Monday, January 8, 2018

2017 Top 50 Recap

Here's the linkable list in case you missed any w/ a playlist for your perusal at the end. Follow the playlist over at Spotify. Follow the blog. Hope you enjoyed, glad to be back. Leave me a message in the comments and let me know your favorites of the year. More to follow.

1. Big Thief - Capacity
2. Tennis - Yours Conditionally
3. LCD Soundsystem - american dream
4. Grizzly Bear - Painted Ruins
5. Father John Misty - Pure Comedy
6. Feist - Pleasure
7. Grandaddy - Last Place
8. Sylvan Esso - What Now
9. Jay Som - Everybody Works
10. St. Vincent - Masseduction
11. Arcade Fire - Everything Now
12. Yusuf / Cat Stevens - The Laughing Apple
13. Day Wave - The Days We Had
14. Laura Marling - Semper Femina
15. Japanese Breakfast - Soft Sounds From Another Planet
16. The War On Drugs - A Deeper Understanding
17. Perfume Genius - No Shape
18. The Huntress And Holder Of Hands - Avalon
19. Ryan Adams - Prisoner
20. Future Islands - The Far Field
21. Kevin Morby - City Music
22. Poolside - Heat
23. Methyl Ethel - Everything Is Forgotten
24. Palehound - A Place I'll Always Go
25. Overcoats - YOUNG
26. Mac DeMarco - This Old Dog
27. Elbow - Little Fictions
28. Sampha - Process
29. Girlpool - Powerplant
30. Antibalas - Where The Gods Are In Peace
31. Lo Tom - Lo Tom
32. Fleet Foxes - Crack Up
33. The National - Sleep Well Beast
34. Vagabon - Infinite Worlds
35. Black Lips - Satan's Graffiti or God's Art?
36. Octopus Project - Memory Mirror
37. Thundercat - Drunk
38. Valerie June - The Order of Time
39. The Shins - Heartworms
40. Slowdive - Slowdive
41. Surfer Blood - Snowdonia
42. Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, James McAlister - Planetarium
43. Waxahatchee - Out in the Storm
44. Sheer Mag - Need To Feel Your Love
45. Phoebe Bridgers - Stranger in the Alps
46. Frankie Rose - Cage Tropical
47. Austra - Future Politics
48. Cigarettes After Sex - Cigarettes After Sex
49. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings - Soul of a Woman
50. Amber Coffman - City of No Reply

Sunday, January 7, 2018

1. Big Thief

1. Big Thief - Capacity

I've been going to SXSW for a few years now. It has literally changed the way that I listen to music and go to shows. In the process of doing that, I started taking my children, because they have grown to love live music. Right before sending my daughter to college, I took just her this last year and we saw some really great bands, including this one. After moving to college, I saw that they were playing one of the nights in Chicago and got tickets for us. However, because I have seen so many bands, I forgot that we had seen them in Austin and I told her to listen to them so she could see how amazing they were. She quickly corrected her dad by telling him that she had been listening to them non-stop since we saw them in Austin, pinning down the exact place of the show. It was at that point that I knew I was getting old. Big Thief came out with their debut album just a little over a year ago and then quickly produced Capacity this year. It can be so insanely intimate one moment and then go into this an incredible guitar feedback riff or driving bass line. Adrianne Lenker takes words and turns them into a magical waterfall of complexity and suffering. The timing, guitar-work, vocals, all of it are just perfect. Seeing them in Chicago in the round made me love them even more, I don't think I've ever seen a more intimate, raw show.






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2. Tennis

2. Tennis - Yours Conditionally

I grew up listening to the sounds of the '70s. Fleetwood Mac, Heart, The Carpenters, Paul Simon and the like heavily influenced my early music listening. In my 20's, I 'rediscovered' many of these bands, diving in with an almost cultish obsession. It's no wonder that I love the music of Tennis, headed by the duo of Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore. They have conceived this album aboard their sailboat, Swift Ranger in the ocean between San Diego and the Sea of Cortez. This album screams of sunshine and lazy, open waters and washes over you with the waves of love and heartache.



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3. LCD Soundsystem

3. LCD Soundsystem - american dream

The next three albums in this lineup all contended for Number One. I listened to each of them an obscene amount. This new album from dance god, James Murphy, after a self-imposed sequester from the music world has been the answer to all those who missed LCD. I think it was just putting the headphones on a long trans-Atlantic flight and listening to the album over and over. There is something cathartic about his music and this album soothes all those wounds from his absence. There is a lot of 80's New Wave vibe to this album and while that may be the case with much of their music, this shrine to David Byrne and David Bowie seems worth noting.



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4. Grizzly Bear

4. Grizzly Bear - Painted Ruins

It's been five years since Shields and Ed Droste, Dan Rossen and the boys are back with their fifth album. I have always been enthralled with the unique compositions of Grizzly Bear. The wandering time signatures, the twisting melodies, the dark foreboding all create a musical landscape that pulls me in time and time again. Ed Droste said you had to listen to the album at least five times to get into it and I concur. Dive in and don't look back.

