I didn’t really want to write about The Weeknd’s new album Dawn FM because no one needs me to tell them about The Weeknd, but it’s really what I’ve been steeped in this week. I thought I might write about the new song by Lucius, but I’m not super in love with it and just didn’t really have anything to say about it. I’m not really in a writing mood today, so I’m not really going to say that much about Dawn FM either. Plus lots of people much more knowledgeable than I am have said much more intelligent things than I could say about it right now. I highly recommend a listen to the Switched on Pop episode about the album. I’m just really loving it’s 80s vibes and it’s interesting concept album with a trip through Purgatory listening to the radio with a DJ voiced by Jim Carrey. It’s groovy. I dig it. The end.
It’s the first Friday in 2022 and I’m back with a new to me song that is not really a new song at all. The song came out back in July 2021 and the album of the same name came out in October 2021. It’s also his sophomore album so he’s been around. I however first heard of Sam Fender and the song “Seventeen Going Under” on New Year’s Eve when there was a profile of him in the Washington Post. He’s apparently very big in the UK, but I had never heard of him until that article. I’m really glad I read it and listened to his music because I love it. The article kept saying about how people compared him to Bruce Springsteen, which I don’t get so much musically other than some of the horns, but I guess more lyrically in the things he’s singing about. Sonically he reminds me more of The Killers, which I guess is fitting since he is apparently opening up for them on their UK and Ireland legs of their upcoming tour. I have tickets to see The Killers in the fall COVID gods willing and I’m a little bit bummed that he won’t be opening for them on their US tour too. In case you like me had not heard of him, now you have.
It’s that time of year again where I share my favorite things I experienced in pop culture over the past year. As a reminder these are not necessarily things that came out during 2021 though most of them are. They are however things I enjoyed for the first time this year. Like last year it’s a little bit different because some of my standard categories I didn’t really have a choice in thanks to the pandemic. Hopefully 2022 will finally offer me a full array of choices. But 2021 still had lots to offer, so here we go.
Movie I Saw in a Theater
I only saw one movie sort of in a theater in 2021 and that “theater” was Bengie’s Drive-in, but I’m going to count it because I actually left the house to watch a movie for the first time since January 2020. The movie I saw was Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. It was fine. I definitely would not have chosen it as a favorite movie of the year, but being the only one, it does qualify for the most memorable movie I saw outside of my house this year.
Movie I Watched at Home
Despite not really being able to go out to watch movies in theaters right now, that is still my preferred method for watching a movie, and I still have a hard time making myself want to watch movies at home. My husband pretty much has to force me into it. One movie I wound up watching on my own and really enjoying though was CODA. CODA stands for Children of Deaf Adults and this movie is about a teenage girl who is the only hearing member of her family with both of her parents and her brother all being deaf. They rely on her a lot to help them communicate with hearing people and to help run their fishing business. She becomes involved in a choir at school and starts to have dreams about leaving for a performing arts college, but also doesn’t know how she can leave her family. I thought it was a really great movie that definitely had moments meant to push your emotional buttons, but sometimes you really just want to have those buttons pushed.
I also really loved Tick, Tick…Boom. I’ve never seen an actual production of this show, but this filmed version was excellent. Andrew Garfield really was the perfect Jonathan Larson, and Lin Manuel Miranda directed this movie so lovingly. It really is an homage to theatre itself. If you’re a theatre geek there are so many Easter eggs in it for you. The number, “Sunday”, alone is just pure joy for anyone who loves that world.
Finally there were a couple of animated films I really enjoyed. Mitchells vs. the Machines was a really fun movie and has a fantastic scene set in a mall that is worth the price of admission alone. We also just watched Encanto the other night. The people in one of the podcasts I listen to didn’t seem to like it all that much. They didn’t think the music stood out and was not as good as other things soundtracked by Lin Manuel Miranda. I enjoyed it while watching the movie, but it’s true that none of the songs stuck in my head. But they also thought the lack of some sort of larger villain left the movie a little purposeless, while I actually really liked that the conflict was small and both internal and about family dynamics.
