on something new: a 2020 favorites list part one
I am mostly bad at listening to music. I’m late to listening to new releases. I’m incredibly late to listening to sort of “classic” albums. I also obsessively listen to individual tracks hundreds of times in a row and then wonder why I’m so bad at listening to new music. In the 500 times I’ve listened to 12 Steps by Japanese Breakfast this year I could have listened to like… 40 other albums once at least.
But I don’t do that because I like to enjoy my life and I’ll live however I want to.
Pre-quarantine, all I was listening to was Jeff Rosenstock and I went to a few shows that I did not have a good time at because I was struggling with auditory sensitivity that caused me to have panic attacks.
I continue to struggle with that. If anybody has tips on coping with misophonia and auditory sensitivity feel free to respond. This is also a public apology to my roommate who was once listening to Joanna Newsom and it set me off into a 12 hour fit of rage because sounds make me feel bad almost all of the time!
The only show I had a good time at was the Ratboys record release at Lincoln Hall. Advance Base played and Slow Mass played and it was beautiful. I wrote about that for this newsletter. Slow Mass is a band I love and their
Music For Ears 3 was probably the first release of the year I loved. Sure it was deconstructed, alternative versions of songs they’d released before but I don’t think that matters. I bought a bunch of Slow Mass records this year. By that, I mean 5. Music for Ears 2 and 3, Treasure Pains, On Watch, and Music for Rest.
This past Bandcamp Friday I bought
Printers Devil by Ratboys. I thought for some reason I had bought it at the show but I think I chose the poster over it at the time. I love that record a lot and consider Anj probably a top 5 song of the year.
Normally I wouldn’t have bought so much vinyl online but getting things in the mail has become somewhat of a lifeline while I’m incapable of doing anything or leaving the house so I’ve just bought a lot of albums. Usually I just get records at shows or when I come across them at physical record shops. Normally online record shopping is pretty limited to stuff I really, really love that I cannot cope without having. Now I just purchase because I have more money to spend and simply love to get mail!
When it comes to my very favorite albums of the year it’s immediately
Lost in the Country by Trace Mountains. I’ve talked at length about how much I love that record and why. I own two copies of it now which breaks one of my two cardinal rule of buying records:
- Special editions aren’t worth it
- Variants don’t matter
This one is a special edition cover. I like it a lot. I think it’s very funny that Dave Benton drew clothes on them. I won’t do much of a review of this one as you can really just go read my actual review that I linked above but I will tell a story I think is sweet and funny. I bought the special cover version of Lost in the Country directly after posting that newsletter review thing I did of it. At the end I half jokingly asked for someone to send me $60 to do it. My friend James, who I had just given $50 for an article they wrote for a zine I’m making, decided to send me $60 back.
James is a new friend I made this year and even in a world without gigs it’s nice to still feel connection through music I love and have things I own inextricably linked to people I know through music. Maybe that’s an overly sentimental way to look at it but it makes me happy to think about.
miranda @mirandareinertthis is combative @getcerebral
October 22nd 202011 Likes
While I’m talking about reviews, I wrote what I will consider my First Actual Review this year. I am a real music writer. That record was
Dark Comedy Performance Piece of My Life by the lovely Walter, Etc. Dustin sent me the album when I made a call for albums to write about in a zine. That album came out at the end of March but I probably put out the zine like a month and a half before which maybe isn’t ideal but he didn’t seem mad about it. Here’s the excerpt from that zine:
In that same zine, I wrote about the Cheerbleederz EP
Lobotany which remains a wonderful and bright listening experience. Here’s what I said back then about it that I stand by:
Cheerbleederz shares members with no less than Several bands but one of my very favorites was the double EP release of
Triceratops / Stegosaurus. I saw Me Rex play live with their full band lineup, which includes Fresh bandmate Katherine Wood as well as Phoebe Cross and Rich Mandell (both of Happy Accidents), Myles fills the same part of my brain that Los Campesinos! does in that there is so many lyrics I’ll never be able understand how they all feel so dense and so perfect. Every Me Rex song sounds like the feeling of finishing a puzzle. All of their music is densely beautiful. If you check out anything on this narrative list, make it this one. Myles and his partner also have two very good cats that are very cute so that’s also worth looking up.
