Sunday, December 24, 2023

Team Sisson's Best of 2023

Happy holidays from Team Sisson, and congratulations on receiving Chris Schuck's 22nd Annual Surprise Birthday Bash for Jesus. As always, we've picked and exquisitely sequenced tracks from 22 of our favorite albums of 2023 for your listening pleasure. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

1. Party Dozen - "Wake In Might"
Album: n/a
Let’s kick things off with some gnarly key/sax/percussion from Party Dozen.  I first became aware of Party Dozen this summer when they did a session at KEXP that I happened to be streaming in my office.  What first caught my ear was when they introduced the band one of the members was Jonathan Boulet.  Sharp eared listeners may recall we featured the Jonathan Boulet track “You’re A Animal” on the 2012 Bash.  This was, and remains one of my favorite songs we ever featured on the Bash, but we haven’t heard anything from this Aussie since then.  It appears he’s been keeping busy with other projects though and we’re glad to be re-introduced.  Their Spotify bio states Party Dozen is “a sonic partnership of saxophonist Kirsty Tickle and percussionist Jonathan Boulet, Party Dozen is a project loosely based around improvisation.” Truth be told they didn’t actually release an album this year.  Digging into their back catalog I highly recommend you check out 2022’s The Real Work.  As far as I can tell all they’ve released in 2023 is the single “Wake In Might” which we’re just too excited about to wait for it to be included on an album so here you go.  Hope you like it.  

2. The Gaslight Anthem - "Positive Charge"
Album: History Books
Today we right a wrong committed 14 years ago.  My biggest Birthday Bash regret is completely missing “The ’59 Sound” back in 2009 and failing to include it in that year’s still very strong Bash. I remember buying The ’59 Sound from eMusic the following year and I’ve been loving it all these years since.  You guys remember eMusic?  The model was you paid them $10/month and you got to download 30 songs per month.  It was a better deal than iTunes which was $1/song, but they had a pretty limited catalog of available music which worked great for me since I was trying to find cool unknowns at the time.  Now we pay $10/month for every song ever recorded.  What a world.  Have you heard Gary Gulman’s phone bit?  Anyway, Cory invited me to see the Gaslight Anthem this summer and they put on a fantastic show at the Midland. History Books is their first album since 2014’s Get Hurt and we’re super glad they’re back. 
Also check out: "History Books", "Spider Bites"

3. Sufjan Stevens - "Goodbye Evergreen"
Album: Javelin
You guys know we've been long time Sufjan fans.  I'm sure you all are too.  I mean what's not to love? We found out the day of Javelin's release that Sufjan's long-time and secret partner had passed away, and that's the context of "Goodbye Evergreen" and perhaps the whole album.  If you haven't heard it yet it's as pretty as you're imagining so just click play and thank me later.  
Also check out: "Will Anybody Ever Love Me?"

4. Petite Noir - "Blurry" feat. Sampa the Great
Album: MotherFather
Spotify says I added "Blurry" to my best of 2023 playlist on April 14, but I feel like it's been in my life forever. It just feels like one of those timeless songs that would have been just as good 30 years ago and will be as good 30 years from now.   According to his Spotify bio, "Petite Noir is the architect of Noirwave - a musical and cultural movement that draws creative energy from punk aesthetics and the fragmented identity of today's African diaspora."  Duh. 
Also check out: "Finding Paradise", "777

5. Lila Blue - "Sweet Pea"
Album: Sweat Pea
In November I was on a long early morning walk to Firestone where I was to pick up our mini-van with a new set of tires.  Earbuds were in and I was searching 2023 releases for something that might appeal to the Mankin boys.  To that point my best of 2023 playlist was dominated by gnarly guitar rock bands and sleazy hip hop.  I needed something softer and gentler to provide balance.  On that walk I found both Daneshevskaya ("Somewhere In The Middle" was a late cut) and Lila Blue.  Not sure either fit my criteria but damn were they both good.  
Also check out: "Changeling"

6. FIGHTMASTER - "Bad Man"
Album: Violence
One of the Sound Opinions producers introduced me to "Bad Man" on their fall Buried Treasures show.  I've been unable to get it out of my head ever since.  I don't think there's anything groundbreaking about the playing but the lyrics are so earwormy!  Plus, can you think of a better name for an artist than FIGHTMASTER?  Go ahead.  I'll give you a year and you won't be able to top it.  Speaking of a year, I think that's how long it will take for this song to escape your head.  "I've got one hand free, the other's on you knee"!!!!!!!
Also check out: "Wild One", their cover of "I Will Follow You into the Dark"

Album: Since I Have A Lover
I've had "Inwood Hill Park" and "Talkback" on my list since March.  I think 6LACK was mentioned on All Songs but I really don't remember.  Looking at the reviews Since I Have A Lover doesn't appear to have made a big impression with the critics, but I've been loving it for nine months and I guarantee you're loving what you're hearing too.  
Also check out: "Temporary (ft. Don Toliver)"

8. Geese - "2122"
Album: 3D Country
I really can't tell you how I got into Geese.  I'm pretty sure I investigated and wrote off a band called Goose as a potential Birthday Bash track last year or the year before.  Interestingly, just yesterday both Geese and Goose announced they had each lost a member of their respective bands.  Anyway, now that I poke around YouTube I think you can blame The Needle Drop for cluing me into this weird af Connecticut jam band.  I usually hate this kind of music but something about 3D Country has me dancing in the aisles.  
Also check out: "Cowboy Nudes", "I See Myself"

9. Lisa O'Neill - "All Of This Is Chance"
Album: All Of This Is Chance
Now that you're listening to "All Of This Is Chance," it should come as no surprise that my Spotify year-end wrap up listed it as my most played song of the year.  Lankum is getting all of the critical acclaim (#1 album on Loud & Quiet’s list) but we turned to Lisa O’Neill this year to satisfy our Irish folk/drone needs. 

10. Wilco - "Infinite Surprise"
Album: Cousin
Surprise surprise.  It's no secret Wilco has a special place in the hearts of Team Sisson.  My first concert ever was a show at the Blue Note in Columbia my junior year in high school.  I was dragged to it by the Kesterson boys who had moved to our tiny town a couple of years before from St. Louis.  They wanted to see these bands I had never heard of.  The opener was the Geraldine Fibbers and the headliner was Golden Smog which was an alt-country supergroup of sorts featuring members of Big Star, Soul Asylum, The Jayhawks along with Jay and Jeff from Wilco.  It was an amazing show and years later I realized the guy in the Geraldine Fibbers who was playing an upright bass with an electric mixer was Nels Cline (who has since joined, and remains in Wilco). One our our first dates was to a Wilco show.  Our first dance was to a Wilco song ("I'm the Man Who Loves You").  She got me an picture autographed by the entire band as a pharmacy school graduation present.  Yeah, we go way back.  All that being said, I have to say I haven't been gaga for the last couple of Wilco albums.  Cousin though?  I think it's their best work since The Whole Love. Gabe and I caught them at the Midland a couple of months ago and it was a stellar show.  
Also check out: "Evicted", "Ten Dead", "Pittsburgh"

11. Wednesday - "Hot Rotten Grass Smell"
Album: Rat Saw God
I was just thinking, when I was in college there was this emo band called Thursday that I liked a little but not a lot.  This made me think, "has a band/artist been named after every day of the week?"  The answer is yes (go ahead, see for yourself), but by faaaaarrrrr the most successful so far has been the Ashville, NC quartet, Wednesday.  I had "Bull Believer" on my best of 2022 list but the full album wasn't released until this year.  I was blown away when I first heard Rat Saw God, but it turns out I'm not the only one who noticed.  Rat Saw God has been DOMINATING year end best of lists.  Speaking of "Bull Believer," check out this passage from the Sputnik Music review; "Bull Believer” may end up being one of the most important songs of the year. With its two-part narrative, the first half of the song tells the sad vision of watching someone you know succumb to addiction while the latter half embraces a bittersweet reflection on teenage years. With every passing line and gritty guitar passage, the sadness builds and tension grows thicker. Yet all of this tension is released at once as the gut-wrenching screams of ”Finish Him!” pierce through the cacophony of instrumentation as the narrator comes to terms with the person they are today. It’s beautiful, emotional, and resolute – and it perfectly captures the essence of Rat Saw God."  That's a lot of info about a song not even on the Bash, but seriously, check it out.  And seriously, the whole album is great.  Looks like they're playing Omaha May 30th.  In one of the live performance videos I saw, Karly told the crowd before the last song, they "don't do encores because encores are goofy."   I totally agree!  Zentz, you in?  
Also check out: "Quarry", "Got Shocked"

12. Briston Maroney - "Body"
Album: Ultrapure
The past couple of years I’ve felt compelled to include the song I hear on repeat on The Bridge that makes me think, “oh, what is this?” even though I’ve already heard it a bunch of times.  Last year it was “Growing/Dying” by The Backseat Lovers.  This year it’s Briston Maroney’s “Body.”  I mean you can’t blame me right?  This song is catchier than chicken pox. In fact, I just searched the YouTube video to link it and the top comment was "I just heard this song today for the first time May18, 2023.  It hits really hard when you’re 71 years old and you feel most of your life has just been used up. I can only hope and pray that I have some more time on earth… So that I can start living."  I mean damn, that's powerful. There's a lot more good stuff on Ultrapure too, though it doesn't look like the major publications/sites noticed.  The third search result I found when searching for Ultrapure reviews was a review in the Mizzou student newspaper, The Maneater (Briston Maroney’s ‘Ultrapure’ is a tranquil masterpiece).  Obviously it was an exceedingly well written piece and it was a real blast from the past for me to be reading The Maneater again. Apparently this dude was a semi-finalist on American Idol in when he was 15 years old. 
Also check out: "Sunburn Fades", "Chaos Party", "Breathe"

13. Palehound - "The Clutch"
Album: Eye On The Bat
This summer, Tim, The Mankin boys and I stumbled upon a killer music festival in rural Utah where we just happened to be camping and hiking (and very nearly dying but that's a story for another time).  One of the bands we saw was Houndmouth and those dudes were awesome.  Why am I brining this up? I don't really know aside from the fact that both Houndmouth and Palehound have the word hound in their names.  Plus that Utah trip was one of the highlights of my year so I had to find a way to get it in here.  Anyway, Eye On The Bat is so freakin' good you guys.  Palehound have been around since 2014 and I've seen the name before but this is the first album I've really listened to and I'm excited to dig into the back catalog. They're playing The Truman March 25!  I may set aside my disdain for that venue and go get my face blown off.  Let me know if you want to join!

14. feeble little horse - "Freak"
Album: Girl with Fish
You like fuzz?  You like guitars?  You will like feeble little horse!  You know how the last two or three years of the Bash have been dominated by UK post-rock/experimental/jazz guitar bands?  2023 is the year of the female fronted gnarly guitar rock band baby!  From the Pitchfork review: "Half a decade or so ago, the electric guitar received a wellness check. As sales plummeted and legacy manufacturers slogged through financial straits, concerned parties blamed the popularity of pop, hip-hop, and electronic music, genres more often built from synthesizers and drum machines. Even Paul McCartney chimed in, telling The Washington Post in 2017 that young people lacked “guitar heroes.”  Safe to say that the four members of Feeble Little Horse, most of whom were still in high school at that point, were not tuned into this conversation. The Pittsburgh noise-pop band’s second record, Girl With Fish, speaks to the idea that a younger generation of musicians would recognize the confluence of guitar music and digital sounds as a doorway rather than a death knell. It’s a familiar story, but Feeble Little Horse’s wall of influences—textured shoegaze guitars, exacting pop hooks, idiosyncratic production flourishes—has been wheat-pasted with such vim that it feels fresh and, just as importantly, emotionally resonant.
Also check out: "Tin Man", "Steamroller

15. Paris Texas - "BULLET MAN"
Album: MID AIR
Wanna feel old?  In their Lemonade Stand interview the guys are asked what music they listened to growing up and the first album mentioned was Outkast's Idlewild.  Not Southernplayalistic, not Stankonia, not AqueminiIdlewild. This gives me a great idea.  Instead of listing birthdays on drivers licenses, they should list the first Outkast album you listened to.  I would argue this information would be far more relevant than a random date with no context.  Don't you think?

16. The Rural Alberta Advantage - "CANDU"
Album: Conductors
You know, the idea of my "favorite ____" used to seem so important. Hopefully I'm not the only one but when when I was younger it seemed like your favorite whatever was a huge part of defining you as a person.  That need to constantly be ranking things has never really left me, although at this point I'm intellectually aware that as a 40 something year old no one will ever again ask me what my favorite anything is.  It doesn't matter anymore.  It probably never did.  That being said, if you were to ask me over the past ten years what my favorite bands have been, I'd say Wilco, Drive-By Truckers and The Rural Alberta Advantage.  What I'm trying to say is I think The RAA is about as good as it can get.  For years though I thought they were done. Their last album was 2017's Brother.  That year we featured "Dead/Alive" but have since heard crickets from our darling Canadians. This year though they released Conductors with little fanfare.  No matter.  We still found it and we love the hell out of it.  You will too!
Also check out: "Plague Dogs", "AB Bride

17. Yves Tumor - "Echolalia"
Album: Praise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds)
Did you know Yves Tumor is from Tennessee?  I was almost positive they were from outer space. I feel like I have no idea what is going on with this music, but I love it anyway.  I can't put it any better than the Pitchfork reviewer did.  "Yves Tumor began their career in the low-ceilinged world of experimental noise, but from the outset, their yearning—for bigger stages, sweeping statements, limitless horizons—was palpable. “I only want to make hits,” they said with a laugh in 2017. “What else would I want to make?” Since signing to Warp, Yves Tumor has scaled upward so quickly that it sometimes seemed their own music was racing to contain their ambitions. As 2018’s darkly sensuous Safe in the Hands of Love gave way to the sex-god theatrics of 2020’s Heaven to a Tortured Mind, the only true constant was Tumor’s near-religious devotion to the possibilities of recording—for the careful placement of perfect sounds within implied space. For Tumor, headphone space is holy space, a sanctuary in which all sorts of transfigurations become possible.  With Praise a Lord Who Chews but Does Not Consume (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds), Tumor reaches an inflection point in their arms race with their own talent and ambition." Headphone space is holy space.  I love that.  I also read that passage and know I could never be a music writer (though I try every year with this dumb blog).  In some rare agreement with this publication, "Echolalia" came in #45 on The Quietus' top 75 tracks of 2023 list.  

18. Kate Davis - "Consequences"
Album: Fish Bowl
I have no idea how Kate Davis ended up on my Best of 2023 playlist but I freakin' love "Consequences."  The rest of Fish Bowl is great too.  
Also check out: "Call Home", "Fish Bowl"

19. KAMAUU - "advantages"
Album: LACUNA in The House Of Mirrors
KEXP's Don Yates had this to say about LACUNA; "This Maryland rapper’s official debut full-length is a potent blend of hip hop, funk and R&B, combining a variety of adventurous, often-densely produced beats with rhymes of struggle, escapism, spirituality and community." I added "don't play with my money" to the Best of 2023 playlist in June and have been intrigued by KAMAUU ever since.  This one I'd say was more of a grower but we're all in now.  Looking at the Spotify plays "advantages" seems to be the most popular track but there is a ton of good stuff on here.  Do yourself a favor and listen to LACUNA a couple of times...and call me in the morning! 
Also check out: "switch up", "flings", "antidote

20. Jolie Holland - "Feet on the Ground"
Album: Haunted Mountain
We've been Jolie Holland fans for almost 20 years now.  At some point I put the song "Old Fashioned Morphine" on an early mix CD for Leanna and we've been loving her ever since.  This year both she and Buck Meek (from Big Thief) released albums called Haunted Mountain.  In the great Haunted Mountain vs Haunted Mountain battle of 2023, we preferred the Jolie Holland offering, though probably the best song on it ("Highway 72") is actually duet with Buck Meek.  What a world!  The last edit to the 2023 Bash playlist was to swap "Highway 72" with "Feet on the Ground" which saved us  47 seconds and got us under the 80 minute compact disc ceiling.  Which probably brings up an obvious question.  Why am I STILL making this as a CD?  I wonder that myself every year.  It's just one of those things I do.  To just make a playlist seems way too simple.  Anybody can do that.  Lots of people make playlists.  They take no time at all and require about as much thought.  Hopefully when you get the Birthday Bash you understand it took a lot of time and effort to make. Which I guess is sort of the point.  This year I've been repeating to my kids, my staff, whoever, the phrase "if it were easy it wouldn't be any fun." I guess that's the point.  Nothing ventured nothing gained.  Not that I'm gaining much besides personal satisfaction, but that's enough.  Ok, that's enough about that!
Also check out:  "Orange Blossoms"

21. Maruja - "Thunder"
Album: Knocknarea (EP)
Wikipedia says "Maruja is a Spanish given name, a diminutive form of the baptismal name María."  I say Maruja is yet another killer rock band from the UK. The past few years of the Birthday Bash have been dominated by two things.  Bands from across the Atlantic and saxaphones.  Maruja checks both of those boxes.  From their bandcamp bio: "From obscurity to notability, Manchester four-piece Maruja’s continual rise has yet to meet its upward limit. The convergence of vocalist and guitarist Harry Wilkinson, drummer Jacob Hayes, bassist Matt Buonaccorsi and saxophonist Joe Carroll makes for a formidable end result."  Formidable indeed!  These guys have released an album's worth of material over the past two years but Knocknarea is the only collection of songs so you get the stand out from that offering.  I considered bringing you the single "One Hand Behind The Devil," also released in 2023, but you'd be happy with any of their tracks.  These guys absolutely rip. If they release an LP next year I predict you'll see it on the end of year lists.  Remember though, you heard them here first!

22. Buck 65 - "Mono No Aware"
Album: Super Dope
Looooong-time Birthday Bash listeners might remember we included Buck 65's "1957" on our 2007 list.  After that we lost track of him, but it seems he's been keeping busy.  Super Dope is actually just one of three albums Buck 65 released this year after recently returning to the game following a 7ish year hiatus from music.  In researching this blurb I found a pretty good long form interview podcast called Kreative Kontrol where Buck did his first interview in 10 years.  This dude is fascinating.  First of all, he was an Anticon rapper back in the day and was the first one to sign a major label deal.  He was also a damn good baseball player growing up and as an adult, which explains why he mentions baseball in almost every one of his songs.  He's taken up the impossible task of finding and cataloging every drum break ever recorded and has an anonymous Instagram account where he features seven breaks every week and has earned the attention of some heavy hitting music producers who have no idea who he is.   Dude is fascinating.  Check it out if you can, and for sure check out Super Dope
Also check out: "Turf Rider
Here are some other albums that were in contention and deserving of recognition this year.

Young Fathers - Heavy Heavy
Pile - All Fiction
Black Belt Eagle Scout - The Land, The Water, The Sky
Lucero - Should've Learned by Now
MIRRROS - Motion and Picture
100 gecs - 10,000 gecs
The Tallest Man On Earth - Looking For Love
Cusp - You Can Do It All
McKinley Dixon - Beloved! Paradise! Jazz!?
Far Caspian - The Last Remaining Light
Noname - Sundial
Cherry Glazer - I Don't Want You Anymore
Slowdive - everything is alive
Lifeguard - Dressed in Trenches 
Hotline TNT - Cartwheel
Daneshevskaya - Long Is The Tunnel
Glen Hansard - All That Was East Is West Of Me Now

Once again, happy holidays from Team Sisson and have a great 2024!

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Team Sisson's Best of 2022

Happy holidays from Team Sisson, and congratulations on receiving Chris Schuck's 21st Annual Surprise Birthday Bash for Jesus. As always, we've picked and exquisitely sequenced tracks from 21 of our favorite albums of 2022 for your listening pleasure. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

1. Sasami - "Feminine Water Turmoil"
Album: Squeeze
Before we get into Sasami, please let me point out the 2022 Birthday Bash is the most jam packed Bash of all time (I think)! As you have most certainly forgotten, if you ever knew to begin with, the maximum capacity of any Compact Disc is 80 minutes.  The 2022 Birthday Bash checks in a 1:19:58.  We left only two seconds to spare this year!  You don't care?  Oh right, neither do I.  Anyway, late summer/early fall I listened to Squeeze in its entirety while on a long walk.  Obviously I liked it a lot.  Serious Chelsea Wolf vibes....delicate vocals over heavy music.  If you listen to music from the same sources as me there's a change you've heard "The Greatest," but I was most drawn to the closing track "Not A Love Song."  What I liked most about that song though was the string intro which turned out to be a separate track. It also turned out to be a killer intro to the 21st Birthday Bash.  21 years.  Can you believe it?  Do you care?  Oh right, neither do I. Can I point out, the video for "Sorry Entertainer" features Patti Harrison who absolutely kills me on I Think You Should Leave (Tables anyone?).  I know, that show is a little old, but we didn't get Netflix until this year.  I want my Corncob TV!
Also check out: "Skin A Rat", "Make It Right", "Sorry Entertainer

Album: Uncanny Valley
I was driving home one day this summer and Sirius XMU was doing their live broadcast of Lollapalooza.  I was unfamiliar with the band that was onstage, but what I heard was what sounded at the time like one of the best songs I'd heard in a long time.  I tried to Shazaam it but since it was live nothing came up.  I was able to deduce the band was COIN so when I got home I listened to a ton of COIN to try and figure out what that song was.  I never did, but in doing so I became a huge fan of Uncanny Valley. These guys met while attending the musically prestigious Belmont University in Nashville and have been making music together since 2012. The infectious "Brad Pitt" has been in very high rotation at Team Sisson HQ but we decided "Watering a Dead Flower" fit in better with the overall motif of the 2022 Bash.  
Also check out: "Chapstick", "Cutie

Album: Some Of Us Are Brave
Guys, Danielle Ponder spent over ten years as a public defender in Rochester, NY before finding mainstream success with Some Of Us Are Brave. Pretty impressive and interesting path to what I can only assume was her ultimate goal; top five placement on the Birthday Bash.  Congrats Danielle! The album title and title track are a reference to a book she read in law school, "All The Women Are White, All The Blacks Are Men, But Some Of Us Are Brave."  Every morning I turn on 90.9 The Bridge for the boys while they eat breakfast, and Danielle Ponder is the runaway winner for artist I hear that makes me say "hey boys, listen to this."  She's just fantastic.  Now you know. If you were unsure check out this "Creep" cover!
Also check out: "Only The Lonely"

4. Big Thief - "Little Things"
Album: Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
I've been a big Big Thief fan since I first listened to their debut Capacity while deliriously tired on an overnight bus trip through Kansas & Colorado back in 2017. I'm not their only fan though as Dragon has been featured heavily on the various year end lists.  In fact, according to Metacritic, Dragon was the third most mentioned album on critic year end lists, following only Beyoncé & Rosalia.  BPM & Paste had it in their #1 spot and I think if I were to rank these I'd probably have it there too.  This was one of the albums I struggled most with deciding which track to include.  
Also check out: "Sparrow",  "Red Moon"

5. Just Mustard - "Seed"
Album: Heart Under
Big thanks to Sonic Spectrum hosted by Robert Moore for introducing us to Just Mustard this summer. Turns out a lot of people discovered them as well.  I've seen Just Mustard popping up on several other best of 2022 lists. If you're somehow reading this but haven't yet heard "Seed," here's what Paste had to say about it. "As Heart Under standout “Seed” progresses towards its explosive denouement, a sea of guitars shrouded in phaser and tremolo effects builds a sense of simultaneous rest and unrest that hints at some big-time pressure relief at the song’s end. Ball’s voice likewise maintains an eerie sense of equilibrium even as she starts enunciating her words more urgently and loudly. A quieter stretch gives way to her absolutely wailing atop guitars that shriek and whine like horses let loose in a steel factory, and the fact that this was obviously right around the corner makes it no less powerful. It reminds me of how, no matter how much your anxiety compels you to prepare for some terrible theoretical event, that moment will still feel just as awful as if you hadn’t prepared at all."
Also check out: "Blue Chalk"

6. Nilüfer Yanya - "midnight sun"
Nilüfer Yanya is a British singer-songwriter who's been making music since 2014, and found quite a bit of success this year with PAINLESS.  "midnight sun" was one of our most listened to tracks all year
Also check out: "stabilise", "the dealer"  

7. Paolo Nutini - "Through the Echoes"
Album: Last Night In The Bittersweet
I listened to the entirety of Last Night In The Bittersweet on an early morning riverfront walk in Chattanooga this summer.  That morning I also listened to Steve Lacy's Gemini Rights which has earned way more critical love on the year end lists, but didn't hook me nearly as hard as Last Night.  Every year I try to predict which Bash track will be the earworm for most of you and this year there's no doubt you'll be shouting "over and over" in the shower after you hear it like I have for the past six months. 
Also check out: 

Album: The Florist
I really can't tell you how "Pool Party" ended up on my list and it was a bit of a late bloomer for me, but better late than never.  
Also check out: "Backwards Directions", "High Five"

9. Spoon - "On The Radio"
Album: Lucifer On The Sofa
Spoon have been together for >25 years and somehow still seem pretty hip.  It helps that they're still putting out great  music and obviously since we're talking about it, Lucifer On The Sofa is no exception.  From the Guardian review; "Maybe the hardest trick in rock music is to do what John Peel credited as the singular ability of the Fall – to sound always different, but always the same. Plenty of groups have flourished by always being the same; plenty more artists see it as their duty to make sure each album sounds utterly unlike the one before. But to sustain a career without ever completely repeating yourself, yet never leave anyone wondering what the heck you’ve done to the group they loved, is something few manage to pull off. Ten albums and nearly 30 years into their career, Spoon still sound like Spoon: fresh, timeless and wholly in control of their work." I've been a fan since I was first introduced to "The Way We Get By" on a CMJ sampler.  God I  miss those things.  I  mean I still have every one of them I ever received, but I wish the sampler CD was still a thing. Oh, and please do me a favor and get off my lawn. I think this is either the fifth or sixth time Spoon have been featured on the Bash so I hope you're not tired of hearing them, but I know that you're not. Back when we did the Birthday Bash Trivia Contest probably the best swag we ever gave away was a Spoon prayer candle.  Who got that?  Zentz?  Jananas? Anyway, you get it.  We've liked Spoon for a long time.  We still like them.  Yada yada yada.  
Also check out: "Wild", "The Hardest Cut", "My Babe"   

10. Loyle Carner - "Hate"
Album: hugo
Loyle Carner's "NO CD" was one of the last cuts from the 2017 Bash so we were excited to learn about hugo on All Songs Considered this fall.  Aside from being one of the UK's best rappers, he apparently is involved with a cooking school for kids with ADHD called CHILI CON CARNER.  I can't make this stuff up.
Also check out: "Nobody Knows (Ladas Road)

11. Wet Leg - "Angelica"
Album: Wet Leg
If you haven't heard Isle of Wright's favorite daughters Wet Leg by now you might want to re-evaluate some things.  In fact, I have to assume you've already heard "Chaise Lounge,' and "Wet Dream" which were released as singles in 2021 before the self-titled album was released this year.  If you like lyrics chock full of innuendo sung over irresistible indie pop Wet Leg is for you. Like a few other Bash artists Wet Leg have been dominating year end lists. Here's their Tiny Home Concert.
Also check out: "Too Late Now", "Ur Mum"

Album: All the Rage
This always happens. Every year we say we're going to make a Bash with no repeat artists. Then the year ends and of course we liked a lot of the bands that we already liked going in to the year.  Actually I think we did pretty good this year with only five repeats.  As far at the French Tips, I'm willing to be we're the only entity that had them on both our best of 2019 AND 2022 lists.  We have to be their biggest fans outside their home turf of Boise, ID.  I get Sleater-Kinney vibes when I listen to them. In case you need more motivation, the bio on their website says All the Rage "is a multicourse meal with pulsing dance beats, heavy guitar riffage and the nimble interweaving vocals of the three musicians." Sounds pretty good right?  That's what we've been trying to tell you!
Also check out: "Rearview

13. Fontaines D.C. - "I Love You"
Album: Skinty Fia
The UK has been absolutely killing it with their post-punk, prog rock, jazz rock (is that a thing?) scenes.  This year's Bash could have easily featured 50% or more bands from across the pond, and nearly was as Yard Act & Black Country, New Road were last minute cuts. I promise I'm not only reading Quietus for music discovery but it wouldn't be a bad idea either.  This will be the third year since 2019 we have included Fontaines D.C. on our list.  This whole album rips.  
Also check out: "Jackie Down the Line", "Skinty Fia", "Roman Holiday"  

14. Pluralone - "Offend"
Album: This is the Show
Pluralone was a nice discovery for us this year, although this is the third Pluralone album since 2019, and that's if you don't count the soundtrack album to the FX series Under the Banner of Heaven.  Turns out, Pluralone is a side project of  Josh Klinghoffer who seems to have his hand in a lot of pies.  He actually played guitar in the Red Hot Chili Peppers for ten years, but left in 2019 when John Frusciante re-joined the band. He's also worked in the studio and toured with Gnarls Barkley and is now a touring member of Pearl Jam.  Not exactly a lightweight.  Also, apparently guitar players hate him.  Well at least this one guy.  Good thing I'm not a guitar player though because I really like This is the Show.  Hope you do too.  Also, for those of you who have both great taste in music and are fans of Comedy Bang Bang, by now you hhave surely identified the word pluralone as a clumsy portmanteau!
Also check out: "Any More Alone", "Fight For The Soul"  

15.Robocobra Quartet - "Wellness"
Album: Living Isn't Easy
I've been a Robocobra Quartet since I first heard them last year on KEXP.   I mean, how could a band with a name that cool do anything but wreck shop?  Luckily my assumption is true with these guys. Like 2021 Birthday Bash band Squid, the lead singer of Robocobra Quartet is also the drummer.  Here's their Glastonbury set.  Really hoping these guys tour around here someday. 
Also check out: "Chromo Sud", "Heaven", "Night

16. black midi - "Welcome to Hell"
Album: Hellfire
From the Pitchfork review; "The preposterously talented English band’s third record is pitched between clinical precision and crazed abandon."  What a great and accurate description.  I actually think black midi might be the best band in the world right now.  Even if you don't like what you hear, you have to admit their sound is anything but boring.  You may recall we closed the 2019 Bash with "953" from their debut Schlagenheim.  If they keep it up I expect you'll see them on our year end list again.  Private Tristan Bongo, hereby discharged!
Also check out: "Sugar/Tzu", "Eat Men Eat

Album: Know My Name
The process for how we come up with the stellar playlist you're currently jamming to has evolved over the years.  As has been well established, my original inspiration was Jason Cafer's Best of 20__ lists which were loaded to the listening stations at Streetside Records.  Oh man, I'm now realizing I need to explain both record stores and listening stations to the youngsters in our midst.  Let's put a pin in that for now though.  So anyway, this all used to be pretty simple.  I'd go through the CDs I bought that year and pick out the best tracks.  Soon after that iteration Napster & Kazaa became vital tools, but even then I was still using the record store to determine what deserved listening. These days, I use various podcasts, internet stations and subreddits to discover new and interesting music.  So basically anything I hear throughout the year that sinks its teeth into me gets saved onto a Best of 20__ playlist that I listen to throughout the year.  That brings us up to this year where I found myself loving the song "Know My Name" by some random band called The Daisy Cull that somehow ended up on my best of 2022 playlist.  Now imagine my surprise when in putting this project together I discovered The Daisy Cull is not only a killer Americana band not afraid of featuring horns, but hail from just up the road in Raytown, MO (Not Raymore Laycock!). 
Also check out: "No Wake Zone"

18. Andy Shauf - "Satan"
Album: n/a
You know, one of the things people like me feared would happen as the music experience shifted from physical to digital formats was the end of the album.  I mean really, if no one is going to purchase your collection of 10-15 new songs, why bother?  Why not just release your work a song at a time?  To my surprise, for whatever reason, albums are largely still a thing. That brings us to the Canadian singer-songwriter Andy Shauf.  He released two songs, "Satan" and "Jacob Rose" way back in February.  I have absolutely worn "Satan" out and have been waiting all year for and album that never came. Now I sit here on Dec 21st and see he in fact will be releasing an album next February.  No idea if "Satan" will be on it or not.  Either way you can bet I'll be listening, and until then you can enjoy what has been one of my favorite songs of the year.  

19. Nas - "Michael & Quincy"
Generally regarded as one of the best rappers of all time, Nas returned to our lives late this year when we heard a track from King's Disease III.  Apparently he never left, we just lost track of him.  I have specific sense memories of blasting "Nas Is Like" out of my GMC Sonoma on the way to work the graveyard shift at Wal-Mart 20 years ago.  As the album title indicates, this is the third album in a series following I & II, all produced by Hit-Boy who we know best for producing Kendrick's "Backseat Freestyle" Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City.  Something you might notice is there isn't a single guest spot on the whole album, which is pretty rare these days.  The good thing is Nas still has it.  Glad we found him again.  Have a listen. 
Also Check Out: "Thun", "Ghetto Reporter", "30

20. The Backseat Lovers - "Growing/Dying"
Album: Waiting to Spill
This one may be the last one in.  The Bridge has been playing "Growing/Dying" a lot and every time it starts I think, "Ooh, this sounds interesting.  I wonder who this....oh, right." I was unfamiliar with these Provo, UT boys until this year, but it appears a song called "Kirby Girl" from their 2019 album When We Were Friends has as of this moment 195,703,347 plays on Spotify.  For the less mathematically inclined among you, that's 195 MILLION plays.  You can add one more to that tally as I'm currently listening, enjoying, but not quite understanding how it became such a hit.  Good for them though. For context "Growing/Dying" currently has 4.5 million plays.  Anyway, I hope you check these guys out.  Looks like they have a ton of tour dates next year, but nothing in the Midwest.  If you find yourself in Footscray, Victoria (Australia) on February 7th though you'll be in luck!
Also check out: "Close Your Eyes"

21. Nick Hakim - "Happen"
Aaaaand we bring the 21st Birthday Bash for Jesus to a close with the beautiful and slow moving "Happen."  According to his Spotify bio, "Nick Hakim is a singer, songwriter and producer who has demonstrated that his talent can't be contained within the restrictions of categorization."  I'm pretty sure All Songs Considered is where I first heard this guy who I can't categorize.  When that happened (get it?  "Happen"?) I immediately stopped the podcast, listened to Cometa twice and was soothed and grooved all afternoon.  Check out his La Blogotheque Take Away Show
Also check out: "Feeling Myself", "Vertigo"

Here are some other albums that were in contention and deserving of recognition this year.

Yard Act - The Overload
Fly Anakin - Frank
Coast Contra - Apt. 505
Danger Mouse, Black Though - No Gold Teeth
Wilco - Cruel Country
Sudan Archives - Natural Brown Prom Queen
Murder By Death - Spell/Bound
Black Country, New Road - Ants From Up There
Drive-By Truckers - Welcome 2 Club XIII
Typhoon - Underground Complex No. 1
Ibibio Sound Machine - Electricity
Devin Townsend - Lightwork
Viagra Boys - Cave World
Logic - Vinyl Days
Superorganism - World  Wide Pop

Once again, happy holidays from Team Sisson!  Have a great 2023!    

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Team Sisson's Best of 2021

Happy holidays from Team Sisson, and congratulations on receiving Chris Schuck's 20th Annual Surprise Birthday Bash for Jesus. As always, we've picked and exquisitely sequenced tracks from 18 of our favorite albums of 2021 for your listening pleasure. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Album: Dandelion
We'll kick off the 20th anniversary edition of the Birthday Bash with local act The Greeting Committee, making their second appearance after being featured in 2018 with "17" off of  This Is It.  These guys are getting bigger and bigger both in their national profile and in their sound.  You heard the first 39 seconds of "Ada."  Are you freaking kidding me?  What 39 seconds of anything have you heard this year that was better than that?  If you're interested the GC will be heading out on a pretty impressive two month American tour next year that ends with a hometown show at the Uptown Theater on April 9th.  We'll see you there!  Making it on to the 20th Anniversary edition of the Birthday Bash isn't the only accolade the GC have racked up this year.  Exclaim! named Dandelion to their list of the 30 worst album covers of 2021.  It's not that bad though right????  Ok, it's pretty bad but hey, you don't have to look at it, just listen!  
Also check out: "Can I Leave Me Too?", "Float Away", "Make Out

2. Squid - "Narrator"
Album: Bright Green Field
First of all, check out the run time on "Narrator." One of our goals with the Birthday Bash is to cram as many tracks into the old fashioned 80 minutes max run time afforded by the compact disc you no doubt are wondering how you would even play. In fact, this year our first track list came in at exactly 80:00 minutes which was exactly ONE SECOND too long.  This caused, at first a lot of swearing, then a complete tear down/re-build of the track list.  At this point you're asking yourself, why make a CD at all?  Why open yourself up to the limitations of this antiquated format?  None of us have CD players anymore!  Ok, great questions and comments everyone.  Don't think I'm not wondering the same thing every year around this time.  This would be so much easier if it was just a Spotify playlist.  I guess that's really the answer though.  If it was easy it wouldn't mean anything.  If it was just the playlist I would have been done weeks ago, and none of you would care. I choose to do the rest of it......that is burn the CDs, create the artwork, print the CDs, print the CD jackets, cut the CD jackets out and slide them into the jewel cases, address the bubble mailers, mail them, update the the hopes that when you find the Birthday Bash in your mailbox there is an implicit understanding that this thing took a lot of effort.  And that effort means I really want you to listen to these tunes because maybe you haven't heard some of them, and I'm hoping your new favorite song is in here somewhere.  And I know it is, because every year I find my new favorite song by doing this.  So anyway, we probably could have picked something shorter from BGF and made room for one or two more artists, but "Narrator" is so gosh darn good we really had no choice.  Also, you may be interested to know Squid is one of those weird bands where the drummer is the lead singer.  How do they do that?
Also check out: "GSK", "Pamphlets"

3. Low - "Disappearing"
God this album is good.  How can you not love this sound?!?!  Low return to the Birthday Bash after appearing on the 2018 edition with Double Negative.  This husband and wife duo have been making great albums for over 20 years (talk about relationship goals), but really punched us in the stomach when they took their usual formula and added an absolutely insane amount of  distortion on Double Negative Hey What is more of the same and as the kids say, we're here for it!  This was one of many albums this year where it was really hard to decide which song to include.  At first it was going to be the single "Days Like These" (Pitchforks's #3 Best Song of 2021). Then when the album came out we fell in love with the opener "White Horses," but we felt the last 90 seconds of syncopated beeps and boops might be too much for some of you so we arrived at "Disappearing."  I don't hear any complaints. 
Also check out: "Hey", "More

4. Black Country, New Road - "Science Fair"
Album: For the first time
The morning of February 8, 2021 was not a good one for me.  For one thing, this was the morning of a travel day and the end of a a beautiful ski weekend in Telluride, CO where I and Tim Laycock along with three other skiing lawyers shredded the mountain by day and stayed in the ski-in condo closest to the primary lift in the whole resort.  It should have been magical, and really it was until the evening of February 7, when we gathered after our last day on the slopes in the aforementioned condo to watch the most inexplicable Super Bowl (oops, I mean Big Game,.....please don't sue me NFL) of all time where my beloved Chiefs managed to not only lose to but get destroyed by a cartoon team with a quarterback older than me. Needless to say I was looking for an escape the next morning so I popped in the ear buds, found a "best music out this week" thread on Reddit and started jamming while doing payroll and waiting for the other guys to wake up.  You see where the is going.  For the first time had just been released so I took a listen and was hooked immediately by the opener "Instrumental" (which ironically is an instrumental).  Obviously I was on an emotional rebound at the time so I was prone to find pleasure in just about anything to chase away the blues, but Black Country, New Road has remained one of my favorites all year.  And guys, did you hear that?  They have a sax player!  How could we not love this band.  We're not the only ones though. BC,NR have been critical darlings since they started gigging around London in 2018. For most of the year I thought I'd bring you "Athens, France" but made a last minute switch to "Science Fair."  There are only six tracks on the LP and all of them are good so you can't go wrong. 
Also check out: "Track X", 

5. Viagra Boys feat. Amy Taylor - "In Spite of Ourselves"
Album: Welfare Jazz
At least a couple of you may recognize "In Spite of Ourselves" as a cover of a John Prine song.  Big thanks to Cory for taking me to see John Prine a few years ago pre-COVID (feels like a few centuries ago) before he (John Prine that is) passed on after contracting, let's see what it says here, oh for f's sake, COVID.  Anyway, Welfare Jazz came out super early in 2021 and I listened to the whole thing and really liked it, but when I heard the closer I knew it would be on the Bash this year.  They took this sweet and playful song and without changing any of the lyrics turned it in to something way more sinister and gnarly, but while keeping the overall catchiness of the melody. I haven't looked at my Spotify summary for the year.  I don't have to actually because I know this is the song I listened to the most this year. And hey, as before the rest of Welfare Jazz rocks too. I mean they do have a sax player.  Y'all know how we feel about the sax. 
Also check out: "Ain't Nice", "Creatures", "Girls & Boys"  

6. The Martha's Vineyard Ferries - "After You"
Album: Suns Out Guns Out
I don't remember where we heard it, but at some point in the spring of 2021 we were introduced to/blown away by The MVFs through the excellent song "Jail Material".  The band is comprised of members from other decently well known acts like Shellac & Codeine.  If that doesn't impress you, from their bandcamp page: "Over the course of two prior releases — 2010’s ‘In The Pond’ (Sickroom) and 2013’s ‘Mass Grave’ (Kiam) — The Martha’s Vineyard Ferries quietly carved out a high-IQ corner of the U.S. rock underground reserved for taut, deathly catchy songs that showcased deft (if get-to-the-point) instrumentation. That the band have been kinda/sorta under the collective radar has more to do with their being otherwise occupied (more on that in a minute) than a lack of artistic ambition; they’ve slayed before and after a long break, they’re back to slay again."  I don't know why I event try to come up with anything to say about these bands.  What they all write on their bandcamp pages is so much better.  
Also check out: "Betty Ford James

7. Abstract Mindstate feat. Kanye West - "The Brenda Song"
Album: Dreams Still Inspire
Toward the end of the year I was going through the potentials list and noticed an unusual lack of rap/hip-hop artists so I think I either found an underground hip-hop blog or playlist or something (all I really remember is I was painting Sixty's room at the time).  However it happened I came across this throwback song called "A Wise Tale" that I really liked by some duo called  Abstract Mindstate. Turns out Abstract Mindstate was seminal duo in the Chicago rap scene in the 90's and early 2000's. They never caught their big break and eventually got on with their 9 to 5 lives with the rest of us.  Then, apparently during his 2018 Wyoming recording sessions, Kanye overcame a bout of writers block while listening to one of their old mix tapes, so as a thank you he offered to produce an album for them if they got back together, and thus Dreams Still Inspire was born.  I'm not sure this ended up being a super big break for them.  I mean face it, not one of you had heard of them until this moment, but now you've heard of them and you know Dreams Still Inspire is damn good.   Tell a friend.  Buy a t-shirt.  Watch their movie.  Oh yeah, there's a trailer for a documentary about them out there.  Not sure when or where it will be released, but I'll give it a watch.  Now, this next part has nothing to do with Abstract Mindstate, but I would be remiss if I neglected to mention my best local hip hop story of the year. One hot Saturday this summer I found myself without refreshments so I went to my favorite liquor store, Pina Wine & Spirits in Raymore to grab a few Pale Ales.  As I made my way back to the beer cooler I noticed two young men dancing and holding fanned out handfuls of what I have to assume was monopoly money.  As I got closer I saw someone was filming them and realized I had walked into a music video.  These guys were doing a guerilla hip hop video in the my liquor store!  I just tried to find it on youtube and it doesnt look like they put up whatever they shot that day.  Maybe because I walked in front of them as they were pantomiming their rap.  Maybe because rapping in front of a bud light display featuring a cardboard cutout of Travis Kelce doesn't look as cool as they thought it would.  Anyway, after selecting my cold foamers I talked with the young artists and learned the rapper was named El Leiko and the song featured his cousin Baby Zo.  I promised them I'd look them up on Spotify which I promptly did, and guys, I really wanted to like it but yikes.  That's all I'm going to say.  Anyway, please check out my new friend El Leiko.  Nice kid.  Oh right, also check out Abstract Mindstate. 
Also check out: "Move Yo Body"

8. Wavves - "Sinking Feeling"
Album: Hideaway
I say this every year, but more than ever I have almost no idea what any of you may have heard this year.  How do you all consume music?  Terrestrial radio?  Satellite?  YouTube music?  I don't think it's much of a secret I have always tried to make this thing a collection of songs that hopefully are mostly new to you guys.  So here we are at "Sinking Feeling."  More than any other song on the Bash this year I feel like this one might actually be a top 40 or modern rock radio hit, so if you've already heard it a hundred times I apologize.  If not, you're welcome.  I'm no musician so I can't explain it, but there's something off about the chord progression of this song, but in a good way.  I can't get enough of whatever it is.  If this impresses you, Hideaway was produced by Dave Sitek.  Yes, that Dave Sitek (from TV on the Radio...the same Dave Sitek who attached wind chimes to the head of his guitar when Mrs. Sisson and I saw them that magical week when we saw first TV on the Radio, then The Roots at the  Ameristar Casino in KC many years ago, and haven't been back one time since!)! 
Also check out: "Through Hell", "Hideaway

9. Parquet Courts - "Black Widow Spider"
Album: Sympathy for Life
So, "Walking at a Downtown Pace" may actually have been the song of the year, but surely you've heard it a bunch of times already.  If not you might want to re-think what you've been allowing into your ears this year.  OK, at this point its cliché for me to say when Parquet Court first came on to the scene I thought they'd be a gimmick act.  Their first hit was "Stoned and Starving" which I felt was light on being good but heavy on references to things a certain subset of the population would like no mater what the music sounded like. Here we are 8 years later and the PQs have release three additional albums, all of which have been featured on the Bash so I have to ask myself, are the Parquet Courts one of my favorite bands?  Maybe!  Are they one of yours?  

Album: 1975
From the Amoeba summary: "1975 is songwriter/scholar Julian Saporiti's new album for his multi-media No-No Boy project. Saporiti tackles the complex issues of immigration and the Asian American experience with impeccably arranged folk/rock songs that include clips from field recordings."  You guys know I'm always up for some folk songs about the struggles of Asian American immigrants (see Kishi Bashi from the 2019 Bash).  That being said TBGDBiW hooked me right away mostly due to the geography of the song.  As you may know, both of my parents attended the University of Wyoming where they met and eventually, well, created the conditions that led to this 20 year run of amazing end of year mix CDs. One of the jokes in my family growing up is my dad wanted to name me Thermopolis which is a town (maybe city by Wyoming standards) in central Wyoming known for its hot springs. When I heard the line "bunch of Japs playing jazz at the Thermopolis prom" I knew you guys had to hear it too.  Hope you like it. 
Also check out: "Imperial Twist"

11. Typhoon - "Empire Builder"
Album: Sympathetic Magic
Long time listeners may have noticed I have a real weakness for Typhoon.  I try every year to limit the number of repeat Bash artists, and this year did a better job than usual with only four double dippers, but try as I might I couldn't keep Sympathetic Magic off my list.  Typhoon is a Portland eight piece (yeah, eight) we've loved since 2010's Hunger and Thirst
Also check out: "We're In It", "Welcome to the Endgame", "Evil Vibes"  

Album: Home Video
If you're the type to listen to NPR there's a good chance you've at least heard of Lucy Dacus. She's been a favorite of the All Songs Considered team for a while now.  I guess if it was a secret now you know we're an NPR family and thus we've been smitten with Home Video all year too.  I naively thought I'd maybe bring you "VBS" or "Hot and Heavy," but let's be real with each other.  There was really no chance you'd be listening to anything besides "Thumbs" right now.   I don't think I need to explain what the song's about.  She splits it open and lays it on the table for you to admire/be horrified.  You should really check out the awesome Song Xploder podcast about "Thumbs."  
Also check out: "Brando", "Going Going Gone

Album: recollection (reimagined) 
I was introduced to Ben Caplan through the song "Birds With Broken Wings" which would almost certainly made it on to the 2015 Bash had I heard it that year.  Digging in to his catalog I came across "Down to the River" which was on 2011's In the Time of the Great Remembering and is another song I've always kicked myself for not hearing in time to share with you.  Then this year Mr. Caplan released an album of stripped down, re-recorded (reimagined) songs featuring mainly acoustic guitar, piano and his impressive voice. From the Great Dark Wonder review: “For years, I‘ve had friends and fans express their desire to have recordings of my songs being performed solo,” he recalls. The pandemic "was the time to finally take on that project."  I hope you give a listen to his back catalog and see which version of "Down to the River" you prefer.  Either way, just know that a drowning man is just a living man who hasn't run out of his last bit of breath.  Sigh. 

14. TV Priest - "Decoration"
Album: Uppers
I seriously think I could have filled at least half of the 2021 Bash tracklist with UK rock bands.  Apologies to Black Midi, Idles & Yard Act all of whom narrowly missed the cut this year with their respective fantastic albums.  Believe it or not I was introduced to TV Priest that same eventful morning I described back in the Black Country, New Road section.  My favorite favorite of the year is still coming up, but TV Priest is super close to the the top.  
Also check out: "Press Gang"

15. Teen Mortgage  - "Shangri-La"
Album: Smoked
From their bandcamp bio: "Washington DC’s tinnitus transmitting twosome, Teen Mortgage, return post pandemic with Smoked, their 2nd release through greasy Brooklyn cassette slingers, King Pizza Records. Once again, the duo are back to smack you over the head with seething surf punk riffs setting the scene to explain this cultural wasteland they call America."  Rock and Roll baby!  They released the single "Such Is Life" very early in 2021 and I've been banging my head to it all year.  In October they released the five song EP "Smoked" which doesn't actually include "Such Is Life,"  but hey, such is life.  

16. Springtime - "Will To Power"
Album: Springtime
Sprimgtime are an art-rock featuring Australian musicians Gareth Liddiard (the Drones/Tropical Fuck Storm), Jim White (Xylouris White/Dirty Three), and Chris Abrahams (The Necks).  BTW, I was introduced to Tropical Fuck Storm this summer through the track "Soft Power" from 2018's A Laughing Death in Meatspace and subsequently went on a  very enjoyable TFS deep dive.  They released Deep States this year which I enjoyed but didn't hook me the way Springtime did.
Also check out: "The Viaduct Love Suicide"

17. Homeboy Sandman - "FYI"
Album: Anjelitu
Anjelitu is an EP consisting of six tracks, all of which were produced by Team Sisson favorite, and long time Homeboy Sandman collaborator Aesop Rock.  In fact, Aesop's own Garbology was in strong consideration for the Bash this year.  From the rapreviews writeup: "It doesn’t hurt Sandman at all that the entirety of “Anjelitu” is produced by Aesop Rock, an artist with an even longer tenure in hip-hop music whose entire career can be summed up by 'I do what the fuck I want and people just happen to like it.” " You know what happens when people make music only to please themselves though? More often than not they make damn good music."  I'll second that.  Give Anjelitu a spin and I think you'll agree.
Also check out: "Lice Team Baby

18. Rural Internet - "I am not brave"
Album: escape room 
So......there's no way you will agree, but in my opinion we saved the absolute best for last.  Rural Internet is the act I was most excited about this year.  They actually released two LPs this year with Breaking Up in February followed up by escape room in September.  I spent two full weekends in November listening to Breaking Up & escape room over and over again trying to figure out which track I could share that captured what I though was great about the band, but at the same time didn't feature a million f-bombs since my niece and nephews listen to the Bash every year.  A lot of the tracks met the first criterion, but none of them met the second!  Believe it or not I think "I am not brave" is the cleanest track on both albums.  Fantano at theneedledrop did a pretty positive review of Breaking Up, but google or youtube "rural internet escape room review" and you'll get a lot of reviews of rural internet providers and escape rooms, but not yet a single professional review.  I can't beleive this album is the best thing I heard all year and no one else seems to have noticed it, so I guess you literally heard it here first.  The Birthday Bash started as an attempt to share awesome tunes with friends who probably wouldn't hear them otherwise, so to do just that with the last track on the 20th version of this thing is really kind of poetic.  Shut up.  I'm not crying.
Also check out: "Government", "Brainworms", "Zipper", "Tension", "Bubble"                 

Here are some other albums that were in contention and deserving of recognition this year.

Julien Baker - Little Oblivions
Kid Kapichi - This Time Next Year
Yard Act - Dark Days
Shame - Drunk Tank Pink
Boundaries - Maidan
The Blue Stones - Hidden Gems
The Armed - Ultrapop
In The Pines - Interlude
Dinosaur Jr.  - Sweep It Into Space
Psykhi - Youth
Pom Pom Squad - Death of a Cheerleader
Tamar Aphek - All Bets Are Off
Turnstile - Glow One
Ty Segall - Harmonizer
Black Midi - Cavalcade
Anchoress - The Art of Losing
Aesop Rock - Garbology
Mark Haldeman and Co. - Recklessly Optimistic
Solemn Brigham - South Sinner Street
For Those I Love - For Those I Love
Idles - Car Crash

Once again, happy holidays from Team Sisson!  Have a great 2022!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Monday, December 28, 2020

Team Sisson's Best of 2020

Happy holidays from Team Sisson, and congratulations on receiving Chris Schuck's 19th Annual Surprise Birthday Bash for Jesus. As always, we've picked and exquisitely sequenced tracks from 21 (well, really'll see) of our favorite albums of 2020 for your listening pleasure. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

1. Iglooghost - "Eoe (Disk*Initiate)"
Album: n/a
As above, we have always tried to sell The Bash as a collection of songs from our favorite albums of the year.  As an aside (just one sentence into it this year...buckle your seatbelts people) the original inspiration for this whole Birthday Bash concept was Jason Cafer's best of the year compilation mix you would find at the listening station at Streetside Records in Columbia in the late 90's/early 2000's (wanna feel old?).  Jason Cafer is now a psychiatrist and Medical Director for Behavioral Health Services at SSM Health/St. Mary's Hospital in Jefferson City, as well as a published author of some pretty good psych pharmacology reference books, but back then, while he was in school at Mizzou he had a show on our college station and was plugged in to both the local and national indie music scene in a way that really impressed me.  As I'm reminiscing here, I also remember he got in some hot water after he played a song in the middle of the night with some questionable lyrics that a Karen had a problem with.  Ah the memories.  Anyway, "Eoe(Disk*Initiate)" is not on an album, nor do I have any suspiscion it ever will be, although you can buy this song as an album on Bandcamp (which I did).  However, it's probably the best thing I've heard all year so I had to include it, and not only that, but I made it the opener to what promises out to be another killer Birthday Bash.  Let's go!!!!!!!!

2. BC Camplight - "I Only Drink When I'm Drunk"
Album: Shortly After Takeoff
Here's a peek behind the curtain for you.  Occasionally I'll check the metacritic album score rankings for the current year to see if there's anything I've missed that's been getting a lot of buzz.  This is rarely a fruitful exercise, but a couple of months ago I took a chance on Shortly After Takeoff after seeing it pretty high on the 2020 list (as of press time it's the 10th most critically lauded album of the year).  The opener "I Only Drink When I'm Drunk" sucked me in. I stuck around for "Ghosthunting,"thinking "Back To Work" slaps, and before you know it I'm on my third listen and loving every minute of it.  I wouldn't say this is happy or uplifting it's perfect for the 2020 Bash.
Also check out: "Cemetery Lifestyle"

Album: tbd
You guys know I'm always scanning the Arts & Entertainment sections of Irish newspapers to look for up and coming bands.  Well, when I saw The Galway Advertiser named The Clockworks Best Galway Band 2020, I had to take a listen!  From the write-up: "GALWAY HAS produced many fine rock bands over the years, but none has ever caused the stir outside of Ireland in the way The Clockworks have.
Signed to Alan McGee's Creation23 label, praised by Annie Mac of the BBC, and, pre-Covid, enjoying sell-out gigs in London, the hype is entirely justified. Stripped down riffing, that combines a punk energy with an indie sense of melody, and a strong, socio-political point of view, The Clockworks - James McGregor (vocals/guitar ), Sean Connelly (guitar ), Damian Greaney (drums ), Tom Freeman (bass ) - are a band with something to say, and they say it wrapped in thrilling tunes."
These guys have yet to release a proper album, but I couldn't keep "Enough Is Never Enough" off The Bash.  These fingers are made for pointing!

4. Painted Shield - "On the Level"
Album: Painted Shield
I should probably keep this to myself, but I came thiiiis close to including a track from the new Pearl Jam record Gigaton.  Make fun of me all you want buy guys, it seriously slaps.  As a compromise I'm giving you "On the Level" from Stone Gossard's project Painted Shield. Team Sisson favorite Mason Jennings provides vocals along with keys from Brittany Davis and drums from Matt Chamberlain (you've probably heard the name) to round out the group.  Jeff and Mike from PJ also contribute here and there.  Also, quite unbelievably it seems Stone and Mason have never actually met.  From a Rolling Stone writeup: "In the meantime, the band is just looking forward to getting together in the same room, something they have yet to do. 'Can you imagine when we all might be in the same state?' Gossard asks. 'And what does that look like?’ We’re hoping to get the first group hug filmed. We want to document it. We’ll be like, ‘Oh my God. I’m actually able to touch you.”  Here's hoping these guys actually get together and tour someday when the world gets back on track.  Cory, you in?

Album: Brave Faces Everyone
From the Kerrang review: "To say that Spanish Love Songs wear their trauma on their sleeves is an understatement. Fronted by vocalist/guitarist Dylan Slocum, the LA-based quintet have been venting their various frustrations via their Menzingers-ish, gruff-yet-melodic punk rock since 2015’s debut LP, Giant Sings The Blues. Things are no better on this third record. ​‘It won’t be this bleak forever,’ Dylan sings on second track Self-Destruction – his voice trembling, as it usually does, as if he’s on the verge of tears – before adding a sly, sarcastic ​‘Yeah, right’ to an already unconvincing statement. The truth is – as this album’s title suggests – everything is fucked. These are tales of broken hearts and broken homes, drug abuse and booze, friends dying and loved ones lying, not to mention the drudgery of day-to-day life in a world that, as Dylan sings on Kick, is going to do just that to you. In other words, it will be this bleak forever and there’s nothing anybody can do about it."  Brave Faces Everyone seems mainly to be music as therapy for the lead singer.  I'm often amazed and thankful that there are people in this world who wear their emotions on their sleeve like this.  If I had a therapist I don't think I'd say half the stuff this guy screams into a microphone for the world to hear.  I absolutely love this record, and I think you do too. 
Also check out: "Losers", "Beachfront Property", "Kick"

6. Run The Jewels - "out of sight (feat. 2 Chainz)"
Album: RTJ4
Bangers baby!  I can't believe RTJ is still a thing, but these guys have stumbled on to the rap coca-cola formula so they'd be dumb to end it.  Plus it seems like they've been best bros from day one.  We first caught the El-P (El-Producto)/Killer Mike bug when back in 2012 the former produced the latter's solo record R.A.P. Music which remains to this day one of our favorites.  At the time we only knew Killer Mike from a couple of verses he contributed to Outkast songs, one of which was on the Scooby Doo soundtrack. After that record El-P, who was already a legendary MC stepped out from behind the mixing board to join Mike behind the mike and they have been crushing it with RTJ ever since.  We really struggled with picking a track to include on The Bash this year.  "JU$T" was the obvious choice, but if you haven't already heard that one, I just feel sorry for you.  BTW, check out the phenomenal Song Exploder episode about JU$T.  Really interesting stuff.  Speaking of interesting, El-P is four years older than me.  Wanna feel young?
Also check out: "JU$T", "ooh la la", "walking in the snow

7. Yves Tumor - "Gospel For A New Century"
I would attempt to explain Yves Tumor to you, but as the Spotify bio states: "Few projects at the forefront of contemporary art truly push visceral sonic boundaries in the way that Yves Tumor does.  With an arc that impartially sits between psych-rock and modern pop, comparisons only sere as limitations intended to define that which cannot be.  Yves Tumor melds restraint and chaos; diluting reality by giving meaning to the abstract and allowing for dissonance to be seen and heard as harmony."  Damn!  Heaven To A Tortured Mind might be the most critically acclaimed record on The Bash this year coming in at #7 on Pitchfork's 50 Best Albums of 2020 list, with "Gospel For a New Century" as in my opinion the standout track.  Not just my opinion though, Pitchfork ranked it at #7 on their 100 Best Songs of 2020 list.  For those who question why I continue to reference Pitchfork I really have no answer.  I know they were bought by Condé Nast in 2015, laid off a ton of their staff and are no longer the authority on music they once were.  That being said, the writers they still have are pretty solid and no other entity has stepped up since to take the throne.  I also never leave home without American Express travelers checks so maybe I just like to live in the past.  Anyway, here's the Pitchfork writeup: "On 'Gospel for a New Century,' Yves Tumor preaches the fr eedom to exist as they are. That means fully inhabiting their newfound rock star persona and doing away with the thin line between art and artifice. In one moment, Yves is dragging serrated horn samples across cavernous guitars; in the next, they’re casually settling into a groove worthy of Prince. This is a love song at its core but, facing down the barrel of this year, its sense of longing resonates further than that. 'How much longer till December?' Yves asks at the end of the chorus. However far away, it can’t come soon enough."
Also check out: "Strawberry Privilege", "Kerosene!"  

8. The Kraken Quartet, Adobo - "Hold My Breath"
Album: Backdrop
Here's how The Kraken Quartet describe themselves on their website:  A massive force of percussion and electronics, The Kraken Quartet is a genre-crossing group known for its highly energetic and engaging performances. Since their formation in 2012, the Austin-based band has been heralded for merging elements of minimalism, math-rock, indie, post-rock, electronica, and the avant-garde.  I'd never heard of them until this year and guys, they're really good.  From what I've seen of them they don't really fit anywhere, but they're the kind of band you would happen upon in an opening slot or an afternoon at a festival and become the thing you were most excited that you saw.  This year they teamed up with Adobo (singer and guitarist of the band Hikes) for a four song EP that we've been loving since we heard it.  
Also check out: "Backdrop"

9. Hachiku - "I'll Probably Be Asleep"
Album: I'll Probably Be Asleep
Hachiku was another NPR music discovery for us.  We freaking love the sonics on this record.  From the Louder Than War review: "As a whole, I’ll Probably Be Asleep has a certain homespun feel to it: intricately and delicately put together. Every track is heavily layered, with Hachiku building them up like a dreamy sonic soup. Along with the heavy use of reverb, it makes many of the songs difficult to unpick; working out the exact source of each sound is an impossible task."

10. Bartees Strange - "Mustang"
Album: Live Forever
"Mustang" came in #36 on Pitchfork's 100 Best Songs of 2020 list. From the writeup: "With 'Mustang,' Bartees Strange took everything he knew about indie rock and put it into one massive song. Set to walls of guitar and synth hooks, his lyrics contain a nod to the music that inspired him as a Black teenager interested in punk and indie, and to the unfulfilling jobs he worked for years to pay the bills before quitting to focus on performing and producing. A lot has been made of a Bartees Strange being black man from a suburb of  Oklahoma City (Mustang) who grew up listening to and performing in rock/punk/hardcore bands, but we can't criticize as it really is a good story.  If Wikipedia can be trusted on the matter, Mustang, Oklahoma appears to be an incredibly boring place.  We were planning on giving you "Boomer" for most of the year, but called a last second audible and really, either one would have made you extremely happy.  Just try to wipe that smile off your face!  You can't do it!
Also check out: "Boomer", "Kelly Rowland"

11. M. Ward - "Independent Man"
Album: Migration Stories
We've been M. Ward fans since 2003's Transfiguration of Vincent.  I could listen to M. Ward sing the phone book.  Better yet, I could listen to M. Ward sing one of Donnie T's nonsensical run-on sentences (i.e. Look, having nuclear—my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes, OK, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart—you know, if you’re a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, OK, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I'm one of the smartest people anywhere in the world—it’s true!—but when you're a conservative Republican they try—oh, do they do a goes on from there).  Not to make light of the dead, but the Pitchfork review also mentions our former dear leader: "Under the Donald J. Trump administration, singing about migration is an explicitly political act. But M. Ward is constitutionally predisposed towards mystery and understatement, so his Migration Stories sidesteps protests and outrages. The album, Ward’s 10th as a solo artist, unfurls at a deliberate pace, luxuriating in a dreamworld conjured out of memories, shared stories, and flights of fancy."  Here's his Tiny Desk Home Concert.  
Also check out: "Unreal City", "Migration of Souls"

12. Chester Watson - "Porcelain Geisha"
Album: A Japanese Horror Film
Long time Birthday Bash fans probably recognize the formula for the track listing always includes a minimum of three and a maximum five purely hip-hop/rap songs.  This year we hit our minimum quota, albeit with three artists that have all been featured on previous Bash offerings.  Now that we've completed production on the physical media, my annual mixtape maker's remorse revolves around a desire to have included something off the impeccable Blu & Exile's Miles.  That is not to say though Chester Watson does not belong here.  Quite the contrary, this former ballet dancer and son of a Bar-Kay has become one of my favorite rappers out there.  His vocal style makes it seem as though he's expending as little effort as possible, but the complexity of his rhymes tells a different story.
Also check out: "Life Wrote Itself"

13. King Krule - "Comet Face"
Album: Man Alive!
From the Pitchfork review: "The lanky London outlaw with cement-mixer lungs delivers his most anguished album yet, in which impending fatherhood collides with his habitual torments."  Cement-mixer lungs!  We came thiiis close to bringing you something from King Krule's 2017 The OOZ (probably the Sisson boys' favorite "Dum Surfer"), but while we loved the sound on The OOZ we decided you guys might dislike the lack of melody and overall unpleasantness.  That same sound is largely present on Man Alive!, but we couldn't resist introducing you to it a second time.  For most of the year we had "Alone, Omen 3" on the tentative Bash track listing but made a last second switch to "Comet Face."  
Also check out: "Stoned Again"

14. Moon Hooch - "#4 Solo"
Album: Life on Other Planets
In recent years we've fallen back in love with the saxaphone, in no small part thanks to bands like Too Many Zooz (thanks for the rec Eddie!) and Moon Hooch.  Both of these bands started out busking in NYC subway stations and have since moved above ground to take over the world, or at least fill this specific little niche  that we can't get enough of.  Speaking of their commonality, check out "Stonk" featuring Leo P from Too Many Zooz.  Moon Hooch was first brought to our attention by NPR Music back in 2013, and in 2014 we featured a track from This Is Cave Music on that year's epic Bash.  From their bio: "Though the band—whose members initially met as students at the New School—turned heads in the music industry as relative unknowns with a charismatic, unconventional sound (they play with unique tonguing techniques and utilize found objects like traffic cones attached to the bells of their horns to manipulate tone, for instance), they were already a familiar and beloved sight to strangers in New York, who would react with such joy and fervor to their impromptu subway platform sets that the NYPD had to ban them from locations that couldn’t handle the crowds. NY Mag once referred to their sound as 'Jay Gatsby on ecstasy,' while the NY Post fell for their 'catchy melodic hooks and funky rhythms,' saying they had 'the power to make you secretly wish that the short [subway] wait becomes an indefinite delay.”  Listen to literally any of their songs/watch any of their videos and tell me you wouldn't be sweaty at the end of one of their shows.  I can't wait to soak two shirts and then buy some merch (ironically probably a shirt) someday when I see these guys live.  In addition to playing melt your face of sax jams, they're also also doing Cameos now so if you're looking for a last minute Christmas gift.....
Also check out: "Candlelight", "Bronst"  

15. Marlowe - "O.G. Funk Rock" feat. A-F-R-O
Album: Marlowe 2
L'Orange is becoming, at least for us Danger Mouse 2.0.  Danger Mouse of course years ago went on an incredible run of producing some of the out favorite music year after year from Danger Doom to Gnarls Barkley to Beck to The Black Keys to The Good The Bad & The Queen.  Someone can dig in to our archives to fact check this, but I think at one point we had featured a Danger Mouse produced track at least six years in a row on The Bash.  He's not there yet, but L'Orange has now made our "Three Timers Club."  We first introduced you to L'Orange's sick ass beats with Marlowe just two years ago when we blessed your with "Lost Arts" from their self-titled debut.  Then last year we brought you a track from his collaboration with Jeremiah Jae, Complicate You Life With Violence.  L'Orange is back this year with rapper Solemn Brigham to bring us the Marlowe 2.  From the Medium review: "Marlowe 2 feels like both artists stepping it up in a major way. L’Orange appears to experiment even more than usual this time around with various sounds and styles from both music and apparently radio theater, never straying too far away from his signature traits of dusty boom-bap with a sort of ominous vibe, but also never offering up anything that sounds like something he’s previously done, and the whole album has a nice variety to accompany the vocals. As for Solemn, he shreds every verse he drops on here, showing off his flow and delivery even more. Just peep the opening song “Spring Kick”. Brigham keeps rapping until his vocals just fade out with the beat, never letting up, resulting in the track sounding like a legitimate kick to the face in the best way possible."  I don't know about you, but I love it when music sounds like a kick to the face.  Seriously, check out Marlowe 2.
Also check out: "Future Power Sources", "Otherworld

16. Nada Surf - "Something I Should Do"
Album: Never Not Together
As I do these write-ups I'm starting to realize the overall tone of The Bash this year is super super depressing.  So, here's some Nada Surf to turn that frown upside down!  Holy math says we're never not together.
Also check out: "So Much Love"

17. The Arosa - "In Chemicals"
Album: n/a
Here we come to the third track on The Bash that has yet to be featured on a proper album.  In our defense we added "In Chemicals" to our Best of 2020 list in mid-March so typically by now there would be something more substantial to talk about.  In the past we'd just move this to the maybe pile for next year, but nothing makes sense anymore and all we know is we've been wearing this track out all year so in case this is the last time we get to do this we want to go out guns blazing!  Despite no evidence of an album there's an "official video,' though at press time it's only had 549 views (wait, what????).  Can we really be the only people who have been smitten by the repeated crash heavy builds into a steady beat complete with the fills that fill our souls?  There's not a lot out there about them, but Spotify says they're "young English hounds out of Birmingham who combine British flair, British panache and British swagger in a most exciting way.  Flaming guitars with a Stone Roses resonance, machine-gun drums, chant-like vocals and a highly infectious chorus to yell out at the top of your vibrating lungs."  I mean, that sounds like the best thing ever, and after listening to "In Chemicals," I bet you'll have a hard time arguing.

18. House of Teeth - "Dophin Megapod (it's just fucking pure energy)" feat. guitar by Madeline Normand
Album: Turnstile Stopped
Speaking of not a lot out there, we bring you a track and artist that seem to exist off the grid.  Please click the track link above.  At press time it has an unbelievable 3 views.  Google House of Teeth and you'll get results for a bunch of dentist offices and creepy ass books.  Google House of Teeth music and you'll find a bandcamp page and a facebook page.  From the looks of the FB page this band was active in 2013-2014 and not a lot since.  We took a chance on Turnstile Stopped after seeing a post about it on one of music subreddits last month and were obviously impressed.  But look guys, we're not here to wonder why others haven't seen the light, but to tell you why we did.  This music makes us smile!  Full stop.  I bet it makes you smile too.  What else do you want?

19. Drive-By Truckers - "Babies in Cages"
Album: The Unraveling
Alright, not all of these will  make you smile.  Y'all know the DBT's are among my top five favorite bands of all time.  They've historically been pretty prolific at releasing albums, but it's been 4 years since they released American Band, which I am in the minority of DBT fans in ranking as one their best works.  Patterson and Cooley have talked about a bout of writers block that set in after American Band, but the floodgates have opened back up as this year they released both The Unraveling and The New OK.  Neither are masterpieces, but both are solid as sears!  
Also check out: "Thoughts and Prayers", "21st Century USA", "The New OK" (from The New OK

For my birthday last year, my loving, beautiful wife got us tickets to see Jeff Tweedy at the Canal Shores Golf Course in Evanston, IL.  We made a weekend of it, calling into service her brother Brian and his fiancé Melody who reside in Chicago as guides.  After some very touristy activities we all attended the show along with thousands of other Chicagoans who spread picnic blankets across the the 18th fairway of this golf course.  It was an exceedingly pleasant setting, but as dusk enveloped us we were jarred into reality by the angular bass and guitar of the opening act who I later learned were something of a big deal in Chicago.  Of course I'm talking about Ohmme.  I'd hoped to tell you this story last year, but the song I was most smitten by at the show, "Give Me Back My Man" wasn't on and album released that year.  In fact, it wasn't on their 2020 album Fantasize Your Ghost either.  Apparently it's a B-52's cover so they just play it live.  No worries, FYG is chock full of tracks you will enjoy the hell out of.  From the Paste review: "...Fantasize Your Ghost makes it clear that Ohmme can run circles around most rock bands. Their use of fascinating texture and consideration for every layer of their songs—whether subtle or overt—is a gift. Even their more traditionally-structured songs like “The Limit” or “Some Kind of Calm” contain intrigue and finesse. A record like Fantasize Your Ghost could only come from a band that’s equally thoughtful and inventive as they are technically sound. Each spark of this record has the potential to flicker and fade or explode with great magnitude, and those unforeseen outcomes will leave listeners hanging on their every note."
Also check out: "Ghost", "The Limit", "3 2 4 3"

Album: A Hero's Death
We close out yet another killer Birthday Bash with yet another killer track from these Irish lads, who were featured just a year ago with the track "Too Real" from Dogrel.  We've been digging A Hero's Death since it came out this summer.  To launch the album they live streamed a performance of the entire track list, calling it A Night At Montrose.  Here's "A Lucid Dream" from that performance.  Wait...Montrose?  Did they really play the Knights hall in my hometown?  The VFW?  Short Street Tavern?  Ok, upon some investigation it appears this was recorded/streamed from a studio at 2FM, RTE which as far as I can tell is a radio station in a Dublin neighborhood called Montrose.  Maybe it's an Irish version of the KEXP studio?  Anyway, hope you like it.  Here's their La Blogotheque Takeaway Show 

Here are some other albums that were in contention and deserving of recognition this year.

Blu & Exile - Miles  
Algiers - There Is No Year
Shabaka and the Ancestors - We Are Sent Here By History
Kassa Overall - I THINK I'M GOOD
Pictures of Venom - bug
Lanterns on the Lake - Spook The Herd
Andrew R Morris - One Fine Sweet and Sunny Day
Loma - Octillo
Jonsi - Shiver
Emile T. - Don't Get Buried in Your Hometown
Aesop Rock - Spirit World Field Guide
Dylan Cartlidge - Yellow Brick Road
Partner - Never Give Up

Once again, happy holidays from Team Sisson!  Have a great 2021!