Top 50 Albums of 2016

 

“When in the course of musical events, it becomes necessary for one Dan to dissolve the subjective bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of amateur criticism, the separate and biased station to which the Laws of Listmaking, and of Listmaking’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of Dankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

-The Danclaration of IndepenDance (2016 Edition)

(I made a top 50)

 

50. Drowners – On Desire

Frenchkiss Records

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On Desire carries itself much more than anything as a product of the alternative explosion circa ten years ago. I was in middle school then, and bands like The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, The Hives, Franz Ferdinand were all the rage. Fast forward to now, and we still have countless “ripoff” bands surging up the Top 40 Alternative charts, shamelessly throwing their own bland spin on what was pretty typical indie rock to begin with. Maybe the band is British, maybe they’re not; it all just sort of blends in doesn’t it? Drowners is no exception, just without the popularity factor, and with a little more post-punk revival in their sound. It’s catchy, but not overbearing, and tracks like “Human Remains” and “Don’t Be Like That” are testament to that. The inclusion of countless riffs and thumping basslines are perfect fodder for radio hits were the band in the ring for that sort of stuff. Instead, I get to pretend it’s the most underground thing ever!

RIYL: Bloc Party – Silent Alarmsilentalarmcover


49. Muuy Biien – Age of Uncertainty

Autumn Tone

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A morose post-punk band out of Athens, GA, Muuy Biien take the Bauhaus root on Age of Uncertainty. If the unsettling album art mish-mash of faces welded together wasn’t a great enough personification of sound, the haunting guitar riffs and monotone vocals are a dead giveaway of apparent idols and influences past. Muuy Biien invoke shadowy imagery, and in turn reinforce the notion that bands can still create “dark entries” in this 21st century if you will.

RIYL: Bauhaus – The Sky’s Gone Out

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48. TOY – Clear Shot

Heavenly Recordings

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Brighton boys TOY are back with a knack for psychedelic jams in the vein of old krautrock bands of the seventies. Many songs graze the 6 minute mark and up and make for some wonderful compositions of sound, progressing through a sonic palette of anything from bare bones indie-rock, to shoegaze. The diverse sound is only magnified by their musicianship. TOY is the mind melting magic, with a little more fleshing out of its parts. Tracks take on a very sweet psychedelic sound, yet pile on riffs and walls of sound to make an even greater outpouring.

RIYL: Deerhunter – Microcastle

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47. Basement – Promise Everything

Run For Cover Records

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It isn’t the most groundbreaking work, even by their own standards, but whether we say that Basement plays it safe or not on Promise Everything, they are making energetic jams at the least. It is breakneck grunge at its highs, and angst-ridden emo at its most sullen. Perfect CD or cassette to have on deck in your automobile!

RIYL: Jimmy Eat World – Bleed American

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46. Soft Kill – Choke

Profound Lore

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Eight songs about depression and death, so describes Soft Kill on their new album Choke. It does sound like any millennial’s Twitter feed, be it running gag or cry for help, but above all, the Portland darkwave band have crafted some brilliant post-punk jams. Even calling on Mark Burgess (The Chameleons) for vocal duties on the track “On The Inside”, it calls to mind great bands of old able to encapsulate beauty in darkness and suffering.

RIYL: Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss

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45. Savages – Adore Life (Review)

Matador Records

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Welcome to the comedown machine. Savages are back in 2016 in an ever self-indulgent mystique, yet are found this time around with a new, refined maturity. The vortex of raw power and dark energy are halted in many regards to a slower paced, adroit execution of punk. On their debut, 2013’s Silence Yourself, waves of crashing intensity were carried by lead singer Jehnny Beth’s howling screams and abrasive gothic influence in climatic bursts. Now, Beth and the band find their muse in carefully guided appeals to discovering the purest of loves, her lyricism weighing deep reflections of empathy and self-doubt, and there arising out of the ashes a stronger being entirely. This course of action prominently favors an artful execution of punk rock, all the while maintaining the familiar post-punk flavor that garnered Savages praise in their early stages. Adore Life is brooding, sophisticated, and above all, an interesting step in a learned direction of artful influences.

RIYL: Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect

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44. Kishi Bashi – Sonderlust

Joyful Noise Recordings

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A little less violin and a little more synthesizer would be an apt way to describe Kishi Bashi’s third record, Sonderlust. Although fans know and love Mr. Ishibashi for his masterful talent for violin, mandolin, and all stringed things, he trades the sugary loops for a little more intellect in his songwriting. This works as an advantage, or a disadvantage, depending on how you look at it. On one hand, his words delve into a much more melancholy territory, fresh off of a divorce, yet his trademark falsetto still remains. Pop music is his artful craft, yet here we find a deeper meaning behind the message, versus the playful onslaught that reigned supreme on Lighght.

RIYL: Dr. Dog – Fate

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43. Open Mike Eagle and Paul White – Hella Personal Film Festival

Mello Music Group

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If there’s one thing I find peculiar about Open Mike Eagle’s wordplay, it’s the almost incessant tales of introversion and his obsession with being glued to his cellphone. It’s not like a discourse from him on how people are technology addicted, but how he is. He pointed it out in concert both times I’ve seen him perform, 808 machine in hand. It’s that self-awareness that carries onto Hella Personal Film Festival as well, and with collaborator and producer Paul White (of Danny Brown fame), this record’s crisp production adds to the flavor and charm behind it. Of course, I’m sure anyone working with Paul White seems like a match made in heaven.

RIYL: Milo – So The Flies Don’t Come

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42. The Jezabels – Synthia

Dine Alone Records

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In the midst of a cancelled tour upon official announcement of keyboardist Heather Shannon’s diagnosis with ovarian cancer, The Jezabels are down, but certainly not out. Even in sporting such a strong display of records in their repertoire, each with their own fine tuned pop sensibilities, Synthia exists with melodious power and booming epics. As per usual, Hayley Mary’s sensual vocals crank the passionate levels of each song to their apex, boldly marking the beginning of the record with the massive “Stand and Deliver”. As evident by the album cover, the news of Shannon is a big roadblock to stomach, but optimistically, Synthia is a courageous and incredibly well crafted display of synths and just about every facet of modern art-pop influence. This is an already mature band reaching enlightenment, and the step up in songwriting reflects the Aussie veteran’s knack for tugging our collective heartstrings.

RIYL: Warpaint – Warpaint

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41. Okkervil River – Away

ATO Records

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The first song being titled “R.I.P. Okkervil River”, you can see that Will Sheff may intentionally be putting to rest any personal inhibition to try and recreate that Black Sheep Boy sound, and instead work as a songwriter and storyteller in this present day and age. He did the artwork too, which is incredible!

“I wrote the songs during a confusing time of transition in my personal and professional life and recorded them quickly with a brand new group of musicians. I got together the best New York players I could think of, people whose playing and personalities I was fans of and who came more out of a jazz or avant garde background, and we cut the songs live in one or two takes – trying to keep things as natural and immediate as possible“

Perhaps the immediacy too arises by way of longer compositions seemingly taking over Away, showing Sheff’s storytelling more as a stream-of-consciousness delivery than anything.

RIYL: The Decemberists – Picaresque

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40. Jeff Rosenstock – WORRY.

SideOneDummy Records

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The Bomb The Music Industry! mastermind returns again with his second solo record in two years, with the sequel to We Cool?. It’s your usual sad, angry, and slightly comical Jeff Rosenstock, complete with singalong anthems like “Festival Song” and “HELLLLHOOOOLE”, and even carries the caressing background voices to boot, an angst-ridden army. Even better, WORRY. ends on a very clear allusion to Abbey Road, climaxing in a flurry of sub-two minute declarations to carry out the record.

RIYL: Titus Andronicus – The Most Lamentable Tragedy

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39. Negative Thought Process – Methylene Butterfly

Negative Thought Process

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Methylene Butterfly‘s appearance is deceptive. The two-piece grind band starts off the record with a robotic voice detailing what actually drives the record thematically, that of dark thoughts of self-harm and even suicide. Yet the chemistry lesson combined with a peaceful creature such as a butterfly leads you to believe otherwise. That is, at least until you’re treated with a 20 minute onslaught of fuzz, sludge, and Daniel Page’s surging vocals. Methylene Butterfly is powerful stuff.

RIYL: Nails – Abandon All Life

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38. Merchandise – A Corpse Wired For Sound

4AD

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Merchandise is a consistently great band, and my fear is that they don’t get quite the recognition they deserve, especially after their last record (and 4AD debut), After The End. A bit of a departure from their usual post-punk compositions, the dreaminess in sound and lead singer Carson Cox’s best Morrissey impression are sure-fire additions. A Corpse Wired For Sound is reminiscent of their jangle tendencies as a band, but more importantly, it showcases their knack for extended compositions formulated with characteristics straight out of pop’s playbook.

RIYL: Iceage – Plowing Into The Field Of Love

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37. Lobby Boxer – Big Bucks

Lobby Boxer

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Emo pop-punk trio Lobby Boxer are back with Big Bucks, now with increased proggy guitar riffs and even more desperation in their adult angst. Look for killer shredding on “I Was Afraid of Tornadoes”, mixed tempo baggage on “Shine Like Fire”, but above all, enjoy the record as much as these gentlemen appear to enjoy life. I mean right? Live a little!

