The SoCC DJs’ Best Albums of 2020

Here are some of the SoCC DJs’ favorite albums of 2020 year in no particular order:

Dump YOD: Krutoy Edition- Your Old Droog

I was introduced to Your Old Droog by a close friend of mine that often shares with me notable Jewish artists. YOD excels when it comes to storytelling, lyricism (especially in freestyle), and samples. Remaining completely independent, Your Old Droog tells his own story as a Soviet Ukrainian born Jew growing up in Brooklyn, which is undoubtedly unique. The samples on this album give a real soviet feel, utilizing staticky classical Russian samples and featuring instruments like the oboe or the accordion. He even raps some whole verses in Russian which is just so exciting to hear. This album was recorded starting in isolation back in March, and serves as another monument to YOD’s storytelling of his unorthodox and marginalized upbringing. Any fans of New York classics like NAS or MF DOOM could easily get down with a record like this. My favorite tracks on the album would be “Malchishka Krutoy” and “Babushka III”. – Nic Santucci (Tucci)

Bonny Light Horseman- Bonny Light Horseman

Practically every song on the album is a cover/ reworking/ uses a motif from folk songs ( mostly Celtic, Appalachian, and Gospels ). BLH is a trio- Anaïs Mitchell, Eric Johnson(Fruit Bats), and Josh Kaufman. I really only listened to them for Anaïs though… she performs most of the vocals for the album and sounds HEAVENLY n COOL. Fave song: “The Roving”. Anaïs takes this Celtic folk song and changes the lyrics a little and then suddenly it’s my queer anthem of the year?? 2nd place: “Bonny Light Horseman” bc of Napoleon. Basically this album is some good folk music. P.S. Anaïs wrote a FOLK OPERA, “Hadestown”. 👀👀👀 -Lauren

Punisher- Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers’ Punisher reminds me of a large, old, and most-likely haunted mansion perched on the edge of a cliff. Each room in the house is complete with its own ancient, hand-painted peeling wallpaper and skeletons in the closet to match. These rooms are the songs on Punisher— songs with hauntingly specific, but relatable, lyrics and mesmerizing, almost apocalyptic music. Bridgers blends musical and lyrical motifs alike together to paint a picture of an escapist and welcoming wasteland. The album and its journey through Bridgers’ psyche left me disoriented in a way I kind of enjoyed. It made me want to cozy up, light a fire, and stay with Phoebe in her haunted house for a little longer. – Jane Harris (DJ Harris Bueller)

Galore- Oklou

it’s just soooOo delicious -Augie Voss

Miss Anthropocene- Grimes

Miss Anthropocene – a double entendre on “misanthropy” and our ecological Anthropocene – is a self-produced concept album about a malevolent goddess who personifies climate change; each song is a different embodiment of human extinction. Picture a dark fairy with augmentations, and you have the Grimes vibe. Bubblegum princess meets Cyberpunk 2077. It’s pop, rock, and techno, in one sound; bold, brash, and reaaaaally gay. This album followed me everywhere. In March, staying up late at night swaddled in my high school sweats, 4ÆM teleported me back to rave nights in crowded queer spaces. September had me reflecting on revolutionaries. When it comes down to it, Grimes fits a handful of artists, by my criteria, who carry substantial enough weight in pop-culture by their wildly eccentric and otherworldly projects while actively rejecting conformist notions. These rebels have never asked for a space in influence; they make some for themselves. Miss Anthropocene’s concept cemented enough ideas, including pop music’s inevitable evolution into today’s “experimental,” to write an actual essay expanding on tomorrow’s role in art. Jonathan Lee, if you’re reading this, thanks for responding to eight pages on cyborgian feminist futurism. For all these reasons and more, Grimes completely captured my 2020. Her self-published Spotify biography states 2020 is the year of “her final earth album.” This might be a dramatized retirement announcement of quitting music to raise her and Elon’s child. I think the phrase is meant as a bold foreshadowing of her next level. As the reigning queen of the SpaceX – Tesla empire, Grimes very well could pioneer music in the cosmos. And I hope she does. Honorable Mention to Arca’s “KiCk i.”