I didn’t read a lot of fiction that I rated very highly this year, although I think I probably read about an equal amount of fiction and non-fiction. I still read a lot of romance this year in terms of fiction and even if I like it, it’s rare that I rate a romance novel that highly. The one fiction book I rated really well on Goodreads was The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. I remember while I was reading it thinking I can’t wait to talk about this part and oh and this part with my book club. Too bad I wasn’t reading it for any of my books clubs. I’ve generally enjoyed most of the books I’ve read by Kate Quinn, but I think this one was my favorite.
Unlike fiction books there were a lot of non-fiction books that I rated very highly this year. I think I got back into my non-fiction groove a little more this year than I have been in recent years. Taking a look at all the non-fiction books that made the top of my list, it seems to me that the overarching theme is, what the hell is wrong with America. The answer in all of these books is a hell of a lot, and sadly I don’t think we have the collective will to do anything about it. Maybe I’ll find something more uplifting to read about in 2022, but I doubt it. This is why all my fiction reading has turned into reading romance novels. I need something to read that’s not about completely terrible things. I’ve linked to my original reviews if you want more information on any of the books.
I watched a lot of tv this year because unlike most of the rest of the world I still did not go anywhere or do anything in 2021. 2022 isn’t looking too promising so far either. I’m so tired. But I digress. Here are the shows that made the biggest impression on me in 2021.
I know some people took issue with season 2 of Ted Lasso. Part of that was the inevitable backlash against something so popular, and some of it was some well-deserved criticism about some of the plotting and the romance storylines. I don’t disagree with some of those things, but it doesn’t matter because overall Ted Lasso brought me a lot of great joy every week. For everything that was wrong with season 2 there were at least twice as many great things about it. For the 10 weeks it was on, I seriously used the thought of being able to watch it on Friday night as a crutch to get me through the week. Some weeks it felt like that was all I had. So Ted Lasso is definitely a highlight of my year tv wise.
For All Mankind
I honestly don’t know why For All Mankind has not become a bigger hit. It’s such a good show. There are now two seasons on AppleTV+ for you to enjoy. It’s an alternate version space race in which Russia made it to the moon first and there are lots of lady astronauts. It’s so good. It’s excellent at both character development, plotting, and creating these super great tense action sequences. Seriously, if you haven’t watched it, what are you waiting for?
Atypical is another show that I don’t feel like enough people watched. It had its fourth and final season on Netflix this year. I honestly didn’t think that Netflix would renew it for a fourth season and then after the pandemic happened I was worried that its renewal would be scrapped like Glow‘s. I’m so happy I got to spend one more season with these characters. I’m very pleased with how the show went out.
Greek was a show I never watched in the mid-aughts when it was on. I finally watched it on Hulu this year and loved it. It’s exactly the kind of teen drama that used to be popular, but that tv doesn’t really make anymore. I miss these kinds of shows, and I was really happy to have this one to watch for the first time. Sadly, I don’t think there are any other shows out there like it that I haven’t already watched.
Mare of Easttown
I loved the world that Mare of Easttown built. Both the characters and the setting felt completely lived in to me, and that is what made the show for me. The murder plot obviously helped propel the story forward, but I honestly would have watched a show without the murder that just involved hanging around with these characters more Friday Night Lights or Parenthood style.
Although there were a lot of tv shows that I really liked this year, for awhile I was struggling to think of a particular episode of any show that really stood out to me apart from its larger whole. I finally figured out what it was though. It’s actually an episode of a show from 2020, but I didn’t watch it until 2021 so it counts under my rules. It’s Season 1: Episode 10 of the show Mythic Quest, “Quarantine”. Mythic Quest is not one of my favorite tv shows. It’s a decent workplace sit-com with some really stand out episodes, but overall a show that is kind of mediocre. The final episode of season 1, which filmed during the beginning of the pandemic is absolutely the best COVID related tv episode that I have seen. They use the video call format to their advantage and there is one moment between two of the characters that had me crying lots of ugly tears. If nothing else watch for the amazing Rube Goldberg set-up at the end.
There was a lot of really good music this year. A lot of artists released albums because they couldn’t tour in 2020 and either put off releasing albums they couldn’t tour behind or spent their quarantine time recording new music. Here are three albums that really rose to the top for me.
Outside Child by Allison Russell
I knew when this album came out in May that it was going to be at the top of my list for 2021, and I am certainly not the only one. Aside from lists only tracking in very different genres of music, I’ve seen this album on every best of 2021 list that I’ve read. It’s a beautiful album sung in both English and French as Allison Russell is a native of Montreal. It really details the abuse she experienced at the hands of her stepfather and leaving home at a very early age to escape it and then her process of healing from it. It’s ambitious and personal and something I don’t think I’ve heard the likes of before.
Pressure Machine by The Killers
Up until recently The Killers were a band whose hit songs I knew and thought were fine, but not at all a band I really looked into any further or sought out their full albums or anything. Yet, now when fewer people are paying attention to them and most people still know them for “Mr. Brightside” if anything at all, I have become strangely obsessed with them after their 2020 album Imploding the Mirage and this year’s Pressure Machine. Pressure Machine is lead singer, Brandon Flowers’, look at the small heavily Mormon town in Utah where he grew up. He really digs into both the good and bad and living in a small, religious town like that.
I Don’t Live Here Anymore by The War on Drugs
In a year that has a lot of really great albums out by amazing Black women like Adia Victoria’s Southern Gothic and Amythyst Kiah’s Wary + Strange, I feel a little bad that two of the three albums I’m writing about here are white dude bands that don’t really need my promotion, but look I am a sucker for guitar rock of the sort that The War on Drugs and The Killers make. I grew up in a house listening to 70s era guitar rock. I fell in love with Tom Petty at a young age and he’s still one of my favorite artists. When I was in high school the concerts I went to were bands like The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd, and Van Halen. This kind of music is in my DNA and there were a couple of really good examples of it in these two albums this year.
I Don’t Live Here Anymore didn’t come out until the end of this year, so it was a late entry into this list, but I knew the first time I listened to the album it was going to be here. I don’t even have that much to say about it other than that I love the guitar on it and I am happy with every song on the album.
Be Sweet by Japanese Breakfast
Spotify Wrapped told me that “Be Sweet” was my top song of the year and it definitely is one of them. I adore it. This album wound up on almost every top albums of 2021 I read. I however really just love this one song. I don’t hate the rest of the album, but I don’t anything else on it nearly as much as I like this single. I heard that Michelle Zauner originally wrote this song for someone else to sing, and it makes a certain amount of sense to me since it sounds very different to me than other Japanese Breakfast songs. I absolutely love the 80s rock vibe of the song. Definitely a highlight of my music year.
Sanctuary by Hiss Golden Messenger
“Sanctuary” by Hiss Golden Messenger was released as a single all the way back in January 2021 and this song has been a touchstone for me throughout the entire year. With lyrics like
Can’t get out of my own mind”
“Steady with your hope now
That little light’s gotta last a while”
it really spoke to how hard life is right now and trying to hold onto that little bit of hope to keep moving forward. I’m so happy I had it to hold onto for the entire year.
Little Things by Big Thief
I have tried to like Big Thief. They are by far the NPR Music critics’ favorite band of the past decade. They rave about them all the time, but I have just never found a way into them before this song. As I believe I wrote about this song when I wrote about it for my New Music Friday posts, on paper I should hate this song too, but I really don’t. The lyrics don’t really resonate with me, but sonically I love it despite many of the component parts being things that I usually hate like the distorted guitar sounds. I was actually shocked when this song didn’t show up on my top songs in my Spotify Wrapped because it’s the single song this year that I would sometimes just put on repeat.
I Don’t Live Here Anymore by The War on Drugs feat. Lucius
Words cannot express how much I love the song “I Don’t Live Here Anymore”. Sometimes there are songs that I just feel in my bones either because of the guitar or the harmonies and this song hits me on both counts. Like as soon as the guitar kicks in at the beginning of this song I can feel it like a thrum in my soul. As someone who has never used drugs it’s the closest I can imagine to being high when it happens. It doesn’t happen to this extent with very many songs, but oh man when it does.
I don’t have much to choose from in this category because despite all the many concert tickets I bought over the course of the year thinking surely we’ll be out of the worst of this pandemic by then, whenever then was, I didn’t go to most of them. The only actual live music I got to see this year was The Newport Folk Festival and Amos Lee at Wolf Trap both in a span of a few weeks in the middle of summer before Delta hit and things really did seem like we were finally getting out of this pandemic for a few brief, shining moments. Amos Lee at Wolf Trap probably would have rated here even if there had been a lot more competition from all the shows I didn’t actually go to. It was my first concert back, which of course gave it special meaning and felt very apropos since his weekly Thursday night Instagram concerts during the first year of the pandemic really helped keep me going. I really enjoy him as a performer and I’m not sad that he was one of the few people I got to see live this year. I’m really hoping 2022 is better than it seems like it’s going to be at the moment and that I can finally start feeling comfortable going out into large crowds.
In some respects I really wish that I had not been able to carry the Online Concert category over from last year as I was really hoping to be back to seeing actual shows on the regular. There are fewer online concerts these days because of course artists are back out touring in front of actual people again. Recently though there have been a handful of artists who live streamed the final shows from their current tours. It makes sense because at that point they’re not losing out on any ticket sales for actual live shows, but getting to supplement the money they’re making with people accessing the live stream. I’ve watched a couple of these. Ideally I would like to get back to actual live shows in 2022, but until that feels safer than it does now I’m happy to at least have this little bit of live music. I really enjoyed the Delta Rae show from The Basement East in Nashville a few weeks ago. I’ve never actually gotten to see them live but have wanted to for a long time, so this show was a nice little treat and something that made me definitely want to see them in person some day.
Broadway Theatre Production
Ha, ha! Nope! I wish I had been able to see a Broadway show, but didn’t happen. Fingers crossed for March 2022 when I’m supposed to see The Music Man and Company.
Baltimore Theatre Production
Again nope to the nope. I could have actually seen some live theatre in Baltimore had I wanted to, but I wasn’t ready to risk my life for it. So I didn’t. Center Stage who I usually have season tickets for did go on this year with an in-person season. I was hoping they would offer some virtual options too, but they didn’t. I also have so far had one show, Tootsie, at the season tickets we do have at the Hippodrome that we didn’t go to. We renewed our season tickets for 2020-2021 right before the pandemic hit, so they just moved those forward to this year since there were no shows last year. I wouldn’t have bought season tickets at this point otherwise. I guess our seats will be waiting for us if we ever feel like going. Pretty sure we’re not going to see Prom in January based on current case rates, even though I really wanted to see that show. I’m definitely sitting out the Donna Summer musical in February because I’m for sure not risking my life for that show.
Online Theatre Production
I think there were still some online theatre things I watched at the beginning of 2021, but none of them stand out in my mind at this point. What I will use in this category though are the recorded versions of actual staged shows that showed up this year. I would like it if there were more of these in general because not everyone has the means to go see a Broadway show. Over the summer we got Come From Away, which has already become one of my favorite shows. Despite what seems to be happening now, watching it again this summer was a good reminder that people do have the ability to come together despite tragic circumstances and fight for a common good. Hopefully we’ll get back to that place one day because we sure feel pretty far from it now.
I also, just a few days ago, through methods made the BBC think I was in Britain so that I could stream the recently recorded version of Sutton Foster in Anything Goes on the West End. Anything Goes is one of my favorite musicals of all time and I loved seeing Sutton Foster in it a number of years ago on Broadway. The like 7 and half minute tap number that ends Act 1 is still one of my favorite production numbers of all time. When I need a pick me up I still watch the recorded rehearsal of that number and Jonathan Groff’s “Miscast” version of it.
