It’s almost the end of the year & social media is full of people posting their end of the year/decade Spotify wraps.
I’ve really only used Spotify for a few months, but I’ve been using Last.fm for years (and it includes all my recent Spotify plays) so I’m going to use that data & write a bit about the old standards & new releases that got me through this flaming garbage barge of a year.
My top artists according to Last.fm were:
- Dance Gavin Dance — 526 plays
- Omar A. Rodriguez-Lopez — 402 plays
- Frank Zappa — 304 plays
- Schoolyard Heroes — 230 plays
- Thank You Scientist — 223 plays
- Jakaro — 208 plays
- Eisley — 175 plays
- The Fall of Troy — 168 plays
- Animals as Leaders — 164 plays
- KMFDM — 154 plays
There’s some context to this —
I’ve had a very productive year creatively. Dance Gavin Dance (who released instrumental only versions of their whole catalog), all the ORLG stuff, Jakaro, & Animals as Leaders are writing playlist fodder.
That’s not anywhere near the amount of Zappa I’ve played this year because vinyl & also, he’s about to get a bump because my Christmas album is “Apostrophe” & anyone who wants to argue about what can be a Christmas album can go eat a yellow snow cone. “Apostrophe” feels like winter, like Christmas to me. Second place would be Echoes of Eternity’s “The Forgotten Goddess” which gives off dark winter feels and includes the ethereal & seasonally appropriate “Circles in Stone.”
Schoolyard Heroes & Eisley are bands I love & also love learning their music. So, they’re likely on the list because I listened to songs over & over trying to hear something.
The TYS number is a lowball because I bought the Terraformer mp3s the morning the album was released and burned it to CD because I had to go on a roadtrip & my van is old tech — CD is still in there. I later bought the vinyl version of the album & have spent some time with that as well. It’s by far my favorite release of the year.
TFOT is a mixed bag. I have this thing where I hate listen because some of the lyrics really rub me the wrong way but also truly love the sound & fury of the whole discography. Also, they released instrumental versions of OK & that made my writing playlists.
KMFDM has been corrupting me with their left wing propaganda set to ultra heavy beats since I was in middle school. This year’s “Paradise” was not just amazing work from Käpt’n K & Lucia but included a track with Raymond Watts which took me back (teenage me was very interested in everything going on in this Schwein video).
My top albums were:
- “Artificial Selection (Instrumental)” Dance Gavin Dance — 278 plays
- “At the Drive In” Jakaro — 208 plays
- “Artificial Selection” Dance Gavin Dance — 96 plays
- “Paradise” KMFDM — 91 plays
- “Abominations” Schoolyard Heroes — 90 plays
- “The Joy of Motion” Animals as Leaders — 85 plays
- “The Valley” Eisley — 82 plays
- “Look Cool!” Civilians — 81 plays
- “Wild Gods” The Number Twelve Looks Like You — 81 plays
- “The Madness of Many” Animals as Leaders — 75 plays
Some of these are super obvious thanks to the old master writing playlist: “Artificial Selection (Instrumental),” “At the Drive In,” “The Joy of Motion,” and “The Madness of Many.”
Also on the writing playlist was “Look Cool!” that I found by the grace of Spotify. I had heard of Civilians as related to TYS, so when Spotify suggested it I gave it a listen & I loved it.
“Artificial Selection” was a super enjoyable full-form release. Dance Gavin Dance is one of those bands I depend on when I’m in a shitty mood & I don’t want to get shittier. It’s usually upbeat & often wtf (“I couldn’t wait to tap into the brain of my cat / And let him know he’s my widdle baby meow meow boo”).
“Abominations” and “The Valley” include classics like “Plastic Surgery Hall of Fame,” “Screaming theater in a crowded fire,” “Mr. Moon,” & “Smarter.” I not only love but want to play all of those songs on every possible instrument.
“Wild Gods” was probably my second favorite release of the year. It’s all good but “Ease my Siamese” is like fucking weird & beautiful in a thousand ways.
I got into The Number Twelve years ago when they opened for Protest the Hero (all time fave, have fought people over it). Protest was also how I really got into TYS whose 2019 release “Terraformer” was technically #11 (yeah, I’d heard them before but I really saw the light after I saw them — as part of probably the best lineup ever — on the Fortress X US tour).
& my top songs of 2019 were:
- “Midnight Crusade” Dance Gavin Dance — 36 plays
- “Just Say” Fastbacks — 32 plays
- “FXMLDR” Thank You Scientist — 30 plays
- “Screaming theater in a crowded fire” Schoolyard Heroes — 28 plays
- “Mr. Moon” Eisley — 27 plays
“Midnight Crusade” was crazy upbeat, pretty much an antidepressant in audio format. It was also a comedic bright spot as far as Jon Mess lyrics go & that video.
“Just Say” is pretty much a theme song. “Why can’t I be strong? Why’s my number wrong? Okay, it’s not the only time I felt like this before. Why is nothing new? I know what to do. Okay, it looks so hopeless I don’t know how I’ll get by.”
“FXMLDR” was the track I showed my friends when I took over their car stereos. It’s a great song, but the cluster of “Everyday Ghosts,” “Chromology,” & “Geronimo” are my favorite part of “Terraformer.”
Ranking 2019 releases by heart:
- “Terraformer” Thank You Scientist
- “Wild Gods” The Number Twelve Looks Like You
- “Paradise” KMFDM
- “Tasmanian Glow” Strawberry Girls
- “You Know What They Mean” Bent Knee
- “In Cauda Venenum” Opeth
- “Compassion” Royal Coda
- “EARTHANDSKY” Of Mice & Men
- “Fear Inoculum” TOOL
- “Exposition I & II” Nova Charisma*
Also, I want to mention that I got really into Mastodon’s “The Hunter” this year — nine years too late. It’s an insanely well-rounded album with so many great songs on it.
On paper, “Stargasm” is a song I should relegate to my “Doin’ it for the lulz” playlist — but I can’t because it’s a punch to the gut. IDK, I’ve gotten a lot more cynical over the years & here is Mastodon making a mundane piece of the human experience sound mystical. & me a spiritually cynical gray-ace person can’t help but feel like there’s some other possibly magical thing about this weird & brief experience that I am incapable of interacting with. Ugh, boo me.
I want to note that I slept on “Crack the Skye” too, not getting into it until few years ago. I was stoked to get to see them play the album on tour with Coheed this year, but I had tickets to the ORIGINAL tour that I gave up because my now ex wasn’t into it. It’s a thing I’ve regretted for years…
* “Exposition II” dropped hours after I first wrote this. Very likely this moves up as I listen to it more.
Same shit? But 2018
Here’s my artist list for 2018 for the hell of it:
- Royal Coda
- The Receiving End of Sirens
- Sleeping With Sirens
- Screaming Trees
- Portugal. The Man
- Bruce Dickinson
Honestly, I don’t think the plug in was working right because it only has records from Feb-Jun, but still… I expect to be judged for Sleeping With Sirens.