Saturday, January 27, 2018

Upcoming Album of the Week (Ending January 27)

The Grammys are this weekend! Most years, I'm underwhelmed by the nominees and only really pay attention to the "indie" category. This year holds some exciting nominations across the board! I am hoping for The National to win Best Alternative Album, SZA to win Best New Artist, and Kendrick Lamar to win Best Album.

Check out my Upcoming Releases page to see a collection of albums I may be rooting for in next year's Grammys!

Last week, Spanish band Hinds announced their sophomore album, I Don't Run.

Hinds may hail from Madrid, Spain, but they sing in English. These four ladies make garage rock-slash-lo fi music with influences and comparisons ranging from The Velvet Underground, to The Vaccines, to Mac DeMarco.

They received praise for their early singles from both major music publications and established musicians. Their debut album, Leave Me Alone, was released in early 2016.

The announced the follow-up towards the end of last week and released the first single from the album. I Don't Run is scheduled for release on April 6.

Also recently announced:

Amen Dunes - Freedom (March 30)
August Greene - August Greene (March 9)
Barbagallo - Danse dans les ailleurs (March 2)
Brazilian Girls - Let’s Make Love (April 13)
Camp Cope - How to Socialise & Make Friends (March 2)
Cashmere Cat, Major Lazer, & Tory Lanez – “Miss You” (out now)
Charlotte Day Wilson - Stone Woman (February 23)
Cocteau Twins - Head Over Heels Reissue (March 16)
Cocteau Twins - Treasure Reissue (March 16)
David Bowie - Heroes Vinyl Reissue (February 23)
David Bowie - Lodger Vinyl Reissue (February 23)
David Bowie - Low Vinyl Reissue (February 23)
The Decemberists - I’ll Be Your Girl (March 16)
DJ Koze - Knock Knock (May 4)
Editors - Violence (March 9)
Everything Is Recorded - Everything Is Recorded by Richard Russell (February 16)
Field Report - Summertime Songs (March 23)
Hop Along - Bark Your Head Off, Dog (April 6)
Lucius - Nudes (March 2)
MGMT - Little Dark Age (February 9)
Mount Eerie - Now Only (March 16)
of Montreal - White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood (March 9)
Preoccupations - New Material (March 23)
The Sea and Cake - Any Day (May 11)
Tracey Thorn - Record (March 2)
The Voidz - Virtue (March 30)
Wye Oak - The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs (April 6)
Yo La Tengo - There’s a Riot Going On (March 16)
Young Fathers - Cocoa Sugar (March 9)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Best Albums of 2017

Every year, I compile the year-end music lists published by a variety of news, music, and entertainment blogs and magazines in order to determine a broad consensus of the best ranked albums of the year. I consult a variety of sources of try to capture the wide variety of styles covered by these publications.

I look at the ranking of each list and assign a number of points to each album based on its placement on the list. For placements within the top ten, each album gets the number of points inverse to its position; a number one spot gets ten points, number ten gets one point, and so on. Beyond the top ten, albums receive a fraction of a point, the value of which depends on the album's placement. I start at 0.5 points for spots 11 through 20, going down one-tenth of a point for each group of ten. Once I hit 0.1 points, any remaining albums on the list will receive that value.

Here is the top ten ranking for 2017 albums:

10. Father John Misty - Pure Comedy: 23.6 points (11 list inclusions; 4 top ten appearances)
9. Perfume Genius - No Shape: 25.1 points (15 list inclusions; 3 top ten appearances)
8. Sampha - Process: 26.6 points (15 list inclusions; 5 top ten appearances)
7. The War on Drugs - A Deeper Understanding: 33 points (15 list inclusions; 4 top ten appearances; 1 number one spot)
6. Wolf Alice - Visions of a Life: 33.6 points (6 list inclusions; 4 top ten appearances; 1 number one spot)
5. St. Vincent - MASSEDUCTION: 49.2 points (16 list inclusions; 7 top ten appearances)
4. LCD Soundsystem - American Dream: 54.5 points (17 list inclusions; 10 top ten appearances; 1 number one spot)
3. SZA - Ctrl: 83.4 points (19 list inclusions; 11 top ten appearances; 1 number one spot)
2. Lorde - Melodrama: 105.5 points (16 list inclusions; 13 top ten appearances; 4 number one spots)
1. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.: 152.1 points (20 list inclusions; 17 top ten appearances; 8 number one spots)

Nothing this year really caught me off-guard. There was, of course, the requisite highly-regarded pop album in Lorde's Melodrama, but the success of that album did not surprise me (I thought the record was incredible). Wolf Alice turned out to be a bit of a sneaker. Though I heard a lot of positive things about their sophomore album, it didn't actually appear on very many lists. On the lists it did appear on - including NME, Q, and Under the Radar - it was generally ranked towards the top.

