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Music Playlist

New Spotify / Apple Music Playlist: “Neo-Soul Heaven”

Our latest playlist “Neo-Soul Heaven” is now up on Spotify and Apple Music.

This one was tough. It was hard to make. It’s 5 1/2 hours and covers songs from 1985 to today. And that’s because there is just so much. Soul has always melded and shaped to its time, and these days, it’s kinda difficult to delineate the two! – r&b and “neo-soul” that is. Which is cool too, evolution.

“Old school” is anything soulful that harkens back to another time, is smooth, and speaks of “grown folks business”. So, today, as an 80s baby, my old school is 90s R&B (SWV) and Neo-Soul – which is a modern, fluid take on classic soul and tends to lean on the introspection part more often than the romance part (Erykah Badu). Back in the 70s, you could compare the two sounds with, say, The O’jays “Cry Together” (more soul) & The Isley Brothers “Between The Sheets” (more r&b).

What I personally love about Neo-soul is the jazz, hit-hats, atmosphere, sway, time, space, caution. Solange does this so well on last year’s album When I Get Home. Maxwell does it perfectly on Urban Hang Suite, as does Amel Larrieux on Infinite Possibilities, and then of course holdin’ it down for eternity is Ms. J-I-L-L S-C-O-T-T.

While researching this playlist, I was thrilled to see a new release this year from Syleena Johnson, artist and co-host on the #blackgirlmagic that is Sister Circle Live. It’s a show I hold dear to my heart – they are doing amazing things with the platform! She speaks about the state of R&B and Neo-Soul often on air, and they make a constant effort to bring on beloved Neo-soul artists all delivering bona-fide contributions to the genre as it’s both growing new roots and being gentrified into alt – r&b. With all the new voices out here resourcing the classic elements, though, I’m confident we can keep it healthy and well fed, so we can all be fed. We need it! ☺️ Also did ya’ll peep the Roots Picnic line up this year? Sheesh.

Listen to Neo-Soul Heaven now on Spotify and Apple Music and follow @indiedigs.

Categories
Music Playlist

IndieDigs Presents: Best of the Decade – Top 50 Albums (Top 25 Reviewed)

10 years, 50 albums.

CJ the editor here with the IndieDigs Top 50 albums of the 2010s, ranked! What an incredible decade of change and growth in music. For this list, I’ve also included reviews for the top 25 – complete with my peak spiraling thoughts from the last ten years. Fun! Please enjoy the playlists on Spotify and Apple Music and share your favorites with us on social @indiedigs

Here are the IndieDigs picks for Top 50 albums of the 2010s.

50. Ariana Grande – My Everything (2014)
49. Bruno Mars – 24k Magic (2016)
48. Katy Perry – Teenage Dream (2010)
47. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
46. Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color (2015)
45. SchoolboyQ – Crash Talk (2019)
44. Parquet Courts – Wide Awake! (2018)
43. St. Beauty – Running to the Sun (2018)
42. Noname – Telefone (2016)
41. Anderson. Paak – Malibu (2016)
40. Girlpool – Before the World Was Big (2015)
39. Rae Stremmurd – SremmLife (2015)
38. Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math (2011)
37. Teenage Wrist – Chrome Neon Jesus (2018)

36. Adventures – Supersonic Home (2015)
35. DIIV – Is the Are (2016)
34. Lorde – Pure Heroine (2013)
33. Haim – Days Are Gone (2013)
32. Drug Church – Hit Your Head (2015)
31. Soccer Mommy – Clean (2018)
30. Beyoncé – Lemonade (2016)
29. James Blake – Assume Form (2019)
28. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange (2012)
27. Nicki Minaj – The Pinkprint (2014)
26. Ari Lennox – Shea Butter Baby (2019)

Top 25

25. Jenny Lewis – The Voyager (2014)

Favorite Track: She’s Not Me

Where I was living: Bushwick, Brooklyn (J)

First thing that comes to mind: I bought this album alongside Taylor Swift’s 1989 for my 27th birthday. I eventually ended up selling TS back, but Jenny is an auntie of mine going back to Rilo Kiley. Starting with Head Underwater…”there’s a little bit of magic, everybody has it. There’s a little bit of sand left in the hourglass…there’s a little bit of fight left in me yet” I knew I was going to be changed, and by the time I repeated She’s Not Me, Slippery Slopes and The Voyager, like, I dunno, 75 times? I was fortified to own my shit.

24. First Aid Kit – Stay Gold (2014)

Favorite Track: Shattered & Hollow

Where I was living: Bushwick, Brooklyn (L)

First thing that comes to mind: The first song I listened to was Emmylou, on recommendation of guest curator @designjenquinn and I was totally caught off guard. When the duo released Stay Gold, I surgically attached myself to the lyrics of Shattered and Hollow, Master Pretender, and Waitress Song. From this album alone, my heart has grown three sizes, I’m three emotional inches taller, and my strength is preserved in a fortress of chilled harmonies equivalent to a 200 mph windstorm. I know, I’m being dramatic, but it’s looking backwards and forwards simultaneously then playing back your specific brand of restless, aspiration-fueled melancholy. It’s a great reset.

23. Local Natives – Gorilla Manor

Local Natives
“Gorilla Manor”
(2010)

Favorite Track: Cards & Quarters

Where I was living: Crown Heights, Brooklyn

First thing that comes to mind: From the moment I saw these guys perform at SXSW in 2010 I was locked in for life. Listening to Airplanes was one of the times in my life (alongside listening to Colombia from their album Hummingbird and watching the show Six Feet Under) that snapped me into my mortality and encouraged me to invest in my time here, the space that I encompass, and relationships with elders.

22. Jessica Lea Mayfield – Tell Me (2011) 

Jessica Lea Mayfield
“Tell Me”

(2011)

Favorite Track: Sleepless

Where I was living: Prospect Park South, Brooklyn Round #1

First thing that comes to mind: If you’ve ever felt like “damn these fuckbois” and also “shit I’m actually the fuckboi” and / or maybe you’re a slave to your bad habits in general? Then, hey! listen to this record, you might find a key to survival!  Also, seek help, phone a friend, and maybe take a solo vacation away from all the triggers? That’s definitely what every day listening to this album feels like. It’s so peaceful, and it’s so dark. it’s just this girl navigating trenches. I listened to this one while walking around the City a lot. It’s basically crystals.

21. Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer (2018)

Janelle Monáe
“Dirty Computer”
(2018)

Favorite Track: I Like That

Where I was living: motherfucking delaware

First thing that comes to mind: *trauma / trigger warning* This album came out in April of 2018 while I was taking care of my mother who was swiftly dying of pancreatic cancer. It came out on a Friday when I was staying overnight with her in the hospital. It is all that I listened to that day, while sleeping in a chair that night, and again and again for an entire month. We were able to watch the Dirty Computer film together as a family. I Like That is an anthem for my youth experience spending elementary and junior high in the suburbs of Philly, and this album is one of the two albums (see #37) that kept me afloat at the onset of deep despair. *heavy, heavy, sigh*

20. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (2015)

Courtney Barnett
“Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit”

(2015)

Favorite Track: Depreston

Where I was living: Bushwick, Brooklyn (J)

First thing that comes to mind: Our friend Io & Titan has this semi-regular event called Evening Songs where we go to a different home each month and play music & sing. It can be originals, covers, didn’t matter – it just has to fit the theme and we all pitch in and sing along if we know the tune. Very lovely & 60s. I forget what the theme was this round, but I remember it was our last ability to attend before we moved to Atlanta and I prepared Depreston. This record is so solid, front to back, and this song is a rare POV of the turnover moment in gentrification – the realtor’s marketing, traipsing through the doors and down the halls of someone’s entire life history and deciding whether or not you can / will / should marry your own life story with theirs – will you build on it or knock it all down? Every time I listen, I imagine mid-day sun casting through the windows and onto a runner table near the stairs and that Courtney is crouching down in jeans and a baseball tee touring framed photos, brass trinkets and gold tins, possibly a chandelier hanging from the 1880s that’s been passed down through the homeowner’s family and feeling physically ill.

19. Kacey Musgraves – Pageant Material (2015)

Kacey Musgraves
“Pageant Material”

(2015)

Favorite Track: Late to the Party

Where I was living: Prospect Park South, Brooklyn Round #2

First thing that comes to mind: So, I loved Follow Your Arrow and Same Trailer Different Park but I did NOT expect this album.Cancelling beauty pageants on Pageant Material, speaking up on Good Ol Boys Club, calling out on This Town, and being a proud Texan and true Virgo (just like my Ma😜) in Dime Store Cowgirl! Kacey is just too much! High Time was on rotation around the time we decided to leave NYC. Fine is deep and vacant and Late to the Party was the first dance at our wedding. Here for Kacey, always.

18.  Yeasayer – Odd Blood (2010)

Yeasayer
“Odd Blood”

(2010)

Favorite Track: Madder Red

Where I was living: Marietta, Ga

First thing that comes to mind: My ATL crew was big on SXSW for three years straight and super on top of the indie onslaught of 2009 and 2011!!! Day parties with free beer and tamales? You bet your ass, Austin. We all got turned on to Yeasayer at the same time around then. Ambling Alp was the first song I heard and this record has since been in my regular rotation. Gots it on vinyl.

17. Best Coast – Crazy For You (2010)

Best Coast
“Crazy For You”
(2010)

Favorite Track: The End

Where I was living: Crown Heights, Brooklyn

First thing that comes to mind: ah yes, the first summer of my NYC life. A Brooklyn resident, I did the thing of becoming an intern for Pitchfork Video. It was honestly fucking great, and I learned a lot, but the best memory is walking from the Nassau station to the offices way up on Meeker. A long walk from the train and plenty of time to gush all my crush feelings all over the streets by repeating The End over and over again and actually crumbling inside! Music heals, people. This record came at a perfect time in my life and the sunniness of the sound matched my sunny new outlook on life as a single girl ready to find out what it all means. The record is a sundress. 

16. Paramore – After Laughter (2017)

Paramore
“After Laughter”
(2017)

Favorite Track: Fake Happy

Where I was living: Prospect Park South, Brooklyn Round #2

First thing that comes to mind: Hayley is a champion and Franklin, TN needs to erect a statue in her honor for lifting all of us out of the mud again and again for what’s going on fifteen years now. Upon first hearing After Laughter, I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the brightness against the I DON’T FEEL BRIGHT lyrics and the dance-y breaks to balance it all. In 2017, at the Fox Theater in ATL, I finally got to renew my Paramore experience since seeing them in 2008 at the Masquerade Music Park in ATL (RIP!) and after the show I bought my first ball cap that says “fake happy”. It’s really helped speak on my behalf during hard times. See what I did there?

15. Alvvays – Alvvays (2014)

Alvvays
“Alvvays”
(2014)

Favorite Track: Party Police

Where I was living: Bushwick, Brooklyn (J)

First thing that comes to mind: Dreamy eternal solitude.

14. Sleigh Bells – Treats (2010)

Sleigh Bells
“Treats”
(2010)

Favorite Track: Rill Rill

Where I was living: Crown Heights, Brooklyn

First Thing that comes to mind: Crown on the Ground ripping our skulls.

13. Wild Nothing – Nocturne (2012)

Wild Nothing
“Nocturne”
(2012)

Favorite Track: This Chain Won’t Break

Where I was living: Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

First Thing that comes to mind: waiting for the J train.

12. Real Estate – Atlas (2014)

Real Estate
“Atlas”
(2014)

Favorite Track: Past Lives

Where I was living: Bushwick, Brooklyn (J)

First Thing that comes to mind: Taking naps.

11. Daniel Caesar – Freudian (2017)

Daniel Caesar
“Freudian”
(2017)

Favorite Track: Hold Me Down

Where I was living: Virginia Highlands, Ga

First Thing that comes to mind: My brother is great at knowing good music. Listen to Hold Me Down during any of the various crucial moments that will and should occur in your relationship. Love, people!

10. Beach House – Teen Dream (2010)

Beach House
“Teen Dream”
(2010)

Favorite Track: Norway

Where I was living: Marietta, Ga

First Thing that comes to mind:
Brooklyn, babyyyyy.

9. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo (2011)

Kurt Vile
“Smoke Ring for My Halo”
(2011)

Favorite Track: On Tour

Where I was living: Prospect Park South, Brooklyn Round #1

First Thing that comes to mind: Walking around Cambridge, MA for the first time one night in March 2014 while visiting my bf who was off at work and I was left to tour the city on my own. On my way to the coffee shop I looked up on Yelp, I thought “let me check out this Kurt Vile guy”. Put this record on. Molecule shift.

8. Valerie June – The Order of Time (2017)

Valerie June
“The Order of Time”
(2017)

Favorite Track: Long Lonely Road

Where I was living: Prospect Park South, Brooklyn Round #2

First Thing that comes to mind: Where is the lie?

7. Frank Ocean – Blonde (2016)

Frank Ocean
“Blonde”
(2016)

Favorite Track: Solo

Where I was living: Prospect Park South, Brooklyn Round #2

First Thing that comes to mind: I bought this the moment it was released. So glad we have this person around making music and speaking and being.

6. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city (2012)

Kendrick Lamar
“good kid, m.A.A.d city”
(2012)

Favorite Track: Swimming Pools

Where I was living: Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

First Thing that comes to mind: 😮

5. The Internet – Ego Death (2015)

The Internet
“Ego Death”
(2015)

Favorite Track: Under Control 

Where I was living: Prospect Park South, Brooklyn Round #2

First Thing that comes to mind: 😏

4. Solange – A Seat At The Table (2016)

Solange
“A Seat At the Table”
(2016)

Favorite Track: Weary

Where I was living: Prospect Park South, Brooklyn Round #2

First Thing that comes to mind: Black Lives Matter.

3. Childish Gambino – Because the Internet (2013)

Childish Gambino
“Because The Internet” (2013)

Favorite Track: IV.Sweatpants

Where I was living: Bushwick, Brooklyn (L)

First Thing that comes to mind: #blerd.

2. Tame Impala – Currents (2015)

Favorite Track: Eventually

Where I was living: Prospect Park South, Brooklyn Round #2

First Thing that comes to mind: I’m a romantic even with my cold, cold heart! The fact that this album is a front to back tale. New Person, Same Old Mistakes.

1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)

Favorite Track: For Free? Interlude

Where I was living: Bushwick, Brooklyn (J)

First Thing that comes to mind: Black Lives Matter.