It’s been said that “Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory.” I don’t think I fully understood what that meant until this year. When I was forced to take some time to slow down I reflected much on past experiences. Melissa’s sincerity, kindness & especially her music was more of a boon to me this year than I could ever adequately explain. As I’ve said before she is an artisan of emotional depth and has shown me that pop music can be so much more than bops about parties on the weekend. Her music has the light and upbeat feel of pop music but beneath the surface the songs are chalk full of lyrical brilliance. Her debut Ep All the Words I Thought I’d Say addresses hard hitting topics such as severe anxiety, self-doubt and unconditional love. She speaks on these topics with a profound clarity that allows you grasp the meaning quickly only to realize songs have many more treasures to unpack.
“Music is the shorthand of emotion.” This year was certainly one for processing emotions. It wouldn’t have been the same without the streams and music of one Alanna Matty. I know it’s a bit cliché but I really appreciate the authentic nature that persists in her music. You can tell it comes from a very real place which is why I find it so influential. I talked at length early this year about how much I had gleaned from her album Ante Meridiem and now almost an entire year later it has continued to be something I frequently revisit. Its meaning and my connection to it has only increased as I’ve had the chance to hear Alanna perform the songs and talk about the experiences behind their creation. Few things are as moving as hearing the meanings behind songs and then seeing them be performed you can feel the intensity and emotions that are being poured into the tracks. Sometimes you really just need to be moved and to feel something. Whether you may be happy or sad or mad and I when I am a mood of really any kind Ante Meridiem is often where I go.
Greg & Aleesha are such a joy to watch perform; they have an energy that is both palpable and contagious. They truly do complement each other well in ways which extend beyond their beautiful harmonies. They released many stupendous covers this year and they did a marvelous job of making each release their own. Their Songs From Hamilton album illustrates this fact wonderfully. They took a number of tracks from the absolutely amazing musical and sprinkled just the perfect amount of The Complements flavor on them; making them both distinct and addictive. Their cover of “I Am With You” from Disney’s “At Home with Olaf” is superior to the original. My niece thought this as well and we listened to the song many times, she wondered which Prince and Princess was singing the song. Being able to see their stream so frequently this year proved to be a great constant for many people myself included; they are truly amazing people.
As you are all well aware I listen to a fair amount of music. There is a very small amount of musicians who impress me the way that Natalie Holmes does. The music she releases continues to amaze me. Her ability to turn out such magnificently written tracks over and over again for such a substantial period of time is nothing short of astounding. She has released a considerable amount of great music this past year. She is such an exceptional songwriter as she really pulls you in with brilliant hooks accompanied by lyrics that always have a weight and significance to them. There is such a connection between her and the music she writes. You can see this when she performs it’s as if she puts pieces of herself into everything she creates and she draws upon this supernatural force each time she performs. Her music played a massive role in the maintaining of my sanity this year. This is especially true of her Ep Songs I Made When the World Changed and her album Bedrooms Demos 2.
I see far less albums releasing these days and I kind of miss the way a massive album can weave a narrative and express what an artist is trying to say. This year one album I came across that does just that is Fear is the Cage. Love is the Key. by Jess Novak it takes you on an excursion across the treacherous landscape that is life. While love certainly is an overarching theme of the album if that is all you take away you would be missing much of what the album has to say. It talks about making your way through life as you realize you are now an adult and you really don’t have a lot of things figured out in many cases you really have no clue what’s happening. Growing older doesn’t actually mean becoming wiser; that takes experience. To me that is what this album is about the good and bad times we endure in life as we gain wisdom. This is really an album you should go listen to.
Chances are nobody reading this will have heard of this band as they were not around for nearly as long as I would have liked. The duo parted ways after about five years which I can’t believe was two years ago now. I was luckily enough to hear them open for Carly Rae Jepsen (an artist that nearly made this list) a number of years ago and I instantly fell in love with their infectious electro-pop beats. I ordered their album Portrait which released soon after the concert without hesitation and it has spent a lot of time on my turn table in the four years. There is an electricity to their sound that all but forces me to get up and dance and I frequently found myself needing the kind of vitality boost that their music provides. Their songs are concocted so splendidly as to make them both great dance beats as well as conveying compelling messages. I would recommend checking them out.
I wrote earlier this year how impressed I was with Lia’s most recent release “I Am Kyros” and the journey of self-reflection that it took me on. I listened to this album miles outside any city limits and I think that truly enhanced my experience with the album. As I listened with no other distractions I truly felt swept up in the otherworldly and ethereal atmosphere that the album creates. I had nothing to take away from the reflective tone of the tracks as I truly took them in. “Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul.” – Plato. I certainly found this to be true while listening to this album again and again. It was most assuredly an experience I needed even if I didn’t realize it beforehand.
Calvin is a musician of many talents; as I have mentioned before the way he can seamlessly transition between different instruments is quite impressive. He is one of the as I like to call them marathon streamers on Twitch Music; singing for six or more hours at once and just killing it the entire time. How he does it is one of the great mysteries of the universe. There is such a magnificent timbre to his voice that you really want to stay and listen the entire time. If you find yourself in need of an overwhelming feeling of peace go listen to his album October Sky. In addition to the outstanding music there is also many laughs to be had when watching Calvin perform he’s a naturally entertaining person and engages with viewers in many amusing ways.
I think I have gushed and fanboyed enough over Taylor Swift’s new releases this year. Her new pop-folk fusion sound has certainly struck a chord with me. These were certainly releases I never imagined getting. If you interested in what I thought of Folklore and Evermore you can click the links to read those posts.
Both directly and indirectly Matty is responsible for lots of great music being released this year. From his single Wildfire to his album Old Roads and of course all the collaborations between Twitch musicians that he facilitated. I enjoy so much the fact that I never know what he will include in his loops. There has been everything from a Wok to frozen peas; the creativity is truly next level. His songs Wildfire and I Want You have been used to get pumped and motivated to run many times this year. Beyond his magnificent music is his enthralling story telling; every time I was regaled by one of his stories throughout this year I found myself very much engaged.
Danielle aka Dani creator of my new favorite dance move has a voice that is soft yet also piercing. It’s like being shot with a musical arrow; you’re struck before you even know what happened and suddenly you find yourself surrounded by her soulful and angelic melodies. It is also quite possible you’ll find yourself surrounded by the sounds of a cowbell and plastic dinosaurs shaking in a jar but regardless of what you may be hearing the results are fantastic. I wasn’t all that surprised to find that Lullaby was my most listened song of hers as it was part of a playlist I have used to lull myself to sleep many times this year; it is a truly enchanting song that I think perfectly encapsulates her sound as I described it. Besides helping me fall asleep; Danielle motivated me to continue to set goals and avoid becoming stagnant. She offers such amazing support to her community. She is someone who strives to be the change she wants to see in the world.
Charlie is a real fun loving individual you cannot help but smile while watching him perform. He has released an impressive amount of music over the course of his musical career. I acquired a number of his albums in physical form a number of months ago and they have frequented my CD playing devices; especially Triumph & Disaster. That album really resonated with me especially given the circumstances of the year; for me it spoke to the process of dealing with your issues, moving past them and looking forward to what is to come definitely a message that was needed this year. It was definitely something that I experienced over the course of the year. This album provided a deep in thought kind of music experience that I found very helpful.