There were some, relative, disappointments for me. Dirty Projectors had an extremely poor showing for their self-titled album, which was a favorite of mine. I also expected The National, Moses Sumney, and Waxahatchee to have been ranked higher. Kendrick Lamar, however, no surprise whatsoever.

If you're a data geek, like me, you can download my rankings spreadsheet here!

Here are a few more interesting lists!

The Next Ten

20. Tyler, the Creator - Flower Boy: 16.3 points
19. Jane Weaver - Modern Kosmology: 17.6 points
18. King Krule - The Ooz: 17.8 points
17. Kesha - Rainbow: 18 points
15. (tie) Khalid - American Teen: 18.2 points
15. (tie) Kelela - Take Me Apart: 18.2 points
14. Big Thief - Capacity: 18.7 points
13. Kelly Lee Owens - Kelly Lee Owens: 19.5 points
12. Vince Staples - Big Fish Theory: 21.3 points
11. Fever Ray - Plunge: 22.7 points

Top Ten Albums By List Inclusions

10. The National - Sleep Well Beast: 13 lists
6. (tie) Vince Staples - Big Fish Theory: 15 lists
6. (tie) Perfume Genius - No Shape: 15 lists
6. (tie) Sampha - Process: 15 lists
6. (tie) The War on Drugs - A Deeper Understanding: 15 lists
4. (tie) St. Vincent - MASSEDUCTION: 16 lists
4. (tie) Lorde - Melodrama: 16 lists
3. LCD Soundsystem - American Dream: 17 lists
2. SZA - Ctrl: 19 lists
1. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.: 20 lists

Top Ten Albums (with No Top Ten Spots)

10. Aimee Mann - Mental Illness: 1.5 points
9. (Sandy) Alex G - Rocket: 1.6 points
6. (tie) Stormzy - Gang Signs & Prayer: 1.6 points
6. (tie) Japanese Breakfast - Soft Sounds from Another Planet: 1.6 points
6. (tie) Drake - More Life: 1.6 points
5. (tie) Kehlani - SweetSexySavage: 2 points
5. (tie) Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - The Kid: 2 points
3. Future - Hndrxxx: 2.3 points
2. Fleet Foxes - Crack-Up: 2.5 points
1. Thundercat - Drunk: 3.9 points

Thursday, January 18, 2018

New Music Friday - September 8, 2017

Be sure to view a list of upcoming releases here!

Essential Full-Length Releases

Alvvays - Antisocialites

Alvvays released a spectacular self-titled debut album in 2014. That album was anchored by "Marry Me, Archie", a song about trying to cajole a reluctant lover into marriage. The first single from their sophomore album takes on a nearly opposite sentiment, mourning the end of a relationship. There's growth in their follow-up, but without the loss infectious jangle that made Alvvays such a delight.

Watch: "In Undertow"
Watch: "Plimsoll Punks"

Deerhoof - Mountain Moves

Deerhoof have a distinct sound, one they've displayed on studio albums already four times this decade. They're doing something a bit different for this fifth album, bringing in a number of featured artists. Collaborators range from Awkwafina, to Juana Molina, to Jenn Wasner.

Watch: "I Will Spite Survive" (featuring Jenn Wasner) 
Listen: "Come Down Here and Say That" (featuring Laetitia Sadler)

The National - Sleep Well Beast

The National are one of the most stylistically consistent bands in indie rock, but they've always maintained a timeliness that kept them from becoming boring. Things are no different on this latest record, their seventh, with some subtle and some not-so-subtle references to the current political environment.

Watch: "Day I Die"
Watch: "Carin at the Liquor Store"

Tony Allen - The Source

African drummer Tony Allen has had a long and prosperous career, both as the drummer for Fela Kuti and as a solo artist. His latest album, and according to the artist himself, his best, is his first for famed jazz label Blue Note.

Listen: "Push and Pull"
Listen: "On Fire"

Zola Jesus - Okovi

Okovi is the fifth album from this Wisconsin singer, long known for her goth pop sound and dark lyrics. The darkness continues on this latest record, written when the singer was back in hometown following a battle with depression. The result is an incredible album that has earned her some of her highest praise of her career.

