Jesus Christ, people, Justin Blackburn, Justin fucking Blackburn.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, is ‘Blackburn’ even a surname in America?? It’s such a dour, cold & windy, shovelling-cow-shit-into-a-tractor-just-outside-Durham, depressingly prosaic English name that it really doesn’t fit the glitzy imperialism and Hollywood gunplay of the US. It’s like finding out Shawn Michaels’s real second name is Hickenbottom. Has he ever even been to Blackburn? What are his opinions on Alan Shearer?
Secondly, was there a more arresting, more intentionally obnoxious, more on the nose outraged in 2021 than ‘Unlearning White America’? In the last decade?? You should certainly be able to gauge the general thesis of the record by its splenetic title, but I’m telling you now, you have no fucking idea. It’s important to note that Justin Blackburn is a white American himself, so rather than angrily tearing down the racist power structure that prevents perceived outsiders like himself from even a fair chance, he is on the inside (even more angrily) rejecting the inbuilt privileges that the people who grew up around him receive, refuse to acknowledge and even turn to resentment against the USA’s non white inhabitants. Many of the rage is directed toward Justin’s (diegetic? genuine?) father. All the rage is directed towards white America’s assumptions, inattentiveness and, yes, racism. Justin is so centred on the ridiculous state of race relations in his country that he even goes as far as to manage to make ‘Jesus’ rhyme with ‘racist’.
Yeah, sorry, no more Bumble Rumble. Possibly… ever…? Listen, I’ve pretty much decided that I hate Zero Hour dating- I happen to still believe that I’m relatively attractive, so to have an app on my phone that frequently reminds me that I’m actually not is not good at all for my already inflated yet easily pricked sense of self-esteem. For now, my official stance is that I know that I’m a highly fuckable piece of hunky man meat who could grind genitals with pretty much any woman he wants, but I just choose not to, OK?? The official stance is that I’ve decided to concentrate on the more important things in my life, such as this blog- which has never been more popular- and my actual job- which I’m technically supposed to be doing now*. Remember this blog? It used to be about music, didn’t it? I mean… kinda… Let’s do that again. Basically, it’s time for:
Just wanted a photo with my eyes in it. Have they always been that colour? More after the jump!!
Yes, believe it or not that blog title’s true and, no, I’m not doing one of my ‘bits’. As will later become evident, this is going to become far too serious a post to do ‘bits’. Apart from all those ‘bits’ that I’ll inevitably do. They don’t count. This is actually the 500th piece of aggressively partisan and dangerously unedited nonsense that I’ve reached down into my spleen to messily smear the blood and puss across my computer screen, since I first started uploading my albums of the year to this poorly designed WordPress blog that nobody reads in December 2014. I’ve written this piece of shit for almost exactly five and a half years!! That’s roughly 2000 days, so I’ve written on average a post every four days, which would sound like this was a regularly updated blog, wouldn’t it? But, no, you usually get a whole year’s worth of posts in December, and you’re happy. Much like your Mum, this blog comes very loaded towards the back.
But this calls for a celebration, no?? I, of course, planned ahead, and purchased a rather snazzy hat:
Considering neither The Manic Street Preachers or Lupe Fiasco were scheduled to release an album in 2019, I don’t think I was looking forward to any record this year as much as Ms Van Etten’s fifth. Her fourth, ‘Are We There’, was one of the threealbumsreleased in 2014 that were legitimate GOAT contenders and all kinda given my joint album of the year. It was such an amazingly accomplished and powerful record, one that moved the more eloquent reviewers to state that it was “an absolutely devastating Sturm und Drag bulldozer of emotion, a sharp piercing blade of hopeless heartache that is as heartbreaking and moving as any movie you’ve seen since ‘Toy Story 3“. I have to assume that Toy Story 3 was still totally a topical reference point when that prodigiously insightful yet dangerously sexually alluring reviewer wrote that. While I spend all of my time excruciatingly droning on about how artists/people should be constantly evolving and pushing their sound/personality forward, I often catch myself just hoping that artists responsible for my favourite things will just do those favourite things again! Hey, Jazz Cartier, why isn’t the new album just Red Alert ten times?? Hey, Tegan and/or Sara, why aren’t you just giving me Walking With A Ghost?? Lil Yachty!! Why are you… why are you… Why are you doing any of this…? I… I’m not sure what exactly I want from you… But do that, please. Do Minnesotaagain, that’ll cheer me up. Sharon van Etten! I can’t wait to see where you take your sound and evolve your music on this new album! But, having said that, please make it exactly the same record as ‘Are We There’! You can, I dunno, add a few trap beats to a couple of songs and have track eight heavily influenced by Hardware, but make sure that, at the base level, it’s exactly the same as ‘Are We There’!! Give me those exact feels! Reach into my bloodied chest and tear out all of those emotions like you did in2015!!
