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Jan. 2nd, 2019

art boy

Top 40 Singles of 2018 (Alphabetical Order)


01. Aloe Blacc ~ Brooklyn In The Summer





02. Clean Bandit ~ Baby (feat. Marina & Luis Fonsi)





03. Jesse Dangerously ~ Guerilla Radio (feat. Rae Spoon)





04. Dressage ~ Gallery





05. Ariana Grande ~ God Is A Woman





06. Helen ~ Chemistry





07. Janet Jackson ~ Made For Now (feat. Daddy Yankee)





08. Kate Boy ~ Dopamin





09. Khalid ~ Love Lies (feat. Normani)





10. Kimbra ~ Like They Do On The TV





11. Laurel ~ Same Mistakes





12. Lil' Duval ~ Smile (feat. Snoop Dogg & Ball Greezy)





13. Lizzo ~ Boys





14. LSD ~ Thunderclouds (feat. Labrynth, Sia & Diplo)





15. Ella Mai ~ Boo'd Up





16. Post Malone ~ Better Now





17. Metric ~ Now Or Never Now





18. Julia Michaels ~ Jump (feat. Trippie Redd)





19. Kylie Minogue ~ Stop Me From Falling (feat. Gente De Zona)





20. Mitski ~ Nobody





21. Kailee Morgue ~ Medusa





22. NOTD ~ I Wanna Know (feat. Bea Miller)





23. The Oh Hellos ~ Grow





24. A Perfect Circle ~ So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish





25. Kim Petras ~ Heart To Break





26. Post Precious ~ Lose Myself





27. Natalie Prass ~ Short Court Style





28. Charlie Puth ~ Done For Me (feat. Kehlani)





29. Robyn ~ Honey





30. Maggie Rogers ~ Light On





31. Josh Rouse ~ Salton Sea





32. RuPaul ~ Kitty Girl (feat. The Cast of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars, Season 3)





33. Sade ~ The Big Unknown





34. Saro ~ Please





35. Seinabo Sey ~ I Owe You Nothing





36. The Struts ~ Body Talks (feat. Kesha)





37. Meghan Trainor ~ No Excuses





38. Whethan ~ Be Like You (feat. Broods)





39. Allie X ~ Focus





40. Zedd ~ The Middle (feat. Maren Morris & Grey)
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art boy

Top 10 Albums of 2018 (Alphabetical Order)


01. Alina Baraz ~ The Color Of You





02. Brazilian Girls ~ Let's Make Love





03. Christine And The Queens ~ Chris





04. Tina Dico = Fastland





05. Jess Glynne ~ Always In Between





06. Janelle Monáe ~ Dirty Computer





07. Ralph ~ A Good Girl





08. Troye Sivan ~ Bloom





09. Tracey Thorn ~ Record





10. Timecop 1983 ~ Night Drive
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Dec. 25th, 2018

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25 DAYS OF ORIGINAL XMAS MUSIC : DAY 25

Well it’s the last day. Last one of these posts I’m gonna annoy you with until maybe next year. I don’t think writing this list turned out to be much of a hit with the crowds as they say, but it was a fun writing exercise for me because I had grown way out of habit for writing or posting much of anything online. It also taught me something about myself that I wasn’t expecting. I thought I felt one specific way about Xmas, but the truth is it’s a complicated time of year and I have a complex spectrum of emotions when it comes to this holiday. Listen I know it can bring up merriness and brightness in some, darkness and depression in others, and aggravation and disdain in a few folks as well… but that’s part of what makes the holidays (if not great, then) at least interesting.

For me Xmas is about family. I’ve got a big brood of kin on each side of my parental tree, and we see each other quite a bit this time every year. There were many years where I didn’t appreciate them or like it very much, and there are many years now where I wonder what I was thinking because I’m fully keyed in to how lucky I am to have so many great loved ones in my life. My family give me a feeling of home that I can’t get anywhere else, and i treasure that more than they may ever know. The song I’ve chosen to end this list with, and to bring it all together like a beautiful shiny bow on a brilliantly wrapped package is a little known B-Side from one of my all-time favorite singer/songwriter/auteurs Kate Bush. It’s called “Home For Christmas” and it precisely expresses that feeling of home that I was just talking about, and how it isn’t really Xmas without that feeling.

As promised, my little Xmas present to all of you... here are download and playlist links so you can make this music your own. The download is MP3 format, 192kbps and uploaded in a .zip file for your convenience. The download and the YouTube playlist are complete at 25 songs each - but the streaming link for Spotify users is a little neutered to 22 songs because some of these great tracks aren’t available there. Please download and share with anybody you think might enjoy this holiday music, and until next Xmas farewell and adieu. I appreciate you taking the time to read my ramblings and to share in this wonderful season together with me. Merry Xmas!

Dec. 24th, 2018

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25 DAYS OF ORIGINAL XMAS MUSIC : DAY 24

It’s Xmas Eve, and I saved an especially great holiday carol for you today. When I first heard Mindy Smith back in 2004 I was instantly smitten. Her beautiful voice was clear as a bell, and her songwriting was emotional, honest, and even a bit dark. She popped up doing a cover of “Jolene” for a Dolly Parton tribute CD, and her debut album “One Moment More” was all about losing her mother to cancer. That year I got to see her perform live at the Knitting Factory in L.A. and I was even more blown away! Needless to say, I’ve vehemently followed all of her recordings and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.

When the end of 2013 arrived I was in the throws of recovering from spinal surgery that almost left me paralyzed. Remembering how to walk properly again and doing physical therapy for climbing up and down stairs, learning not to always need handrails - it was a pretty dark time in my life, but also a very hopeful one. So Mindy’s EP “Snowed In” that came out right then was the perfect antidote for the blue Xmas I was otherwise chartered for. This anthemic song celebrating the day before the holiday was tucked away on that release and I swear it should have been on the radio or included on some of the fresh compilation CDs that were selling in Starbucks stores all over the country. It has all the makings of a near perfect Xmas song, albeit just a day too early I suppose.

I adore this song because it’s really charming and sweet, but also because it reminds me to go to bed and get some sleep (which I need to do right now in fact) so that I can have a good holiday myself. So I’m gonna turn in for the night, but I’m wishing everybody reading this missive a very happy Xmas Eve and I’ll see you here tomorrow for our final non-traditional seasonal classic.

Dec. 23rd, 2018

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25 DAYS OF ORIGINAL XMAS MUSIC : DAY 23

There really is something about December. As humans we’ve constructed this system societally so there are beginnings and endings happening all the time, rather than yielding to the true nature of time and life just marching ceaselessly forward with no true endings - at least not any that we’ll live to see besides our own. So when December rolls around and it’s the end of a year, it conjures up all these feelings of reflection and contemplation. It makes us look back, take stock, and give credence to our lives and our loved ones and the things we’ve accomplished during this annual trip around the sun.

Now I’m not saying life is meaningless and that everything is just a construct we’ve had programmed into our minds; far from it. If anything I’m saying that we have created these measurements, these institutions, and these traditions so as to give our lives meaning. To invest our time and the way we spend it with an inherent value, and nothing brings that value to mind quite like something ending. Hence, December and Xmas and all the stuff that comes along with it so that we can put our spirits at peace and prepare our energies for a new beginning next month.

I hardly know anything about Christina Perri, except that she wrote this elegant little diamond of a holiday carol for her 2012 EP of yuletide songs, and it is gorgeously beautiful. Lush piano, a sweet sentimental vocal, and lyrics that would melt the chilliest of frosts in your heart. It kind of reminds me of The Carpenters and I could easily imagine Karen singing it for their 1978 album “Christmas Portrait”.

So speaking of endings, this list is almost at its close. Only two more days left, and just two more should’ve-been Xmas classic to go. What have you thought so far? What are your favorites? Any tracks make it onto your holiday playlists? What are your hits and misses? What makes the list for you next year? Holler at me in the comments and tell me your thoughts, and be sure to stay tuned for a playlist/download link of all these great songs coming up on the 25th!

Dec. 22nd, 2018

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25 DAYS OF ORIGINAL XMAS MUSIC : DAY 22

One thing I know for sure about the holidays… It is an absolutely crazy time of year as far as the world out there goes. I tried to stop by my local Stater Brothers supermarket on the way home from work tonight, and I could barely get into the parking lot - much less find a spot. I’ll have to try again at the crack of sparrows tomorrow morning and hopefully beat the rush of last minute grocery getters.

And you couldn’t get me to go into a mall or a department store right now with a gun to my head. It’s truly madness everywhere you look, and most folks have waited until the last possible minute (or the last possible paycheck) to get their gifts and foodstuffs together for when the magical day arrives. If you’re brave enough or desperate enough to go out there into the fracas, it really can push you over the edge into a full “Bah Humbug!” moment.

My advice? Make things easy on yourself! Stay in and cozy up to a warm fire place (there’s a great six hour fireplace video on YouTube), sip some heavily spiked eggnog or mulled wine and give everyone on your list a lovely digital gift card from amazon delivered to their email inbox. My other advice is to check out this gorgeous, velvety-smooth Xmas song by Tori Amos which suits that sort of evening perfectly. It's romantic, cozy and will ease you right out of your seasonally affective rage and into a much merrier and brighter state of being.

Dec. 21st, 2018

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25 DAYS OF ORIGINAL XMAS MUSIC : DAY 21

I’m not a religious person. Hell, I’m not even a particularly spiritual person when it comes down to it. But lord help me (see what I did there?) if there isn’t an ecclesiastical component to Xmas that is nearly impossible to avoid. I think that’s why so many non-believers have a distaste for the holiday from the get go. It’s originally a pagan celebration of the solstice co-opted by the church to celebrate their savior, and further co-opted by western culture to include everything from Santa Claus to Charlie Brown TV specials.

So when I started compiling this list of 25 original non-traditional holiday songs to share with y’all throughout this month of December, I made a promise to myself that I’d stick to the secular carols and leave the devoutly christian stuff to the people who were already out there searching for it. Then a few days ago I included the clearly religious “Christmas With The Devil” and realized that I’d have to let that go. As I said earlier, it’s an aspect of Xmas that can be pretty unavoidable.

Luckily, even though today's song is named “Calling On Mary”, I don’t think it falls into that spiritual vein. Aimee Mann’s lyrics are almost anti-religious when she sings “I heard the sidewalk Santa say salvation’s coming cheap today” or “She offered sight to the blind but I’m not the miracle kind”. No, this is not a yuletide carol about the blessed virgin mother of Jesus. It’s more like a dirge about the mess that was created by that story and left behind in her wake. It makes for a perfect addition to this not-so-jolly pack of would-be holiday classics. I hope you check it out and that you’ll love it as much as I do.

Dec. 20th, 2018

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25 DAYS OF ORIGINAL XMAS MUSIC : DAY 20

I watched “It’s A Wonderful Life” for the first time tonight. A few friends and I get together on Wednesdays for dinner and an (almost) weekly movie viewing, the goal being we try to work our way through a huge stack of DVDs that I amassed while working at a thrift store for many years. All stuff I haven’t seen before, and mostly films that are considered required cinema to some degree or another.

None of us had seen this 1946 seminal holiday classic, and with no one in attendance being big fans of Xmas - we were considerably hesitant to dive in for fear of a schmaltzy saccharine morality fable á la Ebenezer Scrooge and his Christmas Carol. Turns out the movie wasn’t all that bad, there was some terrific acting from a hugely talented cast, and for the most part it played out like a really long episode of The Twilight Zone.

What struck me about the movie and has stuck with me afterward, is how easy it was for George Bailey to see everything from a negative viewpoint - so much so that he was going to kill himself! He was so myopic that all he really noticed was how bad his situation had gotten and how much he had to struggle. Yeah sure, an angel comes along and broadens his perspective by the time the credits roll, but that narrow dark way of seeing and remembering things is almost his undoing.

Which brings me to this Sufjan Stevens song. There’s over 100 Xmas carols (both originals and classics) in Sufjan’s back catalogue of recordings, and that includes a little something for every holiday mood and taste; bright shiny yuletide pop anthems, dour ethereal seasonal dirges, avant-garde instrumental musings… but this one is my personal favorite. It’s got a dark, melancholy, sour nostalgia for Xmases past and a quiet brooding discomfort that would’ve matched up perfectly with George Bailey’s desperate search for a shred of hope through his bleak winter. I often look back on my past Xmases and see them just the way Sufjan is singing about here. “Silent night, holy night, nothing feels right” - you said it man!

Dec. 19th, 2018

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25 DAYS OF ORIGINAL XMAS MUSIC : DAY 19

In 1986 a British singer/songwriter & guitarist named Chris Rea released a song called “Driving Home For Christmas”. It was a B-side to a single he had out at the time, and it eventually garnered enough attention to be included on a hits compilation album as well as being released as a single in its own right in 1988. Recognizable for his distinctive, husky-voice and slide guitar playing, the book Guinness Rockopedia described Chris as a "gravel-voiced guitar stalwart”.

Well at this point if you know anything about my tastes in music, you should know that I absolutely hate his version of the song. It’s awful, ham-fisted, drenched in 80’s schmaltz, and makes use of every conceivable Xmas cliché you can imagine. The whole thing sounds like a pre-programmed track that came with your Cassio keyboard, or a backing track from a laserdisc of karaoke songs; truly dreadful!

So imagine my surprise in 2012 when one of my favorite singer/songwriter’s Tina Dico released her own recording of the song as a little holiday gift to her fans, and it’s absolutely gorgeous! Serene, reflective, elegiac and steeped in a chilly atmospheric vibe that really makes you feel like you’re alone in a car during the winter just trying to make it back to your family for the holidays. Needless to say, I instantly loved it (you will too), and I heard things in the song that seemed to have never been there in the original. Do yourself a favor and spend some time with Tina’s version of this song today, it sets the perfect contemplative mood. And do yourself a second favor and DO NOT go listen to the wretched original, you’ll be grateful you didn’t!

Dec. 18th, 2018

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25 DAYS OF ORIGINAL XMAS MUSIC : DAY 18

There’s a 2001 episode of “Will & Grace” where Sean Hayes’ character Jack happens into a job designing a holiday window display for Barney’s NYC. Jack suffers from a complete drought of ideas and has nothing to show, so he sends up a prayer for some last minute Xmas magic, and Debra Messing’s interior designer character Grace secretly sneaks in overnight to set up an over-the-top, utterly fabulous display. It’s a miracle for Jack, and when he finally unveils his window design to his boss (played brilliantly by Parker Posey) she responds with one of my all time favorite quotes about Xmas ever. “It’s dark, it’s glam, it’s sad… it’s Christmas”.

Now I wouldn’t say Xmas is inherently sad, but it has a dark side that you really gotta work to avoid if you don’t wanna fall in to a pit of melancholy. For many of us this holiday can be a total bummer every year. There’s really nothing quite like the magic of the season to remind you how depressed you are, how much you miss him, and how very very lonely it all makes you feel. Personally I’m really looking forward to yet another family gathering where I get casually interrogated about why I never bring a “friend” to the festivities. And I’m more than certain I’m not alone in those sentiments.

Rosie Thomas knows exactly what I’m getting at, and she wrote a beautifully sad yuletide carol called “Alone At Christmastime” that says it much better than I ever could. A few of my favorite wrist-slashing lyrics are “Send me gifts of joy and laughter, ways for me to un-remember him” or “At Christmastime I pretend that I still cross his mind”. Sure, this carol selection might be unapologetically miserable, but so is Xmas for a lot of us, and I always like to do a little bit of holiday wallowing when the season arrives. Won't you join me?

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