New music mix with a “2020 song of the year” nominee – which one do you think it should be?

If you’ve been around the site for a while, you know that we used to have a feature on Fridays with a voting process. We stopped doing that because the “prize” of a full album review was getting difficult (one because they take a long time to write and two because a lot of the winning bands were on their debut SINGLE and didn’t even have an album to cover). We’d love to bring back the Friday PLAYLIST of great tunes, but we need you (the readers) to make sure to listen weekly and share the heck out of these.

Arkells – “Years in the making”
-Let’s get things jumping with this up tempo indie pop anthem from Arkells. If you’re a fan of brass, you’re going to enjoy the way the horns highlight the lead vocal here. It’s a made-for-radio pop energy that I absolutely dig. If you enjoyed when the band fun. was dominating the airwaves a few years back, you’ll love Arkells. This feels like an absolute hit to me!

Simon Alexander – “Rain”
-We cover Alexander fairly regularly here, but this song seems to come from a bit of a different place. It has that big atmospheric energy that always reminds me of U2 (even that is a dated reference at this point). I appreciate the sense of meaningful lyricism and a moving pop rock energy. The whole style invites a soulful reflection on who and where you are in life.

Cookhouse – “Hard times”
-“Hard times make me want to go to bed and sleep for days and wake up when it is a little less.” Welp, if that’s not the most relatable lyric EVER… wow. It’s definitely an engaging, intriguing song. I had never heard of Cookhouse before this song, but I appreciate the folk energy. The plainspoken lyricism feels comfortable, even in the unsettling theme. I dig it.

Jack Vallier – “Changes”
-Now THIS is a pop song. I don’t mean that it’s got bubble gum pop energy or anything. I mean that there’s an easy-to-grasp emotional hook with a moving beat. Vallier’s vocal, though, feels like the absolute real thing. There’s a sincerity in each line that makes for a visceral and impactful performance. While the electronic elements are not necessarily what I personally gravitate towards, the authenticity in the performance and mix are worthy of support here on ETTG.

Becky Hill – “Better off without you”
-Becky Hill has an outstanding voice. What I like about it, though, is not that she sounds like anyone specific. She has that magic that everyone heard when Kelly Clarkson came onto the scene. It’s that she’s distinctly herself, avoiding all the bells and whistles of studio magic. I particularly enjoy this rendition of the song. It doesn’t get much more revealing than for an artist to sit in the middle of a room and pour her heart out. The lyrics are EMPOWERING and the vocal steals the show.

Edward Doyle – “Boy again”
-I’ve covered several of Doyle’s songs from his new EP. It’s his entrance into the music scene, really, and I’m super happy to be supporting this music. Compared to some other singer songwriters, Doyle “doesn’t have” all sorts of things in terms of production or even polish. BUT, what he DOES have is something you’ll be hard pressed to find in many artists. He’s got an ear for melodies, a knack for clever lyrics, and a dripping, gripping authenticity that makes each line stand out in a world where mediocrity abounds. If you’ve ever broken up with someone and then wanted them back… whew… this song. My heart.

Minor Powers – “Wound like me”
-“Time won’t heal a wound like me.” Oh my word. There’s this tendency in music coverage to write that lyrics are “poetic” and it’s often overstated. But here, Minor Powers really have some divine poetic verse. The delicate string work from mandolin and fiddle set this composition in a wonderful direction. This is minimal string and vocal work set to heartfelt precision. I am in awe of this one, honestly.

***NOTE: Some friends of Minor Powers were hit by the tornados in Nashville recently. If you can spare a bit of change to help them, here’s an organization with boots on the ground there. It would mean a lot to the band (and to us) if you could chip in: https://www.cfmt.org/story/middle-tennessee-emergency-response-fund/

EL. SY. – “On the road”
-This is a golden folk tune with perfect elements across the board. The guitar is light and refreshing. The vocal is familiar and sweet. The whole sound together highlights the whimsical nature of the lyrics, an escapist anthem about going somewhere different and better. Typing this with cold hands and feet in the midst of winter, I have to say this travel dream sounds beautiful.

La Pore – “Cheap red wine”
-I don’t typically feature music with glowing synth work like this, but man this one really hit me in the feels. It’s got this vibe that makes me think about a life that could have been mine if I made a few different choices. Anyways, I dig the head and heart space the track puts me in. It’s feel good and dreamy all at the same time. I could throw this on a lot of playlists and feel like it fits right in, but mostly in a chill in the apartment and vibe out list.

Brother James – “I had to dig”
-Here it is — the “song of the year” nominee, for me. It’s a folk song from Brother James with a Pete Seeger style. I love the philosophical and theologically questions here. It reminds me of the hard hitting questions posed by Noah Gundersen’s “Jesus, Jesus” years ago. Brother James has an absolute gift and I’m happy to support his questions here. I feel like I could get a drink with him and talk for about a week straight. Gotta love it.

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