The Monthly Mixtape: Steven Hyden’s Favorite Songs From January 2018

Cultural Critic
01.31.18

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Here is a playlist of some of my favorite songs that I heard this month. I should note that I didn’t include anything from albums I already wrote about, including great records by Jeff Rosenstock and Typhoon. (Please check out those albums in their entirety.) Some of these songs are from good records that came out in January. But many tracks are from albums that will be out in the months ahead. In the meantime, enjoy this mixtape!

Turnstile, “Moon” (from Time &Space, out 2/23)


I’m willing to bet that few rock records released in 2018 will be as much fun as Time & Space, the second LP by Baltimore punk band Turnstile. This record’s relentlessly propulsive, metal-tinged jams sound like sitting in the backseat of your friend’s car in high school with a righteous buzz on. I can’t wait to blast it on the first day of spring.

Nap Eyes, “Every Time The Feeling” (from I’m Bad Now, out 3/9)


This Nova Scotia quartet perfected the art of the chilled-out guitar jam on its previous two albums, triangulating the sweet spot between the Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Marquee Moon. If that sounds like your thing, I promise that Nap Eyes will be very your thing. For everybody else, Nap Eyes gets slightly more extroverted on the forthcoming I’m Bad Now, which includes one of the grabbiest songs in the band’s catalog, the wry “Every Time The Feeling.”

Renata Zeiguer, “Wayside” (from Old Ghost, out 2/23)


You might’ve already noticed a running theme with this playlist — all of these songs will likely sound better when the weather is warmer and with the windows rolled down. Zeigeur, a Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter who grew up exposed both to classical music and her Argentinian father’s record collection, has a natural command of a variety of styles, integrating everything from Debussy to Os Mutantes to Billie Holiday into a seamless, arresting sound.

Khruangbin, “Maria Tambien” (from Con Todo El Mundo, out now)


A trio from Texas, Khruangbin plays funk music that sounds international. After initially drawing inspiration from Thai funk for 2015’s The Universe Smiles Upon You, they’ve now headed in a Middle Eastern direction on the new LP. The result is the Platonic ideal of a “drink coffee on the weekend and get psyched up to do some awesome” album.

Hop Along, “How Simple” (from Bark Your Head Off, Dog, out 4/6)


Hop Along is one of approximately 472 really good-to-great rock bands currently based in Philadelphia. In accordance with that city’s aesthetic, Hop Along combines punk-rock scrappiness with an encyclopedic grasp of classic-rock history. What sets this band apart is the finesse of Frances Quinlan’s vocals and the subtle sophistication of her songwriting, which blossoms in impressive, often unexpected ways on the forthcoming Bark Your Head Off, Dog.

Hurry, “Waiting For You” (from Every Little Thought, out 2/23)


Hey, it’s another really good band from Philly! Hurry treats the third Teenage Fanclub album, 1991’s heartache classic Bandwagonesque, like its own genre. And as someone who believes that the world can never have enough mid-tempo, fuzzed-out, power-pop jams, I am grateful for Hurry’s guitar-rock reverence. If you like “Waiting For You,” Every Little Thought has several more beauties that similarly swoon.

Sidney Gish, “I’m Filled With Steak And Cannot Dance” (from No Dogs Allowed, out now)


This song gets on the January playlist for the title alone. Fortunately, Boston-based singer-songwriter Sidney Gish has plenty more one-liners where that came from. Favoring snaky, AM-gold melodies that recall the low-key charms of Mac DeMarco, Gish is adept at balancing humor with pathos, sometimes in the space of a single lyric. This song ends with a mighty kicker: “And despite a past of bad ideas and advice / I sit still and wonder why I ever tried / to think that you were any different.”

Barely Civil, “Eau Claire? Oh, Claire.” (from We Can Live Here Forever, out 3/2)


I’m inclined to like this song because 1) the band is from Wisconsin, just like I am; 2) the title references the town where I went to college; 3) the title also references (perhaps inadvertently) a Cheap Trick song. But this is also a really good young emo band in a slightly more rocking Death Cab For Cutie (or perhaps slightly less rocking Jimmy Eat World) vein. In other words, perfect musical comfort food for snowbound days.

Bonny Doon, “I Am Here (I Am Alive)” (from Longwave, out 3/23)


What can I say — I’m a 40-year-old man who likes Silver Jews and this song pushes my buttons.

Lucy Dacus, “Addictions” (from Historian, from 3/2)


The debut LP by this Virginia native, 2015’s No Burden, was homey, intimate, and leavened with understated wit. But the forthcoming Addictions feels so much grander — it is very much the proverbial “sophomore step-up” LP, giving Dacus’ delicately elegant songs the space and muscle they deserve.

Bonus Track: awakebutstillinbed, “Closer” (from what people call self-esteem is really just seeing yourself the way others see you, out now)


This San Jose band’s debut album is currently available as a pay-what-you-want download on Bandcamp, and you really ought to grab it now, because I suspect it won’t be available there for long. A thrillingly chaotic band that thrashes beneath the impassioned caterwauls of singer-songwriter Shannon Taylor, awakebutstillinbed teeters on the brink of collapse before somehow snapping back into place to deliver stinging and invigorating emo anthems. What a rousing mess.

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