Hello everybody! Happy first day of December! We are one month away from 2020. HALLELUJAH!!! So I am back with another monthly favorites. November was kind of interesting because I was actually struggling with finding some good music. Luckily good music started rolling in around the halfway point. Let’s talk about some of that good music, starting with the honorable mentions.
Singles Honorable Mentions
Your Old Droog – Pravda: If you’re a fan of lyrical rap check out this posse cut. Your Old Droog got a combination of great underground artists and some legends on this joint. This track has Mach-Hommy, The God Fahim, El-P from Run The Jewels, and Black Thought from the Roots. There was no way this song was going to be bad with this insane line up. Each person has a great verse. I really like the beat as well. It is very chill and classy. Give this track a listen.v
MAVI – SMH: To be honest I am not the biggest MAVI fan, but this single really impressed me. My biggest complaint about MAVI’s music is that he doesn’t differentiate himself from his influences. He usually sounds a lot like Earl Sweatshirt or MIKE, but MAVI switches things up on “SMH”. He sounds very lively. His flows are insane. This man is just rapping his ass off on a soulful beat. I have always been a fan of the beats he raps over. I really hope MAVI can rap like this for an entire project. If he can, then that project will for sure be amazing.
Rina Sawayama – LUCID: So the day after Rina Sawayama got snubbed from a Grammy nomination, she decides to drop a single reminding everybody why she deserves a Grammy. This pop banger has a great danceable beat. I love the bouncy production. I think the lyrics are very cool. Rina lucid dreaming just to see her dream girl is pretty endearing. Although Rina didn’t show off her vocal prowess, her singing is always great. Rina seems to never disappoint.
Album Honorable Mentions
Ligier Countach – Flying Cars: Indie Pong’s very own George Folz made a collaborative album with Sean Lunch called Flying Cars. This is Ligier Countach’s debut album and it’s honestly pretty good. I am a huge fan of aggressive sounding production. We get plenty of that on this album. This instrumental album is very trippy. I love how loud and abrasive each track is. I know that they are currently working on the next album, so I can’t wait to check it out. Go give this album some love. It is worth checking out!
Goodie Mob – Survival Kit: This album is for anybody who misses late 90’s/early 2000’s southern hip hop. It’s been a minute, but Goodie Mob is finally back. In this album, Goodie Mob reflects on America’s political climate at the moment. They rap about serious issues like racism, police brutality, and social injustice. Of course, they sound very mad on every track. The production has that classic southern hip hop feel. They even got Chuck D from Public Enemy and Outkast on the album. Well Andre 3000 and Big Boi are on different tracks, but at least they are on the same album. This all results in some amazing hip hop music. Don’t sleep on this album.
Kali Uchis – Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios): This might not be my album of the month, but it is most certainly the sexiest album of the month. Hell, it might be the sexiest album of the year. Kali continues to prove how versatile she is by dropping her first mostly spanish album. On this album we not only get some of Kali’s best songs, but we also get to listen to some of her best singing in her career. I really like how diverse the track list is. You might get an alternative R&B song on one track and reggaetón on the next track. She is very talented. I honestly think I am falling in love. This is amazing!
Favorite Song of the Month
System Of A Down – Genocidal Humanoidz: I chose this song as my favorite song of the month mostly because of nostalgia. What can I say, I really love this band. I discovered their music after they broke up, so I never thought I would experience new SOAD music. Luckily that is not the case because they dropped two tracks in hopes to bring awareness to the horrible situation going on in Armenia. Even though I liked their other single, “Protect The Land”, I chose “Genocidal Humanoidz” because they deliver their message in an angrier way. This track sounds like a classic SOAD record. They didn’t lose their touch. If you miss SOAD as much as I have, go enjoy their new singles.
Favorite EP of the Month
JPEGMAFIA – EP!: JPEGMAFIA is one of my favorite experimental rappers at the moment. Peggy has been blessing us all year by dropping several singles. After dropping “LAST DANCE!”, which didn’t end up on the EP for some reason, on streaming services, he decided to turn these singles into a short EP. Each track has weird and kooky production. I really like how diverse each song is. There are some mellow tracks and there are also some aggressive cuts. He could be rapping his ass off on a track and singing his ass off on the next track. This EP is currently only on bandcamp, but every song is on every streaming service. Also, every track has a music video, so there is no excuse to not listen to this EP!
Favorite Album of the Month
Aesop Rock – Spirit World Field Guide: I have already reviewed this album on Indie Pong, so check out my article if you want a more thorough explanation on why I love this album. I will say this, there is a reason why people consider Aesop Rock as one of the best lyricists of all time. This album is lyrically dense. I love this album’s concept. I think especially in 2020 we all need a survival guide. Let me not forget to mention that the production off of this album is out of this world. This album has it all! Great album! I recommend it.
