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The Music of 2018: Quarter 1

Note: this is a queued post.

January
1. Jewel/Tristan Prettyman - Free

Be strong, but not too tough
Have an opinion, but not too much
Be glamorous, be the girl next door
There's so many rules, you know, I can't keep score


I was roaming about eMusic, trying desperately to find something to spend my leftover cash on, and it didn't have the Prettyman song I wanted but did have this one. It has a much more bluegrass/folk sound than I generally like, but I like both women enough, on top of not having found any new music for over 3 weeks, to go all in. Now I adore it. (Though I am unclear if the Anya Marina credited as the main artist on YouTube is actually singing or just being like that guy who claims credit for Sia's "Titanium")

2. Kristy Hanson – Brand New Day
If nothing's given, nothing can be lost

See above. Name recognition sold this; one play and, much like that album of hers I recced last time, I was immediately awash in happiness at the sound of her voice and general musical stylings.

Then, driven mad by having BASICALLY NO NEW MUSIC, I went on a frenzied quest in three different territories (Spotify's Discover Weekly, public library, and eMusic) looking for more, and within two weeks the songs had come rolling in. Hardest I've ever had to work to stock my New Delights playlist, though.

February
3. Keri Noble - Red Eye Flight
I'm coming home on a Saturday night
I changed my whole damn schedule for a red eye flight
To get home before the first light
So I can be there when you open your eyes


Fast-paced and driving, just how I like my songs*.

4. Keri Noble - I Will Love Me
Especially when I have fallen
So far down
I'll do better next time around


*Except when I like them a bit slower, but full of positive self esteem messages. (As an aside, as I will remind you again now and for eternity, this is the awesome singer who is now a local radio host I listen to on the regular)

5. Aoife O'Donovan – Detour Sign
Blue in the heart, blue in the face
Black and blue from running this race
Blue is the color that you must embrace


I had rejected 20 songs straight on Discover Weekly, increasingly disillusioned, until this one's music immediately bent my ear, followed by soft and folksy vocals.

6. Jessica Riddle – Even Angels Fall
Found true love, lost your heart
Now you don't know who you are


The above was followed in short order by this one, which kicked off with enjoyable radio-friendly pop sounds, and then I looked it up and oh look at this, a singer-songwriter from 1999. Why has it taken 18 years to get to me, I don't know, but WELCOME TO THE FOLD WITH MY OTHER FOUNDING MOTHERS AND MADEMOISELLES OF MUSIC. Gonna hunt for this at the Half Price Clearance sale come October.

7. Tamar Kaprelian – New Day
It took a crash to understand
Time kept slipping through my hands


BOY does this chorus sound a lot like Joy Williams' Say Goodbye, musically and lyrically, just faster -- compare "say goodbye, say goodbye, to the you I knew before / say hello, say hello to a new beginning" to this song's "say goodbye, say goodbye to the way I was before / say hello, say hello to a new way." But that is also how it immediately bent my ear, so let's call it okay!

8. Fionn – Skeleton
If eyes are the soul's windows
Then I might as well keep my blinds closed


Swinging and catchy, reminds me a bit of Elle King, but smoother vocals and way less trashy lyrics. Moderately creepy lyrics sometimes, but...there is a good message inside them about not only appreciating physical beauty.

9. Suzanne Vega – Luka
My name is Luka
I live on the second floor
I live upstairs from you
Yes, I think you've seen me before


I checked the CD out for Tom's Diner (which turned out not to be the radio version) and its reprise, but to my pleasant surprise, this second track on the CD was catchy and really bent my ear. I always go in for songs w/ girls' names, and I also really like songs about apartments, for some reason. Only later did I realize it's a song from the POV of a domestic abuse victim. Dang, heavy.

10. Billie Eilish – Ocean Eyes
I've been walking through
A world gone blind
Can't stop thinking of your diamond mind


A high-pitched background-noise sort of song, with vocals that echo in waves. No pun intended.

11. The Accidentals – Odyssey
I trace the night
An architect of shattered sky
And all the things I fear
Fade away with the coming year
A resolution in the chaos that I made


Much like their last song I recced, this one didn't originally stand out in any special particular way, but it was impossible to ignore. And ever so slowly, the incredible, complex and extra-poetic lyrics filtered in. Their writing? It is Good™.

