Top 30 Songs for December 12-18, 2021

One of the hottest acts to burst onto the global music scene in 2021 has been Italian rock band Måneskin. Though they’ve been around since 2016, it was their win this past May of the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest for their song “ZITTI E BUONI” that catapulted the exciting and sexy band into superstardom. That song entered my Weekly Top 30 in mid-June, and they’ve remained on my chart every single week since with a run of singles – “ZITTI E BUONI”, “I WANNA BE YOUR SLAVE” and “Beggin'”. “Beggin'”, their fiery remake of the 1967 Four Seasons song, takes over the #1 spot this week, dethroning Two Feet’s “Don’t Bring Me Down” after a four-week run. “Beggin'” was a top 20 hit for the Four Seasons, and was reimagined 40 years later by Norwegian hip-hop duo Madcon, who had a #1 hit with it in several European countries. As I write this, Måneskin’s version has been #1 on the Billboard Alternative Airplay chart for 10 weeks.

In other chart developments, the War on Drugs climb to #3 with their beautiful “I Don’t Live Here Anymore”, featuring added vocals by Lucius. Entering the top 10 are “Love in October” by the immensely talented L.A. duo Ships Have Sailed, and “Good Friend” by Canadian artist dwi, whose marvelous album Mild Fantasy Violence I reviewed in October. The lone debut this week is “Wake Me Up” by British band Foals, currently one of my top 10 favorite bands in the world.

  1. BEGGIN’ – Måneskin (4)
  2. DON’T BRING ME DOWN – Two Feet (1)
  3. I DON’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE – The War on Drugs featuring Lucius (5)
  4. I DON’T WANNA TALK (I JUST WANNA DANCE) – Glass Animals (3)
  5. EASY ON ME – Adele (2)
  6. LOVE LOVE LOVE – My Morning Jacket (6)
  7. ALL TOO WELL (10 Minute Version) – Taylor Swift (7)
  8. JUSTIFIED – Kacey Musgraves (10)
  9. LOVE IN OCTOBER – Ships Have Sailed (11)
  10. GOOD FRIEND – dwi (12)
  11. SURVIVOR – Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats (13)
  12. NEVER LOOKED BACK – The Zangwills (8)
  13. TAKE THE L – Roadkeeper (9)
  14. STARTS WITH YOU – Shimmer Johnson (16)
  15. TIME IN DISGUISE – Kings of Leon (17)
  16. REARVIEW – G. Samedi (18)
  17. SMILE – Wolf Alice (19)
  18. THE TIPPING POINT – Tears For Fears (20)
  19. CRUTCH – Band of Horses (21)
  20. CAN YOU HANDLE MY LOVE?? – WALK THE MOON (14)
  21. MINE FOREVER – Lord Huron (15)
  22. I SEE THE SUN – Solar Eyes (24)
  23. TWO CAR FAMILY – Apollo Junction (25)
  24. LEFT BEHIND – a million rich daughters (26)
  25. KALEIDOSCOPE – Soda Cracker Jesus (27)
  26. JOURNEYMAN’S BALLET – Sam Rappaport (28)
  27. U&ME – alt-J (29)
  28. ONE AND THE SAME – Future Theory (30)
  29. COLORADO – Milky Chance (22)
  30. WAKE ME UP – Foals (N)

Top 30 Songs for December 5-11, 2021

Not a lot of changes from last week’s chart, with the top four songs remaining in place. “Don’t Bring Me Down” by my favorite artist Two Feet is #1 for a fourth week, while Adele’s “Easy On Me” is #2 for a third week. Entering the top 10 are Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)”, which jumps 12 spots from #19 to #7 (the song fell from #1 to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100), and Kacey Musgraves’ “Justified”, which nods at #10. The two new debut songs this week are both by British bands: “U&ME” by alt-J, which enters at #29, and “One and the Same” by Future Theory, which enters at #30.

  1. DON’T BRING ME DOWN – Two Feet (1) 4th week at #1
  2. EASY ON ME – Adele (2)
  3. I DON’T WANNA TALK (I JUST WANNA DANCE) – Glass Animals (3)
  4. BEGGIN’ – Måneskin (4)
  5. I DON’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE – The War on Drugs ft. Lucius (7)
  6. LOVE LOVE LOVE – My Morning Jacket (8)
  7. ALL TOO WELL (10 Minute Version) – Taylor Swift (19)
  8. NEVER LOOKED BACK – The Zangwills (6)
  9. TAKE THE L – Roadkeeper (5)
  10. JUSTIFIED – Kacey Musgraves (12)
  11. LOVE IN OCTOBER – Ships Have Sailed (13)
  12. GOOD FRIEND – dwi (14)
  13. SURVIVOR – Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats (11)
  14. CAN YOU HANDLE MY LOVE?? – WALK THE MOON (9)
  15. MINE FOREVER – Lord Huron (10)
  16. STARTS WITH YOU – Shimmer Johnson (17)
  17. TIME IN DISGUISE – Kings of Leon (18)
  18. REARVIEW – G. Samedi (20)
  19. SMILE – Wolf Alice (21)
  20. THE TIPPING POINT – Tears For Fears (22)
  21. CRUTCH – Band of Horses (25)
  22. COLORADO – Milky Chance (15)
  23. WRECKED – Imagine Dragons (16)
  24. I SEE THE SUN – Solar Eyes (26)
  25. TWO CAR FAMILY – Apollo Junction (27)
  26. LEFT BEHIND – a million rich daughters (28)
  27. KALEIDOSCOPE – Soda Cracker Jesus (29)
  28. JOURNEYMAN’S BALLET – Sam Rappaport (30)
  29. U&ME – alt-J (N)
  30. ONE AND THE SAME – Future Theory (N)

Top 30 Songs for November 28-December 4, 2021

Two Feet maintains a firm grip on the #1 spot for a third week with his darkly beautiful and brooding “Don’t Bring Me Down”, while Adele’s poignant “Easy on Me” holds at #2 for a second week. Glass Animals climb two spots to third place with their buoyant “I Don’t Wanna Talk (I Just Wanna Dance)”, and My Morning Jacket’s “Love Love Love” enters the top 10 at #8.

As we enter the final month of 2021, a whopping six new songs (well, five new and one refashioned) debut this week. Taylor Swift’s epic 10 minute and 13 seconds long “All Too Well” – which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 – enters my chart at #19 (I’m old school about music charts, and have a problem with songs debuting at #1). The five other new entries are “I See the Sun” by British psychedelic pop/rock band Solar Eyes, “Two Car Family” by British electro-rock band Apollo Junction, “Left Behind” by Chicago post-punk band a million rich daughters, “Kaleidoscope” by Tacoma psychedelic power pop artist Soda Cracker Jesus, and the enchanting “Journeyman’s Ballet” by Brooklyn singer-songwriter Sam Rappaport.

  1. DON’T BRING ME DOWN – Two Feet (1)
  2. EASY ON ME – Adele (2)
  3. I DON’T WANNA TALK (I JUST WANNA DANCE) – Glass Animals (5)
  4. BEGGIN’ – Måneskin (6)
  5. TAKE THE L – Roadkeeper (3)
  6. NEVER LOOKED BACK – The Zangwills (4)
  7. I DON’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE – The War on Drugs ft. Lucius (10)
  8. LOVE LOVE LOVE – My Morning Jacket (11)
  9. CAN YOU HANDLE MY LOVE?? – WALK THE MOON (8)
  10. MINE FOREVER – Lord Huron (7)
  11. SURVIVOR – Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats (9)
  12. JUSTIFIED – Kacey Musgraves (14)
  13. LOVE IN OCTOBER – Ships Have Sailed (15)
  14. GOOD FRIEND – dwi (16)
  15. COLORADO – Milky Chance (13)
  16. WRECKED – Imagine Dragons (12)
  17. STARTS WITH YOU – Shimmer Johnson (19)
  18. TIME IN DISGUISE – Kings of Leon (24)
  19. ALL TOO WELL (10 Minute Version) – Taylor Swift (N)
  20. REARVIEW – G. Samedi (23)
  21. SMILE – Wolf Alice (25)
  22. THE TIPPING POINT – Tears For Fears (26)
  23. BITTER TASTE – Billy Idol (17)
  24. TALK TO ME – Bealby Point (18)
  25. CRUTCH – Band of Horses (30)
  26. I SEE THE SUN – Solar Eyes (N)
  27. TWO CAR FAMILY – Apollo Junction (N)
  28. LEFT BEHIND – a million rich daughters (N)
  29. KALEIDOSCOPE – Soda Cracker Jesus (N)
  30. JOURNEYMAN’S BALLET – Sam Rappaport (N)

A MILLION RICH DAUGHTERS – Single Review: “Left Behind”

Hailing from Chicago, post-punk band a million rich daughters play a unique and fascinating style of, in their own words – “garage/industrial/horror inspired alternative post-punk – music that transcends the typical boundaries of the observable universe.” Founded by brothers Brett and Jake Grant, with Brett on vocals, guitars and synths, and Jake on drums, the four-piece now includes Matt Clepper on guitar and Dani Putrino on bass. (Brett also has a solo project under the moniker brett.grant.5.)  Exactly two years ago to the day – November 15th also happens to be Brett’s birthday – they released their brilliant debut EP Hidden Parents, which I reviewed. Now they’re back with a haunting new single “Left Behind“, their first new music release in two years. 

Brett was inspired to write “Left Behind” during a painful separation from his wife Ashlee (which thankfully was only temporary, as they’re both very special people who I’ve become quite fond of, albeit by long distance). He elaborates “In the broader sense, it’s about the helplessness of being left behind by someone who has outgrown you, and the feeling of betrayal that comes with that. One thing about this song is it’s all just AAA format. It’s a single verse repeated over and over as the music builds around it to the climax at the end. I intended for it to convey the whole concept of ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.’ When I was going through all that, I was literally just stewing in my emotions, self medicating with whatever I could get my hands on, and I felt unable to break out of the cycle. Add to this, this ALL happened right at the beginning of Covid. So I was going through all this, and suddenly I couldn’t leave the house or see anyone.

The song is darkly beautiful and melodic, with more of a dream pop sound than most of their previous songs. It opens with a simple, rather somber guitar riff as Brett forlornly laments “Well, I’ll swallow my pride and ‘ll eat my mistakes. And I’ll throw up the memory if that’s what it takes. Devour the regret, I’ll gorge on the shame. If it means in the end you’ll absolve me of blame. Your words when you left me been plaguing my mind. Now I’ve been vanquished, you’ve finally left me behind.”

Approximately 50 seconds into the track, Matt’s gorgeous swirling guitar enters, accompanied by Dani’s gently thumping bassline and Jake’s measured drumbeats, creating a dreamy but haunting backdrop for Brett’s increasingly impassioned vocals, backed by lovely soaring harmonies. Everything continues to build to a dramatic crescendo, replete with a blistering guitar solo in the final verse before trailing off in a outro of spooky synths as Brett sadly concludes “Your words when you left me been plaguing my mind. Now I’ve been vanquished, you’ve finally left me behind.” I love this song, and think it’s their best one yet.

The wonderful artwork for the single was created by Brett’s beautiful and creative wife Ashlee.

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A MILLION RICH DAUGHTERS – Album Review: “Hidden Parents”

A Million Rich Daughters

Today I’m happy to introduce my readers to a terrific band with an equally terrific name: a million rich daughters. Hailing from Chicago, they play an interesting and totally unique style of, in their own words – “garage/industrial/horror inspired alternative post-punk – music that transcends the typical boundaries of the observable universe.” That sounds about right. The band was founded by brothers Brett and Jake Grant, with Brett on vocals, guitars and synths, and Jake on drums. They were later joined by Matt Clepper, Rene Gutierrez and Taylor Ford, and just released their new EP Hidden Parents, which dropped November 15. After recording the album, Gutierrez and Ford left the band, and were replaced by bassist Josh Victor. Brett also has a solo project under the moniker brett.grant.5, and released his own EP disqui.etude this past June (which I reviewed).

The first track “Hitting Backspace” is a reworking of a song that was originally featured on disqui.etude. This time the mesmerizing track has been expanded by more than a minute, and gets a heavier full-band treatment. Starting off with moody, throbbing synths and shadowy bass chords, the music gradually builds into a spine-tingling crescendo of swirling jangly and psychedelic guitars, accompanied by harsh industrial synths and a deep, thumping percussive beat. Brett has a quirky, distinctive singing voice, and here he sings in a kind of plaintive monotone that grows more dramatic as the music intensifies. His vocals perfectly express the desperate feelings of being buried alive by the staggering weight of one’s problems:  “It wasn’t like I anticipated facing all this in the time since yesterday. Sands keep falling. Feels like I’m slipping away, and trapped hitting backspace./ It wasn’t like I could keep up pacing, keep up pacing through the sands of yesterday.”

