March 6, 2020

Every Concert I Have Ever Attended

Google sheet being updated "live" as I remember old shows and attend new ones:


January 7, 2020

2020 music: listen/pre-order now, and what to look forward to

2020 is my eighteenth year running this blog, which has been focused on music since 2006. Before I get into the main subject--2020 music--a brief summary on buying music in the present age:

If you are reading this post and this blog, it means you enjoy independent music. With that in mind, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to BUY music, not stream it. And I don't mean "buy" it through subscribing to Spotify, Apple Music, or Amazon Unlimited (more below on how to use those services effectively with personal accountability). While those can be great supplementary tools, if you want independent artists to create, and create more often, make sure your money is going to them, and not massive corporations.

For more info on streaming and how much artists are making off these scams, visit The Trichordist. And here is an infographic from Information is Beautiful:



The most direct way to support independent musicians is to buy physical merchandise (vinyl, CDs, shirts, posters) from shows, their specific website, or their label website. When buying digital downloads, purchase from Bandcamp as over 75% of the profits go to the artist (which is less than 1% for the previously mentioned streaming services). Bandcamp isn't only digital however; it is often the best place to buy physical music or merch.

If you are physical media person like me--vinyl, CDs, or cassettes--same suggestions apply. If you can't get to shows, or can't find what you want on artist or label websites, the next option is to go to independent record stores. Not only does your money help those stores survive, it also results in the artists getting a higher percentage (than they would through an online retailer like Amazon or Target). While I can't go to stores on a regular basis, I do when I travel, and recently visited five Washington, D.C. area stores:








A post shared by AP (@turnofftheradio1976) on


If you don't live near a good independent record store, or if you are unable to make it to a store often (like me), then find an independent record store who also sells product online. My newest suggestion, and a vendor I began using in 2019 is Bull Moose.
Bull Moose is based out of Maine and New Hampshire, two of the eleven states I have sadly never visited. But they have a great online store with prices that are nearly as good as Amazon's. And as I try to stop using the evil empire Amazon, paying a little more is totally worth it. They have free media mail shipping if you spend $30, which means two LPs for me. I'll admit I have used Amazon to buy way too much music, but I am trying to stop.

Final comment on streaming services, because I know almost everyone uses them: I'll admit they are great for music discovery or listening to an old radio hit you want to just hear one more time. But set boundaries and limitations on yourself. The rule I wish Spotify and the others had in place would be that you could only stream each song a limited number of times (3?). Then after you streamed three times, you had to then make a donation to the artist (with the artist getting 100%), or buy the album. Bandcamp already has this system in place, with the artist being able to decide how many times you stream until you get this pop-up message:


And now, on to the music you should be buying in 2020. I'll start with music that is either available now, or able to be pre-ordered; then move on to albums that are probably or maybe going to be released later in the year.

Left Neglect- Children
January 1, 2020
Stream/buy on Bandcamp
I had never even heard of this band until today, but a link popped up in one of my social media feeds. The backbone of the band is one of my favorite drummers, Matt Johnson, of Roadside Monument and Blenderhead. After one stream on Bandcamp I fell in love and bought it ("pay what you want.") Listening to these songs was my final push and inspiration for this blog post.
Vekora- EP2

January 1, 2020
Stream/buy on Bandcamp
Another band I follow because of the amazing drumming, this time from Jesse Sprinkle. Surprise guest vocals from former Poor Old Lu bandmate Scott Hunter are a terrific addition to this band's music. Scott has formed a new band with 3/4 of Vekora called Bright and Harrowing that should release music later this year.

Frances Quinlan- Likewise
January 24, 2020
Stream/pre-order on Bandcamp
Pre-order on Saddle Creek
This was the first 2020 album I pre-ordered, which I did back in November. This is Quinlan's first solo album after three Hop Along LPs. I pre-ordered on Saddle Creek to get an exclusive vinyl color variant.

Nada Surf- Never Not Together
February 7, 2020
Stream/pre-order on Bandcamp
While I included the Bandcamp link, I actually pre-ordered from Bull Moose. I'd prefer the pink vinyl on Bandcamp, but it is EU only and the overseas shipping is understandly expensive. So I bought the black for $18.97. While I have loved Nada Surf for nearly two decades, most of their recent work I have found fairly blah. I am more excited about this album as the first two singles, especially "Looking For You." Matthew Caws seems to be experimenting more, which is exactly what the band needs.