These are my monthly favorites! Let me know what you have been listening to!
UK’s Haken has returned with “Virus”, a thematic and conceptual follow up to their 2018 album, “Vector”, with references to classic tracks like “Cockroach King” from 2013’s “The Mountain”. Their new album and sixth overall, is one of their finest albums to date. Haken began work on “Virus” back when writing “Vector” in 2017 and the timely title was purely coincidental with the current pandemic. Serving as both a terrific new album for fans and a great entry point for those just beginning their journey with the band, “Virus” captures the band in peak creative form.
What I’ve really come to appreciate with Haken’s output is their refusal to stay in one lane for too long. Similarly to bands like Between the Buried and Me and Leprous, every album since their debut pushes them further both in terms of technicality, songwriting and even genre. While “Affinity” is a hard album to top for me personally (and is one of my favorite prog metal albums period), the band is really doing some incredible work on “Virus” and they deserve to net an even bigger audience with this one. Haken has created a story arc that expands across multiple albums but it still manages to feel contained and fresh.
First track and single, “Prosthetic”, absolutely rips. This is one of Haken’s heaviest tracks to date. The chorus is catchy and I love vocalist Ross Jennings’ work here. The guitar solo is also top-notch. This opening section gives me strong “Honor Thy Father” vibes. While Haken has always clearly had some inspiration from Dream Theater (and let’s be honest, what prog band in the last decade or so doesn’t), they’ve always found unique ways to sprinkle their influences in.
Next up is “Invasion” and one of the other singles released prior to album launch. This track is really hooky and has several really tasty riffs. I’m particularly fond of when the vocals kick in at the beginning. The chorus is also catchy and there is some great interplay between Connor Green on bass, Richard Henshall and Charlie Griffiths on guitars and Raymond Hearne on drums throughout.
The third track, “Carousel”, might be my favorite track on the album. It features excellent vocals from Ross but I also really dig the structure and sound here. It goes in unpredictable directions and features excellent musicianship from all members. I particularly love where it goes around the four minute mark. Also, that absolutely stunning segment a little after the seven minute mark. This is probably unintentional, but nonetheless, I appreciate the lyric regarding “sinking in the mire” which reminded me of the vastly underappreciated track, “Beneath The Mire”, by Opeth. Regardless, “Carousel” is Haken crafting one of their best songs to date.
The fourth track, “The Strain”, reminds me of a few tracks from “Affinity”, mainly “Red Giant” and “The Endless Knot”. It certainly sets itself apart though. While this song took the longest to sink in for me, over the many listens, it has finally opened up for me. I particularly like the section in the middle of the song where Ross sings “When did we make our peace, violence?” The outro is also a strong finish to the song.
The fifth track, “Canary Yellow”, gives me chills. Really epic and beautiful all in the span of four minutes. The ending of this one is truly amazing and I can’t wait to hear it live. I may be alone here but parts of this track remind me of the song, “The Garden”, from Rush.
Also, they produced another music video for this track and it’s really wonderful too. It reminds me a little of Jess Cope’s videos for Steven Wilson, which is to say, this video is gorgeous.
The behemoth “Messiah Complex” follows and this is one of the bands best long tracks. They’ve consistently had at least one lengthy track since their debut, “Aquarius”, and while it isn’t their longest, it’s a great mix of what Haken does best. It also references “The Mountain”, in the lyrics and songwriting. I also appreciate what Diego Tejeida is doing on keyboards during this song (and throughout the album). He is a balanced player that can be front and center one moment and then he will layer thoughtful and subtle keys underneath the rest of the band members. Anyhow, this song comes to a momentous close and will surely become part of the bands setlists in the future.
The final track, “Only Stars”, is short and sweet. It wraps up both “Virus” and previous album, “Vector”, beautifully. It’s reminiscent of “The Path Unbeaten”, which though that was a bonus track on “The Mountain”, tied everything up neatly.
Haken worked once again with Adam Nolly Getgood on the mix and in my opinion, this is one of their best sounding albums. If you enjoyed “Virus”, I also highly recommend checking out the instrumental mixes that come with the deluxe edition as it’s a real treat to hear all the layers underneath the vocals.
“Virus” is now available digitally on ITunes and Amazon, while the deluxe physical edition can be found on Century Media’s site.
I would normally list them from 50-1 for suspense… but meh whatever I’m putting it in order to go with the playlist (*non-precedential basis).
