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Pick Your Poison: Tuesday 1-30-18

Let’s skip straight to the details with today’s Pick Your Poison. The three lovely tracks up top come from AVEC, Local Natives, and White Cliffs (ft. Ricky James). All of them are well worth your time, so I hope you listen and enjoy. Of course there’s plenty more for discerning tastes beyond the jump, including songs from Blair Sound Design, Blanco White James, Cooper Saver’s remix of a Cut Copy track, HYLLS, Kindo, Llovers, Oliver Hazard, Soft As Snow, and Will Long.

AVEC – Youth

Local Natives – Colombia (Demo)

White Cliffs – Heart Start (ft. Ricky James)

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Pick Your Poison: Monday 1-29-18

Hope you had a fantastic weekend, and managed to stay warm in this winter weather. It’s been a good start to the year so far from a music perspective, and today’s Pick Your Poison continues to help prove that point. There are some great downloads in this set from Fawns of Love, Max Koffler & Seoulmates, Moon Darling, and Peelander-Z. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from Bobby Nourmand (ft. Laurent John), Crymynals (ft. Fatherdude), Cuco, Daze (ft. Fanny), Elohim, Hatchback, Jordan Lomeli, Launder, Lord Huron, MATTIS, Xie, and Young & Sick.

Fawns of Love – Zine Days

Jason S. Matuskiewicz – Can We Put Out The Flames?

Max Koffler & Seoulmates – Watergum

Moon Darling – Don’t Rise

Nuumobi – Akua Mansa

Oddnote – Money Comes, Money Goes

Peelander-Z – Yeah Yeah Yeah

Shmu – Hololeaps

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Pick Your Poison: Wednesday 1-24-18

By sheer coincidence, my favorite three tracks in today’s Pick Your Poison are all associated with artists that have nature associations in their names. The Field is obviously an open patch of grass, Garden City Movement has homegrown vegetables in the first part of their name, and Palm is a type of tree. That says absolutely nothing about the music itself, it’s just a weird word association exercise for fun. But yeah, the songs themselves are great and you should check them out. Head beyond the jump, and there’s even more great music to digest, including songs from Dabrye (ft. DOOM), Dear Boy, DJ Koze, The Garden (another nature connection!), George FitzGerald, Keys N Krates (ft. 070 Shake), Team Picture, Triathalon, and TSVI.

The Field – Staircase

Garden City Movement – Foreign Affair

Palm – Composite

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Pick Your Poison: Tuesday 1-23-18

Have you ever woken up in the morning with a slightly scratchy throat, chalked it up to sleeping in a weird position or snoring, only to have your sinuses go haywire several hours later? Yeah, apparently I’ve come down with a cold. It’s the third cold I’ve had in six months, with a fun additional detour through flu country as well. The point being, it’s not fun, and apparently I need to take better care of myself. My advice to you for staying healthy? Get enough sleep. And vitamins. And try to minimize the amount of junk food you eat. Hopefully that’s a reasonable recipe for avoiding getting sick. Oh, and wash your hands! But that one should be a no-brainer. Also a no-brainer? Today’s Pick Your Poison. Good stuff in this set, especially from Birocratic, Dead Meadow, and EDEN. If you’ll continue onward past the jump, you’ll also be treated to tracks from AMERA (covering The Cranberries aka RIP Dolores O’Riordan), AVIVA, Gundelach, Kasbo (ft. Tender), Major Murphy, Pinky Pinky, Russ, Ukiyo (ft. FEELDS), and more!

Birocratic – Extra Fresh

Dead Meadow – Keep Your Head

EDEN – love; not wrong (brave)

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Pick Your Poison: Monday 1-22-18

Now that we’re three weeks deep into this new year, things are really starting to pick up! Case in point, there’s a really exciting week of Pick Your Poison dead ahead. We’ll get started today with top notch downloads from Datenight, Echo Bloom, Motorcade, Vic Mensa, and a bunch more. Journey beyond the jump to get on board with streams from Chris Dave (ft. Anderson .Paak), Computer Magic, G-dot, HAUS, ionnalee (ft. Jamie Irrepressible), Leyya, Liz Huett (covering Tom Petty), Parade of Lights, Penguin Prison, Poster Children, SPINN, and Uppermost (ft. Yudimah).

Blake Banks – By My Side (ft. Lil Duke)

Datenight – Gone Tomorrow

Echo Bloom – The Duke

J Hacha de Zola – My Special Angel (Bobby Vinton cover)

Motorcade – Deliver

Reigen – How to Make Love

Two Dark Birds – Pretty Wing

Vic Mensa – Diplomatic Immunity (Freestyle)

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Pick Your Poison: Thursday 1-18-18

Before we wrap up the week, I’ve got one more collection of top notch songs for you to hear. Trust me when I say these will help carry you through the next few days. Happy to recommend a new one from Daniel Avery. Chicago’s own Minor Characters are back and better than ever with the first track from their forthcoming album We Can’t Be Wrong (out April 6th). And Mt. Joy have the word “joy” in their name, which is really my reaction whenever I hear something fresh from them. Follow after the jump if you’d like to check out more songs from the likes of Apathy, August Greene (ft. Brandy), Bonny Doon, COG, Kasbo (ft. Tender), LEA (covering Jeff Buckley), SONIKKU, Sure Sure, and Swimm.

Daniel Avery – Slow Fade

Minor Characters – Pimps of Freedom (Whores of D.C.)

Mt. Joy – Jenny Jenkins

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Pick Your Poison: Tuesday 1-16-18

One of my favorite things about bringing Pick Your Poison to you is the eclecticism. There are no genre restrictions, and no artist too small or large. The goal is to lay these tracks at your feet and let you decide what to listen to. Everybody has different tastes, and that’s what makes the world great. So you can get a folksy song from Rogue Wave, another attempt at big band/swing revival from Squirrel Nut Zippers, and something dark from Young Fathers all in a row. Head past the jump, and you’ll find tracks from Ansel Elgort (yes, the actor), Caitlin Canty, Dengue Dengue Dengue, Ezra Feinberg, Haux, Helena Deland, Rachael Cantu, TSVI, and more!

Rogue Wave – The Show

Squirrel Nut Zippers – Karnival Joe (From Kokomo)

Young Fathers – In My View

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Pick Your Poison: Monday 1-15-18

Can’t believe we’re halfway through January already! I say that in astonishment, because politically it feels like it’s been 6 months. Haha, time doesn’t fly when you’re terrified. Music is a great coping tool though, and here’s another collection of tracks to keep you sane. Don’t miss downloads in this set from The Anxiety Society, Echo Bloom, Hollie Cook, and Stephen McLaren. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from Aire Atlantica (ft. Emily Terran), Chris Dave and The Drumhedz (ft. Anna Wise & SiR), Club 8, Gabriel Garzon-Montano (ft. Junglepussy), Great News, Jean Tonique, Keys N Krates, Narrow Head, Palace Winter, The Radio Dept., Ryan Hemsworth (ft. NewAgeMuzik), and Suuns.

The Anxiety Society – Electric Air

Blind the Thin King – Hail the Newborn Killer

Echo Bloom – Comet

Fadaei – Efrati

Hollie Cook – Stay Alive (Radio Edit)

Lois Capelli – Syria (SOS Edit)

Nathaniel Bellows – Keep In Mind

Stephen McLaren – Yet Again, I Have Offended Everyone

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Pick Your Poison: Thursday 1-11-18

Lots of quality tracks from lots of quality artists in this set, so let’s jump right in, shall we? Right up top, I can tell you that the new Acid Dad single rocks, as do songs from NADINE and Nap Eyes. After the jump, you can also stream goodness from the likes of Beach Riot, Cautious Clay, Cavern of Anti-Matter, Emily Burns, Lauren Ruth Ward, Onra (ft. Pomrad), Oscar Jerome (ft. James Massiah), PENPALS, and Strange Names.

Acid Dad – 2Ci


Nap Eyes – Every Time the Feeling

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Pick Your Poison: Tuesday 1-9-18

How are your New Years Resolutions holding up? I realize it’s only been a week or so, but you’d be surprised at how quickly people fall off the wagon. I’ve got my own personal strategy for keeping resolutions: not making any. It’s been working out great so far! Onto today’s Pick Your Poison. The highlights are up top, and include tracks from Pale Grey (ft. Serengeti), Public Access T.V., and Wild Child. Still plenty of great stuff after the jump though, including songs from Bad Decisions, The Green Child, Holy Now, Knightstown, Max Styler, Nightwave, TSVI & Wallwork, WRRY, and Young Galaxy.

Pale Grey – Late Night (ft. Serengeti)

Public Access T.V. – Lost in the Game

Wild Child – Sinking Ship

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Pick Your Poison: Monday 1-8-18

Things are still a bit quiet at the start of the new year, so the editions of Pick Your Poison might come a little less frequently for the next couple of weeks. No worries though, because once I’ve got enough tracks to post, I promise to pass them along to you. Downloads in this set you’ll want to keep an eye on come from Beechwood, Corniglia, Frank Rabeyrolles, Jeremy Bass, and Ross Cooper. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from Bahamas, Cozz, Dana Buoy, Fly By Midnight, Kal Marks, Matthewdavid, Mimicking Birds, Moon Duo, The Oh Hellos, Rosie Carney (covering Cigarettes After Sex), ShitKid, and Tropic Harbour.

Beechwood – Heroin Honey

Corniglia – Oh My Love

Donivan Berube – Rain Dog’s Dream

Frank Rabeyrolles – Ice

Jeremy Bass – The Greatest Fire

Paulaa – Know You

R. Finn – Quiet House

Ross Cooper – I Rode the Wild Horses

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Pick Your Poison: Tuesday 1-2-18

Happy New Year! Hope your holidays were great and all that jazz. While you recover from whatever hangover you might be nursing from the last couple of days, I wanted to share this collection of tracks that have built up in the couple weeks that Pick Your Poison has been off. Consider this a slightly extended version of what would normally appear, to help you get your 2018 off to a bright start. I’m happy to recommend downloads in this set from Blanco White James, The Coolness, Margaret Chavez, and Moon Darling. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from Alina Baraz, A$AP Twelvyy, Cobrayama & T.Z. Duhh, Garden City Movement, Her’s (covering Minnie Riperton), Kainalu, Kelsey Vaz, Koda, Lauren Ruth Ward, Long Neck, Lou Karsh, Migos, Mika Vainio w/ Ryoji Ikeda & Alva Noto, Nickodemus & Maharaj Trio, Peach Pit (covering Sufjan Stevens), Renata Zeiguer, and Sam F & JZVEL.

Babby – Mother

Blake Banks – Cashout

Blanco White James – By Myself

The Coolness – Chicken Leg Girl

Donae’O – Bandoe (ft. Don E)

Endre Nordvik – Like Old Friends

Margaret Chavez – Strange Buoy’s

Max Koffler – Choose Your Fate

Moon Darling – Learned Amongst the Sky

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The 50 Best Albums of 2017

Overall, 2017 was a pretty fascinating year for music. If last year was a massive dogpile of great artists releasing great albums (Chance, Beyonce, Solange, ATCQ, Radiohead, Bowie, etc.), this year was more about promising young upstarts working hard to prove their initial success wasn’t simply a fluke. In a very different way, 2017 also saw the return of the “elder statesmen” of indie, in which well-established names like Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, and LCD Soundsystem returned with new albums after being absent for a few years. Exciting as it was to hear fresh material from the likes of The Shins and Broken Social Scene, many of these returns resulted in a slight decay in quality, which may very well have been a sign of the times. It’s difficult to say where Arcade Fire and The National fit into today’s musical landscape, other than the fact that as long-time favorites they’ve earned plenty of trust and leeway when it comes to these matters. Some of these artists have attempted to continue evolving after a decade of trying the same thing and were met with shrugs by fans, while others have been more content to remain in their own lane and hope that fans continue to follow along.

On the other side of the coin, it often felt like fewer new artists managed to make a major impact this past year. Standouts like Priests and Charly Bliss aside, the ability to discover and cultivate fresh talent failed to impact as potently in 2017 as it has in other recent years. That left things largely up to the in-betweeners. Julien Baker, Jay Som, Big Thief, Torres, and others are known but not yet popular enough to earn things like regular radio airplay, yet their records remain deeply impactful and wholly original. Turns out that’s the sweet spot for this year. It remains exciting to hear a collection of artists figure themselves out, and connect with listeners in an interesting and genuine fashion.

Below you’ll find my Top 50 Albums of 2017. While many near the top of the list fall in line with a generally established consensus from plenty of other publications, there are still quite a few personal touches that hopefully help this list stand apart from the rest. I strongly encourage you to seek out any of the records listed if you haven’t heard them yet. All of them are worth your time and effort, though some are more challenging and impenetrable than others. So while you might not fully “get” some of these on a first, second, or third listen, the effort you put into many of them is worth the deeper rewards contained within their folds.

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The 50 Best Songs of 2017

The burden of choosing only 50 songs to help define the year in music feels wrong and just a bit insane. After all, there are literally tens of thousands of tracks to choose from, and the ability to discern the difference in quality among them can often seem akin to a parent being forced to choose a favorite child. So my decision process when assembling this list was challenging to say the least. It did leave me with enough regret to compose an additional “Honorable Mention” list, which you can check out right here if you’re so inclined.

Before we get started, I wanted to briefly explain a couple of rules I implemented when making selections for these top 50 Songs. First and foremost, no artist may be featured more than once on the list. That rule doesn’t apply to guest spots or features. It’s how *spoiler alert* Kendrick Lamar and Kamasi Washington managed to make it onto this list twice. Secondly, every song on the list must have been officially released in 2017 as part of an album, soundtrack, or single. In other words, you won’t find any leftover songs from 2016 here, nor will you find any pre-release singles for early 2018 records. There are a few tracks on this list from artists that didn’t release an album or EP in 2017, but still delivered one-off singles. Those songs may wind up on yet-to-be-announced records for 2018, and if that’s the case they will automatically be disqualified from “Best of” consideration for next year.

As for the songs featured in this post, I’m fully convinced and committed to proclaiming they’re the cream of the crop. They’ve managed to provide a guiding light for me over the course of this dark year, while also pushing back against the status quo. Their ability to excite, innovate, and comfort is unparalleled. If you don’t understand what they’re trying to do on the first listen, give them another shot, because a few of these are real growers. It is my sincerest hope that this list manages to bring back some fond memories of shows or albums you heard earlier this year and loved, or provides inspiration and discovery of artists and songs you might not have heard of before now. So please absorb these tracks into your life and let them work their magic. Click the play button on each one to hear a stream, or just scroll to the very bottom of this list for a Spotify playlist featuring every track except for one. See if you can figure out which for the 50 that is! Join me after the jump, as we take a closer look at the 50 Best Songs of 2017.

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The Best Songs of 2017: Honorable Mention

Of the thousands of songs I heard this past year, narrowing a list down to my favorite 50 was exceptionally tough. There was plenty of heartbreak and disappointment upon the realization that some great songs were being left off of that final list. So in the spirit of giving attention to even more great music, please take these extra 25 tracks and give them a listen if you aren’t familiar with them already. They’re listed in alphabetical order so as to not prioritize any one over another. The only rules are that the tracks must have been part of a 2017 album, soundtrack, or single release. While you can click on the play button below any song title to hear it streaming (via YouTube), there’s also a Spotify playlist embedded at the very bottom of this post should you prefer to listen that way. Cool? Cool. And make sure to keep an eye out for my Top 50 Songs of 2017, which will immediately follow this post.

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