OCTA Weekly Playlist Episode #22

Hey another week, another weekly playlist.

This was delayed until Monday, because I was working on the aoty list all weekend long. I still wanted to do this as well, because some lovely artists didn’t care about this silly year-end routine and released fantastic music so late in the year that one couldn’t include them. Except that I haven’t posted my songs of the year list yet, so you didn’t get away that easily. Looking at you Cale Tyson, Leah Senior and M.Lockwoord Porter. Nothing wrong with this new one either. There were also a great new album from Finnish band Too Slow and an EP from Itä-Hollola installaatio. The list also has a song from the new Micah Schnabel EP. It’s been out a week or two, but didn’t know it was on Spotify.

I think my favorite new song of the week is the new single by Cale Tyson. A moving look at a relationship that has become unhealthy. Bonus points for being able to use the word “instagram” on a song. Apparently anything can work if you are a good songwriter. The already mentioned Leah Senior and M.Lockwood Porter singles are also pure gold.

The latter half are full of Christmas songs. So if you hate them passionately, you can stop listening after Scott Hirsch. I still think these are rather good ones though. My favorites are the Andrew Bryant ones. I had to include his seasonal song from 2017, because I happen to love the song I Wish I Had More. Plus I have to fully use the chance to finally feature his music on these playlists, because his 2018 album is not on Finnish Spotify. (Erin Rae’s cover song is also from last year). His new is also excellent. Socks by JD McPherson is the one I would go with, if I bought Christmas record. I’m sure I missed a lot of new ones from this yuletune category, because I don’t follow it that closely. I probably missed a lot in general too this week, because this was a bit more rushed effort than normally and I didn’t go through the Bandcamp, CD Baby etc release calendar to find some hidden gems etc.

I think this will be the last weekly playlist before Christmas. I don’t expect a lot of new releases this week and even if there are, I think I deserve a Christmas break from this. However, there will be one more post before Christmas. The songs of the year 2018. I think this will be mostly a mega playlist with hours of my favourite songs of 2018 for the onechord history books. There won’t be a whole of writing, but I do try pick a top three, ten, twenty or something and the rest hundred or two will be in random order.

OCTA Weekly Playlist Episode #22

1. Cale Tyson – Not Healthy Anymore
2. Leah Senior – Graves
3. M. Lockwood Porter – Stumbling Toward the Dawn
4. Joshua Ray Walker – Last Call
5. Micah Schnabel – Call Your Mother
6. Ally Kerr – Upgrade Me
7. The Provincial Archive – Imaginary Friends
8. Too Slow – Feeling Small
9. Itä-Hollola Installaatio – Rakastunut sinuun
10. The Greenberry Woods – Are You In Love Again
11. Charlie Faye & The Fayettes – Baby We’ll Be Ok
12. Cass McCombs – Estrella
13. Scott Hirsch – Long Lost Time
14. Colyn Cameron – Golden State Adress
15. Andrew Bryant – No One Deserves To Be Alone (On Christmas)
16. Woods – Christmas Time Is Here
17. Young Readers – Silent Night
18. Timid, The Brave – Christmas Eve
19. St Lenox – Christmas Song
20. JD McPherson – Ugly Sweater Blues
21. Andrew Bryant – I Wish I Had More
22. Ross Cooper – I Just Ain’t Merry This Year
23. Phoebe Bridgers – Christmas Song
24. Erin Rae, Kate Bernhardt, Coco Reilly – Merry Christmas Darling

Playlist link

Oh and do buy the vinyl/cd/download. Spotify and other streaming services are perfect for these introductory purposes, but try to buy at least the music that matter the most to you

If you are looking this after a week has gone, the embedded Spotify will show the latest playlist. I’ll just update the same playlist because a) if someone wants to follow it, they can just follow that one list and will get a new set of songs each Sunday b) so that I don’t have a trillion of different playlists on my Spotify account.

Continue Reading

Top 60 Albums of the Year 2018 – Part Four 15-1

Part one
Part two
Part three

And finally the top 15. These are all really dear to me and I could just shuffle these into any order and be just as happy about it. Well other than the #1. That was the clear album of the year, but the other 14 could just as well be in an alphabetical order. This is how it went today.

