Favorite Music of 2017

Favorite Songs Outside of My Top 10 Favorite Albums:

15. Father John Misty “Leaving LA” – best song that encapsulates my current feelings about my current state of residence

14. Sundara Karma “Flame” – best song that’s sure to be on some car commercial soon

13. Porn Bloopers “I Don’t Give a Fuck”  – best steak-and-potato punk

12. Dirty Projectors “Keep Your Name” – Best pitch-correction for sad people

11. Foo Fighters “The Sky is a Neighborhood” – Best rock anthem for 15 years ago

10. Big K.R.I.T. “Keep the Devil off” – best sample of a southern preacher

9. T-Pain with Mr. Talkbox “May I” – best keyboard solo

8. Small Leak Sinks Ships “Dancing Devil” – best song I found from someone else’s top 10 list

7. Weezer “Mexican Fender” – best new song heard live

6. Leikeli47 “Miss Me” – Best female rap song (sorry Cardi B, I guess)

5. The Mynabirds “Golden Age” – Best “nazi-punching” lyric for 2017’s political climate

4. Jesca Hoop “Memories are Now” – Best singer-songwriter tune

3. Kendrick Lamar “Humble” – best song played at the Prom I had to chaperone last May

2. SOPHIE “Ponyboy” – best song that makes me feel like I’ve been shot with a 12-gauge

1.Bleachers “Everybody Lost Somebody” – best use of Jack Antonoff this year, and saxophones

My Top 10 Favorite Albums of the Year:

10. The National Sleep Well Beast

the national sleep well beast

The National’s formula of using simple, repetitive chord progressions worked for so  long for one obvious reason: Matt Berninger’s vocal performance. His baritone melodies combined with fictitious narratives of love and woe made 2013’s Trouble Will Find Me worth multiple listens. In 2017, the reason to turn back to The National is due to the four other band members who create songs with electronic drum machines and electric guitar solos: instrumentation that never before characterized the traditional National-esque sound. With the new band sound, and with the shoot-from-the-hip feel of the recording sessions, Sleep Well Beast is an exciting listen, especially to fans of the band.

Standout Tracks: “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness” “Turtleneck” “Nobody Else Will Be There

9. The Orwells Terrible Human Beings


The torch of American Rock n Roll remains lit, and Illinois’ The Orwells hoist it high and proud. The psych-rock doesn’t get bogged down in effects, and punk rock doesn’t get overblown with shitty mixing, and rock doesn’t get boring. This is the new Cage the Elephant.

Standout Tracks: “They Put a Body in the Bayou” “Creatures” “Black Francis

8. Andy Mineo and Wordsplayed Andy Mineo & Wordsplayed Present Magic & Bird


Far from the serious, murderous rap from mumble rappers and their more lyrical role models, Andy Mineo and Wordsplayed use the trendy trap sound to create a 1980s-themed mixtape that’s fresh and fun, chock-full of basketball puns to justify the loose Larry Bird and Magic Johnson concept. Shockingly, the skits are funny, and as expected the rapping is top-notch from the two heads of the Minor League musical collective.

Standout Tracks: “Dance (You See It)” “KIDZ” “Judo (feat. Tree Giants)

7. Grandaddy Last Place


A sonic blend of all the emotions with which I am most familiar.

Standout Tracks: “That’s What You Get for Getting Outta Bed” “Way We Won’t” “Brush with the Wild

6. Kesha Rainbow

kesha rainbow

I vehemently disliked Ke$ha at her 2010 debut; both her balls-to-the-wall lyrics and her brash, bratty vocal style rubbed me the wrong way. On top of my initial distaste, I worked at a college cafeteria that would only play the Top 40 playlist, so Ke$ha would often great, accompany, and dismiss me from my shifts. Rainbow is, however, a significant departure in both sonic tone and sentiment. The auto-tune is gone and the live horn section of The Dap-Kings are in. The self-indulgence is out and the self-affirmations are in. The trite party imagery is out and the more quaint and introspective Kesha (with no $) is in.