12. The Accidentals – Michigan and Again
And when I packed my bags, coffee stains of jet lag
There were conifers lining the driveway, whispering
"Stay, stay, stay, stay, stay”


YouTube recced this one while I was trying to listen to the above at the library, and wow, what a great song about a place! (Home of the water, Canada's daughter...). I like those as much as girl's names. And of all their songs, this one has the sweetest-sounding voices. Love the cello feature, too. Definitely my favorite of their set so far. Great music video, too.

March
13. The Accidentals -- Sixth Street
A fire escapade for two
An alley serenade in view
Oh, the modern day brigade
The loudest silence ever made
Came printed on the faded page today


The Continuing Adventures of Work at the Library brought me here too. Even greater cello feature! Guys, these met-in-high-school buddies are rapidly becoming my favorite band?

14. Tristan Prettyman - Never Say Never
Now I hear you're back to your old self
And I still can't imagine
Why you take something good like love, like us
And pretend it never happened


I checked out “Cedar + Gold” to get “I Was Gonna Marry You,” found out it was a concept album, tried three times to love it as a whole and could not...but at least found two additional highlights. Starting with this one, which def. made me cry. It's only flaw is roughly 90 seconds of (evidently cathartic) talking at the end, since it's the last track on the CD.

15. Tristan Prettyman - When You Come Down
Even when I know you feel like flying away
Believe me when I tell you that my love hasn't changed


And now, a break from the heavy stuff for this fantastically bouncy song that seems like a radio single.

16. Dua Lipa - New Rules
One, don't pick up the phone
You know he's only calling 'cause he's drunk and alone
Two, don't let him in
You have to kick him out again


It took a long time to fully get into my heart, but as radio has been edging pretty heavily back to “intolerable” territory, this one has been a decent refuge as an imitation version of Marina and the Diamonds' “How to Be A Heartbreaker.”

17. Alice Merton - No Roots
Ask me where I come from, I'll say a different land

Against my better judgment, I'm moving this from "list extra" to "song proper" because I just played it on purpose, but preserving my commentary: This sounds like a song that REALLY WANTS TO BE MY FRIEND; it has some neat lyrics and a good boot-stompin' chorus if you're in the mood for that, but I'm just, like, not feelin it? I can't tell if it's just because having no roots is the literal worst concept to me, or if it's because it's a song that craves to be acoustic and had to get all rouged up with techno for sale to pop radio, or if those effects actually elevate it from the general turn-off of whatever big-voiced genre it reminds me of what it starts, but I have at least found it an increasingly serviceable escape from all the BORING GENERIC DUDE music on the airwaves this season.
============
CD (EP) Rec: Plumb – God Help Me
This was another “trying wildly to spend my leftover eMusic credit” stab in the dark because I like her a lot. I can tell them apart when I'm playing them but not well enough to differentiate any kind of ranking or any that stand out as AMAZING as opposed to “all pretty good,” so you should just play all 5. (I do know that “Fight For You” is super fun and bouncy / my possible fave, though, just for “every story is an arrow pointing north,” Crazy About You is probably in fifth place, and that the title track is one of those “taking a casual expression with God's name in it and interpreting it literally” songs that are my secret fave)

List Extras
a.k.a. “some other songs I do not really like enough to listen to outside a playlist / have not fallen in love with like the above, but cannot bring myself to delete because something about them was palatable enough to provide me with listening fodder in my desperate hours early this year.”

a. Mary Lambert – Jessie's Girl
I wanna tell her that I love her
But the point is probably moot


I have listened to and downloaded this song in so many incarnations it's nearly lost all meaning -- and that's really the only reason it's not numbered, because of this set, it's the clear best -- but this version is slowed down and stripped down and so much more poignant when sung by a woman with all original nouns and pronouns in place.

b. Kenzie Nimmo w/ Harris Heller - Emma's Lullaby
Winds will come and they will blow
They'll try to shake you, but I know
That you'll be just fine


Do I sometimes find it difficult to connect with songs written to/for a young child? Yes. Is this still a soothing and reassuring acoustic number that one could fairly easily apply to other contexts if they were determined enough? Also yes.

c. Erin Bowman - Keep Me Warm
Feels like it must be fifteen degrees
I got my boots with socks up to my knees


Is there too much ukelele? Yes. Does it still sound like the cutest holiday romance novel transformed into a song? Yes again.

d. Molly Kate Kestner – Footprints
You can follow my footprints
But you don't have to fill my shoes
It's just a path for you to follow
If you so choose


Hey speaking of songs I can't connect to when the audience is a kid – and/or a little brother – that plus the slow speed is hampering this one, but at the same time, I really like the message and wording of the chorus?

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