Friday, January 5, 2001

McQ's Best Of 2018 Vol. 3 - Indie Gals Git 'Er Done!

Female artists have been quietly dominating indie music for the last half decade, and 2018 was no exception.  This wide ranging mix celebrates several of the best releases in the field.

Here's the Spotify Link! Enjoy!

About The Artists / Albums / Songs On This Mix:

1. Velvet 4 Sale - U.S. Girls: We start with another slightly Bowie-esque track from my favorite pure-indie album of 2018, U.S. Girls In A Poem Unlimited.

2. Charity - Courtney Barnett: Though it scored well in the year-end polls, finishing in most aggregates as one of 2018's top-twenty albums, I found Barnett's more jagged and aggressively 90s Tell Me How You Really Feel to be a minor let down after the ecstatic heights of her 2015 outing Sometimes I Sit And Think, Sometimes I Just Sit.  Despite that, there are still several songs on Feel that continue to validate Barnett as one of the most exciting talents and lyricists working today, starting with my favorite track from the record here.

3. Your Dog - Soccer Mommy: One of the 2018's top feminist anthems comes to us courtesy of young Nashville based singer-songwriter Sophie Allison's fine third release as Soccer Mommy Clean. Several other strong tracks worth checking out as well, especially Cool, Still Clean, and Last Girl, all of which I enjoy every bit as much as this track here.

4. Future Me Hates Me - The Beths: One of my favorite 2018 albums not featured on this year's Best Of The Best, New Zealanders The Beth's full-length debut serves up power-pop hooks galore, perfectly encapsulated by the the album's title track here.

5. Me & My Dog - Boygenius: Turning the tables on Patty Griffin's beloved canine appreciation fest Heavenly DayPitchfork's #12 song of 2018 treats that time spent with man's (and woman's) best friend as a reward for escaping a harmful romantic relationship rather than a raison d'├¬tre in itself, and comes to us courtesy of an indie gal supergroup comprised of up-and-comers Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker, and Phoebe Bridgers and their eponymous 2018 debut EP. We'll hear more from this promising trio later on Nancy's Favorites!

6. Somewhere A Judge - Hop Along: The first of two songs featured on this mix from veteran Philly indie act Hop Along's fourth full-length release Bark Your Head Off, Dog, Somewhere A Judge is a perfect representation of the album's quirks as a whole, eschewing the harder-rocking thrust of 2015's Painted Shut for a free-wheeling, almost Counting Crows-ish folk-rock vibe, and always starting each song with a messy, almost disjointed opening passage before snapping things crisply into focus for an irresistible chorus.

7. Pillar Of Truth - Lucy Dacus: 2018 was a very good year for Virginia singer-songwriter and Senator Tim Kaine's family friend, Lucy Dacus.  In addition to the success of her new side project boygenius, Dacus's sophomore release Historian was a high-ranking mainstay on most year-end lists. Full of slow-burning, brooding, alt-country ballads that gradually build to stirring crescendos, the album is a whip smart mediation on the roles time and physical space play in deepening or destroying relationships.  Could have gone with several numbers from this one here - Yours And Mine, Addictions, critical darling Night Shift - but in the end settled on the album's most potent anthem, Pillar Of Truth.

8. Bad Luck - Neko Case: Idiosyncratic indie/alt-country chanteuse Neko Case's 2018 release Hell-On was just the latest entry in what is becoming a near legendary discography.  Of the many fine tracks to choose from, I went the album's goofiest and catchiest number Bad Luck here.

9. Pristine - Snail Mail: A new generation of teenage listeners got their very own unrequited love anthem in Snail Mail's Pristine, one of the most critically celebrated songs of 2018. Our second selection from the Lindsay Jordan-led outfits' full-length debut Lush, this song isn't quite the guitar showcase that Heatwave profiled on Best Of The Best is, but boasts one of the best concluding verses of the year when bottom drops on the song at around the 3:38 mark.

10. Fireworks - First Aid Kit: Lately the gold standard of quality consistency in indie folk, First Aid Kit impressed again in 2018 with their latest release Ruins, one of the strongest front-to-back listens of the year. I've chosen the gorgeous, ruminating ballad Fireworks to represent Sweden's best harmonizing sister act here, but Nancy will highlight a couple more tracks from the so charming Soderberg's on her upcoming mix.

11. Little Death - The Beths: Not nearly as morose as this song's title might suggest, the soaring Little Death from Future Me Hates Me is actually an exploration of the physical sensations one experiences in those first budding moments of a romantic crush. 

12. Curse Of The Contemporary - Lump: I just love chill, wonky, psychedelic folk-rock groove of this lead single from the 2018 self-titled debut EP from Lump, a side-project pairing of the talents of Mike Lindsay  of Tunng and British indie-folker Laura Marling. 

13. Nobody - Mitski: Themes of aching loneliness and the gradual self reliance that emerges from living with it anchor this critically adored, jaunty, old-fashioned crooner from Mitski's Be The Cowboy

14. I've Got You - Camp Cope: Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, Camp Cope traffics in a much more earnest, soul-baring indie than more witty compatriots like Courtney Barnett. This track, taken from their 2018 sophomore LP How To Socialize & Make Friends, is one of their best, a heartbreaking journey through lead-singer Georgia MacDonald's final months with her beloved, ailing mother.

15. Dive - Beach House: Beach House aptly titled seventh album 7 was a bit of a surprise, as far-reaching stylistically as the band has ever been.  So much so that I would rate it the band's second best effort to date after their 2010 indie breakthrough Teen Dream. Dive, one of many wonderful tracks, sees the Baltimore dream pop duo taking on shoe gaze uplift with commanding success.

16. Prior Things - Hop Along: Here's one more from Hop Along's unusual but so hooky quirk fest, Bark Your Head Off, Dog, which finds the instrumentally restless band working in a full string section as accompaniment this time out. 

16. Time - U.S. Girls: Former Chicagoan Meghan Remy leads her crack supporting Canadian band into a seven-minute plus freakout on the most rocking track from In A Poem Unlimited.

17. Me Voy - Cat Power: For her tenth album and first in six years, Wanderer, Cat Power's Chan Marshall strips things back down to the bare minimum. In its intense spareness, the album recalls her celebrated '98 release Moon Pix, but if I'm honest, I like Wanderer even better, and this Spanish-tinged song of goodbye felt like the perfect track with which to close out this mix. 

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