Twelve Great Songs: February 2019

Foreword: I hope my landlord is happy their income per day of tenancy spiked this month. February is a garbage month! As a form of self-derived consolation I was able to find a lot of new songs I liked this month.

Stella Donnelly – “Boys Will Be Boys”

Phew, this song is a scorcher. This song is ROUGH. Musically it’s a sad little guitar song with a touch of mournful echo on the guitar and naught else but Stella’s soft voice. The lyrics, though! It was easy to assume a song with a title like “Boys Will Be Boys” would be about misogyny, but the rape themes make it almost excruciating to listen to. There is real, visceral pain shining through in the vocals, it’s tough. Great song, strong song.

Poppy – “Voicemail”

Solid Poppy single! This song isn’t a mold-breaker for her, more like another half-step further down the road of wearing various musical styles like coats that can be switched out at will. “Voicemail” takes the form of a type of hard techno with a bit of an experimental/noise pop bent. I love the “Poppy is your mommy” line with the intense vocal distortion.

Transit – “Follow Me”

I slapped some Transit songs on the playlist in the wake of the news that the lead singer had passed away. They’re a pretty nice pop-punk band, I’ve no idea how I had never heard of them before! “Follow Me” was my favorite track of theirs that I’ve heard so far. I love the extended bridge in this song and how it escalates in intensity with each verse. “Diana your history isn’t much of a mystery” is delivered so deliciously.

Cloud Nothings – “Hey Cool Kid”

I’ve given Cloud Nothings a few tries over the years, but “Hey Cool Kid” was the first track that really clicked with me. The extensive distortion backed by nearly unintelligible vocals just works.

Faith Eliott – “Pyrite Ammonite”

“Pyrite Ammonite” is nice little song driven completely by Faith Eliott’s awesome vocal performance. The broken-up sentences peppered throughout are delivered in a fascinating way, and it’s truly great when she goes for the big voice at peaks in the song.

Swine Tax – “Natural Causes”

I got pretty into a couple Swine Tax songs this month, great band. They lean a little too hard into the audio-snippet-from-old-film-with-mid-Atlantic-accents thing at times. “Natural Causes,” though, deploys that trope just right, and the rest of the song is more or less impeccable. The lyrics are brutal and gruesome, telling a totally bizarre story about a man burning down a house full of people he knows. Musically the song has a visceral edge with rough guitars and speed-ups and slow-downs that perfectly fit the narrative. The “what have I done?” refrain at the end of the track is so great.

Laura Stevenson – “Living Room, NY”

This Laura Stevenson song is great! I love the beginning when the vocals have this rhythmic delivery that’s sort of hard to describe–almost like some kind of Shakespearean iambic pentameter thing is going on. The song expands out from there and has a fascinating bridge where almost everything drops off before the booming outro perfectly closes out the song.

Terror Jr – “Heaven Wasn’t Made for Me”

Terror Jr fits firmly in that dark pop niche that the Weeknd popularized and their songs don’t often break from that mold. Not that that’s a bad thing–I like the style, and when Terror Jr is firing on all cylinders it comes together well. “Heaven” is an example of everything in their sound coming together. A brooding background track paired with airy vocals is all it takes, sometimes.

Phoebe Bridgers – “Motion Sickness”

I jammed on “Motion Sickness” hard back when it first came out, but the song had a resurgence for me this month because of two things: I got pretty into the Goodbye Max cover of the song (which let me appreciate the lyrics a bit more due to the stripped-back vocals), and because of the whole Ryan Adams thing. Two lines I love: “Why do you sing with an English accent? I guess it’s too late to change it now,” and “You were in a band when I was born.” Good, good shit.

Rosie Tucker – “Habit”

Rosie Tucker, back on the monthly songlist! I like Tucker’s general musical sensibility, and the talk-sing bridge in the middle of the song is just right.

Field Medic – “henna tattoo”

One thing I like about doing these lists using YouTube videos is I sometimes come across neat music videos, and “henna tattoo” is definitely one of those. It’s a cool lil’ video! The song is a lot of fun, too. A nice love song.

Sir Babygirl – “Cheerleader”

As promised, Sir Babygirl makes their requisite appearance on my monthly list. I quite enjoyed “Cheerleader” for basically ticking all the boxes I’ve come to expect from Sir Babygirl: an uptempo pop song with slightly off-kilter sensibilities. I was very much looking forward to this album, but honestly it was a bit of a let down because there was very little new material on it–the four singles released leading up to Crush on Me ended up being the lion’s share of the good stuff. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed what there was, Sir Babygirl is a new entry into the pantheon for me.

Afterword: February was a good month for music-listening. 2019 is in full gear now, there’s a lot of good releases coming out and I’m finding a lot of older stuff I enjoy.