-Joseph Raiti (DJ LuvIt)

Flower of Devotion- Dehd

I thought that the overall mood of the album captured my 2020 experience, where at surface level, the upbeat guitar and twang of Emily Kempf’s voice felt jovial- maybe to the point of mania. But the lyrics that are mainly centered on lonliness and disconnect is something that I definitely related to. I also appreciated the bands development towards a very unique sound that I hope we hear more of in 2021. -Emily Faulks

NEW PLAYLIST: Cardiac Passages

Last weekend I took a road trip to Nebraska through Colorado and Kansas. All the states blended together with white rolling hills and the occasional windmill cluster, perfect for a naturally-induced ego death. My mind cleared into nothingness as the song “Sensitive” by Mr. Twin Sister came through my headphones. The ambient instrumentals and Andrea Estella’s eerie voice washed over me as I drifted into a trance. The chorus repeats the lines “Is this romantic dreaming?/ Is this just an illusion?” and then concludes the song with “A memory?” 

The theme for this playlist is romantic dreaming, where you feel out of touch with reality because you are entranced by a memory or by a creation of a future memory. The lucid instrumental passages in the songs take you out of time; through romantic dreamings, illusions, and memories that leave you with all the fuzzy side effects of brooding for for an hour. Enjoy.

Playlist cover art courtesy of Kate Planting.

 

Interview with Chastity Belt’s Julia Shapiro

Julia Shapiro. Image courtesy of Hardly Art.

I reached out to Julia Shapiro, indie rock singer and songwriter, as she prepares for Chastity Belt’s American Tour for their self titled album released in September. Shapiro is most known for her solo album she recently released as well as her lead vocals and guitar for all-girl garage bands Chastity Belt, Childbirth, and Who is She?

After Chastity Belt cancelled their tour last April due to “health concerns,” Shapiro ventured into introspective songwriting and mixing that resulted in her first solo album titled Perfect Version that captures Shapiro’s discontent with personal imaging and searching for self growth through musings of change and stagnation simultaneously. She then continued working with Chastity Belt and the band later released their self titled album on September 20. Capturing similar sentiments and instrumentals as Shapiro’s Perfect Version, Chastity Belt wanders through foggy terrain of a mental landscape of dissatisfaction while combating it with surreal optimism. I asked Julia some questions about her experiences with creating Perfect Version mostly alone and being back with Chastity Belt after a much needed break.


What have you been up to since the release of Chastity Belt’s album and getting ready for the anticipated U.S. tour in February?

We tour quite a bit over the fall. In October we did a European tour and then in November we played the East Coast. We’re also working on writing some new stuff.

How are you feeling about touring with Chastity Belt again?

I sort of have a love/hate relationship with touring. It can be really fun, but also super exhausting. It’s all about getting the right balance. I’m excited about this upcoming tour because we’re taking our Australian buddies Loose Tooth with us. It’s also our last tour for a while, so that makes it feel a bit more manageable.

What are the things you do to stay centered when you’re struggling on tour or dealing with the frustrations of the recording industry?

Take a walk, call a friend, try to remember to take some alone time. It can be hard to find the time to take care of yourself on tour.

Did your solo album and emotions you unpacked in Perfect Version influence Chastity Belt’s self titled album?

All the lyrics are coming from me, so yeah I suppose so. Some of my solo songs probably could’ve been Chastity Belt songs if the timing had been different — there’s not a huge distinction between my songwriting process when I do solo stuff and when I do stuff with my band, except I was maybe a little bit looser with the way I wrote lyrics for my solo album. It was a little bit more stream of conscious.

How does mixing and composing music alone compare to the process with Chastity Belt?

It’s a lot quicker cause there’s only one person to consult. It’s also hard cause you sort of have to trust yourself more, since you’re the only one making decisions. It’s harder for me to get as excited about songs when I’m by myself — it helps to have my bandmates around to encourage me.

How did you all start Chastity Belt and overcome gender barriers in garage rock? Any advice for college students (specifically, girls) trying to start a band?

Trust yourself, and don’t just blindly follow others advice, especially men who are out of touch haha. Check in with yourself and your bandmates every once in a while to make sure what you’re doing feels good, and ask yourself why you’re doing it.

Do you think Chastity Belt has evolved since you all started making music in college?

Oh definitely. We started out just joking around, we never thought the band would become this serious. We’ve learned a lot along the way. There’s no way to really learn how to make music other than just doing it and learning from your mistakes.

What kinds of music inspired the conception of Chastity Belt? What are you listening to right now? 

Growing up I was really into Elliott Smith, and I still think he was an amazing songwriter. I also listened to Fiona Apple and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in high school. Recently I’ve been really into the new DIIV record. Those guitars sound so good.


Chastity Belt is touring the United States starting early February and will be performing in Denver at the Bluebird Theater on February 23.