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One decade down, another on deck.

It’s almost surreal to remember reading this site’s 2000-2009 decade list like it was yesterday, and now be a part of the new one that’s on-deck. And just as clearly, I remember turning the page to the 2010s, with the likes of Titus Andronicus’ The Monitor, The Tallest Man on Earth’s The Wild Hunt, Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and Deftones’ Diamond Eyes all – among others – making early splashes. It’s weird to think that we’re all on the precipice of repeating that. What will 2020 bring? Surely at least a few releases that we’ll still be talking about in December 2029.

Decade milestones are huge, especially for time spent on a website. I’ve been here going on 12 years and there are others who have been here even longer. It’s caused some reflecting on my part, and I’ve put some serious thought into how I want to approach the next decade. As such, I’m going to put out a few “new decade resolutions”:

-> Stricter Rating: I’ve had as much fun as anyone handing out 4.5’s and 5’s to everything I enjoy, but the time to put things in perspective is long overdue. I’m not sure how this will impact my historical ratings and reviews, but moving forward I plan to reestablish some credibility to my assessments.  I take pride in my writing and now I want my scores to reflect that. Expect future reviews/ratings to adhere much more closely to the site’s delineations: if something is merely good, it will get a 3. If it fails to make an impression, it will get a 2.5. I do not expect to score anything a 5 for the foreseeable future. This will be reserved for albums that stand the test of time (reference point: at least 1 year).

-> Output Balance: 445 reviews is nothing to sneeze at, but I do think there are better ways to vary my creative output. The blog (like this!) is one. Lists are an obvious way, too. Regardless, I’d prefer to write  fewer, more focused reviews while concocting additional creative outlets. I don’t have all the answers here yet, but I’ll come up with them as time goes on. I will see the 500 review milestone eventually; there’s no rush to get there in 2020 but if it happens, it happens.

-> Genre Exploration: I’ve found myself on the fringe of exploring electronic music (Floating Points), black metal (Abigail Williams), and country (Sturgill Simpson) lately. None of this is new to me, but they’re all genres I’ve gotten away from in the 2010’s as I’ve grown overly fond of indie/folk/pop. I hope to broaden my musical tastes starting in 2020.


 

Sowing’s Q1 2020 Hype Machine

So, on that note, I’d like to end 2019 with some 2020 new decade pre-hype that totally ignores that last resolution (spoiler: it’s all indie/pop/folk!). Still, I think there are some excellent releases about to drop that are very much under-the-radar (my favorite kind). Give the below tracks a quick spin, and if you like what you hear, mark your calendar for those release dates! (Consider this me reviving Sowing’s Hype Machine – RIP 2018).

 

Dream On

(1) Alice Boman: Dream On

Release Date: January 17, 2020

Genre: Indie-Folk/Pop

Label: Play It Again Sam

Boman has an angelic voice, so this was an easy inclusion. She just sounds like she’ll be one of the next huge household names in indie-folk. The mood of the songs released in advance of her debut, Dream On, are somber and wistful –  with ‘The More I Cry’ serving as the perfect example. If you like the song below, you should also check out ‘Don’t Forget About Me’, which is more upbeat (for her) and also deserves to be heard.


Bonny Light Horseman

(2) Bonny Light Horseman: Bonny Light Horseman

Release Date: January 24, 2020

Genre: Folk/Country

Label: 37d03d

I was instantly hooked on this before I realized it was a folk “supergroup” consisting of singer/songwriters Anais Mitchell, Josh Kaufman (The National, Hiss Golden Messenger), and Eric D. Johnson (Fruit Bats). Whatever, I’m still counting this as an under-the-radar “hype”. This sounds like the exact kind of thing I’m looking to get into more of in 2020, and I’m assuming Atari, Chan, and dmathias will be along for this ride.


Growing Down

(3) Termination Dust: Growing Down

Release Date: January 24, 2020

Genre: Indie-Folk/Pop

Label: Glacial Pace

This is a little more sprightly than the above two tracks, and it seems like that will be a theme on Growing Down, which consists largely of 1-2 minute songs. Not entirely sure what to expect of this yet, but I know I’m addicted to “It’s Not a Place, It’s a Feeling”, and I recommend you listen to it right now.