The Innocence Mission- See You Tomorrow
January 17, 2020
Stream/pre-order on Bandcamp
This band has been around 30 years! Have loved them since I first heard Glow (which needs a vinyl release!). Haven't pre-ordered yet, but will soon.

Worriers- You or Someone You Know

March 6, 2020
Stream/pre-order on Bandcamp
This band is new to me (was a recent recommendation), but they have been around quite sometime. I enjoy their new single more than their older work, so I'll be sure to listen to this full album when it releases.

Gladie- Safe Sins
February 28, 2020
Stream/pre-order on Bandcamp
Pre-order exclusive vinyl variants from Lame-O Records
The email for this new album arrived while working on this post. This is the new band from Augusta Koch, frontwoman for Cayetana. My impression is that Cayetana is inactive/broken-up. This new outlet is fun and excited to see what the full LP holds.

Har Adonai- Now is Golden
January 14, 2020
Stream/pre-order on Bandcamp
Indie-folk rock from Israel; a meditation on the value of work, the purpose of art, and the meaning of life in the gig economy. Produced with the help of Justin Pizzoferrato (Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, The Pixies) and Benjamin Esterlis (Morphlexis). Mastered by Kramer (Galaxie 500, Low, Danielson Famile).

Wayne Everett- Two Ghosts
January 24, 2020
Stream/pre-order on Bandcamp
While loving Wayne's work as singer of the Lassie Foundation, and as drummer of the Prayer Chain, I admittedly did not enjoy his first solo album Kingsqueens back in 2002. However, the first single from his upcoming album is different, and 18 years later, I am excited to hear what Wayne has been working on. Speaking of the Prayer Chain...

The Prayer Chain- ???!!!
When Chris Colbert posted to Instagram last month, my initial thought was that he must be remastering or mixing some older Prayer Chain tunes, or doing something with one of the live shows from 2018. However, considering almost all existing Prayer Chain music has been reissued, and the reunion shows are already on Bandcamp, I feel pretty strongly this music must be new Prayer Chain song(s)?!


Finally, other albums that are definitely or probably coming later this year:
Black Bra- New band from Beth Cameron of Forget Cassettes. Album is finished and will be releasing soon. As I tweeted, this may be my most highly anticipated album of 2020.

Mountain Time (Chris Simpson of Mineral, The Gloria Record, Zookeeper)- has taken him years, but I think it's really close

Phoebe Bridgers- seems definite, almost certain it has been recorded based on Instagram

Manchester Orchestra- recording/pre-production is in progress (lots of Instagram posts)

Waxahatchee- No specific proof, but seems probable based on clues and timing

Sleigh Bells- Definite per band Instagram

Fiona Apple- Probable per published interviews

Grimes- Definite, February. However, concerned quality of her work has significantly diminished.

Luxury- They are playing a show in Septemeber at Furnace Fest XX in Birmingham, and Lee Bozeman has mentioned he has written new Luxury tunes.

Fleming & John- They Kickstarted the funds almost 5 years ago, so surely we are getting close? They do provide updates every 6-9 months, but it has been awhile.

Haim- Probably considering the release of recent singles. Speaking of those, this is one of my favorite songs of 2019 that I didn't mention in my year-end post:

December 25, 2019

Best of 2019



My artist of the year is easily Middle Kids. I discovered them in Spring 2018, and their LP Lost Friends was my #6 album of last year. But then this year they released an EP which was even better, and I bought all three of their releases (also their 2017 debut EP) on vinyl. Their live shows (at least the videos I have seen until I can personally catch them in concert) are fun and rambunctious, which is what makes their "Home Sessions" YouTube series even more impressive and beautiful. Lead-singer songwriter Hannah Joy and husband/multi-instrumentalist Tim Fitz are due to have their first child soon, so you owe it to yourself to look up some amazing videos of their rock shows with a very pregnant Hannah. I usually list LPs first and then EPs, but started with the EPs this year because I listened to Middle Kids far more than any other artist in 2019.

If you skip to the end of this post you'll find a 20-song playlist. Otherwise follow the links for each album to stream or buy on Bandcamp.

And before we get into the meat of this year-end list, a rant about Blogger: My blogging has continued to diminish, from a high of 62 posts in 2014 to what will be a record-low total posts in 2019; 30 or so has been my average since launching in 2003. As others have pointed out, my Instagram account has replaced this, so I am probably commenting on and sharing music about the same amount as an average year, with the exception that essays from me are becoming rare.

