Tuesday, December 13, 2016

My Top 50 Albums of 2016

In the past, I have spaced out each album, discussing their merits one by one, building to a suspenseful climax. However, due to my hectic schedule this year, much to the dismay or applause of many, this list gets released all at once. You'll have to take the time to listen to these on your own. My highlights start with Number One. King Charles. This album is so incredible, with Marcus Mumford as the producer. It's a plunge to the depths of emotion, with that famous Mumford build song after song. Both Radical Face and Damien Jurado finished off their Triology of albums they had been working on to artistic purity of form. Discovering Michael Kiwanuka's soul was incredible and should be explored by all. Japanese Breakfast and Car Seat Headrest broke all the boundaries. SURVIVE brought us the amazing intro to Stranger Things and produced an equally enticing album. I think Jim James and Devendra Banhardt may have put out the best albums of their career. Pinegrove and Lucy Dacus produced some newcomer surprise and Radiohead did not disappoint with their ninth studio album. Finally, David Bowies' precognitive work needs no mention. Here they are in all their glory. Enjoy, and here's to another year of great music.

1. King Charles - Gamble For A Rose
2. Radical Face - The Family Tree: The Leaves (definitely check out parts 1 & 2, but this is definitely the best)
3. Damien Jurado - Visions Of Us On The Land
4. Andrew Bird - Are You Serious?
5. Devendra Banhart - Ape In Pink Marble
6. SURVIVE - RR7349
7. Jim James - Eternally Even
8. David Bowie - Blackstar
9. Johnnyswim - Georgica Pond
10. Okkervil River - Away
11. Ra Ra Riot - Need Your Light
12. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
13. Bon Iver - 22, A Million
14. The Avalanches - Wildflower
15. The Head and the Heart - Signs of Light
16. Japanese Breakfast - Psycho Pomp
17. Hamilton Leithauser & Rostam - I Had A Dream You Were Mine
18. Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide To Earth
19. Angel Olsen - My Woman
20. Little Green Cars - Ephemera
21. Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial
22. Warpaint - Heads Up
23. Michael Kiwanuka - Love & Hate
24. Wye Oak - Tween
25. Kishi Bashi - Sonderlust
26. Fruit Bats - Absolute Loser
27. Blind Pilot - And Then Like Lions
28. Caveman - Otero War
29. The Last Shadow Puppets - Everything You've Come To Expect
30. Lucy Dacus - No Burden
31. Joseph - I'm Alone, No You're Not
32. Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter
33. Miike Snow - iii
34. M. Ward - More Rain
35. Junius Meyvant - Floating Harmonies
36. Lambchop - FLOTUS (For Love Often Turns Us Still)
37. Lucius - Good Grief
38. Jabee - Black Future
39. case/lang/veirs - case/lang/veirs
40. Pinegrove - Cardinal
41. Cullen Omori - New Misery
42. Empire of the Sun - Two Vines
43. Passenger - Young As The Morning, Old As The Sea
44. Big Thief - Masterpiece
45. Beach Slang - A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings
46. James Vincent McMorrow - We Move
47. Radiation City - Synesthetica
48. Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions - Until The Hunter
49. Animal Collective - Painting With
50. The Darcy's - Centerfold

Here's a playlist to throw on repeat.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Top 50 of 2016

Well, here we are. The new music that came out this year certainly helped redeem 2016 in some form or fashion. There was an insane amount of new tunes. In years' past, my list has always been ordered literally by how much I listened to a particular album. However, times have changed. My listening habits have changed and therefore, this data is no longer available to me. However, these albums are certainly ordered in what I remember listening to the most. This collection of fifty albums is definitely worth checking out. Because of the limitations of Facebook and other forms of social media, I highly recommend following the blog directly for instant updates. I enjoy piecemealing out the posts and reflecting on each album along the way. Facebook doesn't like Google and attempts to hide posts about this blog, so, check back frequently. I'll try to post everyday. It's a lengthy process, but a cathartic one. So, here we go.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

1. Public Service Broadcasting

1. Public Service Broadcasting - The Race For Space

This is London duo, J. Willgoose, Esq and Wrigglesworth, and no, that's not their real names. Since neither of them ever sing, they chose these rather interesting names. Willgoose plays guitar, banjo and other stringed instruments and Wrigglesworth is on piano and electronics. Uncomfortable with their own singing, they take samples from various publicly available information films. This album focuses on it's very title. Utilizing NASA footage from 1957-1972 from the British Film Institute, the two musicians look as a way to educate us about our past through the music of tomorrow.


2. Sufjan Stevens

2. Sufjan Stevens - Carrie And Lowell

I'm a huge fan of Sufjan Stevens, but he can be a bit obtuse on his albums sometimes (thinking BQE, Run Rabbit Run). He has, for the most part eschewed personal interaction in his songwriting. So, when he chose to go for it, he really went for it. Written about his mostly absent mother and her recent death and coming to terms with all that and his heroic step father is the crux of the album. Seeing this concert in Dallas at The Majestic is what sold me on this album. It's quiet, contemplative and intimate, but brings a force and intensity of emotion that makes this, easily, his best album to date. And that's saying a lot. No videos with this album, so I'll share an audio clip from one of my favorite songs from the album.


