All posts by thefeministbibliothecary

The Feminist Bibliothecary’s Top 25 Albums of 2019

After spending 2019 listening to a broad variety of artists and genres, I’m happy to say that the past year has been a fantastic one for music in my opinion. I heard new albums from longtime favourite artists and I heard many wonderful artists for the very first time, and I’m excited to be sharing twenty-five of my favourite albums of 2019.  I’ve included both full-length albums and EPs in this list, with some links (Youtube and Spotify) for your convenience. This list is far from a comprehensive one, and even being based on my own tastes won’t prevent it from missing some of my own favourites, which means I’m sure to be missing some of yours. Drop a comment to share some of your favourite albums if I missed them.

(TW for a brief mention of a death by suicide)

 

FKA twigs – Magdalene

FKA twigs is an English singer-songwriter known for her genre-bending art pop music. Magdalene is her second full-length album (and she has previously released three EPs as well), released a full five years after her debut LP. The album features powerful and meaningful lyrics to a broad variety of sounds, ranging from intense melancholy to chaotic energy and everything in between. This is FKA twigs at her absolute best, and I say this as a long-time fan. 

Spotify

Youtube: Holy Terrain (feat. Future)

 

Snotty Nose Rez Kids – Trapline

Snotty Nose Rez Kids are a Canadian hip-hop duo of two Haisla rappers, Young D and Yung Trybez. Trapline is their third full-length album, and some of the best work they’ve ever done. The beats are endlessly interesting and catchy, they have an impressive list of guests including some of my own personal favourites, and the lyrics range in how they speak to every day indigeneity and to intense political anger and turmoil.

Spotify

Youtube: I Can’t Remember My Name (feat. Shanks Sioux)

 

beabadoobee – Space Cadet

beabadoobee is a Filipino-British singer-songwriter. Her music blends bedroom pop, space rock, and indie pop-rock. Between 2018 and 2019, she released six EPs, and Space Cadet is my personal favourite of her EPs. The mood feels melancholic and angsty in a way that reminds me of the best early works of artists like Sleater-Kinney and Heavens to Betsy. It’s impossible not to bop along to.

Spotify

Youtube: I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus

 

King Princess – Cheap Queen

King Princess is a USAmerican singer-songwriter and guitarist. She is genderqueer (she/her pronouns) and gay, which often plays an important part in her lyrics, which range from powerful and moving to funny and fun. Cheap Queen is her first full-length album, and it is loaded with delightfully queer pop-rock anthems from start to finish, the kind that are great to hear on the radio for everyone, or blasted through your speakers or headphones at home, or in a live venue.

Spotify

Youtube: Cheap Queen & Useless Phrases

 

Lizzo – Cuz I Love You

Lizzo is a USAmerican singer-songwriter and flutist. Cuz I Love You is Lizzos’ third full-length album, and it has truly been the breakout album that brought her to the world’s attention (and as a longtime fan, I love seeing her get the success she deserves). The album is filled with pop, R&B, soul, and hip-hop influences, with Lizzo’s powerhouse vocals and flute solos galore to liven things up even more.

Spotify

Youtube: Like A Girl

 

Blackpink – Kill This Love

Blackpink is a South Korean girl group of four members. Two of their number were born in South Korea (Jennie and Jisoo), one of them was born in New Zealand (Rose), and one was born in Thailand (Lisa). Not only are they wildly popular in Korea, but they are one of the most successful K-pop groups to break out in North America. Kill This Love is their most recent EP, featuring intensely fun pop songs.

Spotify

Youtube: Kick It

 

Chelsea Wolfe – Birth of Violence

Chelsea Wolfe is a USAmerican singer-songwriter, guitarist, and pianist. Her music is wildly eclectic and intensely dark, featuring elements of neofolk, doom metal, goth rock, and subtle electronic styles. While Birth of Violence is definitely folk-leaning, it features many of the eclectic elements that she is known for. This new album gives us many intense, dark songs that are completely Wolfe’s own style.

Spotify

Youtube: Deranged for Rock & Roll

 

Sudan Archives – Athena

Sudan Archives is a USAmerican singer-songwriter and violinist. She blends her own violin playing with electronic pop music into a unique and fresh style. After two EPs, Athena is her first full-length album, and it is phenomenal and unique. It manages to be completely unexpected, while also being exactly what I hope for from Sudan Archives. The songs range from light and airy to dark and intense, sometimes incredibly quickly, with her vocals and violin always managing to deliver.

