Monthly Music Mix: April at Home
By Drew Renner
Well it is April and we are all still chillin at home. Rona has now started cancelling concerts in the fall too, so this is the only way we will be able to experience the art of music for some time. Artists around the world are stepping up though and putting on live concerts from the safety of their own home on Instagram and other digital platforms. Sure hearing Lili Trifilio sing with an acoustic guitar isn’t quite the same as a full on Beach Bunny performance, but it’s something and I am grateful to all the artists who are doing it.
We have at least one more month of regular releases, May is actually pretty packed right now, but the future is cloudy after that. In my opinion, if Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones can put out new songs during a plague then the younger artists have no excuses. I guess not everyone has a five star recording studio in their homes, but I’m confident we can make it all work.
This month was similar to the previous months of 2020, one song dominated almost the entire time, it’s just that we finally have a switch up and it is Blinding Lights commanding the lead. Drake took it for a minute in the middle of the month with Toosie Slide, which is a pretty bad song, but he was smart enough to start up a TikTok dance challenge to increase the playcount. TikTok is the worst. The Box is still hanging around in the top 5 though, continuing its run at #1 overall for the year. Speaking of hanging around (and it hurts me to admit this) but Post Malone’s Circles has actually broken the record for loitering, achieving more weeks in the top ten than any other song in billboard history. It snagged a few weeks at #1, but really could have done even better if not for the onslaught of Christmas music at the end of 2019. So even though his stupid voice and eyelid tattoos will always annoy me, I gotta give it up to the man, his songs have legs. But he’s still the TikTok of singers.
The Weeknd also had control of the albums charts every week but one with After Hours. It is difficult to find exact numbers, but I think it is safe to say he has the highest selling record of the year. And seeing as how we might not have another huge release for awhile, that could stick all the way till the end. DaBaby was the other #1, releasing what seems like his eightieth album since he broke out last year with Blame It On Baby. But hey, if the demand is there keep on pumping em out those babies. A little surprising, and disappointing, is that Dua Lipa’s heavily hyped Future Nostalgia album could only place at #4. I guess there is a limit on dance pop and only the biggest names out there can break through the wall of hip-hop.
Song of the month:
I’m not shy, make you sigh, slip n slide up my thighs
Claws by Charli XCX
The beat on this song scratches so hard, the ears, the heart, the soul and maybe a little bit of the sword too if you know what I mean. Which is very appropriate for a song called Claws. Charli’s album last year was fine, good enough to make the monthly column but not good enough to make the yearly top 50. I think both Claws, and Forever (which she released earlier in the year), would have put that record over the top though. It’s that same type of sound but the absolute best version of it. Charli has supposedly finished a new album in quarantine though, and if this is just a taste then I cannot wait for the entree.
Reading everyone like that old book you’ve read a thousand times
Mindreader by A Day To Remember
A Day To Remember are going on fifteen years now, which seems crazy but time takes us all for fools. The good news is they are still going strong. This band has a habit of alternating between hard and softer albums, and we are on the pop-rock side of the coin in 2020. The first few singles, Rescue Me and Degenerates were fun to sing along to, but didn’t quite match past hits like Right Back At It Again. Mindreader does hit their usual highs though, not just because it is very catchy, but also very well written. “Finishing sentences on tips of tongues, sixth senses got you seein’ all these things I haven’t done.” I think we’ve all been there, when someone is convinced they know something about you that isn’t true. How frustrating is that? Well now we can respond with this song.
Ever seen the face of revolution? It looks like me
Brick by Fake Names
Fake Names are a new punk supergroup consisting of members of Bad Religion, Refused, Holy Fuck, and many more. I don’t wanna be corny and say it combines the best elements of all these bands, even though it kind of does, that would be short selling it. Brick is both familiar and very new at the same time, which I suppose is the point of the supergroup in general. I guess if I was a bassist in one of those bigger bands, and I had a bunch of songs that weren’t being used and I had a bunch of buddies in the exact same position this would probably seem like the best idea in the world. Brick is certainly a good start and hopefully they will follow through by posting their debut album in the top three next month.
You save me from the skyscrapers and cigarette smoke
Fly Away by Caitlyn Smith
Caitlyn is probably better recognized for her work on the page, writing songs for artists like Garth Brooks, James Bay, Meghan Trainor, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. I personally think Fly Away is better than any of those songs though. It reminds me of old Taylor, a southern bop that also has strong lyrics. Yet she isn’t classified as country or pop, choosing only to identify as a singer-songwriter. Which kinda fits, as the song that follows Fly Away on the album sounds more like Norah Jones than Taylor.
Album of the month:
Afterburner by Dance Gavin Dance
I listed this album as my #1 most anticipated album for the year and for the most part, these guys did not disappoint. I’ll admit my history with Dance Gavin Dance is short, I’ve only known about them for about two of their fifteen years in the game. I just recently learned there is a rift between the fanbase who prefers their older stuff with the old singer vs the people who like the new singer and more experimental sound (like me.) Anyways, even though this is hard rock, it’s a unique sound and I think everyone can get down with it – some of the songs are very funky. On Calentamiento Global they do a thing where the screaming is in english but the clean vocals are in spanish. I’m sure someone has done it before, but it is the first I’m hearing and it’s quite brilliant. Like the Los Espookies of prog-metal. You can get in and out of this one with only a good time, no need to tame you or fade your shine, though there’s always the possibility of MULTIPLE STAB WOUNDS.
Standout: Calentamiento Global
Sawayama by Rina Sawayama
Apparently my friend recommended Rina to me over three years ago, but I must have ignored them or something. So it came as quite the surprise when she popped up on metacritic with a score of 90. Usually those types of numbers are reserved for “Woke” albums, like Kendrick or Beyonce. Luckily Rina earned this one with her voice rather than her heritage. There are huge pop jams like Bad Friend (where she also mentions Carly, always a huge plus for me), XS and Paradisin. But then there is STFU, which hits hard as hell and would fit in at any rock festival (if they ever come back) or NXT Takeover. I love that kind of diversity in my albums.
Standout: Bad Friend
Fetch The Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple
Fiona is one of the most consistent names in music. She doesn’t release all that often, but when she does you know it is going to be high quality. The one thing that has changed is that the girl who used to break boys just because she could is now expertly adept at explaining exactly why the break needed to happen. If I was her ex and heard this I’d be like well shit, maybe you were right, good luck in your future endeavors. The perfect 100 on meta is a little silly, nothing is perfect (other than Metric) but much like Rina, she earned it through quality rather than politics.