3. Courtney Barnett

3. Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

This young Australian woman has taken the indie music scene by storm. She released two conjoined EP's in 2014 that sent the music scene into a tizzy. Her first album released in 2015 has proven to be a continuation of her subdued punk sensibility with poetic lyrics about mundane, ordinary things. There's a faint expression of psych pop, straight-forward rock. I find the sound refreshing and creative and really haven't stopped listening to this album all year. And another video with clowns to boot.


Saturday, January 30, 2016

4. AM & Shawn Lee

4. AM & Shawn Lee - Outlines

Holy God is this album amazing. AM is a producer, DJ and songwriter who was born in Tulsa, raised in New Orleans and now lives in LA. He majored in Philosophy in college. Pretty great stuff has come from him. He heard Shawn Lee (of Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra) album on the radio and dug it and contacted him. Collaboration began and you end up with this funky, disco, psych, electronic bit of awesomeness. This is their third album produced together.


5. Laura Marling

5. Laura Marling - Short Movie

This is the last 'no duh' artist of mine that made the top 10. I have expressed my love for Laura Marling here, here, and here. I consider her to be one of the best songwriters in the world and she's still incredibly young. This album is intense and beautiful, just like the last one.


Friday, January 29, 2016

6. Father John Misty

6. Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear

I didn't think J. Tillman could top his 2012 debut, Fear Fun, which garnered the number two spot here. He spent Fear Fun looking for an identity and this album he seems to be looking for an identity within a relationship. If you haven't noticed, I love smart, poetic lyrics and these do not disappoint. Beautifully orchestrated folk/pop coupled with poignant lyrics is always a recipe for success in my book. My favorite song is below.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

7. The Decemberists

7. The Decemberists - What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World

Like B&S, The Decemberists will almost always garner my attention enough to make this blog. They'd have to put out some pretty terrible music for me to ignore it. That day may come, but, for now, Colin Meloy and group continue to write great songs. The Decemberists are smart and interesting music. They try to evolve and change, yet stay true to their identity. I think the Crane Wife and Hazards of Love were their Magnum Opus, with them dialing back the intensity with their last album, The King Is Dead. I feel that this album is a place card. They are writing music, because that's what they do, while they gear up for another big monstrous event. No concept album here, just good, straight-forward songs. Only time will tell if they stay this path or venture into something greater. Both videos are great, one has Nick Offerman in it!


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

8. Belle and Sebastian

8. Belle and Sebastian - Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance

Belle and Sebastian is one of my all time favorite bands. Pretty much, if they come out with an album, it will be in the top 10. Stuart Murdoch is the lead for this band and this is their first album in five years. His lyrics are always very smart, very sweet and very personal. Like many artists right now, B&S opted for a much dancier vibe on this album, leaning into some disco inspired tunes. This reminds me of the work they did with Dear Catastrophe Waitress, when they brought Trevor Horn in to produce. Always inventive and continue to walk the line between bouncy, jangly pop contrasted with melancholy lyrics.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

9. Deerpeople

9. Deerpeople - There's Still Time For Us To Die

I'm pretty happy this made the top 10. If you've been living under a rock, Deerpeople are from Oklahoma and much lauded by music nerds everywhere. This is their first full length album and it is fantastic. The band consists of longtime friends, Alex Larrea, Brennan Barnes, Derek Moore, Kendall Looney, Julian Shen and Jordan Bayhylle. They got their start in Stillwater, but moved to OKC in the last few years. I've been a huge fan and they've been on the radio show a couple times. They're a great example of the unbridled musical talent we have in Oklahoma and I wish them all the success they can handle.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

10. The Lone Bellow

10. The Lone Bellow - Then Came The Morning

Cannot say enough good things about these guys. Folky indie pop, but with a melancholy twist, they continue to amaze and astound on their Sophomore album. I ranked them pretty high the last time here. Aaron Dressner of The National produced this album and all at the behest of Zach Williams, whose wife suffered a major accident that prompted the start of this band. They have an amazing live show.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

11. Punch Brothers

11. Punch Brothers - Phosphorescent Blues

Come on, you knew this would make the list, you may have just forgot about this album because it's been out almost a full year now. It's no secret I'm a Chris Thile fanboy. This is just more excellence from the insanely gifted songwriter and banjo demi-god Chris Thile and his crew. Previous albums have graced this blog both here and here. I am more than thrilled that Mr. Thile will be taking Garrison Keilor's place on Prairie Home Companion. Did you know Chris and I have the same birthday?


Friday, January 15, 2016

12. Milo Greene

12. Milo Greene - Control

Finally got a release from this band and this blog to line up. I love these guys so much. A quintet out of Los Angeles, the band is named as such to not give anyone the lead role, kind of like Pink Floyd. They all take turns at lead vocals and collaborate on every song. I had the good fortune of catching these guys at SXSW this year. They happened to play at a venue next to the showcase I was at. It was an electric performance and this sophomore release by them really shows that this band has amazing potential.


Friday, January 8, 2016

13. Best Coast

13. Best Coast - California Nights

Best Coast's last two albums have made the Top 50 both here and here, and they are no stranger to this blog. Best Coast is Bethany Cosentino and Bob Bruno out of Los Angeles. Surf rock to a tee, Bethany's lyrics are profundity for such simple, straight-forward songs. One of my favorite Instagram follows.