What I’ve Been Listening To: Spring 2020

Spring 2020 wasn’t what we expected it to be, but there have been quite a few good releases and we need new music now more than ever, especially in this time of social distancing. All of us have either been escaping this with music or movies/TV. In this blog post, I want to keep it more cheerful, since we all need some more positivity, and do a roundup of my picks for this season. This list will be a diverse mix of better known bands and some up and coming acts from all over the world, staying true to the blog mission.

It was hard to edit down these picks to just 15 artists, but if you want to hear other songs that didn’t make it that I’ve been digging, check out my Picks of the 2020s playlist on Spotify – it’s updated often.

Without further ado, my picks for Spring 2020 in no particular order. They’re all great!

1. The Lemon Twigs – “The One”

The Lemon Twigs are one of my favourite bands from this current era. The D’Addario Brothers put a fresh spin on power pop of the 70s. I was so impressed with their albums, Do Hollywood and Go To School, that I couldn’t wait for more. The wait is now over! This spring, they released two songs: “The One” and “Moon”. My favourite of the two is the more energetic Todd Rundgren/Raspberries inspired “The One”. These songs will be on the forthcoming album, Songs For The General Public. I love the glam rock aesthetic of the cover art!

2. Kultopfer – Execution Disco Tonight

One of my Twitter mutuals, @ObsidianDeluxe, has a dark/gothic synthwave music project called Kultopfer. If you like Molchat Doma, New Order, Kraftwerk, Cold Cave, and Boy Harsher, you might like his music. We don’t just feature rock and roll on this blog and some people may not realise this, but I love synthwave and vaporwave. My favourite tracks on this EP are “Blue Smoke” and “Inertia Forever”.

3. Rainych – “Say So” (Japanese Version)

There are times that I find myself playing a song over and over again and rarely is it something from the past decade. Doja Cat’s “Say So” is one of those songs that is infectious and I can’t stop playing it. The music video is a 70s fantasy and a world I want to live in: good looking women, 70s decor, and in California? This is my dream! The song is reminiscent of Chic’s “Good Times” and disco is a genre I’ve enjoyed since I was a little kid so I am always excited to hear some disco revival.

While browsing YouTube, I saw a video of “Say So” in Japanese recommended to me and I had to click it. It’s such a cute cover and so well done. You’d think it’s the original! I’ll watch whatever anime this is the theme song for!

4. Aimée Steven – “Hell is a Teenage Girl”

Aimée Steven is a musician from Liverpool I interviewed on my blog a while back. Her music is great and this spring she released two songs: “Hell is a Teenage Girl” and “Darling”. She has such a great voice and this song is so catchy!

5. Sitar Metal – Sitar Metal

I found out about this band on the subreddit, /r/listentothis, and I was so impressed with their sound, as someone who loves psychedelia and hard rock. Metal is a subgenre of rock that is still very much alive and full of innovation and it’s a scene to look at, especially all around the world. Sitar Metal are the world’s first and only Indian Classical Metal Band. If you didn’t know you needed Indian Classical Metal, now you know! Drop everything and listen to this album!

My favourite tracks on the album are “When Time Stands Still”, “Beyond Me, Beyond You”, and “I Am The Wakeup Call”.

6. Specialists – “Down n Out”

Specialists are a band from New York City who originally formed as a duo of a producer and guitarist, but have since expanded to a full band. Their single, “Down n Out” mixes funk and synths. Specialists will be releasing an EP soon. Generally speaking, their sound is influenced by funk, rock, R&B, and jazz.

7. Magic Cobra – “Magic Cobra”

Philadelphia’s Magic Cobra describe themselves as witchedelic psych rock. Their self titled debut single indeed fits that description. Reminds me of a cross between Steppenwolf and Hawkwind. This song makes me want to go to the desert and do a gothic/witchy themed photoshoot. If you want to hear more from them, listen to their other songs “Skin Suit” and “Golden Child” (reminds me of a darker late 60s psychedelic Status Quo) .

8. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – “She’s There” b/w “Cars in Space”

I absolutely loved Hope Downs and I wanted to hear more from Rolling Blackouts CF. These songs will be on their soon to be released album, Sideways to New Italy. Definitely looking forward to that!

9. Rishabh Seen – Remember Why

Rishabh Seen is the founder of Sitar Metal and as a solo artist he released Remember Why in March. If you loved Sitar Metal, give this a listen. It’s more traditional than Sitar Metal. The title track is very relaxing and incorporates electronic/ambient sounds. He’s been featured in Rolling Stone India; called the “Sun of Indian Classical & Metal music” by The North-East Today; and has been talked about by BBC, Metal Injection, Loudwire, Kerrang!, and more.

10. The Stone Birds – “Nothing Ever Changes”

The Stone Birds were formed in Portsmouth in late 2018 and are a popular heavy blues act inspired by classic rock. Their latest release, “Nothing Ever Changes” was released in March. Definitely looking forward to more releases from The Stone Birds.

11. Michael Parrett – Influence This!

Michael Parrett is a psychedelic/garage/glam rock musician from London. On 1 May, he released his debut album, Influence This! Definitely one of my favourites on this list, it’s very true to the late 60s- early 70s in its sound with lots of fuzz, psychedelia, optimism, and energy. In my opinion, that is a golden age and anything that reminds me of that is amazing in my book. It’s an excellent album start to finish with no tracks I’d skip (making it a perfect album), but if I had to pick highlights, I’d go for “Television”, “Fly”, “Tattoos & Whiskey”, “Sugar Lover”, “Checkbook Charlie”, and “Honey”. If you like glam rock, power pop, and garage rock with a mix of psychedelia, you’ll love this album. Just drop everything and listen to it!

12. Fleur – “Petit Homme de papier”

Fleur is an artist based in the Netherlands who sings French 60s yé-yé inspired music. You can really find new music in any style today, which is amazing! I found out about her through Instagram and I fell in love with her music and was looking forward to this release. She definitely deserves a lot more listens and follows so go and stream the track! If you like Françoise Hardy, France Gall, Sylvie Vartan, Serge Gainsbourg, Jacques Dutronc, and Jane Birkin, you’ll love Fleur.

And better yet, if you want to hear more from Fleur, she’ll be releasing her debut album in September. You can find the music video below. Such a cute and well made music video and I love her dress!

13. The Fleshtones – “Alex Trebek”

I was going through a Black Hollies kick the other day and I really loved their work as someone who loves 60s garage rock and power pop. Since they haven’t released an album since 2013, I wanted to hear something similar and I found out about The Fleshtones who are still active to this day and formed in 1976. I know this blog series is to focus on newer acts, but I really enjoy this song and I think it’s good to give newer stuff from older bands a listen. As a fan of Jeopardy, I love this song!

14. Sunflower – “Better Days”

Sunflower are from Brisbane, in Australia. Their sound mixes soul, pop, and rock. They are popular and have had sold out shows in Melbourne. If you want a song that will cheer you up, give “Better Days” a listen. We really need a lot more optimism especially in as depressing of a year as 2020. The song is so polished and I look forward to hearing more from them!

15. Koalra – “Dear Daylight”

Koalra are a noise rock band from my hometown of Chicago. Their sound is very retro with fuzz guitars, surf rock influences, and a bit of punk and garage. Their music reminds me a bit of DIIV. Their latest release is an EP, Surprise Lights. One highlight from it is “Dear Daylight”. It’s a nice mix of grunge, punk, and a little psychedelia with the fuzzy guitars.

Shoutout to my friends Patrick and Matt for supporting the blog!

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