Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Top 10 Albums of 2016

As we all know, 2016 was a crap year all around except for the music, there was a lot of great music.  Here are my top 10 albums of 2016 in alphabetical order.

BerwangerExorcism Rock (Doghouse Records)

Fullbloods Mild West (High Dive Records)

Hamilton Leithauser + RostamI Had A Dream That You Were Mine (Glassnote Records)

Heron Oblivion Heron Oblivion (Sub Pop)

Niki And The DoveEverybody's Heart Is Broken Now (TEN Music Group)

Conor OberstRuminations (Nonesuch Records)

Okkervil RiverAway (ATO Records)

Angel OlsenMy Woman (Jagjaguwar)

RadioheadA Moon Shaped Pool (XL Recordings)

WhitneyLight Upon The Lake (Secretly Canadian)

Monday, December 19, 2016

3 Songs: On Repeat – Extended Christmas Songs Edition

(photo credit: Art Jipson)

Jaymay – “Up On The Housetop” (Indie-pop singer-songwriter Jaymay just released Fallin’ Like Snow, her debut Christmas album.  The album - a blend of newly penned originals and merry takes on many of the beloved classic Christmas songs of the past such as “Silent Night”, a jaunty take on “Winter Wonderland” and a piano-led gender-flipping take on “The Little Drummer Boy” called, “Little Drummer Girl” – is set to become a new modern classic.  The ambitious project also includes appearances by vocal groups as well as cinematic orchestral arrangements performed by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.)  

Low – “Some Hearts (At Christmas Time)” (Mimi, Alan and Steve offer up a solemn yet hopeful holiday sentiment on their newest Christmas-themed song out now via Sub Pop.) 

The Crookes – “You Bring The Snow” (After releasing their fourth full-length album, Lucky Ones on Modern Outsider records earlier this year, the Sheffield, England based indie rock quartet have debuted their new holiday song that was inspired by Low’s 1999 sentimental classic, “Just Like Christmas”.)

She & Him – “Christmas Memories” (Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward recently released their second Christmas album, Christmas Party, via Columbia Records.  The album is fun and diverse, as they share their distinctly original interpretations of Mariah Carey’s modern classic, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, The Chipmunk’s “Christmas Don’t Be Late”, “Must Be Santa” and Chuck Berry's "Run Run Rudolph”, among others.  Also invited to the party are Jenny Lewis, The Chapin Sisters and Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley, who make guest appearances.)
Stream their take on Sinatra’s “Christmas Memories” here:

Friday, December 16, 2016

3 Songs: On Repeat

Damien Jurado & Richard Swift – (Out now on Secretly Canadian, Other People’s Songs Vol. 1, is the new collaborative album from Damien Jurado and producer/instrumentalist Richard Swift.  The album was recorded back in 2010 shortly after the duo first worked together on Jurado’s album, Saint Bartlet.  Together they reimagine songs from Yes, Kraftwerk, Chubby Checker and John Denver, among others as only they could with layers of reverb and 60’s-inspired production that led to Jurado’s standout album, Maraqopa.)

Other Houses – “Zero Sum Defeater” (Other Houses is the recording moniker of Brooklyn songwriter Morgan Enos, who made waves earlier this year with his spot-on Sun Kil Moon parody EP.  His latest EP, Zero Sum Defeater, was recently self-released via Bandcamp and is an impressive Guided By Voices-inspired set of folksy and jangly power-pop that is rough around the edges yet impossibly catchy.)

A Tribe Called Quest – “We The People…” (Earlier this year, Phife - one of the founding members of A Tribe Called Quest - died at the age of 45 and the group rounded out by Q-Tip and Jarobi, had not released an album in over 18 years, so the release of their new album, We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service was a welcomed surprise.  Even better, the album is “Album Of The Year”-worthy with Phife, Tip and Jarobi sounding as fresh as ever with timely lyrical themes and subtle updates to their jazz-inflected production.  It is also packed with guests like Busta Rhymes, Anderson .Paak, Kendrick Lamar, André 3000 and Kanye West; and boasts writing credits from Jack White and Elton John.  Everything about the album is a testament to what Phife has meant to Tribe and what Tribe has meant to the rap game.)
Watch their performance on SNL:

Friday, December 09, 2016

3 Songs: On Repeat

The Pukes – “Murder” (The Milwaukee surf-punk trio recently released The Revenge of The Pukes, their Ramones and Ronettes indebted debut album on pretty pink and classic black vinyl through Good Land Records.  The promising album - recorded in a church basement – blends together catchy, sock-hopping doo-wop melodies and Glenn Danzig-era Misfits-like punk rock with loads of surf-rock guitars and organ riffs for good measure.)  

Protest The Hero – “Cold Water” (The Canadian progressive metal band recently released Pacific Myth, a new 6-song EP funded in part by a successful subscription platform created by the band and recently released via Razor & Tie on 180 gram purple swirl vinyl, with a colored insert of all six covers from the original releases.  Originally, the band wrote and released one song per month for six months running and each track came with its own correlating artwork.  The self-imposed time restraints were actually freeing for the band as they were able to experiment with new sounds and incorporate more of their love of 80’s British metal, twisty prog-rock and off-kilter jazz-inspired time signatures for their most creative set of songs yet.)

The Rolling Stones – “Hate To See You Go” (The rock and roll legends return with their new album, Blue & Lonesome, their first in over ten years.  The album is a collection of blues covers originally by Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Johnson and Eddie Taylor and was recorded in a matter of just three days and also features contributions from Eric Clapton.  Jagger and his ageless voice and harmonica soak the songs with an aching swagger that only he could provide as Richards and the rest of the band pays homage to the Chicago blues music that once inspired them and they sound as young and as vital as ever.)

Friday, December 02, 2016

Soundgarden – Badmotorfinger – 25th Anniversary Deluxe Reissue

In 1991 - the “year punk broke” as Sonic Youth so eloquently put it – three albums exploded into the mainstream, ushering in the “grunge” or alternative rock movement and changing the music scene forever; Nirvana’s Nevermind, Pearl Jam’s Ten and Badmotorfinger by Soundgarden.  It was Soundgarden’s second major label album and third altogether and was led by inescapable hits such as “Rusty Cage”, “Outshined” and Jesus Christ Pose”.  Their sound was much heavier and darker than their counterparts at the time but was no less catchy. 
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Badmotorfinger’s release, Soundgarden has recently released perfectly remastered and beautifully repackaged reissues of the album via UMe.  There are several different options including a double vinyl version with an etching on the fourth side, a 2-CD deluxe edition that includes bonus studio outtakes and seven live tracks taken from their legendary 1992 performance at the Paramount.
Additionally, a Super Deluxe edition of the album is available for diehard collectors that consists of 109 Tracks – 79 unreleased tracks, videos and mixes spanning seven discs that include the complete Paramount Theatre concert from March 6, 1992 on 2CDs & DVD and a second DVD with their out of print 1992 home video MOTORVISION along with 11 more previously unreleased performance videos from the era.  Also included is a Blu-ray audio disc with the newly remastered original album mixed in 96kHz 24-bit 5.1 Surround Sound for a studio quality listening experience. 
Everything is packaged in a large box – that should win a Grammy for its packaging - with a battery-powered spinning Badmotorfinger icon and a 52-page booklet featuring new art, photos and commemorative testimonials from fellow musicians and peers.  Along with a 12-inch 3D lenticular litho of the album cover’s icon in silver foil, 8x10 inch photo prints of each band member, and two stickers and an iron-on patch.
It is a perfectly put together set and a proper testament to the album’s importance and lasting legacy.

Listen to the studio outtake of “Rusty Cage” taken from the 25th anniversary edition of Badmotorfinger here: