2018: Finally, women all over year-end lists

This year I was glad to see female artists well-represented across many year end lists. It’s stating the obvious (at least for those who view female musicians as equals), but female talent has always been present in the music industry. The only difference with 2018 is that females are getting more of the respect and recognition they deserve, and I would argue this is primarily because a large number of amazing women have stood up against a music industry that has historically been anti-female, sexist, and full of toxic masculinity.

Take a listen to some of the fantastic releases I came to love throughout this year, many of which feature female artists. It has been a busy year at Soundscape City with releases from Luna Vista and Cloud Six, and a laundry list of projects that are soon to be released in 2019 (but I’ll keep them secret for now).

Enjoy! Below is a Spotify playlist and links to each release.

Pacific Northwest Releases


No Kind of Rider – Savage Coast

Indie-rock.

It took 12 years as a band for No Kind of Rider to release their first full-length album, and Savage Coast was actually worth the wait. It’s dark, moody, and has just the right balance of catchy grooves mixed with intricate melodies and technical rhythms. I just hope their next release doesn’t take 12 years to make…


Jenn Champion – Single Rider

80s pop.

It’s easy to overdo 80s style productions. Jenn finds a place where her throwback production only adds power to her emotional content and musical aesthetic rather than detract.


Sloucher – Be True

90s alt-rock.

Further embracing their 90s sound, Sloucher’s first full length, Be True, is strong all the way through. The occasional twang adds to the nostalgia of this release, but it’s also clear that Sloucher has their eyes set on the future as their popularity grows.


Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Sex & Food

Lo-fi psych and soul.

This is my favorite Unknown Mortal Orchestra release to date. Their blend of lo-fi and danceable soul pairs perfectly with Nielson’s lofty lyrics about the complicated state of our modern society. UMO have refined their songwriting while managing to retain the raw aesthetic of earlier releases.


Black Belt Eagle Scout – Mother of My Children

Indie psych-rock.

Rooted in Paul’s indigenous, queer, and feminist identity, this heartfelt release is at times shockingly simple and gorgeous, as well as abrasively gritty. Black Belt Eagle Scout is Portland indie rock at it’s finest. Not bad for a first release.


Sama Dams – Say It

Experimental rock.

While Sama Dams lean more toward catchy vocals and brighter synths on this release, they still retain the dark and dreary quality achieved on earlier albums. The combination of creative and skittering drum parts with tightly executed vocals, emotive synths, and brutally honest lyrics gives Say It a depth not commonly found in music today.


Laura Viers – The Lookout

Indie folk.

Waiting five years since her last release, Viers keeps pushing her quirky brand of folk into the future. Her songs feel fresh, nostalgic and comforting all at the same time. Recent collaborations with Neko Case and k.d. lang also bring new perspective to Viers’ songwriting and production.


Coastlands – The Further Still

Post-rock.

Coastlands have been hard at work touring all over the US, and you can hear it in how well-executed The Further Still sounds. Taking cues from bands like Russian Circles and Pelican, Coastlands displays more raw energy on this release, balanced by melodic flourishes and intricate rhythms. Sissoyev continues to record and produce the band, refining Coastlands’ atmospheric and epic tones (dare I say) further still.


Moorea Masa and the Mood – Shine A Light

R&B.

It’s hard to listen to Shine A Light and not smile. Masa’s voice is the standout feature of this release, but the production has just the right amount of Motown funk and modern polish. Give it a spin, and try not to smile. I dare you.


Typhoon – Offerings

Indie.

Kyle Morton and Typhoon have taken their charming brand of orchestral pop and infused a more straight-ahead indie rock sound into the mix. More strings, more distortion, and less horns give Offerings a darker mood, matching more closely to Morton’s downtrodden lyrics.


Non-local Releases


Rhye – Blood (Toronto, CA)

R&B/electronic.


Boygenius – S/T (Los Angeles, CA)

Indie.


Bad Bad Hats – Lightning Round (Minneapolis, MN)

Indie pop.


Hop Along – Bark Your Head Off, Dog (Philadelphia, PA)

Rock.


Lucy Dacus – Historian (Philadelphia, PA)

Indie.


St. Vincent – Masseduction (New York City, NY)

Art pop.


Foxing – Nearer My God (St. Louis, MO)

Indie/emo.


Lo Moon – S/T (Los Angeles, CA)

Indie/electro/80’s.


Covet – effloresce (San Jose, CA)

Math rock.


Petal – Magic Gone (Scranton, PA)

Indie punk.


A Good Year for Pacific Northwest Music

This year has seen a boom of solid releases in the local Northwest music community. I was blown away to have engineered and mixed a release by The Sextet that was chosen by KMHD as one of the top ten jazz albums of 2016. While the goal of producing music isn’t necessarily getting on a radio station’s top ten list, it does feel good to get some recognition.

After getting a little love from KMHD, I thought it might be nice to spread that love around. Below, I highlight my ten favorite Pacific Northwest releases of the year, as well as my favorite releases across the globe. Compiling this list was a great excuse for me to catch up on some releases I missed out on this year. Of course, there are many more artists I could’ve highlighted, but (in my mind) music shouldn’t be a competition. At its best, music should bring people together, not push them away. If a particular release didn’t make the cut, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. These releases spoke to my personal tastes, and I kept coming back to them throughout the year for repeat listens. Hopefully, you’ll find something on this list that speaks to you, too.

Everything is in alphabetical order. I find it hard to rate these albums in any fair sort of way, especially when they span genres from hip-hop to post-rock.

Pacific Northwest Releases


Amos Val – Yūgen

Post-shoegaze.

I’m sad that these guys won’t be playing these songs live anymore, but they left a great record of all their hard work with this awesome release.


Blowout – No Beer, No Dad

Pop punk.

One of the best live punk bands in Portland. Go see them.


Coastlands – To be found

Post-rock.

This album makes whatever you’re doing more epic and moody in the best possible way…adding in the fact that these guys are really nice people doesn’t hurt, either.


David Bazan – Blanco

Indie rock.

David Bazan made a synth album, and goddammit he hooked me again.


DETLEF – S/T

Instrumental math rock.

Ex-members of Rooftops. The album is definitely more restrained than Rooftops’ releases, but that only helps Detlef bloom in a lyrical fashion uncommon to instrumental bands.


Dust Moth – Scale

Rock.

Such a bad-ass band. Before I knew who they were, I walked into their set just in time to catch their last song, and I’ve been sad I missed the beginning of that set ever since.


Ellis Pink – Fist Day Around The Globe

Indie pop.

Stellar pop songwriting shines throughout this release. Connor’s intricate yet danceable beats provide a springboard for Simon’s catchy melodies.


Holy Tentacles – Won’t Be Saved

Math rock.

Tapping? Mathy rhythms? Intricate guitar interplay? I’m sold. It’s hard to pull off music this technical while keeping the songwriting catchy, but that’s exactly what Holy Tentacles does on Won’t Be Saved.


Sloucher – Certainty

Indie rock.

I was blown away by the production, writing, and simplicity of this release. I haven’t heard straight-ahead rock music recorded this well in a long time.


Two Planets – Procession

Jazz-Hop.

Dusty Fox and crew transcend hip-hop and jazz norms in a combination that elevates mind, body, and soul.


Non-local Releases


Blood Orange – Freetown Sound (New York, NY)

R&B.


Camp Cope – S/T (Melbourne, Australia)

Emo.


Enemies – Valuables (Kilcoole, Ireland)

Tropical post/math-rock.


Margaret Glaspy – Emotions and Math (New York, NY)

Indie.


Pingrove – Cardinal (Montclair, NJ)

Alt rock.

About a year after making this post the lead singer of Pinegrove was accused of sexual coercion. I do not believe in supporting art made by sexual predators, and have removed their album from my 2016 favorites and all of my other collections.


Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool (Oxfordshire, England)

Art rock.


Russian Circles – Guidance (Chicago, IL)

Post-rock.


Still Parade – Concrete Vision (Berlin, Germany)

Psychedelic indie.


Totorro – Come to Mexico (Rennes, France)

Math rock.


TTNG – Disappointment Island (Oxford, England)

Math rock.