15. Vanessa Peters – Foxhole Prayers (Idol Records)

Starting the Top 15 from Dallas, TX with the new Vanessa Peters album Foxhole Prayers. I’ve been somewhat familiar with her music since Thin Thread album and the Myspace days, but it’s clear that I didn’t fully understand how great she was until Foxhole Prayers reached my ears. I was hooked immediately and in love before the third song Fight had finished. A wonderful album full of powerful storytelling. Sometimes tackling personal issues and sometimes taking a stand for what is right. It makes me want to be a better person.

14. St. Lenox – Ten Fables of Young Ambition and Passionate Love (Anyway Records)

This St. Lenox album has been almost an obsession to me and I love it madly. It’s something that is quite difficult to chain into some specific genre, because it feels so unique and extraordinary. Thankfully there’s really no need to do that either and I can just enjoy Andrew Choi’s passionate and powerful storytelling.

13. Michael Feuerstack – Natural Weather (Forward Music Group)

Montreal-based songwriter Michael Feuerstack has been writing amazing records for a couple of decades. First under the moniker Snailhouse and nowadays under his own name. This latest album Natural Weather is remarkable and one of his finest.

12. Courtney Marie Andrews – May Your Kindness Remain (Loose Music / Fat Possum / Mama Bird Recording Co)

Courtney Marie Andrews left the down-to-earth sound of Honest Life behind and explored new soulful heights with the help of producer Mark Howard. Deep empathy and warmhearted kindness shines through in her storytelling and she also perfectly masters these new soulful heights.

11. Erin Rae – Putting On Airs (Single Lock Records)

The previous Erin Rae album Soon Enough already had some songs that I really loved (Monticello and Clean Slate especially), but now she really hit the homerun. Putting On Airs is a deeply moving and personal record that sounds enchantingly beautiful.

10. Sarah Shook & The Disarmers – Years (Bloodshot Records)

If you want some real kick-ass country music instead of that sipping drinks by the pool stuff, introduce your heart to the music of Sarah Shook & The Disarmers. A lot of these songs revolve around toxic relationships, but even the downhearted moments have certain fearlessness and bite that kicks out the misery from the heart of the listener. A damn great album.

9. Matt Dorrien – In The Key Of Grey (Mama Bird Recording Co)

And then something completely different, but equally brilliant. Matt Dorrien has written a charming, poignant and piano-driven album In The Key of Grey. The whole thing is magnificent and then there’s I Can’t Remember and All I Wanted To Say. Oh my, I love these songs so much. Deep pain and burning loneliness, but so beautifully told. I would marry these songs, if I wasn’t already married.

8. Andrew Bryant – Ain’t It Like The Cosmos (Last Chance Records)

Andrew Bryant is a wonderful songwriter and somehow his songs just really hit me on a personal level. His new album Ain’t It Like The Cosmos is again brilliant. Beautiful rock and americana songs that are delivered with loud riffs and compelling vocals. Songwriting is honest, heartfelt and filled with sincere reflections on humanity. Awesome from the first note to the last.

7. Lauren O’Connell – Details

Lauren O’Connell is an interesting name, because she seem to have a good patreon / youtube etc following, but I rarely see her music mentioned in any of the publications that I follow. Which is quite strange, because especially this new album Details is utterly wonderful. It’s definitely a heavy album album, because some of it revolve around mental health issues. It’s still not a total bummer either like she said herself. You all need to listen to this. It’s so fabulous.

6. Haley Heynderickx – I Need to Start a Garden (Mama Bird Recording Co)

It sure has been a year of Haley Heynderickx for me. She will be in the top 10 in all of these lists and when Spotify dropped those yearly stats, she was of course the artists that I had listened to the most (and that doesn’t even count iPod and vinyl, so the grand total is so much more). While I love the EP, the biggest highlight for me is still this dazzlingly beautiful and thoroughly moving album I Need To Start a Garden. This where it all began. The profoundly captivating Untitled God Song striked really hard early in the year and the rest of the album turned out to be equally magnificent.

5. Austin Lucas – Immortal Americans (Cornelius Chapel Records)

After I found Bloomington-based singer-songwriter Austin Lucas when Somebody Loves You came out in 2009, every single one of his albums have been in the top 10. I’m definitely not going to break that tradition this time either. Of course I would if he released an album that I didn’t like this much, but I don’t really expect that to happen. I love his voice and I love his songwriting. So there’s not much that could go wrong. Immortal Americans even feels like the most complete, personal and powerful album of his career.

4. Damien Jurado – The Horizon Just Laughed (Secretly Canadian)

Damien Jurado released a quietly monumental album The Horizon Just Laughed. I think this is his finest album to date, which is a strong statement if you look at his mangificent discography. I still remember fondly the day in the spring when I took a comfortable position on the couch, put the headphones and listened to this through for the first time. It just instantly demanded all of my attention and there was no way I could do anything else than just listen until the last note had drifted into air. This is exceptional songwriting and a work of art.

3. Grand Salvo – Sea Glass (Mistletone / Inertia)

Across the ocean to Australia for this one. Grand Salvo is a Melbourne-based folk collective led by songwriter Paddy Mann. The new album Sea Glass is a poignant, melancholic and beautiful album built around a single vivid memory that is presented to the listener in the second to last song. Don’t worry, if the whole concept sounds difficult to follow. At first you can just sink deep into things like a) gentle male voice singing softly in an almost repetitive loop b) the choir that deliver enchantingly beautiful harmonies c) the wonderful arrangements that features weird instruments that you maybe can’t name, but you can feel every note they play. A masterful album.

2. Clay Parker and Jodi James – The Lonesomest Sound That Can Sound

This beautiful album by Clay Parker and Jodi James was my favorite of the year almost until the end, but had to give up one place during the last couple of months. I still love it wholeheartedly. It’s timeless and endlessly beautiful folk album. I’ve enjoyed their solo albums too, but together they just reach an even higher level. The voices just blend together into perfect harmony and wrap my heart into the sweetest americana sounds. I could just listen to them sing all day / week / year long.

1. Laura Gibson – Goners (City Slang / Barsuk)

And my favorite album of the year is Goners by Laura Gibson. Laura Gibson is a songwriter from Coquille, Oregon and she has written an exceptional album. This is the one that I love by far the most out of this 2018 class. Goners grabbed me on first listen and it haven’t let go of me. Not that I’ve even tried to shake it off, because I’m perfectly happy in the company of this dark, haunting and deeply moving record about grief. It’s a strange and mysterious album that keeps on revealing more with each and every listening session. I still might not understand all the aspects of it, but it doesn’t stop me from loving it wholeheartedly. A masterpiece.

Continue Reading

Top 60 Albums of the Year 2018 – Part Three 30-16

Part one
Part two
Part four

And on to the third chapter.

30. Jamie Lin Wilson – Jumping Over Rocks

Starting this chapter with the new Jamie Lin Wilson album Jumping Over Rocks. She is americana/country songwriter from from D’Hanis, TX. Her music has been a big part of these last months of the year, because I also ended up buying her earlier album. An incredible songwriter and storyteller. Death & Life is one of the songs of the year.

29. Daniel Markham – Hyperspeed

Staying in Texas, but moving to Denton. A long time favourite Daniel Markham shifted to Hyperspeed and managed to deliver a 14 song album that lasts 30 minutes. And a damn good one too. The opener Velvet Elvis the highlight, but everything else works too.

28. Becky Warren – Undesirable

Becky Warren made a powerful and humane american rock’n’roll album. It’s about the people and for the people who have been given a tough hand. It kicks your ass and it makes you think. The singles We’re All We Got and The Drake Motel are remarkable and the rest don’t fall far behind.

27. Foxwarren – Foxwarren (Anti- / Arts & Crafts)

Foxwarren’s self-titled debut came out late in the year, so at this point it’s pretty impossible where to drop it on this list. But this ranking is silly anyway, so I suppose it don’t really matter. This is Andy Shauf’s new project and I’ve been a big fan for several years. Ok, actually this is more like his old project, because this band consists of his childhood friends Darryl Kissick, Avery Kissick and Dallas Bryson and the first recordings took place ten years ago. There’s a song or two that I’m not so sure about, but for the most parts I’ve loved this during our first weeks together.

26. Doug Paisley – Starter Home (No Quarter)

Another long time favourite from Canada. This new Doug Paisley album again contains so much fabulous storytelling and warm and delicate sounds. Title track Starter Home and Drinking with a Friend are a songwriting masterclass. Outstanding record once again from the maestro.

25. John Calvin Abney – Coyote (Black Mesa Records)

Next stop Oklahoma and the latest John Calvin Abney album Coyote. This wonderful album falls somewhere between folk storytelling and soft, dreamy pop music. Excellent songwriting and it sounds so warm and beautiful.

24. American Aquarium – Things Change (Last Chance Records)

One of the premier alt.country bands of today, American Aquarium from North Carolina dropped their new album into my heart back in the summer and it has stayed there ever since. BJ Barham is an excellent storyteller who also isn’t afraid to take a stand. The album opener The World Is On Fire is a powerful song about the election of you know who. However, that’s just one highlight. This one is full of captivating songwriting.

23. Colter Wall – Songs of the Plains (Young Mary’s Record Co)

Back to Canada and Saskatchewan. Colter Wall is singing stories of the past and present with his deep baritone voice and does it masterfully.

22. Michael Nau – Michael Nau & The Mighty Thread (Full Time Hobby)

Michael Nau has again written a really charming, gentle and endearingly beautiful album. This is actually the best one yet and full of magnificent songs. So sweet & lovely, but also with depth & detail. If it feels like the walls are closing in on you, put on the headphones and a Michael Nau record on and he will make you some room to breathe.

21. Clint Michigan – Centuries (Kiam Records)

Clint Michigan has been a big favourite ever since Slowcoustic posted the Coeur d’Alene video five or so years ago. Their new indie folk album Centuries is personal, honest, deeply moving and somehow extremely powerful in all its fragility.

20. H.C. McEntire- Lionheart (Merge Records)

H.C.McEntire has previously written a lot of amazing music for her band Mount Moriah. This outstanding solo debut contains southern country sounds, folk rock songs and soulful gospel hymns. It’s personal, moving and eternally beautiful.

19. Izaak Opatz- Mariachi Static (Mama Bird Recording Co)

Lyle the Intern has done his job well, because the top 20 will be heavy on Mama Bird releases. First one is this lighthearted collection from a heavyweight songwriter. Sure there’s some sadness too, but everything is delivered with a charming smile. Montana mountain man Izaak Opatz released the album originally last year, but I don’t have to bend the rules that much, because it was reissued on vinyl by Mama Bird this summer.

18. Jennifer Castle – Angels of Death (Paradise of Bachelors / Idee Fixe Records)

Next up is one of the finest Canadian songwriters Jennifer Castle. Her new album revolves around lightweight topics like death, grief and mortality, but does it without dragging the listener down. Almost wizardry to write such a beautiful record about these things that I’ve been dead scared of since I was a child.

17. John Prine- The Tree of Forgiveness (Oh Boy Recordings)

The trouble with an including this moving new John Prine album The Tree of Forgiveness is that how can I really put anyone above him in this silly ranking system. This legendary man wrote classic albums before most of the other ones had even been born and the new album shows that he is still capable of doing it. Incredible album.

16. Daniel Romano – Finally Free + Human Touch / Nerveless (New West Records / You’ve Changed Records)

Canadian musical mastermind Daniel Romano actually released three amazing albums this year (+ Ancient Shapes stuff), but I was cruel and in the end I only gave him spot. These all would have made the cut, but it would have meant dropping two more artists and I just wasn’t prepared for that. Human Touch is probably my favorite of the bunch and probably would have been in the top 10. However, in this silly ranking system, I’ll go with the new mysterious Finally Free album which is the only one still available (the other two were only available in January). The highlight All The Reaching Trims can do the honors and close this third chapter of this list.

Continue Reading