Has anyone sat back and thought about how long (taxing, grueling, interesting, awesome, sad, fascinating, weird) this year has been? Through all of the breakups, impeachments (had to go there), worsening of the climate, hangovers, deaths, and just general dejectedness, there has been one thing that has been there through it all. Music has been the one solid and steady force that continues to keep us together and also unite us; and there’s been some really solid tunes coming out of this year.
So as we say goodbye to this god forsaken year and hello to Trump’s removal from office and hopefully a better year politically, take a moment to listen to some killer tracks made from around the world.
The five-piece band from Athens, Greece, Dury Dava has put out the most aurally sexual track of the year. Full of a hypnotizing falsetto reminiscent of Waterstrider, met with a mix of 1960’s psychedelia and 70’s krautrock, and Bauhaus elements at the end of the track, “Satana” is a downright visceral experience. It’s the track that you wish you could sleep with—you know that kind. It’s too good to not obsess over. It’s heaven; it’s hell; it’s everything that this year represents.
In their hometown they are known for their increasingly explosive live shows in unexpected urban venues or mystical summer festivals on remote Greek islands. Bands to see in 2020: Dury Dava.
Their debut self-titled album was recorded live during several sessions in the second half of 2018 at Hobart Phase studios in Athens and was released in May 2019 via Inner Ear.
Russian Baths “Parasite” (New York, USA)
I met Russian Baths during SXSW this year and was completely in awe and not only their talent, and live show, but also the level of coolness and niceness that they exude. They are truly the people that you see dressed in all black at a venue and say ‘I wish I could be best friends with them’ but realize you’ll never be as cool as they are. And then you hear their music/see them play and politely see yourself out.
They released their debut album Deepfake at the later end of this year—it oozes with feedback and dissonance and softly whispered harmonies. They are today’s answer to Sonic Youth in a way that is enviously dark and original. The whole album is a goddamn*ed masterpiece.
This beachy indie pop tune made by Perth and San Francisco-based band House Fire is the total summation of my summer. A failed attempt to move to London met with landing a gig at a major tech company and what do you get? An injection of bliss but also wanting to die from depression at the same time.
Multi-instrumentalist George Stribling and vocalist Desiree McCann have seemingly taken that summertime sadness trope and made it into a catchy as hell guitar-driven track inspired by Vampire Weekend, Tame Impala, Phoenix, and Dirty Projectors.
George, originally from Perth, Australia, and Desiree, originally from San Francisco, California, met while studying abroad in London. They’ve spent the following two years writing and recording together, from afar. The duo’s two EP’s (Never See You Again and Hotel) are conversations with themselves and to each other, navigating their long-distance relationship and all the ~~emotion~~ that comes with it.
The Tissues “My Body My Mind” (Los Angeles, USA)
It seems like 2019 was the year (once again) of rich, senseless white men trying to bring their countries into a fascist state of misinformation and total control. One of the many ways that this came to a head this year was with the US abortion ban and subsequent protests to ensure that it wasn’t passed. Over here, we launched the feminist site High Street Disco (where we are still roaring and bra-burning); but we also opened up a section just for women and non-binary artists on Left Bank. We had a few women and non-binary musician showcases in NYC and guess what, we aren’t stopping.
Which brings me to the ultra-punk rock track “My Body My Mind” by LA-based band The Tissues. With lines such as, “redefine gender lines / my choice all human rights / fuck the wall stand tall / to the ones that say we’re small,” The Tissues makes no effort to hide their disgust and anger with what was—and still is—going on in our country.
My body my show Don’t touch no means no
All proceeds from Bandcamp single sales of “My Body My Mind” went to prochoiceamerica.org. The Tissues is a perfect example of why Left Bank exists and what we can do as a community to empower each other and mobilize to fight an archaic system.
4Vesta “Evening Star” (New York, USA)
“Evening Star” gives me such hardcore “Starpower” vibes—it’s a shoegaze lullaby that you could quite literally listen to on repeat for the next three days; maybe even longer. With ethereal yet submerged vocals and engrossing fuzzed guitars, “Evening Star” is that one track that makes you cry every time you listen to it. It’s beautiful, sad, deep, slightly lonely, aurally unforgiving; it’s powerful.
This is the first track off of their first EP, in which they draw heavily from the My Bloody Valentine album Loveless and create songs on the grungier, heavier, dreamier side of shoegaze. I wouldn’t call myself a prophet, but 4Vesta is a band you want to watch in the new year.
The Chainsmokers “Call You Mine” Feat. Bebe Rexha (New York, USA)
You might be wondering how mainstream EDM duo The Chainsmokers has ended up on the supremely gauche site Left Bank. Sit down, kiddos, I’ve got a story to tell.
In May of this year, I got a terrible case of ‘Bali belly’ in Canggu and was forced to spend an egregious amount of time in a very fancy hotel room—so I could be as close as possible to the bathroom (which, might I add, was the same size as a studio on the Upper East Side). I watched a lot of music videos on an Indonesian pop channel, and in between a mass of Pentatonix videos was Bebe Rexha. I quickly fell in love with her attitude, unique voice, and no-fux charm. When I saw that The Chainsmokers submitted this tune to Left Bank, I set it aside until earlier this month, when I quickly revisited it and added it to our Best of List.
The tune is EDM at it’s best: with a high bpm, catchy lyrics, and the air of dancing in a coke den with your best friends. That’s why it made the list. Because, who doesn’t want to close out 2019 in a coke den with your best friends, reminiscing about a self-imposed quarantine in a luxury hotel in Bali?
Magic Bronson “When Was the Last Time”(Los Angeles, USA)
Magic Bronson’s “When Was the Last Time” is LCD Soundsystem reincarnated, with a sick bass-line and synths that make you—no, forces you—to get up and dance. Channeling Rappers Delight and LCD Soundsystem’s “Daft Punk is Playing at My House”, “When Was the Last Time” is a nasty disco diatribe that belongs in a collection of iconic dance tracks. It’s fun, and energetic, slightly chaotic at times, and perfect.
It begs to be said again, this track is the perfect dance tune. Don’t agree with me? Send me a better one.
One of our favorite bands from this year has very obviously made our end-of-the-year list. The band has shown up on Left Bank (naturally) so we couldn’t not put them here. Made up of guitarist/composer Vahagni and songwriter/producer Ryan Merchant (Capital Cities), their sound is a mix of flamenco guitar rhythms, disco-esque electronic production, and captivating vocals.
Their name comes from their biggest influences—the legendary Spanish guitarist Paco De Lucia and French electronic artists Daft Punk and Air, both products of the Parisian suburb of Versailles.
You can hear these influences in their tropical house track, “Unwind” which is giving me hardcore summer vibes. Is it even spring yet? Listen to one of our favorite tunes below.