Indie Pop

Best of 2020 Playlists || Niek’s Favorite Songs of 2020

At the start of each year, I create a playlist to keep track of newly released songs I like. Then, at the end of the year, I pick out the best song from this list to create a year-end mixtape, a playlist I like to return to every now and then, and revisit or rediscover songs and memories of a specific period of time. The thing is, I am not a very efficient person. So basically I drag songs to the playlist for 350 days resulting in quite the mess – the playlist currently has 1944 songs, almost 92 hours of music. Then, with the year coming to its close, I frantically go to work trimming down the playlist to its essence. That’s the hard part, because I am way better in adding stuff than throwing things away, or so I am told.  I usually end up with a playlist around 300-400 songs, in spite of my good intentions to keep it shorter. This year is no exception. What I did do differently this year however, is split up the songs in two playlists that reflect my two musical taste buds: a playlist with more straightforward punk, powerpop and garage hits from 2020, and one playlist with a little less distortion (i.e., indiepop, jangle, twee, but also postpunk, and more fuzzy and surfy popsounds). As always, one song per artists. Click read more to check them out. Hope you’ll like ’em, and will uncover some new favorite tunes! BTW, in case this is my final post of the year, take care, be well and see you in 2021!

Music Year-End List || Niek’s Favorite Singles And EPs of 2020

Last week, I published my Top 50 Albums of 2020. The week before, Dennis published his. Time for the final AtW list of 2020: my Top 40 Singles and EP’s of year. There was a lot to choose from, and I am sure I overlooked and forgot several releases that would otherwise be included on this list. I opted out of the painstaking process of ranking these singles and EPs, so the bands are in alphabetical order. If I had to choose though, Romero probably would be my #1 pick, followed by Hard Action, Civic. Click below on read more to go to the list. I’ve included short explanations and my favorite song of each single/EP, either with a bandcamp embed or a video. If you like what you hear, just click on the title and AddToWantlist. There is an almost complete Spotify playlist of the releases at the bottom of this post – six are currently not on that platform.

New song: The Shop Window || Sad Eyes

It’s always nice when an artist not only makes good music, but also embraces a bigger idea. As The Shop Window (UK) does. The art work of the five songs they have released so far have the same layout (including the band name mirrored) and the Spotify playlists of the band members are “shop windows” of their favorite tracks. But I certainly appreciate their jangly indie pop too, especially this new song Sad Eyes.  After an impressive visit to his 104-year-old grandmother, composer Carl Mann reached for his guitar as soon as he got home and this song wrote itself (video on YouTube). Beautiful. Unfortunately, this track will not be on the forthcoming album The State Of Being Human, due out in the spring, but is now available digitally and will be released early 2021 on 7 ”vinyl through Spinout Nuggets.

‘I see you sitting in your chair // Waiting there, watching time // All you have now is the past // The future has gone beyond your grasp’

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Music Year-End List || Niek’s Favorite Albums of 2020

I am a sucker for year-end lists. They help uncover releases I missed, artists I overlooked, and curators worth following. I equally love the process of creating my own lists. There is an instrinsic value and joy in revisiting and reflecting on the records that come out each year. It offers a reminder that some records take time to appreciate, while others’ immediate appeal ultimately proved to be short-lived. One noticable trend in this streaming age is that artists release a crazy amount of great songs, whereas their albums often fail to live up to that promise. Quite a lot of my favorite songs of the year were on releases I left out my top 50. This top 50 celebrates the art of great collections of songs, records I own, records that are on my wantlist,records I’ve played and enjoyed front to back. What about those great individual songs? I will share my favorites in a playlist before the year is over (Update: I made two). I will also publish a list of my favorite singles (7″, digital) and EP’s of 2020 next week (Update: it’s here). And, of course, don’t forget to check out Dennis’ favorite records of 2020.

Ok, less talk, more rock. Below you’ll find my favorite records of the year. Mostly punk, garage, powerpop, rock-‘n’-roll, indiepop and indierock releases.  I’ve added short descriptions of what I love about each record, and sample songs and video’s. If you like what you hear, just click on the album title and AddToWantlist. Oh yeah, and for you streamers out there, there’s a playlist with my favorite song of each record at the bottom of this post. Let’s go!

Music Year-End List || Dennis’ Favorite Albums of 2020

OK, let’s start with the obligatory cliché intro text. The only good thing about 2020 was that by being at home more often you could listen to even more music and for those who want to hear it, enough good music has been made. Since January I have checked out 1,100+ new albums. Sometimes after half a minute I knew it wasn’t for me, sometimes I just couldn’t get enough. No doubt I missed a few things that I should not have missed, but right now this is what it is. And it doesn’t really matter either. Music lists are by definition debatable, because they say something about taste and taste is personal. What follows does not really say anything about quality, but simply reflects what I have played and enjoyed the most. In my list guitars and distinctive voices predominate, it’s mostly rock orientated (alternative, garage, jangle, roots, post-punk, …) plus a little bit of soul, with both debuting bands and old rockers with renewed energy who could have been their grandfather. It turns out that 2020 was not that bad at all!

New album: Veronica Bianqui || Veronica Bianqui

I totally forgot about Veronica Bianqui. So, when I heard the opening track of her just released self-titled debut, two things came to mind. One, I freaking love this song. And two, I know this song! I am referring to If Love’s a Gun, a song she released  5 (!) years ago. What took her so long? In this Buzzbands.la interview she talks about finding her voice, and dealing with personal loss and heartbreak, In spite of these struggles, this is a very confident sounding debut. Veronica’s songs are instantly likeable, but leave plenty to discover upon further listens. Veronica has an amazing voice, and these songs are pop enough and strong enough to katapult her into stardom.
Update: Almost Halloween Time Records has a limited edition of 50 copies with individually designed and hand drawn sleeves.


Add to Wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New song: Fantastic Mister Zguy || I Want You In My Bed (feat. Th Da Freak)

Because I sometimes listen to Th Da Freak, Spotify presented me a new track by Fantastic Mister Zguy (a new name for me) featuring the slacker hero in my Release Radar last Friday. After a few spins I still don’t know what to think about it, except that it’s a very catchy song (whoohoo!). The chorus I Want You In My Bed in combination with Margaux Jaudinaud’s not so serious graphics gave me a flashback to a provocative donor recruiting campaign from 10+ years ago, with a photo of an almost naked young woman and the text “Becoming a donor is probably your only chance to get inside her” (don’t ask why I remember that and forget important things). But if you come from France and call yourself Fantastic Mister Zguy or Th Da Freak, you may have qualities that give you more opportunities than that to live up to the song title. 😉

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp (no release information about this track available yet)

New Album: Adele & The Chandeliers – First Date

Adele & The Chandeliers is a new project by Adele Pickvance of Go-Betweens fame. Adele’s bass-playing is a driving force on their debut First Date, which consists of ten groovy radio friendly post-punk tunes with dashes of 60’s pop, soul and power pop. Pre-order now at Pretty Olivia Records (Spain).


Add to Wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: lylyly || lylyly

Pretty much everything about this is intriguing. First of all, the band name Lylyly, of course, but also the singing style of frontwoman Emily Mineo, lyrics like I Thought That I Was Dying (Same As Yesterday) and the self-drawn artwork of the self-titled LP, even the name of the label – goodhowareyou records – intrigues. Check interviews with Rawckus or Vents Magazine if you want to know more, but better: take a listen and let the music speak for itself.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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