2016: Favorite Tracks and Albums

Favorite Tracks (Outside of my Favorite Albums)

15. Joyce Manor “Fake I.D.” – Most awkward exchange at a party.

14. Danny Brown “Really Doe” ft. Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Sou, Earl Sweatshirt – Danny Brown’s experimental album had this more traditional, bangin’ posse cut right in the middle.

13. Brvndon P “Coolin” ft. Beleaf – 2o16’s best pitch corrected hype man lines.

12. ANOHNI “4 Degrees” – Coolest vocal tones

11. Ariana Grande “Let Me Love You” ft. Lil Wayne – Sexiest song of the year

10. Mutual Benefit “Not For Nothing” – From the saddest album of the year.

9. Gallant “Bone + Tissue” – best use of falsetto.

8. Joey Purp “Girls @” ft. Chance the Rapper – best instrumental

7. Kanye West “Ultralight Beam” ft. Chance the Rapper – best Chance verse.

6. Run the Jewels “Legend Has It” – the most RTJiest song to date.

5. Baauer “Day Ones” ft. Novelist, Leikeli47 – best song to crank to 11.

4. Lizzo “Good As Hell” – best feel good song

3. Into It. Over It. “Adult Contempt” – best percussion part

2. Jack Garrett “Worry” – best PBR&B tune

  1. Dawes “When The Tequila Runs Out” – best lyricist of 2016.

Favorite Albums of 2016

10. Jeff Rosenstock WORRY.

jeff-rosenstock-worry

While this album is nowhere as nuanced as Rosenstock’s previous record We Coo?, WORRY. has all the trappings of a great pop punk record – 1/8 note bar chords blasted through tube amps, a substantial helping of crowd “woahs”, and the blistering shouts from the front man himself.

Standout Tracks: “Festival Song” “Wave Goodnight to Me” “Blast Damage Days”

9. Swet Shop Boys Cashmere

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Heems’ project always capture my attention; whether its the Das Racist mixtapes or his solo projects, his use of humor and ad-lib skills make for an enjoyable listen. Here, the content becomes more politically-themed as he tag teams with Riz Ahmed, a Londoner of middle eastern heritage. The instrumentals sample sounds and artists of southern Asia (similar to Heem’s debut album Eat Pray Thug) thanks to the brilliant work of Redhino. Unlike the mixtapes, this project has no slack or throwaway moments; it’s all solid and important rhetoric communicated through club rap tracks.

Standout Tracks: “T5” “Aaja” “Zayn Malik

8. Modern Baseball Holy Ghost

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The emo rock world has been catching a new wave of energy: 2016 saw great music from Into It. Over It., Joyce Manor, Useless ID, Real Friends, and TTNG. The project that floats to the top of that powerful list is Modern Baseball’s newest LP Holy Ghost. It’s simplicity works in its favor as the heart-on-sleeve lyrics take a front seat.

Standout Tracks: “Note to Self” “Wedding Singer” “What If..”

7. Regina Spektor Remember Us To Life

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Regina Specktor’s newest album is a very theatrical project: each song is an independent vignette telling specific stories, some with fleshed out characters. Many musical moments are musical theater tropes, or that of a film score, and inform the lyrics and mood much more than the poppier piano projects Specktor has released previously in her career.

Standout Tracks: “Grand Hotel“”Small Bill$” “The Light

6. Weezer Weezer [The White Album]

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It’s hard not to adapt the opinions of others in our formative years. I did not know, for example, that Weezer had bad albums. I bought what turned out to be, critically speaking, Weezer’s least popular records: The Red Album and Raditude. It wasn’t long after diving into diverse musical realms through college that these albums began to wain in quality, and some if it upon re-listening sounded horrendous.

2014’s comback-ish Trouble Will Find Us In The End turned out to be an album-long drum roll to the real surprise: 2016’s The White Album. The melodies are fun and within Weezer’s wheelhouse. The guitars rule, as they did in 2o14, and the subjects while not as eclectic are explored in odd ways…ways familiar to early Rivers Cuomo lyric sheets.

California Kids” “Jacked Up” “King of the World

5. Anderson.Paak Malibu

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Raspy-throated crooner Anderson.Paak went from behind-the-scenes producer for Dr. Dre’s Compton to front man extrordonare. Now grammy nominated, Paak unleased his varied talents as rapper, James Brown impersonator, band leader, drummer, and all around classy chap in this funky record. It’s meaty and yet airy, with thick product that somehow keeps the songs light. It’s a musical magic trick to behold.

Come Down” “The Dreamer” “Parking Lot

4. Thao and the Get Down Stay Down – A Man Alive

Thao-Get-Down-Stay-Down--A-Man-Alive-album-cover

2013’s We Are Common also made it onto my AOTY list, and Thao has only upped her game since then. With production help from the brain behind tUnE-yArDs, this LP unleashes a torrent of quirky rock tunes circling the singer’s personal search of her birth father. It’s deep, thought-provoking, and catchy.

Standout Tracks: “Departure” “Astonished Man” “Nobody Dies

3. PUP The Dream is Over

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My favorite album of 2015 was FIDLAR’s Too, and this album takes the same musical influences and creates an equally raucous track list. The earnestness of the lyrics and the group shouts create an effective woe-is-me pathos, but the song structures are exceptional: multiple bridges, key changes, an incredible drummer, and time signature experimentation make this album an excellent record for all kinds of music lovers.

