• Recommended New Music: August 2016

    AESOP ROCK- THE IMPOSSIBLE KID

    aesop-rock_the-impossible-kid

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BUY The Impossible Kid [Explicit] AMAZON
     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    STEVE GUNN- EYES ON THE LINES

    steve-gunn_eyes-on-the-lines

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BUY Eyes On The Lines AMAZON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    CASE/LANG/VEIRS- CASE/LANG/VEIRS

    caselangveirs

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BUY case/lang/veirs AMAZON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    SCHOOLBOY Q- BLANK FACE

    schoolboy-q_blank-face

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BUY Blank Face LP [Explicit] AMAZON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    DINOSAUR JR.- GIVE A GLIMPSE OF WHAT YER NOT

    dinosaur-jr-_give-a-glimpse-of-what-yer-not

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BUY Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not AMAZON



  • Recommended New Music: July 2016

    JAMES BLAKE- THE COLOUR IN ANYTHING

    james-blake_the-colour-in-anything

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BUY The Colour In Anything AMAZON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    CAR SEAT HEADREST- TEENS OF DENIAL

    car-seat-headrest_teens-of-denial

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BUY Teens Of Denial [Explicit] AMAZON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    YG- STILL BRAZY

    yg_still-brazy

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BUY Still Brazy (Deluxe) [Explicit] AMAZON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    MAXWELL- BLACKSUMMERS’NIGHT

    maxwell_blacksummersnight

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    AVALANCHES- WILDFLOWER

    avalanches_wildflower

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BUY Wildflower [Explicit]



  • Recommended New Music: June 2016

    JOEY PURP- iii DROPS

    joey-purp_iii-drops

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    ** FREE MIXTAPE Stream at https://soundcloud.com/joey-purp/sets/iiidrops

     

     

     

     

     

     

    WHITNEY- LIGHT UPON THE LAKE

    whitney_light-upon-the-lake

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BUY Light Upon the Lake AMAZON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    GOJIRA- MAGMA

    gojira_magma

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BUY Magma AMAZON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    RADIOHEAD- A MOON SHAPED POOL

    radiohead_a-moon-shaped-pool

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BUY A Moon Shaped Pool AMAZON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    MITSKI- PUBERTY 2

    mitski_puberty

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BUY Puberty 2 AMAZON



  • Recommended New Music: May 2016

    ANOHNI- HOPELESSNESS

    anohni_hopelessness

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BUY Hopelessness AMAZON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    WHITE LUNG- PARADISE

    white-lung_paradise

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BUY Paradise AMAZON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    KAYTRANADA- 99.9%

    kaytranada_99-9

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BUY 99.9% [Explicit] AMAZON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    KVELERTAK- NATTESFERD

    kvelertak_nattesferd

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    CHANCE THE RAPPER- COLORING BOOK

    chance_the_rapper_coliuring-book

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    ** ALBUM NOT AVAILABLE VIA AMAZON. BUY AT APPLE MUSIC



  • Recommended New Music: April 2016

    ESPERANZA SPALDING- EMILYS D+EVOLUTION

    esperanza-spalding

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BUY Emily’s D+Evolution (Deluxe Edition) AMAZON
     

     

     

     

     

    PARQUET COURTS- HUMAN PERFORMANCE

    parquet-courts_human-performance

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BUY Human Performance AMAZON
     

     

     

     

    STURGILL SIMPSON- A SAILOR’S GUIDE TO EARTH

    sturgill-simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BUY A Sailor’s Guide to Earth AMAZON
     

     

     

     

    KEVIN MORBY- SINGING SAW

    kevin-morby_singing-saw

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BUY Singing Saw AMAZON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BEYONCE- LEMONADE

    beyonce_lemonade

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    BUY Lemonade [Explicit] AMAZON



  • Recommended New Music: March 2016

    KENDRICK LAMAR- UNTITLED UNMASTERED

    Kendrick Lamar_Untitled Unmastered

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
    BUY untitled unmastered. [Explicit] AMAZON
     

     

     

    THAO & THE GET DOWN- A MAN ALIVE

    Thao & The Get Down_A Man Alive

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
    BUY A Man Alive AMAZON
     

     

     

    KAMAIYAH- A GOOD NIGHT IN THE GHETTO

    Kamaiyah_A Good Night In The Ghetto

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
    BUY A Good Night in the Ghetto [Explicit] AMAZON
     

     

     

    THE RANGE- POTENTIAL

    The Range_Potential

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
    BUY Potential AMAZON
     

     

     

    dvsn- SEPT. 5th

    dvsn_Sept. 5th
     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
    BUY Sept 5th [Explicit] AMAZON



  • Recommended New Music: January/February 2016

    DAVID BOWIE- * (BLACK STAR)

    David Bowie_Black Star

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Buy Blackstar [Explicit] Amazon
     

     

     

     

    SAVAGES- ADORE LIFE

    Savages_Adore Life

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
    Buy Adore Life Amazon

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    ANDERSON .PAAK- MALIBU

    Anderson Paak_Malibu

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
    Buy Malibu [Explicit] Amazon
     

     

     

     

    DIIV- IS THE IS ARE

    Diiv_Is The Is Are

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
    Buy Is the Is Are Amazon
     

     

     

     

     

    KANYE WEST- LIFE OF PABLO

    Kanye West_The Life Of Pablo

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
    *This release is only available via Tidal



  • Top 50 Albums of 2015: 50-41

    50. FLORENCE + THE MACHINE- HOW BIG, HOW BOLD, HOW BEAUTIFUL

    Florence + The Machine_How Big How Beautiful 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I bought this album six months ago and it didn’t really sink in until revisiting it during my yearly round up. This is a group whose best songs often dominate their albums, but the difference with “How Big” is that the highlights are more abundant than on previous releases. “Ship To Wreck”, “What Kind Of Man”, “Delilah”, “Third Eye” & “Mother” all stand out here. Like Adele, Florence sings unsubtle heart-crushing, breakup songs with powerful pipes, the difference being that these songs are built with huge production to be sung in arenas. Florence has had quality albums before and great songs, but “How Big” is their best and most consistent album yet.

     

     

     

     

    Buy How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (Deluxe) Amazon

    Buy What Kind Of Man Amazon

    Buy Ship To Wreck Amazon

     

     

     

     

    49.  JASON ISBELL- SOMETHING MORE THAN FREE

     Jason Isbell_Something More Than Free

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    After toiling for many years as the third singer songwriter in the great Drive-By Truckers and as a very good but little heard solo artist, Jason Isbell finally had somewhat of a breakthrough with his last album, 2013’s “Southeastern”, which garnered awards, positive reviews and sold in the hundreds of thousands; no small feat for a little known guy whose music carries the alternative country banner. The stink of “Something More Than Free” is that it’s not up to the quality of “Southeastern”, which may be true. The album’s momentum does dip a bit in the middle, but standouts like the one-two punch at the beginning of the album in “If It Takes A Lifetime” and “24 Frames” along with others like “Speed Trap Town” are among the best songs Isbell has yet written and make “Free” well worth multiple listens. Isbell is among the best songwriters of his generation in depicting the demons and redemption of small town living without resorting to the cliches used by so much of mainstream Nashville.

    Buy Something More Than Free [Explicit] Amazon

    Buy 24 Frames Amazon

    Buy How to Forget Amazon

     

     

     

     

     48.  BLUR- THE MAGIC WHIP

     Blur_The Magic Whip

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    “The Magic Whip” is a reunion album and Blur’s first since 2003’s “Think Tank”. Thankfully it does nothing to damage the legacy of this wildly consistent band who has quietly put together one of the best discographies of any rock band of the last twenty-five years. Blur remains criminally underappreciated in America but one of the biggest bands of all time in their native Britain. Blur mastermind Damon Albarn has sinced helmed the very successful cartoon band Gorillaz who ironically made much more of a dent in the U.S. ”The Magic Whip” tends to combine parts of both Blur and Gorillaz, as well as his more recent solo album crafting solid if a bit more subdued effort than Blur’s past records. While small parts of “The Magic Whip” can bore slightly, upbeat tracks like “Lonesome Street”, “New World Towers” and especially “Ong Ong”, as well as the highlight of the album “Ghost Ship” make “The Magic Whip” a welcome come back from one of the all-time greats.

     

    Buy The Magic Whip Amazon

    Buy Ghost Ship Amazon

    Buy Ong Ong Amazon

     

     

     

     

    47.  FUTURE- DIRTY SPRITE 2

     Future_DS2

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    “Dirty Sprite 2” is Future’s third official retail release though it was given away free first as a mixtape. Despite that it still sold in the hundreds of thousands, proving that Future is one of the biggest stars in modern rap. He is also really the progenitor of auto-tuned mush-mouth codeine rap paving the way for other artists like Young Thug and creating one of the dominate sounds in rap today. Along with “DS2”, Future also released two other mixed tapes in 2015 “Beast Mode” and “56 Nights” and a much-celebrated collaboration with Drake called “What A Time To Be Alive”, making him (along with Drake) the most prolific rapper of the year. “DS2” can be listened to as a whole- a concept album about a hedonistic fucked up man drugging and fucking his way into oblivion. Like the Weeknd, Future’s partying sounds dangerous and world weary rather than fun & pleasurable. This is a man who has seemed to lose all sense of himself and any morality and is obsessively documenting his plummet to the bottom. Future’s garbled voice and the woozy, spaced out production can be a depressing, but fascinating listen. If you can’t handle this much drudgery in one place you can instead cherry pick the many highlights like “Fuck Up Some Commas”, “I Serve The Base”, “Stick Talk” or “Blow A Bag”. It’s also well worth checking out some of Future’s other great 2015 tracks like “March Madness”, “News Or Somethin’ ” as well as “Diamonds Dancing” and “Jumpman” with Drake.

    Buy DS2 (Deluxe) [Explicit] Amazon

    Buy F*ck Up Some Commas [Explicit] Amazon

    Buy I Serve the Base [Explicit] Amazon

     

     

     

     

    46. CAR SEAT HEADREST- TEENS OF STYLE

    Car Seat Headrest_Teens Of Style

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    “Teens Of Style” is a re-recorded compilation of previously released DIY lo-fi tracks by Will Toledo, a talented twenty-something Virginia singer-songwriter. The tracks are slightly cleaned up but still bring to mind early-mid nineties lo-fi like Pavement, Yo La Tengo and especially Guided By Voices. Despite the long running length of several tracks, Toledo is always focused on hooks and melody, which shine through the hiss. Toledo’s lyrics and literary and humorous and his powerful guitar licks and even his vocal style also bring to mind early period mid tempo music of the Who & the Kinks.
    Buy Teens of StyleAmazon

    Buy Strangers Amazon

    Buy Something Soon Amazon

     

     

     

     

    45. BEACH SLANG- THE THINGS WE DO TO FIND PEOPLE WHO FEEL LIKE US

     Beach Slang_The Things We Do

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    “The Things We Do…” is the debut album from a forty years old life-long punker and is one of the most fun, if least original releases of the year. It’s a thirty-minute album with straight forward, driving power pop/punk songs bearing much in common with Japandroids and the Exploding Hearts as well as the Replacements before them. Lead singer James Alex clearly writes and sings this music because it’s the only thing that makes sense in his life and the passion & urgency of the music seems to drip from his pores. Play Beach Slang loud & proud!

    Buy The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us Amazon

    Buy Ride The Wild Haze Amazon

    Buy Hard Luck Kid Amazon

     

     

     

     

     44.  BJORK- VULNICURA

    Bjork_Vulnicura 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Bjork is known to make dense music. She is known to make sad music. But “Vulnicura”, her breakup album, is probably both her heaviest and her saddest music yet. The album follows the chronology of her breakup with her longtime partner- the pre-breakup, the moments during and after and then the longterm ramifications it will have on her and her son. The music is heartbreaking and gorgeous, often slowly unfolding into sweeping orchestral strings and the majority of the tracks are well above the five minute range. There are no singles to hook the listener and it’s a cerebral, headphones record that requires intense concentration of the listener, but it’s also Bjork’s best album in years.
    Buy Vulnicura Amazon

    Buy Lionsong Amazon

    Buy Quicksand Amazon

     

     

     

     

    43.  HOT CHIP- WHY MAKE SENSE?

    Hot Chip_Why Make Sense? 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Hot Chip, British indie dance pop quintet, has now become an institution by their sixth album “Why Make Sense?” This may make their music somewhat less exciting, but the group still delivers consistently good to great sophisticated dance music focusing on the joys of longterm adult relationships. Hot Chip have carved out their niche in music and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. As with most of their albums there are a few absolute standout tracks- in this case lead single “Huarache Lights” and “Need You Now”. While the group has yet to deliver, and may never deliver, a classic album from top to bottom there is something to be said for a group who continues to please their audience this well into its career.

    Buy Why Make Sense?

    Buy Huarache Lights Amazon

    Buy Need You Now Amazon

     

     

     

     

     42.  DESTROYER- POISON SEASON 

    Destroyer_Poison Season

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    It’s hard to believe that Dan Bejar, the leader and one constant in Destroyer, has been releasing albums as Destroyer since 1996, while also plying his trade as one of the members of renowned indie super group New Pornographers. Destroyer has always had a cult following who appreciated Bejar’s ultra literary, quirky wordplay, but Destroyer’s profile was raised considerably after the great reception to the very great 2011 album “Kaputt”. “Kaputt” was a twenty first century update of late 70’s / early 80’s yacht-rock and lounge lizard era Roxy Music. A mix of soft rock, quiet storm & smooth Jazz. “Poison Season”, Destroyer’s long awaited follow-up takes a double turn both toward more muscular music (see “”Dream Lover”) and to the string laden sounds of fifties crooners. Some of “Kaputt’s” horn-centric sound remains but “Poison Season” comes across more cinematic and melancholy than the coke-fueled hedonism of “Kaputt”. “Poison Season” is a fine album though it does pale in comparison and is less surprising than the brilliant “Kaputt”. “Times Square” and “Dream Lover” do standout as two killer tracks.

