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Drugdealer’s Raw Honey

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Artist: Drugdealer

Album: Raw Honey

Label: Mexican Summer

Reason We’re Cranking It: We live a pretty vanilla lifestyle, so until “Raw Honey” came along, we didn’t have a Drugdealer. Thankfully this musical collective of eclectic collaborators (say that five times fast!), which is the brainchild of Michael Collins, is just as addictive as an illegal narcotic… at least so we’ve heard.

What The Album Tells Us About Them: What’s old is new again. Channeling the vibe and honesty of the singer/songwriter movement of the 1960s and mashing it together with the kinds of guitar riffs you’d hear pouring from the amps of southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd, Collins is tapping into something that feels 8-track-organic, but is crisp enough for the digital age. They’re dialed in and we’re answering the call.

Track Stuck On Repeat: The mesmerizing tone of Weyes Blood’s vocals on “Honey” is the curb appeal that brings you into the song, but once inside, you make yourself at home with a track that is a modern day The Mamas and the Papas.

And that means…

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Fat White Family’s Serfs Up!

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Artist: Fat White Family

Album: Serfs Up!

Label: Domino

Reason We’re Cranking It: A million light years ahead of their 2016 sophomore effort “Songs For Our Mothers” in both craft and creativeness, “Serfs Up!” is an eclectic mix of tunes that seem to be making sense of our strange world in real time through song. It’s group therapy with a groove.

What The Album Tells Us About Them: In-fighting and personal demons have followed the band since their formation in 2011, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to them come together with such visionary cohesiveness on this album. What they’re saying may not speak to everyone, but how they’re saying it is going to capture an audience that they probably never intended tapping into when they first came together.

Track Stuck On Repeat: If Monty Python formed as a group of glam rockers rather than a comedy troupe, they may have produced something along the lines of “Tastes Good With The Money” as opposed to “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” We’re not laughing, but we’re certainly still having a good time.

And that means…

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Heather Woods Broderick’s Invitation

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Artist: Heather Woods Broderick

Album: Invitation

Label: Western Vinyl

Reason We’re Cranking It: Capable of carrying the listener away and inducing them into a trance-like state, “Invitation” takes you by the hand and leads you into Broderick’s mind where she paints an extremely intimate portrait using the types of thoughts that we all find ourselves revisiting when surrounded by isolation and stillness.

What The Album Tells Us About Her: Written in Oregon, Broderick was able to capture the look and feel of the Pacific Northwest in her music, crafting dream-pop sounds that cause the listener to sway side to side like coastal trees dancing in the breeze drifting off of the ocean. She hasn’t just created an album that you can listen to, but a world that you can live in.

Track Stuck On Repeat: The second single released from the album, “White Tail” details the songwriter’s struggles with depression, sparking a thought-provoking self-examination by way of lyrical snippets like, “surrender to sleepless shifting.”

And that means…

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Diane Coffee’s Internet Arms

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Artist: Diane Coffee

Album: Internet Arms

Label: Polyvinyl Record Co.

Reason We’re Cranking It: Quickly leaping to the top of our still expanding Best of ‘19 list, “Internet Arms” is a meticulously crafted and fully fleshed out magnum opus from Diane Coffee, the alter ego of former child voice actor Shaun Fleming. Having once given life to animated characters on popular Disney series like “Kim Possible” and “Teacher’s Pet,” he has now birthed a beautiful collection of pop songs from the mind of his fictional caffeinated surname, which we recognize as his greatest role to date.

What The Album Tells Us About Them: Prince meets David Bowie. Yes, we know that’s high praise, but if Fleming keeps writing and releasing albums, he has the potential to amass a library of greatness equal to those musical icons who came before. With “Internet Arms” he already has a horse in the race.

Track Stuck On Repeat: We’ve listened to it all, front to back, too many times to count, but some of the notables are “Not Ready To Go,” “Stuck In Your Saturday Night,” and “Doubt.”

And that means…

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Wargirl’s Self-Titled Debut

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Artist: Wargirl

Album: Self-Titled

Label: Clouds Hill

Reason We’re Cranking It: A genre mashup that mutates track to track, the self-titled debut from this LA collective is like a rock roller derby filled with the perfect blend of finesse and hard hits.

What The Album Tells Us About Them: The six members of Wargirl clearly have their individual influences, which they brought to the table when conceiving the songs that would make up the album. Looking to make a splash with their debut, they’ve dropped a sonic smorgasbord that runs the gamut of musical sub-genres, making it impossible to imagine what their future offerings will sound (and feel!) like.

Track Stuck On Repeat: Taking us back to California circa 1960-something, “Mess Around” is a time machine tune that has us tapping along with the infectious beat and Doors-like keys on the dashboard of our DeLorean.

And that means…

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Son of Cloud’s Self-Titled Debut

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Artist: Son of Cloud

Album: Self-Titled

Label: Self-Released

Reason We’re Cranking It: An atmospheric exclamation point into producer-turned-solo artist Jonathan Seale’s creative mindscape, the Texas native’s vocals are soft and soothing, but it’s the album’s collective theme – families and how we exist within them – that speaks volumes.

