2019 GTC Editors Picks and more in the Global Texan archives.
by Walter Price
2019, another dynamic year for indie music. The power of the artist continues to shift ever faster away from the antiquated systems of yore into a brand new culture that even the mainstream is noticing and, at times forcibly, accepting. Win-win.
And after a year of hearing hundreds of music makers and their amazing, mostly, new songs, it was truly a task to choose just ten of the ‘best‘. But based on my personal plays, sentiment and social awareness…I’ve curated a list of artists’ releases that made a huge mark on the year that was and will be the voices to reckon with in the future.
2019 Top 10 Singles
Pearl Charles – Sweet Sunshine Wine
What We Said: On her recent single, “Sweet Sunshine Wine”, the vibes are sunny California as the sound reminds you of those Olivia Newton-John, Karen Carpenter hits from eras past. That is before the spark of psych slips in, reminiscent of Charles’ psych-rock past. A Summertime playlist staple is born.
And Now? For me, the bulk of this track’s magic is that its what my childhood home sounded like. A little lite AM radio with hits of soft pop wafting, lotta eclectic hippie-chic and dashes of psychedelia. And any song, modern or classic, that can induce nostalgia, is worth its weight in cool.
Lyric video by Morgans Brother
Ducks – Delivery
What We Said: My phone informed me this morning that I’ve listened to “Delivery” by natty electronic purveyors DUCKS! 78 times in the last 30 days. It seems excessive until you have a listen yourself and get enthralled by the breezy ode to the comforts of having all you ever wanted land on your doorstep with a click. But are these conveniences good for your soul? Is instant accessibility inducing anti-social behavior, reclusion?
Heavy contemplation, for sure. But when you wrap it up in the whimsical bounce that the DUCKS! continue to mesmerize new and old fans alike with, the subsequent result is an instant Summertime classic. And the surrealist collage laden film, directed by Reuben Sutherland, is a psychedelic color blast! Sure to bring a bit of inspired visual awe to your occipital lobe.
And Now? No question about it, this song is catchy, weighty, whimsical and it’s great to move to. And according to numbers, the song I played the most in 2019…
Album artwork by Harriet Richardson
Performed and produced by Ducks! (Lani Bagley and Craig Schuftan) at Schmiede (Hallein, Austria) and Tiny Lights (Berlin, Germany) with:
Michael Rosenthal – international guitar
Ray Mann – backing vocals
Marissa Bagley – shouting
Owen Cooper Hurst – cardboard
Billy Momo – Can’t Stop Thinking About New Orleans
What We Said: From their stunning, if not drastically underrated, ‘Roots & Vision’, Billy Momo has released a new single. “Can’t Stop Thinking About New Orleans” isn’t an exact ode to The Crescent City, but it is a rich and somber beauty. Delivered in a tone reminiscent of Shane MacGowan, the track laments on the heaviness of promises and memories made.
And Now? This meticulous and heavy track is off of one of the most stunning and cohesive albums of the year. An album that should have, finally, catapulted this Swedish modern folk purveyors into the same atmosphere as Of Monsters and Men and Mumford & Sons…The good news is, there’s still time. Have a listen and spread the news…
Tomas ´Barba Rosso´ Juto
Oskar ‘Orren Ishee´ Hovell
Mårten ´Hotlips` Forssman
Oscar ´the Head´ Harryson
Christopher ´the Coffa´ Anderzon
Andreas ´Preacher Man´ Prybil
Pom Pom Squad – “Heavy Heavy”
What We Said: Just imagine if J Mascis, Kim Gordon, and A.C. Marias convened and decided it best that their arts’ legacies should be carried into the future by someone eclectically innovative and authentic. Perhaps someone who can mesh a myriad of sounds, harsh yet tactile realities, and delve headlong into unconventional to produce one of this year’s most diverse and breathtaking releases?
And Now? This track and the entire EP ‘Ow’ are strengths masking frailty (and vice-versa), emotional and pleading. In an era when Lana Del Rey and Billie Eilish are making waves people sink into, Pom Pom Squad [Mia Berrin] is right there lamenting realities people will wade in.
Directed by Mia Berrin
Guitar/Vocals: Mia Berrin
Lead Guitar: Alex Mercuri
Bass: Mari Ale Figeman
Drums: Shelby Keller
Produced by Tommy Ordway and Pom Pom Squad
Engineered by Tommy Ordway
Mixed by Petey Mix
Mastered by Rachel Lightner
The Y Axes – How We Begin
What We Said: San Francisco’s The Y Axes have a new single, “How We Begin”, examining similar thoughts in these desperate times. Although this subject matter seems a bleak choice for your weekend spin, it really isn’t. Consider the way bands like The Smiths and Sonic Youth could tell tales of misery that made your day…The Y Axes have that same sort of post-punk power with this new track. Where there is angst, there is hope…if you want it.
And Now? Hands down, one of the catchiest tracks of the year. From one of the most promising alt-rock bands going, and have been for a number of years now. With each single a step closer to something bigger…
Shot by Arielle Ludwig, Philip Liborio Gangi, Fred Hausman III, Alexi Belchere, Ted Maider, and more
Edited by Alexi Belchere
Music by The Y Axes, Produced by Hellam Sound
Projections by Jack Sundquist
Lady Lark (feat. Har Mar Superstar) – Rendezvous
What We Said: Lyrically like no other album [Permission] this year, on “Shopping Bags”, you get to hear Lark explain, “Shopping bags and expensive tags that’s all you think I need /I don’t know who you loved before but baby that ain’t me”, which is straight-up empowerment. And on one of the seven standout tracks, “Rendezvous,” the groovy ode to late-night DM sliding, Har Mar Superstar brings the smiles when he pleads, “No sleeping over, no getting closer /After we squish, you can go your own way”. See, you’re beaming…
And Now: Rendezvous is 100% true. It just is, for anyone who has them any-hour pangs and/or urges… And there isn’t a spin of this track that doesn’t produce a smile. It’s probably more timeless than just about any track dropped this year. And then there’s the Joe Alaspa film…Ooosh.
Director: Joe Alaspa
Director of Photography: Travis Higgins
Video Production Coordinator: Alan De Leon Taverna
Gaffer: JC Calubayan
Producers: Hair&Makeup and Lady Lark
Produced by Hair&Makeup
Written by Hair&Makeup, S. Tillmann, T. Harris
Mixed by Dylan Nau
Mastered by Huntley Miller
Recorded at Essential Session Studio, MN 2018
Keys & Synth by Dylan Nau
Pauline Andrès – “Hoping For The Best At The Springwater Supper Club”
What We Said: The latest cinematic work from wandering singer-songwriter Pauline Andrès takes plays straight out of Steve Buscemi’s ‘Trees Lounge’ and its characters’ entwined lives or, perhaps, Keyser Söze’s playbook. A Tuesday afternoon in a dive bar, local yocels, forgettable conversations, and cigarettes. Lots of cigarettes…and the writing is on the wall. Literally, in this case. Just as Söze weaved his tale, so does Andrès in this dark and authentic ode to the comforts of day drinking at the neighborhood watering hole.
And Now: Like this year’s Number One track-OTY, I know this lifestyle, atmosphere, and similar characters intimately. It was parts of my childhood that carried on through into my adulthood, so with every listen, memories are conjured.
Shot on location at Springwater Supper Club and Lounge
Band: Amanda Gunnels // Lindsey Isaacson // Dillon Napier // Andy Ellison // David Peña
Super City – High
What We Said: The latest single, “High”, by Baltimore fashion-savvy power-pop outfit Super City is bursts of churning energy. The locomotive drive and technical production wizardry that’s instantly reminiscent of what Love & Rockets were turning out during their mid-80s heyday with an added taste of QOTSA. The unconventional layers playing out like anxiety-laden chapters as the track’s protagonist will seemingly try anything to fit in. Its an experience worth blasting windows down, destination unknown.
And Now: This song is and isn’t exactly what/who Super City are. It’s almost a false prophet, or perhaps it’s just the band saying, “you’ll never be able to compartmentalize us!”. Check out this outfit’s catalog and you’ll see what I’m talking about … super unpredictable, surprising. Mind, blown.
Dan Ryan-vocals, guitar
Greg Wellham-vocals, guitar
Jon Birkholz-keyboards, guitar vocals
Brian Brunsman-bass, vocals
Ian Viera- drums, vocals
Who Can Sleep – The Debris of American Dreams
What We/They Said: Socially conscious, Los Angeles based Who Can Sleep has just released an awe-inspiring new video for their track “The Debris of American Dreams”. Directed by the duo’s Lex Helgerson, the film is reminiscent of those optimistically-propagandized films shown in school in eras past. Picture perfect obtainable bliss. Yet, reality often paints an opposing view.
In an email conversation, Helgerson explains, “The song and video were inspired by the film The Deer Hunter, a lot of Bruce Springsteen music, and the writing of Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates writes of the American Dream, saying, “The Dream is the enemy of all art, courageous thinking, and honest writing.
“The song is a meditation on our collective values, materialism, waste, and decay. The myth is that exceptionalism is our birthright. As artists, we have a responsibility to challenge our myths.”
And Now? This duo clearly has a lot on their mind and are ready and willing to put their lyrics where their souls are. Keeping important social awareness in conversations. In beautiful and palpable folk-pop with heady depths. Downside? With all this heaviness in the world, do these two have a moment to smile…. 😉
Dir. Lex Helgerson
Cinematography: Angelia Sciuli
Camera Assistant: Kelly Thompson
Editing: Dean Vivirito and Lex Helgerson
Singing: Lex Helgerson
Instrument playing: Dean Vivirito
Words and music by Lex
Produced by Dean at The Pope of Atwater Living Room Studio
Aleigh – Boys Not Right
What We Said: You’ll find the subject matter familiar; a boy is a trickster, a heartbreaking so-and-so and the heroine of the track has weathered the storm and is offering a fair warning to the next prey. And after a few listens you’ll start to realize that this songwriter is a studied fan of multiple genres, eras, and voices. As she utilizes layers of varying styles and her dynamic vocal range to tell this darkly evergreen tale.
And if ‘jazzy-slink post-punk-pop’ was a thing, “Boys Not Right” would be its calling card and Aleigh its purveyor. With sprinkled nods to the cherished sounds of KT Tunstall, Siouxsie Sioux, and 60s era french pop…
And Now? This track was a slow burn introduction for most of the world into the personal depths that a talented new artist is ready to share. And it’s cool to get in on the ground level… This is undoubtedly just the beginning.
Video shot and directed by Sean Kavanagh
Audio recorded and mixed by Abbey Lane Studios
ALSO FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION