Saturday, February 17, 2018

My Favorite Albums of 2017

Other Full-Length Releases

20. Moses Sumney - Aromanticism

Watch: "Lonely World"
Watch: "Indulge Me"
Watch: "Doomed"

19. The Fresh & Onlys - Wolf Lie Down

Watch: "One of a Kind"
Watch: "Impossible Man"

18. Feist - Pleasure

Watch: "Century"
Watch: "Pleasure"

17. Fleet Foxes - Crack-Up

Watch: "Third of May/Ōdaigahara"
Watch: "Fool’s Errand"

16. Ibeyi - Ash

Watch - "Deathless" (featuring Kamasi Washington)
Watch: "I Wanna Be Like You"
Watch: "Me Voy" (featuring Mala Rodríguez)

15. Spoon - Hot Thoughts

Watch - "Do I Have to Talk You Into It"
Watch: "Hot Thoughts"
Watch: "I Ain’t the One"

14. Laura Marling - Semper Femina

Watch: "Next Time"
Watch: "The Valley"
Watch: "Nothing, Not Nearly"

13. The New Pornographers - Whiteout Conditions

Watch: "Whiteout Conditions"
Watch: "High Ticket Attractions"

12. The National - Sleep Well Beast

Watch: "Dark Side of the Gym"
Watch: "Walk It Back"
Watch: "Sleep Well Beast"

11. The War in Drugs - A Deeper Understanding

Watch: "Holding On"
Watch: "Nothing to Find"
Watch: "Pain"

10. Bedouine - Bedouine

Bedouine is Azniv Korkejian, who was born and raised in the Middle East (Syria and Saudi Arabia respectively), before landing in the US in the latter part of her childhood. It's her experience in the US which seems to lend itself most to her music, recalling 1970s folk. I knew next to nothing about the artist before first hearing her debut record, but I was captured from the start of the opening track.

Watch: "One of These Days"
Watch: "Solitary Daughter"
Watch: "Dusty Eyes"

9. Aldous Harding - Party

I first heard of Aldous Harding when she opened for Deerhunter on tour in 2016. I sensed that other concert-goers seemed either unimpressed or weirded out by her, but there was something incredible about both her music and her presence. I looked for her first album at show, with no luck, so I immediately purchased online when I got home. She's still a little weird on this second album, but is far more polished. The best example is in the lead single from the record, "Imagining My Man".

Watch: "Blend"
Watch: "Imagining My Man"
Watch: "Horizon"

8. Rostam - Half-Light

I was worried about future of Vampire Weekend when Rostam announced he was leaving the band. Regardless of their future, he has proven that his work outside of the band will continue to be excellent. The first example came with his collaborative album with Hamilton Leithauser in 2016, but he shines on his own here, as well. I can hear elements in his music that contributed to his past work, but his own perspective and voice shine through on his proper debut.

Watch: "Bike Dream"
Watch: "Half-Light"
Watch: "Gwan"

7. Gorillaz - Humanz

I have a dirty secret to tell, I think this is the best Gorillaz album. The band's best songs aren't on this record, but this represents their best complete vision (IMHO). The collaborations here are amazing, ranging from Vince Staples to De La Soul to Mavis Staples to Savages' Jehnny Beth. The Vince Staples collaboration that opens the album is probably my favorite and ends with what may be the most incredible rap line of 2017 (you'll have to listen below to find out)!

Watch: "Strobelight"
Watch: "Saturn Barz" (featuring Popcaan)
Watch: "Ascension" (featuring Vince Staples)

6. Wolf Parade - Cry Cry Cry

While it was sad when Wolf Parade went on hiatus, I was leery of their return. I've sometimes found that a band's return sees them become a mere shadow of their peak (see: The Dismemberment Plan). They first teased their return with a short EP, which left me underwhelmed, but this album floored me. My favorite of theirs remains their debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, but this is a far better return than many other bands have been able to achieve.

Watch: "Valley Boy"
Watch: "King of Piss and Paper"/"Artificial Life"

5. Dirty Projectors - Dirty Projectors

This is more of a David Longstreth solo record, one on which the artist ostensibly lays his soul bare following the end of his relationship with former bandmate Amber Coffman. Some details that have come out since the release of this album call into question its honesty, and lessens its emotional impact. Still, this was on repeat in the early part of the year, and I think it's a great record. Dirty Projectors have always been a little weird, but that weirdness is best contained here.

Watch: "Up in Hudson"
Watch: "Cool Your Heart" (featuring D∆WN)
Watch: "Little Bubble"

4. St. Vincent - MASSEDUCTION

So until a couple of weeks ago, this album was on my favorites list, but not this high. St. Vincent had a concert in Cincinnati a few weeks ago and the incredible live show bolstered the strengths of the record. Every time that I listen to the record now, I'm transported back to the theater and reminded again of just how amazing of a performer and musician that she is.

Watch: "Los Ageless"
Watch: "New York"
Watch: "Pills"

3. Lorde - Melodrama

My bias against pop music is something that I've been starting to release myself from in the past couple of years. Still, my initial impression of Lorde when she released Pure Heroine was colored by this bias. Over time, I came to love a few singles from that album. She's even better this time around, matured by her experiences over the past few years and even more assured of her own unique perspective and style.

Watch: "Perfect Places"
Watch: "Green Light"

2. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.

I was apprehensive when I heard the direction that Lamar was taking for his fourth album; trap isn't my favorite genre. But, ever the auteur, he has elevated the sound far beyond what anyone else is doing. It doesn't sound like a copy of anything; he is one of those few artists who, regardless of the changes he makes between records, always sound definitive.

Watch: "LOYALTY." (featuring Rihanna)
Watch: "ELEMENT."
Watch: "HUMBLE."

1. SZA - Ctrl

I'd heard SZA's music prior to her stand-out feature on the opener of Rihanna's ANTI-, but it was that feature that got me most excited for her work. The delays on the release of the record only served to increase its anticipation. Fortunately, it has lived up to, and exceeded, the excitement and hype built up over its multi-year release cycle. My favorite thing about SZA is just how unconcerned she is with decorum. It's in her lyrics, her dancing in her videos, everything with her image and her sound!

Watch: "The Weekend"
Watch: "Supermodel"
Watch: "Drew Barrymore"

Upcoming Album of the Week (Ending February 17)

One of my favorite new trends in music is the craft beer co-brand. A wide array of musicians have gotten their own beers, including Julianna Barwick, Mastodon, and Miles Davis. This week added a new artist to the line-up, Run the Jewels. The duo will be releasing a new beer, the "Panther Like a Panther" stout.

If Run the Jewels have any other, music-related, announcements soon, be sure to keep an eye out for it on my Upcoming Releases page!

This week, Courtney Barnett announced her sophomore solo album, Tell Me How You Really Feel.

Many of us were first introduced to Barnett with the release of The Sea of Split Peas, which was a re-release of her first two EPs, but it was her debut, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit that made me first fall in love with her music. The record easily made it onto my list of favorite albums for 2015, I loved her conversational, seemingly train of thought style.

She continued that style last year, partnering up with another purveyor of the meandering lyric, Kurt Vile, for Lotta Sea Live. She teased this new album early in the week, releasing a trailer featuring some new music. She capped off the week with the official announcement, along with the first single, "Nameless, Faceless".

Tell Me How You Really Feel is set to be released on May 18.

Also announced over the past two weeks:

Alice Bag - Blueprint (March 23)
Altered Carbon: Original Netflix Series Soundtrack (out now)
The Body - I Have Fought Against It, but I Can’t Any Longer (May 11)
BOOTS - #DARKDAZE (out now)
Busdriver - “The Imperfect Cinema” (out now)
DRINKS - Hippo Lite (April 20)
Eleanor Friedberger - Rebound (May 4)
Forth Wanderers - Forth Wanderers (April 27)
Half Waif - Lavender (April 27)
John Prine - The Tree of Forgiveness (April 13)
Johnny Cash: Forever Words (April 6)
Lion Babe - “Honey Dew” (out now)
Lost Girls - Feeling EP (March 2)
Mark Pritchard - The Four Worlds (March 23)
MF DOOM & Czarface - Czarface Meets Metal Face! (March 30)
Okkervil River - In the Rainbow Rain (April 27)
A Perfect Circle - Eat the Elephant (April 20)
Rafiq Bhatia - Breaking English (April 6)
Ryan Adams - “Baby I Love You” (out now)
Tanlines - Present (out now)
Tinashe - “Faded Love” (out now)
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Sex & Food (April 6)
Willie Nelson - Last Man Standing (April 27)

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Upcoming Album of the Week (Ending February 3)

Well, the Grammys were a bit of a disappointment. I was very happy to see wins from The National and The War on Drugs, but there were some real misses in the major categories. Maybe next year will be better, so check out my Upcoming Releases page to see I may be rooting for in next year's ceremony!

Here are the artists who announced new music this week:

Albert Hammond Jr. - Francis Trouble (March 9)
Damaged Bug - Our Voltage (March 1)
Dungen / Woods - Myths 003 (March 16)
GUM - The Underdog (April 6)
Kate Nash - Yesterday Was Forever (March 30)
Laura Veirs - The Lookout (April 13)
Mark Kozelek - Mark Kozelek (May 11)
The Messthetics - The Messthetics (March 23)
Thurston Moore - “Mx Liberty”/“Panik” (February 19)

New Music Friday - September 16, 2017

Be sure to view a list of upcoming releases here!

Essential Full-Length Releases

Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton - Choir of the Mind

Emily Haines is a member of Broken Social Scene, a band with a strong release showing in 2017. She is one of two members of the band to release an album, along with the new album from the band. Choir of the Mind is only her second album with the Soft Skeleton (third solo overall), and first in 11 years.

Watch: "Statuette"
Watch: "Planets"

The Jet Age of Tomorrow - God’s Poop or Clouds?

I don't know if the Odd Future gang is really a thing anymore, but some of the subgroups created within it are still going strong. The Jet Age of Tomorrow is made up of Matt Martians and Pyramid Vritra, and got their start with samples turned down by other members of the collective. God's Poop or Clouds? is their fourth album.

Listen: "The Long Way Home" (featuring Syd)
Listen: "The Jaunt"

Myrkur - Mareridt

Many areas are male dominated, black metal is no different. Myrkur is one of a few female artists in the genre, which inevitably has led to abuse from insecure men in the black metal community (the world is terrible). Admittedly, I don't listen to much metal (black or otherwise), but Myrkur is one of my favorites. Mareridt is her second solo album. following 2015's M.

Watch: "Ulvinde"
Listen: "Måneblôt"

Ringo Starr - Give More Love

Give More Love is the 19th album in Starr's 48-year solo career. The record sees him joining up with a number of past collaborators, including Peter Frampton and Paul McCartney.

Listen: "Give More Love"
Listen: "We’re on the Road Again" (featuring Paul McCartney, Joe Walsh, Edgar Winter, & Steve Lukather)

ROSTAM - Half-Light

ROSTAM was the guitarist and co-songwriter for Vampire Weekend until early 2016, when he left to focus on his solo career. His first outing was a collaborative album with Hamilton Leithauser, I Had a Dream That You Were Mine. Half-Light is his first fully solo record, an amazing show of his culture, influences, and talents.

Watch: "Half-Light" (featuring Kelly Zutrau)
Watch: "Gwan"

Other Full-Length Releases

Annie Hart - Impossible Accomplice

Watch: "Hard to Be Still"
Listen: "My Heart’s Been Broken"

Ariel Pink - Dedicated to Bobby Jameson

Watch: "Feels Like Heaven"
Watch: "Another Weekend"

Deer Tick - Vol. 1

Watch: "Sea of Clouds"
Listen: "Card House"

Deer Tick - Vol. 2

Watch: "It’s a Whale"
Watch: "Jumpstarting"

Human Heat - All Is Too Much

Listen: "I Need My Space"
Listen: "Close to My Chest"

Hundred Waters - Communicating

Watch: "Wave to Anchor"
Watch: "Fingers"

Lee Ranaldo - Electric Trim

Watch: "Circular (Right as Rain)"
Watch: "New Thing"

The Lone Bellow - Walk into a Storm

Watch: "Time’s Always Leaving"
Listen: "Walk into a Storm"

Prophets of Rage - Prophets of Rage

Watch: "Living on the 110"
Watch: "Unfuck the World"

Singles, EPs, Soundtracks, etc.

BATYA - "What’s My Name"

Watch: "What’s My Name"

The Bottom Line Archive Series: In Their Own Words with Vic Scelsa

Listen: Lou Reed - "Sweet Jane"
Listen: Lou Reed - "Strawman"

Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions - Son of a Lady

Listen: "Sleep"
Listen: "Son of Lady"

Michael Nau - The Load

Listen: "Diamond Anyway" (featuring Natalie Prass)
Listen: "The Load"

Philip Selway - Let Me Go: Original Music from the Film By Polly Steele

Listen: "Let Me Go"