What Have I Been Listening To? March-July 2020

I’m sure by now everyone is tired of hearing In these difficult times and the new normal. I know I am! Oh, wait I just said it didn’t I? Well, we’re all dealing with our own personal repetitions at this point. In fact, I feel like for the last 10 articles I’ve written here at 50ThirdAnd3rd, have started by talking about COVID19 or the ramifications of the shelter-in-place-order. I think it’s safe to say, we’re pretty tired of hearing about that too!

Seeing as this is a music publication and I’ve been spending a lot of time at home, you’d think I’d have a vast collection of music I’ve been burning through over the past few months! While it’s true I have been listening to a lot of music, a lot of it hasn’t been new. 2020 has already had quite a few bangers dropped and I’m sure my year-end list is gonna be a complicated build. But a lot can be said for some classics I’ve been going back to. Maybe I just need some comfort ya know? So if you’ve read this far, you’re probably interested in hearing just what albums have been constant rotation over the past few months yeah? Sure you are! Let’s have a look!

Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher

At 25 years old and only on her second album, Phoebe Bridgers has more soul in a single track than most mainstream artists will have in their lifetime. Punisher is gut-wrenching, heartfelt, witty, and sometimes humorous! I have no problem in saying this is one of my picks for album of the year by the indie scene’s most promising artists.

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Kreeps – Moon Stand Still, Us Fools Prefer Darkness

Ever since hearing a one-off track in the videogame Red Dead Redemption back in 2009, I’ve been an instant-diehard fan of Kreeps. For the first album in years, Moon Stand Still combines B-movie aesthetic and gothbilly vocals with a new, subtle layer of melancholy not found in previous releases. If you like your rock n’ roll with a touch of necrophilia, this will likely be one of your favorites too!

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Slayer – Reign In Blood

I know it’s nearly 35 years old, but since when do we question the classics? Speaking of classics, I think we can all agree Reign In Blood is not only one of the most important records in heavy metal but maybe music in general. All I’m saying is, ever since Slayer retired in November of 2019, the world has been a lot worse. Coincidence? I think not.

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Cloud Nothings – The Black Hole Understands

I really wasn’t expecting a new album from Cloud Nothings this year. In fact, I could’ve sworn they were on a hiatus. So when I received a notification of a new record I was not only shocked but had no idea what to expect. With The Black Hole Understands, the band leans into the power-pop vibes missing from their previous release. The classic Cloud Nothings sarcasm and energy is still here but there’s also a new, welcomed emphasis on melody. A nice record I didn’t even know I needed.

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Local H – Lifers

Why reinvent the wheel? How could it even be possible when it’s spinning on your face? I can’t think of a single Local H record that disappointed me and after listening to them for 25 years, I’m starting to think it’s impossible. Lifers is everything I’ve ever loved about Local H kicked up yet another level. It’s raw, feral, and urgent like any good rock record should be. In a time where new rock bands are embarrassed to hold a guitar, Local H are bashing it over your head. Thank God for Local H. Amen.

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Run The Jewels – RTJ4

For their fourth album, El-P and Killer Mike have taken the juvenile quips down a few notches and replaced it when a sense of urgency. The lyrics are cold, focused, aggressive, and eerily on point, calling out racist cops and social injustice before it was a hot topic on social media. There’s a lot justified protesting in the streets right now (as it should be) and the revolution needs a soundtrack. Run The Jewels got it covered.

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ADULT – Perception is/as/of Deception

Often cited as ‘electronica’ or whatever they’re calling techno these days, ADULT has never really been part of the scene. Their music is mostly electronic and digital, but there’s always something organic about presentation. Perception is/as/of Deception ice-cold nuance ADULT is known for but for the first time, it sounds like they’re owning their self-awareness. One could argue, drum and bass isn’t exactly the kind of music you’d find in quarantine, but ADULT has more in common with Throbbing Gristle than EDM.

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The Stooges – Fun House

What else can I say about Fun House that hasn’t already been said? It had an important birthday this year but you know what? I don’t even care. This album hasn’t gotten too far from ears since the first time I heard it in the mid 90s. Do you think Iggy cares about birthdays and anniversaries? Of course, he doesn’t. Neither do I. If you don’t like Fun House, you don’t like rock n’ roll. It’s really that simple.

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Minnie Riperton – Come To My Garden

Thanks to horror film Us, written and directed by Jordan Peele, “Les Fleur” has been introduced to a new generation of music lovers. But for everyone else, Come To My Garden has always been one of the most beautiful albums ever recorded. From free-form jazz to singer-songwriter anthems, Minnie Ripperton’s debut solo album is gorgeous from start to finish. Is it her angelic voice? Maybe the lush orchestrations? Who knows. But I do know this album will be my personal reminder it can’t be ugly all the time.

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Exodus – Fabulous Disaster 

Come on now, did you really think I’d get through a list without some thrash? Yeah, I didn’t think so. I always go back to Fabulous Disaster because Exodus always delivered on the heaviest of metal without taking themselves too seriously. Brooding is cool and all but thrash is much more fun. Real talk: can you even listen to “Toxic Waltz” and NOT smile? Seriously. God, I miss live shows…

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The Lees Of Memory – Moon Shot

You already know anything The Lees Of Memory drop will likely be my most listened to record of any year. Spoiler alert: Moon Shot is no different. But die-hard fandom aside, Moon Shot was released at a time where I felt myself slip into a dark mental descent. I was tired, weary, weak, and empty. From political anger, fear of my loved ones catching the virus, to civil unrest, 2020 has beaten me up pretty good. But when I hit play on this record, it reminded me how the dark side of the moon is merely the sun taking a break and it always comes back. As corny as it sounds, music does in fact have healing properties. While it’s less experimental than previous Lees’ releases, Moon Shot still gives me all the guitars, thunderous beats, and the best harmonies Brian Wilson never produced. It even throws in a few surprises here and there like some new wave vibes and even a Prince-esque track that sounds like audio purple. What more could a human ask for?

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Aaron The Audiophile

Son, brother, uncle, musician. I enjoy music of all genres, shapes and sizes, preferably the good kind.

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