Atwood Magazine’s Weekly Roundup: Spotify Wrapped 2018!

Atwood Magazine's Spotify Wrapped 2018 art
This week, Atwood Magazine’s staff dive into a year in music with Spotify’s 2018 Wrapped, exploring our Top Songs of 2018 and Tastebreakers!

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:: Alex Killian ::

Top 100 Song or Artist

By Your Side” – Sade

sade lovers rock

Which song or artist from your Top 100 playlist meant the most to you in 2018?

“By Your Side” has been my quintessential love song for… a really long time. I can never seem to get over the warm, enveloping instrumental or the incredibly tender vocal delivery that never fails to pull at my heartstrings. For me, “By Your Side” embodies a love that recognizes struggle and compromise but never loses focus on love itself being the most important factor in a relationship. From love comes everything else, be it trust and respect or compromise and sacrifice, and a mutual resilience is what makes things last. I can’t quite put into words why this track means so much to me or why I relate to it so heavily, but the fact that it does is why it’s in my Top 100 for 2018. It’s a stand out for its longevity and the comfort I find in it will surely continue into 2019 and beyond.


Tastebreakers Song or Artist

Ryan Beatty

ryan_beatty

Which song or artist from your Tastebreakers playlist are you most excited about??

Ryan Beatty has all the makings of a future favorite of mine. His mainstream appeal and understated white boy swagger reminds me of Charlie Puth – my top artist this year thanks to his addictive album release, Voicenotes. The funk leanings on tracks like “Powerslide” are right up my alley and I can’t get the lyrics out of my head (it’s my current favorite off of his album Boy in Jeans). Beatty has a musical sensibility that reads as grounded, confident and inspired. I appreciate his willingness to share parts of himself through his music, including his sexuality. “Bruise” had me thinking of Beatty as a softer, more PG-13 version of SAKIMA (one of my favorite artists whose track “Show Me” was in my Top 5 songs this year). I’ve already delved into Beatty’s LP quite a bit, but I can’t wait to spend some more time with it and discover more standouts and personal favorites.


:: Nicole Almeida ::

Top 100 Song or Artist

Let’s Eat Grandma

Let’s Eat Grandma © Charlotte Patmore

Which song or artist from your Top 100 playlist meant the most to you in 2018?

It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve been so excited about an act like I am about Let’s Eat Grandma. I’d listened to a bit of their stuff from the first album before, but the release of I’m All Ears (and the buildup to it) had me going deep into a Let’s Eat Grandma hole and I was absolutely thrilled. From the release of “Hot Pink” at the start of the year, to every single that came after that, until the album’s release where I found one of my favourite songs ever “Donnie Darko”, to seeing them live in DC in September, it was a Let’s Eat Grandma-filled year for me and I can’t complain. They just seem to be the kind of act that’ll challenge themselves and their listener to really indulge, whether that be in a pop banger like “It’s Not Just Me” or a beautiful and sentimental ballad like “Ava”. It’s a brilliant album that really pushes the boundaries of pop music, and I’m so here for it. And to think that they’re young and producing music that’s this good just makes me so excited for what’s ahead for them. There’s an ambition in that record, and honestly in all of their work, that’s unparalleled and unapologetic and that alone is incredibly inspiring. When you couple it with high quality songs you just have the perfect package.


Tastebreakers Song or Artist

“Psycho” – Lauren Aquilina

lauren aquilina

Which song or artist from your Tastebreakers playlist are you most excited about??

“Psycho” by Lauren Aquilina is a very cool, high energy tune. Somehow it reminds me of very progressive, female-driven pop of today but also of some early Hilary Duff or Disney Channel star pop that I used to listen to when I was younger (and still do at times, very happily). Both of these sounds are two of my favourite ones, one because it excites me for the industry and women in pop today, and the other one because it reminds me of a great time in my life and some of the music that makes me the happiest and most nostalgic. The bass line on this song is tight, and the start with humming is ominous and oozes coolness. The cover art is beautiful. To be honest, the inclusion of this song on my playlist made me check out her artist profile and want to listen to more of her stuff, and I guess that’s the playlist’s aim, so mission accomplished!


:: Mitch Mosk  ::

Top 100 Song or Artist

“Signs” – NoMBe

signs nombe

Which song or artist from your Top 100 playlist meant the most to you in 2018?

As this is likely the last time I write about NoMBe in 2018, it feels only fitting to talk about my personal favorite song off his singular debut album. “Signs” is unlike anything else on They Might’ve Even Loved Me, a hot little number that captures Noah McBeth’s agile guitar wizardry alongside his poetic wit. The uptempo rock song rides off a cool, feel-good riff that runs up and down the scales like a rollercoaster. By the time the thriller finishes, you’re ready to hop on again and take it for another spin. In our feature interview, NoMBe talked about “Signs” being one of his favorite songs as well: “I thought that would be the most successful song, and thought it was way stronger than any other song on the album. It kind of has this Billy Joel vibe about it…” Sweet, rich vocal harmonies excite the ears as NoMBe calls out a partner for their actions, turning an otherwise dour situation into one full of life and cheer. The song has a special pop to it that still feels fresh, all these months (and several dozen listens) later. While I listened to Glass Animals’ stunning “Agnes” far more times than any other song in 2018 (and said all I have to say about that track here), NoMBe’s “Signs” surprised me, and will forever have a special place in my heart.

Tastebreakers Song or Artist

Leon Bridges

leon bridges

Which song or artist from your Tastebreakers playlist are you most excited about??

For now, all I’ll say about Leon Bridges is that I may have missed the first bandwagon, but it’s never too late to hop aboard! The soul legend in the making has been on my horizon ever since his 2015 debut, but I have yet to put in the time for a proper deep dive. I know he’s worth it, and the fact that his songs sit at the #1 and #2 slots of my Tastebreakers playlist is enough of a reason for me to finally take the plunge. (Funnily enough, his song “Beyond” caught my ear the same night as Spotify released their Wrapped playlists.) In addition to Bridges, my playlist contains two songs by Tash Sultana, Lucie Silvas, Kacey Musgraves, and Gabriel Kahane – pretty much ensuring that I listen to all of these acclaimed artists’ new records before the year’s end.


:: Adrian Vargas ::

Top 100 Song or Artist

Andy Shauf

andy shauf

Which song or artist from your Top 100 playlist meant the most to you in 2018?

Andy Shauf has been a constant in my life since his first album was released almost a decade ago. His vocal style is uniquely his, a style that has no other equal and marks him as one of my top artist of all time. Many of his songs have had some sort of connection to some of the highest and lowest points in my life, and that even continued into 2018 despite no new music for two years, other than his side project Foxwarren and their self-titled release. I honestly can’t imagine a day of my life where I don’t listen to at least one track of his, and I plan on continuing that trend into 2019 and beyond.


Tastebreakers Song or Artist

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah

Christian Scott

Which song or artist from your Tastebreakers playlist are you most excited about??

I never tire of jazz and the various stylings it has associated with it. From acid jazz to jazz-hop, there is what seems like a limitless amount of variations to experience, and Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah has provided another sound for me to dive into. What I love about his music is that it’s difficult to pin (other than jazz being the root of it all). It’s a mélange of sounds, genres, and styles and each track that I have listened to is absolutely fresh and invigorating. Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah has scratched an itch of mine for new jazz sounds and I’m looking further to exploring and listening to his music – new and old.


:: Audrey Steeves ::

Top 100 Song or Artist

“Sheep” – Mt. Joy

Mt. Joy - Mt. Joy artwork

Which song or artist from your Top 100 playlist meant the most to you in 2018?

As soon as I heard “Sheep,” I knew it was going to be one of my favorite songs, and I’ve probably listened to every day since then. It was one of the first new songs I discovered in January when the news was such a nightmare every day and the lyrics perfectly capture that helpless but still hopeful feeling that I think a lot of people can relate to, especially now. When Mt Joy released their debut album in March I was so pleasantly surprised by every single song. I got to see them in Boston this September and it’s amazing to see how big they’ve gotten over the course of just this year.


Tastebreakers Song or Artist

Dirty Heads

dirty heads

Which song or artist from your Tastebreakers playlist are you most excited about??

I forgot Dirty Heads existed and associate them so much with high school that I was excited to see they’re still putting out new music. Ever since the summer “Lay Me Down” was on the radio every fifteen minutes, I assumed they’d been a one hit wonder but from listening to Moon Tower I can definitely see that they’ve evolved.


:: Ethan Germann ::

Top 100 Song or Artist

Tiffany Jade

tiffany jade

Which song or artist from your Top 100 playlist meant the most to you in 2018?

There is a ton of bias present in highlighting my own client, Tiffany Jade, as the artist that has meant the most to me this past year, but I would be lying if I said that was not true. This past year has been full of amazing experiences that go hand in hand with managing Tiffany. Watching artistic development from a firsthand perspective, gaining a sense of responsibility intertwined with a sense of trust in one another, and expanding my own musical horizons are all reasons why this partnership has made her my most important artist of the year. It is no surprise that her first two singles were in my top 5 most-listened-to songs of the year; I have never felt such excitement before from discovering the different layers and depths of an artist, and I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have a hand in shining the spotlight on a very deserving individual.


