My 2020 Musical Picks

2020 was a weird year. So many normal activities had to be canceled or postponed. However, listening to and discovering music could go on as usual. So, following tradition, I made a list of my top 100 songs for this (very odd) year.

Note that while many of these song were released in the last year (2020 or late 2019), there are some much older songs. The criteria isn’t necessarily that the songs be new (or even new to me), just that they were discovered, re-discovered or had some special meaning to me in 2020. For example, you may notice some rediscovery of my 90’s favorites here.

My “top 10 albums list” is still on hiatus for now. However, I’ll do a brief “top 3”. There were many more great ones, which are reflected in my top 100, but I’ll just highlight these three for now:

  1. Gorillaz – Song Machine – The diversity is the key to this one. It’s all over the map, so each song has a unique quality, though the album still hangs together well as a whole. It especially won me over with a few notable guest performances from Robert Smith and Peter Hook!
  2. Run the Jewels – RTJ4 – Run the Jewels keep getting better. This one was prophetic, timely and spoke to 2020 better than any other.
  3. Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters – A completely original sound from an artist who’s always good. But, she really takes some unusual and bold moves here. I didn’t actually like it for the first few listens, but once it sunk in, I realized it was a quirky masterpiece. Especially, Newspaper, which is a non-traditional, but infectious and brilliant song.

All that said, here is my list for 2020. Enjoy!

Best of 2020 Music List on Spotify

Also, I had a few leftover tracks that were up for consideration, but didn’t quite make the 100-song cut. However, they are also great. So, here’s my runner-up list for the year:

Rest of 2020 Music List on Spotify

Happy Holidays!

Dear family and friends,

Seriously. Is anyone else ready to be done with 2020? In truth, we really can’t complain. It’s actually been a pretty good year for us, in spite of all the curveballs this year has thrown us all.  We have all the usual gripes anyone could have, but we’re relatively lucky. Our work has transitioned seamlessly to remote and we’ve remained healthy. 😀

Lily, who is now 2 years old (and then some), continues to shine. She’s a sweet, loving girl who’s well beyond her years. We’re super proud of our big girl and the awesome person she is!

But for the good of everyone, let’s hope for a much better 2021 for all! (It’s a low bar 🤷‍♂️)

Much love from us to you!

cheers,
Lily, Hang and Justin

Happy Holidays 2020

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My 2019 Musical Picks

As I have done for quite a few years now, I’ve made a list of my top 100 songs of the year.

Note that while many of these song were released in the last year (2019 or late 2018), there are some much older songs. The criteria isn’t necessarily that the songs be new (or even new to me), just that they were discovered, re-discovered or had some special meaning to me in 2019.

Unlike previous years, I don’t have a “top 10 albums list” this year. There definitely were some great albums this year, and they’re reflected in my top 100 song choices. However, with the duties of fatherhood (my daughter is 18 months old as I write this), I just didn’t have the time to make a formal list this year. Hopefully, I’ll get back to that habit sooner or later. For now, that tradition is on hiatus for a bit.

All that said, here is my list for 2019. Enjoy!

Best of 2019 Music List on Spotify

Also, I had a few leftover tracks that were up for consideration, but didn’t quite make the 100-song cut. However, they are also great. So, here’s my runner-up list for the year:

Rest of 2019 Music List on Spotify

Happy Holidays!

Dear family and friends,

It’s been a wonderful year of taking care of our (not-so-little anymore) Lily, who is now 17 months old! She’s really looking forward the holidays, and so are we! We hope you had a great year too and wish you an even better 2020! 🙂

Much love from us to you!

cheers,
Lily, Hang and Justin

Happy Holidays 2019

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My 2018 Musical Picks

As I have done for many years now, I’ve assembled my top 100 songs of the year (other than last year’s failure, in which I only had a few over 50). This year, I’m back, with a full 100 songs. There are some good ones in here!

While these songs were mostly released in the last year (2018 or late 2017), they are not exclusively new. This list can also include songs from further back that I’ve enjoyed or rediscovered this year. I also have a ranking of my top albums of 2018, listed below (this list is all of recent releases).

Without further adieu, here is my list for 2018. Enjoy!

2018 Music List on Spotify

Top Albums:

Here are my top ten albums for 2018:

  1. The Shins – Heartworms
  2. The Decemberists – I’ll Be Your Girl
  3. Makaya McCraven – Universal Beings
  4. Various Artists – 27: The Most Perfect Album
  5. James – Living in Extraordinary Times
  6. Gorillaz – The Now Now
  7. Deathcab for Cutie – Thank You For Today
  8. Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, SZA – Black Panther The Album: Music From And Inspired By
  9. Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar
  10. Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer

… and, the honorable mentions:

Happy Holidays!

Dear family and friends,

Family 2018What a year! This year brought us a new member to our family. Our daughter, Lily Mae was born on July 14. We love her so much. She just keeps getting cuter and cuter as the days go by. We are enjoying our first holiday season with her and looking forward to finding out what 2019 has in store for her and our family.

In other news, Justin has a new job in technology as a software engineer with Walmart Labs. It’s a big change as well, and he’s very excited about it.
We wish all of you much love in the year to come!

cheers,

Justin, Hang and Lily

Happy Holidays 2018

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Announcing… Berry!

That’s right… We’re expecting! Hằng and I are really excited to announce the newest member of our family, and his/her name is… Berry! Well, for now anyway. Berry is his/her “tummy-name,” which will serve as a stand-in until Berry is born.

We’ve had a few official doctor visits and Berry is looking strong. Berry is due the end of July. We’re looking forward to his/her arrival, and hope you are too! 🙂

My 2017 Musical Picks

Usually, I build a list of the top 100 songs I discovered that year. 2017 wasn’t a good year for that list. The music I did discover in 2017 was great, but there wasn’t enough of it. I only scraped together 52 songs this year. So, only a bit over halfway to my goal. My excuses include general business and too many podcasts to listen to. But, excuses are just excuses.

All that said, I still managed to listen to some really awesome music, so my list still deserves to be shared (even if it’s a bit shorter than years past). I also have a ranking of my top albums of 2017, listed below. Here’s my list for 2017. Enjoy!

2017 Music List on Spotify

Top Albums:

Here are my top albums for 2017.

  1. Vic Mensa – The Autobiography
  2. The xx – I See You
  3. Little Dragon – Season High
  4. Arcade Fire – Everything Now
  5. Big Theif – Masterpiece
  6. Spoon – Hot Thoughts
  7. Gorillaz – Humanz
  8. The National – Sleep Well Beast
  9. alt-J – Relaxer
  10. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 3

Honorable mention:

Happy Holidays!

Dear family and friends,

As another year comes to a close, Hang and I want to send a quick word out to those we care about and wish you the best.

We’ve had a great year, with a few trips including back to Austin and to Maine. Apart from our trips, life has been good in Northwest Arkansas.

We are looking forward to a great new year with exciting new things to come. We wish you all the same! Much love from us to all of you!

cheers,

Justin and Hang

My 2016 Playlist

Every year, my brother and I share our list of top 100 songs discovered each year. My 2016 playlist is now ready on Spotify. Here is the link:

Best of 2016 – My top 100 songs of the year.

A bit about how it works… Every year, as I discover (or rediscover) a song I like, I add it to my list for consideration. These songs don’t have to be released during that year (though generally are). For older releases, either I discovered it for the first time during the year, I rediscovered it, appreciated it under a new light or it had some particular significance to an event that happened during the year.

Usually, my list starts with well over 100 songs. At the end of the year, I whittle the list down to the top 100 songs and drop the rest in the runner-up list. This year, due to a variety of factors (getting married, moving cities, etc.), I didn’t discover quite as much new music. I had to build my list up to 100 rather than whittle it down. So, there is no runner-up list. I also included a few more songs from each favorite artist. I usually limit myself to three songs per artist, but eliminated that restriction this year. Bottom line, there’s a bit less variety this year, but I’m still really proud of it!

The lists have both been sequenced very carefully. There isn’t any thematic structure, but I’ve paid attention to the way each song flows into the next. I try to build blocks of songs with similar feel with transitionary songs in between blocks. The sequencing isn’t always perfect, but I’m mostly pleased with the flow.

So, hope you enjoy the lists and discover some great new music!

Previous years