Friday, December 31, 2021

Slush Pups favorite songs of 2021

Slush Pup's 60 favorite songs of 2021, ranked!

I'll be updating this post as I count down the songs from 60 to 1

Why 60 songs?  That's about how many songs I can reasonably squeeze into 2 two-hour radio shows.

What's the criteria?  The songs do need to be something that I could reasonably play on my radio show at KRFC Radio Fort Collins, so some genres that I enjoy will be under-represented.  I ranked the songs based on personal preference, with a bit of an eye towards objective quality, if that's even possible.  I've never really done a "ranking" before, and it was interesting to realize through this process why I like some songs more than others.  I tend to favor songs with interesting melodies and lyrics, and I do enjoy songs with fun musical "hooks".  There are exceptions to every rule, of course, but I think one could categorize my core musical preference as "indie pop".

You'll note that many of the songs on the list contain swear words; those I typically have to edit out for radio broadcast, but links here will more often than not contain the "full" lyrics.  Also I limited myself to one song per artist.  In the case of some of the artists, I think I could have placed 3, sometimes 4 songs in this list (see Wolf Alice, Japanese Breakfast), but I wanted to represent more artists in this list.

Without further preamble, let's get into it!

#1 - "Chaise Lounge" - Wet Leg

The song we needed in 2021.  Self-assured, eccentric, escapist, fun.  Weg Leg dropped this in time for the summer of 21, providing a post-punk slice of nonsence with a gloriously silly video to boot.  And that eye contact!  Wet Leg didn't even have a supporting album (coming in April of 2022!) for this comet blast.  The song ostensibly deals with that post college graduation low-level "what now" feeling, but I think you can read into it what you want.  Or simply read nothing into it if that's your mood.  Fans of that late 70s post-punk wonder-era will instantly gravitate to this bouncy masterpiece.  Long live Wet Leg.



#2 - "Paprika" - Japanese Breakfast

This is a statement of joy in a somewhat grim, but wonderful, album, the joy of experiencing your artistic creations come to life and have an impact on others ("it's a rush!", she sings).  This is a delightful synth-pop gem, the opening track from her critically-acclaimed 2021 album "Jubliee".  I could have chosen 4-5 other tunes in this spot (see Wolf Alice at #3 for a similar argument), and "Be Sweet" deserves recognition as one of the first songs in 2021 to grab my attention.  But the effortless, winding, never-ending melody of "Paprika" keeps me in a state of bliss like few other songs in this year.  Also note the bridge, which provides a terrifying counter-argument to the theme; the recognition that within the "rush" lies a bottomless void of despair waiting to welcome you to the comedown with open arms when the lights dim and the applause stops.   Beautiful and meaningful and if not for a blazing comet at #1, my favorite track of the year.



#3 - "Lipstick on the Glass" - Wolf Alice

My album of the year presents about 5 songs that could have been in my top 60, but I decided to rep each band with only one song, so I picked my favorite from them, "Lipstick on the Glass".  Here Wolf Alice creates an atmosphere of resigned hopeless malice that matches the lyrical content beautifully.  The singing is otherworldly, and goodness, can Ellie Rowsell hit some high notes here.  The bridge features some spoken word a la their earlier hit "Don't Delete the Kisses", but mirrored darkly, without hope or love.  



#4 - "Open Up the Heavens" - Jade Bird

24- year old English musician Jade Bird roared out of the gates in '21 with this tight and taught Nashville-tinged rocker.  I love the construction of this song, each section building on the last, nary a wasted moment.  Jade treats us to an aggressive, throat-searing vocal in which I fear for her longevity, and love her all the more for it.  This song grips you tight and only loosens it for a brief respite in the middle 8/bridge section, somewhat ironically when the song title is uttered.  If you're looking for that perfect no-nonsense 4-on-the-floor rocker by a very promising young artist, hop on this thrill ride. 



#5 - "Pay Your Way in Pain" - St. Vincent

St. Vincent gives us a tour of the 70s in her great 2021 album "Daddy's Home".  "Pay Your Way in Pain" is good old fashioned dirty funk from who might be the closest thing we have to Bowie in this age.  The song is clever, fun, raw, constantly shifting and sliding around.  Greasy.



#6 - "Disco" - Geese

I know, I know, stop trying to make Geese a thing, right?  I've been obsessed with this song since I randomly came across this single over the summer.  These kids from Brooklyn have just released their debut album, and "Disco" (not a disco song at all) was the lead song.  This is not a perfect song by any means, it's probably too long, and the parts seem stitched together inelegantly, but the overall effect is perfect NYC/Brooklyn post punk glory.  The lyrics fall into that glorious NYC tradition of obsessive, self-involved paranoia, reaching back to the best of Television and Talking Heads via Interpol and The Strokes.  Long live that angular, arty, unhappy NYC music scene.



#7 - "Tend the Garden" - Gang of Youths

Australia is pumping out an outsized share of great music these days.  This lead single from Gang of Youth's new album "Angel in Realtime", "Tend the Garden" wins my coveted (I swear) "best of down under" for 2021.  GoY tells a story of a deathbed confession by the singer's father, about a secret child, a half-sibling he never knew.  This revelatory and sad tale is backed by a smooth disco vibe.  This improbable combination works incredibly well.  This is dance pop full of heart and feeling.  I keep coming back to this gem.  Can't wait to hear the rest of the album!



#8 - "Broken Harvest" - Madison Cunningham

This is an astonishing, meditative, reflective acoustic masterpiece from Madison Cunningham.  "Broken Harvest" approaches the untouchable For the Roses era Joni Mitchell.  I'm beguiled by this song; introspective lyrics, innovative melodies and surprising chord changes abound.  The song never seems to settle down or do what you expect, but it's not strange for the sake of being strange.  There are lovely surprises around every corner, and the outro part seems to dissolve into beautiful nothingness, as we follow her as she fades away. 



#9 - "Kill Me" - Indigo De Souza

This is the closing track from Indigo De Souza's acclaimed 2021 album "Any Shape You Take".  What draws me into this song in particular is the way it keep building upon itself.  It's really fun to listen to how she adds more and more insanity to what is at its core a somewhat straightforward melody.  It's yet another youngster looking back at 90s alt rock, and I'm loving it.



#10 - "Like I Used To" - Sharon Van Etten & Angel Olsen

This collaboration between indie darlings Sharon Van Etten & Angel Olsen bursts out of the gates like a powerful "Born to Run" aftershock, but with a fully modern sound.  VE & O give us a beautiful romantic duet full of longing, nostalgia, and faint hope.  The melodies are so perfect they must be stolen from somewhere, but I can't figure out where exactly.  Their voices contrast each other but blend wonderfully.  The song reaches a nice over-the-top drawn-out crescendo which leads to a somewhat surprising instrumental outro, leaving me wanting one more chorus.  I may have had this tune on repeat as a result.  



#11 - "Good Days" - SZA

This is a stunning, beautiful R&B tune from St. Louis native SZA (no association to the Clan, she's just a big fan).  This was a massive hit single in 21, and one can see why.  The melody is endless and beautiful, and the chord progression is varied and surprising.  To me it channels some of the best of Prince; think a slightly more subdued "Adore".  Simply gorgeous.



#12 - "Nice Guys" - Beach Bunny

Lovely it is to experience the age where the kids born after the 90s are mining, sifting, and interpreting the big loud fun music of that decade.  Beach Bunny released a stellar little 4-song EP in 21, featuring this mid-tempo monster.  This sound right in place on the first Weezer album, with huge guitars, soaring choruses, and some sing-along bits.  The lyrics are passionate, earnest, and a big middle-finger to insincere "nice guys".  Awesome stuff.



#13 - "Seventeen Going Under" - Sam Fender

Tyneside lad Sam Fender throws down a good old fashioned earnest big music tune, a letter to his somewhat younger self.  This is sincere, immediate, real, from the heart stuff.  It's not groundbreaking or full of surprises, but fans of that big 80s stuff (think U2, The Alarm, The Waterboys, Simple Minds, etc.) will find much to enjoy here.



#14 - "If I Don't Hear From You Tonight" - Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett released a lovely new album in late '21, and this is my favorite single from the lot.  Courtney Barnett sings a world-weary love song in her distinctive Lou Reed-esque delivery.  Her vocal style may not be for everyone, but on this I think her voice suits the vibe perfectly. This is a quietly resigned defiance in the face of disappointment, backed by a solid, unassuming mid-tempo rock vibe.  To me this song has spring form the same deep well from which Johnny Thunders pulled some of his amazing tunes. 



#15 "Don't Play" - Turnstiles

Pinning this band down is like pinning wind to a wall.  Their entire "Glow On" album is a hard-rockin' delight.  For sheer fun it's hard to top "Don't Play", which roars out of the gate like a d-beat Bad Brains classic, before settling in to something resembling Seplutura with less aggro vocals.  The vox are all emo oughts, but not overly whiny.  Great stuff.



#16 - "Bunny is a Rider" -  Caroline Polachek

Man, watch this space.  Caroline Polachek is destined for the big-time in the electronic dance-pop arena.  The former "Charilift" chanteuse has been on her own for a couple years, and is now collaborating with the likes of Charlie XCX (who narrowly missed my list this year), and Queen Be herself.  "Bunny is a Rider" is slinky, cool, and beautiful.  Caroline possesses incredible range and tone, and this song spectacularly highlights her vocal, songwriting, and production chops.



#17 - "Cheers" - Faye Webster

"Cheers" is funny, dirty, spacy, cool.  Faye's delivery is tired, sexy, melancholy, and full of feeling.  And those fat synths!  Faye is somehow lumped into the country genre, I guess b/c she is from the south.  There's nothing traditionally country here.  Not sure what it is, exactly.  'Cept very cool.



#18 - "Valentine" - Snail Mail

Very much in the emo-soft-loud-soft 90s vibe, nonetheless Lindsey Jordan came roaring out of the gate with the advance single of her new LP, "valentine" with this title track.  Atmospheric verses dive straight into soaring, big-music choruses featuring the requisite musical and vocal hooks.  The middle 8/bridge section ends up putting the breaks on the entire song, serving as a somewhat surprising outro.  Hey it's a pop song, no need to prolong things unnecessarily, I suppose!  Backed by a big budget and frankly terrifying video, Snail Mail makes a bid for the biig time with this radio-friendly (minus the f-bomb) tune.



#19 - "Unsmart Lady" - Dry Cleaning

Dry Cleaning dropped a bomb with 2020's "Scratchcard Lanyard", and followed it up in early 2021 with 2021's best noise rock pop single "Unsmart Lady".  Florence Shaw talks her way through a minefield of post punk guitar (think Bauhaus' Daniel Ash) and a menacing rhythm section.  Fans of Sonic Youth will rejoice in the wake of this arty, uncomfortable brilliance.



#20 - "Where's My Brain???" - The Lazy Eyes

Australia seems to be in the middle of a psychedelic reawakening.  Relative newcomers The Lazy Eyes make my list with this runaway 6+ minute tripped out thrill ride "Where's My Brain???" (yes, three question marks are part of the title).  A driving beat propels the song straight into interstellar space,  featuring spacy vocals, precise guitar leads, and room to contemplate a hyperdrive repair job before a final successful blast into mega-super-hyperspace.  Set the controls for the heart of the sun, and hold my beer.



