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Okay, wow, I haven’t posted in a month. I’m almost done with my finals (thank god) and I get to return to good ol Charlotte in a few days and attempt to make up for lost sleep. Speaking of finals…

I’ve compiled my 50 favorite songs of the year (that were available on Spotify*) in this nice little playlist. Now, it’s organized alphabetically by artist, AKA unranked, so I’m gonna extract my top 7 and write a little more about each of them.

7.  Chastity Belt- “Joke”

The first time I listened to Chastity Belt was after my boyfriend dressed up as the band for Halloween (by which I mean he made a cardboard chastity belt and wrote “Chastity Belt” on it).  It’s a good thing I did. “Joke” is a gloomy jam, just the way I like them. And the guitar is just so beautiful, especially on the excellent outro.

6. Heems- “Sometimes”

Apparently this was my most-listened track on Spotify this year. After the breakup of Das Racist, Heems’s solo career took off, with song topics ranging from dark drone humor to breakup songs to the simultaneously self-depreciating and energetic “Sometimes.” The track deals with conflicting sides of Heems’s personality, yet it ends on a positive note- “I won’t change, I’m dope,” Heems  ultimately declares.

5. Hinds- “Chili Town”

Hinds kinda came out of nowhere, at least in my sphere, but as soon as I heard their debut EP I was in love. They kinda remind me of a more jangly (and Spanish) Vivian Girls. Their songs are all fun and danceable with great guitar tone and overlapping vocals. “Chilli Town” is my favorite; there’s something about the vulnerable lyrics (I am flirting with this guy just to pretend I’m fine/Saliva mixed with lies/My laugh is oversized/Forever yours, right?) that gets me every time.

4. Beach House- “Rough Song”

Depression Cherry who????? Beach House’s surprise release ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’, a whimsical and airy record with a sound most similar to their sophomore release ‘Devotion’, more than made up for what I considered a very disappointing album earlier in the year. “Rough Song” is my favorite cut off the record- delicate and absolutely gorgeous with a hint of sadness.

3. Alex G- “Snot”

I saw Alex G in October and I almost cried when he played this song. It might be the last song on ‘Beach Music,’ but it’s also the best. I don’t even know how to describe how I feel when I hear this song. All I can say is that it makes me super emo in the best way possible.

2. Lilys- “Day of the Monkey”

I know, I know, this is a reissue. But ‘Eccsame the Photon Band’ is my favorite shoegaze album ever EVER. Lilys is a band that knows when to be quiet and when to raise the energy, which is an essential quality in shoegaze. It was hard for me to pick one favorite track off the album, but “Day of the Monkey” is so beautifully layered that I decided on this song.

1. Shopping- “Take It Outside”

Oh my god, I’ve listened to this song SO MANY TIMES and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it. I’m willing to fight whoever says it doesn’t have the best opening riff of the year. Shopping is a fairly bare-bones band- bass, drums, and a single guitar (with a tiny sprinkle of synth)- but they are a powerful trio. The lyrics are brief and confrontational- actually, the only lyrics are “Outside, can we take it outside/ you heard me right, you heard me right” and “break it, break it up/ don’t shake it, shake it up.” I know this sounds cheesy as all hell, but the music speaks for itself. When I play “Take It Outside” I picture in great detail a barfight in some dingy pub. A+. I hope a Netflix original or something uses this song in a fight scene someday.

 

*Bonus non-Spotify favorites: “Alexandra” by Elementals and “Artvocado” by Whalo

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When I was about 11 or 12, I was really into softcore emo. It was the peak of the genre’s mainstream success- I found a mix CD in my room the other week which included music by both Fall Out Boy and Fergie. My favorite song to come out of that era was a song called “The Rescue” from a lesser-known Detroit emo-punk band, Search The City. It was an acoustic version from Youtube, and I listened to it every day for probably a year. It was the kind of song that made me feel content and wistful at the same time; it was sad and yet somehow comforting. It made me feel stirred but at peace.

That’s how ‘I’m Not Here, I’m Not Real’ hits me. (Disclaimer: I’m not trying to draw any stylistic comparisons to mid-2000s emo.) Elementals have crafted a captivating and pleasantly nostalgic record. That’s not to say it’s all flowers and sunshine. At times it can be as abrasive as it is delicate- Elementals don’t take the backseat. Opener “Sunbirth” showcases the growling power behind the band, and “Belladonna” does a great job of playing up the album’s softer side. My favorite track, “Alexandra,” swirls both extremes into a sweeping ballad reminiscent of a subtler Pavement.

All in all, ‘I’m Not Here, I’m Not Real’ is a record that I’m kind of obsessed with and highly recommend to fans of just about any rock band. It’s been on heavy rotation in my dorm room, and no one in my hall has complained about the noise, so I think that says it all right there.

‘I’m Not Here, I’m Not Real’ will be released on September 11th.

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