TRAKSE.NET


BEST OF 2020

80

THE MAIN THING

REAL ESTATE
Over the last decade, Real Estate have crafted warm yet meticulous pop-minded music, specialising in soaring melodies that are sentimentally evocative and unmistakably their own. The Main Thing dives even further into the musical dichotomies they’re known for—lilting, bright guitar lines set against emotionally nuanced lyrics, complex arrangements conveyed breezily— and what emerges is a superlative collection of interrogative songs as full of depth, strangeness and contradictions as they are lifting hooks.

79

EVERY BAD

PORRIDGE RADIO
Porridge Radio grew out of Dana Margolin’s bedroom, where she started making music in private. Living in the seaside town of Brighton, she recorded songs and slowly started playing them at open mic nights to rooms of old men who stared at her quietly as she screamed in their faces. Though she eventually grew out of them, for Margolin these open mic nights unlocked a love of performing and songwriting, as well as a new way to express herself. She decided to form a band through which to channel it all, and be noisier while she was at it – so Porridge Radio was born.

78

SAINT CLOUD

WAXAHATCHEE
Written immediately in the period following her decision to get sober, the album is an unflinching self-examination. This raw, exposed narrative terrain is aided by a shift in sonic arrangements as well. While her last two records featured the kind of big guitars, well-honed noise, and battering sounds that characterized her Philadelphia scene and strongly influenced a burgeoning new class of singer-songwriters, Saint Cloud strips back those layers to create space for Crutchfield’s voice and lyrics. The result is a classic Americana sound with modern touches befitting an artist who has emerged as one of the signature storytellers of her time. Many of the narratives on Saint Cloud concern addiction and the havoc it wreaks on ourselves and our loved ones, as Crutchfield comes to a deeper understanding of love not only for those around her but for herself. This coalesces most clearly on “Fire,” which she says was literally written in transit, during a drive over the Mississippi River into West Memphis, and serves as a love song to herself, a paean to moving past shame into a place of unconditional self-acceptance.

77

TRADITIONAL TECHNIQUES

STEPHEN MALKMUS
Take the name Traditional Techniques with as much salt as you’d like or dig the Adorno reference, Malkmus’s third solo LP without the Jicks (or Pavement) is as organic as they come. It’s packed with handmade arrangements, modern folklore, and 10 songs written and performed in Malkmus’s singular voice. An adventurous new album in an instantly familiar mode, Traditional Techniques creates a serendipitous trilogy with the loose fuzz of the Jicks’ Sparkle Hard (Matador, 2018) and the solo bedroom experiments of Groove Denied (Matador, 2019). Taken together, these three very different full-lengths in three years highlight an ever-curious songwriter committed to finding untouched territory. Perhaps some of these “folk” musicians could take a lesson or two.

76

OLD WOW

SAM LEE
Ever since childhood singalongs around the fires of Forest School Camps, folksong and mother nature have been indivisible passions for Sam Lee. The singer’s third album, the first with Suede’s Bernard Butler producing, fuses the two obsessions in dazzling fashion. Once again the songs are all traditional, while Lee has skilfully intercut some and “rewilded” them with the odd flourish – the “Old Wow” of the title is his name for an awestruck sense of nature.

75

BURY THE MOON

ÁSGEIR
The story of ‘Bury The Moon’ – or ‘Sátt’, to give the record its Icelandic title – begins with heartbreak and escape. Ásgeir watched a long-term relationship disintegrate, and decided that he needed to get away, to lose himself in the endless Icelandic countryside. Retreating to a summerhouse – a tiny rural home used by those on the island – he spent the winter writing, just him, his guitar, and those endless reflections on love and loss.

74

FOR THEIR LOVE

OTHER LIVES
The much loved Portland band Other Lives return after five years away following 2015’s ‘Rituals’. Recorded at their own Cooper Mountain Sound studios, ‘For Their Love’ is a ten track collection that nods to the past whilst progressing positively towards the future. The band have a loyal following across the UK, as seen by their social engagement.

73

WEST OF EDEN

HMLTD
London based five-piece HMLTD release their long-awaited debut album, West of Eden. The expansive, labyrinthine debut has been several years in the making, a daring collection of songs created to incite conversation about proposed new visions of masculinity, the decadence of western capitalism and the violence of insecurity and repression. Across its 15 tracks, the band’s artistic vision is realised in full technicolour, with all shades of their sonic palette used to create an album that is equal parts lush and abrasive.

72

SZABODELICO

CAUSA SUI
Something different from Causa Sui. While Causa Sui have always had one foot in heavy psychedelic rock, they've had the other one deep in a wide variety of esoteric styles. On this new double LP set, that other dimension of the band is being explored full-scale. ”Szabodelico” paints with a colourful palette, both compositionally and sonically - digging deep into an assortment of cultures, eras and sounds with a true crate-digger mindset. Throughout their 15 year life-span Causa Sui has always been about seeking out new directions, exploring the past and the present in a way that's unique at each step of their subtle progression - forging new paths into an existing map. ”Szabodelico” feels like discovering a small room under the stairs of your own house: familiar, yet new and exciting. Their latest vision is an elegantly zoned-out version of itself: a turn inward. Anti-bombastic, yet rich with ecstatic harmonics and dynamics. The band stringed together a long series of sessions in 2019 and early 2020 in their studio in Odense, often prioritizing playful first takes and good vibes rather than clinical perfection.Sparsely dubbed and mixed with a natural, full bodied flavour by Jonas Munk during the summer of 2020, each track has its own aesthetic. There's no simple equation to sum up the 13 individual parts of the album, but as a whole it creates an entity that's as complete as each of its parts. From the windblown opener ”Echoes of Light”, to the closing slow-motion epic ”Merging Waters” you'll find yourself asking where did the time go? The answer of course is: Szabodelico.

71

IF NOT NOW WHEN

KELPE
A digital only collection of unreleased music made between 2010 and 2020 which almost never saw the light of day. Written and produced by Kel McKeown Mastered by Sam Annand Artwork by Richard Greenan.