Finally I’ve gotten around to making the list that’s been sitting in my phone drafts since December 21st, 2019.

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All nine of them, front to back, because I love pop. Then I packaged them up as vinyl records because I’m extravagant like that and you bet your ass I’d charge $30 per.

by Tag Hartman-Simkins

Just about every day I drop into a Facebook Messenger group with two of my closest friends. It’s the closest my life has felt to the way it was when I was only 16. We call it “All Shade, No Tea,” and in this group we give ourselves names like “Clumsy,” “Radar,” and “Mood Ring.” We share inane details about our days with each other — who we’re fed up with at work right now, where we’re taking lunch, who needs a drink before the work day is even done. We also send around photos of Britney Spears with a pink wig on getting Starbucks, Britney with a pink wig on driving her car, pop star brackets, Japanese commercials featuring pop stars, and memes I find on twitter. …


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Taking a look at some of the Japanese rock band’s best records.

by Tag W.R. Hartman-Simkins

Five years ago I took a week out to write up short reviews of what I still believe is the golden era of The Pillows, a Japanese rock band that is still releasing music. Next year the band will celebrate its 30th anniversary. The review comprises a six-year period covering six of the band’s 21 studio albums, and one B-sides compilation. I have re-published the blog post in its entirety with minor revisions and additions on Medium but the original 2013 post can still be found here.

I thought the other day that since I took such a long time to look over a band whose album it took eight years to produce, I should maybe begin to take a look at the music I love in general. Inspired in part by The Worst Albums Ever, I wanted to do a bit of digging on a Japanese band that single-handedly led me to listening to rock and pop in the first place. If you are unfamiliar with them, I suggest visiting their Wikipedia page and their website. …


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It’s been 365 days. These are the 40 records I enjoyed most throughout the year.


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A round-up of fifty tracks from this year that delighted me most.


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Cassini high above Saturn’s hexagonal northern pole. Illustration by NASA/JPL-Caltech.

NASA’s Cassini probe has entered the spectacular Grand Finale of its two-decade mission in space, completing over twenty harrowing dives between Saturn’s orbital rings over the last four months. Today, it will die.

by Tag W.R. Hartman-Simkins

I had never even heard of it until April.

It’s funny how humans can send a chunky metal box floating through space millions of miles from our planet and I’d never even heard of it. Of course I was something like nine or ten years old when the unmanned spacecraft left our orbit for the darker, more melodramatic fringe of the solar system, that stretch of lonely planets past the asteroid belt, unimaginably massive gaseous orbs that seemed so threatening to me at that age. In my library books the authors would depict the Great Red Spot, the bulbous anticyclone on Jupiter’s underside, with three superimposed Earths neatly laid within it, illustrating its size and magnitude. The storm has been observed continuously from Earth since 1830, when there were only 24 states in the American Union; observations of a similar red storm go as far back as 1665, just a year before the Great Fire of London. Its clouds extend 8km higher into the atmosphere than the surrounding cloud layer, tens of thousands of miles of violent rotating hydrogen and helium cycling in and out of eddies and bands which circle the planet’s 89,000 mile diameter at speeds of over 100 miles per second. …


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Photo by Rhys Adams

And she does not get enough credit for it.

by Tag W.R. Hartman-Simkins

If there’s one thing I know Miss Brintey Spyurs loves more than the ellipsis or a sexy, over-enunciated “yeh-eh-eh-eh,” it’s talking during her songs. Yes, like a truly rude movie patron, she does it a lot, or at least more than many pop stars do. …


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The empty western anchor where Sears closed in 2014, now flanked by two large fake trees.

Built in the early 1970s, a decaying Midwestern relic of throw-away consumer architecture will be torn down and developed into an updated outdoor shopping space. What is lost in the process?

by Tag Hartman-Simkins

An era is coming to its end in a mid-size Illinois city few Americans might recognize. Sandburg Mall, the four-anchor shopping arena constructed in 1974 on the northwest corner of Galesburg, is finally being torn down after decades of decline. Located near the intersection of Henderson street and Carl Sandburg Drive, just off the US-34 exit, the shopping center was built during Galesburg’s population apex — nearly 38,000 citizens were registered in 1960 census, dropping only about 1,000 by 1970. Per the city’s most recent census report, that number has dropped to just above 32,000.


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Fifty songs and a playlist collected from records and other single releases over the year, placed in order of fun to most fun. Except Beyoncé, because she’s above Spotify or whatever.

by Tag Hartman-Simkins

Y’all, it’s part II.

I consider myself an album guy mostly, which is a very pretentious way of distinguishing oneself from people who buy digital singles off iTunes and listen exclusively to playlists constructed for commutes and exercise. But if the album is sort of like the musical equivalent to the Big Artistic Statement novel (and I think of it that way), then I think of the song as being an essay or a short story pulled from its pages, maybe published out of context somewhere like the New Yorker, and that can still have a lot of power.

In years past I chose 100 songs but that’s way too much ranking and energy required from one person — and really, what’s the point of arranging all that in a row when it’s as inane as placing one song below another after questioning whether I’d prefer the one or the other if this were the cutoff point (which is how I rank). So here are 50 more considered songs which made me feel things, that stood out as attention-grabbing high points from their albums or even just top 40 singles I hoped to hear two or three times at the bar on Friday nights.

Part III comes sometime next week. …

About

Tag W.R. Hartman-Simkins

Brooklyn, NY | Design director for Futurism. Writing and Design.

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