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#268: The Hold Steady, “Open Door Policy”

The Hold Steady was the last band (part of) our team saw before the world has changed, in a year that started recreational, but ended kinda medical. Our yearly pilgrimage to London will unfortunately not happen in 2021, but they’re making up for it with their first proper album since 2014 (not counting 2019’s single collection “Thrashing Thru the Passion”). Our favourite rock band is back. Let’s celebrate like it’s early March 2020, minus the getting ourselves crammed inside a room with no masks on. At least for now.

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#267: Black Country, New Road, “For the first time”

Black Country, New Road was supposed to have exploded all over Europe in 2020, but the world had different plans for them. The hype created by a band with two released songs to their name was unusual, but it had roots on their explosive live shows that some of us were fortunate to witness before all of this crashed down. Dubbed (by themselves) the world’s second best Slint tribute act, the London post-punk-ish septet sounds like nothing we’ve heard recently, except maybe their peers Black Midi (probably the best Slint tribute act, who knows). Here’s a band whose entire first record managed to find its way into our playlist. Enjoy.

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#266: The Weather Station, “Ignorance”

Tamara Lindeman’s work as The Weather Station is finally getting the critical acclaim it deserves. In “Ignorance”, and following what she started with the already superb self-titled album, the Canadian singer-songwriter goes way beyond her folkish roots and employs a constellation of musicians to dress up her stellar songs in lush instrumentation. We’ll be very surprised if this ends up outside our top three albums of the year.

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#265: Arlo Parks, “Collapsed in Sunbeams”

Feel-good pop doesn’t seem to fulfil its promise these days. But Arlo Parks‘s debut album, “Collapsed in Sunbeams”, manages to bring a little bit of sunlight-infused pop into our hearts and ears. Extra points for the poetic-feel and the whimsical but very accurate Portra 400 reference.

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#264: James Yorkston, “The Wide, Wide River”

In a surprising contender for first new exceptional album of the year, James Yorkston teams up with Swedish folk-rock-ish outfit The Second Hand Orchestra to deliver “The Wide, Wide River”, a “krautfolk” machine that got us hooked at first listen.