of Night’ kept having to be played that second or third time.

Top Tracks: Dead of Night, Queen of the Rodeo, Roses Are Falling

#16 – Purple Mountains by Purple Mountains

There are times where you pick up an album as the artist died soon after releasing it and people are sad not only for the death but also because of the promise of the work recently left behind. This is how I came to listen to ‘Margaritas at the Mall’ on a summer day when I was struggling with some R code. I’m a real sucker for this kind of folk rock with Illinois style brass instruments and Purple Mountains is full of it. One day, I’ll need to investigate the back catalogue.

Top Tracks: Margaritas at the Mall, Darkness and Cold, All My Happiness Is Gone

#15 – Proto by Holly Herndon

How many albums can you say are out there by someone with a PhD into their work on the intersection of music and artificial intelligence? On her previous album Platform, Holly Herndon appeared to have a more a view that technology is coming after us, but with Proto comes her embrace as she introduces the world to “Spawn” an artificial intelligence that she’s training to sing and features across the album. It’s such an extraordinary thing to hear and, with tracks like ‘Evening Shades’ we can hear how an intelligence like this can be trained. This woman is a genius and I cannot wait to hear more from “Spawn”.

Top Tracks: Eternal, Frontier, Evening Shades

#14 – thank you, next by Ariana Grande

Whilst Sweetener may not have had much of an impact on me outside of ‘No Tears Left To Cry’, there was an immediate one with thank you, next. I am not sure if it was the internalised homophobia talking, but this because a bit of a guilty pleasure listen for me this year – despite it being one of the highest acclaimed pop albums of the year featuring the track that broke my hear the most from 2019: ‘ghostin’.

Top Tracks: ghostin, thank you, next, bloodline

#13 – All Mirrors by Angel Olsen

Back when I wrote about My Woman I talked about how I felt a bit late to the Angel Olsen support party. Well, I’m well and truly there now – even if the album cover looks like an Adele pastiche. Then again, I get how a new sound requires a new image, and All Mirrors is a definitely departure from her rockier last album (which I rediscovered in a big way earlier in the year). She’s gone and done her take on a dark lady Kate Bush album and it’s such a gorgeous mood as the colder months move in.

Top Tracks: All Mirrors, Summer, New Love Cassette

#12 – Dedicated by Carly Rae Jepsen

Carly Rae Jepsen is one of the many acts that is proof positive that it is sometimes better to not win that reality show you are on. She has written down and sung some of the best acts of feel good pop of the last few decades, hell her leftover track ‘When I’m Alone’ was what first got me interested in K-pop. Dedicated is her taking a more sophisticated take on pop which, whilst not as immediate, has been a good friend in the kitchen during my long world cooking adventures.

Top Tracks: Real Love, Now That I Found You, Julien

#11 – MAGDALENE by fka twigs

An fka twigs album always takes a while to properly settle in my brain and reveal all its gifts. I know that, a few months into 2020, I will wonder how I didn’t end up placing this album higher. So much has happened to her between this and her last album, from the breakup of her engagement to surgery – and it’s a pain you can especially hear on album finisher ‘Cellophane’. She shattered and managed to get her pieces beck together in a beautiful dark experimental album that only she knows how to make.

Top Tracks: Fallen Alien, Cellophane, Holy Terrain

In Review: Music Of 2016 (10-1)

Thanks for tuning in again. Yesterday I counted down my #20-11 albums of the year. Let’s finish off that countdown and see who ended up at #1.

#10 – Emotion: Side B by Carly Rae Jepsenemotion-side-b

This is an album of B-Sides and yet she is still able to give some of the best pop tracks of the year. Released on the anniversary of the parent album Emotion: Side B became a refuge for me in a year where pop music hasn’t been as strong.

Usually a collection like this feels a bit disjointed, but this very much feels like an album in its own right. The thread of 1980s electro-pop and dancing as your heard breaks or soars (depending on the song) permeates every moment.

This album ended up being the ultimate gift to her fiercely loyal fan base. With it she has become the Canadian Robyn… and that is not a title that should be given lightly.

Top Tracks: Cry, The One, Higher

#9 – Familia by Sophie Ellis-Bextorfamilia

When Sophie Ellis-Bextor released Wanderlust a few years back I was struck by the extreme left turn in her music. Gone were the glorious electro-pop days of Trip The Light Fantastic and here we were down something a lot more nuanced.

With Familia she is still on this road and vocally I don’t think she has ever sounded better. Both this and Wanderlust have allowed us to see her as the artist she is rather than the singer.

Nothing on this album quite hits the heights of “Love Is A Camera”, but as an album this feels more cohesive and consistent. She still lets her electronic side out (after all she is still Sophie Ellis-Bextor), but she couples this with some more Latin influences as well as a whole mess of other touchstones. Despite being a fan for nearly 15 years I don’t think I have ever found her music as interesting as I do now.

Top Tracks: Death of Love, Crystallise, Come With Us

#8 – A Moon Shaped Pool by Radioheadmoon-shaped-pool

It took until May before I felt I had heard the first great album of 2016. I have been a real latecomer to the music of Radiohead, but the more I listen to them the more of a fan I find myself becoming.

Since, like with In Rainbows, I was able to listen to A Moon Shaped Pool without any preconceptions from music critics all the discoveries I made about this album felt profoundly my own.

I think it has been agreed that A Moon Shaped Pool is one of the more accessible albums in the Radiohead back catalogue and that may be why I like it so much. It’s dark and dreamy in a way where I think the title of the album feels eerily accurate. For a perfect listen I think you need a few fireflies, but that might just be me.

Top Tracks: Ful Stop, Burn the Witch, Daydreaming

#7 – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Soundtrack by Crazy-Ex Girlfriend Castcrazy-ex-girlfriend

I don’t care if this feels like a cheat or not. Rachel Bloom and everyone else working on the Crazy Ex Girlfriend cast team are some of the most talented people working in television right now and it is just not getting the viewership it deserves.

I was listening and singing along to this soundtrack for about a month before I even started watching the show in September. I was sharing music videos and spreading the word of this amazing show based solely on YouTube playlists.

These songs aren’t just funny (some like ‘What’ll It Be’ and ‘Stupid Bitch’ actually make you want to cry). They are fantastically realised and performed of pastiche. The sources of inspiration have included the dream ballet from Oklahoma, 1980s hair rock, Shakira and the Dreamgirls soundtrack – and we are still part way through Season 2.

It’s on Netflix and the music can be found on YouTube and Spotify. spread the word!

Top Tracks: Feelin’ Kinda Naughty, I’m A Good Person, Greg’s Drinking Song

#6 Before The Dawn by Kate Bushbtd-rgb1

I cried when I was unable to get tickets to see Kate Bush live. The tickets sold out within 15 minutes and I had to watch as the 5-star reviews rolled in. Still there was consolation in knowing that a live album was going to eventually be released (sadly the DVD was scrapped).

Having a live album on this list isn’t too dissimilar to having a greatest hits, but it’s new arrangements and Kate Bush so sod it. This live album is amazing. I can only imagine what it would have been like to be there, but this will do.

What makes this more than a greatest hits album… is that it isn’t your typical greatest hits. If anything it’s a live realisation of the two concept halves of Hounds of Love and Aerial and that’s what catapulted this right to the top end of my year-end charts.

Top Tracks: Sunset, Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God), Lily

#5 – My Woman by Angel Olsenangel-olsen-my-woman

I missed the boat when Angel Olsen released Burn Your Fire For No Witness a few years back. So many people had that in their end of year list and I had not even heard of her. This year, with the release of My Woman I wanted to make sure I was there on the ground floor.

Like with Mitski’s album, this was a grower. The moment I finished the first playthrough I thought My Woman was okay, but I wanted to listen to it again straight away. So on some level I think it really must have struck me.

A few listens later and here it is at number 5 on my list, as well as placing high on many critics lists. Angel Olsen is still someone where I don’t know many people who listen to her, so whilst I am a bit late to the party it’s nice to feel like it’s still a select party.

Top Tracks: Shut Up Kiss Me, Sister, Heart Shaped Face

#4 Fantôme by Utada Hikarufantome

It has been a very long eight years since her last album, HEART STATION. Ever since I first discovered the wonders of JPop some 10-15 years ago she has been my unquestioned queen of the genre. For her to comeback with an album like this was more than I could have hoped for.

It’s very much a Utada Hikaru album and yet it is a real development from where she was before. Okay so I can’t understand what she is saying, but there is a greater confidence and maturity in what she has delivered. It is not the album made to appease fans after a long time and it’s not a throwback to what she used to be.

