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).
(1) Alice Boman: Dream On
Release Date: January 17, 2020
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.
(2) Bonny Light Horseman: Bonny Light Horseman
Release Date: January 24, 2020
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.
(3) Termination Dust: Growing Down
Release Date: January 24, 2020
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.
(4) Loving: If I Am Only My Thoughts
Release Date: January 31, 2020
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.
(5) ROCH: Via Media
Release Date: March 6, 2020
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.
(6) MAITA: Best Wishes
Release Date: April 3, 2020
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.