Standout Tracks: “Woman” “Godzilla” “Bastards

5. Deerhoof Mountain Moves

deerhoof mountain moves

There always seems to be room on my end-of-year lists for the art-rock/garage artists who catch my ears: Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, Tune-yards, St. Vincent, and their ilk. 2017’s seat was filled by Deerhoof, a band with whom I was unfamiliar until I listened to The Wandering Wolf podcast episode featuring Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier. The album itself is bouncy and Matsuzaki’s vocals are intriguing as she uses different effects to create different vocal personas inside her songs. The fuzzy, DIY attitude makes this record from the veteran band seem like an underdog, but this group is finely tuned and as talented as their peers.

Standout Tracks: “I Will Spite Survive” “Your Dystopic Creation Doesn’t Fear You (ft. Awkwafina)

4. Run the Jewels RTJ3


I played this album on the day of President Trump’s inauguration, and it seems now that much of the word feels the same way as El-P and Killer Mike 11 months ago: angry at the bald-faced lies and ineptitude that plagues this administration, and capitalistic values in general. While the 1% are only directly addressed in a few tracks tucked inside RTJ3, the bravado of the hustler plays as the righteous indignation of the oppressed in this new political context. The two vocal Bernie supporters have only venom for the nation’s 2016 Presidential winner, and the chaotic production that defines the work of El-P’s instrumentals works as its own protest, thumping hard and boiling over with thick keyboards, horns, and 808s.

Standout Tracks: “Legend Has It” “Hey Kids (feat. Danny Brown)” “A Report to the Shareholders / Kill Your Masters

3. WHY? Moh Lean


Yoni Wolf pens his best songs and crafts his best melodies since the band’s breakthrough masterpiece Alopecia. The acoustic piano helps keep the sound grounded and solemn, and the record’s high points of bliss are lightly gilded with Wolf’s melancholy: the sweet spot for WHY? the band.

Standout Tracks: “Proactive Evolution” “One Mississippi” “George Washington

2. Beck Colors


Genre-hopping Beck lands on pop-electro-funk in 2017 with Colors. It’s primary objective: to make you dance and accept the more euphoric moments of life. It’s a carefree, but carefully constructed album, and Beck wears the genre well; it reminds me of my other favorite phase of Beck’s in the late 2000’s when he ended up on MTV and VH1 again with radio hits like “Girl.” Tucked in the middle of this album is the club hip-hop song “WOW” which is extra silly and has Beck back to his white guy rap mode.

Standout Tracks: “I’m So Free” “Colors” “Wow” “Up All Night

  1. Julia Michaels Nervous System EP

julia michaels

Pop music, the kind that’s likely to show up on the radio, can become washed with the echo chamber of the Billboard 100 list. I have strayed from the radio dial, and their online streaming playlist cousins, and wait for audiophiles to recommend pop projects. Turns out, some of my favorite songs into the zeitgeist are from the pen of Julia Michaels, and Michaels now has her own hit with “Issues.” The EP from which it comes delivers six other solid pop tunes that bends the expectations without falling into the more experimental-leaning pop records. “Uh huh” may be my favorite song of 2017, Michaels sells the simple tune with subtly in the verses and full spunk in the chorus. The same can be said for the innuendo (or not) filled “Pink.” On the whole EP, the production is open enough to let the singer’s frail delivery float like pedals on water.

Standout Tracks: “Uh Huh” “Make It Up To You” “Just Do It




Favorite New Music: June 2017

Cool American Infinite Hiatus

infinite hiatus

Self-proclaimed “dorito pop” Portland four-piece Cool American released Infinite Hiatus on bandcamp at the beginning of June, but might best be played at the beginning of December: the melancholic delivery of the vocal performance tint each song with a wistful energy, and in the case of the title track, paint a solemn picture ideal for lonely dark months. Long live guitar bands!

Standout Track: “Great at Parties

Bleachers Gone Now


Bleachers’ sophomore album is another case of more-of-the-same syndrome, but when the debut album is as good as Strange Desire, it’s not such a terrible ailment from which to suffer. The choruses are still big, the vocals have the same filters, the 80s vibe is still loud and clear…but every touch is welcomed back for Bleachers fans.

Standout Track: “Everybody Lost Somebody

Calvin Harris Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1

calvin harris

It’s hard not to like, at least a little, an album that’s just a pile of dancable pop tunes from recognizable names…and this one trumps the new DJ Kalid project Grateful. As a disclaimer, however, the Nikki Minaj track is complete garbage and should not be bothered with for any reason.

Standout Track: “Heatstroke” ft. Young Thug, Pharrell Williams, Ariana Grande

Tigers of Youth Rapture and Gravity EP

tigers of youth

Portland’s TOY have released their debut EP and it captures the band’s excellent songwriting and lyrical compositions by frontman Dave Wentz. The smooth vocals and equally smooth guitar tones seduce the ears and make the EP feel like a full experience. Here’s to hoping they get some attention soon.

Standout Track: “Simple Treason

Other Solid Releases: Lorde Melodrama ; Vince Staples Big Fish Theory




The Best of 2014 Pt. 1

Favorite New Artist:

Too Many Zooz


Performing in the New York subways, three-piece brass house Too Many Zooz blew up in 2014 after lots of youtube videos gone viral. They’ve been the best-selling band on bandcamp.com for three of their releases this year and have gotten enough support to tour full-time around the U.S.. With the mainstream media embrassing electronic music, it seems that instrumental music is gaining a greater audience as well (which was witnessed with the rise of the hip hop jazz trio BadBadNotGood). Plus, Too Many Zooz has nourished listeners with yet another strong use of the saxophone.

2014 Releases: F Note, Fanimals, Brasshouse Vol. 1: Survival of the Flyest.

Top Ten Favorite Songs (Outside of my favorite albums):

For me and my ears, 2014 marked the best year for Top 40 radio. Looking at my list of favorite tracks I’ve compiled, a staggering amount were primarily digested through my car, driving to and from work. I have amassed a pile of CDs to avoid the radio, but this year I found it to be an extremely diverse source of catchy music. Sure, there’s the same pile of thoughtless, empty tracks, but I felt that this year I did not find diamonds in the rough, but rather discovered a gold rush. But, like the gold rush, it will end shortly. Alas…

10. Lecrae “Dirty Water”

Lecrae’s new album hit #1 on the Billboard charts, but, in a year where the charts were officially acknowledged by Billboard themselves that the system was way out-of-date, the title now seems more trite than ever. What was perhaps more surprising was Lecrae’s takeover of the iTunes homepage and his sit-in with The Roots on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. The album is not great, but “Dirty Water” is a sucker punch to the gut, which is entirely thanks to Derek Minor who produced the track. Added bonus: seeing this performed live and actually getting knocked back by sound pressure.

9. Rustie “Velcro”

“do do do do do do do do do do do do do do

whap whap whap whap whap whap

bleeeee blee bleeeeeeeeee blee bleeeeeeeeee blee blee blee blee”

8. Naughty Boy “La La La” (feat. Sam Smith)

Male falsetto voices can get a little annoying, even if it comes off as fun and refreshing at first (I’m looking at you, MIKA). Sam Smith’s pipes handle the falsetto with power and confidence, along with every other note Smith chooses. Naughty Boy’s Hotel Cabana project was a little too ambitious in its theme, but it holds some great tracks. The combination of Smith’s vocals and Naughty Boy’s production makes a great pairing, too sweet not to indulge.

7. Taking Back Sunday “Flicker, Fade”

I had a phase this year where I listened to a lot of emo-rock, post-punk, and their ilk to psyche myself up for a new band I’ve started. I reintroduced myself to My Chemical Romance and early The Mars Volta (or late At the Drive-In), plus a number of these bands released new material this year. The best of the lot is Taking Back Sunday’s Happiness Is…, and the best of that lot is “Flicker, Fade”.

6. Becky G “Shower”

Back in high school, there was a span of about ten seconds from when I first kissed my then-girlfriend to when I made it back to my car parked on the curb. During the last five seconds, I could not help but dance. This song bottles those five seconds and lasts three and a half minutes.

5. Bleachers “I Want to Get Better”

Jack Antonoff spins his notoriety from the success of fun. into an opportunity to show his band-fronting skills with the group Bleachers. There are some similarities with style and sound, but here the arrangements are more traditional in song structure and the vocals more weighty. The greatness of this song lies in two parts: the cut-and-paste piano samples pounding away and the anthemic vocals in the chorus.

