earthings! 2016: My ten favorites of the year

Here we are again – the end of the year, or at least the end of our year here on earthings!, as we take that long holiday break to recharge, or whatever passes for that these days. And it’s been a busy year, or perhaps because we found ourselves juggling a lot of things on many fronts – lots of changes off screen, and a bunch of new features on screen. But I digress. Here we are again – the end of our year on the blog, which means I trot out my ten favorite songs of the year – not a definitive list by all means; just a reflection of what I’ve liked, considering that I seem to have listened to less new music and more K-pop these past few months. So, here’s the list, arranged alphabetically as always. [NB]

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Review: My Wild West by Lissie

My Wild West by LissieLissie’s first two albums – particularly her first one, 2010’s Catching A Tiger – had this particular degree of grit, a bit of to-hell-with-it, that resulted in interesting songs and made her rise above the typical folk-pop singer-songwriter. My Wild West is the first she’s releasing under her own label, and the only trace of that early grit is “Daughters”, a rallying cry for women that benefits from that yelp she employs so well in the chorus. The rest, well, is polished up folk-pop, and while her words are still sharp, there really is little memorable, I’m afraid. It’s not all hopeless, but then those interesting bits – “Hollywood” and its critique of fame, to kick it off – come few and far between. The result is an album that’s disappointingly forgettable. It’s not a bad record, by all means, but why she reeled herself in that much, I’ll never quiet get. You might as well revisit Catching A Tiger[NB]3/5

Review: Back to Forever by Lissie

Back to Forever by LissieIt’s been a long time since Lissie released her debut record – and sure, three years isn’t that long, but a lot has changed since Chasing A Tiger. Suddenly guitars are making their way back in, and the lush folk that was prominent in the 1970s and 1980s is gaining ground. Lissie’s response is to head to the stage with guns blazing. Back to Forever is punchier than its predecessor, and while it loses the nuances that made Chasing A Tiger an underrated delight, it gets, oddly, a bit more focus. Lissie defied geography then; now there’s no doubt she’s an American (and I’m not just referring the moving “Mountaintop Removal”) with its callbacks to Fleetwood Mac (obviously), Bruce Springsteen (really) and stomping Americana. The result may be a little less distinctive than the rest, more so in a crowded stage, but Lissie seems to know what she’s doing. [NB]3/5

“I swear that it is mockingly, ‘what the fuck?'”

“Shameless” by Lissie | The problem with me focusing on music through a British (and occasionally Aussie) lens: this song’s been out for a month and I only heard of it today, which is a shame, because I actually like Lissie. (Granted, I first heard of her when British radio stations picked up “When I’m Alone” – a decision I agree with, as opposed to them doing the same thing to, ugh, Phillip Phillips.) So, here’s a new song from Lissie, the American nu-folkie who has a thing for swagging things up when called for. This is a bit more gritty than expected though – she screams! she swears! she rocks out! – not that I really mind. It seemed like a natural thing for her to do, but I’m hoping her next album (which should be out once the Northern Hemisphere’s summer rolls by) also has the melodic stuff I thoroughly enjoyed in her first album, Catching A Tiger.