The next track “Love Me After” is a feast for the ears, and possibly my favorite on the album. It begins with an enticing mix of plucked guitar strings, delicate snare and a delicious little bass riff that really does it for me. Then a thumping drumbeat ensues, punctuated by jarring jolts of what sound to me like intensely amplified guitar chords. As Brett’s vocals enter the proceedings, the music explodes with equal measures of heavier guitars, synths and percussion. Brett passionately laments of a relationship heavily damaged by a long history of hurt and verbal abuse, yet still holding out hope that perhaps it can be salvaged: “Just like you said, I’m as good as dead, yet you call my words slander. One day we’ll break these goddamn mistakes. Maybe you’ll love me after?” The wailing guitar solo after the final chorus is wonderful.

Melancholia” is a bit of a musical tour-de-force, as it takes us on a delightful four minute long sonic journey. The first part of the song features a frantic punk rock tempo, with rapid-fire riffs and pummeling drumbeats, all anchored by a killer bass line. At around 2:30, the song transitions to a languid, synth-driven melody, with crisp percussion and that lovely bass taking center stage. Eventually, the frantic punk vibe returns in the final chorus for a great, head-banging finish. The lyrics seem to be about not allowing yourself to be defeated by depression or the oppressive forces imposed upon us by others, and to instead speak up and fight for one’s rights: “If you feel like you’re captive in a boat with no captain, speak up! Well I can’t just forget it, and I’ll always regret it, come on. Melancholia’s passion is a pit of distraction, come on. Now we’ve lost all our assets and we can’t pay for access, speak up!

Truth Be Told” is another track from disqui.etude that’s given a fuller instrumental treatment here, with spooky synths, muscular thumping drumbeats and intricate layered guitars. The stabbing guitar chords add a dramatic touch to the mix to great effect. I think this remake nicely enhances the impact of the haunting lyrics that speak to feelings of misery and guilt over the death of a loved one. Brett’s heartfelt vocals are really moving as he sings “Truth be told, I never thought that you’d be dead. Truth be told, I just can’t get you out my head. Truth be told, I’ve been obsessing for so long, I’d give anything to write a different song. Truth be told, I should’ve been the one to go. Truth be told, this burden’s getting hard to hold.

A million rich daughters dial the energy back up with “Possibly a Problem“, delivering furious riffs of jangly guitars and hard-driving rhythms. My take on the song’s meaning is that it’s about how as more aspects of ourselves and our past are revealed in the early stages of a new relationship, we fear the other may lose interest in us, given our shortcomings. In this case, alcoholism appears to be the possible problem: “Lost so many to elixir, don’t you disappear. I just want to make sure, if I’m sick again, be my cure. Possibly a small problem, but I just want to be your man.

The title track “Hidden Parents” has a wonderful electro-psych rock groove, and I love the haunting lead melody. Once again, there’s a lot going on here musically speaking, with numerous tempo and melodic change-ups. At times the song has an 80s new wave vibe, only to later veer headlong into frenetic punk rock beats. Backed by dark, sweeping synths and aggressive rhythms, the intricate, multi-textured guitar work is fantastic. Brett’s distant, echoed vocals convey a vulnerable sense of desperation as he seems to be asking for forgiveness for the wrongs he’s done: “Oh things, have changed, the damage done. Oh look, at what, I have, become. Now I, am lame and most probably not sane. There is, no me, no in-between. There’s still, one thing, I want, to do. And what, I want is to get a little closer to you. Oh it’s always for you.”

I must admit that this was one of the most challenging reviews for me to write in my four years of doing this. Despite having only six tracks, there’s a whole lot to unpack in each song. Not being a musician, and having no music ability nor training of any kind, I sometimes have a difficult time articulating what I’m hearing. Hidden Parents is an experimental work, teeming with unconventional, ever-changing melodies, deep, often abstract lyrics, and loads of innovative, complex instrumentation that give it a compelling and fascinating sound. Indeed, Brett himself told me the album “is fucking weird; there’s a lot going on technique-wise in the music theory, as well as a lot of layers.” That’s for sure, and while it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I think it’s brilliant.

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