 

If I Am Only My Thoughts

(4) Loving: If I Am Only My Thoughts

Release Date: January 31, 2020

Genre: Indie-Folk/Lo-Fi/Psychedelic

Label: Last Gang

Ooh now this is where it’s at. “Only She Knows” checks nearly everything on my list.  It’s dreamy, experimental, and lush. The band that made it is hardly known. This is a prototypical “hype machine” release if I’ve ever seen one. This has real potential to make my 2020 year-end list if the rest of the album consists of a similar quality and overall vibe.


Via Media

(5) ROCH: Via Media

Release Date: March 6, 2020

Genre: Art-Pop

Label: ROCH

Calling all FKA Twigs fans. ROCH sounds like the next big artist in that R&B/glitch/art-pop scene; I’m really enjoying the songs I’ve heard from her thus far (there are others besides this embedded one – go find them).  I wouldn’t say I’m sold on her yet but there’s potential here for Via Media to strike a sweet spot for many of Sputnik’s experimental pop enthusiasts.


 

Best Wishes

(6) MAITA: Best Wishes

Release Date: April 3, 2020

Genre: Indie-Folk/Pop

Label: Kill Rock Stars

I can already tell this will be one of those “lyrics” albums that I don’t immediately fall for but then declare a masterpiece once it has time to sink its hooks in me. “Japanese Waitress” tells the story of a woman working a shit job and dealing with bullshit from her boss as well as a sexist customer. Bitching about work has never sounded this beautiful.

 

 





SowingSeason
12.22.19
Never too early to start thinking about 2020.

JohnnyoftheWell
12.22.19
6 is signed to Kill Rock Stars wha? Interesting, sounds alright
Am expecting the rating rebalance to go full turtle and 2020 to be the year of Sowing wildfire 1s

Nocte
12.22.19
The promos I've got coming in up to march are already teasing a strong 2020 (although I don't want to get too caught up in perpetual hype). The new Regarde Les Homme Tomber is a consistently great album, Thy Catafalque's newest is a abstract grower as well.

I also agree with a rating evaluation update. I don't see a drastic change in how I perceive quality or lack there of, but there's some flexibility to strive for - as far as quantity goes I find myself happily aiming for 1 per week, without coming down too hard on myself of I fail this goal. In that regard I feel my writing has improved substantially.

luci
12.22.19
"I do not expect to score anything a 5 for the foreseeable future."
4.9 it is then? ;)
I'm looking forward to catching up and exploring stuff I missed this decade, until at least March. Will feel good to avoid the pressure of weekly releases.

SowingSeason
12.22.19
Haha wildfire 1's probably not, but I do think a 3.5 should mean something. And no 4.9's - I think rating releases was more enjoyable before the 0.1 increments so I'm probably going to go back to 0.5 delineations. Honestly a ratings wipe would make a whole lot of sense right now if it weren't for the hundreds of reviews that would no longer make sense.

Anyone spin these songs yet? That was the real point of this post and I think there's some prime folk/pop here that's flying under people's radars.

luci
12.22.19
the review rating still sticks with a ratings wipe. that rating is a better snapshot of your opinion at the time of writing anyways (like with this year's tallest man on earth review)

SowingSeason
12.22.19
Correct. Best to accept past over-jubilance and just move along ;-)

Slex
12.22.19
can't wait for that Boman album, everything she's released thus far is so good

SowingSeason
12.22.19
yeah she's incredible. I think she'll finally make a big splash with her debut.

SowingSeason
12.22.19
also, ratings wipe incoming. fresh slate for the new decade. gonna be weird re-rating everything under stricter standards, but here goes! goodbye to 2,250+ ratings.

luci
12.22.19
wiping your ratings is so liberating. I don't actually have an opinion on 3000+ albums at the same time, so I stopped pretending I do. I go more minimal than needed though (keep a full rating set on RYM). wiping scrobbles is something I can never do though

garas
12.22.19
Gerne exploration - black metal - Abigail Williams. LOL

SowingSeason
12.22.19
Abigail Williams is black metal, though?

garas
12.22.19
It is. I found it funny because that album bores me to death. So not the greatest representation of the genre, imo. How did you like it?

