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Tag Archives: R&B

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]

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06) Young Thug
JEFFERY
[Atlantic/300 Entertainment]

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05) Blood Orange
Freetown Sound
[Domino]

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04) Danny Brown
Atrocity Exhibition
[Warp]

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03) David Bowie

[ISO/RCA/Columbia/Sony]

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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

House of Ballons Who is the Weeknd? I’ve done research through several Google searches, music Web site hits, and an attempt searching on Wikipedia, and yet I still have no idea who is creating these chilly R&B cuts. The most that I have found is that The Weeknd is from Toronto, and I’m sure we’ll be learning much more about this project soon.

I have been very skeptical of this “indie-R&B” trend that has surfaced as of late. Among The Weeknd are its contemporaries in the likes of James Blake and How To Dress Well, and I have written those both off as over-hyped. But The Weeknd is less like them and more like Junior Boys or Fever Ray, especially in the ability to create dark, cold, and affecting tracks, and it is in that respect why I find The Weeknd more favorable. Another part of The Weeknd’s appeal is the mystery surrounding the origins of these eclectic and hollow, drugged-out tracks. I originally thought what perked my interest were the “indie-friendly” samples that are re-appropriated, Beach House’s “Gila” on “Loft Music” or the Siouxie and the Banshees cover of “Happy House” which is re-titled as this mixtape’s title track. But, that wasn’t it either; House of Balloons is simply brilliant, despite how much this release bleeds cross-over appeal.

The subject material of this mixtape is dark and narcissistic. Maybe we’re entering a post-My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy pop music landscape, but House of Balloons has lyrics like “I’m living for the present/And the future don’t exist” followed by “What you doing in the bathroom? /It’s OK, we can do it in the living room/Only girls we fuck with seem to have twenty different pills in ’em.” All of it takes place in the envisioned world we would see in a Chanel or Gucci commercial, a world that thrives off of materialism and a world one would strive to reach at others’ cost. Although once you’re there you find that have nothing left but the beautiful girl who is leaving you for the next man.

The lyrics aren’t the only factor that creates these feelings, the music does it too. During the tracks “The Party & The After Party” and “The Morning” you can nearly see the skyscrapers outside the studio’s window. Further along in the mixtape, near the end of “Coming Down” the listener is left with a vocal loop of (what seems to be) a woman crying and the refrain of “Pick up your phone/I always want you when I’m coming down.” And then even later is the mixtape’s lowest and deepest crash which is the end of “Loft Music” that has everything stretched-out with feelings of melancholy. The production throughout is high-quality with subtle elements picked up at exactly the right spot and then left to drift away. The singer’s voice is in pitch with the myriad elements carved into these icy tracks. Each instrument is purposeful, be it the strum of bass, tap of a key, or the drop of a beat.

This self-released, free mixtape is certainly worth your time, especially if you’re into R&B or if you’re just getting into dubstep. The download is linked right here. As long as The Weeknd is able to keep creative freedom with future releases, as this project will undoubtedly be linked with a major-label in the future, this R&B meets underground dubstep trend will be fruitful. The production quality here is tight already and it will (or at least, should) only get better with more money behind it.

(Reviewer’s Score: 4.1/5)