This year Charmit put out a record called
Cause a Stir that is, simply put, an explosion of anarcho femme punk joy. I wrote a full review of that record for the very first issue of this newsletter and it not only lives in my brain for being so fun and cool and perfect but also because this newsletter has kind of defined my year. If you recently subscribed and thought to yourself “why is this called something old, something new” well it’s because I used to listen to an older, beloved album and a new album and do little reviews. I did this maybe 5 times before it just became a general blog. BUT Charmpit was so wonderful and supportive it made me feel really good. Their music does the same thing. The other album I reviewed for that newsletter was Title Fight’s Shed which is maybe the opposite of “anarcho femme punk joy.”
This year I finally was able to really get into Beach Bunny after many years of internally refusing to listen to them. I blame that stubbornness on internalized misogyny but also a Chicago born hatred of DePaul University that I was taking out on them. This is a formal apology to Beach Bunny.
I really love
Honeymoon and at this point it’s become a record that grew so slowly on me that I don’t think I could pick a favorite song. Each track came slowly into my consciousness and took it over. That’s the best way to get into an album.
Now I will talk about an EP which was actually released last year but got a rerelease this year, has a very similar name to the Beach Bunny record, and I like it a lot so no rules. Oux is another Chicago band made up of Manae Hammond (who also drums in equally lovely and exciting Chicago band Hospital Bracelet) and Indigo Finamore. Between ultra smooth vocals and dark, mesmerizing instrumentals, I was sold on
Honeymood before the end of the first track.
Lots of my favorite things this year ended up being EPs so I’ll talk about another one of those. At the start of the year I put in a zine a sort of call for hoping Normal State would release more music:
And Cove did, in fact, release an EP this year!! This is what the people on twitter refer to as manifesting.
heaven is an infinite cigarette is a beautiful lo-fi trip through loss and addiction in a way only Cove can do. Whether it’s in voice notes or demos or on a release like this, their voice always cuts through to me. If there is any prime example of talent superseding any conventional way to record music, it’s Cove. I love this release and I’ll talk about their talent and songs endlessly.
My very favorite EP release of the year is probably Rose Variety’s
Cactusville. I’m only aware of them through my friend Jackson who exists within the same local scene as them (and also made a zine I put out this year!) Cactusville is kind of like if Joyce Manor was running underwater. It’s lightly distorted kind of emo-kind of punk in exactly the way I really like. Toss in some silly song titles and folks we’ve officially got fifth wave emo I can champion.
At the start of quarantine I remember watching Jeff Rosenstock before anybody else. My boyfriend and I sat in my old apartment watching Jeff jump up and down in his living room on Instagram live. At that point I don’t think live streams felt as sad as they kinda do now. Or maybe that’s just Jeff.
Jeff Rosenstock’s specific brand of loud, frenetic anxiety is well documented and the best in the game. You don’t need me to tell you
NO DREAM rules I just want you to know I like it. ***BNB is maybe the best song put out this year. Silly.
Michelle Zauner and Ryan Galloway released
Pop Songs 2020 and I think it was one of the only other more recent things I’ve tuned into on Instagram Live. This year I’ve kinda sworn off that app entirely. Net positive. But I watched their midnight release live stream and had a really nice time. Pop Songs 2020 is a synth poppy dream punctuated by Michelle Zauner’s airy, perfect voice. My favorite song is Red Brick. I think I like it because the intro sounds like it might be a Christmas song. Not sure why I feel that way. Just do.
I’ve paid for a few live streams this year, too! The first one was for Frankie Cosmos. It was one of those Baby’s All Right streams. It felt different to watch things I paid for (shock) and I preferred it so when more people started doing them, especially in studios or empty venues, I was stoked. My boyfriend and I have used them as an excuse to video chat with friends at a certain time we’ll all reliably stick to because, well, we paid for it. It’s been a really nice thing to do. We all watched the live stream PUP did which was really cool and fun as I got very, very drunk and talked to my cool friends.
