1. Going into higher gear. The Low Mays’ 人生贏家2: 明星生活 (Life Winners 2: Popstar Life) – I once wrote about the band here and their track about Flat Earth. I’ve since watched an interview and am convinced these five (six?) Hong Kong men are just taking the piss and they do it well. The autotune on ‘Popstar Life’ is grating, and they probably know it is. ‘Sham Shui Bro’ went on to my workout playlist. Also wins most NSFW album of the month, or year.
  2. Calm under pressure. Homeboy Sandman’s Anjelitu – The pace of his cadence is breathless and he does it without sounding breathless.
  3. Controlled crescendo. Villagers’ Fever Dream – Previously a band I put on for a quiet time, Villagers have ramped it up a notch. ‘Circles In The Firing Line’ bangs, from out of nowhere.
  4. Comfort food. Deer Tick’s Live From Fort Adams – Resurrected a lot of late 00s and early 10s nostalgia for the world of “indie rock”. It didn’t include my personal favourites, but it had been a while since I listened to John McCauley’s pleading voice. Also, Willy Mason’s Already Dead – Way too long between albums. Easy listening, but didn’t provide the hooks that his previous albums did.
  5. Thank you for your service. Kanye West’s Donda – At some point, one has to give up believing their team’s former star player doesn’t have that turn in their step anymore. And while it’s not to say Donda is bad – it didn’t make me feel like going back to a nearly 2 hour album – it simply did not captivate me in the way Graduation or Yeezus once did. And if you think that this month 10 years ago, he released Ascend The Throne with Jay-Z.
  6. Should come with a hammock and two palm trees. Tobacco City’s Tobacco City, USA Country-ish music to lounge to. The older I get the more I’m a sucker for male-female vocals responding and intertwining with each other over slide guitar.
  7. Befits the times. Raoul Vignal Years in Marble – Sometimes the combination of guitar, lyrics, and voice does the trick again. I must admit this type of music fits lockdown better than, say, Wolves In The Throneroom.
  8. Cruising. Men I Trust’s Untourable Album and Steve Gunn’s Other You. Dependable albums from these two. Untourable Album doesn’t have a ‘Show Me How’ but is just solid from top to bottom. Steve Gunn continues to push Americana slash folk slash guitar music. Both albums to put on at dinner and no one would complain.
  9. Cricket in New York. Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland. The subtitle jars you, but the story doesn’t. I kept turning the page to find out more about Hans van de Broek’s and Chuck Ramkisoon’s New York. And like any visitor who has had the chance to return to that corner of the world, the book shows how New York stretches and stretches and houses absolutely anyone. At one point I was even convinced by the latter’s argument of hosting cricket tournaments in Brooklyn. This is a relatively older book that has been on my list for years.

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