4. Bizzle “One Way” (Remix) feat. Transparent & John Givez

Bizzle’s new album Well Wishes is a little frustrating to listen to if only for the repeated “God Over Money” label shout outs. It’s in every track. Awesome. Anyway, because of the tag and the sample-heavy, simplistic beats the project feels more like a mixtape than an album. Regardless, one of the two bonus tracks is “One Way” and, boy, is it a banger. A dead ringer for Sage the Gemini’s more famous work, this tune soars above thanks to John Givez’s killer guest verse. Update: The original “One Way” by Transparent is from 2013 and the production is almost identical.

3. Tove Lo “Habits (Stay High)”

Breaking up with someone is hard. Some look to self-destructive activities to cope with the sense of loss and sadness. Tove Lo walks us through a bender to end all benders in hopes it will help forget the former lover. And every time I hear the song and I almost wish for someone to break up with me so I can revel in the song’s woeful demeanor.

2. Arianna Grande “Problem” (feat. Iggy Azalea)

The Saxophone has been given a renaissance in pop music over the last few years. There was the jazzy (and cheesy) solos in M83’s “Midnight City” and Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)” and then the reed instrument took a front seat in songs like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop” and Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty.” Again the horn blasts through the hook of “Problems” but the song’s high point is Arianna Grande’s vocals as she belts from the bedlam and sings at par with the best pop divas today. Hats off to the new member of the female pop elite.

1. Hozier “Take Me to Church”

Hozier wrote “Take Me to Church” as a response to the Russian government’s suppression of the LGBT community and their rights to protest for themselves in public. This song tops other popular love-is-love equality songs like Macklemore’s “Same Love” because of it’s powerful musical arrangement, Andrew’s voice, and the best song lyrics penned in 2014.

For a list of all of my favorite songs from 2014, check out my Spotify playlist here

Favorite Music Video of 2014

Queens rapper Action Bronson is a funny guy. His guest verses are seldom without food references, and he even has his own online cooking/food appreciation show called “F*** That’s Delicious.” Here, Action displays his comic chops in a narrative where all he wants is to play his Les Paul guitar. Lots of drugs are digested. Honorable Mentions: Sia’s “Chandalier”, “Turn Down for What”, Chromeo’s “Jealous  (I Ain’t With It)” , OK Go’s “I Wont Let You Down” , Armin van Buuren’s “Ping Pong” and all of my monthly highlights.

Watch for Part 2 coming shortly!!

July Highlights

Weird Al Yankovic Mandatory Fun


As his possibly last formal full-length release, and the last with his current record deal with RCA, the parody king skewers pop-culture once again. It’s always interesting to see who Yankovic picks to parody that aren’t of-the-now but rather bands he’s catching up to parody. This album has a Pixies pastiche as well as Crosby, Stills, and Nash ; Cat Stevens, Foo Fighters, and some band called Southern Culture on the Skids. This isn’t Yankovic’s finest LP, but it does shine above Alpocalypse and even Straight Outta Lynwood.

Standout Track: “Word Crimes

Jungle Jungle


The alt R&B movement is in full swing this year and Jungle’s debut self-titled LP hits more like an alt-funk record. The big horn section becomes a muted synth pad and the vocals feel like they’re coming from Motown, but in reality they’re from England. The funkier the tune the better these guys croon and the new record hosts a lot of fun, mid-tempo dance tunes.

Standout Track: “Julia

Bleachers Strange Desires


“I Wanna Get Better” is the best thing that’s happened to Top 40 radio in a long time and this record is filled with equally positive and catchy tunes with hugely diverse and dense instrumentation. This doesn’t come as a complete surprise coming from a band fronted by the guitarist from fun., who delivers similarly ambitious tracks.

Standout Track: “I Wanna Get Better”

Sia 1000 Forms of Fear


Sia’s new single “Chandelier” shines as a great cut from her new LP, 1000 Forms of Fear. Sia has been out of the limelight save for her vocals on David Guetta’s “Titanium.” Her voice is given much of the focus on the record and her power ballads do the best job of leaving plenty of room for Sia to showcase her beautiful and unique voice.

Standout Track: “Burn the Pages”

La Roux Trouble In Paradise


There has been a strange drought in Synth Pop records so far this year, but La Roux’s new album is plenty to jam to while traveling to your next summer music festival.

Standout Track: “Uptight Downtown”

Music Video of the Month: