2019 has been another great year for independent music, and Rosie G. has been spreading the word far and wide about many great indie artists. As Editor of playMYmusic.FM and the Rosie G.spot, I provide a bit of information about the artists we feature , but I keep my personal preferences off the site, with one exception The end of the year is always a time to take a look back and asses. Here are my Editor's Picks of 2019. Culled from our monthly Featured Artists, Twofer Tuesday, and Jazz Cafe profiles, While most of the tunes are Rosie's picks, I've changed a few along the way. My rankings are, for the most part, in no particular order except number one. It's most definitely my favorite music of the year and has been on my personal heavy rotation.
10. Ghost Funk Orchestra
This song reminds me of the groovy tunes crafted by Jerry Goldsmith for the Flint movies in the 60s (Our Man Flint and In Like Flint) starring James Coburn, which are among my favorite soundtracks of all time. The songs are psychedelia-laden garage music with an appropriately modern, NYC edge. I hope they are playing a show the next time I make it back to Brooklyn.
9. Portico Quartet
The sound that primarily drew me to this group emanated from a hang, a two-halved percussion instrument made of steel. The foursome isn’t afraid to bring unique instrumentation as well as ambient and electronica influences into their jazz, and the result is often mesmerizing.
8. Anat Cohen & Trio Brasileiro
I feel a particular kind of joy when listening to Brazilian music. Israeli-born clarinetist Cohen and Trio Brasileiro are proof that Brasil’s traditional choro music is alive and well both in and outside this line-up. Together they created Rosa Dos Ventos, which DownBeat lauded as “spacious music, with plenty of infectious melodies.”This is an alternate track and video.
7. Fantastic Negrito
From his origins as a young man raised in an orthodox Muslim household in Massachusetts to a culture shock-inducing move to San Francisco to a near-death experience, Fantastic Negrito led an interesting life. His music is even more compelling. The heavy, hard-edged blues that pours of out him was hard-won and earned him a Grammy for his troubles.
6. Cat Clyde
In another departure from Rosie’s choice, “Mama Said” is an older track from this Ontario native. With its plaintive tone and artful slide guitar work, it’s the one I return to time and again. It tells a tale filled with longing -- for life to stay the same when change is inevitable. It is somehow personal and universal at the same time, and not just lyrically. As Vibes put it, the “...conveys a deep longing with the instruments themselves, something not easily, and rarely, accomplished.”
5.. Remi Miles
Rivera Girl” is a sultry and alluring song from the UK’s stylish young crooner, Remi Miles. The singer was raised in Virginia but now makes Brighton his home. He’s released an EP and several singles over the last few years, offering catchy pop tunes with both 70s soul and 80s electropop influences. The Guardian has described him as having “a 60s mod fetish and 80s pop hooks.” It’s an apt description.
4. Aldous Harding
I’ll admit it took a few listens before the magic of Aldous Harding sunk in. Maybe I was thrown off by the pilgrim hat she wears in the video for “The Barrel.” Something kept bringing me back though. Rolling Stone got it absolutely right when describing her work as “fetching surrealism.” “Zoo Eyes,” in particular, will stay with me for days after one listen. She’s a fascinating and gifted artist.
3. Big Joanie
“Used to Be Friends” struck a chord with me, as it would for anyone who has felt the stinging betrayal of someone who used to be close. The London=based all-female punk rock duo creates memorable and catchy tunes praised by the Godfather of punk himself, Iggy Pop, as well as critical praise on both sides of the pond, with Pitchfork proclaiming the songs “simmering with possibility and pure conviction”, and The Guardian (“fearlessly discordant”) to name but two. I sincerely hope they visit the States next year.
With her rich and sultry voice, Yola could bring depth to any form of music, but it’s Country that she has chosen. She released her full-length debut, Walk Through Fire, produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, and has been rightfully dubbed “the queen of Country Soul.”
1. Black Pumas
When I first listened to this song while researching the group for our profile post, I had no idea how deeply its hooks would ensnare me. I am not alone. The Austin, TX soul duo has received heaps of critical acclaim, and the Black Pumas’ eponymous debut has also been nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy. The Guardian was not overstating its case when calling Black Pumas “perfectly realised.” While my favorite song is “Black Moon Rising,” the video for “Colors” is absolutely stellar and needed to be included here. I tell everyone I meet about this band, and I can't stop listening to this album.
Enjoy the holidays and get ready for more independent music in 2020 from playMYmusic.FM!