RIYL: The Wonder Years – Suburbia, I’ve Given You all and Now I’m Nothing

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36. Touché Amoré – Stage Four

Epitaph Records

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Hardcore records don’t always bring a whole lot to the table for me personally. I only own one strictly hardcore record myself, Defeater’s Travels. However, seeing Touché Amoré sign with Epitaph and get some mainstream press sparked my attention. Stage Four, as the name might suggest, is about cancer. Yep, combine something along the lines of Hospice, by The Antlers and throw in the screaming cries of Jeremy Bolm, and you have a pretty damn depressing record. That is by no means a deterrent though. As evidenced by mammoth roller coasters of emotion like “Skyscraper”, the journey is definitely worth hearing as Bolm exorcises his demons.

RIYL: Defeater – Travels

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35. Big Ups – Before A Million Universes

Tough Love Records

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There’s no shame in Before A Million Universes‘ influences, the most apparent being the in your face Slint references. Songs will halt to an eerie electric guitar picking followed by bombastic explosions of energy and angst. It’s like they’re one in the same, yet here Big Ups are apologetically blessing us with their own record 25 years later. It’s like an anniversary tribute in the form of new songs. I say that’s a good deal!

RIYL: Slint – Spiderland

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34. John K. Samson – Winter Wheat

John K. Samson

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I hope John K. Samson was the inspiration for mewithoutYou’s changeup folk-rock release It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! It’s Alright. Not only has Samson enraptured all and any feelings of angst and hope in former projects with The Weakerthans, but his diverse output as Propagandhi are also pretty telling of his musical ability. You can see where a voice like Aaron Weiss takes a hint or to from, but he’s also right up there with names like John Darnielle in terms of sheer heartbreaking poetry and lyricism. Winter Wheat alludes to the folky tunes being perfect for the colder months; take advantage of it, because that’s exactly right.

RIYL: Owen – Ghost Town

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33. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo (TTT)

GOOD Music

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The Life of Pablo was hands down the most aggravating release campaign of any exclusive title (Tidal?) put out this year. That being said, I wasn’t getting my shorts in a knot over not listening to it for a few months afterward. Kanye is a master of theatrics, but it ain’t 4-D Chess, or whatever diehards want to call it. Heck, even loyal fans may think twice about representing his opinions and antics as Facts given his recent stint of public statements. Kanye is the ultimate celebrity. I think his overarching goal is to surround himself with other personalities, that is, larger than life figures of power and success. The Life of Pablo channels into the pleasures of the wealthy in that regard. It is huge, bombastic, head-scratchingly odd, and overall fun to listen to. It isn’t inventing new ground or breaking bridges like previous releases have in the past (no, not Yeezus), but it’s a testament to Kanye West’s peaks of one genius that is crazy!

RIYL: Young Thug – Jeffery

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32. The Drones – Feelin’ Kinda Free

TFS Records

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If you’re familiar with The Drones, you know how experimental and unique they can be. The steady, piercing drumbeats and creeping vocals are undeniably catchy, but even better is the band’s ability to meld so many seemingly differing genres into one product, blended to perfection. “Taman Shud” sounds like an Australian bastard child of some parent track off of Rain Dogs or something, and better yet, as each wave of rushing noise can apex at Feelin Kinda Free’s highest of highs, slow, brooding ballads take the record down a notch in a heartbeat. Just another day at the office for The Drones, who once again add to an already marvelous discography.

RIYL: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Let Love In

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31. DIIV – Is The Is Are (Review)

Captured Tracks

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Is The Is Are is really long. Even so, the extended album run time allows for many patterns of familiarity, that of what makes DIIV good, but the numerous amount of songs also possesses rehashing of material in the same time span. For a savvy listener in the movement, they can take the seventeen songs with a grain of salt. It can work as background music, but on a deeper level, the substance of tracks like “Take Your Time” exemplify a band capable of more than just three minute reverb-drenched medleys. The jangle-pop guitars are a consistent factor, yet Zachary Cole Smith’s vocals carry a sweet innocence in the melody, despite how dark the subject material may appear.

RIYL: Blank Realm – Illegals In Heaven

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30. Programm – A Torrid Marriage of Logic and Emotion

The Hand Recordings

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Fueled by a strong female presence brooding with serene grace amidst dark synths and grooving bass, Programm return with a short but powerful full length in A Torrid Marriage of Logic and Emotion. Take it for what it’s worth; as wordy as the album title is, the music is equally complex, presenting layers of sound and shoegaze undertones, yet an overarching beauty on tracks like “Everything at Once” with Jackie Game’s lush vocals providing intense beauty in the music.

RIYL: Pinkshinyultrablast – Everything Else Matters

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29. Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression (Review)

Loma Vista

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To listen to Post Pop Depression is to examine the players at work here, and revel at the meshing of worlds colliding, not that collaboration is difficult given the talent available. In this present time where true bred household name rock stars are a scarcity, the next best thing can be derived instead from those already solidified in our collective hearts. Josh Homme and Iggy Pop are generational talents that happen to be invading the newest uprising with fresh outlooks on life and their work. Tagging along are Homme’s fellow Queen of the Stone Age, Dean Fertita, as well as Arctic Monkeys drummer, Matt Helders. See, it ain’t your dad’s record collection, only those who create with heavily influential cues from his favorite artists growing up! Not only that, it rocks from start to finish, and shows that old wrinkly skin monster Iggy Pop still has it, though not as easy on the eyes.

RIYL: Lou Reed – New York

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28. Rihanna – ANTI

Roc Nation

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“Let me cover your shit in glitter, I could make it gold”, boasts Rihanna in ANTI’s opening duet with fellow singer SZA. Rihanna has indeed struck gold this year, or double platinum if we’re being literal. Anyone who doesn’t live under a rock has undoubtedly heard many if not all of the tracks on this record at some point this year, not that Rihanna is any stranger to banging singles. What’s better here is that every song has something to write home about. As always, she is seductive yet cunning in each ensuing tale of sex, drugs and rock and roll. “Work” is not just a duet with Drake, but it further solidifies what we all knew to be true of Rihanna, that she doesn’t need him or any other silly boy *LINK DRAKE KISS*to be top dog in the music world, as she stated with SZA from the get go. Every single has been a chart-topper, she’s been above the greatest if not the best exclusive-type releases all year, and even threw in a spin on Tame Impala for the indie cred. She’s shown to be a jack of all trades, and ANTI deserves proper credit where its due.

RIYL: D∆WN – Blackheart

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27. Midnight Faces – Heavenly Bodies

Midnight Faces

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You know how dream pop is mind-numbingly boring for some people, and they won’t listen to anything in the genre because of that bias that follows? Tell them to try out Heavenly Bodies by Midnight Faces for a change of pace. Literally, it’s much faster dream pop than is normally considered the norm. You know what else? They even thrown in traces of shoegaze and post-punk in the mix, with reverb-heavy guitar solos, and spacy vocals. Sounds cool, right? Dream pop is cool.

RIYL: No Devotion – Permanence

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26. Bon Iver – 22, A Million

Jagjaguwar

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I really missed the Bon Iver hype trains that surround each one of his releases. Maybe For Emma, Forever Ago was a little more of a posthumous gushing of indie-folk genius, but for Justin Vernon’s 2011 self-titled masterpiece, more of the acoustic falsetto ballads remained, just with more orchestration. Fast forward to now, as cryptic as the build up to 22, A Million was, what with murals and song titles comparable to me slapping my hands on the keyboard (here, let me try it right now… 9asduf*ko), the product to hopeful ears all over the world was even more surprising. As Vernon keeps in line with his soft coos, the music this time is accompanied by heavy use of vocoder, making for some of his glitchiest compositions yet. Evolution in his sound is a welcome addition, and he pulled it off quite nicely, I must say.

RIYL: James Blake – James Blake

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25. Show Me The Body – Body War

Loma Vista Recordings/Universal

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Show Me The Body is a hardcore band out of Queens, NY, and also a part of the Letter Racer collective (RATKING). Taking a queue out of Death Grips’ brash drum and beat infused punk rock (“Chrome Exposed”), and combining heavier riffs and drums, these tracks are as energetic as a Rage Against The Machine track, albeit a little more authentic. Body War definitely wins “going for a run and need pump up music” AOTY.

RIYL: Girl Band – Holding Hands With Jamie

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24. Joyce Manor – Cody

Epitaph Records

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I had the pleasure of seeing Joyce Manor in concert twice this year, once in lower Manhattan, NYC, and the second time in Portland, OR. Both times, the energy was equally captivating, though the former was as an opener. Even so, the spirit of punk and lust for youth reigned true, and Cody is a postscript to the magic they created live. Old formulas of lightning quick songs are still effervescent, but Joyce Manor also takes the next step in crafting actual full-length big boy tracks, such as lead single “Fake I.D.” and even the 3.5 minute marathon that is “Last You Heard Of Me”.

RIYL: Bomb the Music Industry! – Vacation

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23. The 1975 – I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it

Interscope Records

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The apparent taboo that seems to exist by any list maker putting The 1975 on it is COMPLETELY FABRICATED by the mainstream media. With a whopping 17 tracks tossing this thing well over an hour, there makes for plenty of time to showcase heartthrob Matty Healy’s diverse vocal chords, churning out pop-rock anthems on i love it when you sleep…’s first side, followed by some delicate interludes and first dance-type numbers. Don’t act like you’re above “Urban Outfitters” music trends, as if The Killers or any Matador Records staple isn’t on your vinyl shelf!

RIYL: Justin Bieber – Purpose

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22. FEWS – MEANS

PIAS

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FEWS on the exciting and concise MEANS hits a nerve for any post-punk appetite, and the band is making waves with this release. Invoking the spirit of Editors-ish post-punk grooves with dreamier vocals, MEANS is a short burst of guitar magic in ten separate entries. The London-based Swedes are here, and they’re just getting started.

RIYL: The Cure – Seventeen Seconds

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21. Japanese Breakfast – Psychopomp

Yellow K Records

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Psycopomp is so sweet and sugary in its sound, it’s hard to swallow that Michelle Zauner oft describes issues of heartbreak and frustration, but also of the death of her mother. It packs quite a punch clocking in just under half an hour, but there’s plenty of dreamy indie-pop to go around.

RIYL: Grimes – Visions

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20. David Bowie – ★ (Review/TTT)

ISO/Colombia Records/Sony Music Entertainment

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I reviewed Blackstar and posted the day before it was announced that David Bowie had passed on to the next life. In it, I said to lay claims of revolution aside, but as 2016 has shown, there isn’t really room for hyperbole in describing the record in context to all of Bowie’s personas, let alone the stage performance that was his entire life. It’s absolutely brilliant! People will contend to thrown together low budget mini-documentaries, television specials, maybe even budget feature length films. You couldn’t relish this kind of plot in your wildest imagination, and yet his finale entailed clues towards his ensuing death this whole time, from singles being released over a year ago, to his cancer announcement, to ensuing death. Bravo David Bowie! You were a living legend, now alive in our minds, and in the narrative fairy tale that was your life for ages to come.

RIYL: David Bowie – Outside

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19. Weezer – Weezer (White Album) (Review/TTT)

Atlantic Recording Corporation

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For what it’s worth, White Album serves as Weezer’s first concept album since Pinkerton, and throughout the years, with all of the faults and failures, thank God such a feat was attempted after Weezer was ready for the challenge again. The direction that this record provides helps steer it in a concise timeline. An overarching beach concept in terms of relationships and the feelings evoked in the music channel Rivers Cuomo’s own personal Beach Boys epiphany, where the Weezer flair and power chords shine above all else, but he is also reaching for a former clarity. The way The White Album is crafted, you’d think of the record as Cuomo’s own personal SMiLE in that he is resurrecting old lyrics and feelings of angst which can only be pinned to early era outputs by the band. You know, the ones that cemented them as legends of their own time and place. “Thank God For Girls” actually cites Cuomo’s former entries of a 1990’s frame of mind, with old lyrics finally being put to use, citing a girl he can fantasize about even though she belongs to somebody else. The fact that she is alive is enough for him to gawk in bittersweet happiness.

RIYL: Weezer – Weezer (Blue Album)

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18. All Human – Teenagers, You Don’t Have To Die

All Human

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Taking cues from traditional pop and alternative rock melody, Adam Rupert Fisher (Fear Before/ORBS) releases another All Human record, pent with similar emotion as the last. Songs dive into a hodgepodge of different influences, and utilize piano and a female voice (Angela Jane Bachmann) careening throughout the wave of synths. Pick this one up too if you’re a fan of post-hardcore undertones, as Trophy Scars’ drummer Brian Ferrara joins the lineup to complete the sound.

RIYL: Circa Survive – Blue Sky Noise

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17. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

Bad Seeds Ltd

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Veteran musicians are making huge waves this year, with many releasing their best output in years. From David Bowie, to Leonard Cohen, to A Tribe Called Quest, it’s easy to pinpoint greatness when it rears its head, and for these artists specifically, death seemed to overshadow the overarching hollowness of personas now left from this world. For Nick Cave, that presence of loss channeled on the receiving end of his still existent physical presence; he is the victim of his own loss. With that, Skeleton Tree contains some of the most tender, yet ominous moments of Cave’s storied, diverse career as an artist. Take it more as combination of The Boatman’s Call with somberness and minimalism, and the lyrical content more akin to Cave’s Murder Ballads. Through it all, Cave’s gloomy voice wreaks of emotive sadness, as if he is one moment from a complete collapse of grieving on record.

RIYL: Tom Waits – Alice

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16. Pinegrove – Cardinal

Run For Cover Records

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Cardinal as a whole feels like you’re sitting in the very room Evan Stephen Hall is singing in, like he’s spilling his heart out right in front of you, flesh and blood. Run For Cover is pretty much the staple emo revival record label, and Pinegrove is stereotypically awesome as a part of that roster. Even better, their songs are incredibly relatable from a downtrodden season of life perspective. Songs like “Old Friends” and “Cadmium” begin but a lush whisper of Hall’s muted vocals, but as is evidenced on a number of the track’s whirring guitar solos and crescendos, his voice can build to full on screams and cracking falsetto in just a flash.

RIYL: Sorority Noise – Joy, Departed

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15. Nothing – Tired of Tomorrow

Relapse Records

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I probably like this more than it deserves. By shoegaze standards, Tired of Tomorrow is about as modern as it gets, with dreamy mental pictures in the fuzzy guitar, and multi-part harmonies. Beyond that, I can’t really describe what Nothing is doing here other than exhausting old adages about the genre itself. I guess it has a poppier sound than say Guilty of Everything from 2014, and that works to its advantage on my personal playlist. I played the hell out of this new one all year, and be it pretty standard as far as guitar rock goes, so be it.

RIYL: Whirr – Sway

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14. Camp Cope – Camp Cope

Poison City

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As far as Australians are concerned, heavy hitters seem to have breached two extremes in the last couple of years. For the indie kids, Courtney Barnett’s apathetic yet whimsical anthems on last year’s sometimes i sit and think, and sometimes i just sit… struck a collective funny bone with deadpan humor. Now as evidenced a few spots above, veteran Aussie Nick Cave tugged every heartstring around the world with his latest. Then there’s Camp Cope’s self-titled debut. Georgia Maq and the band energetically floor listeners with powerful instrumentations and enthralling rock and roll. On the surface, every track glistens somewhere between shameful regret, and semi-charmed insecurity. It’s right in the band name and album title; desperation is wreaking through the cracks of each song, and above all else, release of chains being loosened show their true face. Sometimes conveying that freedom takes the form of a meme.

RIYL: Hop Along – Get Disowned

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13. Oathbreaker – Rheia

Deathwish Inc.

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Rheia has the pleasure of reaping in all the praise it deserves as a glorious blast of blackgaze without the hipster following. “Second Son of R.” raises goosebumps right from the start, and the record isn’t quick to let up, with careful, spooky passages of slowed down arpeggiating guitar leading a new wave of brutal energy and head on into more powerful, vicious screams courtesy of one Caro Tanghe. If you fancy an intense, captivating live performance, seek out Oathbreaker on their next stop through town.

RIYL: Deafheaven – Sunbather

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12. Little Simz – Stillness In Wonderland

Age 101

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Little Simz has released full length LPs for three years running now, just getting in her latest Stillness In Wonderland before year end. “You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” Well according to Laurence Fishburne, Simbi is on a fast track to enlightenment, or rather, she enlightens us in the form of allusion and metaphor. Call her a modern day Lewis Carroll, or better yet, get her own visions of stillness, still as grimey and on beat as usual, and still proving everyone wrong, one bombtrack at a time.

RIYL: Kendrick Lamar – Section.80

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11. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool (TTT)

XL Recordings

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Releasing a track list in alphabetical order isn’t quite the cryptic “figure it out” kind of puzzle Radiohead normally leads on with in their music, but that didn’t stop fans from finding something out of nothing on the band’s newest record, A Moon Shaped Pool. In fact, there’s plenty to write home about, given the legend of each musician’s individual merit. While they took a dive into classical elements of composition in both lead singles “Burn The Witch” and “Daydreaming”, it was the beautiful reformations of older tracks like fan favorite “True Love Waits” that got people’s attention. Thom Yorke still crafts beautiful songs of love and heartbreak, and as evidenced by Radiohead’s precursor outtake of a James Bond theme, it’s clear that the band is still on top of their game by their combined forces, their own British version of Captain Planet and his Planeteers!

RIYL: Bjork – Vespertine

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10. Anderson .Paak – Malibu

Steel Wool/OBE/Art Club/EMPIRE

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Hey look, it’s that guy that was on like every song on Dr. Dre’s album last year. That’s what I said when Anderson .Paak released Malibu at the very beginning of this year, but since then, it seems more suitable to say that he’s basically everywhere you look in music media now. Whether on NPR, MTV, or NBA on ESPN “about to go to commercial” bump music, .Paak is a certified superstar, and his stock only seems to be rising. With a blend of summery electronics (seriously, this should have been everyone’s Summer anthem record) and the staple alternative R&B voice that is dominating the charts today, Malibu is a tribute to the finer things in life, a celebration if you will. It is a fun listen, maybe out of season now, but the cliches of blunt sexual lyricism and cheesy rap-singing aren’t present here like many inadvertently do. Instead, a fresh take on soul and hip-hop collide, with Anderson .Paak taking control every step of the way, as a singer but also a drummer.

RIYL: Miguel – Wildheart

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9. Frightened Rabbit – Painting of a Panic Attack

Atlantic Records

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Given the cult status as sort of a “The National lite”, Frightened Rabbit surely have their own repertoire of indie-rock sadboy anthems. Thus, it only seems fitting that Aaron Dessner produced the newest output from the Scottish quintet, wrought with rocking numbers (“Get Out”) and slow burners (“Die Like A Rich Boy”) throughout. By all means, Scott Hutchinson’s music has always been rather depressing, and it’s been a long year for him. Dating back to around Painting of a Panic Attack’s release date, not soon after the start of their tour did he post a rant on his Twitter about how being in the band had taken an extreme toll on their personal sanity, and they were to immediately call it quits. In essence, Frightened Rabbit was no more. That’s putting it lightly, but needless to say, an apology was delivered to a confused fanbase, and here we are now. Sad, but it’s apparent his depression has caused an episode or too, and although the tour was cancelled for a time, the band remains intact. Frightened Rabbit is still going, the songs are still relatable sad, and Scott is still a Scottish madman capable of creating incredible indie-rock jams.

