Mid-Year Report: Favourite Albums, EPs and Songs of 2019 (so far)

Hey it’s mid-year and a perfect time for pointless lists. So count me in. Here’s some of the music I’ve listened and loved the most during the first half of 2019. I didn’t spend ages on this one, so I’m sure I forgot something super important. Obviously there’s so much I just haven’t listened to enough at this point of the year. That’s why there’s no Bill Callahan for example. I know I will love that record, but I haven’t listened to it all that much so far. These are in pretty random-ish order. Just picked the biggest favorite of each category and then just wrote what popped into my head. Maybe they are a bit top heavy, but flipping them over wouldn’t really make them any worse. Steve Sloane’s song Let All In and the albums from Matthew Milia and Ylva Haru have shaped my year and are able stand out even from this brilliant crowd. Nevertheless, I love all of these and I could also quite easily triple these lists without any drop in quality. Doing the playlist every week has really skyrocketed my already excessive listening habits and I’ve already heard over 100 albums that I like. So this is just a small sample of all the great music 2019 has given us. I have to quit the blog before the actual year-end lists. Otherwise I will end up doing something absolutely ridiculous like a list of TOP 200 albums. Anyway, here’s the quick mid-year report. Back to normal duty on Sunday with the weekly playlist.

ALBUMS – INTERNATIONAL

Matthew Milia – Alone at St. Hugo (Sitcom Universe)

Anna Tivel – The Question (Fluff & Gravy Records)
The Delines – The Imperial (El Cortez / Decor)
Caroline Spence – Mint Condition (Rounder Records)
Steve Sloane – Near Death
Damien Jurado – In The Shape of a Storm (Mama Bird Recording Co / Loose Music)
Shane Leonard – Strange Forms (Wayward Chicken)
Erin Durant – Islands (Keeled Scales)
Julia Jacklin – Crushing (Transgressive Records)
Ian Daniel Kehoe – Secret Republic (You’ve Changed Records/ Tin Angel Records)
Tiny Ruins – Olympic Girls (Marathon Artists)
Pony Bradshaw – Sudden Opera (Rounder Records)
Ian Noe – Between the Country (National Treasury Recordings)
Kassi Valazza – Dear Dead Days
Bob Sumner – Sings Wasted Love Songs
Craig Finn – I Need a New War (Partisan Records)
Clara Baker – Things To Burn
Robert Ellis – Texas Piano Man (New West Records)
Katie Spencer – Weather Beaten (KRS Music)
Steve Lambke – Dark Blue (You’ve Changed Records)
Charles Wesley Godwin – Seneca
M. Lockwood Porter – Communion in the Ashes (Black Mesa Records)
TK & The Holy Know-Nothings – Arguably OK (Mama Bird Recording Co)
Natural Bridges – Residual Daydreams (Royal Oakie)
China – And Then Nothing Happened (Royal Oakie)
Jeremy Squires – Poem
Bedouine – Bird Songs of a Killjoy (Spacebomb)
Steven Lambke – Dark Blue (You’ve Changed Records)
Small Houses – I Don’t Know What’s Safe
Yola – Walk Through Fire (Easy Eye Sound)

Bonus: Harrison Whitford – Afraid Of Everything (Screwdriver Records) (first time on LP/CD)

ALBUMS – FINLAND

Ylva Haru – Linnut (Soit Se Silti)

Sur-rur – Hattarahiukset (Joteskii Groteskii / Roku Records)
Salaliitto – Puolet (Soit Se Silti)
Hullu Ruusu – Rehab (Helmi Levyt)
Janne Tapion Sisäinen Avaruus – Maapallon Hautajaiset (Lumpeela Julkaisut)
H.C.Slim – Sings (Svart Records)
Joose Keskitalo – En lähde surussa (Helmi Levyt)
Lokit – Lokit LP (Combat Rock Industry / Joteskii Groteskii / Roku Records)
Tomi Nordlund & Syvä Joki – Viisi vuotta myöhemmin (Soit Se Silti)
M – Näytän missä asun (Solina)

EPS – INTERNATIONAL

Twain – New Miami Sound EP (from two EPs) (Keeled Scales)

Tiffany Williams – When You Go
Charlie Whitten – Tiny Horse
Kathryn Legendre – Making It Up (Shotgun House)
Johanna Samuels – Have a Good One (Basin Rock)
Charlie Marie – Charlie Marie
Lydia Cole & Hailey Beavis – Among Horses IV (Son Canciones)
The Rumblings of Spring – The Rumblings of Spring
Erin Rae – Putting On Airs 4 Track Demos EP (Single Lock)
Courtney Marie Andrews – Acoustic EP (Loose Music / Fat Possum / Mama Bird Recording Co)

EPS – FINLAND

MeriTuuli – Yö Saimaalla

Tams – Aikahyppy 1 EP
Eden Prairie – Ana Lucia

SONGS – INTERNATIONAL

Steve Sloane – Let All In

Joanna Sternberg – This is Not Who I Want to Be (Team Love)
Matthew Milia – Alive at the Same Time (Sitcom Universe) (or well any other song from his album)
Matthew Ryan – On Our Death Day
Anna Tivel – The Question (Fluff & Gravy)
Caroline Spence – Sit Here & Love Me (Rounder Records)
Le Ren – Love Can’t Be The Only Reason to Stay
Erin Durant – Rising Sun (Keeled Scales)
Christian Lee Hutson – Northsiders
Julia Jacklin – Don’t Know How To Keep Loving You (Transgressive Records)
Pony Bradshaw – Josephine (Rounder Records)
Charles Wesley Godwin – Seneca Creek (Seneca)
Tiffany Williams – Big Enough to Be A Mountain
Ian Daniel Kehoe – Evil People (You’ve Changed Records / Tin Angel Records)
Micah Schnabel – New Shoes
Craig Finn – Something to Hope For (Partisan Records)
Esther Rose – Don’t Blame it on the Moon (Father/Daughter Records)
Kassi Valazza – Mama
Robert Ellis – Father (New West Records)
The Delines – Holly The Hustle (El Cortez / Decor)
Damien Jurado – South (Mama Bird Recording Co)
Rachel Toups – Foxes (Peconic)
Emily Scott Robinson – Dress
Ryan Tanner – A Hymn for Me and You
Bob Sumner – Ticket To Ride
Katie Spencer – Weather Beaten (KRS Music)
Ian Noe – Letter To Madeline (National Treasury Recordings)
Charlie Shafter – Chainsaw
Twain – Death (or S.F.?) (Keeled Scales)
red steppes – Madera (Native Cat Recordings)
Black Sea Dahu – How You Swallowed Your Anger

And here’s an ongoing “best of” 2019 playlist. I put these on top, but there’s about 150 more that are equally good. I think that Steve Sloane song is the one that I love the most, but other than that I could have just as well put this playlist on shuffle and the result would be as good as the list above.

SONGS – FINLAND

Amuri – Halla (Helmi Levyt)

Ylva Haru – Oikeiden luona (and/or Tähän hetkeksi jään) (Soit Se Silti)
Janne Tapion Sisäinen Avaruus – Kaikki oli paremmin ennen (Lumpeela Julkaisut)
Sur-rur – Fleetwood Macin villi välikausi (Joteskii Groteskii / Roku Records)
Iron Country Sisters – Leaves (Soit Se Silti)
Astral Brain – The Field Trip (perhaps this should be on the international list)
Kielo Kärkkäinen – Keitä me olemme (Texicalli)
Hulda Huima – Outo tyttö (Helmi Levyt)
Jari Raaste – Ilmalaiva (Fonal Records)
Maustetytöt – Se oli SOS / Tein kai lottorivini väärin (Is This Art?)

And same as above. Lots more finnhits on this ongoing playlist that features my favorite Finnish songs of the year.

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Top 20 (or well 200+) Songs of the Year 2018

Time for the final year-end list, which is this list of my favourite songs of the year. I actually had a huge list typed, but then the whole thing just wore me out and I just shortened it to top 20 songs with another 180 or so as a Spotify playlist. You can see all the picks there. That was kind of the main idea. To make a huge playlist for the onechord history books and then move on to next year. The Spotify list is not in any order, because if the ranking of albums is a bit silly, then ranking of songs is absolutely ridiculous and totally impossible. Even the top 20 that I typed here could be in any order to be honest. I love music and I think all the songs on the playlist are great. It’s just 200 wonderful songs from 200 different artists. It’s fairly possible that the playlist will grow with some selected cuts during the next week or two, because I’m sure I missed some. It’s kind of difficult to control such a long list, because I might forget a song completely or I might think that I already did add it.

Anyway, this is it for 2018. Thanks to everyone who visited this once or multiple times during the year. Thanks to everyone who liked, commented, shared, followed a playlist or social media pages. It matters to know that I’m not just blasting words and songs into a void. I definitely want to keep this going at least for another year. This baby of mine will turn 18 next September and that seems a little insane and maybe that is worth celebrating by setting up a concert or something. Let’s see how that goes. Most likely nothing will happen.

Top 20 (or well 200+) Songs of the Year 2018

20. Clay Parker and Jodi James – Katie’s Blues
19. Lauren O’Connell – Superimposed (Sugar Glider)
18. Joshua Ray Walker – Canyon (State Fair Records)
17. Scott Hirsch – Valley Of The Moon (Scissor Tail Records)
16. John Prine – Summer’s End (Oh Boy)
15. Julia Jacklin – Body (Transgressive Records)
14. Michael Feuerstack – Jerome & I (Forward Music Group)
13. Robert Ellis – Fucking Crazy (New West Records)
12. Michael Nau – Funny in Real Life (Full Time Hobby)
11. Andrew Bryant – Night Wants the Moon (Last Chance Records) (Not on Finnish Spotify, listen here)

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

And then the top 10. Of course these could all be in alphabetical song, because I love them all and none were clearly above the other. Courtney Marie Andrews starts with the lead single and title song of her superb 2018 album May Your Kindness Remain. Deep empathy and warmhearted kindness shined throughout the whole album and reached its highest peak on this masterful song.

9. Austin Lucas – The Shadow and Marie (Cornelius Chapel Records)

Next we have Austin Lucas from Bloomington sending the darkness away by singing ever so beautifully. His album Immortal Americans contains lots of amazing songs, but this one he wrote for Marie is so powerful and deeply moving.

8. The Weather Station (feat. Jennifer Castle) – I Tried to Wear The World (Paradise of Bachelors)

I’m not going to let The Weather Station escape these lists even during a year when she doesn’t release an album. Thankfully I don’t even have to bend the rules to include her music, because she released a fabulous collaboration single with another Canadian songwriting hero of mine, Jennifer Castle.

7. Anna Tivel – Dust and Magic (Fluff and Gravy Records)

Next to Portland, Oregon to meet up with Anna Tivel. I do spend a lot of time in Oregon on this list. Anyway, I love Anna Tivel’s songwriting and she released two amazing songs this year. Her latest release is the single Fenceline of her forthcoming 2019 album and it is actually the key song of her year. A deeply affecting song about immigration and humanity and everyone should hear it. I still thought I save that and other songs of that 2019 album for the next year-end list, because one of the songs I listened to most this year was Anna Tivel’s rare love song Dust and Magic. It came out as a digital single in February and stayed with me the whole year.

6. Damien Jurado – Over Rainbows and Rainier (Secretly Canadian)

Damien Jurado released the best album of his career. I knew it was going to be a special album when this first single Over Rainbows and Rainier dropped into my heart. In a way so simple and sparse, but still so detailed, deeply moving. Beautiful storytelling and poetic imagery

5. Laura Gibson – Thomas (City Slang / Barsuk)

Goners by Laura Gibson is my favorite album of the year. I feel like all the songs are worthy of a place on this list and it’s almost impossible to pick one favorite. If I’m forced to choose, I think would go with Thomas on most days. Maybe a bit surprisingly, but I’ve just been really drawn to this song since day one.

4. Gladie – 20/20

Any of these last four could have been the song of the year, because I changed it pretty much on a daily basis. This one so different than anything else on this top 10, but I do love this song passionately. Gladie is a Philadephia-based indie rock band/duo formed by Augusta Koch and Matt Schimelfenig and this song is an opening song of their Everyone Is Talking But You EP. It’s a good partner to have, if the everyday life starts to resemble an overwhelming chaos. Everything feels somehow manageable with this song on my side. If the walls are closing in on me, this will kick them back and I can breathe again.

3. Grand Salvo – In the Water (Mistletone)

Grand Salvo from Melbourne, Australia takes the third place with this exceptional, epic and beautifully arranged 10 minutes long baroque folk song. This serene, beautiful and devastatingly sad song is masterful. The song I’ve spent the most time with during these last months of the year.

2. Matt Dorrien – I Can’t Remember (Mama Bird Recording Co)

Matt Dorrien’s beautiful piano-driven album In the Key of Grey was one of my big favorites of the year. I fell in love with this song the first time I heard it and I still love it as much as the day I heard it. Actaully maybe this feels even more powerful now in December, because for example today the length of the day was less than 6 hours (sunrise 9.38 am, sunset 3.43pm), so it’s even easier to relate to that beautiful chorus where the love disappears like the sun in December. I can understand, if someone thinks it’s weird to rate a fairly simple break-up song so highly and above much more complex and multi-dimensional works of art. I still do that, because this song captures that deep pain so accurately and honestly. Absolutely wonderful song.

1. Haley Heynderickx – Untitled God Song (Mama Bird Recording Co)

And the song of the year is Untitled God Song by Haley Heynderickx. It really could have been any of these top four, but in the end it felt like Haley Heynderickx and this song in particular defined my year and she was the artist I listened to most during 2018. I can definitely have a heated argument with myself is this even the best Haley Heynderickx song of the year, but it’s the one that started everything and therefore on an emotional level it’s definitely the one that I love the most. It’s a profoundly captivating, completely addicting and a dazzlingly beautiful song that describes the appearance of God in an unconventional manner. I’ve never been a green thumb, but thanks to Haley Heynderickx I’m pretty sure I need to start a garden.

Playlist link

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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.

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