February 2020: The Songs I Loved

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This February was loaded with great music. Songs that showed up at your door looking handsome in that half-vulnerable, half-mischievous way, holding a single rose with a big red bow tied to it for some reason. “Hey,” these songs said to me. “Wanna get stinko and watch Nights in Rodanthe?” “Yes,” I immediately responded. “A million times yes!”


1. Waxahatchee – “Lilacs”

“And if my bones are made of delicate sugar / I won’t get anywhere good without you,” admits Katie Crutchfield on this instant country-folk classic. It resonates on a skeletal level.

2. Kamaiyah (ft. J. Espinosa) – “Get Ratchet”

Four years after dropping one of the rap albums of the decade, Kamaiyah is back. And so are ominously funky minor-key piano chords. And so are extended scratch solos.

3. TOPS – “Witching Hour”

I believe that Fleetwood Mac’s 1982 album Mirage is underrated AF. And I have a sneaking suspicion that this Montreal soft-pop band agrees with me.

4. Moses Sumney – “Cut Me”

A breathtaking, falsetto-streaked, prismatic burst of R&B artistry that fills the D’Angelo-sized hole in my heart.

5. Otoboke Beaver – “Dirty Old Fart Is Waiting For My Reaction”

Remember when Liz Warren only needed a minute to rip Michael Bloomberg’s limbs off? This 60-second troll-slaying punk onslaught would work perfectly as the soundtrack.

6. Caribou – “Never Come Back”

Manitoban electronic artist Dan Snaith continues to create deeply emotional, insidiously absorbing dance music, which speaks to those of us who understand that Everything But the Girl’s “Missing” is a modern classic.

7. Boldy James & The Alchemist – “Carruth”

This rap song does not slap. It sighs with unknowable pain.

8. Thundercat – “Dragonball Durag”

Thundercat’s new album drops April 3. And this advance single – an adorably goofy R&B come-on that contains the line “Baby girl / how do I look in my durag?” – is like an early glimpse of an especially fruitful spring.

9. The Avalanches (ft. Blood Orange) – “We Will Always Love You”

Weaving samples from Smokey Robinson and The Roches into an ethereal electronic ballad, these Aussie techno-pastiche legends may have created their prettiest soundscape yet.

10. Yves Tumor – “Gospel for a New Century”

“I think I can solve it,” proclaims Yves Tumor on his latest single. When it comes to figuring out how to infuse splintered, brassy hip hop and fist-pumping hard rock into a pop song, he’s definitely on some Miss Marple shit.

October’s Bestest Songs

CLean Oct.jpegHere are my favorite tracks from October 2019. I will not be trading these pieces of sonic candy for ANYTHING. Nope, not even Junior Mints.


1. Gang Starr – “Bad Name”

I don’t understand how Gang Starr is releasing new music, and not just because 50% of the group was lost forever when Guru succumbed to cancer in 2010. Rap has evolved and splintered in so many ways since the duo’s mid-’90s peak. Yet when the serpentine rasp of an unearthed Guru verse finds the pocket of DJ Premier’s rumbling, trumpet-flecked beat, “Bad Name” feels impossibly, thrillingly alive.

2. Caribou – “Home”

You know you’re doing something right in life when the return of a daily routine is cause for celebration.

3. Neil Young & Crazy Horse – “Eternity”

On Neil Young’s new LP, which seethes with environmental outrage, this sweet, ramshackle love song is the eye of the storm – an effective reminder of all we have to lose.

4. Pusha T – “Succession (Remix)”

Pusha T sounds completely at ease rapping over the theme to HBO’s white-collar depravity drama Succession. And of course he does – he’s our poet laureate of dirty deals.

5. Kim Petras – “Close Your Eyes”

EDM Elvira realness.

6. Sudan Archives – “Glorious”

Violin-fueled R&B is not something I knew I needed.

7. Danny Brown – “Combat”

Danny Brown might be the most versatile rapper working. He’s got a voice that could drown out a marching band, but here he is, gently cracking wise over a muted trumpet loop: “I don’t give a fuck / I could talk a cat off the back of a fish truck.”

8. Coldplay – “Arabesque”

Based on this advance track from its impending double album, Coldplay is getting back to doing what they do best – writing catchy, atmospheric songs that shamelessly, earnestly embrace us. Don’t we all need a hug these days?

9. Ghetto Sage – “Haagen Dazs”

A memo to Chance & Kanye: Chicago has left you behind. Ghetto Sage is the second dynamic Windy City rap crew to make this list in 2019, and they’ve got the heady slam poetry of Noname to anchor this ice cream-metaphor-laden jam: “Looking at Ben and Jerry / Hope one of my n—-s coming through.”

10. Wiki – “Fee Fi Fo Fum”

As sitars burble under the surface, this self-proclaimed New York giant casually raps about sipping Arnold Palmer. Damn, does it go down easy.

11. Bask – “Three White Feet”

Celebrate the early darkness of late fall by cranking this – a beautiful, billowing cold front of progressive Southern metal.