SowingSeason
12.22.19
It's just a random black metal release I got into this past year (after years of ignoring the genre, so I wouldn't know what a good representation is). I loved it, personally.

Observer
12.22.19
I respect this. Given how the norm for music journalism is to cover a new release the week of, to be competitive and relevant with other sites/mags etc, I cant help but second guess any review I read lately because time hasn't had its way with the album and the listener. Even if you have a promo for a month or two ahead of time, like you said with your 5s, who's to say you will like it as much, more, or even less in a year or more later. Its the norm though, so no getting around that issue i guess.

dmathias52
12.22.19
Well I was coming hear to hype Bonny Light Horseman, so what a surprise to see a shoutout in that blurb haha. I expect really good things from it!
Another one for your radar: Moses Sumney’s new album. His debut Aromanticism is a decader for me and the singles he’s released seems like he’s going to blow it out of the water. I’m not even sure how to categorize his music outside of experimental art-pop with folk and r&b elements, but it’s stunning.

DoofDoof
12.22.19
Definitely scaling back next year - I’m allowing a slot for one new album per day (yes, there will be a Listening Log here on sput, and I’ll put up the occasional opinion/soundoff style mini review in it)

Reviews...I don’t think I’ll write many. I also think lists are underrated and the way to go.

Generally less time online and on music websites - I probably cut 20% this year and I’d expect to cut a further 20% next year. Quality not quantity ;D

XXMurdaBeatzXX
12.23.19
Cheers to the genre exploration. I used to be indie rock all day but after a while that got stale for me. Spent a year getting into black and death metal and it breathed a lot of life into my attitude towards music

SowingSeason
12.23.19
I used to be pretty into metal but it's been at least 10 years.

Nocte
12.23.19
Time to come back Sowing

Dewinged
12.23.19
My new year resolution is listening to less stuff and going deeper with whatever I listen. Like Doof said above, less quantity, more quality. Most of the albums I've heard this year and the years before, with a few exceptions, didn't get a third listen, which in some cases is such a waste.

DoofDoof
12.23.19
Dewi I have 8000 ratings up on RYM...not feeling the need to have 15,000 ratings by 2025

The odds are I have listened to a lot of the stuff I will like best by now - so better to not neglect that music

Demon of the Fall
12.23.19
Some good thoughts here. I’m dialling back the new stuff in 2020 to the point where I’ll only check artists I already enjoy. I’m making a commitment to discog jamming any new discoveries from 18-19 that I haven’t gotten around to yet, plus exploring/diving deeper into select genres in an absurdly methodical manner. When in doubt I’ll revisit rather than move on. When I’m not sure what to play I’ll stick on an old staple. Looking forward to it.

I’ll try and hear more historically relevant music, stuff that even if I don’t like it provides context and perhaps mild intrigue. I’ll never be a scholar, but it seems like a better use if my time than mindlessly checking anything released in the past year.

I imagine this will all go out the window (again) by June!

SowingSeason
12.23.19
There's definitely something to be said for slowing down and smelling the roses. That would have been another great resolution. I don't know if I'll do it, though - as I curate the weekly releases curiosity always gets the better of me.

Bedex
12.23.19
All good resolutions Sowing. Make every 5 special

Wiping over 2k ratings is bold but I see where you're coming from

Chambered79
12.23.19
Good to see you being self aware enough to notice how you almost single handedly have ruined the rating system and turned it meaningless

SowingSeason
12.23.19
My 5's have forced everyone else to rate frivolously? I must have some kind of influence!

bloc
12.23.19
I hoard music like crazy probably because I'm obsessed with the high numbers. I'd say to do the quality over quantity thing but i just got Spotify last week and i think that's just more of an incentive to hoard lol

butt.
12.23.19
"...but they’re all genres I’ve gotten away from in the 2010’s as I’ve grown overly fond of indie/folk/pop. I hope to broaden my musical tastes starting in 2020."

First album on the hype machine: Indie-folk/pop
hahaha love it

Relinquished
12.23.19
AND it looks like Pam if she didn't shave herself after The Office

perfect sowingcore

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