I miss being a part of the radio schemes of Seattle Pacific University. For two years I had the honor of being their publicist. Countless posters, web banners...and that was the end of the grunt. The main glory was the free concert tickets, incredible shows, and access to the station and nearly unlimited music. One "job" was to come up with our favorite albums of the year. When I began in 2014, music was important to me, but perhaps less appreciated. Throughout the two years, spinning the globe until, now, I realize the importance and power in the all-encompassing, music.
So here's a personal, and premature platform where I give my objective taste of the 2016 music albums and singles. It's a hard call, sure to evolve, but here is the current top 2016 gold.
A friend of mine recommended these guys to me awhile ago, claiming "it was the best album of 2016!!!!" A powerful piece, work piano riffs, and emo-revived lyrics and vocals. I was relatively skeptical. Intrigued by the album cover, (censored here for any young eyes) and even more curious by the "similar artists," being The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, Moose Blood, Tigers Jaw...some of my favorite, sad-infused, punk renditions.
While I don't echo my friend's claim as the "best" of the year, it is definitely one of the greats. The album musically and lyrically holds a lot of depth in such a compact disk. It's poetic, layered, and finds the goodness in tragedy. It steers clear of self-loathing and instead promotes self-cultivation. Bravo Hotelier.
Damn. Will Toledo a salute you! I remember a few months back when a good friend of mine recommended these guys, goes to show how talking to people about music really sparks everything. He was telling me about how initially Carseat actually began recording everything on an old-fashioned tape dec, strapped on to a carseat. Will would sit in his car, play guitar and sing his well-crafted, moody high-school banters. This gritty, homemade progression give us Teens of Denial. An appropriate name for the depressed and sometimes emotionally apathetic lyrics. Toledo seems already defeated, but in actuality, he's developing an incredible, rock/grit-infused masterpiece. Imagine if Joy Division had a younger brother, probably still stuck in his Senior year of high school. It's on the cusp of what Car Seat Headrest contains. In a strange way, Carseat is refreshing. They don't sugar-coat, pop-infuse, or follow any hollywood formula. They stand alone and they do it with a hand-crafted class. I had the beginners luck of seeing them for free at Seattle's KEXP Studio Opening. The performance was just as charged and masterfully creative as their album, Car Seat Headrest is sure to deliver for years to come.
Drunk Drivers, Killer Whales
1937 Skate Park
The Ballard of the Costa Concordia
A recent mix CD I got had a Pinegrove song on it, Old Friends, and it was the one track that I played over and over. My favorite of the CD by far. Angelina, another track by Pinegrove, got the melody stuck in my head for days. I'd wake up, and it would be the first thought and song out of my sleepy brain. Pine trees began sprouting everywhere, and a cardinal hit my window last week. Okay, not nearly, but Pinegrove took me up in arms and I'm really enjoying their second album, Cardinal. Their sound is so beautiful too. It's like a magnificent smoothie of Deathcab for Cutie, a few of Sufjan's folk ticks with the banjo, and probably Seahaven's sadness. There was a deep sense of longing and loss in the whole album and the lyrics are crushing. Figuring life out, not figuring it out, being in love with someone you should be over, loosing friends, gaining more, and just enjoying the poetry of life, Pinegrove is simply beautiful in it's emotionally charged way.
Size of the Moon
I hesitated to listen to Porches, I think initially when I gave then a go, I wasn't in the mood to continue. This is not to say that you have to be in the right state of mind to enjoy, it was just a slow start. I recently heard a moody, pop song on the radio and was jammin, only to realize it was Porches. Curious. I gave Pool a the full attention it deserved and I was not disappointed. Melancholy ad infinite sadness, no not a Smashing Pumpkins reference, but perhaps the feeling I get from Porches. This feeling is derived mostly from the vocals; apathetic and mellow. Hot and noodling beats are constructed so carefully to create the unique and original sound that Porches album Pools delivers track after track. A sublime album cover too. Blush.
Whitney is my favorite album of the year. There, I've said it.
It's a fantastic rebirth of jazz, blues, and the folk twang that just glints the edges of this golden craftsmanship. Tame Impala took the show last summer with a breakup album to make you weak. Whitney is what the 2015 Currents album was to me last summer. This is huge. Another breakup album, another longing for love, another just bolstered feeling-freakin-great track after track, despite the loss. Brass instruments coincide with fantastic pickings, and unique vocals. Musical talent is packed in every crevice of this album. I'm keen on the 70's rock, psychedelic vibes, and folky twangs. Hence, the modern and current, Whitney. Their debut has me stoked for what's next. Grab your Datsun, an iced tea, and cruise along to this one.
No Matter Where We Go
Electric soul, and absolute funk reverberate through this powerful and jammin' album. Freetown Sound is an outstanding album for the quality of sound, the finger-snapability, but mostly the political and social power that the story-like lyrics behold. Dev Hynes has a narrative that affects and relates to many African Americans now. It's relevant and even prophetic. Dev is open and conversational with the issues at hands and consoles those who have lost, or can emphasize. It's al album that goes beyond the speakers and picks straight from our recent history, to pack a powerful, and necessary punch to society. Well done Dev. I highly respect the outcome, but also the heart so deeply entrenched in this album.
I'm pretty weak. James Blake has a way with both creativity, talent, and just tactful experimentation that I so admire. The last time I was listening to this, I was driving and jus thinking about how incredible this album would sound if it were raining really hard. It has that dreamy, mist about it. It then made me realize that I live in California now, and it made me sad to think it'll rain so much less than I've been used to. So in a strange way, this album reminds me beautifully of Seattle. I think this album works so well for me personally because though it's on the mellow, that's to be expected from Blake, but on this album in particular he keeps it so interesting by incorporating so many working brains in the project. To name drop a few, Justin Vernon, and Frank Ocean. I'll leave it at that, the brilliance is kissed by many of the greats out there. Sad and chilling, Blake's mesmerizing voice is here to stay, with new tricks up his wonderful sleeve. This will be an album I visit time after time.
Love Me in Whatver Way
I Built A Forest Fire
Kaytranada, what a man! I remember when I first heard GLOWED UP and I was pretty stoked to hear such a nice mix of funk and r&b, little did I know that this was only the edge of glory that Kaytranada supplied. Chopped, but not diced, Kay samples so excellently, it always seems to work so well in this album. Musically, he's considered an amateur. He's young and the percussion and makeshift key tars are not "industry standard." That being said, his consideration should be re-evaluated, because Kay has a natural gift. At only 23 I am so stoked to see how he continues to unfold and improve his original style. This album bumps! It's easy to listen to in the sense that the beats and music is well-designed and relatively delivered, but the lack in perfection really add to the album for me. It's catchy too, and not an over-the-top self-glorification that can really deter me. Overall, I really love this album for the talent, honesty, and just overall well composed for an R&B album.
Got It Good
Drive Me Crazy
Hot holly, hell, this live album is fantastic. I love live albums, and though studio sessions are here to stay and more and more often, It's a real treat to hear an album recorded live in Trona, a beautiful dessert in San Bernardino. (next road trip?) I am so blown away though. Chazwick Bradley Bundick, if you didn't have such an unfortunate last name, I'd probably propose. Start to finish this album showcases the supreme talent that Toro y Moi contains, the marriage of classic and creative. A wonderful warm weather album, I am convinced that Toro y Moi is some of the best talent out there.
What You Want
I like noise. I like music that makes you wonder, "how." How did they do that? Inventive, experimental, and just unapologetic. Deathgrips is fascinating to me. They've been so productive in past year, from runways, to instrumentals, collaborative video projects and albums. Here's the amazing thing, it's all so incredible. Bottomless Pit, when lined up with other albums is the "easiest" to listen to, next up would be Money Store. "Easiest." It's a loose term, if you've heard the sporadic, garage-metal, grit of the entire grips, you understand. Bottomless Pit is a super-charged adrenaline punch to the face and it's one of my favorite's by them so far. Their ability to take chaos and contain it results in an explosive composition.
Bubbles Burried In This Jungle
Three Bedrooms In A Good Neighborhood
Give this man a peace prize, or at least a darn good slice of recognition for Chance's talent for not only his craft, but for revitalizing gospel music, and enriching our ears. Coloring Book is bright and sweet, yet so thoughtful and complex. Providing an ideal album for the summer days nearing their end. Chance has so much to be stoked about, and it's evident for his humility and honesty. This is one of the greatest rap albums this year. An ultralight beam shot right through most albums this year. Not like, Chance is picking fights, his work stands on it's own. A big piece of Summer 2016 was crafted from you.
Some singles spin below. 2016 single teasers give you the little taste for what's to come.
Soft and sweet, Real Love Baby hits the sweet spot for a summer honey-infused Misty dream. It's great to hear more form him, especially this track that puts you in a glowy and happy mood.
More Devendra! I missed you! This single shows Banhart's signature voice, vibrations, and acoustic supremacy. Album art award of the year so far too. Highly anticipating the full release.
Slothrust, the name itself raises fair questions. Don't ask, just listen. Slothrust has been one of my favorite bands this year. Their concoction of progression, apathetic vocals, and garage/grit low-budget style, all outlined with obscure and strange lyrics has a powerful result for me. Already pre-ordering their next album.