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📸: Dingbat Superminx!
20 Hits from the Bay Area, all in a row.
Part 2 is next week.
Special mention should be made for all the great I Luv Mondays bands who aren't on this list. I love your songs!
Top 40 of 2019, Part 1: Song by Song
Margalee, “Earth Song”:
Q: Is this a hundred year old standard? I feel I’ve known it my whole life.
A: No, but if you seek answers, cast your mind toward the real questions: “Did you know it’s possible/ to die while you’re still alive?/ Are you a frustrated ghost/ to the lives you’ve never tried?”
Dingbat Superminx, “Hurt for the Hits”: The meta-insouciance of Dingbat Superminx’s soundtrack-for-a-dance-routine Public Luxury turns out, upon repeated listens, to be all heart: the hits of the bay area are hits of the heart, and pain is worth expressing however we need.
The World, “White Radish”: If writing about music is like dancing about vegetables, count me fucking in.
Torrey, "Sister": Uncommonly coherent, all textures so mellifluous, and then in that middle-eight breakdown there’s mischief and fuckery, then it’s over fast and it’s like wait who are these people?!
MaHaWam, “Hoping No One Notice”: It feels ridiculous to put my own words before the lyrics, take this song with you wherever you go. MaHaWam sings “you secretly fear it” and I just nod like damn, totally.
Andy Human & the Reptoids, “Echo Pedal”: Hard to pick just one from anti-capitalist burner Psychic Sidekick, but “Echo Pedal” piles on the cathartic metaphors-- “such a steal”, “sold in safe ways”, and the recursive, distorting power of the echo pedal itself.
Preening, “Work Policy”: The stultifying effects of work on one’s time and self-definition ride this agile ‘n’ noisy trio’s comings and goings, and highs and lows, in the here and now.
Peony Rad, “I Want To Break My Back”: The Peony Rad project provided an under-discussed pocketful of moments! With Madeline Kenney it’s not so much about an artist ‘willing to try anything’ but rather someone whose specific directions so often surprise and delight me.
Wyatt Smith, “Trash”: Riding the big beat, the passage of days and its pleasures mix with the interior self, and the ominous thought.
Jay Stone, “Good Seat” feat. Queens D. Light and Dahi Divine: You ever think about literally everything? Jay and Queens D. have some ideas.
Smokin’ Ziggurats, “Stuck”: The riff manifests from the ether and the verse cruises with ease before giving way to a declaration, and finally an effacing revelation: that of not, personally, going anywhere.
Mariee Sioux, “Baby Wave”: The most moved I get all year, it makes me cry, what else is there to say.
K Skelton, “California Dreamin’”: You live in California long enough, sooner or later this song will happen to you.
The Umbrellas, “Visions”: This is what happens when you dare the gods with shit like “Playing the Hits of the Bay Area.” Pure Pop for Now People.
Freak No Hitter, “Jesus Christ: Reloaded”: I listened to this song every day for a month and it felt GREAT.
Rays, “California”: Rays comes out swinging your hips as usual before building a grievance that rises to encompass centuries of truth, land theft and manufactured consent.
Spellling, “Under the Sun”: Spellling’s formal depth and kitchen-sink attitude beg a comparison: if in the early 1980’s Stevie Wonder had taken his sonic worlds and nature-spiritual perspectives into gothic new wave soundscapes. Spellling's introduction of the main theme to "Under the Sun" is one of 2019’s best musical moments.
Club Night, “Path”: This is ecstatic music.
Psychic Hit, “Fortune’s Wheels”: Bold guitar lines, epic song construction, motorbikes, and the self-actualization of believing in heavy metal on its original terms. When Ariana Jade sings “I want to live and breathe more easily,” I feel that.
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