Mourning Sound by Grizzly Bear on VEVO.


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Thursday, January 4, 2018

5. Father John Misty

5. Father John Misty - Pure Comedy

Josh Tillman's altar ego, Father John Misty, former drummer of Fleet Foxes, has produced yet another great album. Self-immolating and at the same time barbed towards our current political climate. A diatribe on the human condition and his religious upbringing, Pure Comedy reaches down deep and creates a conversation with Tillman's relationship to all of us. He created a short film to accompany the album below.



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6. Feist

6. Feist - Pleasure

Speaking of returns, it's great to have a new album from this young woman. Six years since Metals, her fifth album finds Feist with a rock and roll sensibility. Guitars ring out and leave behind the quiet, soft Leslie Feist in days past. Starting out with the heaviness of the title track, this album weaves through a much more thought out album with punchy melodics and a much, more raw vocal style. Her Broken Social Scene buds step in on Any Party to help out, of course.



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7. Grandaddy

7. Grandaddy - Last Place

I never thought I would see this happen. It has been a decade since their last album. The main reason is that Jason Lytle got tired of their almost success, not quite hitting the charts like Death Cab or Arcade Fire. They have been my favorite band since The Sophtware Slump and about the time in my life I could afford to go see them live, they up and quit being a band. Jason Lytle has still done a couple solo efforts and even tried forming a new band called Admiral Radley, but finally, he brought the gang back together. I was fortunate enough to see them this year at SXSW. Sadly, Kevin Garcia died later this year at 41 shortly after their reunion putting future plans on hold. Grandaddy is a sound that incorporates electronic music over acoustic sounds, basically, an artificial sound infused with a natural one. A comment on living in a natural world and often forced to work in an artificial one.



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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

8. Sylvan Esso

8. Sylvan Esso - What Now

This is the duo of Amelia Meath from Mountain Man and Nick Sanborn from Megafaun out of Durham, North Carolina. This is their Sophomore album and they have had tons of critical acclaim heaped upon them culminating in a Grammy just a few short weeks ago. An electro pop album from two former folk musicians that lends a realness to the otherwise mechanical sound.



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9. Jay Som

9. Jay Som - Everybody Works

I love when a young artist like this throws something out into the world, not realizing their talent and it is just scooped up by the hungry masses. Such is the story for 22 year old San Francisco resident, Melina Duterte. This is her debut, recorded entirely in her bedroom, uploaded to Bandcamp and picked up by Polyvinyl. Straight-forward, genius guitar work, captivating lyrics and DIY style that makes me love music. This album was on constant repeat throughout the year.



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10. St. Vincent

10. St. Vincent - Masseduction

Annie Clark, native Tulsan, still manages to astound and defy all with her rapt lyrics and experimental exposé. Always at the forefront with her avant-garde style, this album sees her step off of that esoteric pedestal a bit with the song, New York. This is a beautiful ballad that pulls in Jack Antonoff of Bleachers and Fun fame with a heartfelt piano intro. You can check that out below. She'll be at Brady Theater in Tulsa, February 26.



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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

11. Arcade Fire

11. Arcade Fire - Everything Now

Everything Now is Arcade Fire's fifth album to date. It's hard to believe these iconic rockers have put out so little music over the last 14 years. While this album did not fall well on the critics' ears, I found it quite enjoyable. Not at first, mind you, but over many listens, this album grew to become one of my favorites of the year, just missing out on the coveted Top Ten. Perhaps this album did exactly what Arcade Fire meant it to do. When your critics expect you to be over-imaginative, maybe this album delivers exactly what was intended.



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12. Yusuf / Cat Stevens

12. Yusuf / Cat Stevens - The Laughing Apple

Boy, was I worried when I saw this album hit. Cat Stevens, born Steven Demetre Georgiou, left his rock star life long ago after converting to Islam. He even legally changed his name to Yusuf Islam and vowed to stay away from music, but music finds a way and before long, put out three albums as Yusuf. However, those releases have been lackluster and this is the first time he has acknowledged his old life. The reason for the worry? Often times, retired musicians have a difficulty coming back decades later. Sometimes that original luster is lost and it is just a pale reminder of the good times we had with them. Not so with The Laughing Apple. His songs are as poignant and lyrical as they ever were. The balance between the acoustics and his voice is still on point.



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13. Day Wave

13. Day Wave - The Days We Had

Day Wave is Jackson Phillips out of San Francisco. This is his debut album, although, he made a big splash last year with his EP. Day Wave is wandering dream pop interlaced with subtle, somber lyrics. The driving bass lines and wispy vocals make this an album to keep on constant repeat.



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Monday, January 1, 2018

14. Laura Marling

14. Laura Marling - Semper Femina

Laura Marling has received more attention in this blog than any other. It's no secret she's a favorite of mine. She is one of the most prolific artists on this list and watching her music mature and grow has been a delight. Her lyrics are deep and intense and invoke Joni Mitchell's spirit more than any of her previous albums.



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