By Margaret Welsh
Pittsburgh Current Music Editor
My Favorite Color – “Move”
This track hooks you in with loopy sunniness then douses you in syrupy, hypnotic melancholia. If you’ve been sleeping on Pittsburgh expat My Favorite Color (a.k.a. Anthony Willis, who moved to LA this year) “Move” is a good place to start. The track comes from Pittsburgh City Limits, a project put together by One800, who worked exclusively as My Favorite Color’s producers for three years before branching out. Keep an ear out for all of them in 2020.
Heavy Discipline — “Moment Won’t Come”
I don’t know who wrote the lyrics to this track, but its fuck-you, fuck-me negativity is something i’ve come to anticipate from any hardcore band that includes Adam Thomas (here he plays guitar). “Waiting for my chance to prove that I can be better” ex-Hounds of Hate frontman Trey White snaps on the band’s demo, then gruffly u-turns into the next line: “A moment that might not ever come.”
Spish – “Alone Ranger”
It’s tough to pick just one song from Eat This Flower, which Spish put out in late November, but “Alone Ranger” is a particularly stirring piece of lo-fi indie-pop, evoking the warm-blooded electro-psych of the late ’90s and early ’00s (think: the Beta Band, Beck, Broadcast). But Spish keeps things just off-kilter enough to be unsettling.
Tribe Eternal – “Level Up”
Mysterious Shit, a collaboration between hip-hop collective Tribe Eternal (Clara Kent, Bilal and Pharaoh Lum) and rapper NVSV, was — in some ways — a line in the sand for the four artists. Tired of shitty behavior and lackluster musicians in the Pittsburgh music scene, the four crafted a kind of musical mission statement over the course of the record. As NVSV told the Current when the record came out, “I want Mysterious Shit to hurt feelings.” As for “Level Up,” it might be the chillwave map within the mission statement, within the trash talk. You might not have it together, but the time to level-up is now.
Speed Plans – “Money”
This song has been on repeat since I stumbled on it a few months ago (but, at 56 seconds, it’s not a particularly staggering investment of time). I love this whole record, to be honest: it’s like the Jesus Lizard, Fear and the B-52s rolled into one. But it was “Money,” that first captured my heart: brief, vulgar, beautifully mindless, almost perfect.
INEZ — “IDNY” (Feat. Simone Davis & Clara Kent)
INEZ capped off the year with a rich, wonderful record, and this track alone packs enough power to keep the lights on through January. It’s a thrilling declaration of independence, a shedding of now- unnecessary baggage: “Get the hell out of my way, I’m moving on to better days, all I really need to say is, I don’t need you.” Couldn’t we all afford to take this energy into the new year?
Astrology Now — “Loose Ends”
Astrology Now’s Knife EP came out this past November, but the sparkling “Loose Ends” sounds like a lost track from the Nuggets box set. There’s no shortage of psychedelic rock out there, but Astrology Now is something special, and manages to sound authentically vintage without being ’60s cosplay.
Chantillion – “BITB”
Chantillion does many things very well, but this year I hope they lean more into this kind of space-aged gender-neutral cock rock (but not rock, exactly). “BITB” offers a heavy dose of that bad boi edge, without sacrificing the band’s proggy, arena-ready vastness. What can i say? It … rocks!
The Lopez – “Digital”
Steph Flati should probably be given an award for what she’s accomplished this year. When her husband and bandmate Jesse Flati died last year, she finished the record they’d been working on for two years, and then threw one of the biggest release parties of 2019, all in the service of honoring Jesse’s memory, their work together, and their deep love of music and each other. “Digital” is my (current) favorite track from Heart Punch: Here the Lopez’s trademark dance-punk/snot-rock sound is electronified and blurred; Steph and Jesse’s voices multiply and merge through a wall of sound.