The Fortnightly Playlist, September 15th, 2019

It’s been a dizzying week. At least we’ve got some new music here to make balance things out. This edition of the list is quite a globetrotter with artists from Ethiopia, Sweden, Australia, Mexico, Mongolia and Brazil all represented.

Brittany Howard’s upcoming album is one I’m certainly excited for. Her soulful voice has been central to the success of Alabama Shakes, and she’s no mediocre guitarist either. So far, the new material suggests that this new solo record will have an impressive diversity in sound. Each of the new songs released so far is very different, and I’m wildly curious how she’ll bring it all together in the album.

A record already out that I’ve been wildly impressed by in recent weeks is Eve by Rapsody. Admittedly, I’m not very familiar with her full catalog, and I’m slowly filling myself in on her decade or so of music. Included with this edition is a song that features a rapper I feel doesn’t get the full credit she deserves; Queen Latifah. Eve is a work dedicated to Rapsody’s heroines. Each of the 16 tracks named for Nina Simone, Sojourner Truth, Serena Williams, Michelle Obama, Afeni Shakur, Maya Angelou and others.

Other favorites here are The HU, Angel Olsen, Bow Thayer, Jenny & The Mexicats, and Temples.

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Tracklist:
Rapsody – Hatshepsut
Brittany Howard – Stay High
Beau Williams, The HamilTones – God Kept Me
Jenny & The Mexicats, Vetusta Morla – El Telon
Liniker e os Caramelows – Lava
HOLY – Hot On The Heels Of Love
Temples – You’re Either On Something
Jay Som – Tenderness
Lumineers – Salt and the Sea
Bow Thayer – Al’s Solution
The Highwomen – My Only Child
Angel Olsen – Lark
Sleater-Kinney – The Future is Here
The Hu – Wolf Totem
Ethiopian Records, Meklit – This Was Made Here (Ethiopian Records Remix)
Aster Aweke – Chewa
Open Mike Eagle – The Edge of New Clothes
Homeboy Sandman – Far Out
Perfume Genius – Eye in the Wall

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The Fortnightly Playlist, September 1st, 2019

“I am invincible in these sunglasses”

That one line is certainly a favorite for me in this edition of the playlist, but there is so much more here. There’s new albums from Shredders and Ride, and new singles from The New Pornographers, Tinariwen, Bow Thayer, Lemolo, and Jospeh Arthur.

This new group call Black Country, New Road has snatched a lot of attention considering they only have 2 songs out there in the wide world of internetland. There’s some measure of poetic appreciation in “Sunglasses”, and there is an equal measure of rock’n’roll swagger. There are good things to come here, and I think it is somewhat in the vein of artists like Fontaines D.C. who have been doing some great things with their music.

This is also a very widespread edition of the playlist as there are 8 nations represented here. I gravitate toward what is sometimes called “desert blues”. These are North African artists mostly. They come from nations like Mali and Niger. It’s interesting how this music came about as it was sort of the influence of American Blues returning to its roots in Africa. Now we get to hear these cousins of each other in a communication with each other, and I intentionally put them in the playlist among each other. Altin Gun is a Dutch group influenced heavily by Turkish pop from the 70’s and 80’s, then Bow Thayer is an Americana artist that is very much a melding of Celtic and African styles that created much of what we think of as American folk and blues, then we have two desert blues artists following  in Tinariwen and Songhoy Blues. Folk music is all where music relates, and pop music often melds it together. This is where things connect.

Shredders is a huge favorite this time, but also really loving Altin Gun and The New Pornographers. Enjoy!

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Joseph Arthur – Streetcar
Ride – Jump Jet
Iggy Pop – Sonali
Kuinka – Wet Cement
Lemolo – Interlude
Black Country, New Road – Sunglasses
Mudhoney – One Bad Actor
Foals – Black Bull
Bon Iver – Naeem
Salt Cathedral – tus ojos
Residente, Bad Bunny – Bellacoso
Shredders – Vanilla ISIS
Denham, P.O.S – Overcast
Billy Woods, Kenny Segal, E L U C I D – Crawlspace
Shredders – It Was Written…Again
Brittany Howard – He Loves Me
Skeleton Flower – My Double
The New Pornographers – The Surprise Knock
Diiv – Skin Game
Altin Gun – Yolcu
Bow Thayer – Morning Glory
Tinariwen – Kel Tinawen
Songhoy Blues – Time to Go Home (Blake Mills Mix)
A-WA – Shama’a

The Fortnightly Playlist, August 18th, 2019

As I’ve come to always do here, this edition includes some local, national, and global artists, some newcomers, veterans, and longtime legends, and a wide array of genres. New albums from Bon Iver, Burna Boy, and Kassi Valazza, and new singles from Loma, Lemolo, Raphael Saadiq, The New Pornographers, Ocean Wisdom, and Phantogram are all included here.

Justin Vernon is one of the most talented, boundary-pushing artists making music today. One album is never the same the one before. In recent albums this has been a movement into more electronic sounds and more effects on his vocals. In Bon Iver’s 2016 album, 22, a million, this was taken to a much further degree than before. In the new record, i,i, Vernon pulls things back in a different direction. It feels more intimate and straightforward, and many of the best lyrical moments feel that way too. I think there’s a very good balance to this album. The swelling, climactic moments on “Hey, Ma” and “Faith” are full of moving and powerful, and they are well-timed in the context of the full album. It’s a beautiful work.

I’m very excited for the return of Lemolo. The new album, Swansea, is due out this fall from Poulsbo, WA singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Meagan Grandall. It’s been 4 years since her 2nd record, Red Right Return, was released. This is when I first heard and fell in love with her music. A few months later I got to see her open for M. Ward, and I love seeing that an artist can both put on an amazing show and make excellent records. The new single, “High Tide”, certainly has me looking forward to the new album.

Other favorites this edition are TR/ST, Raphael Saadiq, Mavis Staples, Homeboy Sandman, Death Cab for Cutie, and The Hold Steady.

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TR/ST – Iris
Loma – Half Silences
Lemolo – High Tide
The New Pornographers – Falling Down the Stairs of Your Smile
Raphael Saadiq – So Ready
Little Simz, Michael Kiwanuka – Flowers
Ocean Wisdom – 4AM
Verb T, Pitch 92 – Tragedy & Comedy
Homeboy Sandman – West Coast
Burna Boy – On The Low
Clinton Fearon – Time
Mavis Staples – Stronger
Kassi Valazza – Chino
David Quinn – Wanderin’ Fool
Bon Iver – Faith
Chastity Belt – Elena
NAVVI – Modern Chemistry
Death Cab For Cutie – To the Ground
Big Thief – Not
Phantogram – Mister Impossible
The Hold Steady – You Did Good, Kid

The Fortnightly Playlist, August 4th, 2019

This is among the best playlists I’ve made for this blog. Local, national and international artists, big names and small independent artists, and as stylistically diverse as any playlist I’ve made here before. Certainly, some of these are going to be among my favorites come the end of the year.

Having an artist from the same place as you will always lend a certain connection to a listener. Being from a small town or area will tend to make this connection more significant as there aren’t many artists referencing the places and event you know. Death Cab for Cutie is that band for me. Never is this more clear than in their most recent single, Kids in ’99. The Olympic Pipeline explosion was a huge event locally. It’s not often we saw familiar sights from home on the national news… June 10th 1999, the ruptured pipeline was spilling into Whatcom Creek. The creek runs through a highly populated area, and is very popular in the summer with swimming holes all over. About an hour and a half after the line ruptured, the explosion occured. It had been leaking into the creek, so the explosion traveled fast. Homes and businesses in the area had windows blown from the force. Three kids, one age 18 and two age 10, died from the incident. I was 13 at the time. I knew people who lived in the area, and who played in the creek all the time. Things like that make the event very personal. Ben Gibbard said of the song, “The Olympic Pipeline explosion in 1999 was a tragedy that really affected me while we were living in Bellingham. After all these years, I felt it was worthy of its own folk song.”

Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires, Maren Morris, and Natalie Hemby have released a few singles now as the Highwomen, but the most recent has caused much more of a stir. It’s a stunning and powerful cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”. It’s a convincing supergroup of Americana music with each member recently hitting new highs in their careers (of course, Carlile had my album of the year in 2018). There’s good things to come here, I’m sure of it.

Although it was released quite early in the year, I had to close things off with another track from Ibibio Sound Machine. The London group has my favorite record of the year so far, and I was so excited to see them Friday night for a sold out show in Seattle. This group gives their all on stage, and the energy is contagious. The whole room was dancing. And afterward, they keep giving. Everyone who stayed wanted to talk with Eno, and she took the time with each person chatting, giving hugs, thanking people. I got to just hang out and have a drink with Derrick (the bassist). We talked about how we both started playing music in church, about legal weed, about quitting smoking, and, of course, about the music. If you get the chance, they’ll give you the best show you could ask for.

Other favorites this edition include Black Pumas, Mereba, Chong the Nomad, and Sampa the Great. Enjoy!

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tracklist:
Four Tet – Teenage Birdsong
Chong the Nomad – Nothing Else
Sampa the Great – Final Form
DJ Shadow, De La Soul – Rocket Fuel
Shredders – Suburban Base
Drab Majesty – The Other Side
New Age Healers – Hang On
Black Belt Eagle Scout – My Heart Dreams
Hatchie – Her Own Heart
Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
Hiss Golden Messenger – Cat’s Eye Blue
Purple Mountains – She’s Making Friends, I’m Turning Stranger
Mikal Cronin – Show Me
Death Cab for Cutie – Kids in’99
Black Pumas – Touch The Sky
Mereba – Kinfolk
Sault – Up All Night
Chance the Rapper – I Got You (Always and Forever)
Brittany Howard – History Repeats
The Black Keys – Shine A Little Light
Vivian Girls – Sick
Iggy Pop – James Bond
The Highwomen – The Chain

The Fortnightly Playlist,July 21st, 2019

Black Pumas, DAM, Ben Harper, Mavis Staples, KOKOKO, Jesca Hoop, Bleached, SAULT, Ride, and Blood Orange all feature in this very diverse edition of The Fortnightly. There are some real favorites of the year included here that I’m very excited about.

It makes sense that I’d feature more from the new Mavis Staples record, We Get By. It’s an album that is certainly among my top 3 for the year so far, and I’ll probably be writing more about later this year. This edition also includes a new single from the producer of We Get By, Ben Harper. To be perfectly honest, I can’t think of two artists making more and better music than these two. They’re prolific, but more than that their music is always top notch, inspired and impactful.

It seems no one knows much about this group called SAULT, but there is a lot of excitement about their debut album, 5. They’ve got dancey, energetic, and soulful grooves, and an overall sound that melds together and many different genres. It seems that everyone I know who follows music has been somewhat blindsided by this one, and the record is now garnering a lot more attention 2 months after its release on the label, Forever Living Originals. As of yet, there seems to be little known about them aside from their excellent album.

Other favorites this edition include Black Pumas, Blood Orange, DAM, and KOKOKO!

tracklist:
Black Pumas – Colors
The Soft Cavalry – Never Be Without You
Kyle Craft – Sunday Driver
Belle & Sebastian – Sister Buddha
Bleached – Hard to Kill
Tijuana Panthers – Little Pamplemousse
Jesca Hoop – Red White and Black
Ben Harper – Uneven Days
North Mississippi Allstars, Mavis Staples – What You Gonna Do?
Mavis Staples – Sometime
Sault – Let Me Go
Blood Orange, Justine Skye – Good For You
Editors – Frankenstein
Sleater-Kinney – The Center Won’t Hold
Mirror Ferrari – Vater
Ride – Repetition
Confidence Man – Don’t You Know I’m in a Band?
KOKOKO! – Malembe
DAM – Milliardat
Mavis Staples – One More Change

The Fortnightly Playlist, July 7th, 2019

I build these playlists because I like them myselft. I get little bits of joy from compiling a list that covers all genres, but still flows smoothly as if it were a cohesive album. I don’t always strike the right balance through the entire list, but sometimes I hit that sweet spot, and I love it. This edition features new albums from Sampa the Great, Mavis Staples, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Bad Books, and Two Door Cinema club, as well as new singles from Lucy Dacus, Dem Atlas, and Temples.

Mavis Staples has released yet another enduring record. She’s a national treasure, and an artist that is constantly working and releasing high-quality material. Featured here is the title track of We Get By which is a beautiful duet with Ben Harper. NPR’s review of this album called Mavis “the living embodiment of gospel music’s place in the civil rights movement”, and that seems the best way to describe her specific place in our American Music canon. But it needs to be emphasized that she has not stopped pushing to new territory with her music. It has a rootsy feel, but also a modern twist. She hasn’t shied away from working with young artists of very different styles. Arcade Fire, Gorillaz, Pusha T… nothing is off-limits to Mavis.

Are you looking for a record made by and for guitar players? Because as a guitar player for nearly 20 yrs, I couldn’t recommend one more than Mettavolution by Rodrigo y Gabriela. The Mexican duo have everything you could want in an instrumental guitar album. It is two guitar masters weaving in and out of each other with strong grooves building to furious pace, and every little flourish brings something more to each song.

Other favorites this edition include Shredders, Ane Brun, Sampa the Great, The Raconteurs, the collaboration between Iron & Wine and Calexico, and Open Mike Eagle featuring on this Two Door Cinema Club song. Enjoy!

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Ane Brun – You’ll Never Walk Alone
Sampa the Great, REMI – Flowers
Two Door Cinema Club, Open Mike Eagle – Nice to See You
Temples – Hot Motion
Julia Shapiro – Harder To Do
Middle Kids – Beliefs and Prayers
Stella Donnelly – Old Man
Lucy Dacus – Forever Half Mast
Kishi Bashi – A Meal for Leaves
Rodrigo y Gabriela – Terracentric
Mavis Staples, Ben Harper – We Get By
The Raconteurs – Help Me Stranger
Bad Books – Myths Made Plain
Calexico, Iron & Wine – In Your Own Time
Rodrigo y Gabriela – Krotona Days
Black Adidas – Be Cool
A-WA – Malhuga
Shredders – Ayeyayaya
Dem Atlas, Atmosphere – Bad Days Are Over
Sampa the Great – Protect Your Queen
Rel McCoy, Grimace Love – The Moment

The Fortnightly Playlist, June 23rd, 2019

Another two weeks worth of new music here. New albums from Charly Bliss, Kishi Bashi, Keb’ Mo’, Tyler The Creator, and a collaboration between Iron & Wine and Calexico. Also, new singles from Julien Baker, Kyle Craft, and Bat for Lashes.

Open Mike Eagle has a new release of songs made for his Comedy Central show The New Negroes with Baron Vaughn. Each tune is a collaboration with the musical guest of the episode. You may find with these that some hold up better than others without the music videos. Personally, I think “Police Myself” (featuring MF Doom), “Woke as Me” (featuring Phonte), and “Racism 2.0” (featuring Sammus) hold up best as songs without the visuals.

I dug into Kishi Bashi’s new album this week, and it is so good! The American singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter has an impressive resume recording and touring with a wide array of artists including Of Montreal, Regina Spektor, and Alexi Murdoch. Omoiyari is his 4th full-length solo record, and it features a bright and varied sound full of intricate weaving strings and a positive message. As NPR points out in their review, the positive message is right in the title. Omoiyari is the idea that thinking of others fosters compassion. This is a beautiful record.

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Tracklist:
Charly Bliss – Blown To Bits
Bat for Lashes – Kids in the Dark
Flume, London Grammar – Let You Know
Tyler, The Creator – I Think
Open Mike Eagle, Sammus – Racism 2.0
Sophia Eris, Lazerbeak, Bionik – Feel The Burn
A-WA – Ya Watani
Sinkane – On Being
Fruit Bats – Gold Past Life
Kishi Bashi – F Delano
Kyle Craft & Showboat Honey – Deathwish Blue
Frankie Cosmos – Windows
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real – Turn Off the News (Build a Garden)
Julien Baker – Red Door
Calexico, Iron & Wine – Midnight Sun
Hiss Golden Messenger – I Need a Teacher
Keb’ Mo’ – Ridin’ On a Train
Bad Books – UFO
Julia Shapiro – Shape
Teen Daze – Drifts
Kishi Bashi – Marigolds

The Fortnightly Playlist, June 9th, 2019

Sometimes I really can’t stop thinking about this list. It has to be right, and I’m making changes right down to when I post it. Pulling a song last minute because it doesn’t fit, or adding a song I just came across and just can’t leave out. This is one of those, but I think I got it right in the end. There are some big artists here with new singles out. Sleater-Kinney, Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, Pixies, and Phantogram all have new singles out in the last couple weeks, and if those aren’t big artists for you then it is possible we live in different worlds.

Playlist Here!

Let’s talk Sleater-Kinney. Because I think it is really something to see a band reinvent themselves at this point in their career, and still hold to the essence of what they have already built. This new single is different. The new album is produced by Annie Clark, who you may know better as St. Vincent. You can hear her influence on this first single. Where you may tend to think of Sleater-Kinney as fitting largely into punk, on “Hurry On Home” the beat is much slower than what you expect of a punk band. The drums are slow and heavy, and the song grooves. St. Vincent blended her own sound with the band’s established sound extremely well, and it became something all its own. I’m excited to hear more of this record.

I’ve written plenty on this blog about Sinkane. I’ve given the band more attention than many artists, and Life & Livin’ It topped my year-end favorites list in 2017. Sinkane’s music is worth the attention, and they do things that most artists don’t. It’s somewhere in this blend of African Psych-funk, and Brooklyn indie synth-pop, but Ahmed Gallab has a slough of influences that form such a unique and interesting artist. He is the band-leader of William Onyeabor tribute, Atomic Bomb. Of course, William Onyeabor is one of the clearest influences on Sinkane, but through this project Gallab has worked with David Byrne (Talking Heads), Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz), Dev Hynes (Lightspeed Champion, Blood Orange), Amadou & Mariam, and Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip). While working with such a diverse list of artists would surely help bring out the sound Sinkane has developed, it is Gallab’s personal life that has been formative in his lyrics and message of the music. Born in London, early years of life in Sudan, and then his family moved to Ohio. His multicultural experience growing up has become a hallmark of his music, and of who he chooses to work with on each record. On the new record, Depayse, this melting pot of sounds and influences is at its best, and is honed to an even better balance that has built on the foundation of the first four Sinkane records.

Durand Jones & The Indications, Cave Clove, Hatchie, Dessa, and Fontaines D.C. are among my other favorites in this edition. Enjoy!

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Tracklist:
Operators – I Feel Emotion
Flying Lotus, Anderson.Paak – More
Durand Jones & The Indications – Long Way Home
Keb’ Mo’ – I Remember You
TK & The Holy Know-Nothings – Emmanuel
Stef Chura – Scream
Sleater-Kinney – Hurry On Home
Fontaines D.C. – Liberty Belle
Amyl & the Sniffers – Cup of Destiny
The Pixies – On Graveyard Hill
Wand – Thin Air
Sufjan Stevens – Love Yourself
Hatchie – Stay With Me
Tame Impala – Borderline
Sinkane – Everyone
Yeasayer – Fluttering in the Floodlights
Phantogram – Into Happiness
Dessa – Good For You
Bon Iver – U (Man Like)
Aldous Harding – Weight of the Planets
Cave Clove – Sage Advice

The Fortnightly Playlist, May 26th, 2019

Well, a fortnight and a half this time. Last week I had a bunch of music to form a playlist, but just didn’t go through with listening to it all and ordering it and writing about it. I needed a break, and I needed some time for silence. I love music, and I’ll basically listen to it all the time. Sometimes it comes to this point where I need to not listen to music because it’s healthy to have some quiet. Something is not right if I hear great music, and I’m not enjoying it. I’m back now, and loving the music again.

Listen Here!

After a long day working late on Wednesday, I was driving home and heard a live in-studio session on the radio by TK & The Holy Know-Nothings. Greg Vandy, host of KEXP’s The Roadhouse, had a great interview with them between songs, and this was the point I got excited to write about music again. Taylor Kingman’s desire to build a loose, groove-heavy jam-band without sacrificing quality lyrical songwriting led to this excellent debut album full of great veteran musicians. Full of brilliant, soulful rock’n’roll, Arguably OK is well-worth the listen.

Fontaines DC’s debut album, Dogrel, has been hotly anticipated. Each single they’ve released has built the anticipation, and they’ve developed a solid reputation in the Dublin area for their energetic live shows. Currently on tour with IDLES, they’ve got sold-out shows almost every date, and the show reviews have been stellar (sadly, no tickets left for Seattle this week). Had to put the two bands back-to-back in the list this time with IDLES new single out as well.

Haelos, Sinkane, Big Thief, Stef Chura, and iLe are among my other favorites currently.

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Tracklist:
Cave Clove – Edge of Emergency
Haelos – Empty Skies
Of Monsters and Men – Alligator
The Head and the Heart – I Found Out
Bruce Springsteen – There Goes My Miracle
TK & The Holy Know-Nothings – Lord, Why’d Ya Make Me?
Mdou Moctar – Asshet Akal
Sinkane – Ya Sudan
SonReal – Parachute
iLe – Odio
Shitkid – DETENTION
Dude York – Falling
Versing – Renew
Big Thief – Cattails
Stef Chura – Sweet Sweet Midnight
Fontaine’s D.C. – Boys in the Better Land
IDLES – Mercedes Marxist
Craig Finn – A Bathtub in the Kitchen
Siobhan Wilson – All Dressed Up Tonight
Whenyoung – The Others
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram – Before I’m Old
The National – Oblivions

The Fortnightly Playlist, May 5th, 2019

Collaborations, new discoveries, longtime songwriting legends, solo records, farewells… there’s a little of everything in this edition. Karen O and Dangermouse have their new record out, and coming soon is the return of Bad Books (Manchester Orchestra and Kevin Devine). New albums also out from Craig Finn, Aldous Harding, Wintersleep, and Tacocat, as well as singles from Kyle Craft, Beck, Mavis Staples, and Richard Reed Parry.

Listen Here!

One release that I’ve been particularly excited for is the new EP from Cave Clove, Dollars to Tokens. Cave Clove grabbed my attention last year when I saw them play at Scuttlebutt Brewery with I Will Keep Your Ghost, The Tellers, and Smokey Brights. They were opening that night, and I got the chance to talk with them a little later on. I’ve been looking forward to featuring new music from them ever since then. This is their first release since 2016’s self-titled record which is well worth a listen, and I’d also recommend bassist Alisa’s project, Saalt.

Craig Finn is a storyteller. It’s always been an aspect of his songwriting that I loved. His voice is unique and unconventional, but it’s the storytelling aspect of his songs that hits you. Finn has actually addressed this in interviews, and talks of relating to his characters the way you might expect an author to speak of relating to a character written in their novel. His newest record, I Need a New War, is among my favorites this year. Song after song has struck me, and it’s clear that The Hold Steady frontman has continued to hone his craft to perfection. “Blankets”, “Her With the Blues”, and “Carmen Isn’t Coming In Today” are among my favorites on the new album.

Other favorites this edition include Mark Lanegan, Kyle Craft, Karen O & Dangermouse, and Aldous Harding. Enjoy!

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Playlist:
Kyle Craft – 2 Ugly 4 NY
Jennie Lawless – My Good Friend Richard
Aldous Harding – Designer
Patrick Park – Five Alarm
Beck – Saw Lightning
Lizzo – Soulmate
Anderson.Paak, Smokey Robinson – Make It Better
BVA – Brothers
Little Simz – Boss
The Black Keys – Eagle Birds
Mavis Staples – Change
Craig Finn – Carmen Isn’t Coming In Today
Mark Lanegan – Stitch It Up
Karen O & Dangermouse – Redeemer
Richard Reed Parry – Long Way Back
Wintersleep – The Lighthouse
Tacocat – The Joke of Life
Bad Books – Lake House
The Cranberries – All Over Now
Cave Clove – I’m Still Tryin’