I mentioned earlier in this that I bought a lot more vinyl online than I typically would. I also bought a ridiculous amount of PUP merch. Like multi-hundreds of dollars on PUP merch. I don’t really regret it, per se, but I am questioning whether I needed the puzzle. I have never completed a puzzle. Not one time. And that one is a THOUSAND pieces. Maybe I’ll give it to my 101 year old great-grandmother. Maybe she’ll finish it. She finishes puzzles.
Anyway, PUP released
This Place Sucks Ass and it’s good. I think it’s good because PUP is probably my most listened to band outside of Los Campesinos! and it sure does sound like PUP. What could be better than that. I like Nothing Changes and Floodgates best. The record is cool, the zine they did is really cool. More people should do zines.
I have stopped myself from writing extremely overly sentimental things about PUP all year because it does feel a little silly but maybe it’s just made me repressed and so instead I spent all my money on a puzzle and sweatpants and four records and two different prints and … nevermind.
Moving swiftly on to another Canadian band. Gulfer put out an album which gave me a beautiful excuse to spend time on the Topshelf Records website. What a stunning experience from both the album and the website. Be Father off Dog Bless is one of my very favorite songs so I was excited about their self titled. Happy to report that emo is cool and
Gulfer proves it. God that band’s cool. I don’t really have anything of value to say about the record and for that I’m sorry. I will say that watching my old roommate post Gulfer screenshots for the last several months has brought me so much joy.
I am an influencer except I only influence my close friend Meghan.
Anyway, they did an audiotree int’l that rules and you should listen to it so here’s that!
We are in the home stretch of my run down of the year— we’re also in my hometown for the rest of the list! Well, the town I call home now. It’s been interesting to make a concerted effort to find music made by people who live here. I feel like Chicago music was always just around so I never had to think about it too hard but as I’ve lived here I’ve wanted to see what’s sort of coming out of Philly. Trying to contextualize a local music community breaking down through people I do know here and the things they talk about alongside paying attention to bands with “phl” at the end of their name has been fun. Much work to do on that and I hope eventually I’ll be able to go to any of the venues people here love before more of them close.
Welcome to the list within the list: my favorite Philadelphia albums of the year.
I have spoken at length about
Hanging Garden by Corey Flood. I think that album is so beautiful. I reviewed it back in September and talked about how it’s perfect music for me to get work done to. I think it’s a really special album and I hope you’ll check it out if you haven’t already. Also check out that newsletter! I also talk about Rilo Kiley!
Maxwell Stern was one of the nicest people I met upon first moving here and his album
Impossible Sum is a frequent play in my apartment. My boyfriend and I would drive around Pennsylvania and New York to go hiking and I think Impossible Sum was the perfect soundtrack for that. There’s so much warmth on that record and I continue to return to it, even as it is depressingly not staying Light Later Lately anymore.
The best song I have heard for the first time this year is called Favorite Song and it is by the band 2nd Grade. That song did not come out this year so it will go in a different newsletter where I talk about new to me music HOWEVER 2nd grade did release a very cool, very fun record called
Hit to Hit and it is, in fact, hit after hit. It’s the kind of album that is a lot of short songs which, as a noted Frankie Cosmos fan, works for me. My other favorite song I heard this year is Velodrome.
And last but certainly not least, Addy. Another excuse to go on the Topshelf website. Stunning. Addy released two things I really loved this year. First and foremost,
Eclipse which fits in that little corner of my heart that wants lightly folky, indie pop music. I like it for a lot of similar reasons as I like Trace Mountains or Remember Sports or Ratboys or even The Weakerthans. The art for this album is so pretty and what initially drew me to it. I remember seeing the pink art and thinking to myself, “every pink album is good.”
That line of thinking hasn’t failed me yet.
Thanks for reading this. I was gonna do just a regular list but I don’t think music matters out of context for me so I’m not gonna just talk about music. I don’t think I could.
Miranda Reinert is a zine maker and law student based in Philadelphia. She is looking for friends. Follow me on Twitter for more on music and other things like bait tweeting the music community and live tweeting The Sopranos: @mirandareinert. I also just opened up a paid tier of this newsletter which for $5 a month (or $40 a year! what a deal!) you’ll get free zines as I make them and one upon sign up! Wow! But as always, thanks for reading!