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Top 25 Albums Of 2017

December 6, 2017

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Here are the albums I listened to the most this year.  Enjoy.

25) Alvvays – Antisocialites

Antisocialites is a catchy, occasionally infectious collection of tunes from Alvvays.  Definitely a worthy follow-up to their self titled debut.

24) Julien Baker – Turn Out The Lights

Julien Baker’s Turn Out The Lights isn’t exactly an easy listen, but it’s worth the effort.

23) Wolf Parade – Cry Cry Cry

Cry Cry Cry might be my favorite Wolf Parade album.

22) Growl – Won’t You

Austin’s own Growl really hit a home run with the indie pop-leaning Won’t You.

21) Alex Lahey – I Love You Like A Brother

Alex Lahey is an anthem-making machine.

20) Molly Burch – Please Be Mine

Please Be Mine is proof that Molly Burch is one of Austin’s best artists.

19) The Courtneys – The Courtneys II

The Courtneys sophomore effort has a whole slew of very catchy tracks.

18) SZA – Ctrl

SZA’s Ctrl is one of the best R&B albums I’ve heard in a long time.

17) White Reaper – The World’s Best American Band

White Reaper always rip it up.  The World’s Best American Band is their most complete effort to date.

16) Taylor Swift – Reputation

Reputation is no 1989, but it is a super solid effort.  Few have hooks like Taylor Swift.

15) LCD Soundsystem – American Dream

American Dream is a really nice comeback album for LCD Soundsystem.

14) Walker Lukens – Tell It To The Judge

The Jim Eno-produced Tell It To The Judge is one of my favorite albums to come out of Austin in 2017.  Nicely done, Walker Lukens.

13) The xx – I See You

Admittedly, I wasn’t a big fan of The xx’s I See You when I first heard it, but I came around (real hard) after experiencing the songs live.

12) Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked At Me

Mount Eerie’s A Crow Looked At Me is a devastating album.  I can’t even believe I listened to it as much as I did this year.  Guess that just goes to show how well done it is.

11) Hazel English – Just Give In/Never Going Home

I got lost in Hazel English’s hazy Just Give In/Never Going Home quite a lot in 2017.

10) Japanese Breakfast – Soft Sounds From Another Planet

Soft Sounds From Another Planet is so fantastic that it has made me a Japanese Breakfast fan forever.

09) Spoon – Hot Thoughts

Hot Thoughts is Spoon not giving a whole lot of fucks, and I like it alot.

08) Jay Som – Everybody Works

I don’t do any sort of “best new artist” award here at SOTO, but if I did it would go to Jay Som for the excellent Everybody Works.

07) Gang Of Youths – Go Farther In Lightness

I just recently (maybe a month ago) got into Gang Of Youths’ Go Farther In The Lightness, but it’s had such an big impact on me that I had to give it a high spot on this list.  Just amazing stuff.

06) Waxahatchee – Out In The Storm

If I were sorting this list by number of play-throughs, Waxahatchee’s Out In The Storm would probably land in the top spot.  It’s such a great indie rock album.

05) St. Vincent – Masseducation

Somehow Masseducation is simultaneously St. Vincent’s weirdest and most accessible album.  I love it.

04) The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

The War On Drugs just keep getting better and better.  A Deeper Understanding is a real attention-grabber.

03) Protomartyr – Relatives In Descent

Protomartyr dialed back the intensity just a bit for Relatives In Descent, and it resulted in an album that I have yet to get enough of.

02) Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.

Come on.  It’s Kendrick Lamar.  This guy is currently unstoppable.

01) The National – Sleep Well Beast

I’ve always liked, not loved The National, so it’s wild to me that their Sleep Well Beast ended up being my favorite album of 2017.  Here I am though, declaring all my love for it.  If you haven’t spent any time with it, be sure you fix that real fast.  It’s one of those efforts that just swallows you up whole.

For the heck of it, here are five albums that almost made my Top 25.

Bully – Losing
Conor Oberst – Salutations
Do Make Say Think – Stubborn Persistent Illusions
Jay-Z – 4:44
Why? – Moh Lhean

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Top 50 Songs Of 2017

December 5, 2017

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Well look at that, here are my Top 50 Songs of 2017.  Enjoy.

50) Jamiroquai – Automaton

Jamiroquai still got it, man.

49) Matthew Logan Vasquez

I jammed this Matthew Logan Vasquez (of Delta Spirit fame) track on my radio show, 101X Homegrown, a lot this year. It’s fierce.

48) Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Matter Of Time

I miss Sharon Jones.

47) Sheer Mag – Just Can’t Get Enough

Pure retro goodness here by Sheer Mag.

46) Weaves – Walkaway

Weaves churned out a really nice low key anthem here.

45) Filthy Friends – Any Kind Of Crowd

Corin Tucker sounds adorable in this Filthy Friends song.

44) Julien Baker – Appointments

Sad! Classic Julien Baker.

43) Wiretree – Let Me In

I love this sweet little number by Austin’s own Wiretree.

42) Hazel English – Fix

What a wonderfully hazy pop tune by Hazel English.

41) Mogwai – Eternal Panther

Somehow the best song that Mogwai put out this year isn’t on the album they released.

40) Alyeska – Stones

This 90s indie rock throwback from Alyeska is fantastic.

39) Land Of Talk – Loving

It’s so good to have Elizabeth Powell back in action as Land Of Talk.

38) The Kills – Desperado (Rhianna Cover)

The Kills really make this Rhianna track their own.

37) Why? – Proactive Evolution

I’ll never tire of Why?. This is one of my favorite songs by them.

36) The Octopus Project – Small Hundred

This song by The Octopus Project always makes me want to get up and move.

35) Fujiya & Miyagi – Solitaire

Another year, another infectious jam by Fujiya & Miyagi.

34) Carly Rae Jepsen – Cut To The Feeling

Can’t stop Carly.

33) The Courtneys – Silver Velvet

This is the catchiest song on The Courtneys’ album of really catchy songs.

32) Growl – New Sincerity.

Here’s some jangly pop perfection by Austin’s Growl.

31) Kane Strang – Oh So You’re Off I See

I revisited this slightly weird Kane Strang track a lot in 2017.

30) Beth Ditto – Oo La La

Beth Ditto really goes for it here.

29) Sports – Making It Right

This is a charming pop tune from Sports.

28) Wolf Parade – You’re Dreaming

Wolf Parade with a legit ear-pleaser.

27) Ought – These 3 Things

Ought went new wave here. Good move!

26) Waxahatchee – Never Been Wrong

Indie rock perfection by Waxahatchee.

25) The Rural Alberta Advantage – Toughen Up

The Rural Alberta Advantage made a big time jump back onto my radar with this song.

24) Screaming Females – Black Moon

I can’t wait for the new Screaming Females album. This first single is so damn good.

23) Protomartyr – Don’t Go to Anacita

Intense but great. Protomartyr are the best.

22) Sweet Spirit – The Power

What a big track by Austin’s Sweet Spirit.

21) Perfume Genius – Slip Sway

This is one of Perfume Genius’ best songs.

20) Spook School – Less Than Perfect

Spook School are as catchy as can be here.

19) Rhye – Taste

This Rhye track has an immaculate sound.

18) Jay Som – Baybee

Hazy, dancey, perfect stuff here by Jay Som.

17) Walker Lukens – Don’t Want To Be Lonely (Don’t Want To Leave You Alone)

Here’s a total ear-worm from Austin’s Walker Lukens.

16) The Blow – Get Up

This song from The Blow is a rambly as can be, but I love it.

15) LCD Soundsystem – Call The Police

The best song on LCD Soundsystem’s comeback album.

14) Diet Cig – Barf Day

The line “I know that you’re sorry, I just don’t care” will forever make me smirk. Thanks for that, Diet Cig.

13) Molly Burch – Wrong For You

It’s just about impossible to not love this retro-leaning effort from Austin’s own Molly Burch.

12) Lo Tom – Overboard

David Bazan is so good in this Lo Tom tune. I love his voice.

11) Football, etc. – Save

This track from Austin’s Football, etc. has an early 2000s indie rock vibe that I really dig.

10) The War On Drugs – Holding On

Headphones + this track from The War On Drugs = my happy place.

09) The Coathangers – Captain’s Dead

The Coathangers are on a real roll right now. This song is a blast.

08) Spoon – Do I Have To Talk You Into It

I love how loose Spoon sound here.

07) White Reaper – Judy French

So infectious. White Reaper continue to be big favorites of mine.

06) Alex Lahey – Every Day’s The Weekend

My favorite song from 2017 to sing-a-long to. Alex Lahey sure knows how to write an anthem.

05) The National – The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness

Heavy but accessible. Great track by The National.

04) SZA – Supermodel

I spent a couple of months obsessed with this SZA song. It’s so dramatic.

03) Kendrick Lamar – Humble

It was impossible to escape this Kendrick Lamar song in 2017. I didn’t mind.

02) St. Vincent – Los Ageless

St. Vincent is rather aggressive here, and it’s awesome.

01) Alvvays – In Undertow

This was practically my default song this year. It’s perfect. Thanks, Alvvays!

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Julien Baker

September 19, 2017

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Julien Baker’s new video for Appointments just made me realize that I never actually shared the single.  Grab your headphones and tissues before you hit play.  Her new album, Turn Out The Lights, is due out October 27.  Also, you’ll be able to catch her at Emo’s on December 18.  Enjoy.

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Julien Baker

August 25, 2017

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Since Hurricane Harvey will be the source of a lot of rain throughout Texas today and this weekend, here’s a new one from Julien Baker!  She’s such a great fit for anything that doesn’t involve sunshine.  Look for her new album, Turn Out The Lights, on October 27.  Enjoy.

PS – Julien will be playing Emo’s on December 18.

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Julien Baker

January 9, 2017

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Hey all!  SOTO is back!  Just one particular thing to note here as the year gets going – I’m not going to be posting mp3s anymore.  After I put up my Top 50 Songs of 2016 list I received double digit DMCA takedown notices, and it was rather alarming.  So, I’m just going to stick to whatever streaming service is initially used by the artists, and then you guys can rip the songs yourselves (it is very very easy).  Word?

Alright, time for some Julien Baker.  This super talented young lady put out a great album, Sprained Ankle, in 2015 (one that I somewhat slept on and didn’t really get into until last year because I’m silly), and now she’s found her way to Matador’s roster.  The label will be reissuing the album for international audiences on March 17, and then for the US on that day they’ll be putting out a 7″ with an official version of Funeral Pyre, which is a great track that Julien has been playing live for a while.  Check it out below.  Enjoy.

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Julien Baker

April 5, 2016

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2016 is looking as though it’s going to have a couple of nice cover albums.  There’s an enormous 59-track Grateful Dead effort coming next month, and now an Elliott Smith tribute has been announced.  It’s not quite as elaborate (just 15 tracks featuring the likes of Waxahatchee, Yuck, J. Mascis and others), but I think it’ll be cool.  Below you’ll find Julien Baker’s contribution, which is pretty fantastic.  Enjoy.

:Julien Baker – Ballad of Big Nothing (Elliott Smith Cover):

Say Yes! A Tribute To Elliott Smith is due out October 14 via American Laundromat Records.

Bonus Video:

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Top 50 Songs Of 2015: Part 3

December 2, 2015

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Here’s the next set in my Top 50 Songs of 2015 list.  Enjoy.

- 50-41
- 40-31

30)  :Chvrches – Never Ending Circles:  This is such an infectious song.  Here’s hoping that Chvrches never ditch their anthemic pop routine.  From Every Open Eye.

29)  :Mas Ysa – Look Up:  I love me some Mas Ysa (aka Thomas Arsenault).  You should slap on some headphones for this ambitious track, which features big vocals and a wonderfully textured arrangement.  From Seraph.

28)  :Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle:  If you like your music to feel as sincere as possible, then look no further than this Julien Baker song.  Her voice here cuts right through me.  From Sprained Ankle.

27)  :Kurt Vile – Pretty Pimpin:  Kurt Vile is such a great songwriter, and he shows it all throughout this silly, but really clever track.  From B’lieve I’m Goin’ Down.

26)  :Yung – Blue Uniforms:  I’m all about noisy, shoegaze-esque indie rock, and this Yung song is six and a half glorious minutes of it.  Had to put it on my list!  From the These Thoughts Are Like Mandatory Chores EP.

25)  :Protomartyr – Why Does It Shake?:  This Protomartyr track is not exactly an easy listen, but it’s totally worth the attention it requires.  Hit play, dial in and get rewarded.  From The Agent.

24)  :Amen Dunes – Song To The Siren (Tim Buckely/This Mortal Coil Cover):  Amen Dunes covered a cover (The Mortal Coil –> Tim Buckley) here, and I just really dig the way it came out.  Be warned, you’ll want whiskey about midway through this.  From Cowboy Worship.

23)  :Girlpool – Before The World Was Big:  Growing up is hard!  This Girlpool song makes me feel nostalgic (not sad, thankfully) about life before adulthood rolled in and took over.  From Before The World Was Big.

22)  :Fred Thomas – Bad Blood:  Fred Thomas and the definition of word vomit go hand in hand in this track, but that’s fine.  If only because the numerous things bouncing around in his head are all interesting and/or relatable.  From All Are Saved.

21)  :Black Milk – I Guess:  This is just an all-out, good time sort of effort by Black Milk.  He will always be one of my favorite voices in hip hop.  From the land of one-off tracks.

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Julien Baker

November 3, 2015

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This morning, while staring out at a really foggy Austin, I came across a kid by the name of Julien Baker in the “tracks” section at Pitchfork.  Maybe the weather is to blame, or perhaps it’s just because the 19-year old singer/songwriter seems to be real talent, but I immediately got hung up on the somber-sounding song that the site had posted.  Give it a listen (or watch it, as there’s also a video).  Enjoy.

:Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle:

Sprained Ankle is currently available via Bandcamp.

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