1. ‘Flight319’ – 070 Shake
Yeah I mean, just listen to it. Low key, it’s one of my pet peeves when people over-describe sounds on blogs. Love to all bloggers, but we can hear how buttery smooth these vocals/this production is for ourselves, so pls don’t overexplain. Then again, I can be guilty from time to time.
Anyways song of the year, not even that hard of a decision. Give number 2 some time (and possibly some free range roaming time AKA end of quarantine) and we’ll see.
2. ‘Comme Des Garçons (Like the Boys)’ – Rina Sawayama
Dude I wish I could link to the straight up obesssion blog I wrote about Rina Sawayama, but I got lazy and wrote half of it and never posted it. If I had a strict boss I would probably have posted it right when the album came out, but alas. Rina is a fellow J-woman (I’m not a woman but she’s a fellow J-person) and her album was so unbelievably good that I texted a friend who’s a diehard member of the Charli army Rina>Charli and he went tf off at me. Pretty wild, mildly racist (as I’m something of a J-man myself actually) but that’s how passionate I am about this straight up-don’t need verification- best pop album of the year. And I’m a huge Charli fan.
3. ‘Fog’ – Termination Dust
Let’s goooooo. Come on. If I could will one song to just blow tf up right now it would be this one. Come tf on. This is a voice. It mixes familiar sounds into a new blend that exudes an unfamiliar and totally original voice. This is gold and it deserves applause.
4. ‘Gaudí’ – Capicua
My goodness gracious, that wool bodysuit. Give me a break! So cool. Here’s a frame:
NSFW for… “YARN NUDITY?!?!?!?!?!” HAHAHAHAHA- just kidding, I already wrote this in an older article here. I also said the poignant words “This track by the Portugese rapper Capicua is an awesomely honest look at the feeling of getting bored with the repetition or everyday life, and how that uneasy feeling can be subsided with a little art and creativty. Lyrics here.“
Basically the chorus is “paste some little sticks together and make a Gaudi”. Love this one to death.
5. ‘No Interruptions’ – Betty Mae
This is just too smooth. I had the pleasure of speaking with Betty who shared with me the scope of the things to come, and trust me, there are big things coming. Watch out for the EP coming out soon- Bitch I’ve Grown.
I quite frankly don’t understand how this is not the number one song in the country- this is a get up and jump up and down kind of song. This one is a ClassyCassie special, she’s just such an absolute force (both Caroline and ClassyCassie).
8. ‘Live Like We’re Dancing’ – Mura Masa, Georgia
Alright, I’m a guilty boy. I chose not to include this on the Indie Pong Weekly Playlist at the beginning of the year and it haunts me everyday. My initial critique was that it didn’t have an impactful enough drop at the chorus which has reverberated in my head all year as I’ve listened to this song on repeat for it’s absolutely gorgeous construction and timeless lyrics. Mura Masa really is a master and Georgia really is the next big thing.
I think this is what my mom was talking about when she said that she likes a lot of the songs on the Indie Pong playlist until she sees what they’re called and/or the album art. Sorry mom, I’m a post-dick circle f*ck kind of guy I guess. This song has been a regular for me all year, a unique voice, unique sound, and unique bright spot by way of brooding wallow rock that has done it’s circle dick-est to stand out this year.
11. ‘Garden’ – GLEAN
My biggest question is whether or not someone from this band is from Evanston (where I’m from) because they have a song on their EP called Evanston. Regarding this song itself, I have no questions. It slays, I love it, I put it hard, life goes hard. Simple.
12. ‘Drifted Apart’ – Nafeesisboujee, Becca
This Nafeesisboujee track has that light and airy vibe that makes you feel like you’re flying, gliding, driving a boat at 200 mph, etc. Straight up vibes on this bedroom pop jam from the 16 (maybe 17 now) year old from South Africa.
13. ‘People, I’ve Been Sad’ – Christine and the Queens
I don’t usually do this because I love to respect the integrity of and admire the final cut of a track, but Christine so absolutely nails this live version that I thought I’d just go ahead and indulge myself. Really unbelievable track.
14. ‘The Sun Is Up Forever’ – Joesef
Yeah, this song is just about perfect. Big promise in this UK act, don’t be surprised to see a big jump sometime soon.
15. ‘Good News’ – Mac Miller
I think my brother said it best that Mac cares so much about every little detail on his albums. When you listen to Swimming you can really tell that every note is where it is for a meticulous reason and that the soul-smiling orchestra of a result is no accident. R.I.P. Mac.
16. ‘I Go Out At Night’ – Ratboys
Anyone who knows me knows I’m an absolute night person, so this one has some special relevance to me teehee. Also earning a soft spot from me for being Chicago natives, Ratboys are a perennial favorite of mine. It seems like every year they come back with another hitter without losing a step. My other two favorites are You’ve Changed and Elvis In The Freezer which is a top song of the decade for me.
17. ‘Colder & Closer’ – TOPS
The four piece band from Montreal released this absolute BANGER. TOPS stands for their names… (?)? I don’t know. But damn this song hits.
^Sorry I’m like the worst journalist ever. The song construction and production are absolutely stellar, don’t feel like there’s too much I need to see here when it hits it hits! And you know what they say, behind ever great journalist is a great… song… (?)?… nevermind.
18. ‘Cry’ – San Mei
Australian artist San Mei presents dream pop at its best here on Cry, easily the best dream pop song of the year so far. But San Mei isn’t just a dream pop artist, she brings a fresh voice to the table and makes tracks that absolutely slap.
19. ‘forces’ – D. Femi
This dude is from Grand Rapids (I think? It’s impossible to find anything on this guy, even for a Chet Gecko music blog detective like myself) and released this heater reminiscent of the rap days of our childhood, those easy going but hard hitting mixtape days where having a mixtape on the internet made you famous. Excited to see where this dude’s career goes, love this track.,
20. ‘Unavailable’ – Joey LaBeija
I haven’t been doing this but I’m going to throw the album cover up on here, because it’s so fire:
Haunting, just love it. This song is amazing. I think it’s an a testament to this song’s slapitude that it’s got a straight music nerd like me singing that “I love men, that are unavailable” on the daily. And damn just listen to that production, this is one of those special tracks for sure.
21. ‘Visions’ – Charli XCX
Daaaaaaaaamn Charli! I’m going to do a separate post about this album (because it’s amazing and the pop AOTY and very likely AOTY in general) so I’ll keep this brief, but I listened to this whole album and then when the hardstyle part hit at the very end (this is the last track on the album) it shaped the whole thing for me, and I proceeded to listen to it 5 more times that day (the whole album). In love with this one.
22. ‘Transcendental Access Point’ – Eris Drew
This song basically describes an entire feeling that comes over me from time to time, that good time groovy elated feeling you get on vacation. Love this track, love dancing to it even more.
23. ‘Alive’ – Hanni El Khatib
This song is sick, love the vid too. Killer track from the California native.
I get some real reinvigorated best of 2000s indie from Milo Gore, and I love it.
26. ‘Gospel For A New Century’ – Yves Tumor
This song is like turning into a werewolf and walking through a busy town square in colonial age Massachusetts and being scrutinized by the uppity townspeople.
Also, sweet ass video.
27. ‘NOBODY’ – COUCOU CHLOE
This song’s that feel after a long night out when you’re struttin’ around the empty streets of downtown walking to Subway (the restaurant) and feelin’ yourself and some dude walks by you and you’re ready to kick his ass if he so much as coughs.
28. ‘Bad Friend’ – Rina Sawayama
I’m a great friend so I can’t relate to this song, ask anyone I’m such a great friend. Damn it slaps, I just wish I could relate to it more because I’m such a great friend everyone always says it.
29. ‘Direction’ – Cody Currie, Joel Holmes
Fire house track, Toy Tonics is so hot right now. Also, best logo in the electronic music scene?
30. ‘B Cool Janet’ – Cheap Synths
Cheap Synths blowing up! Pretty sure they just did an Apple ad. This song is easily one of the biggest bangers of the year, total standout. In fact the whole album is full of straight bops.
They also make great videos, be sure to look out for some “special guests” in this one ;).
31. ‘Dance For Me’ – Superjava
Daaaaaaaaaaannncccceeee for meeeeeeeeeee. Straight up dance banger. I will dance for Superjava.
32. ’24 Hours’ – Georgia
Yeah Georgia’s the new queen, get ready to bow down she’s going straight to the top- I’m talking Sia level. You heard it here fi- probably not first she’s already blowing up but yeah you heard it here fam.
33. ‘Maura’ – Wednesday
This is pretty much the best album of the year in my opinion. I wrote about it AT LENGTH already so you can read about it here. But this straight killer track, which Wednesday crushed in their live Instagram show (after me and a few other people requested it over and over again teehee), is only one piece of an unparalleled fresh new indie album with decade long lasting power.
34. ‘Don’t Sleep’ – Alice Ivy, BOI, imbi the girl
This song goes hard af, a great example of the meme ClassyCassie posted:
This is sort of an Australia pong dream collab (link Australia pong article) between Alice Ivy (link) and imbi the girl (link), in addition to BOI who kills it, and it does not disappoint.
Also, the dance in this video is tight af, Jen, Cassie, and I might have to learn this on the next video podcast.
35. ‘Best Interest’ – Tyler The Creator
Damn I’m realizing now that got released in YouTube in 2019, but the official release was in 2020 so leave me alone haters.
You guys should check out my Grammys article where I talk about Tyler’s win and how it was the highlight of the night, also because it took me like twenty minutes to make this gif for it:
Are people using this gif? Is that how the internet works, you just make a gif and people start using it? Hopefully it’s doing some good out there in the world, my little gif.
When this bass drops it’s just crazy. I’m a sucker for these relationship/breakup duets, but this one especially ascends.
38. ‘First Grade’ – Max Leon
Yeah just sit back and enjoy this one. What a cathartic pop listen, just let your problems get lost in that smooth smooth voice.
In First Grade my teacher used to play guitar for the class, THAT’S how you build an audience. I’m sitting there wanting to listen to Kraftwerk and Ryuichi Sakamoto and Ms. Hiller made me listen to her cover “The Magic Schoolbus” or whatever tf was going on- what was I going to walk out? And lose stickers? Forced engagement.
39. ‘lay low’ – LHĒON
I love this song. This song makes me feel like I’m in the first half of the third act of a commercially attractive drama where the character is doing all of the things she/he used to do with significant other alone now, and its not the same, and presumably realizes that maybe the flaws weren’t that bad, and that he/she has flaws as well. Hope it works out for them in this hypothetical situation (spoiler: it does).
40. ‘anthem for a washed up 90s sitcom actor (or someone with the flu)’ – thanks for coming
I covered this album in depth here (one of my favorites of the year), but this song could easily be retitled ‘anthem for Mates sitting at home during the quarantine and wondering why he isn’t getting more creative endeavors done since he finally has the free time he finally asked for also why aren’t you having more fun Mates also is playing MVP 05 on Gamecube really a good use of your time also do you really need another bagel?
41. ‘Bye Bye Summer’ – Aseul
These synths get me every time, this is not only a buttery smooth dreamy pop ballad, it’s also just a driving force on an awesome all around album that I highly recommend. Korea’s Aseul has really delivered so far this year, and we’re excited to see what she does next.
42. ‘Take Me Back’ – Lola Scott
Straight hitter, so much talent.
43. ‘Story’ – Magdalena Bay
Miami natives making bangers.
44. ‘For Old Times Sake’ – Vaughan Supple, Jenny J
This EP is incredible. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Vaughan so there will be a more detailed rundown of this EP, but the plain and simple is that it’s 50s inspired (as you can hear) and that it’s a bold and articulate statement on growing up and conformity. Take a listen for yourself, it’s great.
45. ‘DAMAGE SUPPRESSOR’ – Black Dresses
This should come as no surprise, as everyone who knows me knows that Black Dresses are pretty much my favorite band of the past two years. I bought a shirt, which you can see me rocking in our new video podcast/quarantine drinking game which hasn’t even been BLOGGED about yet, just uploaded it an hour ago.
Anyways, Love And Affection For Stupid Little Bitches is one of the best albums of last year easy, and Black Dresses always pushes the envelope with a completely unique blend of brash and emotionally soul-bearing noise that hits your heart from all sides every time you listen.
46. ‘Garden Party’ – Roman Flügel
When my friend Christian first introduced me to Roman Flugel, I never thought I’d get something this just straight up juicy. All of Roman’s stuff is awesome, ranging from more on the housey side to more on the intellectual dance music side. This one is a straight up party starter, love every second of it.
47. ‘I Just Want To Look At You’ – Eilish Gilligan
I love Eilish and The Pull is one of the most gorgeous songs I’ve ever heard, so I was stoked to hear this one. Seriously think she can do no wrong.
48. ‘Cortex’ – Aunty Social
This song just feels new. Totally innovative and different. And when she hits that one part, clear my schedule.
49. ‘Morceaux de toi’ – Malory, Yseult
I recently went for a long drive along the water, and I literally couldn’t listen to anything but this. Possibly the best driving song of all time, definitely of the year.
50. ‘Eyes Of My Mind’ – Axel Boman
Well, let’s just disregard for a second that Axel and Kornell Kovacs throw the best party on earth. And let’s just disregard that Axel’s ABBA 002 (or whatever the official title is) is very possibly my favorite house track of all time. Let’s just focus on this song, and what a beauty it is.
Thanks for joining us, it’s been a great year so far and can’t wait to hear what’s to come! Don’t forget to follow us on social media for weekly updates of the best new tunes!