Sunday, March 11, 2018

Best Albums of February 2018

These are five albums released in February I thought were worth quite cool.

U.S. Girls - In A Poem Unlimited

I have read a few pieces that describe this as the most accessible album by U.S. Girls. Perhaps, but there is still respectable experimentation and some looping stuff going on here. It just feels like a more live from the floor record, with plenty of catchy songs. Best work yet from Meg and Co. in my opinion.

Born Ruffians - Uncle, Duke,  The Chief

I always thought these guys had unrealized potential, and were held back by an overt silliness and forced quirkiness. This fifth album is easily their most focused and mature record to date. It still has their loose and manic take on Canadian indie, but with a much more steady hand.

The Orielles - Silver Dollar Moment

Debut record from this Halifax (UK) band. There is an undeniable retroish feel all through this album, but it still feels very much like an album that could only be made in 2018. The jingle jangle side of the Baggy and Madchester stuff is here for sure, but it's hardly derivative. Super fun album start to finish.

Field Music - Open Here

One of my five favourite bands currently making music, Field Music have an uncanny ability to write clever four minute pop songs with more bells and whistles then even the most accomplished prog acts could muster. Open Here carries on with some of the 80's vibe of the last record, and fills it out with even more orchestral stuff. These guys have yet to make a weak album.

Hookworms - Microshift

The fourth album by this crew from Leeds and their first on the Domino label. I think these guys get unfairly painted as a psych band, when there is so much more going on there. This album is their least noisy and most spacious, which really highlights their music chops and song craft. I expect this will be a top ten record for me by year's end.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Best Albums of January 2018

This might only last for a month or two, but there were enough cool new releases last month that it motivated me to try and post some music stuff more than once a year. These five albums from January were all wonderful.

Shame - Songs of Praise

This is everything post-punk should sound like in 2018. Fresh and new, with suitable yet not over played nods to the originators.

Belle Adair - Tuscumbia

I love jingle jangle guitar pop albums like this because no one makes music like this to get rich. They make music like this because they know what perfect pop songs should sound like. This track is drenched in Fanclub.

Shopping - The Official Body

More in the vein of Gang of Four and B-52s variety post punk. Super frantic and danceable. Early days, but this is a top 10 contender for 2018.

Starcrawler - Starcrawler

The Smiths made Rough Trade a legit label, and they have rarely missed the mark since. I was weary of the hype with names like Ryan Adams and Dave Grohl floating around this project, but these kids have their act together.

Meat Beat Manifesto - Impossible Star

First album in about eight years, Dangers and co. are still making bleepy electronic music and still somehow pushing their luck.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The 50 Best Albums of 2017

It's usually 100.

I tried to make it 25.

Here's 50.

49The Black AngelsDeath Song
48Lucky SoulHard Lines
47GoldfrappSilver Eye
46ThumpersWhipped and Glazed
44Kelley StolzQue Aura
43SoulwaxFrom Deewee
42Zola JesusOkovi
41ProtomartyrRelatives in Descent
39Vince StaplesBig Fish Theory
38AntipoleGetting Frequent Now
37Frankie RoseCage Tropical
36DJ HellZukunftsmusik
35Anna of The NorthLovers
34Little CubStill Life
32Maylee ToddActs of God
31Broken Social SceneHug Of Thunder
30London GrammarTruth Is A Beautiful Thing
29Ariel PinkDedicated to Bobby Jameson
28Enter ShikariThe Spark
27Japanese BreakfastSoft Sounds From Another Planet
26Grizzly BearPainted Ruins
25Century PalmMeet You
24Dutch UnclesBig Balloon
23Drab MajestyThe Demonstration
22SpoonHot Thoughts
21UnkleThe Road, Pt. 1
20Xander HarrisTermination Dust
19Everything EverythingA Fever Dream
18Future IslandsThe Far Field
17CymbalsLight Your Mind
16Kendrick LamarDamn
15Wolf AliceVisions of A Life
13TennisYours Conditionally
12AlgiersThe Underside of Power
11RideWeather Diaries
10Charlotte GainsbourgRest
9Cut CopyHaiku From Zero
8OddiseeThe Iceberg
7St. VincentMasseduction
6MogwaiEvery Country's Sun
5Fever RayPlunge
2LCD Soundsystemamerican dream
1The HorrorsV

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Best Music of 2017....the First Three Months

There are some big albums anticipated this year, but so far much of what has been released has been things that are far more under the radar. As an aside, Run The Jewels 3 is an odd one. It came out on December 25, so it missed a lot of 2016 lists and will likely miss some this year since no one will really knows what to do with it (which is probably just fine with those lads). That footnote aside, these are a bunch of super clever and likeable albums that I found most noteworthy from January, February, and March.