#21 - "Two Face" - L'Rain

Yeah.  This is beautiful, interesting, stylish indie dance pop.  It is full of fun surprises but not to the determent of the songcraft.  And that drum track, funky as all get out.  Yeah it's weird, but good weird.



#22 - "Little Things" - Big Thief

Big Thief is back with a new double album in 2022, and "Little Things" is the advance single.  It's gorgeous.  It's like Stevie Nicks hooked up with The Cocteau Twins and wrote a song with Kim Thayil from Soundgarden, which was the combination I never knew I needed.  Seriously what time signature is this in??  The whole thing is astonishing, enveloping.  The lyrics free-flow over the music, which is gorgeous, layered, from somewhere not near the earth we inhabit.  The secret sauce is the really cool lead guitar, which starts to sneak in around 1/2 way through, and eventually takes over, but does so subtly, organically.  This is an absolute stunner.



#23 - "Dark Horse" - The Velveteers

ok I'm biased, obviously.  This doesn't pretend to be an objective list, but we all knew that.  I'm rooting for this Boulder-based trio of misfits.  The Velveteers signed to Dan Auerbach's Easy Eye Sound label in 2020, and dropped their debut LP "Nightmare Daydream" in late 2021.  My favorite track is the opening number, "Dark Horse".  It's a crunchy throwback to early 70s heavy sludgy proto metal, with a dollop of psychedelic wizard stuff.  It's melancholy and terrifying and extending a hand to either take you on a quest or throw you in a dungeon.  And that instrumental middle 8, so heavy and crunchy.  



#24 - "Walking at a Downtown Pace" - Parquet Courts

This is everything great about NYC music.  Parquet Courts hit a home run with this DFA-via The Hacienda dance pop single.  Love the beat, love the bass line and rhythm guitar, the lead guitar, the vocal melody, the gang vocals.  It's fun, trashy, bouncy, slightly obnoxious.  An absolute banger.



#25 - "Brightside" - The Lumineers

Colorado's own The Lumineers (I think we can claim them, right?) surprised me with this fuzzed out, sparse love song in late '21.  For me this feels like a 180 from their recent fare, which has tended arty and adventurous.  Stripped of ornamentation and resting on songcraft and emotion, "Brightside" is in some ways a throwback to their debut, but sonically really quite different.  Quite a lovely little tune, this.



#26 - "Days Like These" - Low

This is an astonishing track.  Low manage to write something very assessable and completely insane, all at once.  The song starts with a very lovely melody, and then repeats the melody with a completely disorienting and overblown amount of distortion.  This is all over in the first 2:30 of the song, leaving about 3:00 for an extended ambient outro.  Props for creativity!



#27 - "See Me" King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard

GH&LW released two albums in 2021, the in-form slightly strange "L.W." in the early part of the year, and the really very strange "Butterfly 3000" in June.  "See Me" dives head-first into psychedelic disco with an infections shuffling off-kilter beat and a driving bass line.  The band riffs on a somewhat chromatic exotic-sounding melody and drives it into the ground.  I'd have chosen "If Not Now, When?" as my favorite from this album but it technically came out in 2020.  



#28 - "Nudge It" - Sleaford Mods (f. Amy Taylor)

I think we in the states can comfortably, if not a little lazily, lump Sleaford Mods in with bands like Idles and Fontanes DC, i.e. post-punks with a message.  There's quite a bit more techno and hip-hop going on with this track, however, a call out to "class tourists" who didn't actually come from the grimy North, from the council estates.  The backing track goes absolutely nowhere but the groove is so good it hardly matters.  And a pedantic rap from none other than Aussie nut-job Amy Taylor (from Amyl & the Sniffers) adds a lovely bit of over-the-top kookiness to the track.  I feel like I'm dissing the song, but I love it because of it's simplicity, not in spite of it.



#29 - "Too Good" - Arlo Parks

Backed by a sparse funky R&B vibe, Arlo Parks lays down a cool soul vocal steeped in a hip-hop vibe.  This is 21-year old Arlo Parks' debut release, and "Too Good" is the last of 7 (!) singles released from the album.  It made a bit of a splash stateside, and is album-of-the-year material back home in England.  This track sounds beautiful.  If you like something smooth and funky, give Arlo a listen.


  

#30 - "Alaska" - Pinegrove

This is just a perfectly constructed two-minute blast of big jangle-pop music.  Every part flows seamlessly together, the vocal melodies build on each other with the right amount of drama in the verse and chorus, and it doesn't hang around too long.  Maybe not long enough, even!  Not a wasted moment in this song, well done.



#31 - "Sometime" - Ritt Momney

I keep thinking I shouldn't like this song as much as I do, but there's no accounting for taste, is there!  Ritt Momney is out of SLC, so bonus points there for the spoonerism of LDS politician Mitt Romney for the band name.  There's that 90s alt rock sound again.  Can't get away from it in 2021.



#32 - "Foutre le Bordel" - La Femme

French alt rockers busted out with this up-tempo new wave throwback single in early 2021, in advance of their really interesting album "Paragidms".  This is a hyper-kinetic dance-punk romp featuring a fantastic guitar freak out, 100% harmonized / gang-vocals, and an infectious pogo-dance-inducing beat.  Nothing to see here, just the French going à l'état sauvage.



#33 - "Pretty Picture" - The Pleasure Dome

Bristol England is killing it right now.  Maybe The Pleasure Dome is riding in the significant wake of Idles at the moment, but this blast of punk-metal is en fuego, as they would say in Bristol (note, they probably aren't saying that).  This song checks all the boxes: sung-shouted vocals, heavy, loud, and fast driving beats, and massive distorted guitar lines.  It's an arresting listen and features a hilarious (to me) drum break towards the end of the tune.  Also the irony isn't lost on me that the lyrics of this song are all about the artificiality of your life on social media.  



#34 - "Hey Lou" - Liz Phair

Well well well, look who the cat dragged in.  With all this 90s nostalgia in 2021 I suppose it was only a matter of time before Liz Phair made a return to form.  "Hey Lou" is a delight, a quietly funky, mostly acoustic ballad with some orchestral flourishes.  LP sings the song from the perspective of Laurie Anderson singing to Lou Reed, mostly castigating Lou for his well-documented loutish behavior.  This is getting all the way back to LPs early vibe, fairly lo-fi, fun, thought-provoking and provocative material.  



#35 - "Baby Don't Cry" - Sunflower Bean

SB continues to tease us with really fun singles during the pandemic.  No word on if there is a full length album around the corner here in 2022, though a tour may hint at more material.  No matter, "Baby Don't Cry" is a fun, fuzz-blasted slice of 90s alt rock from this NY trio.  Shirley Manson, Kim Deal, Justine Frischmann, come see what your musical children have built upon your edifice.



#36 - "Jazz on the Autobahn" - The Felice Brothers

The Felice Brothers turn in a sunny ode to the apocolypse that give a nod to Dylan, certainly, but also Lou Reed, Guthrie, The Band, etc.  You get the drift.  Nonetheless, for all its influences, the tune feels fresh somehow.  There's a strong upstate NY vibe here.  Good stuff.



#37 - "Waiting In Line" - Kiwi Jr. 

Wow, this song vibes hard as an outtake from "Of Skins and Heart" from The Church, down to the vocal stylings.  This is a happy, bouncy ditty with very melancholy lyrics about a failed relationship, and it's perfectly put together.  Imagine my surprise to discover these lads are not from Australia, but Toronto.  Go figure.



#38  - "Ut Oh" - Children Collide

Yeah this is more like it.  Trashy guitar rock with tons-o-hooks.  Admittingly this is stealing a bit from the old 7 Nations Army riff, but with more of a fuzzed out 70s stoner rock feel.   I'm just saying, I don't see marching bands lining up to learn this one, but this song rocks, and that's good enough for me.



#39 - "True Love" - Hovvdy

I've decided the correct pronunciation of this band is "Ho-viddy".  All my references are coming up 90s today.  This song somehow reminds me of Built to Spill without electric guitars.  And a little home spun sincere Americana in there.  Beware, potential listener; this sweet little nugget is extremely catchy.  Listen to put yourself in a good mood.



#40 - "Gorgon" - Juliana Hatfield

I must admit I've been sleeping a bit on Juliana Hatfield since the 90s.  She wrote a great memoir "When I Grow Up" in 2008, and has continued to release quality music with consistency since the days of "My Sister" and of course, "Spin the Bottle".  Her 2021 album "Blood" is another quality effort, and I particularly dig the song "Gorgon".  This is a sprightly piano-fueled pop tune with defiant feminist lyrics.  The extended outro is pure gold, the sound of a band enjoying the moment, being spontaneous, and feeling the minimally funky vibe.



#41 - "Hush" - The Marías

The advance single from this LA-based band's debut LP "Cinema", "Hush" is a downtempo synth driven pop tune that checks all the boxes for me.  The sections flow together nicely, there is great variety in the singing and vocals, and it maintains a cool, slightly nasty vibe.  It was nice to see this song get a little airplay from the local stations when they came through town in late 2021.



#42 - "Get High" - Chet Faker

This came out early in 2021, while we were still mostly going stir-crazy in the winter and collectively losing our marbles in frozen isolation.  Chet Faker comes along with a downtempo funky electric-piano driven balled and brightens my mood considerably.  Thanks Chet!  Great vibe, and a super funky keyboard-synth solo to close out the track.  Man, this was a top 5 tune for me early in in the year.  That it fell so far may be due to a bunch of other great tunes that came out throughout the year, but I still love this funky little gem.



#43 - "Puppy and a Truck" - Jenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis has put out a ton of interesting stuff over the past decade plus.  "Puppy and a Truck" finds her in an autobiographical country mood.  What's not to like?  Good chorus, great middle 8 section, amusing and self-deprecating lyrics, great melody, and a few swear words thrown in for good measure.



#44 - "Bones" - Rosali

I can't remember how I stumbled upon this cool tune, but PA-based Rosali turns up a great downtempo rock song in "Bones".  I hear Neil Young via The Drive-By Truckers, with just a sprinkle of Tusk-era Lindsey Buckingham on lead.  Rosali's alto has that Chrissie Hynde vibe.  It's a big, messy, old school rock song.  Rock on, Rosali.



#45 - "I Need You" - Jon Batiste

A joyful deep south hip-hop spiritual from Jon Batiste is one of several standout tracks from his awesome 2021 release, "We Are".  There is nary a wasted second on this tight little track.  



#46 - "B-Side" - Khruangbin & Leon Bridges

Come on, now, this is beautiful stuff.  Texas-based indie artists Khruangbin & Leon Bridges have teamed up for a couple EPs, and "B-Side" is my favorite track from the lot.  It's a somewhat sparse mellow funk, with a nice little nod to Remain in Light era Talking Heads.  The groove is deep, not fierce.  What a cool pairing!



#47 - "New Romance" - Beach House

You like your synth with a side of synth, and your vocals with mostly echo?  Beach House has what you came for.  New Romance is one of a few advance songs from their upcoming new album "Once Twice Melody".  Yeah, maybe it's a bit 80s 4AD but it's so beautiful and pure.



#48 - "Church of The Misdirection" - Kate Vargas

The spiritual love child of Tom Waits and Betty Davis, NYC artist Kate Vargas sounds spiritual and dangerous, unafraid to sound raw and unpolished.  "Church of The Misdirection" is a wonderful little New Orleans - inspired stomper, right out of the Mr. Waits playbook.  Big props.