This might, in fact. be the best album she has done and I can only applaud her for that. Here’s hoping we get the next album in the near future.

Top Tracks: 桜流し, 道, 二時間だけのバカンス

#3 – case/lang/veirs by case/lang/veirscaselangveirs

A new release from Laura Veirs was always going to feature high on this list. Since coming across July Flame as a reviewer for a university news site I have been keeping a very close eye on her releases.

With this team up with kd lang and the amazing Neko Case there was only one way that this could go wrong: if one dominated the others. Thankfully that did not happen. Each singer has their fair share of leading tracks and then contribute backing vocals or other support on the remaining.

For a while it looked like this would have been my number one album of the year, but then second half of the year proved to be incredibly strong.

Top Tracks: Best Kept Secret, Greens of June, Blue Fires

#2 Blood Bitch by Jenny Hvala3923298497_10

I started making this list in November and have slowly watched Blood Bitch climbing up the ranks before popping a squat at number two. This is an album I have had a hard time recommending to people as the moment I say it is a Norwegian avant-grade pop concept album about vampires, menstruation and the moon… well you get the picture.

With the exception of the standout tracks listed below, this is an album where most songs cannot be played in isolation. They all bleed into each other and most tend to only make sense as part of a full playthrough (‘The Plague’ is one of these).

This is very much an album for the colder months, so makes a nice counterpoint to case/lang/veirs which dominated my early summer.

Top Tracks: The Great Undressing, Conceptual Romance, Secret Touch

#1 – 22, A Million by Bon Iver22-a-million

I don’t think anyone can be more surprised than me to have an album by a man top my list for the second year running (I’ve made these lists for the last 12 years and this is the second time that an album by a woman/women has not topped my list).

With the year that 2016 has been politically it feels like 22, A Million is exactly the sort of album you need to have to calm yourself down. Okay so it’s a glitchy folktronica album with song titles that upset the users of last.fm, but it’s beautifully honest.

You don’t always get what Justin Vernon is singing amongst the samples and the distortions. The thing is that it all just adds to the beautiful atmosphere and has made this album incredibly repeatable whether you are walking the streets of London, playing Skyrim or simply working in the office. Just gorgeous.

Top tracks: 8 (circle), 666 ʇ, 10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⚄ ⚄

In Review: Music Of 2015

It’s the end of 2015! What a year it’s been for me. Marriage. Honeymoon in Japan. It’s going to be one of those years I will always remember.

Also, what a crop of music! I guess the older you get, the more artists you love begin to culminate. Still, for my music taste, it has been exceptional. So I figured why not pre-empt future updates on the Acclaimed Albums list, and a possible expansion of that list when I reach 100%, by going through the music of 2015 followed by a Top 20?

Did Not Chart

I listened to a lot of music this year. According to Last.fm, this might be the most varied I have ever been when it comes to sheer number of different tracks. This means that there are quite a few albums that did not crack my personal Top 20.

One I am going to rather obviously point out is Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. This is the album that will appear on the next update of the list.  I know that this makes me some sort of musical philistine, but this is where I am with rap albums. No matter how acclaimed or important it is… I just can’t get to the heart of it. Also, the liberal use of the n-word just makes me plain uncomfortable. I did like ‘King Kunta’ though.

Now, for the main event. My Top 20 albums of 2015!

Platform 1#20 – Platform by Holly Herndon
#19 – Wildheart by Miguel
Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper#18 – Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper by Panda Bear
#17 – Endless Vacation by Annie
Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit#16 – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit by Courtney Barnett
Blackbirds#15 – Blackbirds by Gretchen Peters
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful 1#14 – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful by Florence + The Machine
#13 – Hairless Toys by Roisin Murphy
Have You In My Wilderness#12 – Have You In My Wilderness by Julia Holter
Natalie Prass#11 – Natalie Prass by Natalie Prass
Currents#10 – Currents by Tame Impala
M3LL155X#9 – M3LL155X by FKA twigs
#8 – In Colour by Jamie xx
Emotion#7 – Emotion by Carly Rae Jepsen
Divers#6 – Divers by Joanna Newsom
Vulnicura#5 – Vulnicura by Bjork
Froot#4 – FROOT  by Marina & The Diamonds
Art Angels#3 – Art Angels by Grimes
#2 – Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens
#1 – I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty