September/October 2021


I’ve got a bit of a double-month list this week. I have to say that I ran out of steam on this a little bit. Partly because I felt like I had nothing interesting to say and partly because I’ve basically been listening to the same things over and over for the last while. Hoping to get this one in and then start to gear up for another “Year in Review” type blog for December. 

There is a definite feeling in the air that fall isn’t going to linger much longer. Honestly, I’m looking forward to the music that keeps me cozy during the colder months. I think the prospect of being inside more makes me sit with the music a little longer too. I usually find more meaning in the words and get more attached to a beat this way. In saying that, I have already found a few favourites but I don’t think they will surprise you.


SAM FENDER – SEVENTEEN GOING UNDER

I am having a tough time placing this guy under the right umbrella. He reminds me of about 4 different people at the same time and that confuses the hell out of me. A few years ago I found his song, “Hypersonic Missiles” which I really dug. The Apple Music write up on that album compares him to Brandon Flowers of The Killers, which I can totally get. This new album is also something different. “Seventeen Going Under” and “Getting Started” reminds me of The War on Drugs and that is the highest form of praise I can give. The drums, the guitar, and that “full band” sound is so similar. I love that you can hear every instrument from piano to saxophone and everything in between. He still sounds like Brandon Flowers in these songs, but then he morphs into another form. Listen to “Get You Down” and “Long Way Off” and tell me if you hear Dallas Green. I have looked down at my phone more than a couple times to see if it was him when I first started listening to these. City and Colour, The Killers, and The War on Drugs. Does that make sense? Either way, I’m digging this album a lot.



THE WAR ON DRUGS – I DON’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE

Well would you look at that! Hot on the heels of a reference, I need to include this here. No shame folks, I fucking love this band. I think this is the third time I am putting them on my blog and I don’t care. Excuse me for a second, I forgot to pre-order this on vinyl…

P.S. Wiki says their record label is called Secretly Canadian. I mean come on…



JASON ISBELL & THE 400 UNIT – GEORGIA BLUE 

I am just running the gamut on bands we all know I like already. During the recent U.S. presidential election, Jason Isbell said that if the Democrats won the state of Georgia, he would write an album featuring cover songs from Georgia artists and donate the proceeds to Georgia based non-profit organizations. The state was won and he kept his word. In doing so, they put together a pretty random collection of songs, but it is still enjoyable nonetheless. The cover of Gladys Knight’s “Midnight Train to Georgia” ft. Brittany Spencer slaps. I also like “Honeysuckle Blue” for that classic rock guitar and a little organ. A few R.E.M. songs in there too for all you boomers out there. This is not going in my Jason Isbell shrine at my house, but I’m still going to listen to it from time to time. 



ANDY SHAUF – WILDS

How can I list two of my favourite artists in a row and then not include Andy Shauf? Guys, he did it. AGAIN! Another top to bottom great listen. If you enjoy Andy’s offbeat style and mumble voice like I do then you can plug-and-play this one any day of the week. Much like all his albums before, every song feels like it belongs right where he put it. It is a perfect collection. When you listen to it front to back you can tell how thoughtful he is about writing an album as a whole not just a list of singles put together in an arbitrary list. I just got this record in the mail today and can’t wait to put it on my turntable once I stop writing. “Jaywalker” was the first song to jump out at me with its catchy little guitar piece but “Green Glass” is my favourite for sure. Not being facetious here, I think it might be my favourite song this year. 



Rhett



SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2021

  • SAM FENDER – SEVENTEEN GOING UNDER
  • THE WAR ON DRUGS – I DON’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE
  • JASON ISBELL & THE 400 UNIT – GEORGIA BLUE
  • ANDY SHAUF – WILDS

August 2021


What a month! Lots going on in my world these days. Hope everybody is having a good end to August. Not much to say today so let’s get right to it!


BIG RED MACHINE – HOW LONG DO YOU THINK IT’S GONNA LAST?

Named after the Cincinnati Reds of the 70’s, Big Red Machine is the combined power of Aaron Dessner and Justin Vernon. Yes, Aaron Dessner, a founding member of The National and producer/writer for many of today’s artists including Sharon Van Etten, Ben Howard, and Taylor Swift. And yes, Justin Vernon, better known as Bon Iver. Could this get any more “Rhett”? Not to mention the album also features songs with Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes, Anais Mitchell of Bonny Light Horsemen and all of the artists mentioned above. Yowza! I could be trapped in my room for a good while listening to this album with my headphones on. If you are a nerd about music like me, you should definitely look at all the things these two have been involved in. When you have T-Swift knocking at the door to work with you, you must be doing something right. 



COURTNEY BARNETT – THINGS TAKE TIME, TAKE TIME

This is an album off my “not yet released” list, but I have been listening to “Rae Street” so much that I have to put it on here before the whole thing is released. Whenever I see a Courtney Barnett album come out I know I am going to like it. Just soooo consistent. Another gal that just simply rocks. Check her whole catalogue for lots of other good tunes if you haven’t already.  



STURGILL SIMPSON – THE BALLAD OF DOOD & JAUNITA 

He’s back and he’s gone traditional country again. Remember the computer game “Oregon Trail”? That is what I think of when this is on. Blazing a trail on the open prairie in a covered wagon just hoping that half your crew doesn’t die of dysentery. The song “Sam” is a perfect example of a cowboy campfire song. Another thing worth noting is that Sturgill refers to his band as the Hillbilly Avengers and that just makes me laugh. Sturgill doing Sturgill. 



WE WERE PROMISED JETPACKS – ENJOY THE VIEW

This might be my favourite band name of all time. Fossum introduced me to the album These Four Walls in 2009ish and it still holds up big time. Recently, they had fallen off my radar until I randomly found this new album in my regular search. My love for them has been instantly revived. Only a few songs are released so far, but they are all solid. And how can you not love a Scottish accent breaking though a little? Glasgow, stand up!



BRITTANY HOWARD – “STAY HIGH”

Was thinking about Alabama Shakes recently and wondering what the hell happened to them? Somehow, I had missed that Brittany Howard, the lead singer, had put out a solo album in 2019 and Heath Fogg, the guitarist, did the same in 2020. I also learned that the drummer was a very bad man and now I understand why there is no longer a band (I’ll let google teach you the details). Luckily, the world still gets to hear this gal belt it out. One of the most soulful voices I’ve ever heard. Fossum, Shaun, and I almost saw her from the front row at Lollapalooza a while back but a torrential downpour cancelled the show and pushed everyone out of the park and into downtown Chicago to fend for themselves (that was pure insanity, but it’s a story for another time). “Stay High” is a perfect pick me up. Smell ya later, Sunday blues! 



Rhett



AUGust 2021

  • BIG RED MACHINE – HOW LONG DO YOU THINK IT”S GONNA LAST?
  • COURTNEY BARNETT – THINGS TAKE TIME, TAKE TIME
  • STURGILL SIMPSON – THE BALLAD OF DOOD & JAUNITA
  • WE WERE PROMISED JETPACKS – ENJOY THE VIEW
  • BRITTANY HOWARD – “STAY HIGH”

July 2021


I’ve got a pretty random list this month for you. To be honest, I have mostly been listening to Bo Burnham’s new special Inside on repeat since it came out. It is absolutely incredible and I recommend it to everyone. I do have a few other things here but it’s a little jumbled. Hopefully you can still find something that you dig! 


Vincent Neil Emerson – Vincent Neil Emerson

My recent favourite album is this one. Nathan introduced me to him last summer and I had “25 and Wasting Time” playing constantly after that. This new album is even better. Vincent’s songwriting is much more refined than in his previous album two years ago. There also seems to be more natural emotion in his new songs which I really enjoy. “Texas Moon” is an instant country classic, but my favourite songs are “The Ballad of the Choctaw-Apache”, “High on Gettin’ By”, and “Learnin’ to Drown”. His tales about enduring through the hard times make him easy to connect with. I love the line, “Every time the well runs dry I tell myself, ‘if it don’t kill me then I guess I’ll never die.’” 

You might notice a tie in to Colter Wall here as well. Colter has taken the East Texas product on tour with him and they also share a label, La Honda Records. 



Said the whale – “Show Me Everything”

I remember buying Islands Disappear in 2009 because I loved the song “Camilo (The Magician)” so much. That song reminds me of my first summer after high school. Since then I have been a little hot and cold on Said the Whale. There are things I really like and others I struggle to be into. I’m hot on their three new songs. “Show Me Everything” has some Win Butler/Arcade Fire vibes and I dig the hell out of that. 



Wavves – hideaway 

Anyone need some surfer rock for the summer? This is exactly that. A little rough, upbeat, garage pop/rock. “Sinking Feeling” is full of that offbeat surfer sound that makes you feel like you’re watching people catching big waves off the coast. Get it while the weather is hot!



Lucy dacus – home video

Nick touched on Lucy in his recent post for me but I needed to mention her again. This new album is wonderful and I’m starting to listen to it a lot. This is right in my wheelhouse for everyday listening. Just another of the many many female artists that I admire so much. She’s cool and immensely talented. I love both of these songs so I had to link both.



boy golden – Church of better daze

Another random find in my recent searches. I couldn’t go past a song called, “KD and Lunch Meat”. If that doesn’t tell you someone is from Winnipeg, I don’t know what will. Do yourself a favour and google this band or the Church of Better Daze. Classic. Spread that gospel, Boy Golden. 



Rhett



July 2021

  • VINCENT NEIL EMERSON – VINCENT NEIL EMERSON
  • SAID THE WHALE – “SHOW ME EVERYTHING”
  • WAVVES – HIDEAWAY
  • LUCY DACUS – HOME VIDEO
  • BOY GOLDEN – CHURCH OF BETTER DAZE

June 2021


Yeeesh! I fell behind here a bit this month and am a few days late on my post! I had planned on writing everything last weekend but the weather was so nice in Saskatoon and I just couldn’t find the time to stay in and get my list made up. Euro 2020 has also been consuming my life now that I have an allegiance to a team (Auf geht’s Deutschland!). Better late than never!


SHARON VAN ETTEN & ANGEL OLSEN – “LIKE I USED TO”

I feel like every month I am telling you about another “song of the summer”, but right now this is my jam. Two heavy hitters in the indie/alternative music scene join forces to bring us a gem. I admittedly have never been a huge fan of their solo work, but if you jump onto any other music blog you will hear people going bananas over these two. I remember Jay Onrait writing about Angel Olsen’s song “Woman” from her 2016 album MY WOMAN saying it was this slow burning song that really starts rocking around the midway point before falling off again. I circled back on that album too and it’s definitely growing on me. “Like I Used To” is another one to turn up loud when the sun is shining. Each voice is distinct but both fit perfectly as they weave back and forth from lead to backup . This makes me feel like I’m stuck in a summer montage on MTV. These women rock, plain and simple.



WILD PINK – A BILLION LITTLE LIGHTS

I saw this band a while back on KEXP’s Youtube channel. I don’t know much about the band, but these are good background summer tunes. I put this on often lately when I just need some music that I can let run and not think about. “The Shining But Tropical” has a Death Cab for Cutie vibe at times. Also, I just noticed that Annie Murphy from Schitt’s Creek is in this video. If you haven’t watched that show you should do so immediately. 



WHITEHORSE – MODERN LOVE 

I’ve missed a few opportunities over the years to see this Canadian duo and then I instantly regret it when I hear people talking about the shows. I’ve listened to this album a lot recently and I keep finding something new in it each time I listen. There will be something for everyone in at least one of these songs. Do you like drinking ice cold drinks on the beach? Put on “Relic In The New Age”. You want to relax at the end of a long day? “Radio Silence” will calm the evening jitters. My favourite right now is “Liar Liar”. I like the eclectic little guitar and the chorus is catchy as hell. 



THE VACCINES – WHAT DID YOU EXPECT FROM THE VACCINES

In September 2017 I took a solo trip to Croatia. In many ways that little trip altered my life. I learned some things about myself, I met my now girlfriend, and I got out of a low point emotionally. I had written a journal while I was there and I dug that out this week to give it a little read through. One of the things I wrote about in my first couple days was having lunch in this little place in Zagreb called “Goodfood”. I was sitting at a bar seat against a window that faced the pedestrian, cobblestone street. I remember feeling proud of myself for making a plan to go solo somewhere and then making it happen. I also remember being embarrassed that I could only speak English when I went up to order my food. Luckily most Croatians speak English too. As I sat at my seat and watched the well dressed people walk by outside, I keyed in on the song that was playing in the shop. It was “Post Break-Up Sex” by The Vaccines. I vividly remember the smile that put on my face. Since then I have always tried to focus on music being played in restaurants, clothing stores, etc. This album still holds up for me and is perfect for summertime. It’s upbeat and has that British pop-rock feel to it. “All In White” was the first song I fell in love with but you can easily put the album on front to back.  



EDOARDO VIANELLO – “GUARDA COME DONDOLO”

Have you guys watched Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None” on Netflix? In the second season somewhere, his Italian love interest puts this song on in the kitchen for them to dance to. WARNING: this is an Italian pop song from 1962. I understand that this is likely not everyone’s cup of tea, but there is no way you can look me dead in the eyes and tell me that this doesn’t make you smile/laugh/feel something happy. There are some mornings where I put this song on the second I know Jessi is fully awake. Not her favourite alarm clock. I don’t even know what he is saying but I love it. Edoardo, I hope you are sitting on some lovely balcony in Tuscany drinking $1000 bottles of wine. You deserve it.. 



Rhett



JUNE 2021

  • SHARON VAN ETTEN & ANGEL OLSEN – “LIKE I USED TO”
  • WILD PINK – A BILLION LITTLE LIGHTS
  • WHITEHORSE – MODERN LOVE
  • THE VACCINES – WHAT DID YOU EXPECT FROM THE VACCINES
  • EDOARDO VIANELLO – “GUARDA COME DONDOLO”

May 2021


Happy warm weather days! It’s the perfect day to sit outside, go for a bike ride, lounge in the park, and listen to some music. I’m pretty happy with the new music that is coming out lately, but it’s been hard for me to hold back on albums that aren’t fully released yet. Hope you like what I’ve got for you this month. Can’t wait until everyone gets vaccinated (please go get vaccinated!) and we can all meet up and listen to these together! Life’s a garden, dig it!


BELLA WHITE – JUST LIKE LEAVING

If you do anything today, please go listen to the track “Just Like Leaving”. I’ve basically had it on repeat for the last month. Even if you aren’t a fan of bluegrass/folky music I think this will appeal to you. This 20 year old, Calgary, AB born and raised gal is just a pleasure to listen to. Her voice is soothing with just the right amount of twang to it. I’m a sucker for harmonizing and she does this perfectly in the chorus with her bandmate. Jacey Fossum, if you’re reading, this one is right in your wheelhouse! With the likes of Colter Wall, Belle Plaine, Kacey & Clayton, Bella White, and many more, I would argue that Western Canadian artists are leading the world in this americana/folk/bluegrass genre. And if you missed it the first time, she’s only 20 years young! There will be much more where this came from in the coming years!



PUNCH BROTHERS – THE PHOSPHORESCENT BLUES

Listening to Bella White also spun me back into some other bluegrassy things I used to listen to. One of the main ones was the Punch Brothers. Anyone ever watched the movie “Inside Llewyn Davis”? It’s a movie starring Oscar Isaac based around a folk singer trying to make his way in the world and navigate the changing popular music scene. The sound track is a mix of old folk songs and new stuff written for the film. It features Oscar Isaac himself, but also Marcus Mumford, the Avett Brothers, and the Punch Brothers. This is where I became familiar with this band. There are Youtube videos of a soundtrack concert where they sing an a cappella version of an old Irish folk song called “The Auld Triangle”, which I love (linked below). If Hoja or Streetnix would have performed this in the Climax School Gym in elementary school my head might have exploded (It’s hilarious how often I connect with people over having had Hoja and Streetnix perform at my school growing up! haha). My other two favourite songs are linked below as well. If nothing else, stick around to hear Chris Thile play the mandolin. Again, even if you don’t like bluegrass music, this is simply amazing musicianship. 



BRISTON MARONEY – SUNFLOWER 

Switching gears now and getting right into some upbeat alt-pop in my list this month. I stumbled across this album in my regular iTunes browsing and I’m happy I did. Supposedly this guy was on American Idol in 2013, which surprised me a little based on how indie this sounds to me. Now you can all pretend to be Randy Jackson and give it a “that’s gonna be a yes/no from me, dawg!” This is good weather music. “Sinkin’” is my current song for leaving work.



THE BLACK KEYS – DELTA KREAM

I was going to put girl in red – “if I could make you go quietin this spot, but the more I listened to her lyrics I felt like I couldn’t relate to the sexual problems of a 22 year old Norweigan gal. So instead, I settled on something right back in my wheelhouse. This one is hot off the press so I haven’t had a tonne of time to digest it yet, but I can assure you this will be heavy in the rotation over the next while. I had the pleasure of seeing these guys at Lollapalloza in 2012 with my friends Fossum and Shaun. It was one of the most memorable concert experiences I’ve had thus far. I thought it was cool how Patrick Carney, the drummer, was positioned right at the front of the stage beside Dan Auerbach, not at the back where the drummer normally sits. I loved how this gave me a better view and appreciation of what he was doing (The Rural Alberta Advantage does this set up as well and their drummer, Paul Banwatt, is incredible to watch). This will be a great summer time bluesy soundtrack for everyone. Turn it up! 



BONNY LIGHT HORSEMAN – BONNY LIGHT HORSEMAN

Let’s keep rolling with our regularly scheduled programming. A suggestion to me from the music guru, Eric Anderson. After casually forming this “supergroup” at a music festival run by Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and Aaron Dessner (The National), Bonny Light Horseman decided to formally join forces and record a full album together this past year. Anybody else wondering what the hell a bonny light horseman is? After a quick search I found that it formally refers to the nimblest, most handsome rider in the cavalry (put that one in the Jeopardy memory bank!). It is also the name of an age-old folk song from the 1800’s, which is track #1 on the album. I’m a sucker for beautiful vocals, simple acoustic guitar, and some piano. I think this one is a slam dunk for most people. 


MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA – THE MILLION MASKS OF GOD

I mentioned this album in my last post, but it is now released in its entirety. Please go back to it and listen to the rest of the songs! Also, watch the music video for “Telepath” below. How beautiful/sad is that? It has a similar theme to Jason Isbell’s “If We Were Vampires”. I love how the characters dance from start to finish and that it is filmed as one continuous shot. Creativity at its finest.  


Rhett



APRIL 2021

  • BELLA WHITE – JUST LIKE LEAVING
  • PUNCH BROTHERS – THE PHOSPHORESCENT BLUES
  • BRISTON MARONEY – SUNFLOWER
  • THE BLACK KEYS – DELTA KREAM
  • BONNY LIGHT HORSEMAN – BONNY LIGHT HORSEMAN

April 2021


How’s everybody doing? It took me a little time to get my list compiled this month but hopefully you can still find something you like here! I’ve had a few crazy weeks at work so it was nice to sit down and try and put another post together! Throw on some headphones, brew your favourite coffee, and take a stroll!


CHET FAKER – “GET HIGH”

Last month I said I wanted to join a horn section. Scratch that. I think I will now dedicate my life to learning piano so I can play this intro. I’ve already put in some serious work on the air piano version and am close to mastery. My early candidate for anthem of the spring/summer this is just pure catchy goodness. Put it on early in the morning, late in the afternoon, or well into the evening. It plays well no matter the mood. 



CHET FAKER – “LET GO”

Another top play right now from Nick Murphy, AKA “Chet Faker”. I love the simple bass line that leads the way from the start. This is an earworm that occupies my mind long after I turn it off. “Just because I feel low right now / It doesn’t mean all that I’ve got has run out” seems like advice we could all use these days. A little daily affirmation for your week ahead. 



SLOW LEAVES – “FEEL IT TOO” 

I mentioned my emotional tie to Slow Leaves in my yearly review, but bias aside, I think his two new singles are just great tunes. Grant Davidson is a great songwriter. I’m someone who listens to full albums rather than playlists of handpicked songs from various artists. The uniqueness of each song keeps me interested when I listen to his. I like “Feel It Too” because it is a little moody (there is a baseline moodiness to his music) and more set up for a full band, which strays a bit from his more acoustic work. The guitar chords have a somewhat Spanish sound to them which I like and that little reverb thing in the intro makes me happy too. 



SLOW LEAVES – “STICK AROUND”

And just like that we are back to a softer acoustic track from Mr. Davidson. If you like dad humour you should also check out his instagram. It is filled with self-deprecation and awkward selfies. The video for “Feel It Too” will give you a good sample of what to expect. It makes me laugh quite often. Just that alone makes me want to support this guy. 



PARKER MILLSAP – BE HERE INSTEAD

I’ve got a story for this one. When I was living in Swift Current in 2017 I got invited by some friends from home to go out to Shann and Ray Gowan’s farm for a BYOB concert. They have a beautiful little spot right on the creek and set up a big fair tent, which they also used at the Long Day’s Night Music Festival in town. Parker Millsap was the entertainment. It was a wonderful, warm, summer evening and the whole thing had an amazing intimacy to it. There might have been 60 people there total, which made it feel like a private concert. We had our cooler and chairs set up at the back so if you needed a refill it was only a quick reach away. The picture above is from that night looking at the back of the tent. I will always remember Fossum and I stepping outside the tent at the midpoint break for a leak and we see the violin player violently puking at the other end of the canvas. For a guy that was either extremely drunk or quite ill I wouldn’t have guessed based on his on stage performance. 

His newest offering was just released this week and I am already a big fan. It’s a good mix of all the things I like. “Rolling” is a perfect song to get you into it but my current favourite is “Vulnerable”, which makes me think of old orange carpet and people smoking inside. I love the line, “Sometimes your meekness / isn’t a weakness / sometimes a whisper says it all”. Go listen to his album The Very Last Day as well. I always play “Hands Up” when I’m hitting the road on a trip somewhere. Makes me feel like I’m a man on the run. START THE CAR!



Rhett



APRIL 2021

  • CHET FAKER – “GET HIGH”
  • CHET FAKER – “LET GO”
  • SLOW LEAVES – “FEEL IT TOO”
  • SLOW LEAVES – “STICK AROUND”
  • PARKER MILLSAP – BE HERE INSTEAD

March 2021


While it seems awfully premature to say this out loud, I think we may have made it to the early days of warmer weather and BBQ’d steaks. Longer days and the sight of sidewalks emerging from the snow has been a real mood booster for me. The changing of the seasons also has me thinking of brighter music. Get outside and feel that fresh air in your lungs people!


WAXAHATCHEE – SAINT CLOUD

My current “sunny days ahead” soundtrack. Waxahatchee, named after a creek in Alabama, lays down some light and catchy tunes perfect for this time of year. I like that it is upbeat and bright but still a little restrained. Like a volcano waiting to erupt, you can feel it building but not to the point of explosion. It mimics my cautious optimism towards spring weather. I can hear Katie Crutchfield pushing her voice to the edge of her range in songs like “Fire”, but she always keeps it just within her limit. This constant testing of her boundary is entertaining for me. I have cycled through the songs “Oxbow”, “Can’t Do Much”, “Fire” and “Lilacs” a lot this last week. Does anything scream spring like the smell of lilacs? This is also another beautiful album cover for leaning up against your record player. 



MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA – THE MILLION MASKS OF GOD

When I first started learning guitar I loved the song “Colly Strings” by Manchester Orchestra. I used to play the intro over and over again because it was simple, which let me sing over top without focusing on the guitar. From there I was always interested in their albums. Simple Math in 2011, Cope in 2013, and A Black Mile To The Surface in 2017 were all top plays for me. I never really know what basket to throw them in genre-wise. Each album sounds so different to me. Some have heavier rock, some have haunting vocal tunes, and the first song released on this upcoming album has an electronic rock feel to it. I’m excited for more of these songs to be released.



MIDDLE KIDS – TODAY WE’RE THE GREATEST

It’s 9am, I’m having my first coffee of the day and am looking out towards the river watching the ice slowly melt. I throw on Middle Kids’ “Cellophane (Brain)” to give me a little spark and get me moving for the rest of the day. It’s feel good music that goes down easy. I also really love the little horn parts in the song “Questions” (Note to self: learn a horn instrument and join a horn section). It’s gonna be a good day folks!



WALLOWS – REMOTE EP

Is anyone still listening to the band Matt and Kim? When I first heard this band it instantly reminded me of them. Pretty eclectic and lots of pop. It reminds me of my early high school days. It’s music that I don’t spend too much time thinking about, I just put it on for something happy, energetic and different. You know the Netflix show, “13 Reasons Why” that sparked some suicide awareness talk? Dylan Minnette, the male lead, is one of the founding members of this band. 



MARCUS KING – EL DORADO

When I heard the first song on this album,”Young Man’s Dream”, I couldn’t stop thinking about how similar his voice was to James Vincent McMorrow’s (Go listen to “We Don’t Eat” and let me know if you agree!). Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys produced this album and you can certainly hear that influence in songs like “The Well”. If I had one word to describe this collection of songs, it would be: soul. I just love the sound he has found here. “Wildflowers & Wine” makes me want to join a gospel choir, throw my hands up in the air, and do that back and forth choir shuffle that you see in the movies. Also, this cat can really play the guitar! If nothing else, just focus in on his guitar for a while and get mesmerized. Eat your heart out, this guy can do it all. 



Rhett



MARCH 2021

  • WAXAHATCHEE – SAINT CLOUD
  • MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA – THE MILLION MASKS OF GOD
  • MIDDLE KIDS – TODAY WE’RE THE GREATEST
  • WALLOWS – REMOTE EP
  • MARCUS KING – EL DORADO

February 2021


Hello from the icebox that is Saskatoon! Hope everyone is staying warm wherever you are. I’ve got another monthly piece for you to enjoy while you are keeping the fire place full of logs!


Mandolin Orange – My Brother, My Keeper

I’ve always got something a little folky in my repertoire. The North Carolina duo blends their voices perfectly and are so easy to listen to. This single pairs a deep bass line with bright mandolin notes and it works so well. The song kind of bobs along and reminds me of something that would be playing in the background of a whisky bootleg movie. If you want another good/sad song from them check out “Golden Embers”. It’s a song written about the loss of Andrew Marlin’s mother when he was 18. Again, just amazing blending of voices and harmonizing here.



Half Moon Run – The Covideo Sessions

This is a cool take on music during COVID. This whole album is a collection of their songs recorded all from separate locations where each band member is isolating. All of it is recorded in video too, so you can watch them all on Youtube as well. It’s funny to watch them relaxing in their homes but still finding a way to make music with their friends. It also gives you some of that live feeling of watching them play their respective instruments. They are actually one of the last bands I saw in concert pre-pandemic so listening to these songs makes me remember that time fondly. 



Slow Pulp – Moveys

This one might be a little too indie for some people. I will admit that it has a bit of that “hipster music” feel to it. But if you give it a chance there might be a couple songs that you like. There is something very 90’s about this but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. The song “Idaho” makes me think of The Cranberries a little bit, maybe? I would start with this song and then branch out from there if you are hesitant based on the start of my description. 



Kings Of Leon – When You See Yourself

Kings of Leon is a pretty safe pick every time. Before even hearing a song off of the new album you can pretty much count on it being enjoyable. The first songs that have been released are terrific. I love Kings of Leon, you love Kings of Leon, your dog loves Kings of Leon. It’s pretty simple. 



The War on Drugs – Live Drugs

I am admittedly not a huge fan of live albums. Do I think seeing a band live has something more than listening at home? Absolutely. Live music is something I am really passionate about. You get the imperfections and changes that you can only hear in the moment and I love the collective experience you get with others. But I’ve always found it odd when I fall in love with a song’s studio version and then hear it played slightly different on a live recording and think, “This just isn’t the EXACT same song!” or “They didn’t play that one part EXACTLY how I like it!”. I’ve said it before, I think The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding is one of my favourite albums of all time. It just seems like it is going to stand up to the test of time. Whenever I go back to it I realize how much I love it again and it continues to sound current. This clouded my view on the live album even more. So when I saw The War on Drugs – Live Drugs come up on my phone I didn’t even think to tune in. 

A couple weeks ago, I was talking to someone about missing concerts and live music. I suddenly found myself thinking about live albums as a fix. Remember Metallica – S&M, where they play with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra? My oldest brother, Jori, had that on DVD and I remember thinking it was the coolest thing since Stretch Armstrong. Seriously, go check that out if you haven’t or if its been a while. So back to Live Drugs I go. Boy, am I happy I gave it a second thought! It has all the things I like about my old favourite songs but it adds that element of something extra. The onstage improvisation has added value this time for me. I love listening to the crowd and I feel like you can really hear the way the instruments are being played individually not just as a sum of parts. Put on the song “Pain” and enjoy those guitar solos towards the end. They friggan slap. The War on Drugs is #1 on my list of bands to see in concert post COVID. Fitting for a pharmacist.



Rhett



FeBRUARY 2021

  • MANDOLIN ORANGE – MY BROTHER, MY KEEPER
  • HALF MOON RUN – THE COVIDEO SESSIONS
  • SLOW PULP – MOVEYS
  • KINGS OF LEON – WHEN YOU SEE YOURSELF
  • THE WAR ON DRUGS – LIVE DRUGS

January 2021


Here we are for round 2 of my blog!

I’ve had lots of conversations about my first post over the last few weeks and I’m happy that it sparked some joy for a few people. Thank you to everyone for checking it out and hopefully we can keep it rolling! It’s funny, while I feel that I have always thought about music in this way, having to write about it makes you really pay attention to what you are listening to and why. I’m enjoying that and it has definitely kept my mind occupied the last little while. So thank you for listening along. 

In what I am planning on being a monthly post to go along with some other segments, “What am I listening to?” is going to be a collection of songs or albums that I am currently enjoying. It doesn’t mean I think these are the best things ever written, but more of a time stamp on what I am presently into. From old to new to not fully released. I hope this can be something monthly you can turn to for finding a new song you like.

Let’s give it a go!


PINEGROVE – MARIGOLD

I alluded to this band in my first post when talking about “winter albums”. They play perfect music for the time of year when the sun is down when you get up and down again when you come home from work. When I got my very first vehicle (I hope that little car is still on the road somewhere living a good life…), I remember buying Jack Johnson’s album Sleep Through the Static. I listened to it the entire drive home from Swift Current to Climax. Every time I hear one of those songs I think of my little silver Civic. When I upgraded to my new vehicle, Pinegrove’s Skylight was that same thing for me.

This year they released Marigold, which has a very similar feel to it. Evan Stephens Hall’s voice comes at you with some angst and emotion but also has charm and warmth. To reiterate my comment in my last post, I like the raw feeling to their music. It doesn’t seem too refined or perfect which makes it more relatable. They also just released a raw studio recording album which features many of the same songs called Amperland, NY. If you like the rough around the edges feel check that out too.



ARLO PARKS – COLLAPSED IN SUNBEAMS

I don’t know much about this girl but have been listening to the first few songs on her soon to be released album quite a bit this month. The songs are catchy and I find myself putting them on whenever I need a little pick me up. There is some soul here that I enjoy. This is already her second full album and Google tells me that she is only 20 years old. I imagine we will be hearing a lot more from her in the coming years.



JULIEN BAKER – LITTLE OBLIVIONS

Another yet to be released album that I am excited to hear more from. This is also one of those put your headphones on and get into bed kind of artist. There is always some expansive, almost floating on air feeling to her songs which puts me at ease. Another awesome album is a collaboration of Julien Baker with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus called boygenious if you are looking for something similar. “Faith Healer” is the first song released from the album and it is a good start for me. I am hoping the rest will be similar.



WESLEY SCHULTZ – VIGNETTES

The lead singer from The Lumineers puts out a solo album full of cover songs. Don’t think I need to say much else here. You know what you are going to get.



CUT WORMS – NOBODY LIVES HERE ANYMORE

If you are looking for someone to take you back a few decades, Max Clarke the singer/songwriter based in Brooklyn, NY can get you there. I’ve seen some compare him to Buddy Holly or George Harrison as a guide for what you are going to get. I’m no expert on those two, but it definitely sounds like it is from a distant past. It reminds me of an old book that has been sitting on your shelf in the sun for a few years. Its worn, a little bent and yellow, but familiar even though you haven’t looked inside in a while. This is easy listening all the way through.



BAHAMAS – EARTHTONES

Although not the most recent album from this Canadian mainstay, it is certainly my favourite. I go back to these songs all the time. There are some catchy little guitar riffs in a lot of the songs that I really enjoy. The very first song “Alone” has this sliding guitar part that always has me doing an air guitar imitation. I have a pair of over the ear headphones and this song is great for turning on and turning up. “No Expectations” and “Way with Words” are my top songs for grooving in the kitchen while I am doing dishes. 



That’s all for now! Happy listening!

Rhett



January 2021

  • PINEGROVE – MARIGOLD
  • ARLO PARKS – COLLAPSED IN SUNBEAMS
  • JULIEN BAKER – LITTLE OBLIVIONS
  • WESLEY SCHULTZ – VIGNETTES
  • CUT WORMS – NOBODY LIVES HERE ANYMORE
  • BAHAMAS – EARTHTONES

2020 Review


Hello there!

Welcome to my new music blog! I’m Rhett and this is my first attempt at doing something a little creative. Do I have any special musical or journalism background that gives me the credentials to create a blog like this? Absolutely not. I am just a guy who loves music. And not just the music itself, but the people behind the music, how songs and albums are written, the evolution of a songwriter, and the stories behind a song. I like to think this is the small town Saskatchewan in me where it is just as important to know about the people and where they are coming from as it is about the product that they produce. It adds value to the end result for me. I’ve also always been someone who ties memories to music. I can recall exact feelings of a trip or be transported to a specific moment in time the second I hear a certain song. I love this about music.

A few years ago, Jay Onrait and Dave Hodge from TSN started putting out an “Annually Tolerated List of Top Albums” around Christmas time each year. I always loved this list. I found that I had a very similar taste in music to these two and I loved the way they talked about the albums. There were always a couple albums on the list that I knew and loved, but also a bunch that I didn’t know. Some of my favourite albums of the last 5 years I found on that list (ex: The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding). In recent years, they have stopped compiling their list. And while I hold out hope every winter that they will rekindle that fire, I thought this maybe gives me something to think about myself. What are some of my favourite albums this year? What songs are the ones I find myself singing in the shower or playing on my morning commute the most? And what is on everyone else list? What are other people listening to that I am missing out on?

All this has spawned an idea to create a blog. While I don’t have everything fully thought out, I do have some ideas on content that I can create to keep this going for a while and hopefully entertain some friends and spread the joy of finding new-to-you music. And this brings me to Nathan Jones. The guy is one of the most creative people I know. A master photographer with a great appetite for music. When I was thinking about this idea I knew Nathan would be game to help me get the ball rolling.

Nathan: I am always keen for a creative collab, and this seemed like a great way to reflect on some great albums from 2020, a year in which I spent a lot of time sitting at home listening to music. I love hearing what people are listening to and getting introduced to new artists. My one complaint with this list is that I allowed Rhett to go first, as Colter Wall, Jason Isbell and Kacey & Clayton all likely would have made my list. I’m looking forward to finding more music and hopefully getting to check out some shows with y’all in the near future.

So without further adieu, here are our lists:


RHETT’S LIST


HONOURABLE MENTIONS: 

KURT VILE – SPEED, SOUND, LONELY KV – EP

This guy cracks me up. The most, “jean jacket pharmacist” looking guy with a calm, cool, laidback personality. And while I also find his songs to be laid back, they are complex and show the genius of his guitar playing and song writing. One of my favourite things about his songs is the irregularity. He throws riffs and notes in that feel out of place at times, but in a way that surprises you with how well it fits. Ever since I first heard his song “Pretty Pimpin’” I have been following along closely. This new EP is written with a lot of influence from John Prine. He covers some of his songs and also copilots “How Lucky” with him. An absolutely amazing feel good song. 

Best Enjoyed: Sitting on your porch looking out at the morning sun and thinking, “it’s good to have land.”


MUSIC BAND – CELEBRATION

A new discovery this year for me was Music Band. The songs rock and are catchy as hell. I love that it is rock and roll but that at times it also feels a little surfer-rock too. Something you can listen to at anytime and isn’t going to piss of your neighbours too much either. My favourite song is “Superstition” which starts out in this sort of rock trance but then transitions into something completely different. I don’t have much else to say about this one other than that I have listened to it a lot this year. 

Best Enjoyed: While driving out to a sandbar on a nice hot summer day


10. SARAH HARMER – ARE YOU GONE

I’ve got to be honest, I had never heard of Sarah Harmer before my friend Eric asked me if I had listened to her new album. After a quick Google search upon returning home, I found out that she has been making music for almost as long as I have been alive and has played in or along side many of Canada’s biggest bands over the last 30 years. 10 years removed from her last album she comes in with a solid return. Her voice is unbelievably easy to enjoy and the songs are wonderful top to bottom. Throw “Squeaking Voices” on your headphones and float away from whatever had you in a funk that day. 

Best Enjoyed: When you’re washing the dishes after a week of letting them pile up to a point where they don’t all fit in the dishwasher.


9. SLOW LEAVES – SHELF LIFE

I have a bit of a personal attachment to Slow Leaves. Another smaller Canadian songwriter who you can still find playing shows at your local bar or church (ie. The Bethany in Hazlet, SK.). My girlfriend, who at the time was still living in Germany, was visiting me and we stumbled by accident into the Legion in Jasper, AB and got to see him play. It was one of those  very Canadian moments I was so happy to experience with Jessi. Drinking rye & ginger’s at the Legion with some Jasper locals, listening to a guy from Winnipeg on stage. Kinda funny that one of his songs that night was “How Do I Say?” which is about falling in love with a foreign woman and then learning that it won’t work and trying to figure out how to communicate that in a different language to each other. Luckily, we don’t believe in bad omens. This new album took me a while to get into because I have such an attachment to his older songs, but I’ve grown to love it. If you are needing a good song to cry to, try out “Sentimental Teardrops”. That should do the trick.

Best Enjoyed: After a long day of work as you slide out of your work clothes and into a nice pair of slippers.


8. KEVIN MORBY – SUNDOWNER

Right in my wheelhouse as far as music style goes. A little indie folk with some fun guitar riffs to keep you whistling along the whole way. It feels like the perfect soundtrack for laying under the big blue Saskatchewan sky and watching the world go by. There is something about the album that makes me feel like I’m caught in a lucid dream of sorts. He has a comfort in his voice that makes you feel like you know him as well as the people and places he sings about. This also might be my favourite album cover of the year as well. It’s a perfect one to lean up next to your record player to show that you are a hipster.

Best Enjoyed: While you head out on an afternoon stroll through the neighbourhood.


7. JACK GARRATT – LOVE, DEATH & DANCING

The most pop heavy album in my list. This guy just blows my mind. He is one of those people you just marvel at. I went to ACL in Austin, TX with my friend Jaelee a few years ago and we saw this guy perform by accident. Just happened to walk up to a stage and he was the next guy up. He stood up there by himself surrounded by gear. Very Neil Pert esque. He played and looped guitar, piano, and a drum pad kit and then sang over top of it all as he was going. It was such an amazing thing to watch. He was doing so much and his songs were so god damn catchy and creative. I instantly thought of my friend Kelby watching him because I knew he would appreciate the creativity of it all. I remember some people standing near us that had one of those big signs so the group can find each other in the crowd that said “If you are lost, dance with us”. I loved that. Love, Death & Dancing is another album that took me a while to get into because I had such an attachment to the old album. But let me tell you this, I’ve probably listened to “Time” and “Mara” more than any songs this year. They just have something about that them that is a little different than my usual. I want you to listen to this album but also please Youtube “Jack Garratt – A Cardinal Sessions Performance”. I’ve watched that 100 times in the last few years.

Best Enjoyed: As a pick-me-up on your morning drive to work.


6. KACY & CLAYTON & MARLON WILLIAMS – PLASTIC BOUQUET

The Wood Mountain duo join forces with a Kiwi troubadour for this one. If you can find it, I used to watch this old video of Marlon Williams playing a song called “The Ballad of Minnie Dean” on a show called BalconyTV. It’s a murder ballad about a New Zealand lady in 1895 who was found guilty of infanticide. Super dark stuff but the song is so beautifully sang and performed on that video. Kacy & Clayton, on the other hand, have become one of my favourites in more recent years. They definitely have a bit of a throw back style to some older generations of country/americana, but it reminds me of home in that way. Kacy’s voice isn’t everyones cup of tea, but I just can’t get enough of these songs. I love Clayton’s guitar playing as well. The guitar riffs in “Isn’t It” are incredible. The addition of Marlon Williams couldn’t have fit in any better. Their voices and style are a match made in heaven. You can still see these guys play at some smaller venues like the Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon, but I don’t know how long that will last. It’s only a matter of time before these guys really take off. 