Make Me Smart
Make Me Smart has been sitting atop my list of favorite podcasts ever since it started 5 or 6 years ago. It was still my favorite podcast of this year. If I had a new episode to listen to it was the first thing going in my earholes before any of the dozens of other podcasts I listen to. Kai and Molly’s discussions about what is happening in the world helped keep me sane and process everything that’s been going on and of course made me smart about a lot of things I didn’t know about before. Sadly, Molly Wood left the podcast for a whole new career outside of journalism at the end of November. I will still listen, but I don’t think it’s going to be as good without her there. Kai and Molly just have a really good podcast rapport that isn’t the same with any other hosts. They’ve had a myriad of guest hosts over the years while either Kai or Molly were out on vacation or working on other projects and it doesn’t matter which one of them was out or who was filling in, it was never quite the same.
Out of the Blocks
Out of the Blocks has also been one of my favorite podcasts for the past several years. They had their final season this year, which is sad but understandable given their format. It’s a podcast where they spend a significant amount of time on a single block in Baltimore and just share the stories of the people who live and work there. It obviously became an impossibility to continue what they were doing once the pandemic hit. They had one final season this year where they actually went back and caught up with some of the people they had spoken to in previous podcasts to see what has changed in their lives since they were first on the podcast and how they’ve been weathering the pandemic. It was a perfect way for them to go out and one that made me shed lots of tears while listening to it. It’s such a good look at humanity and how we all have joys and struggles and no matter what they are.
The Recovering Catholic with Katie Pruitt
Although I’m not actually Catholic I have really enjoyed this new podcast The Recovering Catholic. Katie Pruitt is one of my favorite new musical artists of the past couple years, and this year she also started hosting this podcast where she talks about her own experiences growing up in the Catholic Church as a lesbian and how harmful it was for her, but there is obviously a part of her that is still trying to reconcile her experiences and her thoughts on God. Mostly she talks with a lot of other musicians about their experiences of faith some who are still practicing and others who similarly to her found their experiences with religion harmful and who have since walked away even though they sometimes still feel the pull. She also has an episode with one of her theology professors from college that was really interesting.
Listen to Sassy
I’m definitely not over here only listening to high minded podcasts. I listen to a lot of goofy stuff too. Listen to Sassy is a new podcast that just started at the beginning of 2021 in which the cohosts Tara Ariano, Pam Ribon, and David T. Cole break down issues of Sassy magazine. I loved Sassy in my middle school and early high school years. They have lots of amusing things to say and it’s a fun little nostalgia trip to hear what was being written about 30 years ago.
Too Long; Didn’t Watch
Another new podcast from this year that I really like is hosted by one of my favorite tv critics, Alan Sepinwall. In Too Long; Didn’t Watch he has a celebrity watch only the first and last episodes of a tv show they’ve never seen before. They share their thoughts on the show and he has them guess what happens in the seasons in between the two episodes they watched and whether it has made them want to watch the entire show. You get delightful episodes like Jon Hamm watching Gossip Girl and Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman watching My So-Called Life. It’s a delight.
As I alluded to earlier in this post, I love a good teen drama tv show. I loved One Tree Hill and am currently doing a rewatch as I listen along with this new podcast where the three female leads Hilarie Burton, Sophia Bush, and Joy Lenz do an episode by episode rewatch podcast. They’ve also had a lot of other actors and people who worked on the show on so far too. I know there are a million podcasts like this out there, but this is the first one I’ve ever listened to and I’m enjoying it.
Adia Victoria’s Call and Response podcast should probably also be listed in the section above, but it was getting really long and I knew I was going to talk about a specific episode from it here so I didn’t include it. Just know that I think the whole podcast is great and not just this one episode. In the podcast Adia Victoria speaks with mostly musicians but sometimes other people like authors to talk about music, race, history, and musical lineage. The stand out episode of this podcast this year was her discussion with Allison Russell recorded live at this year’s Newport Folk Festival. It’s a beautiful episode in which Allison talks about the glorious set she put together to end Newport on Sunday night and of course her life and the music it inspired in her much acclaimed album Outside Child. It’s about pain, but also forgiveness and fighting to create a better world.