DVP” “Sleep in the Heat” “My Life Is Over And I Couldn’t Be Happier” “Familiar Patterns”

2.clipping –  Splendor & Misery / Wriggle

The experimental Rap trio released two excellent, yet very different, projects in 2016. The first was an EP called Wriggle that delivered more of what we knew made clipping great: creative instrumental beats (one made entirely of gun noises), motor-mouth bars from Daveed Diggs, and memorable guest verses. It’s catchy, raunchy, and a powerful punch for an EP.

Fast forward a few months, and the group releases Splendor & Misery. A 40-minute rap-opera of a runaway space slave trapped on a cargo ship. Yup. Diggs runs wild with the imagery and the narrative while the instrumental production serves more like the sound effects of a radio play than that of a rap album. Both projects are excellent, and both deserve to be recognized.

Standout Tracks: “Shooter” “All Black” “Air ‘Em Out“”Back Up

1.Car Seat Headrest –  Teens of Denial

car seat headrest

Will Toledo has a runaway hit of an album: a debut album in the sense that it is the first with a nation-wide market release, but is technically his 12th album, most of which were dropped on bandcamp. The garage rock band is pure pathos, with Toledo yelping his emotions, ripping them off his sleeve and throwing them directly into your face. The guitars are rough and agitated, but hold together for melodic hooks, building most of the wall of sound. i had the privilege of seeing them live, and you know a band resonates with a generation when the crowd, during “Drunk Driver/Killer Whales” sung so loud that it through off the band, missing a cue to move into the final chorus. The record makes me equally jealous and understood; Toledo makes a fine mouthpiece for a lot of sullen youth.

Standout Tracks: “Drunk Driver/Killer Whales” “1937 State Park” “Fill in the Blank” “Destroyed by Hippie Powers”

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Favorite Music from 2012

My methods of music consumption have been sporadic at best this year. From obsessively using Spotify to discount CD sales to whatever happens to come on the radio to whatever pitchfork says a savvy cool kid should be listening to. There is too much music out there to say this is the best music, but I know from all that I have listened to that this is my favorite music of 2012.

Top 10 Favorite Songs (Outside my favorite albums):

10. “The Wave” Miike Snow

9. “Take a Walk” Passion Pit

8. “The Motto” Drake feat. Lil Wayne

7. “Manny Pacquiao” Kool A.D.

6. “I Will Wait” Mumford and Sons

5. “Swimming Pools (Drank)” Kendrick Lamar

4. “Triftshop” Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

3. “Laura” Bat For Lashes

2. “One Sixteen” Trip Lee feat. KB, Andy Mineo

1. “Thinkin Bout You” Frank Ocean

Top Six (Cause I couldn’t think of four more) Favorite Albums of 2012:

6. Out of Frequency – The Asteroids Galaxy Tour

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Big horns and a lead vocal that rides that fine line between unique and grating. The whole album is like an Austin Powers movie score. Listen to: “Dollars in the Night” “Major”

5. Church Clothes Mixtape – LeCrae

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While I wasn’t super pumped about LeCrae’s 5th studio album Gravity, his mixtape hosted by Cannon had more than enough bangers to get me through many weekends of yard work under the hot Boise sun. Listen to: “APB” “Church Clothes” “Black Rose”

4. Halcyon – Ellie Goulding

Ellie Goulding Halcyon

Easily my favorite dance record of the year, Halcyon’s production wins over Ellie’s vocals to where it seems like Ellie is being sampled on her own LP. Goulding turns in her best Florance Welch impersonation in “My Blood” to great success and “Figure 8” is up there with whatever the rave kids are tripping to these days. The ballads cannot compete with fellow British pop star Adele, but no one really expects that from another human being. Listen to: “Anything Could Happen” “Figure 8” “My Blood”

3. Everything Else Fades Mixtape – The Intervention

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With what might seem like a very biased number three spot having spent the summer with the members of The Intervention this mixtape deserves this spot because…well, it’s one of my favorites. That’s how this works, right? The collection ranges from songs that sound like their previous work (“Answer the Call”, “Strong Enough”) to some crazy growth in production value from songs featuring all three members to the solo tracks. Can’t wait for their projects in 2013. Listen to: “Houdini” “Iron Shirt” “Dear Lord”

2. Instrumental Mixtape 2 – Clams Casino

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Clams has been producing for the up and coming generation of rappers and released a second set (hence the name) of instrumental tracks (again, the name). What the listeners find is that adding to a Clams Casino track only makes it less beautiful. No surprise that the worst offender is Lil B, but even A$AP Rocky doesn’t seem to find a way to add to his tracks without me wishing he was muted. Now I don’t have to worry, thanks Clams! Listen to: “Kissing on my Syrup” “I’m God” “Bass”

1. Who’s Feeling Young Now? – Punch Brothers

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I have almost been following Chris Thile since someone in Montana showed me Nickel Creek about five years ago. But who does that anymore? Anyway, his last project, The Goat Rodeo Sessions, featuring none other than the only cello player I know Yo Yo Ma, was a great album. This year, however, Chris nails down his progressive blue grass style again with the band he’s been with since 2008. This album is filled with catchy, dance-able tunes that I’m pretty confident no one will hate…which is impressive in our cynical world of music snobs. Every single member of this group really owns their instrument and becomes overwhelmingly apparent on “Flippen (The Flip)”. Not to mention, there’s a cover of “Kid A” and who doesn’t love Radiohead? Punch Brothers is to Mumford as an electric guitar is to a Guitar Hero controller. Listen to: “This Girl” “Flippen (the Flip)” “Kid A” “Don’t Get Married Without Me”

So there ya go. I’m sure this list will be all flipped around three months from now when I catch up with the world, but as for now 2012 shall be celebrated as seen above. Happy 2013