RIYL: The National – Trouble Will Find Me

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8. Julianna Barwick – Will

Dead Oceans

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Will is angelic, worthy of deserved acclaim amidst Julianna Barwick’s complex discography. Even as her falsetto rings in the record on “St. Apolonia”, most songs take a liking to the heavy use of loops, but also takes a unique approach to incorporating classical strings into the compositions as well, ala Julia Holter. The ominous beauty of “Nebula” immediately dragged me into my personal introduction to Barwick’s music. When it comes to contemporary ambient artists, many dominate the spotlight with lush textures and minimalistic styles, but Julianna Barwick was admittedly a gaping hole in my listening habits until now. Luckily, her back catalog spreads into the past now four releases deep, so there’s plenty of work to go around, and widespread acclaim to show for it. I’ll officially dub Will the “warm blanket and cup of coffee” album of the year, just because it’s so cozy and warm. Winter is here after all, so bundle up!

RIYL: Grouper – Ruins

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7. SILENT – A Century of Abuse

Three One G Inc.

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In a world of Nick Cave imitators, be a student of The Birthday Party I say! It’s always a welcome addition into the music world when bands can burst onto the scene with such blinding force, and California’s Silent have accomplished just that on their debut. A Century of Abuse is captivating track after track, it’s almost hard to find room to catch a breath. Gloomy guitars and punishing drums overlay a reverb-drenched vocal performance, taking nods from noise and punk influences to form one giant explosion in ten easy doses. It’s reminiscent of the way Savages burst onto the scene back in 2013 with Silence Yourself, and definitely deserved of the same attention and hype.

RIYL: Savages – Silence Yourself

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6. Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition (Review)

Warp Records

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Danny Brown is trying so hard, but then again, lots of rappers pushing for “the next big thing” fall in the same boat. The difference is Danny Brown executes fusing genres together into his raps with ease. Sure, he wears the fact that he knows all of these obscure artists on his sleeve, but give him credit for actually making Atrocity Exhibition sound dark as hell, all the while combining his textbook self-loathing lyricism with drug fiend narratives. “Dance In The Water” and “Ain’t It Funny” are perhaps the most jumbled piles of sound, but Danny’s high pitch cracking in his voice provide the perfect touch to its ultimate goal. It’s a downward spiral of his life told through the lens of that part of his conscious hopefully seeking a way out of his darkest vices.

RIYL: El-P – Cancer 4 Cure

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5. Body of Light – Let Me Go

Dais Records

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I’ll be real. All you have to really do to get on a Danny top fifty list is sound like Depeche Mode. Body of Light saw my ad on Craigslist, traversed the inner machinations of my mind, and sought after perfectly recapturing the gothiness of Black Celebration mixed with the dark romance of Violator and voila, Let Me Go was born. Look at the cover art for Dave Gahan’s sake! There is a few ink blotches made up primarily of the color red, almost resembling a flower. If that isn’t any clue as to what this album sounds like, I’ll gladly explain. Choirs of “oohs” and “ahhs” pervade over spacey synths, all reinvigorated courtesy mysterious baritone croons. Arizona’s Body of Light have nailed the goth resurgence by way of niche pop songs, if there ever was a culture needing saving.

RIYL: Depeche Mode – Violator

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4. Whitney – Light Upon The Lake

Secretly Canadian

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You’d think I work for Secretly Canadian as some sort of paid spokesperson given my next two choices on this list. Maybe I just appreciate a breathe of fresh air! That’s exactly what Light Upon The Lake has provided, particularly to one’s Summer playlist (conveniently releasing in June). Formed as a phoenix out of the ashes with Smith Westerns breakup a few years back, Whitney serves better as a supergroup of sorts, fully fledging out serene guitar slide and picking techniques courtesy of Max Kakacek and company. Better yet, what makes them unique is the sweet falsetto and simple drumming of Julian Ehrlich (formerly Unknown Mortal Orchestra) guiding each song ever so serenely. Attribute their talents large in part to pop and indie acts anywhere from Hall & Oates’ pop sensibilities, to more recent staples of country-infused indie acts like Wilco. Whatever their musical doppelganger, give Whitney credit for being infinitely listenable, and certifiably charming.

RIYL: Fleetwood Mac – Tusk

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3. Suuns – Hold/Still

Secretly Canadian

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Hold/Still is an interesting listen. Songs tease the essence of a big buildup likely leading into an explosion of sound, yet the music never seems to get there, and that’s not the point in a loudness war generation used to gratification via explosion of sound. Rather, the blend of electronic noise and reverb-soaked guitars target a different kind of response, one of wavy uneasiness in the picking guitar of “Resistance”, or the brooding noisiness of “Translate”. Hold/Still is blatantly creepy. You could attribute that to many staples of post-punk classics, but that era of new artful developments in the genre’s pioneers don’t speak for the plethora of copycats in our present day. Suuns I can safely say are different. there is something new served here, most noticeably by the accompanying electronics, with slithering guitars and muddied bass. As our generation further disillusions itself in the romanticized musical world of yesteryear, there are still new creators, and bigger ambitions in mind. There is a ton of post-punk in my personal musical diet. Much of that invokes much of the past, and moreover becomes a product of its own influences. Hold/Still challenges the notion and leaves audiences to decide how they wish to label it. Just try.

RIYL: Women – Public Strain

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2. The Hotelier – Goodness (Review)

Tiny Engines

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“Emo Revival” as people tend to dub this kind of stuff is certainly revived in the sense that bands everywhere are trying to invoke the whole midwestern indie-rock thing. Sure, many of them can pull off the sound, but I can only think of a select few this decade that are great. On Goodness, Christian Holden’s lyricism blooms amidst this steady drumming of “Goodness, Pt. 2”, like a Lord of the Rings ultimatum that there is some good in this world that’s worth fighting for. This song like many carries a weight of hurt and destruction, now fully forming into the beauty that life brings, a chrysalis made and soon birthed as guitar and bass join Holden’s scarred voice, ready for life’s next challenge. Better yet, The Hotelier place straight up post-hardcore on the shelf entirely. Instead, we were greeted with leadup single “Goodness, Pt. 1”, which didn’t appear on record, but better serves as an acoustic guitar driven preface to a new beginning for the band. Songs are still tearjerkers, and Holden still stands out as a powerful vocalist, screaming his heart out on staples like “Soft Animal” and “Sun”. The Hotelier moreover showed a mature evolution in their sound; that’s what emo revival has on say pop-punk for example. They’re adults now, no need to shamelessly reinvent the wheel, as life doesn’t stop at eighteen.

RIYL: Brand New – Deja Entendu

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1. The Black Queen – Fever Daydream

The Black Queen

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Side projects, an indefinite vacation from the toils of everyday musicianship as profession, or the last pulse of a lineup of creative minds on respirator. Perhaps I’m being dramatic, but such is life for mathcore pioneers The Dillinger Escape Plan. Although they released their swansong record Dissociation to wide acclaim in preparation to call it quits, it was Greg Puciato’s work with fellow collaborators Steven Alexander and Joshua Eustis (Nine Inch Nails) that garnered attention late 2015 sliding into 2016, when their group released a match-made-in-heaven ode to synthesizer madness and 80’s nostalgia. Beyond the exterior of synth-pop melodies and jumpy 808 drum beats, Fever Daydream proves to be much more. Featuring Puciato fully dedicating himself to clean vocals aside from his hardcore past, songs like lead single “Ice To Never” show his diverse range of belting choruses, to the tender falsetto of “The End Where We Start”. Quite the stray from shocking audiences out of their element, but snapping back to this present reality, The Black Queen trade awe in the form of entertainment to that of beautiful soundscapes of warbly electronics and piercing bass and guitar. Fever Daydream is an homage of sorts, but above all, Puciato is his standard distinct voice, and The Black Queen set their own personal soundtrack, destined to bring the extra flavor to a budding resurgence in pop music.

RIYL: Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine

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Other UJATS happenings from 2016…

B.G.M. Excerpts

YMHM Archives 2016

Follow me on Twitter… @trealdirtydan

Like, comment, subscribe, like again

-Draniel

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Top 50 Songs of 2016

This is a compilation of Usually Just A T-Shirt’s best 50 tracks of the last musical year…and a crippling realization that “2 Phones” in fact came out as a single in 2015, and thus cannot be considered for this prestigious compilation two years in a row. Thank you for reading and listening to the Spotify playlist that has been conveniently put together for your listening pleasure. The top 50 records of 2016 will soon follow.