‘Remind Me Tomorrow’… isn’t that record. It’s an incredible reimagining of what weight, muscles and undeniable gall bladders* her songwriting can achieve. Synths blast all over the place like the sounds of invading forces damaging the outer wall of the claustrophobic shelter she’s built herself to evade the apocalyptic terror of her mind outside. The first line of the album is ‘Sitting at the bar I told you everything/You said “Holy shit, you almost died!” and the following songs act as almost a flashback, telling the listener exactly what these near fatal experiences were. It’s an amazing album. Look above, it’s the eighth best album of the year. It was considered for number one, but holy shit, you’re about to see how hotly contested that accolade is this year. Like I said, every top ten album is merely different levels of essential. Buy them all, you cheap fuck.
I absolutely adore Hannah Cohen. I would go as far as saying I love her. As an artist, of course, I think she’s amazingly talented and has that certain something special that you can’t quite put your finger on. She may well be a fucking nightmare as a person. Maybe she spends half the time complaining about how dumb people are for watching Love Island, and the other half actually watching Love Island “Just to see how shit it is”. Maybe she’s a staunch believer in aromatherapy and whenever you bring up the questionable science behind it she simply states that there’s “A lot we don’t know about the world”. Maybe she prefers Jurassic Park 2 to Jurassic Park. I mean, it’s not a bad film, don’t get me wrong, but come on! Maybe she hates feminism because she “doesn’t hate men”, which leads to so many circular arguments that you know it’s a guaranteed evening wasted if you bring it up so have learned not to. Maybe, when she rides the bus on her own, she sits on the seat next to the aisle and leaves an empty seat next to the window just to make sure nobody sits next to her. Do you know these people?? Worse than fucking Hitler. Maybe- in fact, statistically, very probably– Ms Cohen is the absolute worse person in the world, that doesn’t matter, it’s the artist that I love.
‘Pleasure Boy‘ was all kinds of amazing. One of the best albums of
If this blog has one true aim, then it’s to introduce and promote new…
Well… no, actually, if this blog has one true aim then it’s to extensively psychoanalyse myself and admit my private shame into what I believe to be essentially ‘The Void’, all under the laughable pretense of ‘reviewing music’. Ha! I haven’t done any ‘music reviews’ since I was highly scathing as a twelve/six year old of the 1996 Dodgy album ‘Free Peace Sweet‘. Three piece suite! Now I get it! Sorry, Dodgy, that review was unnecessarily harsh. Reappraisal: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
OK, but if this blog had a secondary aim, then it’s to introduce and promote new artists to…
No, the secondary aim is just an excuse to talk about Manic Street Preachers as much as possible, isn’t it? With ‘Official Prince Chat’ sprinkled on the side as garnish. I might just rename the blog to ‘Artists I Liked When I Was a Kid, At Length (While I Wait for the Next Hotelier Album)’. Dot WordPress dot com.
“If it had a third purpose it’d be […] no actually it’d be [BANTER]. In that case the fourth purpose would be […] actually, it’d probably be [STONE COLD MEGALOLZ]. But the fifth purpose would definitely be… (repeat)”
OK, fair warning- maybe even a trigger warning, but I’ve got to be careful because some people get so fucking angry when you word a content warning that way*- but this post might go to some pretty dark places. I mean, I’m just going to talk about my life a bit, which is always going to be a bit dark, isn’t it? For you, I mean. I’m alright with it, I fucking live with it, but I appreciate how some people might get a bit uncomfortable. These people can just read my Princess Nokia bit again, that was pretty funny. I’m going to use the brilliant ‘B/X’ album as a jumping off point to talk about how I was ‘freed from my body’, then masterfully bring it back at the end to Don’t Do It Neil. It’ll be a fucking amazing post, and I don’t know why more people don’t read this blog, it’s fuckin’ straight fire.
