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Albums of the Year 2016

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*Best of 2016*

10) Porches
Pool
[Domino]

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09) Chance the Rapper
Coloring Book
[self-released]

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08) Bon Iver
22, A Million
[Jagjaguwar]

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07) Animal Collective
Painting With
[Domino]

animal-collective-painting-with

06) Young Thug
JEFFERY
[Atlantic/300 Entertainment]

jeffery_young_thug

05) Blood Orange
Freetown Sound
[Domino]

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04) Danny Brown
Atrocity Exhibition
[Warp]

atrocityexhibition

03) David Bowie

[ISO/RCA/Columbia/Sony]

blackstar-cd

02) Solange
A Seat at the Table
[Saint/Columbia]

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01) Kanye West
The Life of Pablo
[Def Jam/GOOD]

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Here is a list of my twenty favorite songs from 2016. These are listed in alphabetical order and has been limited to one track per artist.

Blood Orange – Best To You (Feat. Empress Of)
Bon Iver – 1 0 d E A T h B R E a s T
Cass McCombs – Bum Bum Bum
Chance the Rapper – Smoke Break (Feat. Future)
Danny L Harle – Supernatural (Feat. Carly Rae Jepsen)
David Bowie – Lazarus
Deakin – Golden Chords
DJ Diamond – Lab 2 This
Frank Ocean – Nikes
Kanye West – Real Friends
Kero Kero Bonito – Trampoline
KING – The Greatest
M.I.A. – Survivor
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Need You
Pusha T – Got Em Covered (Feat. Ab-Liva)
Radiohead – Ful Stop
Rae Sremmurd – Black Beatles (Feat. Gucci Mane)
Rihanna – Work (Feat. Drake)
The Weeknd – Starboy (Feat. Daft Punk)
William Tyler – Gone Clear

2014: Albums of the Year
Ariel Pink

*Best of 2014*

05) Eno/Hyde
High Life
[Warp]
Eno/Hyde

04) Spoon
They Want My Soul
[Loma Vista]
Spoon

03) Aphex Twin
Syro
[Warp]
Syro

02) Future
Honest
[Epic/Free Bandz/A1]
Future

01) Ariel Pink
Pom Pom
[4AD]
Ariel Pink

Here is a list of my favorite songs from 2014. These are listed in alphabetical order.

18+ – All The Time
Ariana Grande – Problem (Feat. Iggy Azalea)
Ariel Pink – Lipstick
Aphex Twin – Circlont6a [141.98] (syrobonkus mix)
Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks – Little Fang
Bobby Shmurda – Hot Nigga
D’Angelo & The Vanguard – Sugah Daddy
Death Grips – Have a Sad Cum
Eno/Hyde – DBF
Future – Benz Friendz (Whatchutola) (Feat. Andre 3000)
Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You)
ilovemakonnen – Club Goin’ Up On A Tuesday (Feat. Drake)
Mac DeMarco – Passing Out Pieces
Migos – Fight Night
Panda Bear – Mr. Noah
Pure X – Valley of Tears
Real Estate – Crime
Spoon – Do You
Taylor Swift – Shake It Off
The War On Drugs – Red Eyes

2012 Albums of the Year

Frank Ocean

*Best of 2012*

10) Grimes
Visions
[4AD]
Visions

09) James Ferraro
Sushi
[Hippos in Tanks]
Sushi

08) Dirty Projectors
Swing Lo Magellan
[Domino]
Swing Lo Magellan

07) Dean Blunt
The Narcissist II
[Self-released/World Music Group/Hippos in Tanks]
The Narcissist II

06) BEBETUNE$
inhale C-4 $$$$$
[Self-released]
inhale C-4 $$$$$

05) Wild Nothing
Nocturne
[Captured Tracks]
Nocturne

04) Death Grips
The Money Store
[Epic]
The Money Store

03) Kendrick Lamar
good kid, m.A.A.d. city
[Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope]
good kid, m.A.A.d city

02) Lotus Plaza
Spooky Action at a Distance
[Kranky]
Spooky Action at a Distance

01) Frank Ocean
Channel Orange
[Def Jam]
Channel Orange

Here is a list of my favorite songs from 2012. These are listed in alphabetical order.

Andy Stott – Numb
Austin Cesear – Cloud Hall
Beach House – Myth
Bear in Heaven – Sinful Nature
BEBETUNE$ – M A D N E $ $
Bob Dylan – Narrow Way
Dan Deacon – Lots
Death Grips – Hacker
Dirty Projectors – Dance for You
Farrah Abraham – After Prom
Frank Ocean – Bad Religion
Gary War – Superlifer
Grimes – Oblivion
James Ferraro – SO N2U
Jessie Ware – Running
Kendrick Lamar – Backseat Freestyle
Lotus Plaza – Monoliths
Lower Dens – Brains
Wild Nothing – Paradise
情報デスクVIRTUAL – iMYSTIQUE エジプト航空「EDU」

Destroyer - Kaputt The Canadian independent rock band Destroyer has released their ninth LP, Kaputt, and it is the best fusion of musical genres since Deerhunter dropped Microcastle in 2008. Whereas the latter blended ’50s-pop with shoegaze and punk, Kaputt takes indie rock and mixes it with pop, disco, and smooth jazz. And, we’re talking about Dan Bejar here, so let’s not forget about the stellar songwriting (of course) that flows throughout this album.

I’m typically one who forgets to listen to lyrics when hearing music, often getting caught up in the different melodies and sounds, which is very easy to do with Kaputt, but Dan Bejar is just too poetic to not reach out for the liner notes and analyze what he just sung. There isn’t one track that specifically exhibits his songwriting skills more than others; they’re all superb works of writing that move synchronously, even elaborating the soundscape. It all sounds very natural, which is probably just the way it left his pen originally.

As mentioned earlier with the smooth jazz influences present in this album, there are sentiments that evoke the feelings of an after-hours night club in the early 1980s. Men and women dressed dapper, with martinis, cigarettes, and cocaine, back-lit with soft neon lights. Although somehow, Destroyer is able to pull it off in a good way without making it feel contrived or cheap. It sounds completely sincere as if it could be no other way. On nearly every track there is a MIDI groove that makes the album feel dance-y too, something that isn’t necessarily surprising for Destroyer. Although the band is rooted in Canadian indie rock (think Sunset Rubdown or The New Pornographers), this isn’t a left turn for the band by any means. The album’s final track, “Bay of Pigs” which is specifically the “danciest” track on the album, sheds light on the sonic direction Destroyer was heading when this track originally appeared on an EP two years ago. Even with the smooth jazz and MIDI samples, Kaputt is substantially guitar-driven. Examples include the subtle finger-tapping segment that appears out of nowhere on “Blue Eyes” to the riffs during the middle of “Savage Night at the Opera.” The way that Destroyer is able to let elements float in and out before you can even notice they’re happening allows this album to engage the listener throughout its 50-minute (70-minute vinyl) playtime.

Unfortunately, the album has one soft spot. Smack in the center of the album is the song “Poor in Love,” while not necessarily a bad tune, it just doesn’t weight up to the rest of the album. I’m willing to forgive this, considering that “Blue Eyes” will definitely get “Song of the Year” nods from me, it’s an amazing pop song that has help from Vancouver-vocalist Sibel Thrasher. She appears several times throughout the album and her voice is used to add emotion to Bejar’s poetic lyrics. Her voice is also used effectively in “Downtown,” a track that owes its sound to southern soul, until a glittering synth washes over everything.

It is just February but this is a must-hear album of 2011. Bejar has already proved that he is a standout singer-songwriter with his previous albums and this continues to defend his case, despite the brief hiccup of 2008’s Trouble in Dreams. The elements of jazz (be it smooth or free-form) and pop coupled with Bejar’s songwriting abilities is what let’s this album shine. I’m sure Kaputt will stand up to any other album that is released later this year.

(Reviewer’s Score: 4.4/5)

Not unlike the activity of this blog, the Philadelphia music scene has officially gone into the winter season, with very few shows. Here’s a list though of the few shows that are happening. February and March look promising, especially with Bear In Heaven and Cymbals Eat Guitars playing a show together at Johnny Brenda’s!

-Tickley Feather: 12/11 – Kungfu Necktie
-Anthony Green: 12/26 – World Cafe Live
-The Duchess and the Duke: 1/6 – Johnny Brenda’s
(w/ Medication)
-Molina & Johnson: 2/2 – Johnny Brenda’s
-La Roux: 2/9 – Voyeurs
-Fucked Up: 2/17 – Barbary
(w/ Kurt Vile)
-St.Vincent: 2/25 – First Unitarian Church (Sanctuary)
-Wild Beasts: 2/25 – Kungfu Necktie
(w/ Still Life Still)
-Bear In Heaven: 3/5 – Johnny Brenda’s
(w/ Cymbals Eat Guitars)
-Air: 3/19 – Electric Factory
-Delorean: 3/25 – Theater of Living Arts
(w/ Miike Snow)
-JJ: 3/29 – First Unitarian Church
(w/ The XX)
-The Big Pink: 3/31 – Theater of Living Arts
(w/ A Place to Bury Strangers)
-Girl Talk: 5/2 – Meadowlands Sport Complex – East Rutherford, NJ

LogosFinding an album in a “used bin” which hasn’t been released yet should typically throw up a few black flags. This was the case when I discovered the latest Atlas Sound album in a record store on the Penn campus. Luckily for me and my eight dollars, the album must have been placed there mistakenly and I became the benefactor of such a mistake (the most likely case in my finding it there was what I bought was actually a promotional copy). This specific album had been my most anticipated release during the preceding months. In the first place, lead-off single “Walkabout” features guest Noah Lennox (Panda Bear of Animal Collective), another track features Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, and the album itself is the solo project of Deerhunter’s frontman Bradford Cox. The last Atlas Sound album, Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel, has played a minimum of 43 times on my iTunes (not to mention that I own the record on vinyl as well).

Logos lives up to the precedent set by Let The Blind… immediately with its first two tracks. “The Light That Failed” and “An Orchid” sound like what could have been b-sides to Let The Blind… These two sound hazy and lonesome. But, excitingly for the listener, the third track “Walkabout” brings in new sounds for the project. This song is upbeat, fun, and vibrant. According to the press material that was sent to promote the album, Bradford Cox and Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) collaborated over their European tour to create the song. It takes what is typical for Panda Bear, specifically pop melodies, and loops them into what is a bona fide summer dance track.

Following “Walkabout” are two tracks that unveil the folk side of Bradford Cox. “Criminals” and “Attic Lights” both tell stories while being toned down much in the way in that the album’s first two tracks are presented. The eighth track, “My Halo” is another which could be bunched into this grouping. When I saw Atlas Sound live, Bradford Cox actually performed “My Halo” using a harmonica. In a recent interview with Pitchfork Media, Bradford Cox reveals that he has been listening to Neil Young as of late, the influence is definitely visible throughout Logos.

Returning to the upbeat quality of “Walkabout”, the sixth track of the album “Sheila” is the most blatant pop song of the entire record. Yet the song is quite deep despite its upbeat guise. The songs plays on themes of longing and death, but most importantly the song is about living. After “Sheila” though the album plays into its centerpiece. The eight and a half minute “Quick Canal,” featuring vocals and words by Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, is a dizzying and cryptic opus that proves to be a beautiful segue onto the album’s latter half. This latter half is also the most electronic sounding part of the album. “Kid Klimax,” “Washington School,” and the eponymous “Logos” continue with the vibe that “Quick Canal” started.

What makes Logos so entirely satisfying is that it offers a pot pourri. Call it pop, electronic, or even folk, they’re all here and they all melt together into a fantastic and wholesome album. The album paces itself along the same lines of the latest Deerhunter full-length, Microcastle. Microcastle is beautiful, sampling genre after genre to create a sound of its own. The same can be said with Logos.

Near the end of the aforementioned Pitchfork Media interview, Cox says that he wants to develop a fanbase that will stay loyal no matter what direction he or his band decides to take. He is well on his way. The fact that another “digital 7′” was released under his Atlas Sound moniker just last week on the Deerhunter blog, which sounds completely different from Logos and is completely amazing, shows the musical genius that is Bradford Cox.

(Reviewer’s Score: 4.2/5)

Psychic Chasms Well, I think I just blew-out the speakers in my DMC Delorean. Alan Palomo’s first album as Neon Indian, Psychic Chasms, is a treble-overloaded, sun-washed trip to 1980s nostalgia.

“Glo-fi,” an indie music aesthetic that developed out of the Brooklyn music scene this year will most likely die over the winter. All of the songs that came out of this fad have seemed to really benefit by the fact that they were released over the summer, given that all of the songs from this aesthetic had a distinct summery aspect. Bands like Washed Out and Small Black produced solid singles, but Neon Indian appears for now the only to have used the aesthetic successfully in an album format.

Every song on this album produces visions of washed-out swim trunks, warm air, beaches, and blonde hair. That is what gives the album the summery-feel, but what gives it the 1980s feeling is how the album plays. The albums sounds like a cassette that’s tape has been stretched out over repeat listens. Synths, cheap MIDI guitar, drum machine, and the aforementioned treble-overload also play a role.

The premier single, “Deadbeat Summer,” which received a good amount of airplay over college radio stations this year and, “Terminally Chill,” are the best examples of Palomo creating the distinguishable “stretched-out” sound (which he was able to do by using 70s & 80s italo-disco samples, thank you for the tip “Anti-Neon”). Although the best track on the album has to be “Ephemeral Artery,” the club-banging track on the album. I can just picture a Pontiac Trans-Am screaming down a desert highway with this song playing. My only criticism about the album is that it could have done without the intro (“(AM)”) and outro (“7000”), which seem to only be present for the sake of filling space. The opening to “Should Have Taken Acid With You” is a bit harsh and out-of-place as well. Nevertheless, the album is undeniably fun.

Unfortunately, it seems that if Neon Indian releases another album in the future, it won’t be appreciated in the way that Psychic Chasms has been. This is because the aesthetic is most likely going to be ruled by the music community as a fad. The 2000s are soon to be over and it won’t be long until music artists are recycling something else. The early-2000s saw the post-punk revival (bands like Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and the late-2000s saw the development of neo-1980s music (Crystal Castles, Neon Neon, any “glo-fi” band). Post-punk got old quick, and so will “glo-fi.” Artists that are to release music under this “glo-fi” aesthetic in the future are, in my opinion, late to the game.

(Reviewer’s Score: 3.5/5)