#49 - "Hypotheticals" - Lake Street Drive

Some easy, breezy blue-eyed soul from Boston's Lake Street Drive.  This feels a bit backhanded, but they are excellent craftsmen and women, and this song is beautifully put together.  It's all a little AOR-safe, but there are tons of fun hooks to enjoy, and everything about the song is perfect, if perhaps just a bit on the safe side.



#50 - "Doesn't Matter" - Benee

I was just thinking about N. Ireland singer SOAK recently, wishing for something new from them.  Benee will fill in quite nicely, thank you very much.  Benee is a bit of a star in native New Zealand, but not yet well known in the states.  "Doesn't Matter" is a wonderful late-night mellow and melancholy tune, perfect for late night/early morning.  And perfect for song #50.




#51 - "Fisher Island Sound" - Beirut

The advance single from Beirut's new album of b-sides and rarities, "Artifacts" (due in January 2022), this is a bouncy mellow somewhat twee tune that has its feet firmly in the baroque pop style of the late 'aughts.  It is thoroughly enjoyable, and has a nice instrumental section.  It wraps up a little too quickly for my taste, but it's a nice sunny vibe.



#52 - "Jackie" - Yves Tumor

Yves Tumor threw down a quick little EP in 21, featuring this big-music electro-pop single "Jackie".  YT serves up a sweet melancholy lovesick tune with synth hooks out the wazoo.  It's not really pop, or dance, or rock, it sort of slots in right between all that.  It sort of feels a bit by the numbers given the insane genius we know inhabits YT's brain, but even Bowie wrote hits, right?



#53 - "Are You Ready" - The Allergies 

Hailing from Bristol, England, The Allergies give us a slappin' good facsimile of early 90s New Jack Swing / Northern Soul / New Power Generation Prince.  The Allergies throw the kitchen sink at this track, with featured rap spots, soulful female vocals, horns, old school scratching, and a good old fashioned dance floor call to arms.  I find myself wishing for one more guest MC, maybe someone with a more rapid flow to take the track up another notch, but even still this is one fabulous party jam.  Party on, Bristol.



#54 - "Weights" - Bartees Strange

Speaking of Bob Mould...

Bartees Strange released a deluxe version of his wonderful 2020 album "Live Forever" in 2021, featuring this b-side "Weights", which features a straight-ahead muscularity also strongly reminiscent of Mr. Mould, and Bloc Party for that matter.  There's something joyful and pleasing in the simplicity of this power rock tune from Mr. Strange.  Hopefully something new from him in '22!



#55 - "The Way I Feel" - Alien Boy

The force of the 90s is strong with this one.  Portland (OR) based Alien Boy turned out a critically-acclaimed album in 2021, featuring this very enjoyable 80s-90s alt rock pastiche "The Way I Feel".  It reminds me of a less strident Bob Mould, but with one eye on the "jangle pop" vibe of those early days of alternative rock.  Vocals can be a but whiny and the vocal range is a bit limited, but yeah, this is my kind of tune.  And any band named after a classic song by The Wipers gets a thumbs up in my book.



#56 - "WHO" - The Crooked Rugs

Ft Collins' own The Crooked Rugs released not one but two albums this year, busy little bees that they are!  "WHO" is taken from the first of the two releases, and it is a bit of a psychedelic rave-up and reminds me a bit of "Yin and Yang and the Flower Pot Man" from Love & Rockets, but with a bit more fuzz, and much more abbreviated.  I noticed a few throwback trends with my list of songs this year, psychedelic being one of them (90s revival being another).  I'm excited to see what these lads serve up in 2022, can they keep up this turgid pace?  Hope so!



#57 - "High In The Grass" - Sleater-Kinney 

S-K continues part II of their revival with a new album and this, my favorite track from it, "High in the Grass". HitG is a study in contrasts, with dreamy melodic verses, interspersed with heavier choruses and a driving middle 8 section.  Corin's voice is in fine form, with beautiful tone and expression.  There's an interesting tension to this song, like they are trying to convince themselves that things are fine high in the grass, but not quite believing themselves.  I like it.  



#58 "Deja Vu" - Olivia Rodrigo

Jumping right into the fray, this massive hit song from This Year's Girl (7 Grammy nominations) Olivia Rodrigo is a wonderful teen confessional electro ballad a la early T. Swift crossed with early Lorde.  Yes please.  OR is picking up accolades from the mainstream (Time magazine's "entertainer of the year") and the "cool" press (#10 song of the year from Pitchfork) alike, so this pop debutant just might be on to something.  Songs "Drivers License" and "Good 4 U" were bigger songs, but I like this one better, for it's dynamic range and fun musical hooks.  Play on, Olivia.

#59 "Safer" - Roseville

Local Northern Colorado band Roseville released a mini-album "Something About a Fig Tree" in 2021.  Opening track "Safer" draws from that deep well of early 90s alt rock shoegaze vibe, with a languid pace, off-kilter rhythm, and a lovely and vulnerable melody.  The recording production is excellent and this song sounds great cranked up.  I'm a little self-conscious that I have so few local bands on my top 60 list but I'm pleased to represent Roseville.  Thanks for writing a lovely, atmospheric, melancholy tune.



#60 "How High" - The Record Company

The lead single from the new album by The Record Company, "How High" is a solid and well-constructed bit of mild-mannered soulful rock. It's a good tune, and a people pleaser. There's nothing groundbreaking here but I like it. I feel like I'm damning it with faint praise, but there are great songs the didn't make Slush Pup's Top 60, so there's nothing TRC should be ashamed of 🙂 Enjoy this solid mid-tempo AOR rocker!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Marathon Du Slush, 2015


Marathon Du Slush
November 7, 2015, 8 am
Fort Collins, CO
"It's legit!"

The Recap:

https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipNwiCizsdMLwIyktfVcTotN_2Bol2JUb7dXRyAw

A charming mid-Fall day in the Fort witnessed the beginning of a special tradition.  The First Marathon du Slush!  10 competitors toed the line on a crisp, sunny morning for the 8 am start.  7 completed the surprisingly challenging and leg-destroying course.  2 Brits half-assed their way through a self-proclaimed half marathon course.  And 1 participant inaugurated the "mystery k" Sherpa course.

The field started out in a bunch for the first 10 miles, with scant seconds separating first from last.  This began to change after the Whiskey aid station at miles 10, when Mike and Sarah broke apart the field with a surge down the backside of Bingham Hill.  The remaining 5 marathon participants jockeyed for third on the Horsetooth Hills.  By the time the runners reached South Dam, Ryan and Emily and Alex had gapped Justin and Slush.  At the May Aid at mile 20-ish Justin and Slush caught up with Alex, and Justin made a late charge.  Slush and Alex plodded on through Spring Creek and Alex eventually surged past Slush, and then caught Justin as well.

Up at the front Sarah and Mike ran together with Mike graciously granting Sarah the overall at the nose.  Emily entertained thoughts of catching Sarah but ended up settling for a podium spot some 8 minutes off the pace.  Ryan cruised in comfortably under the 4 hour barrier, with Alex, Justin, and Slush all sauntering in a bit over the 4 hour mark and in the case of Slush, complaining loudly, and wondering why he thought this was a good idea.

All agreed that the course was tough, and that including south dam and its attendant hill was "totally unnecessary" and "not at all appropriate".  But there are no plans to change the route.

In the half-marathon division a couple of Brits ran around for a bit and then wandered off for a pint and a bowl mushy pees.

And in the mystery k division Chris Roberts took the crown, and took a bunch of jackets and hats back to the start/finish, so that's pretty legit as well.

Will this become an annual thing?  Stay tuned!

The Results:
Runner Time Place
Marathon    
Sarah Omann 3:34:22 1
Michael Hinterberg 3:34:22 2
Emily Warner 3:42:06 3
Ryan Quinnelly 3:47:07 4
Alex May 4:11:04 5
Justin Liddle 4:14:10 6
Scott Slusher 4:21:19 7
Half Marathon
Ruth Waller-Liddle 1:44:21 1
The Nick Clark 1:44:22 2
?k
Chris Roberts ?? 1

the route:
http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/905919199

the map:















The entrants:
-------------------
Slush Pup
MAH
Alex MayDay
Q
Emily Airheart
Marie-Hélène Far-running
Justin a Liddle farther to go
Twiglet
Jomann

FAQs:
Q: I couldn’t find any particulars on the gel brands you will be stocking at the aid stations… 
  A: Uh, that's aid STATION, not stations.
Q: Also, what assorted corral/wave starts will there be, 
 A: The runners should thin themselves out by dodging traffic on Shields at mile 0.1
Q: and what about gear check?  
 A: Just put everything with Maggie Mae 
Q: Chip timing, or chronotrack?  
 A: I'm trying to get Pete to sit on the porch all morning and yell at you when you finish.
Q: Finally, is there a live app where all my family and friends can follow my progress?
 A: No but they can check out my band's YouTube channel all morning, that's pretty cool.
Q: Is there a wheelchair division? 
 A: Wheelchairs will be available after the race.
Q: A relay division? 
 A: never.
Q: Will the shirts be technical or cotton, and are they gender-specific? 
  A: thick, absorbent cotton
Q: what time is the race expo tomorrow?
  A: 7:37 - 7:38 pm

The Passion:


Sunday, January 6, 2013

6th annual Human Powered Brewery Tour 2013: The Next Generation


6th Annual Human Powered Brewery Tour for ALS











Saturday, February 16th, 2012.  10:00 am.


Fort Collins... the final frontier....
These are the voyages of the Human Powered Brewery Tour.
Our five, er, Six year mission: 
To explore strange new breweries, 
(without the aid of motorized transportation).
To stamp out ALS once and for all.  
To boldly go where no man has gone before.


The tour of the constellation of Fort Collins breweries is as follows:
(Times estimated)
a.       New Belgium Brewery. 10:00 am.  
b.      Fort Collins Brewery.  10:45 am (ish). 
c.       Funkwerks Brewery.  11:30 am.
d.      Odell Brewing Company.  12:15 am.
e.       Pateros Creek Brewing Co.  1:03 pm.
f.        Equinox Brewing.  2:00 pm

Raffle prizes along the way, including race entries, and other cool stuff!

Yes, everyone starts at New Belgium at 10:00 am.  

Here are some pictures from previous years:

2008, First, uh, annual!


2009, 2nd annual!


2010, 3rd annual!
 

2011, 4th annual!
 
























----------------------------------------------------------
2012, 5th annual!







Tuesday, October 2, 2012

2nd annual Runners Without Borders, 10/28


2nd annual Runners Without Borders

It's back!

Please join me for the 2nd annual Runners Without Borders!

Let's do a recap for those who may have forgotten:

Last year about this time I said to myself, "Self, how's about we raise some money for Doctors Without Borders?  Gee, that'd be swell, huh!"

Then this happened:  RWB.

And now it's going to happen again!  With a few minor changes to the format, because, you know, I like to mess with success.

Let's start with the basics.

It all goes down on SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28th, 8:00 am - 4:00 pm

Get yourself to Lory State Park on Sunday, October 28th.  You don't have to be there for the whole day.

Start at the "Eltuck" picnic area.  See map here:  Lory map

Run to one of the very lightly defended "borders" between Lory State Park and Horsetooth Mountain Park.  You choose the route.  There are two border crossings as you know.  Valley and Mill Creek, we'll call them.

Pick up a poker chip at the border crossing, there will be a bag of them at each crossing.

Return to Eltuck with your poker chip.  This represents a "lap".  One poker chip per person per lap, people.

Repeat.  Or don't.  (yes do...)

But wait, there's more!  So much more...

The Pledges

Me:


Just like last year, I'm donating one dollar per "lap" per person to Doctors Without Borders.  Up to $250.  Last year we combined for 168 laps.  I know we can get to 250 this year.  Don't let me down, people.

You:

Express yourself, people!  Please show up and get one or more of those poker chips and bring them safely back to Eltuck.  It's worth money to DWB!  And I encourage you to pledge as well.  You can match my pledge.  You can pledge for yourself.  You can get your friends and family to sponsor your laps.  You can make up some insanely complicated formula (Laura B, I'm pointing at you; well I'm pointing in the general direction of the Vet Hospital right now.  Well I'm typing, actually, but you get the visual)

What else is different?

New starting point:

This year I've rented out the Eltuck picnic area in Lory, it's about halfway between the Lory st park entrance and the Arthurs Trailhead (our base of operations last year).  I wanted more space and more amenities, picnic tables and the like.

No fixed route:

That's right!  I continue to turn the concept of an organized run on it's head.  Just get to the border.  Or the other border.  How you do it is up to you.  Clearly there are speedy and slower ways to get to the borders, but part of the fun should be to explore the trails.  Which is why I'm dispersing a as-yet-to-be-determined number of...

Magic Tokens!

Magic tokens will be placed in secret locations along the trails of Lory state park.  Find one on your lap, and bring it back for a fabulous prize.  One magic token per person, please.  What prizes?    TBD.  How many tokens?  TBD.  Wha-?  Quit asking so many questions.  Friggin MAGIC TOKENS, people!  Go find them!

Still with me?  Good.

Here's what I need from you.

RSVP

Please let me know if you're planning on showing up.  I'll add you to my online RSVP list.  There is no charge to participate, other then the Lory State Park fee ($7 per car, so carpool).

Wait, when is it again?

Sunday, October 28th, anytime from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.  Get there early if you want to find a (friggin) magic token though.

Pledges:

You don't have to pledge but of course I encourage it.  Last year we raised over $4,000 for DWB.  Yeah that's right.  I think we can top that this year.  Give me some sugar, people.


For point of reference, here are last year's participants and pledges:
2011 Participants:



2011 Pledges:



ok that's it for now.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

FCHPBTH


5th Annual Human Powered Brewery Tour for ALS

Saturday, February 4th, 2012.  10:00 am.

On July 27th of this year, the finest, most handsome competitors from around the world will gather in swinging, rioting London for the Games of the XXX Olympiad!  Oh that we could be there, to hurl a silvery spear into the steamy yob-filled night, to toss aloft the gossamer weight of a gleaming white plastic ball, to swim, swim synchronously and true in costumes scant, yet somehow tasteful.  I fear I’m mixing up synchronized swimming and ice dancing.  Maybe they should be mixed up.  No matter, off subject as usual. 

But alas we are no Olympians, merely mortals who like to compete.  So compete we shall, in the Fort Collins Human Powered Brewery Tour Heptathlon!  In honor of this being an Olympic year we will transform our annual brewery tour into a quasi-competition and celebration of international costume and bad accents.   

Here, then, are the rules:

1)      Choose a country and align yourself with that county.  Lean their dress, their customs, their favorite sport, their favorite beer, their favorite accent.  Come prepared, come dressed up.  Medals will be awarded to the three best representatives.  More than one person can be part of the same country.  Then you will be a team!  Organize yourselves accordingly.  My inclination is to represent Ghana of course!

2)      Give generously to the ALS Association.   Every year we do this as a fund-raiser for ALS and this year, particularly this year, is no exception.  5 years ago Celeste lost her cousin Annie to ALS.  Last fall she lost her cousin Bob to the same disease.  We honor their spirit and memories by hosting the brewery tour and raising money for the ALS association.  We raised over $400 last year, and we want to raise over $1,000 this year.  Medals to the top three fund-raising countries.  That’s a good reason to get together and join a team!!





3)      Visit all 7 old town Fort Collins breweries by human powered means only.  This means anything not motorized!  Bike, run, walk, skate, roller-blade, big wheel, pogo stick, kayak, you get the idea.  You will cover about 4 or 5 miles if you hit all 7 breweries so crawling or leap-frogging is not totally encouraged.  Obtain a coaster or a photo of yourself from each brewery and bring your coasters/camera to the Trail Head Tavern for verification.  Sampling of beers at each brewery is technically optional, but, you know, whatever.  Participants who visit all 7 breweries will be eligible to medal in the FCHPBTH (Fort Collins Human Powered Brewery Tour Heptathlon).  It is not a speed competition.  It’s a style competition.  A, dare I say, competition de panache.  I’ll know it when I see it.  You will be competing in the following events at each brewery. 

4)      The 7 breweries and competitions, you ask?  IN THIS ORDER:

a.       New Belgium Brewery. 10:00 am.  Competitions:  Frivolity, Punctuality.
b.      Fort Collins Brewery.  10:45 am (ish).  Competition:  Generosity. 
c.       Funkwerks Brewery.  11:30 am.  Competition:  Panache.
d.      Odell Brewing Company.  12:15 am.  Competition:  Levity.
e.       Coopersmiths Brewpub.  1:00 pm.  Competition:  Brevity.
f.        Pateros Creek Brewing Co.  1:03 pm.  Competition:  Orienteering.
g.       Equinox Brewing.  2:00 pm.  Competition: A certain daring-do, a certain je ne sais quoi.