Spotify

Youtube: Confessions

 

Caroline Polachek – Pang

Caroline Polachek is a USAmerican singer-songwriter. She previously worked in the band Chairlift and doing solo projects under various names, but Pang is her first solo album under her own name. The album blends art-pop and electronic styles to create a unique blend that is supported by her soprano vocals. The album ranges from upbeat pop tunes with catchy melodies and lyrics to sedately ethereal songs that lean on the simplicity of her vocals, creating a beautifully balanced album.

Spotify

Youtube: So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings

 

Rosalie Cunningham – Rosalie Cunningham

Rosalie Cunningham is an English singer-songwriter. She previously performed with the groups Ipso Facto and Purson, and this eponymous album is her solo debut. The album has influences of psychedelic rock and metal, classic progressive rock, and a taste of goth. With a powerful voice and a unique style, Cunningham has released one of the best and most fun psychedelic rock albums I’ve heard in years.

Spotify

Youtube: Ride On My Bike

 

Tanya Tagaq – Toothsayer

Tanya Tagaq is an Inuk throat singer from Nunavut, Canada. Tagaq blends elements of folk and electronic music into an eclectic style that centres her traditional throat singing style. This EP is her fifth album, and it goes back to her earlier styles. Toothsayer makes use of those folk and electronic styles to evoke the imagery of a windswept tundra, much like what is featured on the album’s cover. The style centres her phenomenal vocals to the best effect.

Spotify

Youtube: Submerged

 

Doja Cat – Hot Pink

Doja Cat is a USAmerican singer-songwriter and rapper. Her music blends pop, hip-hop, R&B, and soul. Hot Pink is her second full-length album, and it blends all of her best elements together. The beats range from fun to chill and everything in between, the lyrics range from meaningful to raunchy, and vocals are on point whether she’s singing in her soft and sweet style or rapping.

Spotify

Youtube: Say So

 

Youn Sun Nah – Immersion

Youn Sun Nah is a South Korean jazz singer. Immersion is her tenth full-length album. Nah didn’t have any experience with jazz growing up and learned to sing in styles more akin to pop and rock, but she studied jazz in Paris as an adult. Her varied influences are as prevalent as always on Immersion, and you can hear everything from gentle covers to chaotic and vaguely weird (in the best possible way) personal creations.

Spotify

Youtube: Mystic River

 

Lolo Zouai – High Highs to Low Lows

Lolo Zouai is a French-born USAmerican singer-songwriter. Although she had released an EP and a number of singles before, High Highs to Low Lows is her debut full-length album. The album is packed with catchy, dreamy, chill pop beats, and Zouai’s soft and surprisingly engaging vocals invite the listeners in to hear her often melancholic lyrics somehow add to the subtle catchiness of so many of the songs.

Spotify

Youtube: Chevy Impala

 

Mereba – The Jungle is the Only Way Out

Mereba is a USAmerican singer-songwriter, pianist, guitarist, and producer. After releasing a number of EPs, The Jungle is the Only Way Out is Mereba’s first full-length album. Mereba’s style is heavily influenced by her Ethiopian heritage, R&B, and soul, and all of these influences are apparent in this album. Ranging from softly catchy acoustic sounds to some irresistible 90s R&B vibes, the album is a standout.

Spotify

Youtube: Sandstorm (Feat JID)

 

Alcest – Spiritual Instinct

Alcest is a French metal band that blends black metal, shoegazing, post-metal, and alternative metal and rock to great effect. Spiritual Instinct is their sixth full-length album, and it brings all of their best-known elements to the table. It’s reminiscent of their earlier works while still adding the maturity and development you expect from a band after a half dozen albums.

Spotify

Youtube: Sapphire

 

Utkarsh Ambudkar – Petty

Utkarsh Ambudkar is a USAmerican singer, rapper, and actor (including in films like Pitch Perfect and the upcoming Mulan, and TV shows like The Mindy Project). His style leans towards pop, and you can really hear the best of his pop elements in this album, but Petty also includes the best of his rap talent, making for an all-around fun and enjoyable album.

Spotify

Youtube: Nope

 

Cartel Madras – Age of the Goonda

Cartel Madras is a Canadian hip hop duo made up of two Indian-born sisters, known as Contra and Eboshi. As queer women of colour, their identity plays a vital role in their music, their lyrics, and their overall style. Age of the Goonda is an EP, their first project after their short debut mixtape, and it is packed with fun and kickass songs.

