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pop Archives - County Tracks
Dec 232021
 
best vermont albums of 2021
20. Narrow Shoulders – Now Be Here

Spare and haunting, the debut release from Narrow Shoulders’ Zach Pollakoff does a lot with a little. Ambient noise, synth tones, the occasional pluck of guitar string, or a simple drum beat get layered just so to create an immersive instrumental world. The fact that Pollakoff works for A-list pop producer Ariel Rechtshaid (Haim, Vampire Weekend, etc) in his day job is no surprise. Though the genres couldn’t be more different, Pollakoff clearly knows to to construct a soundscape.

19. Jack O’ the Clock – Leaving California


The only progressive rock I have much use for is Jethro Tull and Jack O’ the Clock’s new record scratches that folksy itch nicely (the band name even evokes a Tull song). No, there’s no flute solos, but a whole host of other instruments make appearances, from violin to harp to sudden bursts of choir – and that’s just in one track! Then the next song opens with a clarinet solo. It’s not a flute, but close enough. Continue reading »

The Best Vermont Songs of 2021

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Dec 222021
 
best vermont songs of 2021
25. Jade Relics – With You


My main gig is covering cover songs, so I appreciate a song that shouts out “Nina Simone covering Bee Gees” (that’s the 11th Best Bee Gees Cover Ever, in case you were wondering). A new production trio from three veterans of Vermont’s hip-hop scene – Elder Orange, IAME, Rico James – “With You” brings some freak-funk vibes, like some old Stevie Wonder sample. Maybe someone will cover this soon. Continue reading »

The Best Vermont EPs of 2021

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Dec 202021
 
best vermont eps 2021
10. Lavenderlux – Nest Inertia


A remote collaboration between Vermont singer Amelia Wilcox and Washington musician Joseph Human, Lavenderlux arrives fully formed on their debut EP Nest Inertia. “Itching” touches on depression and boredom with phase-shifting guitars and Wilcox’s buttery vocals, while “Hold Out” features chiming instrumentation and a catchy slow-burn melody. Continue reading »

The Best New Songs of June

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Jun 302021
 
best songs june 2021
Bull’s Head – When He Speaks


No idea what the opening verse means, but I dig this creepy David Lynch energy: “When he speaks it’s all poetry / And he claims that his words are free / But under the table he’s / Got a gut and it’s full of bees” Continue reading »

Apr 012021
 
The Best New Songs of March
Aspetuck – Rescue Mission


Aspetuck (aka. Griff Fulton)’s bio says his music was inspired by immersing himself in the nightlife of New York and Los Angeles. Yet now he lives near where he grew up in rural Vermont, an area not exactly known for its club scene. Somehow I feel like that dichotomy comes across in “Rescue Mission.” You can imagine it playing on a dance floor somewhere, but it works equally well just sitting at home and vibing out. Continue reading »

Mar 152021
 
ruby marrow

For a minute there, the band Julia Caesar was hotly tipped to be Vermont’s next nationally-known musical export. But it wasn’t to be. After one terrific EP (and a recorded-but-never-released album), the group disbanded and frontperson Katy Hellman moved to Philadelphia.

Well, now Hellman is back in Vermont, and her new band Ruby picks up where Julia Caesar left off. When touring resumes, maybe they’ll be the group to break through on the national stage. Ruby describes themselves as “apocalypse folk rock,” but from the early evidence the sound leans more dream-pop with shades of Mazzy Star and Cocteau Twins (some live stuff is folkier). Continue reading »

New Wave-y Concept Album Brings ‘A Star Is Born’ to the Vegas Strip

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Mar 122021
 
madaila good lord nancy

I’m a sucker for a concept album. From Ziggy Stardust to Tommy, they began primarily the realm of classic rock (back before it was “classic”), but exist in pretty much every genre now, from electronic music to hip-hop. Hell, my favorite record of last year was a doom-metal concept album.

One genre that could use more concept albums, though, is new wave. Prolific Vermont-based artist Madaila obliges with the new Good Lord Nancy, which also dips into more traditionally concept album-friendly genres like rock and Americana. It’s only eight tracks – pretty short for a concept album – but it packs a lot into a quick runtime. Continue reading »

Jan 292021
 
best new songs january 2021
Adam Rabin – Winter Song

Prog-rock veteran Adam Rabin’s “Winter Song” sounds pure Jethro Tull. All that’s missing is a flute solo. Oh, wait – there it is. Continue reading »

The Best Vermont Albums of 2020

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Dec 182020
 
best vermont albums

In the endless year-end debate about to rank or not-to-rank, I generally fall on the to-rank side. Putting some albums on and not others is already subjective, so why not go full bore? But I do find that things get increasingly arbitrary the further down the list you go. There is a difference in my mind between #2 and #3. But between #22 and #23? No, not really.

So this year I’m wimping out and doing a compromise: 30 albums, #11-30 unranked, and then the ranked Top Ten at the bottom. A method sure to satisfy no one! Seems appropriate for 2020. Continue reading »