Favorite New Music: December 2017

  1. Chris Thile Thanks For Listening

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What’s a master mandolin player to do after collaborating with your childhood friends, musical mentors and heros, and building the dopest bluegrass band ever? The answer for Chris Thile is host the program formerly know as “Prairie Home Companion.” During his first year as host, Thile penned and performed orginal songs that have been compiled onto this album. The variety of guest musicians and vocalists helps this album stand out from Thile’s previous work, and the songwriting is just as strong as one would expect from the life-long composer.

Standout Track: “Thank You New York (feat. Gaby Moreno)

2. Jeremih & Chance the Rapper Merry Christmas Lil Mama Re-wrapped

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The duo’s holiday mixtape from 2016 gets a re-release with ten new tracks, so one download gets you two mixtapes in one! It’s a bargain (if we pretend it wasn’t free both now and last year) and Chance makes the songs snappy and fun.

Standout Track: “Down Wit That

 

3. The Macks Camp Poppa

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Oregon-based psych/blues rock band The Macks have released their debut album, and it’s got all of the trimming of a DIY-ish take on the genre. The lead vocals have the sass of Jagger, the guitar licks have a classic rock vibe, and the drums blast through the mix with power and attitude. An honor to have played with these musicians last year.

Standout Track: “Problems for Me

4. BROCKHAMPTON Saturation III

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The rap-clique fad of the 2010s once had all kinds of camps to which to vow allegiance: GOOD Music, Maybach Music Group, Odd Future, A$AP Mob, Cash Money, Bruiser Brigade, Doomtree, and the list goes on. BROCKHAPTON is more akin to Odd Future; they are a California-based posse of young rappers, singers, and producers who air on the side of communicating levity and high energy in their music rather than a tough-as-nails facade. The abundance of vocal performances keeps the album flying by, and this is, amazingly, the third full-length project released this calendar year, which maybe justifies the groups lengthy roster of members. The project is bouncy, and here and there are gems of couplets surely to find longer life online.

Standout Track: “ZIPPER

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Favorite New Music: February

1.The Orwells Terrible Human Beings

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No special tricks or gimmicks here, just catchy 4/4 pop punk tunes from The Orwells.

Standout Track: “Black Francis

2.Surfer Blood Snowdonia

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From simple indie pop tunes to elaborate 7+ minute sonic journeys, Snowdonia surprises me on every listen. The vocal harmonies help carry the album through the less impressive moments, and the melodies cement John Paul Pitts as a formidable pop songwriter.

Standout Track: “Snowdonia

3.Jesca Hoop Memories Are Now

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Memories Are Now mishmashes Celtic, indie folk, and Americana into a unique record, and one that I would normally regard as “boring.” What makes this project interesting, however, are Hoop’s repeating hooks and unique instrumentation.

Standout Track: “Memories Are Now

4.Dirty Projectors S/T

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Break-up albums come at a great cost, but the power impact of many a somber works of art are my favorite. While this self-titled release is tragic in subject matter, the sonic palate is all over the place: there are indie pop tunes, alt r&b, and electronic dance songs. They meld well in this collection of tunes, and never have I been more invested in a Dirty Projectors album.

Standout Track: “Keep Your Name

Other Solid Releases : Mother Mother No Culture ; Thundercat Drunk ; Mozzy Fake Famous

Favorite New Music: May 2016

Car Seat Headrest Teens of Denial

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From the opening guitar licks in “Fill in the Blank” to the Dido reference in the middle of “The Ballad of Costa Concordia” Car Seat Headrest shows their songwriting prowess on this Matador Records debut. Will Toledo pens some killer drepressing lyrics and pairs the sentiments with indie guitar tunes that sit somewhere between surf rock, lo-fi, and punk. The songs are all very catchy, too, and melodies will stick around in your head, especially the refrain from “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales”.

Standout Track: “Fill in the Blank

Mutual Benefit Skip a Sinking Stone

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Sometimes you need an album to just sit on the floor and soak in. For a long time, that album for me has been Burst Apart by The Antlers, but now it might have some company. These folk tunes from Jordan Lee deliver the mellow vibes through the lightly harmonized vocals and the thick, legato string arrangements.

Standout Track: “Not For Nothing

Nothing Tired of Tomorrow

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17 year old me would have been disappointed in his older self’s musical tastes. This album would have been written off as “too soft” in a world where nu-metal ruled and bpms under 140 were discarded. Nothing’s washed out opening tracks cresendo two minutes into “Vertigo Flowers” where the half time count builds into an incredible wall of sound. The album shows its 90’s sensibilities and holds a lot of similarities to the drugged out, dreamy songs of my early childhood. The nu-metal turns on at “A.C.D.” with harmonies one could find on a track by The Urge.

Standout Track: “A.C.D. (Abcessive Compulsive Disorder)

Death Grips Bottomless Pit

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And then there’s Death Grips.

Standout Track: “Three Bedrooms in a Good Neighborhood

ANOHNI Hopelessness

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Have you ever been engaged with entertainment and cannot come to the conclusion whether you are either captivated or baffled? So continues my relationship with ANOHNI’s vocals on Hopelessness. The sexual ambiguity makes the music more difficult to categorize, which makes the album more interesting to explore. Plus, “4 Degrees” is a great pop song with one catchy hook.

Standout Track: “4 Degrees

Other Solid Releases: James Blake The Colour in Anything; Fruit Bats Absolute Loser; Homebody Sandman Kindness for Weakness; Yoni & Geti Testarossa; Chance the Rapper Coloring Book; Astronautalis Cut The Body Loose