Can’t Get These Outta My Head | Favorite Tracks from the Second Week of January

“Black and Blonde” — Veruca Salt

Vercua Salt have been in my alternative playlist for a while with their 90s hits “Seether” and “Volcano Girls”. One of my favorite things about them is their girlish yet punchy vocal delivery and more ragged alt-rock sound. They are back strong with their 2015 album Ghost Notes. The band hasn’t lost one ounce of its college/alt-rock edge. Both Nina and Louise sound just like they did nearly 20 years prior. Although the entire album is a joy travel through, one track stands above the rest. I can’t downplay how much of an earworm “Black and Blonde” is. Veruca Salt expertly crafted a banger alt-rock song whose chorus’s taunting lines, “You beat me black and blonde/ Ticking like a bomb/ Ticking like a bomb” will be echoing in your ears all day. I wish more artists would steer into this kind of playfully defiant tone regarding breakups and ill feelings. I highly recommend adding this song to your playlist and giving it several listens. While you’re at it, here are a few of my other favorites of Ghost Notes to give a listen:

  • The Gospel According to Saint Me
  • Prince of Wales
  • Empty Bottle

“Valentine” — Snail Mail

I have been quite the fan of Snail Mail since I first heard her second album Lush. One of her biggest strengths is the raw delivery of her vocals and rougher alt-rock sound that adds a pleasant texture to the dreamy pop sound outlining the track. Compared to her earlier work, “Valentine” only adds a slight sheen to her sound giving it a larger fuller feeling. I heard someone refer to the kind of music artists like Snail Mail are making as Pop-Grunge, and I think that fits this track well. It’s got a pop shell with a grunge filling. There’s both an ache and a longing in this song as Lindsay pines of someone whose flakey nature has her twisting into knots. The chorus tells it all, “So why’d you wanna erase me, darling valentine?/ You’ll always know where to find me when you change your mind”. The video to the track is worth a watch too. I love the Victorian style. If you haven’t given this song a listen, I highly recommend it. Here are some other gems to listen to while you’re getting into this Valentine:

  • Headlock
  • Sailing (Forever)
  • Glory

“You Lose!” — Magdalena Bay

I have heard several of my favorite music reviewers discuss how fantastic Magdalena Bay’s latest album Mercurial World is. I decided to I had to sit down and hear what all the fuss was about. I was truly blown away. It takes Dream Pop and electrifies it. Where Dream Pop gives a milky/creamy feel, Magdalena Bay adds in Electro-Pop influences to had a sweet delightful fizz. I had a lot of trouble narrowing this album down to 6 songs I loved and even worse trouble trying to think of my favorite. The overall sound of “You Lose!” is really the biggest stand out to me. It’s the mix of 8-bit electronics, thumping beats, and sizzling synths that take this dreamy number to the top of the list. Mica’s vocal delivery gives me a blend of Kero Kero Bonito and Grimes in the most magical way. Trust me when I say you need to give the entire album a listen. Just as the album’s cover shows, you’ll bloom into a fizzing sea of electro-pop ecstasy with this project. After listening to this track, check out these gems:

  • Secrets (Your Fire)
  • Prophecy
  • Chaeri

“Sapokanikan” — Joanna Newsom

Joanna Newson has always been an artist I have heard about, but never really listened to. I love baroque pop/chamber pop quite a bit, and this has only increased as I have gotten older. It was my luck to find Newsom’s last album Divers at my local book store and thought it was time to break the ice. The first thing you notice is Joanna’s unique vocal style which is folksy and child-like in the way that a storybook is being told. Divers really delivers on the baroque sound with layers of clavichord, harpsichord, woodwinds, keys, and of course her signature harp. The biggest toe-tapper on the album has to be “Sapokanikan”. The winding nature of Joanna’s vocals and piano playing takes you on this journey from past to present as the locale changes. The song has no real chorus, yet still feels whole and catchy. It’s like a story sung through this gentle omniscient voice. It’s like nothing else out there in one of the best ways possible. I will most definitely be checking out her back catalog. Check out these other lovelies off of Divers:

  • Leaving the City
  • Goose Eggs
  • Waltz of the 101st Lightborne

“All That” — Carly Rae Jepsen

I can’t speak enough to how much I love Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2015 album Emotions. It brilliantly takes the sweet and effervescent 80s pop sound and reinvents it in a way that both keeps reverence for artists like Debbie Gibson and Tiffany while being completely original in its own sake. One of my absolute favorites off this stellar project is the silky slow jam “All That”. The building synths and Carly’s rising vocals take this from nocturnal pop to flirty slow jam. The energy of the track really matches the longing nature of the song itself. This urge crescendos at the end of the song as the keys modulate upwards as Carly sings, “Show me if you want me/ If I’m all that/ (Show me if you care)/ I will be that/ I will be your friend”. This is a must-listen. The album itself is also a must-listen in my book, as it was my favorite pop album of the last decade. If you're looking for some starters to go with “All That”, here are my recommendations:

  • When I Needed You
  • Gimme Love
  • Making the Most of the Night

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