As another year closes, so does a year end list get posted into the void that is online music discourse. This list is not a fair depiction of what I really listened to this year. Being weird and isolated in the frozen wasteland of Minnesota had me listening to a lot of old jazz records. I have no recommendations based on that. This isn’t that kind of a blog. No one wants to hear my opinions on jazz fusion (I mostly don’t like it) or smooth jazz (actually pretty cool if you can get over the Weather Channel of it all).
In an attempt to feel less street team, I am focused on actually posting stuff in 2022. I got stuck in a cycle of posting about the same three things. To that point, I’ll post a thing about that new Overo / Zochor / Punch On! / Coma Regalia split next week. That would have probably made the list had it come out earlier. Beyond that, I hope to at least get something out on a regular basis. Just not sure what “regular” means in that regard.
Blah blah blah. The list. Let’s fucking go. Top whatever of whatever. In alphabetical order:
Beach Bunny – “Blame Game” Bnny – “Everything” Bruce Lee Band – “Division In The Heartland” Catbite – “Nice One” The Copyrights – “Alone In A Dome” Dan Vapid and The Cheats – “Escape Velocity” Danz CM – “The Absurdity of Human Existence” Drug Church – “Tawny” Faye Webster – “I Know I’m Funny haha” Floatie – “Voyage Out” Girl K – “Girl K Is For The People” Hospital Bracelet – “South Loop Summer” Japanese Breakfast – “Jubilee” King Woman – “Celestial Blues” La Luz – “La Luz” Laura Stevenson – “Laura Stevenson” Marissa Nadler – “The Path Of The Clouds” Mia Joy – “Spirit Tamer” The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – “When God Was Great” Moontype – “Bodies Of Water” Neighborhood Brats – “Confines Of Life” Parting – “Unmake Me” Pet Symmetry – “Future Suits” PONY – “TV Baby” Real Sickies – “Love Is For Lovers” Regional Justice Center – “Crime and Punishment” Scowl – “How Flowers Grow” Steady Holiday – “Take The Corners Gently” Tashaki Miyaki – “Castaway” Tigers Jaw – “I Won’t Care How You Remember Me” VIAL – “Loudmouth”
This list would probably look different had I listened to everything I was keeping track of. There’s still one shit-million records I need to work through. It’s what it’s, I guess. Anyway. Go pre-order that new Perennial record. That band fucking goes.
I went to a show at The Hideout on October 5, 2019. The line up was Girl K, Slow Pulp, and Deeper. This turned out to be a memorable show for me, but I’d only see that in hindsight. It turned out to be the last show I saw pre-pandemic. It was also the last show I’d see in Chicago before heading to the godless north that is Minnesota. I’ve been wanting to talk about Girl K for a minute, and I’m happy to finally have the chance. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say they are one of my favorite bands going in Chicago.
My introduction to Girl K was in 2019 when the Reader did a quick write-up sometime before the release of For Now. Originally a solo project for Kathy Patino, Girl K was already a full band by this time. I was first able to catch them at Empty Bottle in June 2019. It was a Divino Niño record release show. And, for as great as Divino Niño and Bnny are, it was Girl K who really reignited my interest in the music coming out of Chicago. I was solidly old and suburban by that point, so I wasn’t keeping tabs on much of what was “local” at the time. Aurora was a million miles away from Chicago when it comes to music.
Anyway, no one is here for storytime. Let’s get down to brass tacks. Girl K stood out to me because of how unabashedly pop they were. Chicago music has always bent towards experimental sounds. There is a lot of fuzzed out psychedelia influence in that city. There is a lot of post-punk. Girl K wasn’t making that kind of music, but they never seemed out of place in that context. Girl K Is For The People only cements that.
The first thing about the new EP that jumps out to me is the influence of New Wave. You could put “Hah” or “Departures” on any 80s themed playlist, and no one would flinch. The way Patino’s voice plays off the keyboard on the former is a thing of beauty. The other is how many great hooks they can fit in a song. This was true in 2019 when the chorus from “Speed Racer” embedded itself in my head, and it’s still true in 2021. Like, that “give me love, give me proof, show me trust, speak truth” line in the titular song is gonna fucking stick forever. And that guitar on “Real Mad” is such a killer.
Girl K Is For The People feels like a game changer for this band. Sunflower Court and For Now are both great, and I’ll love them forever. But this new record sounds like a band on the cusp of something big. There are a handful of bands from Chicago that will always sound like home to me. Girl K is one of them.
I made a spreadsheet of new releases in 2019. I tried my best to listen to as much as I could. I managed to listen to about 30% of it. Not super great. Anyway, in alphabetical order, these are records I liked this year. Also, a Spotify playlist of 2019 stuff. Alright.
beabadoobee – “Space Cadet” (but, also “Loveworm”)
Ceremony – “In The Spirit World Now”
The Coathangers – “The Devil You Know”
Dowsing – “Sky Coffin”
Elton John Cena – “All Rats Go To Heaven”
Faye Webster – “Atlanta Millionaires Club”
Foie Gras – “Holy Hell”
Funeral Advantage – “Nectarine”
Girl K – “For Now”
Haybaby – “They Get There”
Jay Som – “Anak Ko”
Jetty Bones – “-”
Kitty Kat Fanclub – “Dreamy Little You”
Lettering – “Harbinger / Less Violent”
Lili Trifilio – “Book Club”
Lilith – “Safer Off”
Long Knives – “The Subject”
Murs – “The Illiad Is Dead and The Odessey Is Over”
Otoboke Beaver – “ITEKOMA HITS”
Overo – “Overo”
Pedro The Lion – “Phoenix”
Perennial – “Food For Hornets”
Petite League – “Rattler”
Pivot Gang – “You Can’t Sit With Us”
Quelle Chris – “Guns”
Ramona – “Deals, Deals, Deals”
Sheena, Anika And Augusta – “Simple Pleasures”
Slow Pulp – “Big Day”
Strangers – “Good Enough”