    Buy Poison Season

    Buy Times Square Amazon

    Buy Dream Lover Amazon

     

     

     

     

     41.  JULIA HOLTER- HAVE YOU IN MY WILDERNESS

     Julia Holter_Have You In My Wilderness

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Experimental singer songwriter Julia Holter has thus far had more in common with classical and new age music than pop or indie rock, but with each album she has moved closer to pop like song structures and “Have You In My Wilderness”, her 4th full length is both her most accessible and best record yet. Holter sings, composes and plays keyboards on all of the album’s tracks. The album works well as a whole, it’s mellow dream pop floating like little fluffy clouds- ethereal but very intimate. Holter delivers some of her best songs yet particularly “Feel You” and “Sea Calls Me Home”, which is one of the great songs of 2015.
    Buy Have You In My Wilderness Amazon

    Buy Sea Calls Me Home Amazon

    Buy Feel You Amazon



  • Top 50 Albums of 2015: 40-31

    40.  KURT VILE- B’LIEVE I’M GOIN’ DOWN

     Kurt Vile_b'lieve i'm going down

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    6th Full length album by Philly native (and ex War On Drugs member) Kurt Vile is an all together mellower and more somber affair from a guy who already carries an image of an introverted slacker. Vile is actually an extremely prolific singer-songwriter who has delivered consistently engaging music while developing his own signature sound, a rarity these days in rock. He is calling “B’lieve” his night album. Whereas its predecessor, “Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze”, was an ode to marriage and parenthood and had an optimistic, light vibe, “B’lieve” is gloomier and more pessimistic. Vile, a standout electric guitarist, favors acoustic guitar, banjo and piano on “B’lieve” with the electric guitar adding atmosphere rather than dominating the proceedings.   The album begins spectacularly, with four standout tracks back to back including lead single “Pretty Pimpin”, “Dust Bunnies” and the excellent “That’s Life, Tho (Almost Hate To Say)”. The rest of the album seems to run together, creating a soothing, mellow vibe. Time may reveal additional standouts upon further listening.

     

    Buy b’lieve i’m goin down… (Pre-Order Deluxe) Amazon

    Buy Pretty Pimpin Amazon

    Buy Dust Bunnies Amazon

     

     

     

     

     39. SHAMIR- RATCHET

     Shamir_Ratchet

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
    Shamir is a mad-talented twenty year old singer songwriter from Las Vegas with a high pitched androgynous singing voice which sounds not unlike a seventies era disco queen. He is influenced by R&B, Hip Hop & country but makes music for the club, but with a melodic pop sensibility. He gained blog fame last year with the great indie-club hit “On The Regular” and “Ratchet” helps prove that his success last year was no fluke. Shamir moves from synth-pop to acid house to crooning ballads to rapping with relative ease. Depending on taste, the listener may not love every song but Shamir shows confidence in each of his different styles and can genre hop like a 21st century era Prince. “Make A Scene”, “Call It Off” and “Demon” are other highlights on the album. Shamir’s effete ambiguity may keep him both apart from the mainstream and a hero to outsiders his talent and sense of melody to garner him a hit at any time. He will be an interesting artist to follow.

     

    Buy Ratchet [Explicit] Amazon

    Buy On The Regular [Explicit] Amazon

    Buy Call It Off Amazon

     

     

     

     

     38.  PANDA BEAR- PANDA BEAR MEETS THE GRIM REAPER

     Panda Bear_Panda Bear Vs. The Grim Reaper

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Released back in January, Panda Bear’s “Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper” has gotten a bit lost in in the shuffle with so many other epic album releases since then, but it’s a damn fine album. The main concern of the album is death, particularly from the perspective of a first time parent approaching middle age. Panda Bear, is Noah Lennox, one of the co-lead members of the great Animal Collective, but at this point he has made quite a name for himself as a solo artist. “PBMTGR” is his fourth solo album and since I’ve ever heard his first, it’s at least his third straight good one. Despite the bleak subject material the album carries a chill but sonically funky vibe throughout; a mixture of psychedelia, techno and late sixties Beach Boys. There are no duds on the album but lead single “Mr. Noah”, “Boys Latin”, “Tropic Of Cancer” and “Come To Your Senses” stand above the rest.

     

    Buy Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper Amazon

    Buy Mr Noah Amazon

    Buy Boys Latin Amazon

     

     

     

     

    37.  EARL SWEATSHIRT- I DON’T LIKE SHIT, I DON’T GO OUTSIDE

     Earl Sweatshirt_I Don't Like Shit

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    With his sophomore album release, the celebrated Oddfuture mc continues to go against the grain, producing a mopey, misanthropic album with no obvious singles and few hooks and an unmarketable title. The beats on the album are fuzzy and hazy and the lyrics dense but intelligent and poetic. “I Don’t Like Shit..” doesn’t hit the listener immediately but sinks in later and is actually quite easy to swallow at ten tracks and 30 minutes with half of the songs coming in at under the three minute mark. Earl’s is a technically masterful and inventive rapper and is always interesting with a unique take on the world. “I Don’t Like Shit..” is an album for the true hip hop heads who like to dissect every lyric and beat. It’s a worthy follow up to his excellent commercial debut “Doris” even if it lacks as many wow moments.

     

    Buy I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt [Explicit] Amazon

    Buy Wool [Explicit] Amazon

    Buy Faucet [Explicit] Amazon

     

     

     

     

    36.  PURITY RING- ANOTHER ETERNITY

     Purity Ring_Another Eternity

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Over the last few years Purity Ring has become one of the most influential, if not popular, groups in music. Their sound of icy, but accessible, synth pop is everywhere now and it’s almost like they are being penalized for having too many imitators. Though a solid effort, “Another Eternity” is slightly less rewarding than the group’s excellent debut “Shrines”. They have taken their sound in a slightly more pop direction, much like their similar sound-alikes Chvrches. The quality of the songs is still extremely high with “Heartsign”, “Bodyache”, “Push Pull” and “Begin Again” being the best of the lot.

    Buy another eternity Amazon

    Buy begin again Amazon

    Buy repetition Amazon

     

     

     

     

    35.  BEACH HOUSE- DEPRESSION CHERRY

    Beach House_Depression Cherry 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    “Depression Cherry” is another rock solid effort by one of the most consistently good rock bands of this decade. Beach House is almost punished for its own consistent, once again delivering its signature sound of lush, but wistful dream pop perfect for the waning days of autumn. They’ve yet to deliver a bad or even mediocre album and each new release brings a slight twist on their existing sound. This time out they add some shoegaze influenced feedback to some of the songs making them electric without changing the band’s overall mood much at all. “Depression Cherry” is only one of two rock solid album releases by Beach House in 2015, the other being “Thank Your Lucky Stars” released a month and a half after “Cherry”. Neither is the band’s best record, which in my opinion belongs to either “Teen Dream” or “Bloom”, but “Depression Cherry” is another great release from this rock-solid duo and two tracks on the album “Space Song” and “Sparks” are among the group’s very best.

     

    Buy Depression Cherry Amazon

    Buy Space Song Amazon

    Buy Sparks Amazon

     

     

     

     

     34.  LAURA MARLING- SHORT MOVIE

    Laura Marling_Short Movie 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
    Though released back in March I didn’t pick up “Short Movie” until the end of the year, or else it would have been highlighted as a featured best of the month album well before now. Still in her mid twenties, Marling is now five albums into her career and seems to steadily be getting better with each of her releases. The first half of “Short Movie” is nearly perfect and it would have likely ranked in the top twenty if not for lagging a bit toward the end. Marling has already developed a singular voice and sound- indebted to the British folk movement of the late sixties/early seventies combined with the California based Laurel Canyon movement with Joni Mitchell as Marling’s prime influence. “Short Movie” is also distinguished from Marling’s earlier work by being played mostly on the electric guitar. This is a pessimistic album where falling in love is a threat to female autonomy and each of her male suitors is a disappointment.

    Buy Short Movie Amazon

    Buy How Can I Amazon

    Buy False Hope Amazon

     

     

     

     

    33.  BELLE & SEBASTIAN- GIRLS IN PEACETIME WANT TO DANCE

     Belle & Sebastian_Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    “Girls In Peacetime” is the ninth album by Scottish collective Belle & Sebastian and on it they maintain their signature sound while tweaking it a bit to include more funk and disco. Though Belle & Sebastian goes dance is a bit of an overstatement “Girls In Peacetime” is certainly their most danceable album. But even when they bring out a funky bass, B&S remains a more subdued, twee, bookish “dance act”- more Pet Shop Boys than Chic. Despite the band’s slightly different sound if you’re not already a fan this album is unlikely to convert you, but there should be enough here to satisfy their longtime fans. “Ever Had A Little Faith” is a classic soft spoken ballad in the traditional B&S vein, while “Perfect Couples” and “The Party Line” are the two best examples of the band’s new upbeat disco sound. All three songs should go into the group’s ever expanding canon of classic tunes, and while the album runs a little long there are no real true missteps here. Belle & Sebastian delivers a return to form album here if not a classic and that is just fine.

     

    Buy Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance Amazon

    Buy The Party Line Amazon

    Buy Ever Had A Little Faith? Amazon

     

     

     

     

    32.  A$AP ROCKY- AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP

    A$AP ROCKY_AT LONG LAST A$AP 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    “At.Long.Last.A$AP” has been a bit unfairly overlooked this past year, probably due to 2015’s slew of amazing albums but inside and outside of Rap. Though lacking a smash single like “F#ckin Problems”, “A.L.L.A” proves a worthy follow up to A$AP’s 2013 commercial debut. A$AP is stylistically all over the map here, bringing it Miguel as guest vocalist and sampling an old Rod Stewart vocal on the radio ready single “Everyday”, celebrating psychedelics on first single “L$D”, grabbing Lil Wayne for “M’S”, Kanye for “Jukebox Joints” and M.I.A. for “Fine Whine”. This album is both star-studded and eclectic. One minute A$AP is attacking organized religion or thoughtfully describing tough economic circumstances of his community and the next he’s full of swagger and even unfortunate misogyny. “A.L.L.A” is not a perfect album by any stretch but it has enough great moments to be considered very, very good.

     

    Buy At.Long.Last.A$Ap [Explicit] Amazon

    Buy L$D [Explicit] Amazon

    Buy Excuse Me [Explicit] Amazon

     

     

     

     

     31.  UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA- MULTI-LOVE

     Unknown Mortal Orchestra_Multi-Love

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Throughout their past two albums lead singer/guitarist Ruban Nielson and Unknown Mortal Orchestra have quietly carved out a place in indie-rock in between jam-bands and Animal Collective. Nielson is a hot shit phenomenal guitar player, but the group’s recordings are too weird and lo-fi to likely cater much to fans of that circuit. On their third album, “Multi-Love”, the group takes a real left turn toward soul, funk and even disco sounds an away from Grateful Dead inspired psychedelia. As a result you get some of the groups most ‘pop’ sounding music like “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone” and “Necessary Evil”. But it is still plenty weird and to further complicate matters the main subject matter for the album is regarding a polyamarous triad that Nielson recently underwent with his wife and another woman. He is not straight forward in celebrating it or cautioning against it, but approaches the subject with emotional seriousness in describing its trials, tribulations, heartbreak & utter confusion.

     

    Buy Multi-Love Amazon

    Buy Necessary Evil Amazon

    Buy Can’t Keep Checking My Phone Amazon



  • Top 50 Albums of 2015: 30-21

    30. NEON INDIAN- VEGA INTL NIGHT SCHOOL

    Neon Indian_Vega Intl. Night School 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Third full length album by one of the founders of the late-oughts chillwave movement is a tribute to late night hedonism- clubbing, fun & sex. Neon Indian is Alan Palomo and he takes his inspiration from late seventies/early eighties disco, R&B, funk, reggae & synth pop, crafting his most danceable, upbeat music to date.   While Neon Indian’s past releases were druggy sounding headphone albums, “Vega Intl” sounds like to soundtrack to a night out on the town. Though “Slumlord”, “Annie” & “Smut!” all standout as highlights, the album plays best as a whole and like Chaz Bundick and Ariel Pink, Palomo has proven that he’s yet another artist in a much maligned earlier movement who is here to stay.

    Buy Vega Intl. Night School Amazon

    Buy Slumlord Amazon

    Buy Annie Amazon

     

     

     

     

    29. TITUS ANDRONICUS- THE MOST LAMENTABLE TRAGEDY

     Titus Andronicus_The Most Lamentable Tragedy

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    In an age where the single track trumps the full album, where streaming rules over buying, New Jersey’s Titus Andronicus doubles down and goes the complete opposite route, releasing a 29 song, 93 minute rock opera double album. This is not a perfect album. There are a few short blasts of energetic punk that really don’t translate into songs and one song towards the very end is just plain bad, but there is plenty here to love. Lead single “Dimed Out” and “Fatal Flaw” are two standouts that rank amongst the best the group has ever done and the album really hits its stride with two Pogues covers- “Come On Siobhan” and “Pair Of Brown Eyes”. Chief singer and songwriter Patrick Stickles comes off pissed off, and self-effacing but self-aware touching on mental illness, depression, self-loathing and general misanthropy as well as drug and alcohol abuse. The album is grouped into five different sections, which makes it a bit easier to swallow due to its epic length. Titus is an intellectual blue collar group, like a punk rock Springsteen mixed with the Hold Steady. Their popularity probably has a low ceiling but they have definitely an extremely rabid if small fanbase. It’s not the easiest most accessible music but due to their passion, smarts, indie rock ethos and ambition, they are the only band that matters to a few.
    Buy The Most Lamentable Tragedy Amazon

    Buy Fatal Flaw Amazon

    Buy Dimed Out Amazon

     

     

     

     

    28. EMPRESS OF- ME

     Empress Of_Me

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    “Me” is the stellar full-length debut of Empress Of, the alias of Lorely Rodriquez. She has been all but known outside of hipster circles but “Me” delivers an accessible combination of pop, indie rock and R&B which will hopefully help change that in a hurry. “Me” is a concept album with poignant lyrics about a doomed romance from its inception to its demise- it hits on both the high and low water marks and can be equally sexy and utterly heartbreaking. Rodriquez is quirky, experimental and lyrically raw and detailed without sacrificing the tightness of her songs. Every track is between 2 ½ and 4 minutes long and each makes an impact. “Make Up”, “Standard” and “How Do You Do It” are three of the highlights but the whole album is a worthwhile listen. Empress Of is one of the best new artists I’ve heard in 2015.

     

    Buy Me Amazon

    Buy Make Up Amazon

    Buy How Do You Do It Amazon

     

     

     

     

    27. CHVRCHES- EVERY OPEN EYE

     chvrches_every open eye

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    “Every Open Eye” takes Chvrches sound further away from Purity Ring- influenced indie synth-pop and toward anthemic, radio-ready straight up synth pop. Chvrches 2013 debut “The Bones Of What You Believe” was justly celebrated and commercially successful, containing memorable singles like “Recover” and “The Mother We Share”. “Every Open Eye” has at least a handful of tracks you could picture on the radio- namely “Make Them Gold”, “Keep You On My Side”, the “Just Can’t Get Enough” aping “Clearest Blue” and the best two of the lot “Leave A Trace” and “Neverending Circles”. After a near perfect first half of the album the second half begins to lag a bit particularly when lead vocalist Lauren Mayberry cedes lead vocals to one of her bandmates. But this is a group headed in the right direction. Their next trick will be to write a record a whole album full of great tracks. If they are able to pull this off we’ll have a true classic on our hands.
    Buy Every Open Eye Amazon

    Buy Never Ending Circles Amazon

    Buy Leave A Trace Amazon

     

     

     

     

     26. KACEY MUSGRAVES- PAGEANT MATERIAL

     Kacey Musgraves_Pageant Material

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    “Pageant Material” is the follow-up album to the much celebrated, grammy award winning, 2013 debut album “Same Trailer Different Park” that took the country world by storm. Musgraves is both damn talented and just plain likable. “Pageant Material” is filled with relaxed, well-crafted songs with simple instrumentation, sweetly sung and expertly written. Musgraves is great at clever turns of phrases that feel both familiar and unique. She provides details to her songs and characters, which flesh them out without reporting to typical Nashville cheesiness. She comes off as small town and relatable but fun and open-minded. Lead single “Biscuits” was an early favorite but less obvious tracks like the extremely sweet “Late To The Party” and “Cup Of Tea” sink is after multiple listens. “Pageant Material” may not be getting the attention of her debut but it’s just as good of an album and should solidify Musgraves status as one of the best young stars in country with massive crossover potential to anyone who favors great singing and songwriting.

     

    Buy Pageant Material Amazon

    Buy Late To The Party Amazon

    Buy Cup Of Tea Amazon

     

     

     

     

     25.  VIET CONG- VIET CONG

     Viet Cong_Viet Cong

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    “Viet Cong” is the self-titled debut album by a band whose half of its members made up the pretty great Calgary band Women. And Viet Cong will no longer be going by its current moniker due to the name upsetting too many people over the past year. New band name is TBD. “Viet Cong” the album was released early last winter and is a perfect to play during this bleak season filled with short, dark days and harsh weather. The album starts off slowly with an atonal dirge called “Newspaper Spoons” which may not be pleasing to the ears but sets the tone of the album. With the next track “Pointless Experience” the album starts to take off and never lets up until the seventh and last track- the eleven minute “Death”. At times Viet Cong sound like Wolf Parade, but are more experimental and atonal. Or the Danish punk band Iceage, but less tight and with longer songs. And despite their penchant for droning the majority of the tracks are filled with hooks- you may just need to wait a few minutes to hear them. Tracks “Continental Shelf”, “March Of Progress”, “Bunker Buster” and “Silhouettes” are all standouts making the first track mostly a head fake in leading off a pretty great album.

     

    Buy Viet Cong Amazon

    Buy Continental Shelf Amazon

    Buy Silhouettes Amazon

     

     

     

     

     24.  NATALIE PRASS- NATALIE PRASS

    Natalie PRass_NAtalie Prass 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Natalie Prass is a Berklee College of Music dropout and current Nashville resident who delivers an extremely solid debut album filled with throwback blue-eyed soul dipping into both the sounds of the 1970’s Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter scene as well as the well-produced, fussed over soul of they heyday of Atlantic Records. Prass’s singing is warm and understated. Her songs are extremely well crafted with up to three dozen musicians collaborating on them. Elegant strings and plentiful horns with not a synth sound within earshot are all courtesy of the house band from Richmond’s Spacebomb Records, also Prass’s record label. Though “Natalie Prass” is consistently very good two tracks “My Baby Don’t Understand Me” and “Why Don’t You Believe In Me” especially bear special attention. Both are among the best songs of the year in my opinion and can be added to the pantheon of great breakup tunes.

    Buy Natalie Prass Amazon

    Buy Why Don’t You Believe In Me Amazon

    Buy My Baby Don’t Understand Me Amazon

     

     

     

     

    23.  CARLY RAE JEPSEN- E*MO*TION

     Carly Rae Jepsen_Emotion

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    “E*Mo*tion” is the critical smash pop album of the year but that has not translated to sales numbers or heavy airplay for Carly Rae Jepsen. Jepsen may not possess much star quality herself, which may be what’s stopping these great songs from more sales and airplay but they deserve to be heard and anyone who is a fan of well produced, melodic pop should love them too. I thought the pre-album lead single “I Really Like You” was a bit overrated but much of the remainder of “E*Mo*tion” is filled with greatness. Jepsen, who is known as a one hit wonder after releasing “Call Me Maybe”, one of the most popular radio hits of this decade, wanted to take the focus away from another huge smash single and concentrate on delivering a classic pop album filled with quality songs from start to finish. 2nd single, “All That”, an 80’s synth inspired ballad is one such gem and lead track “Run Away With Me” is pure pop perfection and is one of the best pop songs of the year. Why isn’t it all over the radio?? Album tracks like “Boy Problems”, “Warm Blood” and “Let’s Get Lost” help round out “E*Mo*Tion” providing the album with depth and showing it as much more than a collection of hot singles and filler like many pop albums. Hopefully the rest of the world will catch on to “E*Mo*tion” so that is becomes more than the cult classic that could already be its destiny.

     

    Buy E·MO·TION (Deluxe) Amazon

    Buy Run Away With Me Amazon

    Buy All That Amazon

     

     

     

     

    22.  MY MORNING JACKET- THE WATERFALL

     My Morning Jacket_The Waterfall

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    It’s hard to believe that Kentucky natives My Morning Jacket have been touring and recording for over 15 years now. In that time they have carved out a niche as not only one of the finest working live acts in rock music, but also as the one band who can truly bridge any gap between indie rock and the jam band circuit. With “Waterfall” MMJ ditches the uneven experimental sound of “Circuital” and “Evil Urges” toward a more middle of the road sound giving them their most consistently good album 2005’s “Z”. “Waterfall” is a break-up album and is therefore mellower and more introspective than their normal output. Some of the best moments on the album to me are beautiful acoustic tracks like “Get The Point” and “Only Memories Remain”, but with a mighty voice like Jim James’ there are also soaring epics like lead single “Big Decisions” and “Believe (Nobody Knows)”. Well into their second decade My Morning Jacket have managed to keep their music both interesting and quality while continuing to grow their fanbase rather than rely on past glories.

     

    Buy The Waterfall Amazon

    Buy Get The Point Amazon

    Buy Compound Fracture Amazon

     

     

     

     

    21. TWERPS- RANGE ANXIETY

    Twerps_Range Anxiety 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Twerps are a little known indie-rock band from Australia whose sound is a total throwback to eighties jangle-pop, back when alternative or indie music was just known as college rock. Though Twerps are bringing nothing new to the table their songs on “Range Anxiety” are fantastic with “Back To You”, “I Don’t Mind” and “Simple Feelings” being the best among many other highlights. If you like and miss the sound of early R.E.M. or lesser known bands like the Go-Betweens and the Clean, Twerps are the band for you.

     

    Buy Range Anxiety Amazon

    Buy Simple Feelings Amazon

    BuyI Don’t Mind Amazon