Tastebreakers Song or Artist

I Adore” – Laura Misch

i adore laura misch

Which song or artist from your Tastebreakers playlist are you most excited about??

Laura Misch comes from the world of jazz-inspired artists who blend electronic textures and hip-hop elements into seriously captivating productions. She excites me the most because female producers like Misch are breaking down barriers for women in the music industry. I always get excited about these incredibly multi-talented UK artists because there is something really special and superior about the talent that comes from there. It’s also just really cool that she kills it on the saxophone and happens to be Tom Misch’s sister.


:: Sara Santora ::

Top 100 Song or Artist

houseparty

houseparty

Which song or artist from your Top 100 playlist meant the most to you in 2018?

This is such a hard choice, but I think I’ll have to go with houseparty. I met Ryan and Pio (houseparty) in college, and we’ve had a lot of fun working together in the past. They’re both incredibly smart and talented, and I’ve loved everything they’ve written and produced. It was very nice seeing them in my top 100 for the year.


Tastebreakers Song or Artist

Charlie Burg

charlie burg

Which song or artist from your Tastebreakers playlist are you most excited about??

I am most excited to listen to Charlie Burg! I recently discovered him on an artist playlist and have enjoyed the few songs of his I’ve listened to. I’m excited to really dig my heels into his music this coming year. I can already see him becoming a fast favorite of mine.


:: Ilana Kalish ::

Top 100 Song or Artist

Matthew Frederick

matthew frederick

Which song or artist from your Top 100 playlist meant the most to you in 2018?

Far away in a land called Pontypridd, South Wales lives my #1 top artist of 2018, a true creative, Matthew Frederick. Why? Matthew and I met while I was working at MONDO NYC, an annual new-music fest and biz summit where Matthew and his band mates, the Climbing Trees were promoting their latest album ‘Borders.’ After I interviewed Matthew for Skiptothis.com, I became an even bigger fan of Matthew’s artistic entrepreneurial drive. We kept in touch and followed each other’s creative adventures. As I started writing for Atwood Magazine, Matthew cheered me on as he continued to create and produce a plethora of music for himself and all those signed to his label: Staylittle Music. Through Matthew’s music and kind work ethic, I was privileged to see that, in addition to being a truly gifted artist, he is also a wonderful producer and friend to all worthy of his enthusiastic and ultra quirky, Matthew-ness. Matthew’s music always keeps me in that perfect place of feeling thoughtful and happy while righteously rocking out. Matthew’s got so many projects in the works – I’m so excited for him to return to this side of the pond for MONDO NY 2019!


Tastebreakers Song or Artist

Cómo Me Quieres” – Khruangbin

khruangbin

Which song or artist from your Tastebreakers playlist are you most excited about??

Khruangbin’s latest “Cómo Me Quieres” drew me close and started sweet talking me immediately. Why? All you need in order to answer this question is give “Cómo Me Quierse” some attention at a rockable volume. You’ll feel the mellow, coiling and funky middle eastern flow wrap itself around you just tight enough that, when the jam ends, you’ll be begging for more.


:: Meredith Nardino ::

Top 100 Song or Artist

The Japanese House

The Japanese House © Jim Mangan

Which song or artist from your Top 100 playlist meant the most to you in 2018?

Surprising absolutely no one, The Japanese House was one of my most listened to artists this year (and probably will be every year going forward). I love the way she plays with sound and space, crafting the most cosmic and cinematic melodies in a somehow minimalistic manner. Her cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” from a live Spotify Singles recording session is simply magical. With those trademark languid guitars and soothing electronic backing, The Japanese House transforms this timeless tune into a modern masterpiece. Of course, the original is incredibly meaningful to me, as it is for so many people. But this cover is what I turn to when I’m searching for comfort — when I need to reconnect with the solid ground beneath my feet.


Tastebreakers Song or Artist

The Dip

the dip

Which song or artist from your Tastebreakers playlist are you most excited about??

Some of my favorite mixes on Spotify are Roots Revival and Stomp & Holler. I love hearing this renaissance of folk music that brings a modern flair, unafraid to push the traditional boundaries of the genre. Since I’ve spent so much time listening to bands like Kaleo and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, my Tastebreakers playlist recommended: “Sure Don’t Miss You” by The Dip. The Seattle ensemble has a vintage blues sound, clearly influenced by 60s soul and modern pop. “Sure Don’t Miss You” is joyous and freeing, easy listening for a long drive.


:: Ditta Demeter ::

Top 100 Song or Artist

Little Comets

little comets

Which song or artist from your Top 100 playlist meant the most to you in 2018?

