Can you believe it’s already nearing the end of 2017? An exhausting time for all makes the time seem to fly. Well this is our last week for regular Music to Your Ears – other than a U2 album coming in early December, we’re going to focus on a recap with our Best of the Year bracket, which you’ll see the first Tuesday of that month, December 5th. For now, enjoy the remnants of what we’ve got in November:
Tove Lo – Blue Lips
Tove Lo gives no fucks, as you may know from her songs “Habits(Stay High)” and “Love Me Like You Do” – upbeat yet somber ballads that lament that love is nearly always fleeting, and with lyrics like “You do your thing never wanted a future / Fuck if I knew how to put it romantic”, you know she isn’t messing around. Late in her new album, “Bad Days” is of the same vein as the first segment of her “Lady Wood” idea, but the rest are harder, faster, meatier hooks, so electric they might knock you out. Tove Lo must be a bit angrier as she reaches her thirties, and I can relate – you’re beaten down by the news, lost love, untrustworthy friends. What else can I say? You want good beats and incisive lyrics? Look no further.
Key Tracks: disco tits / stranger / bad days
Sia – This Is Christmas
For someone who flew under the radar for the better part of a decade, singer-songwriter Sia Furler is doing alright for herself, having snuck into the echelon of great pop of the last few years on the backs of fabulous hits like “Chandelier” and “Cheap Thrills”. So a natural next step for anyone on that level is to put out a Christmas album. One might be worried that she’s “selling out” but I’m here to assuage your fears. This even works as a Sia album on its on, full of original songs meant to delight and inspire. There aren’t as many biting lyrics, meant to flip flop your feelings about lost love, and there’s obviously some winter themed whimsy. I’m pleasantly surprised by this, and you should be as well.
Key Tracks: Santa’s Coming For Us / Underneath the Mistletoe / Puppies Are Forever
Gwen Stefani – You Make It Feel Like Christmas
Gwen Stefani has betrayed me. Where is our pop punk princess of the early 1990s? Somewhere along the way since No Doubt, Stefani transformed past her Harajuku girls and became a Christmas country chaunteuse. Her impending marriage to Voice collaborator Blake Shelton has clearly helped her image, but she’s sort of distanced herself by pandering herself into that middle America pseudo-Christian country style that her beau has squarely positioned himself in from the beginning. It’s great to hear some traditional Xmas music, including a mix of secular and Christian songs, and her voice is as good as it’s ever been. But isn’t this sad for the once stellar sparkplug?
Key Tracks: White Christmas / Santa Baby / Let It Snow
Franz Ferdinand – “Always Ascending”
The past decade has not been kind to Franz Ferdinand. After exploding in 2004 with their self-titled debut, no one seemed to care about their equally fantastic You Could Have It So Much Better except die-hard fans. The following two albums were uninspired, and a questionable team-up with classic British glam-rock group Sparks left everyone asking, “Why did Sparks bother?” Well, now that they’ve even lost founding guitarist Nick McCarthy, who’s spending time with family, the band has moved into “a new phase”. A particularly apt title for their first single, it reminds fans of their early days, but with a decidedly fierce new mood. Alex Kapranos’ growl has never sounded heavier, and McCarthy’s guitar is filled well by new members Dino Bardot (formerly of The 1990s) and Julian Corrie. As it has long been my favorite band, I’m excited to see what new heights they can achieve.
We’ll be a little slight next week, and more likely we’ll be preparing for the upcoming bracket-fueled championship that will find one track above the rest. That’s it, I’ll probably fit in what my favorite songs were for the last three months of the year, showcase a final 16 best of the season, then we’ll get right into the challenges.