I have no idea where I came across the song “4Runner” by Rostam, but at some point early in 2021 I added it to the Spotify playlist I create each year of songs I come across that I really like during that year. I’m honestly shocked that this song didn’t show up in my Top 5 Songs in my Spotify Wrapped for 2021 because I feel like every time I put my 2021 playlist on shuffle it was one of the first songs to shuffle up. It’s a song I really like, so I’m not mad about that. I literally no nothing else about this band or any of their other songs. I guess that sort of speaks to something people on a podcast I was listening to yesterday were literally just saying about how when Spotify dishes up songs by artists that people don’t already know it actually very rarely results in people engaging with the artist and pursuing more of their music, looking into them, buying concert tickets, etc. I am obviously someone who is into new music, but it’s impossible to keep up with and get highly invested in everyone even when you happen to really like one of their songs. So here we are.
This time of year is a black hole for new music. Understandably artists don’t tend to release much new music in December and all the music outlets are focused on sharing best of the year lists. If I had been smart instead of posting all the new Christmas music I’m enjoying this year, I would have dragged that over three posts instead of just dropping it all in one post. But I am apparently not smart, so here we are and I have nothing new to talk about today. So, I figure it’s a good time to go back and write about some of the songs I really enjoyed this year that did not make into my New Music Friday posts for whatever reason.
Today I’m going all the way back to just about a year ago to talk about a song that based on the date on YouTube came out on December 1, 2020. I didn’t hear it until January though as that’s when I added it to my 2021 playlist, so I’m counting it as a 2021 song. I don’t really know much about the band Another Sky other than that they are from London. I haven’t listened to any of their other songs, so I don’t even know if I really like their music as a whole or just this particular song. This song pretty much just sums up the year though with a full 1/3 of the song just being the repetition of the lyrics “it keeps coming, it keeps” because boy does it keep coming. This song also has one of my favorite musical devices whereby it starts kind of slow and then suddenly breaks wide open. And now that I’ve talked about it, I think I’m going to go explore some of the rest of their catalog.
Hey it’s Friday and there’s a bunch of new albums out today, none of which I’m going to be talking about. Silk Sonic’s album is out. I’m agnostic on that one. Taylor’s version of Red is out today. Although Red is probably the one I like the most if forced to choose, I still just do not like Taylor Swift’s music so I won’t be writing about that either. Plus it’s not really new. I will say however despite my dislike of her music that I completely respect Taylor Swift’s savvy in the music business, and I totally use her as an example every time I teach a music copyright class. Amanda Shires has a new Christmas album out today too. Like Hiss Golden Messenger’s Christmas album that came out a few weeks ago I’m saving that one until it’s actually Christmas music season. I foresee a Christmas related post happening on Black Friday.
Although I’m not here to talk about any of the new albums out today, I am here to alert you to the new single, “Dream Never Dies”, that Lo Moon released a few days ago. Lo Moon hasn’t put out any new music since their first album back in 2018. I loved that album, but I hadn’t really kept up with what the band was doing at all. The only reason I knew they had a new single out was because Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches alerted me to it in her Instagram stories earlier in the week. It was in my Release Radar on Spotify this morning, though I’m not sure if it would have been there had I not already listened to it earlier in the week. Thankfully I did become aware of it though because I like it just a much as their previous work. It’s got the same sort of dreamy indie rock vibe going on. I assume this song is a harbinger of a new album, so I will be very excited to hear it whenever it comes out.
Of course I’m talking about Brandi Carlile’s new album, In These Silent Days, for New Music Friday this week. Whose blog do you think you’re reading? I listened to the album while taking a sunrise walk on the beach this morning (my last one before heading home, sob). I really do like it a lot, don’t get me wrong, but it’s probably the first Brandi Carlile album that on first listen did not become my new favorite Brandi Carlile album. It was bound to happen sometime, and maybe that will change with future listens. We’ll see.
A lot of the songs are definitely very influenced by Joni Mitchell, and I’m sorry to say that I just don’t love Joni Mitchell that much. Brandi would be super disappointed in me, I know. It may partly be because for most of my life the only Joni Mitchell song I knew was “Big Yellow Taxi” because it was the only Joni Mitchell song that ever gets played on the radio, and I loathe that song. I don’t hate all of her music, but I have also never in my life sat own and purposefully played music by Joni Mitchell other than the first time I made the effort to listen to the Blue album.
Like I said I don’t hate this album in any way. There are some songs I super love on it like “Broken Horses”, which is the one I’m highlighting here. I know many of the others that didn’t immediately grab me as much will grow on me. I will definitely be spending some more time with it and I certainly can’t wait for the day I get to see them play it live. Here’s hoping that’s sooner than I think.
Mickey Guyton’s debut album, Remember Her Name, came out today. I was actually kind of surprised by it because I was already thinking this album came out, but it was only an EP that I was thinking about. I previously wrote about the song “Black Like Me” that is on both the EP and this album. She’s one of those artists that has been around for a long time, but is now only finally getting some recognition and some opportunities.
Many of my favorite albums from the past year or so in the Americana/Country realm have been by Black women and it’s been making me think about how much other amazing music was out there that I never got to hear. Some small doors are finally opening for these women in this area, but it’s not like there weren’t any Black women making this kind of music until 2020/2021. It’s just that they were kept out of the room. I’m glad there is starting to be a space for them, but I know there is still a long way to go and these women have to climb a lot of hurdles to get to the same place as white artists if they can get there at all.
Mickey Guyton actually does not shy away from any of that and talks a lot on songs on this album about her struggles as a Black woman in this country. She mixes them in with some more traditional country topics like love songs, songs about small time life, and of course the seemingly now obligatory song about alcohol. The album as a whole does not sound strictly country either. There is a whole range from songs that are more traditionally country tinged to the current sound of pop country and songs that don’t even really sound that country to me at all like the song “Higher”, which is what I’m sharing because it’s my favorite song on the album though I think the whole thing is great aside from a couple songs that I don’t love. There’s so much there that you’re bound to find at least one song you like.
I’m jumping out of my normal wheelhouse today to talk about the song “Introvert” by British-Nigerian rapper Little Simz. Her fourth studio album, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert was released today. Little Simz was not an artist I was familiar with before this morning when they talked about this album and played a snippet of this song on NPR Music’s New Music Friday podcast. I was immediately taken by the sound. They used words like expansive and cinematic to describe the music on this album and I can’t think of anything better to describe it. I have only listened to this one song so far because I was without my phone this morning and was using an old phone without a SIM card that I had downloaded podcasts for my walk onto via wifi. So I couldn’t pop into Spotify to listen to more of her music. I am definitely interested in digging into it more though. This song is like listening to a movie with it’s huge orchestral sound behind it. I honestly can’t think that I’ve ever heard anything quite like it.
Before we talk about Kacey Musgraves’ new song I want to tell you to go listen to Chvrches’ new album, Screen Violence, which dropped today. I would have written about that, but I’ve already had New Music Friday posts on the first two singles from the album so I thought it would be excessive to write about it again. It is the new music I am actually most excited about today. I really, really need people to go get vaccinated so that case rates go down and I can feel comfortable going to an indoor concert with 6,000 other people at the end of November to see them in concert. They are so good live, and I really don’t want to not go. I do have to say that I’m a tiny bit sad that they are about to go on tour to promote the new album since it means that Lauren Mayberry will no longer be at home to post quality cat content on Instagram of her two cats, Cactus and Poppy.
Anyway, now let’s turn to the song we’re actually here to talk about which is the first single off of Kacey Musgraves’ forthcoming album star crossed. It’s going to be her break-up album about her divorce from Ruston Kelly after their short-lived marriage. I always find break-up albums a little weird because it’s taking something extremely personal and making it super public in a way that most people’s break-ups aren’t and of course it’s always a very one-sided perspective on it. I’m not necessarily opposed to them and sometimes they are incredible (hello Rumours), but especially if that’s not the headspace you’re currently in sometimes I find them a little hard to connect to like I did The Chicks’ newest album, which was a whole lot about Natalie Maines’ divorce.
That being said I do like the first song, “justified”, off of Kacey Musgraves’ break-up album. I think she is at the forefront of trying to subvert what genre is and people’s insistence in trying to stick artists into a little box. Her music is definitely not constrained by a single musical genre. She just lets whatever influences her inspire her music no matter where it’s coming from. I’m excited to explore that aspect of the album when it comes out if nothing else.