What The Album Tells Us About Him: Having worked with artists like Feist, Fleet Foxes and Lucius, Seale is used to being the ear of an album, but with his self-titled debut he has also become the voice, cementing himself as a folksy virtuoso who can spin musical magic from anyone in the room, including himself.

Track Stuck On Repeat: The perfect song to kick off the album, “How To Love You Today” sets the table for the journey Seale is about to take you on… one that is whimsical, poignant and worthy of a frequent revisit.

And that means…

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Dave Hause’s Kick

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Artist: Dave Hause

Album: “Kick”

Label: Rise Records

Reason We’re Cranking It: The kind of album that inspires you to wrap your arms around your mates and pull them in for an impromptu group singalong, “Kick” is full of crisp rock anthems that would feel most at home pumping from the beer-spattered speakers of a barroom jukebox and yet are perfectly comfortable streaming from whatever device you fancy.

What The Album Tells Us About Him: A mainstay of the Philly punk and hardcore scenes since the ‘90s, Hause is the frontman of The Loved Ones and the former guitarist for Paint It Black, but it is his solo career that has shined a much-deserved spotlight on his songwriting. His 2017 album “Bury Me in Philly” turned heads and opened ears, but it’s “Kick” that proves the 41-year-old is a voice worth listening to as he perfectly blends thought-provoking concepts and themes with more hooks than a tackle box.

Track Stuck On Repeat: Hause has the ability to project enthusiasm through his music, causing a surge of adrenaline to wake you from your Monday slumber or further fuel your Friday furor. This is nowhere more apparent than “OMG,” a track that has you wanting to “watch the world burn down” alongside of the prolific singer/songwriter.

And that means…

 

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Driftwood’s Tree of Shade

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Artist: Driftwood

Album: “Tree of Shade”

Reason We’re Cranking It: Road folksters who have grown more and more comfortable in the studio as their songwriting has developed, the Binghamton band’s fifth album is Americana arcana – a front-to-back journey that still holds musical mysteries requiring a deeper, more thorough listen. Each song, from the opening track “CalifornIA” to the final “Hello,” places you in a space of contemplation, so pour yourself a whiskey and drift off to Driftwood.

What The Album Tells Us About Them: Shared vocals have divided us in the past. Rarely do we enjoy the voices of multiple leads equally, but with “Tree of Shade,” Joe Kollar, Dan Forsyth and Claire Byrne have us finding it impossible to name a favorite. We’d run out to buy all three of their solo albums should they be announced, but in the meantime, we’ll be waiting patiently for the next time they divvy up their Driftwood duties.

Track Stuck On Repeat: We’ve been through this album as a whole a few times since it arrived, but “Lost Child” and the hypnotic pacing has had us returning over and over again, waiting for the addictive chorus to whisk us away as it has done with each and every  listen.

And that means…

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Jaret & Kelly’s Sittin’ In A Tree

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Artist: Jaret & Kelly

Album: “Sittin’ In A Tree”

Label: Whiskey Joe Records

Reason We’re Cranking It: The musical marriage of Bowling For Soup’s Jaret Reddick and The Dollyrots’ Kelly Ogden is a fist pumping, foot tapping union that builds on their real-world friendship with indelible hooks and perfectly-synced singalong melodies. You could try playing “Sittin’ In A Tree” quietly, streaming it as background music, but you’d fail. This is an album that was built to be enjoyed at maximum volume!

What The Album Tells Us About Them: With their musical roots set firmly in the soil of pop punk, the dynamic duo still manages to branch out, mixing genres and influences seamlessly, whether its the alt-country flare of “Daddy’s Girl” or the ‘80s inspired “That Night.” You can hear that both the past and present has impacted their music, but more importantly, you can feel it.

Track Stuck On Repeat: “Neither one of us is perfect, but we’re both pretty fucking awesome.” That’s a line from “Something I’m Not,” a song that rocks on multiple layers and has you revisiting it many times over as part of your musical dissection. Like the line referenced above, it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty fucking awesome.

And that means…

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Jessica Pratt’s Quiet Signs

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Artist: Jessica Pratt

Album: “Quiet Signs”

Label: Mexican Summer

Reason We’re Cranking It: Some music exists to make us feel good, to boost our moods and bring a smile to our faces. Pratt’s “Quiet Signs” does not deliver on those goods, but it does deliver on an entirely different feel, one that comes off as wholly original to the California-based songwriter. Most albums ignite a reaction that is more surface level, but with “Quiet Signs,” a moody and melancholy journey that we found impossible to be distracted from, the reaction Pratt pulls from you occurs distinctly at the core.

What The Album Tells Us About Them: Pratt comes off comfortable in her own musical skin, satisfied to be herself in every nook and cranny of her songwriting. That self-confidence becomes a collective experience for the listener.

Track Stuck On Repeat: We’ve spun “As the World Turns” too many times to count at this stage. A song that is the perfect musical accompaniment to the worst day of our week, it’s the sound our whiskey will make when it hits the glass just before we settle down for a long winter’s nap. Drink it up!

Coming To A City Near You: Pratt will be hitting the road this spring. Dates can be found here.

And that means…

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