Sampha - Process
He is most known for work with other popular artists, but he refreshingly avoids cashing in with tired high profile collaborations. This record doesn't need star power. It stands on its own just fine. One of the most personal sounding albums I have heard this year. Lovely balance of art and listenability.

Century Palm - Meet You
Toronto is a sneaky city when it comes to indie rock, but traditionally not a lot of post-punk styled stuff has come from Big Smoke. What I love most about this record, is it provides all the familiarity one would associate with Joy Division referenced post punkisms, but ends up sounding much more influenced by Wire. Finally someone is channeling and paying quiet homage to Wire properly.

The Jesus & Mary Chain - Damage & Joy
If you come at the king(s) you best not miss. Mary Chain have been ripped off so many different ways over the years, one can barely keep track. The most sincere form of flattery of course, but once in a while (19 years later in this case) they re-surface to remind everyone that no one makes better jangled fuzzed out snarling and indifferent sounding alternative rock than The Jesus & Mary Chain. They are on point here. All their best sides on display.

NE-HI - Offers
Reminiscent of the Omni album from last year, Offers is a low-fi indie guitar rock gem. The hooks and energy hit all the right spots. There are surprisingly few bands doing this well right now, considering versions of this sound were so popular in indie circles twenty years ago or less. I especially love how stripped down the record is, without being the least bit sloppy or apologetic for its hookiness. 

Sondre Lerch - Pleasure
Lerche has been kicking around and making arty 60's influenced records for the last 15 years, but for whatever reason, I have never really quite gotten onside. Something about Pleasure though, really resonated with me. Maybe it's the interesting take on blending 80's synth with 80s polished R & B pop (the Blue Monday drums right out of the gate doesn't hurt). Regardless, this is a sophisticated pop record, and maybe the strongest of this Norwegian's career.

Oddisee - The Iceberg
A friend introduced me to Oddisee well ahead of this new album. We both share a passion for clever hip hop, with less focus on flash, on more emphasis on word play and craft. Tremendous production and sincerity all the way through. It's wonderful to hear an artist coming into their own in such a genuine way.

Tennis - Yours Conditionally
I was a passive Tennis fan until 2014's Ritual In Repeat. This new album dials back the slickness they found on the former, and finds a balance with the song craft and composition of their earlier records, while pulling in some of the dash of the last one. This is world class.

PVT - New Spirit
These cats are from Australia, but hang their hats in London currently, and apparently they have been around for a while now. The record is a bit all over the place and occasionally unfocused as a result, but it is daring recording, with so much of the math pop vibe I dig in modern alternative music happening on many of the tracks. The experimentation never strays too far into wank, and for the most part the tracks all clock in and 3-4 minutes.

Spoon - Hot Thoughts
Another year arrives and with it another quality Spoon record drops into rotation. It's like everyone keeps waiting for them to release a stinker, but that never happens does it? The changes between albums are subtle, but not one of Spoon's album is exactly like another, yet you get the warm familiarity of everything that makes them such a wonderful pop band. An uncanny track record.

Methyl Ehtel - Everything Is Forgotten
This is a pretty different record than their debut. The first reminded me of Lower Dens with its sombre phrasing and tonality. Their sophomore is much more psych tinged and groovy. It still has the endearing earnest lyrics and phrasing, but this is a clever playful album from a band getting their footing in an admittedly crowded space right now. 

Elbow - Little Fictions
Not unlike Spoon, Elbow continue to tick along with virtually no mis-steps. Again they don't stray far from the nest on Little Fictions, and this is unmistakably Elbow, but there is a cohesion here that suggests the band has hit ultimate comfort in their skin, but without even a hint of complacency. Garvey's voice may very well be my favourite among all modern actives bands. Gorgeous record.

Dutch Uncles - Big Balloon
It wouldn't be a music nerd list without me finding a way to somehow represent Manchester. That said, these guys belong there every time, including with this one. Perhaps not their most engaging, but still a perfect balance of musician based pop songs that show their prog and math stripes prevalently, but embedded in songs with solid corners and catchiness.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Top 150 Songs of 2016

I like songs and artists that sound like they should be popular, and deserve to be popular, but mostly are not that popular. I started with over 300 songs I quite liked this year, and somehow managed to narrow it down to a whopping 150. Some of them have synths and elecronics, many of them have guitars and drums. Some of them are rap and none of them are country. All of them are clever, melodic, and harmonious, and they are all especially listenable. 

Here is the playlist, because I make very good playlists :)

150What's It Gonna Be?Shura
149Bad Decisions Two Door Cinema Club
148You Bring The SummerThe Monkees
147Estuvo BienMexrrissey
146Swing StreetSteve Porcaro (ft. Michael McDonald)
145Alakazam !Justice
144SleepoverKaya Stewart
143Never EverSTRFKR
142PainDe La Soul
141Don't Wanna DancePaper Lions
140Then AgainPinegrove
139Vertigo FlowersNothing
138In The MomentDMAs
137Honey SweetBlossoms
136Arizona HwyThe Darcys
135Hey GirlCullen Omori
134Thin AirTeenage Fanclub
133King Of The WorldWeezer
132Racing CountryEZTV
131My Instincts Are The EnemyAmerican Football
130Flower of SexMerchandise
129Evil DiscoPublic Access T.V.
128White StreetKristin Kontrol
127Staring At All This HandleSimian Mobile Disco
126It Means I Love YouJessy Lanza
125SecretsThe Weeknd
124Big CatWild Beasts
123These WordsLemon Twigs
122Didn't Try To Run AwayKyle Forester
121Life Of PauseWild Nothing
120Cold To See ClearNada Surf
118Descent of Their Last EndKestrels
117Planet YouThe Julie Ruin
116Fading LinesAmber Arcades
115SignalsSchool of Seven Bells
114AmbulanceThe Amazing
113Another DimensionToy
112Nobody Operators
111Siberian NightsThe Kills
110(Girl We Got A) Good ThingWeezer
109The Book of Too Late ChangesCotton Mather
108The End Of ThingsBob Mould
107Sun RaysSyd Arthur
106The WheelPJ Harvey
105Something Like LoveLight Fantastic
104So TiredHockey Dad
103Hold OnTeenage Fanclub
102Mind Over MatterTuns
101She's MineAlex Cameron
100Breakfast In BedMayer Hawthorne
99untitled 03Kendrick Lamar
98Eat Your Heart Out AdonisWild Beasts
97The Sweetest RomanceBreakbot
96Dial Me InFactory Floor
95FloriDadaAnimal Collective
94AajaSwet Shop Boys
93Got It GoodKaytranada
92YouthGlass Animals
91RiverinaThe Temper Trap
90CarolineThe Blessed Isles
89A Love SongLadyhawke
88Whole FoodDenmark Vessey
87Breakdance Lesson N.1.Kaytranada
86InformationEliot Sumner
85Open Your EyesSchool Of Seven Bells
84Wake UpSoft Kill
83No Peace Syd Arthur
81Talk To MeRun The Jewels
80Won't Go CrazyKyle Forester
79It's A Good ThingField Music
78The ValleyMayer Hawthorne
77Straight up SatanXander Harris
75X-CommunicateKristin Kontrol
72Marc Bolan BluesLuke Haines
70Red FlagThe Moth & The Flame
69Take It Out On MeWhite Lies
68Little KidsSuede
67Lost IllusionsExploded View
66New SongWarpaint
65The Pop KidsPet Shop Boys
64A Couple DollarsApollo Brown & Skyzoo
63Love is A FireJunior Boys
62Ain't That SomethingTrashcan Sinatras
61Back Among FriendsTuns
60RaygunHockey Dad
58Twilight DrivingMethyl Ethyl
57Get My BangWild Beasts
56If RahUnderworld
55Nobody SpeakDJ Shadow & Run The Jewels
54OrdinaryJagwar Ma
53My NumberPaper Lions
52Baby give up on itJunior Boys
51Lost SomebodyA Tribe Called Quest
50untitled 08Kendrick Lamar
48You Don't Get Me High AnymorePhantogram
47Mother EmanuelLocal Natives
46Shut Up Kiss MeAngel Olsen
45Jungle JennyOmni
44Hunny BunnyHockey Dad
43Bombay BlueMystery Jets
42Radio SilenceShearwater
41No TomorrowSuede
40It's Different For GirlsOf Montreal
39Never EnoughJessy Lanza
38GroovyPet Shop Boys
37The Space ProgramA Tribe Called Quest
36AugustineBlood Orange
35Don't You Want to Know What's Wrong?Field Music
34WalrusD.D Dumbo
32Burn The WitchRadiohead
31LazarusDavid Bowie
30The Community of HopePJ Harvey
29Winter RadioZoos Of Berlin
28Silly MeYeasayer
27He The ColossusWild Beasts
262100Run The Jeweis
25Buckle BunnyXander Harris
24Am I WrongAnderson Paak
23boom boomjennylee
22Under The SunDiiv
21CrashAgainst Me!
20Cold VermouthOmni
19Give Me A ReasonJagwar Ma
17T5Swet Shop Boys
14SatanD.D Dumbo
13Too SoonDMAs
12End Of An EraPublic Access T.V.
11Goin DownDinosaur Jr.
10Mixed MessagesTuns
9All NightTrashcan Sinatras
8Nylon StrungUnderworld
7We The PeopleA Tribe Called Quest
6A Night Out WithHockey Dad
5Alpha FemaleWild Beasts
4In DeepThe KVB
3Dark DaysLocal Natives
2DisappointedField Music
1AblazeSchool of Seven Bells