Yes, everyone starts at New Belgium at 10:00 am.  We have a lot of stops on this year’s tour, so get cracking (remember on the first year, when there was only one brewery in town?  Me neither.).  Everyone meet at the Trail Head Tavern after it is all over for awards.  Believe me, they’re the only place that will accept us by then.

Oh and, special prizes for legacy members, you know who you are!  The prizes will be even more special than last year!

Here are some pictures from previous years:
2008, First, uh, annual!




 2009, 2nd annual!




2010, 3rd annual!
 

2011, 4th annual!
 


Friday, October 28, 2011

One

One came out with a new famine video today, thought I'd promote it with a quick post:



Quick comment on the video; why does the cool edgy guitar music represent famine, death and destruction, and the piano music represent redemption, peace, and hope?  So typical.  I'd like to see that reversed, because, you now, pianos are inherently evil, right?  j/k.  One is a funny sort of organization, I don't think they take donations directly, but they act as a sort of message-driven outreach voice for African development issues. They're sort of a "celebrity" organization, with Bono from U2 being their most visible supporter, and they spend a lot of time making slick and flashy videos and what not.  This can be a little off-putting for some but I think it's fine to use a little star power to get your message across, and I like what they are trying to accomplish.  Here is One's mission statement from their web site:

"ONE is a grassroots advocacy and campaigning organization that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa, by raising public awareness and pressuring political leaders to support smart and effective policies and programs that are saving lives, helping to put kids in school and improving futures. Cofounded by Bono and other campaigners, ONE is nonpartisan and works closely with African activists and policy makers."

That sounds fine.  So One isn't really on the front lines administering aid.  Rather, One works with and supports several dozen aid organizations, including notably (RED), Oxafam, Bill & Meninda Gates Foundation, Water.org, and CARE, US Doctors For Africa, and several dozen others.  Ideally this allows One to focus on getting the message out to people like me, and to politicians, and allows the aid organizations to focus on solving the problems on the ground.  Of course this can also cause problems, particularly when and if One's messages don't align with their partner's aims and goals.  But One tends to keep things pretty generic and simple, by design likely, so there's probably less of a chance of that happening.

The full list of One's aid partners is impressive and comprehensive, indeed.  But notably absent from One's list?  Doctors Without Borders, baby!  Why?  I doubt there is any serious schism between One and DWB, I rather suspect it is because DWB strives very hard to maintain absolute neutrality, and therefore can not align themselves with any umbrella organization.  Respect.  But a quick glance at all of the One partner organizations reveals many worthy aid organizations who are trying to do the right thing. 

Just for Bono:

"One life, but we're not the same, we get to carry each other, carry each other, One"
-- One, U2

Johnny got it right:



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What's Going On?

The latest from Somalia:

So what's going on in Somalia, you ask?  Ahh, you don't want to know.  There's trouble over in the horn of Africa, some of it involving our dear Doctors Without Borders.  As you probably know, we got together and raised over $4,000 for DWB at the Runners Without Borders event last weekend.  I requested that the money go to Somalia if possible (DWB does critical work all over the world so I'm sure it could be put to good use in many places, but Somalia seems to need assistance the most right now).  One of the super-critical and time-sensitive tasks DWB is trying to accomplish in Somalia right now is a massive measles vaccination campaign for children.  Yup, that measles shot we all got as babies in the USA, well, they don't get those shots over in Somalia.  And measles is actually a nasty and virulent little disease with a very high fatality rate among small children, particularly children who are already malnourished.

So DWB took it upon themselves to try to vaccinate as many high-risk children as they could, focusing efforts on the capital, Mogadishu.  But last week heavy fighting erupted (side note, does "heavy fighting" ever do anything besides "erupt"?) in Mogadishu, forcing the DWB doctors to abandon the campaign for the time being.  Read DWB's press release here: Somalia: Vaccination campaign Suspended Due to Fighting in Daynile.

Some thoughts from the press release; Daynile is on the outskirts of Mogadishu, and I'm assuming this is where a lot of the refugees are coming from the famine-striken areas.  So it's an important base of operations for DWB, since this is likely as close as they can get to the people that are the worst off.  Although they have suspended the measles program, they are still at the hospital, providing medical assistance and nutritional assistance as much as they can.  I take two things from this.  One, the DWB doctors are total bad-asses and I am more proud than ever to support them, and you should be too.  Two, the Somalians really need to put down their guns, even for just a little while, so these doctors can save the lives of their children.  Priorities, people.  It's all very irritating. 

The other bit of news from DWB in Somalia is the news of a kidnapping of two DWB staff members from a refugee camp in Dabaab, Kanya, which is serving as a Somalian refugee camp.  This happened on October 13th, and as of yet I believe the two staffers are still being held by their kidnappers.  You can read this article here:
Kenya: Two MSF Staff Abducted in Kenya (Updated).  Dangerous indeed.  You can read the article, but the effect of the kidnapping is that DWB has suspended much of their operations in the Kenyan refugee camps until they can get the situation resolved.  Maybe the refugee camps need more protection, but DWB tries very hard to distance themselves from the conflicts that cause these refugee crises, and not take sides, but as you can see it's difficult not to get into trouble.  Trouble has a way of finding you, I suspect, in places such as these.

What is also interesting to note is that DWB does not want this kidnapping to be publicized, as publicity is not helping their efforts to get the staffers returned.  So, uh, I'm not totally sure I should be writing about this, but the story went out on much larger news organizations already, so it's probably ok that I'm bringing it to your attention today, since I expect about, you know, 23 people to read this.

What's my point besides being full of rather depressing news today?  I wanted to give you all a greater appreciation of the dangers that the men and women of DWB face in trying to help people in the worst places in the world.  Major props to them.  Hopefully the money we raised last week will do some good there, hopefully they can get back to working at full-capacity soon.