Jangle 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!

New album: Neil Brogan || Weird Year

Anyone who likes jangle pop is probably familiar with the Irish band Sea Pinks (otherwise listen to Art Imitating Life, for example). Neil Brogan, their founder / songwriter / singer / guitarist, has now also released a (digital) solo album. Weird Year is a song diary of the weird year 2020. It was recorded at home as the months slipped away, a period of cancellations, miscommunications and garden visits. Fortunately, this alienating time has resulted in a nice retrospective. However, let’s hope 2021 will be less weird and indeed brings some cheers.

‘The inverse of what’s real and within touching // is what’s there to fear // not for nothing // do I hold you // So dear.’

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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!

New EP: Hobby || Hobby

Now that was an original way to announce a name change: last year this five-piece band from Paris released a split tape with themselves – the A side under the new name Hobby was called After, the B side under their previous moniker Deaf Parade was called Before. And now there is a new EP from Hobby (‘not professionally and not for pay’) with four tracks, just called Hobby, although none of the songs are titled Hobby. The co-release of Hidden Bay Records (vinyl) and RDS REC HH (tape) offers an interesting combination of slacker jangle and alternative rock with a 90’s feel.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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: Bootchy Temple || In Consummated Bloom

Bootchy Temple are Milia Colombani, Sam Roux, Luc Martin, Paul Trigoulet and Martin Meilhan-Bordes. Here is the new album from the French band, featuring 12 songs with dreamy Paisley Underground jangle. Music on which sea horses mate. The LP is out now on Howlin’ Banana Records and Safe In The Rain Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Safe In The Rain Records ‎|| Howlin’ Banana 

New album: Permits || Time Permits

What happens if members of The Shifters, Pop Singles, Dag and Chook Race, come together to see what can be made of abandoned songs, left over from each member’s various projects? That’s exactly what Tristan Davies, Tam Matlakowski, Dusty Anastassiou and Rob Remedios did in June 2018, and the result can now be heard. The Melbourne ‘superb-group’ Permits sounds like you would expect from the combination of backgrounds of the band members: ‘a wonky VU-bentism,’ in their own words. Their debut album Time Permits is out today on Tenth Court.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Tenth Court 

New album: The Spunloves || Too Deep For The Desert

Another band from Australia, Perth to be precise, who make delicious likeable jangly guitar music. What’s in the water over there? Too Deep For The Desert, The Spunloves’ second full length album is one you would love to play again and again. Listen to Love Letter (Return to sender) below, my favorite track from the LP.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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