Best Enjoyed: At your hometown minor sports fundraiser


5. COLTER WALL – WESTERN SWINGS & WALTZES and OTHER PUNCHY SONGS

I don’t know how much explaining I need to do here. If you’ve already clicked on this blog then you likely already have listed to this album as much as I have. Another album from our favourite Saskatchewan cowboy that absolutely hits the mark. It does make me laugh to think about a 90’s kid from Speedy Creek singing about life like he was out on the plains 100 years ago, but christ, he sure paints the picture for me. I’ll be the first to admit that my SW Sask pride shines bright every time I hear his voice. 

Best Enjoyed: Listening in the car while driving from Climax to Cypress Hills via the cut across 


4. FLEET FOXES – SHORE

This is one of those bands that has had a career running perfectly parallel to my taste but never really crossing into my tracks. Back in high school when I was watching The O.C. and starting to branch out into bands like Death Cab for Cutie, Band of Horses, and LCD Sound System I had come across Fleet Foxes self titled album. That album was big and if you look up the album cover you have probably seen it in passing at some point in your life. At the time I didn’t love it and since then I have looked away anytime I saw their albums come across my screen. Flash forward to 2020 and I’m willing to give anything a shot, old or new, just to occupy my time. With a refreshed set of ears I gave them another chance and I’m glad I did. This album is good anytime music and I played it a lot this summer. “Can I Believe You” was my most played song of the season.

Best Enjoyed: On your long weekend camping trip


3. IAN WAYNE – RISKING ILLNESS

Every year I try and find a “Winter Album”. One of those ones where you can stay in all day when it’s freezing cold out, drink coffee and just enjoy some tunes. I’ve got a couple favourites for this, like John K. Samson – Winter Wheat, but was looking to add to the repertoire this year. While perusing a music website at my lunch break one day, I came across Ian Wayne. I had no idea who he was or what kind of music he played but I wrote his name down on a sticky note and threw it in my pocket. It turned into the exact album I was looking for. It is calm and relaxing but has some songs that pick it up a bit like, “Gimme Something”. Much like another favourite of mine, Pinegrove, it has a raw sound to it that I find endearing. As if it was recorded in your basement. This was one of my favourite discoveries of the year.

Best Enjoyed: Put your headphones on, turn it up loud, and crawl into bed.


2. JASON ISBELL AND THE 400 UNIT – REUNIONS

I am 100% a Jason Isbell fanboy and I have no shame in admitting it. If there was a Church of Isbell, I would get ordained. I really hope someone reading this will get to discover him for the first time. Personally, I started with the album “Southeastern” in 2013 and since then he has continued to put out my favourite songs and albums, time and time again. I was lucky enough to catch him at Regina Folk Fest last year and he lived up to every expectation I had. His songwriting is next level, his guitar playing ability is out of this world, and he also just seems like a small town stand up guy. This new album has it all and is as good as ever, top to bottom. His wife Amanda Shires, who plays fiddle in his band to compliment her own solo career, can be heard singing harmony with him throughout which I love. That was one of my favourite things about watching live was to see the way those two interact and play to each other. I love “Only Children” and “Be Afraid” the most, but if you’re looking for your next father/daughter dance song “Letting You Go” might be your jam. 

Best Enjoyed: Anytime, anywhere. GO LISTEN TO JASON ISBELL!


1. ANDY SHAUF – THE NEON SKYLINE

My earliest memory of Andy Shauf was hearing someone in Climax or Frontier talk about this guy who played Christian punk music in Caronport, SK. Christian punk wasn’t exactly a genre I was looking to explore at that time and so it passed by without a thought. Fast forward to 2015 and I discovered a video on Youtube for the song “Wendell Walker” from his album The Bearer of Bad News. I was hooked. I loved the simplicity. From there, I fell in love with the song “Hometown Hero”. It’s a classic small town story which I’ve heard he based on a guy from Bienfait, SK. His next album titled The Party which came out in 2016 is a concept album. The whole album is written as a fictional story about a house party with each song depicting a different scene throughout the night. What a creative way to write music! And that’s not even the most creative part about it. Andy recorded every instrument on the album himself except for the strings (ie. violin, etc.). Pardon?! I can barely play one instrument. This instantly became one of my top plays. One of my best memories about this album was while traveling a couple years ago, my girlfriend and I heard the song, “Quite Like You” while we were having breakfast in a hotel in Amsterdam and it completely made my day.

So how does someone follow up that last masterpiece? With another masterpiece. And another concept album. This one centered around a barfly drinking away his sorrows at his local bar The Neon Skyline. I love the way he writes about scenarios that everyone can relate to in some way. I feel like I’ve been in that bar and seen these people. I watched an interview where he was asked what song in history he wished he had written. His answer was “Paul Simon – 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”. Ever since then I can hear the Paul Simon influence in his writing. His story telling in a song and the way his lyrics are almost talked instead of sang in some parts. The whole album is amazing. It is absolutely my favourite album of 2020. Now, scroll out of this blog, put on “Things I Do” and try not to grove. I dare you.

Best enjoyed: In a dark smoky room with a drink in hand.


NATHAN’S LIST


HONOURABLE MENTIONS: 

MASEGO – STUDY ABROAD

A funky mix of saxophone, rapping, scatting and R&B. One of the more unique artists I listened to this year. 


KATHLEEN EDWARDS – TOTAL FREEDOM

I saw Kathleen play at the Regina Folk Fest last year and was beguiled. Another well written release from her that is fun, honest and relatable. 


10. KIRBY – SIS

I stumbled across Kirby on an NPR Tiny Desk and was immediately infatuated. I have a bit of a thing for sultry R&B, and she hits all the notes. I don’t have much to say on this album beyond that, give it a listen

Best Listened To: Tucked in the corner of a speakeasy drinking pricey cocktails. 


9. DAVID RAMIREZ – MY LOVE IS A HURRICANE

Ramirez is a hard man to pin down genre-wise. His earlier work offers a classic singer-songwriter sound, but this albums adds a pop-synth vibe that pairs well with his smooth voice. Listening to this album sounds like a bit of a daydream, staring out the window and pondering relationships gone awry and thinking of those to come. My favourite song on the album is “Hell”, which is a collaboration with Sir Woman (whose EP Bitch is also worth checking out). The songs in the album, in many ways, hit the different notes of relationships; excitement, lust, love, shame, frustration, all of which are relatable in different ways. 

Best Listened To: Staring at the sunset reflecting on lovers come and gone. 


8. EARLY JAMES – SINGING FOR MY SUPPER

Early James seems like someone threw Shel Silverstein, a telecaster, a lounge singer in a slow cooker, set it to high and left it to stew for a few years. James’ raspy croon pairs well with his appearance, giving the sense that he stepped out of an alternate reality where the 60’s were somehow mashed up with the future. While at times this album seems to drag on and can be a bit repetitive, it won me over with its unique sound. With playful songwriting and a standout voice, very excited to see what the future looks like for James. Things are still early.

Best Enjoyed: Crafting your alter-ego


7. CHARLEY CROCKETT – WELCOME TO HARD TIMES

Is there anything more outlaw country than being an actual descendant of Davey Crockett? Well, perhaps if said descendant was involved in a stock fraud scheme, spent years selling weed to make ends meet on the road and has proclaimed he doesn’t embellish his story in his song, but in fact has had to tone things down. All paired with some of the finest Nudie Suits in the game. Charley Crocket sings with a dated urgency that makes you want to sleep with the sheriffs wife, rob a bank and make like dodge out of town. His songs about the struggles of life come off with a wry sense of fun while welcoming you to the club. His latest offering is similar to past, a raucous tone that draws you and spits you out bewildered and grinning like a mad man. 

Best Enjoyed: Trying to outrun the sun on some dirt road somewhere.


6. MAC MILLER – CIRCLES 

I am admittedly rarely in the know with hip-hop and was never in tune with what Mac Miller was doing, outside of the Knock-Knock phase that took the world by storm. This post-humous release paired well with the early days of quarantine, a chill album that was easy to throw on and bop along to. 

Best Listened To: Sitting on your front step watching the world go by with a smile on. 


5. THE SCOUNDRELS – MUSIC FROM THE ARCH

I came across this album a few weeks ago and it has been on repeat. I have yet to purchase bellbottoms and take jive lessons, but goddamn if those are not both on my list of things to do in 2021. Throw this album on and wherever you are immediately is transformed into a hip warehouse with cheap beer, a hot dog stand and funky people smoking cigarettes and making it look cool. I know absolutely nothing about this band, but if you don’t get up and grove to this album there something seriously wrong with you. 

Best Enjoyed: Dancing in your house, dancing on the streets, dancing at work, dancing anywhere really. 


4. WILLIAM PRINCE – RELIEVER 

The pride of Winnipeg, Manitoba, William Prince has secured his place on my list of favourite songwriters with his release Reliever. A man who undoubtably has overcome his fair share of obstacles in becoming a working musician, Prince writes with a sense of gratitude that wraps itself around his tales of divorce, love and pain. “ain’t bringing bout my vengeance anymore…take the blame and cut the righteous out” he sings in Always Have What We Had, discussing working through the bitterness of divorce and finding the silver linings in the children that came from that relationship. In may way’s this album acts as a harbinger of wisdom. The songs offering understanding in pain but suggesting transcendence through suffering. This album offers sage life advice, not through lecture, but empathy in suggesting you take the high road, but knowing why you might not. 

Best Enjoyed: Sunday morning drinking coffee and noticing how good the sun feels on your face 


3. STURGILL SIMPSON – CUTTING GRASS VOL 2

As certified Sturgill fanboy (we are both gemenis ya know), I was curious to see where he would go after his last release, which was a rock & roll departure, paired with corresponding anime film. Cutting Grass was a hard return to his roots, offering covers of his earlier work with a bluegrass spin. I’m partial to Vol 2, as the addition of the mandolin gives it more of a country twang, but both albums are worth a listen. I don’t think they will vault ahead of his previous work in my books, but add another unique offering to his catalogue. Whether he is plotting his next big fuck you to the CMA’s or travelling to Japan to produce another anime flick, I’m always amused and inspired by what Sturgill is up to.

Best Enjoyed: Researching your astrological signs to justify your behavior.


2. KHRUANGBIN (Everything they did this year) 

I can’t recall whether I was in love in Austin (this band’s hometown) when I was introduced to Khruangbin, but I do know it was the focus of my affections who brought them into my life. Hard to pronounce, but easy to enjoy, Khruangbin offers blissed out synths and funky guitar that works both as a great background soundtrack to your work from home set up or a funky groove to set the mood while having fiends over and having a few bevy’s. It helps that the band looks like the cooler and more refined older cousins of the Black Eyed peas. Not to be outdone by an annoying virus, Khruanbin released a killer collab album with Leon Bridges (Texas Sun), a handful of groovy singles and Mordecai, a full release. All of them are worth exploring. 

Best enjoyed: Drinking cocktails and swaying along to the beat while telling all your stressors kick rocks


1. NATHANIEL RATELIFF – AND IT’S STILL ALRIGHT 

I first fell in love with the Sultan of Sad a few years ago when I stumbled across his album In Memory of Loss. It seemed a lot more honest and packed more of an emotional punch than his work with the Night Sweats. I listened on repeat and was excited when I saw he was releasing a new solo album. I was not disappointed. There is an angst in this album that is apparent, even more saw if you watched Nathaniel choke back tears singing at the Willie and Friends online festival in the early days of quarantine. The ammunition for his sorrow is well packed, with his wife divorcing him, in part due to his struggles with alcoholism, followed by the death of his friend and produce. His earnest attempt to process his emotions and struggle to find the positives are relatable and poignant. “The glass is clear, but all this fear starts leaving a mark” is a line in And It’s Still Alright that sticks out to me, acknowledging the residue that tough times leave even after they are gone. Benjamin Tod said once in an interview that it was the duty of people who had sunk to great depths and survived to tell about it.  There are a few artists that have become trusty companions on my low days, and Nathaniel has secured his stake there. 

Best Enjoyed: Laying on the floor with a glass of whisky staring at the ceiling


Rhett’s List

  1. ANDY SHAUF – THE NEON SKYLINE
  2. JASON ISBELL AND THE 400 UNIT – REUNIONS
  3. IAN WAYNE – RISKING ILLNESS
  4. FLEET FOXES – SHORE
  5. COLTER WALL – WESTERN SWINGS & WALTZES and OTHER PUNCHY SONGS
  6. KACY & CLAYTON & MARLON WILLIAMS – PLASTIC BOUQUET
  7. JACK GARRATT – LOVE, DEATH & DANCING
  8. KEVIN MORBY – SUNDOWNER
  9. SLOW LEAVES – SHELF LIFE
  10. SARAH HARMER – ARE YOU GONE

Honorable Mentions:

  • MUSIC BAND – CELEBRATION
  • KURT VILE – SPEED, SOUND, LONELY KV – EP

NATHAN’s List

  1. NATHANIEL RATELIFF – AND IT’S STILL ALRIGHT 
  2. KHRUANGBIN (Everything they did this year)
  3. STURGILL SIMPSON – CUTTING GRASS VOL 2
  4. WILLIAM PRINCE – RELIEVER 
  5. THE SCOUNDRELS – MUSIC FROM THE ARCH
  6. MAC MILLER – CIRCLES
  7. CHARLEY CROCKETT – WELCOME TO HARD TIMES
  8. EARLY JAMES – SINGING FOR MY SUPPER
  9. DAVID RAMIREZ – MY LOVE IS A HURRICANE
  10. KIRBY – SIS

Honorable Mentions:

  • KATHLEEN EDWARDS – TOTAL FREEDOM
  • MASEGO – STUDY ABROAD