Tuesday, December 20, 2016

My Best Albums of 2016

I listened to at least 140 albums this year. This is my ten best in no particular order.

1. Ry X-Dawn

2. Bon Iver-22, A Million

3. Kanye West-The Life of Pablo

4. Aurora-All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend

5. James Blake-The Colour in Anything

6. Radiohead-A Moon Shaped Pool

7. Kaytranada-99.9%

8. Porches-Pool

9. L├ąpsley-Long Way Home

 10. Anderson Paak-Malibu

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ten Favorite Albums of 2015

1. Everything Everything- Get to Heaven


Everything Everything's record unlike the others on this list isn't readily available in the U.S.  This is the British band's third record, but the first time I'd ever listened to them.  The record deals with paranoia, government surveillance, and terrorism.  A direct reflection of the 24 hour news cycle that constantly reminds us of what a scary place the world can be.  While the subject matter is dark the sound of the album leans more towards popular music, in extreme juxtaposition to the topic at hand.

2. Torres- Sprinter


A common theme in this years music was artists coming to terms with and struggling to still find comfort in their spirituality and religious background.  Torres' record is the second from Nashville based Mackenizie Scott.  Her Baptist upbringing informs many of the record's lyrics.  It took a few listens to really enjoy this record because I didn't initially connect with the sound of it, but it was the lyrics that really drew me in.

3. John Moreland- High on Tulsa Heat


John Moreland's record one of the biggest surprises of the year for me.  The first track "Hang Me in the Tulsa County Stars" almost sounds like a track off of Led Zeppelin III, the bands "folk" album.  I ended up seeing him live at the Americana Festival in Nashville.  He took the stage without saying a word and began a solo set that flowed with emotion that few perfomers could matchIt took a lot out of him emotionally to perform to relive heartbreak, longing, and alcohol abuse.  One of the most moving artists I've discovered in a long time!

4. Lin-Manuel Miranda-Hamilton Soundtrack


An odd surprise, Hamilton is a hip-hop musical that follows the life of the founding father of the same name.  What could have been a disaster is instead an amazing feat that showcases American culture.

5. Ibeyi- Ibeyi


Ibeyi's debut is a hard record to describe.  The French born twin sisters (Ibeyi means twin in the Yoruba language of Africa) are the daughters of the Cuban drummer for Buena Vista Social Club.  The record pulls from electronic, African, French, and Caribbean influences and still manages to put them all together in one of the best records this year.  

6. Father John Misty-I Love You, Honeybear


Another big surprise, Father John Misty's record far surpasses his decent but not great previous record.  This is basically a concept record about Josh Tillman, the real name of Father John Misty, relationship to his now wife Emma.  It somehow manages to be sentimental without being corny, maybe due to much of the records confessional nature.  Tillman portrays himself as an often shallow protagonist, the album cover shows him as a baby, imperfect and often selfish.

7. Kendrick Lamar-To Pimp a Butterfly


Kendrick Lamar's album is a sign of the times, a thematic take on what it means to be a black man in America.  His song "Alright" was adopted as a motto of the Black Lives Matter movement against recent focus on police brutality.  Much of the album's success rest on the reliance on the Los Angeles music scene: Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Kamasi Washington, Dr. Dre, and Terrance Martin all contributed to the album.

8. Sufjan Stevens-Carrie & Lowell


In 2012 after years of estrangement from his mother Sufjan Stevens was at her bedside when she died of cancer.  Her death affected him in ways that surprised him and the result is his phenomenal return after 2010s amazing Age of Adz.  The album also sees more of a return to Sufjan's folk roots.  The result is a lot of songs about sadness and death, but the result is ultimately very cathartic.  I got to see him perform the album in its entirety in the Ryman Auditorum in Nashville; one of the best shows I've ever seen.

9. Patrick Watson-Love Songs for Robots


While I knew of Patrick Watson this is the first time I've actually listened to one of his albums.  The title "Love Songs for Robots" is ironic in how little it sounds like an electronic album and leans more towards the emotive nature of someone like Bon Iver.

10. Jamie XX-In Colour


Jamie Smith of the band The xx released his second solo studio album (the first without the late Gil Scott-Heron) in which he again acts as a producer.  The result composed over a five year period, is one of the best sounding albums of this year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Favorite Singles of 2014

1. Daman Albarn- "Everyday Robots"

2. FKA Twigs- "Two Weeks"


3. War on Drugs- "Under the Pressure"


4. Perfume Genius- "Queen"


5. Run the Jewels- "Blockbuster Night Part 1" [Explicit]


6. Sun Kil Moon- "Carissa"


7. Hozier- "Jackie and Wilson"


8. Chet Faker- "1998"


9. Hozier- "Take Me to Church"


10. Caribou- "Silver"


Friday, December 19, 2014

My Top Ten Albums of 2014

1. Sylvan Esso-Sylvan Esso



2. Saint Vincent-Saint Vincent



3. Beck-Morning Phase



4. Wild Beasts-Present Tense



5. FKA Twigs-LP 1



And the original recorded version:


6. Chet Faker-Built on Glass




7. Glass Animals-ZABA




8. TV on the Radio-Seeds




9. Caribou-Our Love



10. Winged Victory for the Sullen-Atomos



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Best Singles of 2013

1. Blood Orange- "Chamakay"
2. Arctic Monkeys- "Do I Wanna Know?"
3. James Blake- "Retrograde"
4. Phosphorescent- "Song For Zula"
5. Kanye West- "Black Skinhead"
6. Janelle Monae- "Primetime"
7. Lorde- "Royals"
8.Vampire Weekend- "Step"
9. Arctic Monkeys- "Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?"
10. Low- "Plastic Cup"

Albums of 2013: Honorable Mentions

Classixx- Hanging Gardens
Arctic Monkeys- AM
Janelle Monae- Electric Lady
Darkside- Psychic
The National- Trouble Will Find Me
Kurt Vile- Walkin on a Pretty Daze
Bonobo- The North Borders
Agnes Obel- Aventine
Midlake- Antiphon
Volcano Choir- Reprave
Sigur Ros- Kveikur
Jagwar Ma- Howlin'
Low- The Invisible Way
Fat Freddy's Drop- Blackbird
Chelsea Wolf- Pain is Beauty