Category: The Best of the Year

PuR First Quarter Favorites⚡️!

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That bird up there is a Great Argus & it is by far the BEST bird I’ve seen in person in 2020 ( they have one at the Bronx Zoo) but I digress…..PuR is a very small & somewhat silly blog, so small it wouldn’t even qualify as a pin prick on the pinkie finger of Pitchfork…but I still get genuine joy from sharing new music & writing ridiculously self-indulgent essays about old “uncool” music  that require the patience of a saint to actually read all the way through. In other words, I love doing this.

In light of what is happening right now, in all the misery & uncertainty, it seems even more important than ever to say thank you & show some love even in the tiniest ways. With that in mind I wanted to shine a light on some of the most brilliantly wonderful songs & artists that have surfaced over the first quarter of 2020. I hadn’t planned on doing this, didn’t occur to me until last week but this stuff is medicine & I’m grateful it all exists right now. Hopefully you’ll discover ( or rediscover) something here that’ll warm your heart for a minute. Rock on y’all⚡️

🔥PuR First Quarter Favorites🔥

SONGS (in no particular order):

Talker: Personal Space

Talker aka Celeste Tauchar released an excellent EP titled Wax this year & “Personal Space” is an unadulterated highlight. A melodic marriage of vintage grunge, Julien Baker style crescendos & Avril Lavigne’s forever banger “I’m With You”, it’s a real stunner.

 

Clea: Soft Blow to the Head

If “Soft Blow to the Head” had been born in 1994, it would’ve been played in an endless loop on both MTV & the radio & would likely have found it’s way into a good old Gen X film soundtrack. It’s a sweet jangle with a defiant core & a bit of Belly, smidge of Sundays & ounce of Cardigans embedded in it’s memorable melody.

 

Laveda: L

“L” sounds like a tranquilized, dreampop version of the Smashing Pumpkins “1979”, it’s hazy, hooky & just so languorously lovely.

 

HEBE: Out Of Sight

Bit of a vintage Zero 7 vibe to this sweet pop groove that explodes into something special when it hits the bridge; things get quiet, HEBE’s lustrous voice hovers over a spare backdrop & then it’s boom, boom, boom hands in the air for a semi-manic all too brief coda.

 

The Satellite Station: Phantom

A theme song for driving in circles in an empty parking lot at 2 in the morning feeling alone, alone, alone, the type of thing there can never be enough of, especially if they’re as fine this.

 

Eliza Shaddad: Pure Shores

It seems wrong to exult this cover of All Saints 2001 megahit “Pure Shores” as the finest Eliza Shaddad has to offer since her original stuff is so freakin’ good…but gotta love how she toughened it up, turning the electronic pop anthem into a vintage 90s alt rocker with a sweet Liz Phair/ Juliana Hatfield vibe; it’s just sublime.

 

Snowgoose: The Making of You

Sandy Denny, the late legendary vocalist of Fairport Convention & Fotheringay as well as incredible solo artist in her own right, could make traditional centuries old folk songs sound like pop songs & pop songs sound like traditional centuries old folk songs. Glasgow’s Snowgoose make music that is cut from that same glorious cloth. “The Making of You” is regal, rustic & handsome & hearing a band doing songs in this vein, this well in the pop-infested universe of 2020 is revelatory.

 

Charli Adams: Cloverland Drive

Adams is a truly gifted country singer and songwriter & this evocative reminiscence brings to mind peak Trisha Yearwood namely 1993’s “The Song Remembers When” & it don’t get much better than that.

 

ALBUMS:

Ellis: Born Again 

One of the more striking characteristics of Ellis’s debut album is how nearly every track starts off quietly standing in the corner then invariably erupts into either a wall of stirring shoegaze or a melodic twanging tearjerker…which is a very roundabout way of saying there isn’t a single weak track on it and it’s a total treasure.

 

Steve Reidell: Duke (40th Anniversary)

Steve Reidell of Air Credits, The Hood Internet & Black Moth Super Rainbow covers nearly every track from Genesis’s pop-prog masterpiece from 1980, Duke with complete, unabashed love. The fact that it even exists is wondrous enough but that it has the audacity to be as good too, well, that’s just a beautiful bonus.

And for the millionth time, Phil Collins Genesis > Peter Gabriel Genesis

 

And lastly, my favorite video:

HULA are a super duo featuring Bktherula & Hook & this is an unbelievably simple video, created by the digggers that so perfectly suits & celebrates the song ( & HULA themselves), it’s impossible to separate the 2. Whoever chose the mall setting is clearly some kind of super genius 🙂

 

PuR’s Top 50 Songs of 2019 !

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The mission of Picking Up Rocks has always been the same, to shine a light on the best pop music regardless of label affiliation or level of fame or social media presence or perceived coolness…because who cares. A great song is a great song. And whenever we stumble upon a great song ( and there were a lot in 2019) we want to share it with you no matter if it was born in a garage, someone’s bedroom, a state of the art studio or a freakin’ treehouse !

Did that sound angry ? I swear it’s unintentional, guess I’m just weary of seeing the same songs mentioned on every year end list. Look, I genuinely like Lil Nas X, Lizzo and Billie Eilish. But know who released songs as good as theirs this year ? Kingsbury, Whitelands and The Hails. It’s okay if you haven’t heard all of them because that’s why we’re here, to both celebrate them and maybe introduce you if you haven’t.

I have listened to thousands upon thousands of songs this year because I am a crazy person who is always looking for a song to alter and upend the daily grind. Culling the master list down to the 50 best has been both nightmarish ( because there were lots of goods) and revelatory ( had forgotten just how good certain songs were) but we did it ! And so here they are, PuR’s TOP 50 SONGS OF 2019 ! 50 awesomely wonderful tracks by some equally wonderful artists all neatly arranged for you to listen on Soundcloud or Spotify ( links below). It’s my sincerest hope that you’ll discover something or someone within in who rocks your life and makes you swoon or at least say fuck yeah repeatedly.

THANKS TO ALL THE ARTISTS FOR THESE AWESOME SONGS, YOU ARE THE SUN.

Ready ? Okay then, here we go :

Soundcloud:

Spotify:

 

2018 SONGS OF THE YEAR !

Thousands of songs were released into the world this year. Here are our 66 favorites.

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I know what you’re thinking. Oh no, not another one. The barrage of “Best of the Year” lists is making you sick. You think they are boring and are all filled with the same predictable choices. And… I see your point. You’d think with the thousands upon thousands of songs that get released every year there would be more variation. And okay, while there are a few things that we can universally agree were GOOD this past year, like say the boygenius EP, or Tierra Whack’s “Whack World”, the contents of these lists can appear kind of samey after you’ve perused a handful, especially from the bigger online publications. Yes. That is true. I agree with you…but I live in hope. No matter how samey they seem to get after even reading through 2 or 3, I am one of those people who takes the time to do it anyway. Not just so I can talk shiz about why a particular record should or shouldn’t be there ( mostly the latter), but also because maybe, just maybe, I’ll stumble upon something I haven’t heard before. There’s usually at least one exceptional oddball lurking amongst the familiar picks on these lists…but okay, wouldn’t it be way cooler if we lived in a world where these lists didn’t look anything like one another? One where there was no consensus on what was “good”? Where all the picks were all as weird, personal and WTF as they could possibly be? Imagine how deep the discovery rabbit hole could get then. Okay, that is probably an f-ing insane nerd thing to say, but we’ve gotta follow our hearts around here. And with that as our driving force, here is the official PICKING UP ROCKS 2018 SONGS OF THE YEAR LIST. It contains 66 heart-swellingly beautiful songs, each of which has been at the top of the charts here at PuR at some point over the past 12 months, which is to say they aren’t in any particular order. Also the “66” has nothing to do with Satan. It’s just that 100 songs always feels like way too much and whittling the list down to 50 proved to be an impossible task.  Or maybe it was Satan being a wise guy, it’s been that kind of a year. Anyway I truly hope you find it weird and maybe wonderful and that you stumble upon a song you have a deranged yet passionate affair with or at least discover an artist who gets you.

And THANKS to all these wonderful artists for all of these kick ass beautiful songs. Don’t stop. And THANKS to you for reading this far now or at any point during 2018. You are all songs of the year. THANK YOU.

Hear it on Soundcloud:

Hear it on Spotify:

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/esperanza19/playlist/10w5s4Uwv2CCxV7y4shB7Z

  • Please note while each list is 66 glorious songs long, they are slightly different as not all songs are available on both streaming services ( just a few !)…which means you should check out both so you don’t miss anything !