While 2017 for me was unquestionably defined by my infatuation with Glass Animals, this year has seen quite a few of my favourite artists (still including, of course, the inimitable Oxford foursome) battle for the first place on the Top 100 list. Choosing one to talk about here was very much like trying to pick a favourite child; they all have a special place in my heart and I have so much gratitude for them for helping me stay afloat during this frenzied rollercoaster ride of a year. So in the end, I let the numbers speak: Little Comets are the band I listened to the most, and I believe anyone who knows them even a little will understand why. Their music – “sunshine plus rain divided by (geo+po)etry”, as defined by the band themselves – boasts a remarkable complexity, emotional as well as musical, that renders their sound rich, compelling, and incredibly infectious. Each album is a universe of its own, and each song has its very own story, all available on lyricist-vocalist Robert Coles’ lyric blog. Whether it’s the simple magic of pure love (“Common Things”) or the quiet contempt we all feel towards today’s society (“The Daily Grind”), Little Comets capture feelings and states of mind with a unique expressivity and an intriguing rhythm that keeps you fascinated, even after months of listening.


Tastebreakers Song or Artist

Kojaque

kojaque

Which song or artist from your Tastebreakers playlist are you most excited about??

I’m an incredibly obsessive listener; I often get stuck with a given artist, or even just a song, for weeks on end, which means that I’m also guilty of settling into the same genres for long periods of time. This makes listening to my Tastebreakers playlist a great adventure: there’s so much stuff on there that I’d never otherwise listen to but end up absolutely loving! The up-and-coming Irish rapper Kojaque is a fantastic example – I literally never listen to rap, but his mellow hip-hop track “Eviction Notice” (from the 2018 album Deli Deydreams) got me regretting that instantly. It’s emotional, beautifully atmospheric, but with a bit of a “bite” in the lyrics – which, as I soon discovered, is true of all of his (gorgeously accented) songs. So, apparently I’m into Irish rap now…Who would have thought?


:: Ben Niesen ::

Top 100 Song or Artist

Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Unknown Mortal Orchestra © Neil Krug

Which song or artist from your Top 100 playlist meant the most to you in 2018?

Ruban Nielson is the guy, the one, the guitarist, the artist of my life right now. There is no other way to put it; he’s a Kiwi sure, but more so he’s an expat–a stranger in a strange Portland. My hometown that never quite felt like home, I love it and I can’t help but despise it. And if there’s one thing Nielson’s second-life as Unknown Mortal Orchestra has done, it’s showcase this social dysphoria like no other. Frequently described as off-kilter, muddled and lo-fi (or should I say lo-confidence), a record from UMO is, at the best of times, never quite comfortable in its own skin. But for a guy like me, his music fits like a glove. That he’s so committed to his own weirdness that comes as most striking. Many of his tracks were sprinkled into my Wrapped playlist. But it’s “SB-05” that throws the playbook out on what to expect from this guy. It’s not quite psytrance, just neo-psychedelia with moments of entrancing bliss. His SB projects play on this tonal game of tagbacks, this “neither-here-nor-there” musicality, this head-in-the-clouds technoclaustrophia and then inflates it out for 11, 12 or 13 minutes usually. But SB-05 surpasses all of them and stretches its anxiety-ridden self a colossal 28 minutes (that’s full on “Mountain Jam” territory) — just as a dry-run for Sex & Food. It’s so majestically smooth and elegant, I dare call it an electronic orchestra of one. In his basement Nielson takes it all: he is the band, he is the composer and he is the maestro.


Tastebreakers Song or Artist

Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Robert Glasper Experiment

robert glasper experiment

Which song or artist from your Tastebreakers playlist are you most excited about??

After thumbing through the pages of modern jazz I must say, I am not amused. I’m actually kind of hurt. Whether Kamasi Washington, Esperanza Spalding or Victor Wooten amongst others, I can only say I’m half enthused; mostly as a result of Wooten’s incredible basslines. Thus, I find myself drifting back to Bitches Brew and before when what I need is a shock back to reality and modernity. And that’s just what Robert Glasper’s experiment with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” gives. It takes the same general tempo as Tori Amos’ breakfast cover but does away with the Nicksian silk and lace in favour of a Daft Punk vocoder turned to 1.1 and a spacier arrangement. Which says something considering he uses more electronics and leaves less white space, wrapping these warbles around his Monkian melodic sense–not quite free jazz and definitely not bebop–but an evolution of both. The cover also brings me back to a central debate in jazz (or perhaps just my central debate): that jazz standards are more important than jazz artists. Just name how many artists have covered “Summertime” or “Straight, No Chaser.” And in this way, Glasper tries to transform the Cobain classic into a jazz standard; an alchemical endeavour akin to gold and coal. What this proverbial philosopher does better, however, is transmute my apathy to interest. So there’s no doubt about it, I’m ready to get hurt again.

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