2016 releases

| Saturday, December 31, 2016

I did this last year so I thought I'd do it again. I know there are glaring holes in this, like I know about A Tribe Called Quest, I just haven't listened to it except for that time my roommate blasted it in the main room and I loved it. But here are albums that I honestly listened to and honestly dug a lot. Will post a youtube and featured youtube comment like I did last time.

Noname - Telefone (hip hop)

Top release. At an easy 30 minutes, it's an incredibly smooth listen with a variety of gentle but catchy melodic beats and soulful features to go with her relaxed, unassuming rapping. I believe this is her debut mixtape. It's all very hopeful sounding but there are some heartbreaking tracks, for example one written for her terminated babe, the topic handled in a personal, simple, and non-political way I'd never heard before. Anyway, I'd put this album on for anyone.

This girl is in a lane of her own, which is why she's so refreshing to listen too. She reminds me of Erykah

Big Black Delta - Tragame Tierra (pop, indie)

One of my favorite bands, and I'm not quite sure why they're not more popular. This album had a Kimbra feature, which hopefully boosted them up! Great track too! I followed this project on PledgeMusic where I pre-bought the album and also a poster which has been up on my wall most of the year, and I got to see personal updates from Jonathan Bates and snag some unreleased tracks. Still can't believe "Wrong Blonde Susan", one of the unreleased tracks, isn't on this album but maybe he's got other plans for it... this album is still real good though. He wrote this music through tough times of loss--his father and a close friend. There was one evening in May this year where I drunkenly put this album on and bawled loudly in the living room for the entire 50 minute duration after reading a sad child cancer story on Facebook. It's not a sad album though. It's uplifting, optimistic, gentle and whimsical sometimes and massive and hard-hitting other times, but always kind. This album is my friend.

Actually fucking criminal that more people don't know about BBD.

TV Girl - Who Really Cares (pop, chillwave)

There's a small venue a couple blocks away that serves serious cocktails, called The Liquor Store. I saw Vektroid was playing there so I was like yeah I'll be there! I didn't know this headliner TV Girl though, but I checked out some tracks and it seemed really fun. And then I was suddenly really into TV Girl. It just immediately clicked with me. It's bright, sugar-sweet, sample-heavy homemade pop from LA with some simple, petty, very frank lyrics. Some of the lines on here is just devastating. I made sure all of it was on Genius. "And when she finally came even though she faked it / It was much appreciated / At least she had the decency / To try to make a sound she thought I'd like" sung over this cool trippy beat. It's mostly songs bitching about girls he slept with, but it's great. I could see people having issues with the vocals/production/polish/formula/blah blah but this is a gem and I'm glad it exists.

It's weird. I want you guys to get successful and make it but at the same time I don't want you guys to be bastardized by normies. Is this how hipsters feel?

Sammus - Infusion (hip hop)

I discovered Sammus this year because she spoke at XOXO. She put this EP out this year, so I listened to it, and this got me immediately hooked. She later put out a full album called "Pieces In Space" and it's good but I'm posting the EP because I listened to it more. She has good words to say on good topics. I like her style. She also makes a bunch of Metroid references I don't get. But it's ok, I hear the rest of it.

Is her album out? She's addressing a real topic, one rarely discussed in rap over a fire instrumental.

Anderson .Paak - Malibu (hip hop, soul)

Well here's one that definitely is making all the other lists. And it's so cool to see this happen for Anderson .Paak. I remember learning of him for the first time when Tokimonsta released "Realla" with him on vocals, and I was addicted to that song for months. I love Tokimonsta, but I kept coming back to how good this guy sounded. I don't even know why "Realla" wasn't more popular. But anyway here he is, with what he made, and it's definitely different from that Tokimonsta track--much warmer, more soul, more hip hop. It's not a short album and to be real honest I have a hard time with full-length CDs for hip hop because of how dense it tends to be, but this is pleasingly varied and well-paced.

What a pimp track! It's that deep house groove baby. Too much hype on trap and dubstep; that shit sounds all the same. Soul less. But this right here...this right here has soul & groove written all over it. Deuce.

Justice - Woman (pop, electronic)

They released it not too long ago so I can't say how it ages, but they did good on this album imo. It's real fun to listen to front to back--there's not a single bad track on this. No, it won't compare to Cross. Nothing will. This is a very well done album regardless.

dropping this at the Halloween party

Kishi Bashi - Sonderlust (pop, indie)

This radio-friendly indie pop is not a genre I'm super interested in these days, but that's how I felt about his last album too (which I loved), and this is also a super solid, enjoyable album. In this one he plays around with sort of classic-rock-sounding grooves--a friend pointed out the similarity to early Pink Floyd in "Who'd You Kill", for example. I noticed this shift towards classic rock in Of Montreal's 2015 album too. Is that a thing now..? There's also this 70's pop sounding ballad "Say Yeah" and a couple epic-sounding tracks. It's varied and ever positive, a good one to put on around family or at parties where it's more about the conversation or at work when you just need some damn musicky music. You need those.

it's like a melody that you've known your whole life, but never heard until now.

Santigold - 99 Cents (pop)

This album is a joy. Santigold makes pop that is just a little bit obnoxious, a little weird, in the exact way that tickles my pop desires. Syrupy, childlike, infectious. Driven, off-kilter, satisfying. There are some surprisingly dark tracks on this too: "Walking In A Circle" is whimsically icy like Fever Ray, and "Before The Fire" has this Wild Beasts understated percussion going on. The low point is "Who Be Lovin Me" with a painful ILOVEMAKONNEN feature. Otherwise, it's a pretty interesting release.

Her songs are so unconventional yet completely my flavor and I feel enriched after hearing her songs, loved it, again!

Open Mike Eagle - Hella Personal Film Festival (hip hop)

To be real honest this was hit/miss for me, but the hits are so good (and also Open Mike Eagle is my fave) this is still one of my tops. I got really excited with the music video of "Check 2 Check", it's so funny and so good. Though I wasn't thrilled with all the songs, hearing him grapple with (I believe) nonmonogamy issues in the songs "Insecurity" and "Insecurity Pt 2" was incredible. He handled the issue of racial bias in "Smiling", with some of my favorite lines on how to treat a black man such as him on the street: "Nobody needs your patronizing hip-hop nod / Just be a person / That's the bottom line be a person / And fuck the rhyme scheme this time just be a person". I lol'd at his out-of-nowhere (but somehow so appropriately so)-lament in the joy-filled "I Went Outside Today" saying "I looked up what Lena Dunham said and I shouldn't haaaaave" because even when you're having a great day and feeling invincible you can still make some innocent slip-ups. All this stuff is why I love OME.

This is dope.

Other notable releases, select songs linked:

Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool: The only album of theirs besides OK Computer that I've gotten into. Very good. I stopped after a month because it's too sad though.
AlunaGeorge - I Remember: Very solid dancey electronic pop sophomore album. It's more mainstream-sounding than their debut, with trap beats and features. Delightful!
STRFKR - Being No One, Going Nowhere: Enjoyed this. Super accessible psych indie electro pop whatever. Fun melodies!
Lizzo - Coconut Oil: This EP is really fun. Didn't know about Lizzo before this, but it seems like she's blowing up right now.
Mr. Oizo - All Wet: Oizo is weird. This is weird. It's a welcome return, with surprising big name features. Hit/miss like usual, obnoxious, a quick entertaining listen.
Kero Kero Bonito - Bonito Generation: KKB's second LP! I think I like the singles over the album as a whole. Kind of long, prefer the second half.
Tobacco - Sweatbox Dynasty: One of my favorite artists! Ended up not being a favorite release, but still scratches the itch I had for new music from him.
Deerhoof - The Magic: Another good un from prolific Deerhoof. An interesting mish mash of genres on this one. Deviations from their usual. Not bad, though.
Mykki Blanco - Mykki: Yay Mykki! Mixed bag, but it's always refreshing to hear more queer hip hop, and it's sounding real good.