 

50. The Weeknd – Starboy

Daft Punk-y

49. Chris Farren – Say U Want Me

48. Joyce Manor – Angel In The Snow

Regular punk-y

47. Trentemoller – Circuits

Disintigration-y

46. Mitski – Your Best American Girl

Goosebumps

45. Desiigner – Panda

Broads in Atlanta, a new series by Donald Glover…new episodes Monday, only on FX

44. Tegan and Sara – U-Turn

Pop perfection…every T&S has at least one song that fits the bill

43. David Bowie – Sue (Or In A Season of Crime)

That breakdown is Joga-esque

42. Avion Roe – Jettison Tears

Anberlin-y

41. The Last Shadow Puppets – Aviation

Alex Turner is very overrated, except for when he’s not

40. Midnight Faces – Blue Haze

39. The Tallest Man on Earth – Time of the Blue

Singles from KM to curb my enthusiasm

38. Gloss Coats – Through Hardship to the Stars

Gaze-y

37. Dan Lissvik – M

Experimental-y

36. Anderson .Paak – Comedown

NBA bump music to bump to

35. Rae Sremmurd – Black Beatles

Meme-y

34. Oathbreaker – Second Son of R.

Scandinavian blackgaze

33. Touche Amore – Skyscraper

Hospice for hardcore kids

32. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Magneto

One more time with feeling

31. Drowners – Don’t Be Like That

Frenchkiss groov-y

30. Angel Olsen – Shut Up Kiss Me

Indie-rock one-two drum beat

29. Kevin Morby – Dorothy

Country-y

28. Foster Body – Touching and Moving

B-52s-y

27. Japanese Breakfast – The Woman That Loves You

26. Eliot Sumner – Information

Sting’s daughter-y

25. HONNE – Good Together

Remixable x100

24. The 1975 – She’s American

Urban Outfitters-y

23. Warpaint – Today Dear

Ominous

22. Trevor Sensor – Texas Girls and Jesus Christ

21. The Black Queen – Maybe We Should / Non-Consent

Depeche Mode meets Nine Inch Nails

20. clipping – Shooter

Hamilton, but the other guy

19. FEWS – Drinking Games

Riffs that get stuck in your head

18. The Jezabels – Unnatural

Huge chorus-y

17. Kanye West – Feedback

Name one genius that ain’t crazy

16. Drugdealer – Easy to Forget

Ariel Pink-core

15. Body of Light – Comedown

Brooding

14. Andrew Bird – Capsized

13. Danny Brown – When It Rain

Bleep n’ bloop samples

12. Rihanna – Work

Now with TWO music videos

11. Kishi Bashi – Flame on Flame (A Slow Dirge)

Carry On Phenomenon pt. 2, Electic Boogaloo

10. SILENT – Self

The male counterpoint to Savages, “Self” is equally as intense, and forever inviting to the raw emotion that pervades A Century of Abuse.

9. Frank Ocean – Self Control

An immediate highlight on Blonde, the multi-part Frank harmonies at the end of “Self Control” are a thing of beauty.

8. Whitney – Golden Days

My personal Summer playlist, Whitney churned out one feel good, sunny weather anthem after another on Light Upon The Lake.

7. Preoccupations – Stimulation

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If there was anything redeeming about Preoccupations’ follow up to last year’s Viet Cong, it was the progressive darkness that made “Stimulation”, still a product of an endless list of post-punk influence.

6. Atlanter – Light

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An indie-rock gem of guitars, reverb, and electronics, reminiscent of bands like Grizzly Bear, just with a European flavor.

5. The Hotelier – Soft Animal

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More desperate screams of angst from one Christian Holden make for possibly The Hotelier’s best song yet. Certainly better than the naked people on their album cover.

4. Mild High Club – Skiptracing

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Infinitely chill, “Skiptracing” is a lesson in slide guitar solos, but also for sitting back and relaxing with a cold one.

3. Radiohead – Daydreaming

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Radiohead’s evolution into classical influences reigns true on “Daydreaming”, complete with enough conspiracy to keep superfans on the edge of their seats interpreting every little detail of the lyricism and music video.

2. Bon Iver – #29 Strafford APTS

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Justin Vernon’s complete anthology of vocoder adventures churn out a winner, both for it’s beautiful songwriting, but also for being one of the easier songs to spell out from 22, A Million.

1. Lobby Boxer – Shine Like Fire

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Proggy pop-punk sounds pretentious enough to work. For Lobby Boxer, that means sending off Big Bucks with a grand slam of a song in the anthemic “Shine Like Fire”.

 

 

Peace and Love,

You Might Have Missed – November 2016

CZARFACE – A Fistful of Peril

Silver Age

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I had the last album, Every Hero Needs A Villain on my best of 2015 list from last year, and in keeping with the comic book theme, this seemingly under the radar supergroup continues to churn out great boom-bap hip-hop. Featuring Inspectah Deck (of Wu-Tang fame) on emcee duties, A Fistful of Peril doesn’t quite contain as many features on record, which allows him to fully fledge his rapping chops in a more isolated environment. Beyond that, beats are still great and grimey, and the flows are wonderful.

 

David Bazan – Dark Sacred Night

Suicide Squeeze Records

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Ringing in advent season with a Christmas album is a-OK in my book. I was a good boy for Santa and waited at least until after Thanksgiving to start listening, and boy was Dark Sacred Night a surprise. Bazan is no stranger to sullen lyricism, but when you read a tracklist of traditional Christmas songs with a few contemporary songs thrown in, it’s a little bit of a jolt when he hits you with a line about whiskey daydreams, and haunted thoughts of whether his faith is even still a thing. Don’t worry though, Bazan ends on a nice cup of original Christmas cheer, quietly picking and tailing off about how he’ll never see his kids and survive as a drunk hermit. Seasons greetings!

 

Carla dal Forno – You Know What It’s Like

Blackest Ever Black

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Introspective and brooding, You Know What It’s Like slowly churns on a short ensemble of artful electronics courtesy of Australian-born Carla dal Forno. The album is a short 29 minutes, yet dal Forno’s textured layering of synthesizers shines through with an overarching theme. Each track tends to feature a repetitive drum machine beat setting the stage for altered vocal performances to create an eerie mood.

 

Esben and the Witch – Older Terrors

Season of Mist

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Rachel Davies is goth. Her band Esben and the Witch is also goth, but additionally much more intricate. Older Terrors is true to their sound, but at the same time expands compositions into longer affairs, wrought with brooding guitars and effects. I think of it as a GYBE! album of sorts; each track breaches the 10 minute mark, with just 4 songs total. Try it if you ever wondered if Siouxsie Sioux had a better set of musicians behind her voice.

 

Hideous Towns – Disquiet Living

Lost and Lonesome

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Disquiet Living brings to mind a typical Warpaint record upon first hearing the reverb-laden effects and dreamy soundscapes. Makes sense given the Melbourne alternative rockers take to heart their influences. Heck, the band name itself is taken from jangle legends The Sundays, and it shows too.

 

Lambchop- FLOTUS

Merge Records

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Lambchop has nothing to prove at this stage in their storied career. Admittedly, I’ve never listened to their music until FLOTUS came out early this month, but as it stands, sandwiching two 10+ minute songs at the start and finish proved a nice standard for the lounge vibe that they represent. Basslines are plentiful, and the vocals resemble that of the subdued nature of much of Yo La Tengo’s music. Sure, the vocoder calls to mind Bon Iver’s latest record as well, but let us not forget who the veterans are and who is playing with new toys to breathe life into a standard formula.

 

Soft Kill – Choke

Profound Lore

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Not only do the guys in Soft Kill make great post-punk jams, but they’re also from my hometown of Portland, OR, so I have to give them some love. Geographical bias aside, Choke is a further culmination of the band’s darkwave influences, with ringing haunted guitar tone, and morose vocals to boot. The sound gives goosebumps with the shear cold feeling in each track’s building climax, with drum machines giving that piece of the puzzle. You will want to dance, but in a lonely sense.

 

Stiu Nu Stiu – Fake End

Hybris

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Chalk Swedes Stiu Nu Stiu up on the list of bands that have worked with Kurt Ballou (Converge) on their music. That will ALWAYS pay dividends! Blending a mixture of gothic rock, shoegaze, and some metal influences as a topper, expect to enjoy this one immensely if you enjoy stuff like Marriages and Cult of Luna (and Disintigration, but that’s the “Joy Division scapegoat answer).

 

Wolf People – Ruins

Jagjaguwar

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Some good old fashioned rock-n-roll is always welcome in any musical cornucopia. Wolf People fit the bill here once again with their new record, Ruins. Jack Sharp’s fierce vocals and piercing guitar solos make for a psychedelic-tinged adventure, capping off with more crazy chops from beginning to end. It’s probably just reinventing the wheel more than anything, but a fun listen nonetheless!

 

Wolves At The Gate – Types & Shadows

Solid State Records

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Yay, two wolf bands in a row! I legitimately thought this was a Wolves in the Throne Room album when I first put it on. It was the melodic hardcore that quickly slapped me in the face with reality, but hey, I enjoyed this band’s first two records alright. Just file it under the Christian metalcore repertoire of August Burns Red and Underoath types. This is fun to listen to when you need good running music, but I guess there’s no more or no less to it.

 

I’m not doing a December YMHM…it’s list season! See ya in 2017. *kiss kiss*

You Might Have Missed – October 2016

YMHM – SPOOKY EDITION

TRY TO GET THROUGH THIS WITHOUT PEEING YOUR PANTS. AHAHAHAHA!!!!

 

Black Marble – It’s Immaterial

Ghostly International

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Black Marble do synthwave the correct way, though it doesn’t deserve anything more than ‘acceptable’ per say. The songs are nice to listen to and melodic in nature. However, if you’re looking for something new, this isn’t it. That’s not to say though that it isn’t a fun listen, in the same way that say the Stranger Things band invokes 80’s nostalgia. This certainly accomplishes that as well, especially on muddied bass heavy tracks like “It’s Conditional”.

 

Dame D.O.L.L.A. – The Letter O

Front Page Music, Inc.

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OK, this has got to be the best record of 2004, right? Oh, that’s not very high praise, huh? Well, it has Lil Wayne on one of the songs! Wait, Cash Money made them remove that song? Well that’s just fine. But hey, check it out, this is surely the greatest NBA player turned rapper album since Ron Artest! If that ain’t a ringing endorement, then I don’t know what is. Go Blazers and #RipCity!

 

Destrage – A Means To No End

Metal Blade Records, Inc.