Well, while working on this post (off an on since early November), I lost everything on Dec. 19 when I hit control-Z (edit-undo) consecutively. Despite auto-saving, Blogger--unlike all other superior Google products--has no ability to revert or restore older versions. I searched for help on the issue, and there is none; you can find countless examples online of bloggers losing their work using the control-Z shortcut.

Thankfully I had some of my work saved in other formats, but I did have to re-do far too much. Moving forward I'll just do everything in Google docs and then copy and paste for formatting. But all that to say is that this blog may be nearing its end as it seems as if Blogger/Google is not improving the product. Even hard-returns are challenging. My last post--my top 50 albums of the decade--I just embedded a Google sheet and an Instagram post--so that may be the way to go.

Top 5 EPs of 2019:

1. Middle Kids- New Songs For Old Problems
Hometown: Sydney, Australia
Format purchased: Vinyl (see on my Instagram)
Listen/buy on Bandcamp

I love it, my wife loves it, my kids love it. Catchy with profound lyrics. Would have called it a summer jam but then just listened to it on a late night road trip in December and was perfect.

2. Mineral- One Day When We Are Young: Mineral at 25
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Format purchased: Vinyl and Book (see on my Instagram)
Buy/listen on Bandcamp


It's only a two-song EP, but they span 15 minutes and are two of my favorite songs of the last 12 months. "Aurora" debuted in November of 2018, and I called it my song of the year. Then the second song "Your Body is the World" and the full package of vinyl and massive book were shipped a couple months later.


3. Caracara- Better
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Format purchased: Vinyl (see on my Instagram)
Buy/listen on Bandcamp

Had never heard of Caracara until a few months ago, and ordered the 7" on vinyl after hearing the title track once.
4. Thrice- Deeper Wells
Hometown: Irvine, California
Format purchased: Vinyl 
(see on my Instagram)
Buy/listen on Bandcamp

One of my only blog posts this year was a long essay about my conflicting Record Store Day experience; read it here. Thrice continues to be my favorite post-2000 band and these four songs are better than much of their 2018 LP.
5. Death Cab for Cutie- The Blue EP
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Format purchased: Vinyl 
(see on my Instagram)
Buy/listen on Bandcamp

Ditto to my Thrice comment in that Death Cab also released a follow-up EP that contains stronger songs than much of their prior LP.





As usual, I used Rob Mitchum's impressive Google sheet to discover new music and look at the data from dozens of best-of lists from major music publications. The "# of lists" as seen below indicates how many of these publications ranked the album.

Top 20 LPs of 2019: 
1. Great Grandpa- Four of Arrows
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Format purchased: Vinyl 
(see on my Instagram)
# of lists: 1
Buy/listen on Bandcamp
See on my Instagram

I had never heard of Great Grandpa until August. But when they released the first single "Mono No Aware" and my daughters began singing along instantly, I knew I had found something special. "Bloom" is equally as catchy, but the album overall is dynamic and diverse.


2. The Appleseed Cast- The Fleeting Light of Impermanence Hometown: Lawrence, Kansas
Format purchased: Vinyl (see on my Instagram)
# of lists: 0
Buy/listen on Bandcamp

Heard this album for the first time while camping. Released digitally and streamed on my headphones sitting next to the campfire while the rest of my family was asleep. Was the perfect setting to the listen and I thought at the time it would end up being my album of the year. Might be my second-favorite all-time Appleseed Cast project behind Low Level Owl.

3. Better Oblivion Community Center- Better Oblivion Community Center Hometown: Los Angeles, California Format purchased: Vinyl (see on my Instagram) # of lists: 5
Buy/listen on Bandcamp

Phoebe Bridgers is on my favorite singers of the last few years, and thankfully she has been prolific as a solo artist, with her project boygenius, and then this year with her collaboration with Conor Oberst- Better Oblivion Community Center. Phoebe's next solo album has been recorded and should drop early in 2020.

4. Charly Bliss- Young Enough Hometown: Brooklyn, New York Format purchased: Vinyl (see on my Instagram) # of lists: 4 Buy/listen on Bandcamp

No band this year progressed
and improved more than Charly Bliss.
Their debut Guppy was a fun pop-punk release,
but Young Enough is on a completely different level.
5. Jimmy Eat World- Surviving Hometown: Mesa, Arizona Format purchased: Vinyl (see on my Instagram) # of lists: 0

Now we've reached the legends section of the list,
with #'s 5-7 here all active in in the 90's and now,
over 20 years later. This is Jimmy Eat World's most aggressive
album in over a dozen years.
6. Pedro The Lion- Phoenix Hometown: Seattle, Washington Format purchased: Vinyl (see on my Instagram) # of lists: 0
Buy/listen on Bandcamp

Being a Bazan fan now for almost 25 years, in hindsight there is not much differentiation for me between his band and solo work. But the most exciting thing for me about Bazan reclaiming the Pedro the Lion moniker is his return to guitar. I appreciated his last couple of electronic solo albums, but he is at his best in the rock band setting.
7. Starflyer 59- Young In My Head Hometown: Riverside, California Format purchased: Vinyl (see on my Instagram) # of lists: 0

One of the most prolific bands I listen to,
this is amazingly Starflyer's 15th studio album
in 26 years; and that doesn't include countless EPs
and other releases. This album is in the top half of Jason Martin's work; and easily the best Starflyer album in over a decade.
8. Hatchie- Keepsake Hometown: Brisbane, Australia Format purchased: Vinyl (see on my Instagram)
# of lists: 2
Buy/listen on Bandcamp

There is so much great music coming out of Australia right now, and Harriett Pilbeam's Hatchie is near the top. I loved her debut EP from 2018, and also her previous work as a member of Babaganouj.
9. The Cranberries- In the End Hometown: Limerick, Ireland Format purchased: Vinyl (see on my Instagram) # of lists: 1 The release of this album was completely off my radar, and even if I had been paying more attention, I am not sure it would have made much difference. I lost interest in the Cranberries 15 years ago, and found all of theirs and Dolores O'Riordan's solo work post-2000 pretty bland.

I was shocked and saddened by O'Riordan's death in January 2018. When I learned the band members were going to finish an album they had started while she was still alive, I didn't think much of it as their 2012 and 2017 albums were rather blah. But amazingly, this album is fantastic! The demo vocals tracks O'Riordan recorded before her death sound great, and the other band members did an incredible job of finishing the album under impossible circumstances. I would rank it as the Cranberries #3 album behind their 1993 and 1994 releases, and it actually sounds as if it could have been the the follow-up to those; hard to believe there is 25 years in between.

10. Nichole Nordeman- Fragile Hometown: Tulsa, Oklahoma Format purchased: Digital (Kickstarter) # of lists: 0
I have always had a lot of respect for Nichole Nordeman, as it was clear she was incredibly talented and that her music seemed to be watered-down by the CCM machine. I never bought any of her albums, but enjoyed the songs I heard. I lost track of her completely but began following her on Twitter a few years ago as I enjoyed her thoughts and perspectives on faith and art. Then this fall she announced a Kickstarter for a new Christmas album and I backed it immediately. I of course love Christmas music, I wanted to support her, but I didn't have expectations for the music itself. It is AMAZING. Despite my love for Christmas music, I am very picky, and there is a delicate balance of being original and showing respect for traditional songs. Nichole strikes that balance perfectly and with
unique and surprising instrumentation. The production is minimalistic and puts the focus on her voice, and she sings both new songs she wrote and interesting arrangements of classics.
11. Taylor Swift- Lover
Hometown: Reading, Pennsylvania Format purchased: Vinyl (see on my Instagram) # of lists: 4 Unlike the last two Taylor albums, which I adored immediately, Lover took awhile to grow on me. It's too long--three or four songs
should have been cut--which is strange considering with 1989 two of the best songs from those sessions only appeared as
bonus tracks. Now that Taylor or is 30, her shallow lyrics are
becoming more and more inexcusable. If I am to keep following her I am going to need some maturity to start showing up. Right now it seems she is still writing songs for teenagers when I wish she would write songs for those her age or older.

12. The New Pornographers- In The Morse Code Of Brake Lights
Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia Format purchased: Vinyl (see on my Instagram) # of lists: 0

Had this been the first album from Carl Newman's New Pornographers I had ever heard, I would have been blown away. However, considering the quality and quantity of the band's work as a whole, this album is pretty underwhelming.
13. Brutus- Nest Hometown: Leuven, Belgium Format purchased: Vinyl # of lists: 2
Buy/listen on Bandcamp

One of three bands in my top 20 I hadn't heard until 2019. As much fun as this album is, it is apparently Brutus was meant to be heard live. With that in mind, here is a bizarre and awesome live video they released this year:



14. Lana Del Rey- NFR! Hometown: New York, New York Format purchased: CD # of lists: 16

This is the consensus #1 album of the year throughout major music publications, appearing on 16 lists. It is phenomenal and
deserving and only this far down my list because of pervasive profanity. It is the best album Lana Del Rey has ever released in every way.
15. Tegan and Sara- Hey, I'm Just Like You Hometown: Calgary, Alberta
Format purchased: Vinyl (see on my Instagram) # of lists: 0

I, like many fans, were begging Tegan and Sara to bring
the guitars back after thier last album was all-synths. And they did that in a risky and unique way, by using twenty-year-old demos
they wrote and recorded on cassette tape while in high school. They reinvented those songs and it is tons of fun.
16. Bleached- Don’t You Think You’ve Had Enough? Hometown: Los Angeles, California Format purchased: Digital # of lists: 0
Buy/listen on Bandcamp




17. Joseph- Good Luck, Kid Hometown: Portland, Oregon Format purchased: Digital # of lists: 0
Buy/listen on Bandcamp
18. that dog.- Old LP Hometown: Los Angeles, California Format purchased: Digital # of lists: 0
Buy/listen on Bandcamp
19. Patty Griffin- Patty Griffin Hometown: Old Town, Maine Format purchased: Digital # of lists: 0
20. Over the Rhine- Love and Revelation
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Format purchased: Vinyl (see on my Instagram)
\# of lists: 0




Top 9 Vinyl Reissues of 2019:

1. Focused- At Eternity's Gate
Original release: 1993 (demo cassette)
Hometown: Long Beach, California
Buy/listen on Bandcamp

I've got this at #1 not because it is the best musically, but because had Steadfast Records not reissued it (1) we would have never heard these versions of these songs and (2) there almost certainly would have never been any Focused on vinyl. The artwork is terrific and 1993 hardcore has never sounded better.
2. Poor Old Lu- Mindsize (Deluxe Remaster)
Original release: 1993 (CD and cassette)
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Buy/listen on Bandcamp
(see on my Instagram)

Made possible by Kickstarter, Mindsize has seen vinyl for the first time, and with remastering of the original analog tapes. Featuring never before-heard demos and live tracks from the era, and with extensive liner notes, packaging, etc. Curated by lead singer Scott Hunter; highly detailed in every regard. Thankfully this is the first of many Poor Old Lu reissues, the Sin Kickstarter was also successful a couple months ago and will be released in 2020.
3. Soulfood 76- Original Soundtrack
Original release: 1996 (CD and cassette)
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
(see on my Instagram)
While not on my list of albums I wished were reissued, I am thankful it has been as I am rediscovering it almost as if I am hearing it for the first time. For one, my CD copy was lost before I was able to import the MP3s, so I hadn't heard it in 10-15 years. Secondly, it sounds terrific on vinyl.
4. Rose Blossom Punch- Sorry To Disappoint You
Original release: 1999 (MP3s and MP3.com CD)
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Buy/listen on Bandcamp
(see on my Instagram)

Some may not even consider this a reissue, because it was barely released after being recorded in 1999. The short-lived MP3.com put it out on CD with limited artwork (only the cover) and it sounded pretty terrible. So it is exciting to hear these songs as they were meant to be heard now two decades later. Hoping for more Rose Blossom Punch and Aaron Sprinkle solo reissues.

5. Stavesacre- Speakeasy
Original release: 1999
Hometown: Huntington Beach, California
(see on my Instagram)


6. Starflyer 59- Gold
Original release: 1995
Hometown: Riverside, California
(see on my Instagram)

7. Beloved- Failure On
Original release: 2003
Hometown: Kernersville, North Carolina

8. Thrice- Red Sky EP
Original release: 2006
Hometown: Irvine, California 

9. Mindy Smith- One Moment More
Original release: 2004
Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee
(see on my Instagram)





Best album initially released in 2014 but formally and widely released in 2019:

Luxury- Trophies
Original release: 2014 (My #1 album of 2014) Hometown: Toccoa, Georgia
Format purchased: Vinyl through Kickstarter (see on my Instagram)
Buy/listen on Bandcamp
(see on my Instagram)



Top 20 songs of the year (that are available on Bandcamp)

(The only way to create Bandcamp playlists right now is through Playmoss--
which works great in the web broswer-- but avoid the app.)