The time is now. I’ve been adding songs to Vision, the 2020 Everything Ecstatic playlist since the start of the year and it’s finally in presentable enough shape to start sharing it with the world while it keeps building. The COVID-19 pandemic is serious business and everyone’s affected. More than ever, we need music to help get us through these days. So here we are.
Today, there are 31 mostly new songs and just over two hours of music on Vision from Burna Boy and Four Tet to U.S. Girls and Seu Jorge. But I’ll be adding tracks to it as the year rolls along, just like I’ve done with my previous yearly continuous playlists (which you can also re-visit):
Closing the book on 2019 with EE’s favorite songs of the year. All 30 of them are in the Spotify playlist below and while unranked, I’ll say this: “Not” by Big Thief and the harmonious collab we never saw coming in “Studie” by Teebs & Panda Bear, are the two songs that’ll stay with me the longest from this year.
The playlist checks in at 121 minutes and it’s a journey through the songs that marked 2019 for me. From Flying Lotus putting a bow on Denzel Curry’s “Black Balloons” trilogy and Priests’ fierce “The Seduction of Kansas” to Spellling’s post-Castlevania vibes on “Under The Sun” and Pop Smoke’s Brooklyn drill pomp meets North London swagger on the “Welcome To The Party” Skepta remix. Press play, enjoy. Peace.
Ranking the best albums of the year shouldn’t have to be about consensus. Heck, I’ve been making this yearly list for over 12 years and while I’ve sometimes fallen victim to the pitfalls of slotting and naming certain albums on the list because of the prevailing critical belief about their greatness, that approach is now effectively out the window.
What you’ll find in Everything Ecstatic’s Top 60 Albums of 2019 list, is a direct reflection of the best music I listened to and enjoyed the most this year; whether it’s by a mainstream artist, or someone you may have never heard of before. The latter, is what I think has made EE’s Albums list great for so long. ‘Cause at the end of the day, this site is about discovery and enthusiasm for said discoveries (of course). Stylistically, it’s always gonna be all over the map, from jazz to hip-hop to indie, electronic and beyond…from all over the globe.
Lastly, I’ll say this: I’m glad that I waited until 12/23 to release these picks, because the more days we have to listen to the insane amount of tunes that are getting released throughout the year, then the less likely it is to miss something you absolutely needed in your life (Jamila Woods’ incredible Legacy! Legacy! for example, would not have made its way onto the list, let alone into the Top 10 if this list was finalized in early December. )
So with that, here’s Everything Ecstatic’s Top 60 Albums of the Year, along with a Spotify playlist of them all at the bottom of the post. Follow @EcstaticBlog us on Twitter and like the EE Facebook page to get music shouts on the regular and to stay up on the EE live events series.
Click the Albums of the Year tab at the top of the web page to re-visit more than a decade of EE year-end lists.
Stellar Spins (60-51)
60. Arthur Russell – Iowa Dream
59. Kedr Livanskiy – Your Need
58. Rosie Tucker – Never Not Never Not Never Not
57. Hand Habits – placeholder
56. Hot Chip – A Bathful of Ecstasy
55. Skepta – Ignorance Is Bliss
54. San Fermin – The Cormorant 1
53. Bedouine – Bird Songs of a Killjoy
52. Nate Mercereau – Joy Techniques
51. Jordan Rakei – Origin
The Top 50
50. Black Belt Eagle Scout – At The Party With My Brown Friends
49. Mndsgn – Snaxx
48. Billie Eilish – WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
ZOLA is the musical project of SF native Zola Johnson (not to be confused with Zola Jesus.) She has an elegant and powerful voice that guides her gorgeous indie R&B/pop songwriting in both English and French. Her debut LP, Don’t Eat, is out Friday, January 24th on KIDinaKORNER Records.
Joining the bill are fierce Bay Area stalwart rocker Emily Afton and SanduNdu, the solo project of EE faves Bells Atlas.
Get to know ZOLA on my Noise Pop Podcast Sound of the Bay LIVE episode and peep her gorgeous Twin Peaks Session atop the San Francisco fog bank below.
On Thursday, December 5th, we hosted three of our favorite Bay Area indie bands in an intimate evening at Amnesia. Better yet, it was a phone-free affair courtesy of our friends at Yondr and everyone felt well…present.
The music was beautiful and our pal Ginger Fierstein was there with her Holga camera to capture some of the show and crowd. I’ve always loved Ginger’s photography because she uniquely captures the magic of a moment. Peep the photos below, some words from Ginger and follow Everything Ecstatic on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on what’s next!
“I try to anticipate feeling and emotional moments when I’m shooting. I only have 12 shots on a roll, so I have to be careful not to waste them. The goal is to make each frame a worthwhile memory for whoever’s in the frame. I think I do a lot of double exposures to extend the life of the roll, but to also try and capture something a little less literal than a straight photograph could.” — (All photos by Ginger Fierstein)
We’re presenting the second “Cult Classic Party” in the Analog Time Machine series with the best Christmas film of them all: Die Hard! Our first ATM party was back in May for the 40th Anniversary of the Warriors and now, we’re super hyped to present THE cult classic holiday movie!
Thursday, December 12th at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco, it’ll be a Die Hard screening + themed beers from Local Brewing Co (Yippie-Ki-Yay IPA and Hans Gruber Lager!) and a pre-show DJ set called “Elevator Music” by Chad Salty!
On Thursday, August 1st, Everything Ecstatic is putting on another show and this time, we’ve teamed up with Yondr to make it phone free! That’s right folks…dude who puts his phone up the second the music starts and records the whole first song? Gone. Homegirl who scrolls through Instagram instead of watching the bands. See ya!
If you’ve gone to a Dave Chappelle or Jack White show recently, you’ve probs seen what Yondr does. They make these little sleeves to pop your phone into at a show so you can’t pull it out ’til it’s over. I know, I know…this is what it’s come to, to ween us away from our phones at live events, but damnit if we don’t need it sometimes. They’re also based out of the Mission and I’m stoked to collab with them on this show…And what I love about booking this showcase, is that it illustrates how it’s not just major acts that benefit from a phone-free experience, it’s local and emerging artists as well (and it’s also just $5 at the door at Amnesia on Valencia St; full details at this link)
With that, here’s a bit about the all-Bay Area lineup!
Salami Rose Joe Louis
Recently signed to Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder records, Salami Rose Joe Louis is the project of producer/multi-instrumentalist Lindsay Olsen. Her music is a trip into outer space for people who are standing on their own two feet. Dig it.
A total fucking staple in the Bay Area scene, Foxtails Brigade are a baroque-pop group helmed by singer Laura Weinbach. Collectively, they’ve been putting down one of the strongest live performances in the Bay for a minute.
I took a walking tour on the morning of my first full day in Montréal this summer and the guide, Anne-Marie, clearly had a thing for street art. When I realized she was wearing a T-shirt from an art gallery she took us too, it all made sense why admiring murals and graffiti art in Le Plateau Mont-Royal was just as much a part of our tour as walking inside of Old Town’s Notre-Dame Basilica or navigating through Montréal’s underground walkway network.
With that, here’s a spread of some of the stand-out works that can be seen branching out and around from Saint-Laurent Blvd in the Plateau (with artist IG’s linked in the caption so you can go down your own street art rabbit holes.) Also, it should be noted that many of these went up as part of the yearly Montréal Mural Festival.
Malci’s songs feel more like spasms. The Chicago rapper jerks from phrase to phrase with little regard for structure or pattern; the thrill of a track like “When They Get Me” comes when the ear captures — sometimes a beat too late — the precise moment when the meandering shifts into the miraculous.
“I rap in all capitals,” Malci spits midway through the 90-second sprint that highlights his latest album, Papaya, but I’ll be a contrarian and say, well, not quite. He tosses capitals and other cases about these tracks with the free-associative abandon of a rapper who trusts his producer (i.e. himself) to do the necessary clean-up. The gyre widens, but the center somehow holds.
That’s thanks to a collection of beats that lean on a collage of field recordings and round, wet synths to build a base that can withstand Malci’s sputtering vocal solos. The results often skew jazzy, though I don’t get the sense of an ensemble playing in hard-earned lockstep. Papaya is the product of a singular vision. Its lived-in messiness is its own and, like the growling dog on the album cover, it perpetually threatens to claw through the fence.
Growing up stateside, the only music from the Philippines I knew was my Grandmother’s lullabies. But digging through my Dad’s records one summer I came across a gem: The Soul Jugglers. Made up of local musicians and African-American US troops stationed in Subic, these dudes had so muchswag. An undeniably smooth Pinoy funk band, if it wasn’t for their Tagalog lyrics, The Soul Jugglers could pass for Motown proper. They strung together the kind of sound only Shaft could walk out to if he was a perm-haired manong in 1970s Metro Manila.
That record helped crack a history and heritage that wasn’t really talked about at home. The Soul Jugglers were among other Philippine bands that found creating music as respite during Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law. They defined the music eras through experimentation and surged into new sonic territories. There was joy to be found on those stages and studios, even when the world outside was deprived of it.