(*because some people- and I can’t stress this enough- are fucking dumb)
I’ve not had as much of a personal relationship with many artists on this list as I have had with Rebecca Lucy Taylor, the sole guiding force behind the wonderful project Self Esteem. I mean, sure, I went out for a few meals with no.78, Billie Eilish, but that was more of a group thing, and to be honest we’re unlikely to meet up again after she told friends that me constantly getting drunk and telling her how much she reminded me of my ex-girlfriend at school* was making her feel ‘a bit weird’. Tsk, kids these days, ammi right?? Not allowed to say anything to the Snowflake Generation! I had a passionate- some people (and indeed a high court judge in an official statement on October 23rd) would say violent- one night sexual relationship with no.81, Mark Mulcahy, but that wasn’t really a long term thing, with Mark claiming he can’t even look at me anymore and only contacting me through his lawyer. And, of course, I guess I know no.63 a little bit, but no way near as I really should, and I should really make more time to get to know him, you feel me?
(*my girlfriend was at school, I was 32 at the time)
Yeah, that’s right, motherfucking double entry. Pssssshow! Did you hear that sound? That’s the sound of your tiny BRAINS being blown, yo! Don’t like it? Wanna lay down? Come at me, bro! COME AT ME!!!!
Ahem… We enter the top 80 [EIGHTY] with an artist whom I’ve long loved who has never achieved the commercial success her AMAZINGNESS deserves, and a debut album by an artist* doing a lot of Marina’s old tricks and the obvious inheritor of the Welsh/Greek Queen’s mantle of master (mistress?? No, can’t use that word, the perverts have ruined it) of pitch perfect pop music that’s unafraid to be a little weird- frequently A LOT weird- and can hide quite profound sentiments behind its bubble gum pop aesthetics, playfully ironic one second but emotionally sincere the next. Yet, rather than challenging Marina for the title of ‘Favourite Cult Alt-Pop Act Who Sells Fuck All Records’, somehow her debut album has sold 1,304,000 equivalent album units (343,000 physical sales), which, yeah, it’s no ‘This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours’ (five. Fucking. Million?!), but it’s about as much as albums sell these days, and was the biggest selling album of 2019 for a long time. It might still be. What am I, Mr. Research? Get fucked. Released a month after Eilish’s debut, Marina’s first album in four years was going to set up a brutal battle between the master and the jumped up apprentice who has managed to commercially outperform her influence more than a hundred times over. Marina officially removing the ‘…and the Diamonds’ suffix from her name was like her removing all shackles, ready to go to war. She even stylises it as ‘MARINA’, like she’s screaming her name to remind these little upstarts who the real OG is! Billie’s gonna get pwnnnnnned!! Grab your popcorn, kids, this is sure to be brutal!
Why are we encouraged to state what ‘The Best [CULTURAL CONTENT] of the Year So Far’ is at the start of June? It isn’t half way through the year. It’s just over five months in. The Guardian stated what were the ‘Best albums of 2019 so far‘ on June 4th! That’s only 154 days into the year!! That’s only 42.19% of the way through!!! Unless I’ve forgotten how to work out percentages!!!! Which is very possible!!!!! Wow, I’m using a lot exclamation marks in this paragraph!!!!!!
Well, anyway, I want in. I want a mouldy old piece of that rotten SEO pie, though released far closer to the actual year’s mid point of July 2nd. I’m not going to list the best albums of 2019 though, because I already often struggle to think of things to write come December, and I don’t want to waste that awesome simile I’ve devised to explain my thoughts on the new Jonas Brothers album six months early. Be patient. It’ll blow your mind. So I’ve decided to list the best songs of the year so far, similar to what I did in 2016. Although this time I didn’t just want to add my feeble, narcissistic voice to the chorus of intellectual critics praising songs like Old Town Road or Sweet but Psycho. You already know these songs are great, yeah? So I’ve tried to shine light on amazing songs by amazing artists off (mostly) amazing albums that there’s a chance you might not have previously heard. Get investigating, yeah? They’re in pretty much the order I remember to list them, because, seriously, fuck lists.
(If you can’t bother reading, there’s a handy Spotify playlist for the illiterates)