Best in Music: 2021

Best Album

Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee

This year saw two artists abandon their more downtrodden sounds and embrace a happier tone. Lorde had a more straightforward pop album in “Solar Power,” meanwhile the Michelle Zauner led Japanese Breakfast explored the facets of joy and happiness for one of her most personal and experiential records to date. It’s an album you can sit and envelope yourself in, or just have on in the background of a nice dinner, but it’s never disposable noise. It was certainly one of the top albums I had on repeat this year.

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Five of Jim Steinman’s Best Songs

We lost one of the all-time great songwriters this week in Jim Steinman. Perhaps best known for his partnership with Meat Loaf on the power vocalist’s best work, Steinman had this grand, epic scale to his songwriting that felt like a weird fusion between stage musicals and rock and roll. I know rock operas are a thing and this was a concept that had been toyed with long before Steinman, but there was just something wholly operatic about his songs. Here are my favourites.

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Weird Al’s “Bad Hair Day” is One of the Most Important Albums of the 90s

Weird Al Yankovic’s 1996 album Bad Hair Day just celebrated the 25th anniversary of its release on 12 March. I was 10 when it came out, and received a cassette of it that Christmas. That album, more than any other of the era, shaped my musical interests as a kid who was just starting to discover music on my own, as opposed to just listening to what my dad put on a mix-tape for me. For what it was, what it is, Bad Hair Day deserves to be in the conversation as one of the most important albums of the 90s, and that is a hill I’m willing to die on.

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Daft Punk: A Fond Farewell To a Huge Influence

I was raised on oldies and classic rock. That’s what my dad listened to. Those were the mixtapes he made for me growing up. That’s what I listened to. Incidentally, he also facilitated me discovering my own tastes when he introduced me to Weird Al Yankovic. I started reading the liner notes on Yankovic albums, figured out what songs he was parodying, and my interests spun out from there. But the Weird Al story is a song for another time. This is a story about me furthering my musical interests with weird shit. Weird shit like Daft Punk.

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My Top 10 Warren Zevon Songs

Warren Zevon was a rocker’s rocker. A musician’s musician. An artist’s artist. He never quite broke through to the mainstream, outside his perennial favourite “Werewolves of London” (which I’ve intentionally left off this list), and he wields little in the way of “casual” fans. But the man’s mark on music looms large, and though he tragically passed away 17 years ago due to complications from mesothelioma, he continues to gain new fans through his witty, sardonic lyrics. No one told a tale through song quite like Zevon, rock & roll’s bard.

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My Life In Sound: Inspired by Questlove

Recently, one of the few people I consider a musical soulmate tagged me in a Facebook post by Questlove where he described his #LifeInSound:

First thing I said was, “I’m in… but it’s gonna take a while.” With something like this, you want to get it just right. I’m not worried about impressing anyone with anything deep cut or whatever. I did the 10 Day/10 Albums thing and included Spice Girls. So fuck it on wanting to be edgy and cool. I want to make sure I get my experiences with music right.

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Best Of 2019: The Music

Album Of The Year

Jenny Lewis – On The Line

The Voyager was one of my favourite albums of 2015, so I wasn’t too surprised that I enjoyed On The Line. I was surprised by how much of herself she poured into her songwriting for one of her more personal and emotional works to date. Every song tells the story of Lewis, to bring who she is and what brought her here into focus. It’s the kind of album every songwriter hopes to write, and few ever get the chance to.

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