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I have the biggest soft spot for Destrage, having only first heard their music at the recommendation of a friend in 2014’s Are You Kidding Me? No. Sure, they still can’t think of good album names for jack, but the high energy shredding a prog chops of the band itself make up for that. This brand of cocaine-sniffing metal rivals that of bands that garner much more praise. However, as the saying goes, “Italians do it better”.

 

Helado Negro – Private Energy

Asthmatic Kitty Records

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Dashingly suave and as chill as ever, Helado Negro’s newest seems to be making bigger waves in the music circle (chillwaves to be specific). Roberto Carlos Lange kicks things off with a simple formula of submerged electronics over layers of his soft, crooning voice, and gently works in uptempo drum machine loops to drive each song home. Private Energy is easy listening, yet staggeringly dense in its many layers, and back and forth English and Spanish translations.

 

Marching Church – Telling It Like It Is

Sacred Bones Records

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Elias Bender Rønnenfelt has a side project, Marching Church! I have always appreciated his ability to add new layers and experimentation to his music. Plowing Into The Field of Love for example was an evolution of Iceage’s sound, and while I enjoy the first two records more, it’s important to realize that records like Telling It Like It Is models growth and maturation. It sounds like an Iceage album in many parts, plus Elias is still only 24 years old.

 

Muuy Biien – Age Of Uncertainty

Autumn Tone

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A morose post-punk out of Athens, GA, Muuy Biien take the Bauhaus root on Age of Uncertainty. If the unsettling album art mish-mash of faces welded together wasn’t any personification, the haunting guitar riffs and monotone vocals are a dead giveaway of apparent idols and influences past. Muuy Biien invoke dark imagery, and in turn reinforce the notion that bands can still create “dark entries” in this 21st century if you will.

 

Ricky Eat Acid – Talk To You Soon

Terrible Records

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The best part about Ricky Eat Acid is that he churns out a few projects or so a year. At that rate, maybe a few stinkers are thrown into the mix, but Talk To You Soon is wonderful nonetheless. Being a jack of all trades in all things ambient, songs take a liking to starting off ever so soft, only to work into a full on glitchfest. It’s dancey, yet lush and gentle for a complete package.

 

John K. Samson – Winter Wheat

John K. Samson

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I hope John K. Samson was the inspiration for mewithoutYou’s changeup folk-rock release It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! It’s Alright. Not only has Samson enraptured all and any feelings of angst and hope in former projects with The Weakerthans, but his diverse output as Propagandhi are also pretty telling of his musical ability. You can see where a voice like Aaron Weiss takes a hint or to from, but he’s also right up there with names like John Darnielle in terms of sheer heartbreaking poetry and lyricism.

 

Silent – A Century of Abuse

Three One G, Inc.

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In a world of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds imitators, be a student of The Birthday Party I say! It’s always a welcome addition into the music world when bands can burst onto the scene with such noisy force, and California’s Silent have accomplished just that on their debut. A Century of Abuse is captivating right from the first wave of noise.

 

TOY – Clear Shot

Heavenly Recordings

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You know those super popular records from the late-2000’s that captured pseudo indie kids’ imaginations as being something bigger than it actually was? I’m talking about the MGMT, Flaming Lips, STRFKR kind of bands; songs that could at the very least thrown in some psychedelic noises in their overall radio sound. Toy is the mind melting magic, with a little more fleshing out of its parts. Tracks take on a very sweet psychedelic sound, yet pile on riffs and walls of sound to make an even greater indie rock outpouring. Try it!

 

Also check out…

Skiptracing – Nebraska

Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition

Skiptracing – Nebraska

In which a millennial takes on a staple of music junkies past…

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I’ll attempt to approach this write-up without filling in holes of context on the Internet. Yeah, I’m typing on the Internet, but guess what? These fingers aren’t opening a new tab! Umpteenth renditions of old records deserve fresh eyes and ears, and although Nebraska or Springsteen in general are no new facet of my listening habit, it ain’t regular rotation, nor have I had the pleasure of listening to it since it’s original release date way back in 1982.

The mood set by the opening harmonica on “Nebraska” the title track isn’t anything short of eerie. Funny, maybe most of that reasoning falls on the fact that mostly everything else here and elsewhere on record is so tender in comparison. Bruce’s faint echoes are far from a hoarse shout of glory so beloved and typical to adoring fans. I know it, I have Born To Run on cassette in my car at all times. See, I make it sound like a have a Rolling Stone-esque love affair with The Boss, but that’s not really the case. My car just holds a bunch of tapes. I also have The Real Thing by Faith No More in there too; just because it’s sitting there doesn’t mean I have a screaming urge to pop in “Epic” at any point in time. It’s more of a novelty. Nonetheless, Mr. Springsteen stirs up something new than a seemingly endless ballad of glory when “Jungleland” takes Born To Run home in a fiery blaze. Nebraska is different. Something like “State Trooper” is just a little muted guitar picking over the ghostly vocals. Each line after the next is a fainter whisper than the last, Bruce evoking pictures of sparse nothingness in blank rooms, yelling to scare the living shit out of us just for kicks. This isn’t a night time album for me, maybe it is for others. No, the cover art is a dead giveaway perhaps to how Springsteen perceived mass reception in his mind. It’s brighter than hell (or heaven I guess?), but snow on the fringe of the car window yields emptiness.

Nebraska‘s presentation calls to mind a movie cover card over anything else. Maybe Benji took a thing or too from the imagery, certainly from the train-of-thought style presentation in the narrative. It’s easy to see the automobile cruising down the dirt road on the cover as some cinematic opening sequence to an independent film, or at least one set in the country deep in the plains. I don’t know why or how Nebraska tugs the way it does, or what intrigues me so. Bruce Springsteen had a plan in toning things down a grand half-circle turn from his normal jig. I wish I had this tape in my car. Even more peculiar, I almost wish for a back country road to pass by small town after small town, like my life depended on doing absolutely nothing for longer than anyone else. But this record is much bigger than that. Small town stories always have greater meaning than meets the eye when coming from larger-than-life figures, and maybe that illumination of significance is the point entirely.

You Might Have Missed – September 2016

September was heavy on the releases, with several acclaimed heavy hitters throwing their names in the figurative hat that is the best albums of 2016. Unfortunate for me, I didn’t listen to many of the records I’ve been meaning to spin. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have a few YMHM additions to this month’s repertoire. Besides, the year ain’t over yet! Enjoy!

 

Chris Farren – Can’t Die

SideOneDummy Records

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In tune with their typical roster of folk and punk rockers, SideOneDummy recently added singer/songwriter Chris Farren to their team. In tune with his clever songwriting and humorous observations courtesy of acoustic guitar, Farren now boasts a full band to inflate his charm with some substance. Can’t Die is mellow by the record labels standards, but is nonetheless a fun and energetic listen.

 

 

Erica Freas – Patient Ones

Don Giovanni Records

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Just in time for Autumn and the falling leaves, Erica Freas (RVIVR) lays out a new set of solo acoustic jams on her latest album, Patient Ones. The record is no stranger to light song-structures with heavy material in Freas’ piercing words. It’s perfect for a nice morning in on a dreary, rainy weekend, cup of coffee in hand and warm blanket wrapped around cozy persons.

 

Hante. – No Hard Feelings

Synth Religion

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After releasing This Fog That Never Ends back in January, French darkwave artist Hante has blessed eager ears once again, striking the same haunting melodies in her soft yet distant voice. The niche is present, as once again, cold synths and drum machines dominate each track, honing in an eerily romantic voice simultaneously wrought with despair. The Depeche Mode worship on the album covers is a nice cherry on top too. Wow, look at the flowers and moody color scheme!

 

Kishi Bashi – Sonderlust

Joyful Noise Recordings

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A little less violin and a little more synthesizer would be an apt way to describe Kishi Bashi’s third record, Sonderlust. Although fans know and love Mr. Ishibashi for his masterful talent for violin, mandolin, and all stringed things, he trades the sugary loops for a little more intellect in his songwriting. This works as an advantage, or a disadvantage, depending on how you look at it. On one hand, his words delve into a much more melancholy territory, fresh off of a divorce, yet his trademark falsetto still remains. Pop music is his artful craft, yet here we find a deeper meaning behind the message, versus the playful onslaught that reigned supreme on Lighght.

 

LVL UP – Return To Love

Sub Pop Records

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The fuzzy acoustic guitar strumming a loud, muffled E chord on opening track “Hidden Driver” suggests a Neutral Milk Hotel worship on account of LVL UP utilizing immediate, indie rock tracks throughout their history. Beyond that, Mike Caridi’s voice doesn’t quite extend to bombastic highs like Jeff Mangum ever would, but nonetheless, Return To Love is immediately catchy, and another solid edition into the ever-growing list of Sub Pop indie records that deserve way more attention than what tends to top their album sales.

 

Merchandise – A Corpse Wired For Sound

4AD

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Merchandise is a consistently great band, and my fear is that they don’t get quite the recognition they deserve, especially after their last record (and 4AD debut), After The End. A bit of a departure from their usual post-punk compositions, the dreaminess in sound and lead singer Carson Cox’s best Morrissey impression are sure-fire additions. A Corpse Wired For Sound is reminiscent of their jangle tendencies as a band, but more importantly, it showcases their knack for extended compositions formulated with characteristics straight out of pop’s playbook.

 

 

Negative Thought Process – Methylene Butterfly

Negative Thought Process

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Methylene Butterfly‘s appearance is deceptive. The two-piece grind band starts off the record with a robotic voice detailing what actually drives the record thematically, that of dark thoughts of self-harm and even suicide. Yet the chemistry lesson combined with a peaceful creature such as a butterfly leads you to believe otherwise. That is, at least until you’re treated with a 20 minute onslaught of fuzz, sludge, and Daniel Page’s sweet, sweet vocal power.

 

 

Oathbreaker – Rheia

Deathwish Inc.

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Rheia has the pleasure of reaping in all the praise it deserves as a glorious blast of blackgaze without the hipster following. “Second Son of R.” raises goosebumps right from the start, and the record isn’t quick to let up, with careful, spooky passages of slowed down arrpegiating guitar leading a new passage head on into more powerful screams, courtesy of the extremely talented Caro Tanghe.

 

Touche Amore – Stage Four

Epitaph Records

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Hardcore records don’t always bring a whole lot to the table for me personally. I only one one hardcore record myself, Defeater’s Travels. However, seeing Touche Amore sign with Epitaph and actually get some mainstream press sparked my attention. Additionally, Stage Four is just as you would think it’s about. Cancer. Yep, combine something along the lines of Hospice, and throw in the screaming cries of Jeremy Bolm, and you have a pretty damn depressing record.

 

Trentemoller – Fixion

In My Room

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Taking a few pointers from that of Disintigration-era Cure, Trentemoller craft a unique blend of ethereal, wavy guitars over a thudding bassline carrying tracks throughout the record. To call The Cure a big influence on their music is an understatement, but Fixion is that and then some. Electronic synths make up many of the melodies on record, and it goes without mentioning that some portions of it are incredibly dance-able as well.

 

 

Also check out…

Daniel’s Pickathon Coverage

You Might Have Missed – August 2016

AJJ – The Bible 2

SideOneDummy Records

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I’m going to give shallow assessments of AJJ the benefit of the doubt with their new release, The Bible 2, but let’s weigh the options at stake here. Scenario one, you think they’re a bunch of PC sellouts who alienated the punk aesthetic they were apparently pulling off this whole time. Scenario two, you think it’s lame of them to change their band name only to unleash nihilistic attacks on Christians instead. Scenario three, you think the first two scenarios are incredibly petty, and not giving due justice to what is easily a better album than Christmas Island. Yeah, let’s go with that!

 

Body Of Light – Let Me Go

Dais Records

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A black backdrop with swirling primary and secondary colors? A sound reminiscent of Depeche Mode’s full on nosedive into synthpop? It has to be another 80’s worship band! Yes, Arizona’s Body of Light fill a niche, arguably doing nothing more than reinventing the wheel. Even so, Let Me Go at its core is a great record, able to get you out dancing, and the shadowy vocals simply add a mystique to its overall catchy tribute.

 

Cold Pumas – The Hanging Valley

Faux Discx/Gringo Records

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Every band with post-punk roots in their sound is inevitably compared to Joy Division, and after 30 some years, the comparison should absolutely not carry any weight. It’s a lazy, easy scapegoat to describe the genre, when in fact there are many different branches and influences that helped create the revival that we see today. Cold Pumas are testament to this. Distorted guitar takes the forefront, with steady one-two drumming paces most of the songs on The Hanging Valley. It’d be better, if necessary, to play a game of degrees of separation, ala Kevin Bacon. It makes much more sense to allude to pioneers of the post-punk revival when talking about many of the bands sprouting up in the last few years, Cold Pumas included.

 

Darkher – Realms

Prophecy Productions

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Each track on Realms is a journey. One-by-one, each track’s dark undertow slowly builds in melancholic fury, and tailored by mastermind, Jayn Wissenberg. Her harrowing, extraterrestrial coos are bone-chilling, and layered on with textured reverb and crashing drums makes Darkher’s new album a wonderful, complex piece of art. Chelsea Wolfe fans, drop the anchor hear and take in all Realms is throwing down.

 

Kindling – Everywhere Else

No Idea Records

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Shoegaze takes on a number of different sub-genres. When bands lump their music into this category, it’s often times prevalent that we can characterize them into many a set of different influences. Kindling has the fuzzy guitars and muffled male-female trading vocals, much like your typical My Bloody Valentine equal, but Everywhere Else also throws in much heavier riffs, and louder distortion on the lead guitar. Dare I say it, parts of the record, such as on single, “Weightlessly”, are actually very metal in some regards.

 

Midnight Faces – Heavenly Bodies

Midnight Faces

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You know how dream pop is mind-numbingly boring for some people, and they won’t listen to anything in the genre because of that bias that follows? Tell them to try out Heavenly Bodies by Midnight Faces for a change of pace. Literally, it’s much faster dream pop than is normally considered the norm. You know what else? They even thrown in traces of shoegaze and post-punk in the mix, with reverb-heavy guitar solos, and spacy vocals. Sounds cool, right? Dream pop is cool.

 

Mild High Club – Skiptracing

Stones Throw Records

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Skiptracing is a desert island record, but in the most literal sense of the phrase. Slacker jangle guitar hooks and an almost whispering vocal delivery invoke images of sandy beaches, tropical landscapes, and all things Summer. Even better, Mild High Club have created a record worthy of praises circumventing that of most play-on-words band names. Better yet, the “mild” in Mild High Club is actually a perfect clue-in as to how the music actually sounds. “It’s like poetry…” as one Star Wars prequel executive once put it.

 

Pill – Convenience

Mexican Summer

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On Convenience‘s opener “60 Sec.”, audiences are bombarded with Veronica Torres’ shrieking voice, followed by a minute of spitfire ranting over distorted guitar strings that would make even MC Ride jealous. Have no fear though, this ain’t a Death Grips record. No, Convenience wields a hell a lot more charisma and bass-heavy melodies. Songs are scattered and frantic, throw in saxophone just for kicks and giggles, and surprise to great success with Torres’ wild vocal delivery, ranging from spoken word monologue, to falsetto whimpers, to all out screams of terror.

 

Show Me The Body – Body War

Loma Vista Recordings/Universal

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I’m warranted a few cheat additions, because I missed this last month. Show Me The Body is a hardcore band out of Queens, NY, and also a part of the Letter Racer collective (RATKING). Taking a queue out of Death Grips’ brash drum and beat infused punk rock (“Chrome Exposed”), and combining heavier riffs and drums, Show Me The Body burst forth with punch after punch of energetic goodness.

 

 

The Veils – Total Depravity

Nettwerk Productions Ltd.

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Finn Andrews is no stranger to a peculiar sense of style with former releases by The Veils. Boasting an almost eerie stage persona to the point of scary mystique, its ambiguous as to just how tortured young Finn is versus what is personified. Take Total Depravity as further evidence into the dark ambiance that carries track by track. The Veils nail the atmosphere as per usual, a mix between the bleak production of gothic-influenced staples and alternative rock.

 

 

Check out these concert/festival reviews up now on Bearded Gentlemen Music!

Modern Baseball & Joyce Manor @ Irving Plaza

Pickathon 2016

You Might Have Missed – July 2016

Onward into the second half of 2016! July was no stranger to more goldmines for metalheads and indie-rockers. Take a looks at some of these le gems I picked out just for you! ❤ ❤ xoxo

 

All Your Sisters – Uncomfortable Skin

The Flenser

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Few have mastered or even attempted the mastery that garnered Have A Nice Life’s Deathconciousness so much acclaim back in the day, but funny enough, another duo capture some of the same magic. All Your Sisters are actually just two dudes, and Uncomfortable Skin is just a more upfront doom and gloom take on post-punk. Nonetheless, it’s straightforward, but also so good.

 

ColdWorld – Autumn

Cold Dimensions

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Yeah, I got my hands on some metal. Therefore, it must be good, right? Autumn in a nutshell is guitar heavy black metal, so be prepared not only for Georg Börner’s echoing screams adding all the more power to these epics, but take in the lush interludes, complete with more classical instrumentation that has pervaded his previous works (violin, keyboard).

 

Emily Jane White – They Moved In Shadow All Together

Talitres

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Multi-layered soundscapes and the spacey double-tracked vocals of Emily Jane White peruse the lovely and dark They Moved In Shadow All Together. The baroque compositions utilize a myriad of instruments, and built together with a choir of voices (her own), White shows that singer/songwriters such as herself are capable of striking heart chords as they always have.

 

Frameworks – Smother

Deathwish Inc.

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Screamo in 2016…maybe seems like a movement gasping for air, but in spite of public perception, Frameworks come though with Smother, a swift but compelling burst of anger, passion, and talent. Bands like these always seem to make a name in the underground of today’s musical world, even amidst those in the metal genres. Are these groups for little kids? Maybe, but don’t come crying to me like one when they take over. Rise up youth!

 

Johnny Foreigner – Mono No Aware

Alcopop!

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British punks with a party flavor, Birmingham-based Johnny Foreigner are here for a good time, and they have the attitude and charm to show for. Boasting a pop-punk flair in the mature themes explored, Mono No Aware is a quick listen, full of fun hooks, buzzing bass guitar, and two vocalists sharing duties on the malaise and overarching beauty of life.

 

Kemba – Negus

Self-released

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Back under a new moniker, yet boasting an album title named after one of his songs on then YC The Cynic’s GNK, Kemba has labored three years over his newest project here, and the results pay off as a call to thought-provoking accounts of race, largely stemming from the current events on police brutality and relations with the black community. “Please don’t call me conscious, don’t call it political, don’t deem this lyrical”.

 

Omni – Deluxe

Trouble In Mind Records

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Deluxe is a neat little package of jangly post-punk, but it certainly boasts a bigger resume than it exudes. Consisting of former Deerhunter guitarist Frankie Broyles, quircky little guitar/bass tradeoffs mark a recipe for most of the songs here. While it’s hard to decipher if anything stands out at that rate, the record is still a fun little homage to a more lo-fi brand of rock. Oh, and the album art is a splitting image of the Violator artwork.

 

Silent Planet – Everything Was Sound

Solid State Records

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Creatures of habit would be prone to assume that Underoath is a huge influence on Silent Planet’s sound. Heck, the screams and emphasis on vocals on Everything Was Sound sound like Spencer Chamberlain as it is. Give this a spin if you long for the metalcore tendencies of Christian screamers for Jesus of yesteryear (Underoath re-formed by the way).

 

TTNG – Disappointment Island

Sargent House

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A fitting summary of newer TTNG is as follows: pretty good, nothing revolutionary. If you like the direction the band took on 13.0.0.0.0, pick up Disappointment Island. The math guitar and emo vocals elude to midwest-inspired bands of the nineties, and musicianship is still a highlight of the record. For an album title that destined TTNG to ridicule among anyone who isn’t a fan, Disappointment Island actually proves the opposite. HOW IRONIC!

 

VATS – Green Glass Room

End of Time Records

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VATS seem to share plenty in common with fellow Seattle band So Pitted. While neo comes off a little more aggressive, Green Glass Room is equally noisy and abrasive, yet much more playful. The riffs are catchy, the bass is nice and muddy, and the vocals are busrting with energy. Combine all of that with veteran producer Jack Shirley’s experience (Loma Prieta, Deafheaven, Laura Stevenson), and you have a tight listening experience in VATS’s latest effort.

 

 

lol, i didn’t write anything else this month…

You Might Have Missed – June 2016

We are half done with 2016! No, I don’t make list part of the way through, but I do still compile the coolest under-the-radar essentials along the way! Here we go again, the best month to show for so far…

 

Avion Roe – In Separation

Epitaph

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Hey, this album looks and sounds like something Anberlin would release, but it’s not, and ever since Anberlin finally called it quits, it seems like there’s been a youth group-sized hole in my alternative rock listening habits. That stops with In Separation, complete with Taking Back Sunday whiny vocals and comfortable guitar leads.

 

 

clipping. – Wriggle

Sub Pop Records

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Daveed Diggs has become a Broadway superstar of sorts in recent history. From clipping’s last effort CLPPNG, to starring in the musical “Hamilton”, it seems Diggs and crew are on top of the world right now. Fame has certainly worked a number on him, yet he still manages to churn out another extended play of fresh industrial-based tracks, showcasing just like before how great of an emcee he is. Whatever Diggs’ name is associated with in the history books, just take clear notice that clipping’s work is just as immortal as any founding fathers.

 

 

Drowners – On Desire

Frenchkiss Records

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On Desire carries itself as a product of the alternative explosion circa ten years ago. I was in middle school then, and bands like The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, The Hives, Franz Ferdinand were all the rage. Fast forward to now, and we still have countless ripoff bands surging up the Top 40 Alternative charts, shamelessly throwing their own bland spin on what was pretty typical indie rock to begin with. Maybe the band is British, maybe they’re not; it all just sort of blends in doesn’t it? Drowners is no exception, just without the popularity factor, and with a little more post-punk revival in their sound. It’s catchy, but not overbearing. What more could you want?

 

 

FEWS – MEANS

PIAS

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FEWS on the exciting and concise MEANS hit a nerve for any post-punk appetite, and even though this was released in May, I’m tossing in a YMHM wild card of sorts just to shed light on a wonderful little record. Invoking the spirit of Editors-ish post-punk grooves with dreamier vocals, MEANS is a short burst of guitar magic in ten separate entries. The London-based Swedes are here, and they’re just getting started.

 

 

Hannah Georgas – For Evelyn

Beetie Bomb Music Inc.

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Pop music with attitude and jazzy instrumentation as a nice cherry on top. That is how I would describe For Evelyn, and smooth, easy listening experience courtesy of Canadian songstress Hannah Georgas. The textures of each song thrive with top notch production. Lorde fans, this is your temporary follow up to Pure Heroin! Yeah yeah yeah!

 

 

Hotel Books – Run Wild, Stay Alive

InVogue Records

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People like Cam Smith and the emotive harsh narratives they portray are wrecks at the core, Run Wild, Stay Alive being no exception. When it comes to post-hardcore records driven by spoken word excerpts and angsty screams, albums that pull off a worthy mixture of both are a dime a dozen, yet Hotel Books manages a strikingly peculiar, yet beautiful concoction. Run Wild, Stay Alive merits repeated listens, but should not be handled lightly, as it’s anything but a casual listen.

 

 

Margaret Glaspy – Emotions And Math

ATO Records, LLC.

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“You don’t know my situation…you don’t have a clue, so don’t tell me what to do”. Tongue-in-cheek songwriting and indie rock tones dominate Margaret Glaspy’s newest full-length, Emotions And Math. As the title suggests, look for excerpts of heartfelt emotion, but also the sensible patterns of day-to-day struggle.

 

 

Mourn – Ha, Ha, He.

Captured Tracks

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Likened to PJ Harvey’s raw vocal performances captured on earlier works such as Dry and Rid of Me, Carla Perez and Jazz Rodriguez flourish together as singers and guitarists on Mourn’s follow up to their self-titled debut. As concise as the compositions tend to be, a beauty in short and sweet indie rock numbers is perfectly topped by the duo’s harmonious croons. Think of a faster-paced Warpaint, with similar post-punk undertones, ominously serene.

 

 

NAILS – You Will Never Be One Of Us

Nuclear Blast Entertainment

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As the legendary MF DOOM once said, “Just remember all caps when you spell the man’s name”. Perhaps the saying is equally translatable when applied to the heaviest, sludgiest onslaught that is NAILS. Yes, each entry into their discography is one more bombardment of brutal riffs, screams, and grind. If you need the heaviest fix there is, consider You Will Never Be One Of Us.

 

 

NO/NO – Sound and Light

Gloss Records

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Right from the beginning, Sound and Light is evident that synths and drum machines play a heavy role in their take on eighties-influenced pop songs. In fact, nostalgia weighs heavy on NO/NO’s music, with layers of wavy guitars applying a cushion on fuzz for the ears. Cat Ries vocal stylings, paired with pensive contributions from Harrison Colby make for any John Hughes nerd’s glimpse into a 2016 blast from the past.

 

 

September Girls – Age of Indignation

Fortuna POP!

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As melodic as they are brooding, Dublin-based rockers September Girls burst forth in a different season entirely than their name suggests with Age of Indignation. Summer jams reign plenty, as the quintet churn out dark, yet melodic post-punk magic one after another.

 

Be sure to check out these other June reviews…

The Hotelier – Goodness

The Hotelier – Goodness

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Released: May 27, 2016

Label: Tiny Engines

SPOTIFY

 

The opening monologue on Goodness paints exceedingly clear the building blocks of a sequel if there ever was one. Question is, can the follow up to 2014’s Home, Like NoPlace Is There invoke similar feelings with The Hotelier’s audience? Funny enough, the subject matter isn’t quite as strikingly heavy as the last release in the slightest, but still tugs heart strings in ever-emotional fashion. No, they don’t need to rehash old quirks. Rather, the easy drum pattern opening in “Goodness Pt.2” acts as the comedown from a terrible dream. I picture the scene two years later, much like the real time gap that exists between Goodness and The Hotelier’s last release, Home, Like NoPlace Is There. Instead of the harrowing sorrow and powerful screams dictating an apparent suicide of a close friend, we are instead greeted by a much calmer demeanor in Christian Holden’s words. Goodness at its core is the essence of repair; Holden has lived through the pain and insecurity that life has thrown his way, and as qualms of uneasiness peak their head on the surface (“I don’t know if I know love no more”), the overarching brokenness in people’s faults also reveals a deeper beauty in life.

Goodness revolves around a new revelation, like a milder, more apathetic play on words of Jimmy Eat World’s “Sweetness”, quite self-aware of the reality of evil powers at work, or the inevitable grief that strikes at its least expected moment. Like most tragedies, the essence of brave souls are celebrated in the most optimistic way there could be. On here, Christian Holden’s lyricism blooms amidst this steady drumming of “Goodness, Pt. 2”, like a Lord of the Rings ultimatum that there is some good in this world that’s worth fighting for. This song like many carries a weight of hurt and destruction, now fully forming into the beauty that life brings, a chrysalis made and soon birthed as guitar and bass join Holden’s scarred voice, ready for life’s next challenge. It’s hard to picture tracks like “Two Deliverances” or “Opening Mail For My Grandmother” existing just a few years ago. Yes, there is much to say about Holden utilizing a falsetto voice, or Sam Frederick taking it to a new level on the drums, but the nature of these compositions is unequivocally content.

Home, Like NoPlace Is There was one of those timeline records that maxed out the entirety of emo-revival’s occupancy, though a media narrative in hindsight was to seemingly jump-start a bigger movement. Sure there have been staples, repeats, and reformed ideas splattering against a collective mural one after another, but the champion has already been crowned, and The Hotelier certainly relish the champion’s belt. Goodness in thematic innocence is a marking of a band that has changed, enduring the wave of personal trauma and glory that arose from the aftermath of Home. Each interlude marks a continuing passage into picking up the pieces, The Hotelier’s “spider” trilogy of sorts, with yellow, orange, and brown entries. These inclusions are soft, picking acoustic guitar numbers, followed by the heavy emotions that make up each additional mark on Goodness, down to the last beating drum on “End of Reel”. At this point, they are continuing to ride the wave. When you fall down, you get back up, no matter what. Even Eeyore picks up the sticks and builds his house again, and even emo-revival bands find their place in the bigger indie rock timeline.

8.7/10.0