Spotify

Youtube: Goonda Gold

 

Sulli – Goblin

Sulli was a South Korean actress, singer, and model. She was previously a member of the k-pop group f(x), and Goblin was the first EP of her solo career. The songs in this short EP shift away from her more traditional k-pop roots towards an ethereal and dreamy sound that feels profoundly emotional. Sulli died by suicide only a few months after the EP was released.

Spotify

Youtube: Goblin

 

The HU – The Gereg

The HU is a Mongolian rock band. Their style blends folk metal, rock, and heavy metal styles, while also making use of traditional Mongolian instruments like the morin khuur as well as traditional Mongolian throat singing. The Gereg is their debut album, and it is packed with all of the elements that make their style so unique and enjoyable to listen to.

Spotify

Youtube: Shireg Shireg

 

Tinashe – Songs For You

Tinashe is a USAmerican singer-songwriter, dancer, actress, and producer. While her mixtapes have been independently released, she has been with major production companies for her previous albums. Songs for You is her fourth album, but it is her first produced independently, and she has knocked it out of the part. With elements of dark art pop, R&B, electronic, and more, the album is probably the best of her career so far.

Spotify

Youtube: Stormy Weather

 

clipping. – There Existed an Addiction to Blood

clipping. is a USAmerican experimental hip-hop group, made up of Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes. Their music tends to feature intensely eclectic styles with noise and industrial playing a vital part to their beats, and strong, fast, and powerful lyrics rapped by Diggs. There Existed an Addiction to Blood is their third full-length album, it is perhaps their best so far, and it completely lives up to their own brand of chaotic eccentricity.

Spotify

Youtube: Blood of the Fang

 

Chanmina – Never Grow Up

Chanmina is a South Korean-Japanese singer and rapper. Her style blends j- and k-pop, j- and k-hip hop, and modern R&B and soul. She sings and raps in Japanese, Korean, and English. Never Grow Up is her second full-length album, and it is filled with the elements that make her style so unique. Ranging from intense but dancey hip-hop songs to pop ballads, Never Grow Up is an eclectic pop album that isn’t to be missed.

Spotify

Youtube: I’m a Pop

 

Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

Billie Eilish is a USAmerican singer-songwriter. She has released EPs and singles in years passed, but When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is her debut album. Her style ranges from chill indie-pop to danceable electropop, and she shifts between styles seamlessly throughout the album. While some of the tracks have been breakout hits, like Bad Guy, the entire album is worth listening to.

Spotify

Youtube: You Should See Me in a Crown

 

Blackbriar – Our Mortal Remains

Blackbriar is a woman-fronted Dutch gothic metal band. They have yet to release a full-length album, and Our Mortal Remains is their third EP. The band puts forward some of the best of what modern gothic metal has to offer, with ethereal vocals, fairytale-like lyrics, and melodies ranging from soft to heavy.

Spotify

Youtube: Beautiful Delirium

Lite Reads Selection: ‘Civil Peace’ by Chinua Achebe

Lite Reads civil peace.png

Welcome to The Feminist Bibliothecary’s Lite Reads, where we read a different short story every week, and then discuss it here and on social media. This week’s Lite Reads selection is Civil Peace by Chinua Achebe!

Civil Peace by Chinua Achebe was published in 1971 and focuses on the aftermath of the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970). Set in eastern Nigeria immediately following the war, this piece of literary fiction stars Jonathan Iwegbu as he tries to make it through life in a post-war society through sheer optimism.

Chinua Achebe (1930-2013) was an Igbo Nigerian writer and professor. When he was awarded the 2007 Man Booker International Prize, he was called the “father of modern African writing.” His work tends to focus on Nigeria, especially within his own Igbo background, a powerhouse of the post-colonial literary movement. He is famous for works such as his iconic novel Things Fall Apart (1958), Anthills of the Savannah (1987),  Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays, 1965-1987 (1988), and, his final published work before he died of an illness, There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra (2013).

You can read Civil Peace in full in this PDF, either in your browser or downloaded to your device. I was unable to find an audio recording of the story, and I apologise for any difficulties this may cause.

Join us in the comments section here, or on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram, to participate in discussions throughout the week. You can also join in on the discussion at Litsy by following @elizabethlk and the #litereads hashtag.

Lite Reads Review: ‘The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees’ by E. Lily Yu

Lite Reads The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees rvw.png

Week seventy-one of Lite Reads comes to a close as we finish our selection The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees by E. Lily Yu. There were questions as food for thought on social media as people had the chance to read it and think about it. Before I announce the next Lite Reads selection (January 19), I will be sharing my own thoughts here. Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t finished reading the story yet.

The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees by E. Lily Yu is a science fiction short story about groups of bees and wasps in the wild. When the village of Yiwei destroys a wasp nest, they realise that the nests contain maps to the entire region and destroy all of the local nests to see the maps. The surviving wasps flee and begin a new life further away from the human community. They essentially colonise a region already inhabited by bees, and the bees are forced under wasp control. One of the bees has the anarchist gene, a natural phenomenon in bees that can be passed on as a hereditary trait. The bee and its descendants begin to plan to escape from under the thumb of the colonial wasp rule and the bee monarchy alike. They slowly build up their own nest for the winter. During the winter, the anarchist bees, monarchical bees, and colonial ruling wasps all go into their own nests to either hold out the winter or hibernate. A girl from Yiwei comes and collects the wasp nest to prove that wasp nests have maps in them to those who hadn’t believed the village before because they had killed all the wasps first and couldn’t prove the maps were wasp-made. When the monarchical bees come out in spring, they begin anew, free from wasp rule, and they find the anarchist bees dead from infighting and a poorly planned winter hideaway.

Yu considers The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees to be hard science fiction rather than fantasy (as many stories about insects might be) because entomology is a real science and the story’s major plot points come from real entomological papers the author had read prior to writing the story, particularly about the phenomenon of anarchism in bees. I confess I hadn’t truly considered the idea of hard science fiction focused on insects, but as soon as I read that explanation (prior to reading the story), I knew I was interested.  I’m a sucker for lesser-known facts used in unconventional ways for storytelling purposes. It’s the kind of thing I would be inclined to read more of as a whole. In this particular instance, Yu manages to take an interesting fact that can be compared to the human world with social and political relevance, but present it in a small scale way that is surprisingly easy to connect with. It also makes me want to read entomological papers, which I can’t say I’ve experienced as a result of any other story I’ve read before.

Anarchism as a hereditary trait in bees and anarchism as a political ideology are obviously not the same thing, but it’s certainly interesting to see the ways they are similar and the ways they are different laid out in such a story, even if it’s not the primary focus of the story. The trait in bees essentially makes them anti-monarchy (which is definitely a trait of the political ideology!), which means they aren’t able to live peaceably in a traditional hive with a queen as both ruler and mother and with every bee in its own role. The anarchist bees in this story defy the social structures of bees by breeding on their own, as well as by abandoning assigned roles to work as a community in all areas of life (communal contributions like this are also characteristic of the political ideology). I thought it was especially interesting to see them leave the original hive altogether and begin a new one on their own, which I thought was reminiscent of anarchist communes (the human kind). These bees were unfortunate in that beehives aren’t exactly designed for anarchy to be a sustainable option.

The ending of The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees is something of a happy one in that the humans are able to prove that the wasps are mapmakers (although I extremely not in favour of mass exterminating wasps for their nests given that they are ecologically necessary and our environment is in crisis), and the monarchist bees are able to survive free of the colonial rule of the wasps, but the anarchist bees are unable to survive on their own. I kind of wish we had gotten more information about how the anarchist bees fail, but I thought it was fascinating to see the monarchist bees at least attempt to learn from those failures. It’s just a shame that this natural phenomenon kind of goes against the nature of bees.

Overall, The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees by E. Lily Yu was an engaging and fascinating story. I feel like it made me really curious about bees and wasps in a way I don’t usually feel that I am. It was also just a genuinely fun and engaging story that made for an easy but thought-provoking read. I would definitely recommend it, and I look forward to reading more from the author.

I hope everyone who participated by reading the story and following along on social media enjoyed the story. If you have more thoughts to add, please feel free to comment on this post, or anywhere on The Feminist Bibliothecary’s social media. Week seventy-two begins shortly, January 19, with a brand new short story selection!

Lite Reads Selection: ‘The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees’ by E. Lily Yu

Lite Reads The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees.png

Welcome to The Feminist Bibliothecary’s Lite Reads, where we read a different short story every week, and then discuss it here and on social media. This week’s Lite Reads selection is The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees by E. Lily Yu!

The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees by E. Lily Yu was published in issue 55 of Clarkesworld Magazine in April of 2011. This science fiction short story was nominated for a Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Award following the year it was published. The author based the story on entomological papers about anarchism in honeybees.

E. Lily Yu is a USAmerican author of science fiction and fantasy. She is a Princeton graduate and has been nominated for numerous writing awards. Yu has authored many short stories, and her debut novel, On Fragile Waves, is due to be released Fall 2020.

You can read The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees by E. Lily Yu on the Clarkesworld Magazine website. You can also hear the story on audio as read by Kate Baker as part of the Clarkesworld Magazine podcast at this link.

Join us in the comments section here, or on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram, to participate in discussions throughout the week. You can also join in on the discussion at Litsy by following @elizabethlk and the #litereads hashtag.

Lite Reads Review: ‘Rhizome’ by Libia Brenda and Richard Zela

Lite Reads rhizome rvw.png

Week seventy of Lite Reads comes to a close as we finish our selection Rhizome by Libia Brenda and Richard Zela. There were questions as food for thought on social media as people had the chance to read it and think about it. Before I announce the next Lite Reads selection (January 12), I will be sharing my own thoughts here. Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t finished reading the story yet.

Rhizome by writer Libia Brenda and artist Richard Zela, with the Spanish to English translation by Libia Brenda and David Bowles, is a short science fiction comic. Set in 2043, the story features a young man named Alex visiting the home of Maria Luisa, a famous author who happens to be his personal favourite writer. Maria reveals that she is actually a time traveller from the future, born in 2164. She grows flowers that she brought back from the future, and Alex has one tattooed on him with exact detail without ever seeing one until this moment because he is connected to the time travel as well. While Maria has stayed in the past (the past to her) for many years, she has decided to go home to her own time, but she leaves Alex with the ability to travel to the past as well. When she arrives in her own time, she has a letter from Alex about his own time travel adventures and the work he has done to keep her house up for her.

While Rhizome is a very short story and leaves many details to the unknown or the imagination, it is still a delightful time travel story with a lot of information included in a short space. Rather than witnessing the time travel and experiencing it as part of the story, we experience a sort of calm and domestic moment in the lives of a longtime time traveller and a soon-to-be time traveller. I thought it was interesting to experience a moment of calm with the characters as they share information. I thought it was fun and refreshing to see how the travel was magical, but also intensely weaved into the literary and botanical nature of the characters’ lives. With two bookishly inclined characters, I thought it was fascinating to see that they time travelled using words.

As this is our first ever comic in almost a year and a half of Lite Reads, I think it’s especially important that we take the time to look at the art (although the artwork of comics should always be acknowledged, examined, appreciated, etc). While this style of art wouldn’t be a default preference for me, I do think it fits the story. The grey shading is really crisp and appealing. I feel like the artist especially managed to capture the wizened eccentricity of Maria while also capturing the fresh-faced curiosity of Alex. The background art is pretty, but it stays in the background, which is probably ideal with this sort of short comic story. Zela manages to provide the exact kind of art the story requires, and I think the way the story and art mesh together is one of the strongest points of Rhizome.

I do have a soft spot for stories about books, literature, writers, and anything or one of that nature, so I was inclined towards enjoying the focus on writers and their literature. Starting the story with Alex getting incredibly excited and nervous about Maria Luisa, a writer of speculative fiction short stories, was a very relatable moment. Getting a taste of both of the characters’ literary lives was genuinely a fun and interesting thing for me. The importance of words is apparent in this story, from the impact of literature on individual readers to the use of words to travel through time to even simply noting that the flower from the future is often referred to by an incorrect name. While I wouldn’t say the story is specifically about words and literature, I feel like it’s something important that is ingrained in the story, something the tale could not exist without.

Overall, Rhizome by Libia Brenda and Richard Zela was a deeply charming tale of time travel and literature. I don’t know that I’m in love with it or anything, I do think I would have enjoyed it more if it had been the length of a standard comic book or a little longer, but I definitely enjoyed what the author and artist gave us, and I would be curious to read more from either since this is my first time with both.

I hope everyone who participated by reading the story and following along on social media enjoyed the story. If you have more thoughts to add, please feel free to comment on this post, or anywhere on The Feminist Bibliothecary’s social media. Week seventy-one begins tomorrow, January 12, with a brand new short story selection!