Watch: "Exhumed"
Watch: "Soak"

Other Full-Length Releases

Alex Cameron - Forced Witness

Watch: "Candy May"
Watch: "Runnin’ Out of Luck"

Carmen Villain - Infinite Avenue

Watch: "Red Desert"
Listen: "Borders" (featuring Jenny Hval)

Death from Above - Outage! Is Now

Watch: "Never Swim Alone"
Watch: "Freeze Me"

Faith Healer - Try ;)

Watch: "Try"
Listen: "Light of Loving"

Julie & The Wrong Guys - Julie & The Wrong Guys

Watch: "You Wanted What I Wanted"
Listen: "Love & Leaving"

Lomelda - Thx

Listen: "From Here"
Listen: "Interstate Vision"

Lunice - CCCLX

Watch: "Mazerati"
Watch: "Distrust" (featuring Denzel Curry, JK The Reaper, & Nell)

Mount Kimbie - Love What Survives

Watch: "Delta"
Watch: "Blue Train Lines"

MuteMath - Play Dead

Watch: "Break the Fever"
Watch: "War"

Nosaj Thing - Parallels

Watch: "U G"
Listen: "All Points Back to U" (featuring Steve Spacek)

Partner - In Search of Lost Time

Watch: "Play the Field"
Listen: "Gross Secret"

Small Circle - Cyclical

Listen: "Mornings"
Listen: "Spinning"

Sparks - Hippopotamus

Watch: "Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me)"
Watch: "What the Hell Is It This Time?"

Susanne Sundfør - Music for People in Trouble

Listen: "Mountaineers" (featuring John Grant)
Listen: "No One Believes in Love Anymore"

Ted Leo - The Hanged Man

Watch: "Can’t Go Back"
Listen: "You’re Like Me"

Tori Amos - Native Invader

Watch: "Reindeer King"
Watch: "Cloud Riders"

Singles, EPs, Soundtracks, etc.

Animal Collective - Sung Tongs Vinyl Reissue

Listen: "Leaf House"
Listen: "Winter’s Love"

David Bowie - The 1980 Floorshow

Listen: "Jean Genie"
Listen: "Time"

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - Up from Below Vinyl Reissue

Watch: "Home"
Listen: "Janglin"

Jimi Hendrix - Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix Vinyl Reissue

Listen: "Hey Joe"
Listen: "Fire"

Mas Ysa - Untitled

Listen: "Face"
Listen: "Mapquest"

Mazzy Star - So Tonight That I Might See Vinyl Reissue

Watch: "Fade Into You"
Listen: "So Tonight That I Might See"

Mourn - Over the Wall

Listen: "Color Me Impressed"
Listen: "Over the Wall"

Nico - Behind the Iron Curtain Reissue

Listen: "Procession"
Listen: "All Saints Night from a Polish Motorway"

Syd - Always Never Home

Listen: "Moving Mountains"
Listen: "On the Road"

Twin Peaks (Music from the Limited Event Series)

Zomby - GASP!

Listen: "GASP!"
Listen: "ZKITTLEZ"

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Upcoming Album of the Week (Ending January 13)

Happy New Years, everyone! We are past the relative lull of the holidays (at least as far as new music goes) and back in the swing of new releases and new announcements. As always, you can view a longer list of albums set to be released over the next few months over at my Upcoming Releases page!

This week, Suuns announced their fourth album, Felt.

Suuns is a Canadian band hailing from Montreal, with an dark, experimental, art rock sound. I first started to listen to them some time after their 2010 debut album, Zeroes QC, falling in love especially with two stand out tracks from the record, "Armed for Peace" and "Up Past the Nursery". They have released two additional albums since that debut, 2013's Images du Futur and 2016's Hold/Still, as well as a collaborative album, Suuns and Jerusalem in My Heart, with Jerusalem in My Heart in 2015.

They announced their latest record on Thursday, along with a new song and video, "Watch Me, Watch You".

The album is set for release on March 2.

Also announced this week:

The Breeders - All Nerve (March 2)
Cavern of Anti-Matter - Hormone Lemonade (March 22)
Erika Wennerstrom - Sweet Unknown (March 23)
Frankie Cosmos - Vessel (March 30)
Jack White - Boarding House Reach (March 23)
Jay Som - Pirouette 7” (January 26)
Justin Timberlake - Man of the Woods (February 2)
The Men - Drift (March 2)
Mouse on Mars - Dimensional People (April 13)
Nap Eyes - I’m Bad Now (March 9)
The Radio Dept. - “Your True Name” (out now)
Ride - Tomorrow’s Shore EP (February 16)
Ryuichi Sakamoto - Async Remodels (March 2)
Standing At The Gates: The Songs Of Nada Surf’s Let Go (February 2)
Titus Andronicus - A Productive Cough (March 2)
Trace Mountains - A Partner to Lean On (March 30)
The Vaccines - Combat Sports (March 30)