Tag Archive: “Chance The Rapper”

Hey folks, it’s Luke LaBenne here, writer and host of Ghettoblaster’s Best Song Ever podcast. 2016 was a crazy year, full of surprises, so many musical icons released albums and some of them served as farewells. We saw so many amazing albums from veteran artists and some newcomers who grabbed our attention and quickly became beloved favorites. There were so many great albums that I had the honor of listening to and writing about this year thanks to Ghettoblaster. Some of them really stood out so here they are, my Top 20 Albums of 2016.


 

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20. Okkervil River – Away

The ghost album from the band that no longer exists. After the breakup of Okkervil River, frontman Will Sheff went through a period of uncertainty in which his Grandfather and personal hero passed away. Sheff teamed up with jazz musicians, including yMusic’s C.J. Camarieri who used his grandfather’s old trumpet, fusing jazz with their existing folk rock sound. This album that almost didn’t happen turned out to be a warm and beautiful expression with the emotional weight we’ve come to expect from the rock veteran.

Watch: Okkervil River –  Okkervil River R.I.P

 

 

 


 

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19. Kyle Craft – Dolls of Highland

Former GASHCAT frontman Kyle Craft made his SubPop debut with the right amount of retro and modern influences, from Velvet Underground to Neutral Milk Hotel. Kyle tells vivid, sprawling tales of love and loss akin to Bob Dylan, with his powerful, one of a kind voice and big, Springsteen-esque instrumentals. Whether he’s serenading a lady or lamenting his friend who committed suicide, these songs feel very personal and lived-in, with Kyle’s 27 years of life informing each tune.

Listen: Kyle Craft – Pentecost

 

 

 

 


 

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18. Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate

I remember a week where I felt like no albums had come out that grabbed my attention and then later in the week I heard this album and was blown away. British singer/songwriter Michael Kiwanuka combines the building jams of Pink Floyd, with the vocal force and social relevance of Marvin Gaye. Joining soul, folk, and rock to explore the meaning of love & hate, and express the triumphs and trials of a “black man in a white world.” Much of this album is featured in the Netflix’s The Get Down giving a fitting canvas for Michael’s epic, emotional, and uplifting music.

Watch: Michael Kiwanuka – Black Man In A White World

 

 

 


 

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17. Conor Oberst – Ruminations

Last year, Conor Oberst released an album and did a tour with his punk band Desaparecidos. Afterwards, he was exhausted and ill, so he returned to his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska to recover. While there, inspiration struck and he wrote a recorded an album in 48 hours. We see a different Conor then we’re used to, stripped down to just guitar or piano with an occasional harmonica solo. Lyrically, these songs are thick with cultural and literary references that drive home the Americana vibe of this album as Conor looks back over his life and career and considers what lies ahead. What began as a sort of pit stop to regroup turned into some of his most personal and powerful work yet.

Watch: Conor Oberst – A Little Uncanny

 

 


 

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16. Frightened Rabbit – Painting Of A Panic Attack

Scotish indie-rock veterans Frightened Rabbit really came into their own with their 2012 album Pedestrian Verse, completing the gradual transition from rougher folkier sound to a more polished indie-rock sound. The National’s Aaron Dessner helped them perfect that sound on this album. Resembling The National and the sound Dessner helped Mumford and Sons achieve last year, these songs are much brighter and catchier than you would assume based on the cover art and title. Lyrically, this album deals with death, addiction, and depression though it has it’s fair share of self-deprecation hope permeates each track. Under the tutelage of Dessner, these guys join the ranks of indie-rock greats and continue to grow with each new album.

Watch: Frightened Rabbit – I Wish I Was Sober

 

 


 

a3501043119_1015. Mutual Benefit – Skip A Sinking Stone

Jordan Lee has made music under the name Mutual Benefit since 2009, but this year he reached new heights with Skip A Sinking Stone. While touring, Lee contemplated life and love during long car trips, putting his questions and realizations into words gives this album it’s lyrical power. Backing up his insightful lyrics are grand compositions akin to Sufjan Stevens, that can shift quickly into bare, intimate folk. This album is grand yet isolated, using nostalgia as a means to move forward.

Watch: Mutual Benefit – Not For Nothing

 

 

 


 

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14. Vince Staples – Prima Donna

Last year, Vince Staples established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the world of Hip Hop with his album Summertime ’06. This year, Vince let us know just how fame was treating him with a mini-album full of 7 heavy-hitting songs about his disillusionment with fame, but his strength and relevance despite it, effortlessly weaving social topics into his personal narrative. Not only is Vince at the top of his game lyrically (with more lyrics that can make Christian moms cry), but he has some production help from the great James Blake, appearances by A$AP Rock and Kilo Kish, and heavy nods to OutKast, even with a sample of Andre’s verse from ATLiens. Every song on this album is fantastic and it comes with a short film to compliment each track.

Watch: Vince Staples – Prima Donna

 

 


 

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13. Lambchop – FLOTUS

For Love Often Turns Us Still. The veteran folk-rock band turned a page with their latest album, ditching their folk sound for electronic elements and airy, funky grooves. Kurt Wagner has experimented with electronics in the past, but on FLOTUS he seamlessly rolls them in with traditional instruments, primarily bass and piano, to make a smooth, hazy, and beautiful album. Ending, with an 18-minute “love” song. This album can pull at your heart strings just by the mood and feeling the music creates.

Watch: Lambchop – NIV

 

 

 


 

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12. El Perro Del Mar – KoKoro

After 8 months of “maternity leave” indie-pop artist Sarah Assbring returned with her 5th album as El Perro Del Mar. After visiting a museum with eastern instruments and listening to japanese, chinese, thai, and indian pop Assbring added this eastern influence into her existing style of melancholy pop. This new style emerges on each song always in a new and interesting way. Something about motherhood enabled Assbring to tap into primal truths of humanity make this album very deep and insightful.

Watch: El Perro Del Mar – Breadandbutter

 

 

 


 

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11. Beyonce – Lemonade 

Lemonade was more than an album. It was a film, it was couples therapy, and it was a cultural phenomenon. Never before had a superstar given such an intimate look at their lives on such a large scale. Not only did Jay-Z’s infidelity bring out some of Beyonce’s most powerful work exploring the nature of love, blackness, and womanhood, but she is also joined by an all-star cast of collaborators like Jack White, Kendrick Lamar, and the aforementioned James Blake. Queen B is at the height of her power and vulnerability making this album dynamic and addictive.

Watch: Beyonce – Sorry

 

 

 


 

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10. Red Pill – Instinctive Drowning

If you’ve read my posts or listened to my podcast then it’s no surprise that Detroit rapper Red Pill ended up this high on my list. Red Pill was one of my greatest discoveries this year and  just in time for him to drop his innovative second album for Mello Music Group. With the help of producer Ill-Poetic, he creates an eclectic journey through the life and mind of Chris Orrick a.k.a. Red Pill. Shedding the old school style of dusty samples and venturing into more expansive and experimental instrumentals, so much ground is covered on this album. Whether it’s grand speculation about the universe or small insights into his personal life, we hear a deep thinker whose thoughts and intentions go deeper than his actions. This record is a weighty and philosophical listen with stunning instrumentals and dynamic production, reflecting the complex contradictions in all of us.

Watch: Red Pill – Instinctive Drowning

 


 

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9. Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”

I was anxiously awaiting a rap album from Childish Gambino but he delivered was even better. Venturing into funk and not spitting a single rhyme on the album, Donald Glover has defied our expectations of what he’s capable of. With the success of his FX series Atlanta we can see Glover really coming into his own as an artist. This album feels completely genuine and as a result is his best record to date. With sprawling guitar solos, extensive jams, and call and response vocals reminiscent of old school funk. Glover tackles social issues in a way we haven’t seen him do before, he calls it, “a shared vibration for human progress.”  No album released this year sounds remotely like this one.

Listen: Childish Gambino – Me and Your Mama

 

 


 

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8. Kishi Bashi – Sonderlust

Sonderlust is the idea that each random passerby has a life as rich and complex as your own. That elusive concept it what K. Ishibashi attempted to capture on his third album. This album had a rocky start, with K. being underwhelmed by the songs he was writing. Meanwhile, family problems occurred and he threw himself into the music. The result is an examination of love, an album that plays like a movie. Produced by Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor and featuring a full backing band, string quartet, and some contributions from of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes. This album is the grandest instrumentation and most experimentation that we’ve seen from Ishibashi yet. I recently got the vinyl and put it on and it’s impossible to turn off, each song is so engaging and plays into the next song perfectly.

Watch: Kishi Bashi – Hey, Big Star

 

 


 

weezer_white_album7. Weezer – Weezer (White Album)

2014 saw the comeback of Weezer, one of the greatest rock bands who seemed to have lost their way a bit. Fans of Weezer’s early work had shut out their pop punk sound when it went in strange directions while still permeating the mainstream. Everything Will Be Alright in the end won back many Weezer fans (including myself) and they quickly followed it up with the fourth installment of their self-titled color albums with what will forever be called The White Album. This is the greatest summer album you could ask for, channeling The Beach Boys with nautical themed rock songs as warm as the California sun. Every song is beautiful while being relentlessly catchy and fun. They may have won back their fans in 2014 but in 2016 they’ve assured us that they won’t be straying from our favor any time soon.

Watch: Weezer – LA Girlz

 

 


 

life-of-pablo6. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo

Where does the art end and the artist begin? Can you separate the two? Kanye makes us ask this question all the time. How can I adore someone’s music but disagree with most of their actions in their life? Everybody has to draw their own line, all I know is that ever since 2004 when I listen to Kanye’s music I’m blown away. Though his styles have changed and there’s so much controversy surrounding him constantly, he has a true talent for music. There are moments of shocking vulnerability on this album as well as your typical Kanye ego and braggadocios attitude. The collaborators here are insane from Chance to Frank Ocean, Rihanna to Kid Cudi; so many amazing artist line up to work with Kanye despite all his issues and there is a reason for that. I don’t let the news or blogs or reality shows or even the artist’s actions shape my opinion, I let the music speak for itself.

Listen: Kanye West – Ultralight Beam

 


 

09e256ce885fe6b3cf181239c3b3231c-1000x1000x15. A Tribe Called Quest – We got if from here… Thank you 4 your service

The legendary hip-hop group’s first album in 18 years was everything you would hope. Including the late Phife Dawg’s final verses, and an all-star list of contributors including Kendrick Lamar, Jack White, Andre 3000, Anderson Paak, and Elton John. Q-Tip masterfully comments on all the major political and social topics over beats that feel completely current while evoking the groups earlier work. From start to finish this album has you hooked, the music is so engaging while leaving room for some experimentation and the lyrics just speak so perfectly to the emotions many people are feeling. Dave Chappelle hosted SNL with ATCQ as the musical guest and he said it’s always scary to make a comeback so it’s nice to know you’re not doing it alone. This is one of the greatest comeback records you could ask for, while adding to the legacy of one of hip-hop’s greatest contributors.

Watch: A Tribe Called Quest – We The People…

 


 

a2344894986_104. AJJ – The Bible 2

Formerly Andrew Jackson Jihad the Arizona folk-punk band has been making music since the mid 2000s. Their sound was mostly acoustic with folk instruments like guitar, banjo, and standup bass and Sean Bonnet’s wild, cracking voice and unpredictable lyrics. On 2014’s Christmas Island they unveiled a new sound, with the help of one of my favorite rock producers John Congleton. On The Bible 2 we see Bonnet’s lyrics more refined, and the folk punk style perfected. This is the most dynamic album the band has delivered. Congleton likes music that makes him feel a range of emotions, and helps bring out the individual personalities of each song. Weather it’s crunchy punk tracks like “Cody’s Theme” and “My Brain Is a Human Body,” resembling Neutral Milk Hotel, or intimate ballads like “Junkie Church” and the song that brings the album’s core mantra, “No More Shame, No More Fear, No More Dread.” For those of us who feel uncertain in our skin sometimes, these weirdo anthems have relatable lyrics that hit hard. Though they’ve been around for years this album quickly made them one of my new indie favorites.

Watch: AJJ – Goodbye, Oh Goodbye

 


 

c5e308973. Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book

Forget Blonde. Forget Pablo. Forget Lemonade. Coloring Book was my most anticipated album of the year (and then it was exclusively on Apple Music FML). With 2014’s Acidrap I fell in love with the music of Chance Bennett. I began to respect him a lot after I watched him get a beer bottle thrown at him and tell the person who threw it that he loved them (he did walk off stage after someone threw a second bottle but can you blame him?). After the release of Angels, the birth of his daughter, and his phenomenal appearance on Kanye’s Ultralight Beam it was clear that Chance is growing and maturing. On this album we see Chance on top on the world, yet he remains grounded. In a world where mainstream hip-hop keeps getting darker with melodies drained, Chance injects warmth and brightness into the genre. Tapping into nostalgia in a more productive way than Donald Trump. This album has everything, ballsy hip-hop swagger, brooding trap, and glorious gospel. Not to mention this album redefined what independent mixtapes are capable of accomplishing. Chance has ascended to super stardom with Nike and Kit-Kat commercials, and features on numerous albums including The Hamilton Mixtape. It’s hard not to be a stereotypical hipster and say I’ve loved Chance for years and condemn the bandwagon jumpers, but instead i’ll just say it’s about damn time.

Watch: Chance The Rapper – No Problem

 


 

a1767464498_102. John K. Samson – Winter Wheat

The former frontman of The Weakerthans trades out his rocking for restraint and the result is one of the most beautiful, powerful folk albums of the 21st century. Whether he’s speaking about internet trolls, a departed loved one, or a rehab center he so perfectly captures the humanity in any situation. John is a master of melody so you have some incredible lyrics paired with the most infectious melodies. The lyrics walk the line of being cryptic enough that you don’t understand his specific references, but specific enough that you grasp the mood and the story being told. The albums title refers to a crop that endures the winter and rises in the spring and this metaphor extends to many of the stories on this album. He is great at capturing low points and the clarity that follows. This album just hits you in the heart with every new song, they’re masterfully performed and produced emotional wrecking balls, delivered with a warm and comforting voice.

Watch: John K. Samson – Postdoc Blues

 


 

heavn_front-1000x10001. Jamila Woods – HEAVN

This album was off of my radar because it wasn’t on Spotify, and it is responsible for 90% of my Soundcloud visits this year. This album did for me what Solange’s Seat At The Table did for many others, perfectly put into words and music the life and struggles of black females. It shows how music can be the most powerful tool to connect with someone who’s life is different than yours, while highlighting the shared aspects of humanity that connect us all. Whether she’s singing a love song, lamenting her departed grandfather, or sounding a battle hymn, she does it with such a warm and steady voice. The music is just so beautiful with production by the likes of Saba and Kweku Collins, combining jazz, folk, and r&b. Much like her Chicago buddies Noname and Chance (who both appear on the album) she taps into the nostalgia of 90’s kids, altering playground rhymes and the Mr. Rogers theme. This album is a smooth and tender tale of love, family, pain, power and resilience.

Watch: Jamila Woods – Blk Girl Soldier

 


 


This year I’ve had the incredible honor of becoming super involved with the best music publication around.  Thanks so much Ghettoblaster Magazine for pretty much letting me do whatever I want over the past year! Me and my dear dear cousin Luke oversaw the features The Monday Rewind, Future Sounds and Past Sounds for much of the year.  As of late we have transitioned our focus to the Best Song Ever Podcast, which has been a dream come true! This year I’ve listened to hundreds upon hundreds of albums and below you’ll find my top 20 albums of 2016.  Thanks for reading!


 

a1346728317_1020. Greys – Outer Heaven 

Outer Heaven opens with a subdued, seemingly standard indie-rock track inspired by the murder of a teenager in Florida and then on track two covers the recent terrorist attacks in Paris over ferocious post-punk rock, which is to say, this is a heavy hard hitting album. The serene music of the opening track mixed with its bleak lyrics giving way to the utter chaos that follows is a great illustration of how Greys seems to see the world we live in now. Musically speaking this is a fantastic post-punk album filled with dissonance, chaos and even some memorable and catchy choruses. There are also occasional flashes of Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto in the vocal performance of the heavier leaning punk songs on the album. All around this is a heavy, angry album that feels totally in line with the frustrating, anger-inducing landscape we currently find ourselves in.

Listen: Greys – No Star

 

 


 

a1300815586_1019. Dogbreth – Second Home 

Dogbreth is a criminally under-known band that makes fantastic power pop music, which is equal parts sugary sweet and a punch in the face. Their new album, Second Home, is a short, tight set of 10 songs that span the spectrum of rock music, yet maintains one cohesive voice. Classic guitar rock mixes with punk and power pop in the most balanced way that makes you scratch your head and wonder how they were able to pull this off. There are saxophone and synth parts spread over the album but what really shines is the guitar work and songwriting. The guitars shimmer, effortlessly pounding riff after memorable riff over the course of the album. Songwriting is also a key strength as all songs on the album are sing-a-long-able and will stick with you well through the day. Seriously, please listen to this album.

Listen: Dogbreth – Do You Really Want Me

 

 


 

covdifeuiaiv__f18. Noname – Telefone 

Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, Anderson .Paak, Noname. Yes, she belongs in the same conversation as those seminal acts who have hijacked RnB and Hip-Hop over the past couple years. Telefone is a beautifully poetic piece of art and is just a joy to listen to. It’s spacey and soulful to the tenth degree and Noname’s vocal delivery is fascinating to listen to. She pulls off the spoken/sung/rapped vocals that are popular right now but in her own way. She doesn’t use auto tune, giving this album a very organic feel. If you’re a fan of where Kendrick, Chance and Anderson have started to take music, you’d be wise to add Noname to the list.

Listen: Noname – Diddy Bop

 

 


 

ch132-goon-sax-rgb17. The Goon Sax – Up to Anything 

Australian jangle-pop is a style of music that has been done time and time again, yet The Goon Sax are able to breathe new life into the genre on their debut album Up to Anything. The album is full of the classic sonic territory covered on your typical jangle pop album. The guitars, how they jangle! What is really endearing when it comes to The Goon Sax is their songwriting sensibilities. The lyrics are at times painfully earnest and cover such topics as worrying about your sweaty hands, wanting someone to notice you and eating ice cream on your own. The songs could have easily been too much, but they are all done with the right amount of self-deprecation that The Goon Sax really pulls it off.

Listen: The Goon Sax – Up To Anything

 

 


 

a1949295813_1016. Muncie Girls – From Caplan to Belsize 

English trio Muncie Girls make incredibly catchy and lyrically challenging feminist pop-punk music. Over the course of just 30 minutes they take on misogyny, praise suffragette heroes, and give a searing indictment of a culture that seems content to forget about it all. Musically speaking this is a tight and technical set of songs with intricate verses and soaring choruses, which reminds us just how enjoyable really well executed pop-punk can be. From Caplan to Belsize is a truly special debut album from a talent that will be fun to watch in the future.

Listen: Muncie Girls – Gas Mark #4

 

 

 


 

cw30bbjuaaabeny15. Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!” 

Awaken My Love! makes absolutely no sense. How in the world does this album work so well? I’m not sure that I can explain. Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, has always been more interesting to me as a comedian and actor than as a musician, as I’ve never thoroughly enjoyed any of his past albums. Honestly, when I heard that Donald Glover had put out an album that sounded like Funkadelic, I thought it would be a total train wreck. What Childish Gambino has put together instead is a mesmerizing and modern take on classic funk music. I wish that it had come out earlier in the year so I could have spent more time with it as I believe it would have ranked higher on this list.

Listen: Childish Gambino – Redbone

 

 


 

a1855127492_1014. Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid 

The Impossible Kid is the most personal record Aesop has made, delving into dealing with depression and attempting to mend strained family relationships, while also focusing on mundane aspects of everyday life with fantastic surrealistic wordplay. Not only is The Impossible Kid Aesop Rock’s most personal album it is also one of his strongest outputs yet. Aesop Rock’s production is mostly post-apocalyptic boom bap, murky and somewhat mechanical with a strong breakbeat. There are some variances on that theme, but overall the production is solid and complements the vocal performance perfectly.

Watch: Aesop Rock – Rings

 

 

 


 

a3312050880_1013. Frankie Cosmos – Next Thing 

Frankie Cosmos is totally unassuming music that sneaks up on you and sneakily digs its claws deep. On the surface this a collection of simple singer-songwriter songs sung over clean electric guitar. Yet, when you dig more the layers reveal themselves in wonderful succession. Sure, the songs are simple, yet the execution of melody, lyricism and guitar work combine in a way that truly make Frankie Cosmos something special to behold.

Listen: Frankie Cosmos – Sinister

 

 

 

 


 

kero-kero-bonito12. Kero Kero Bonito – Bonito Generation Kero Kero Bonito is a British band who are inspired by video games and J-Pop music, all of which definitely shines brightly through on Bonito Generation. The music often has video game-esque sound effects of lasers over trap beats, straightforward pop and tons of other stylistic diversions. It’s an interesting combination that will have your head bobbing. Super pop female vocals alternate between singing and awkward rapping in English and then Japanese; again, it’s a combination that strangely totally works. It’s an absurdist and cartoonish album in the best way possible and should inspire anticipation for what is to come from Kero Kero Bonito.

Watch: Kero Kero Bonito – Break

 

 

 


 

c5e3089711. Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book 

How is this not a top ten album in 2016 for me? That’s how good this year was. Coloring Book is a masterful tour de force of an album. Ok, it’s not an album, it’s a mixtape or whatever. Chance the Rapper just keeps getting better and better with each new collection he releases. It’s hard to think that he would be able to top this. It isn’t easy to have a wholly original delivery in hip hop anymore, but this is where Chance’s main appeal is. The interplay of his singing and rapping is way better than anyone else who is trying to do the same. Coloring Book also has some of the most interesting music that I’ve heard on a hip-hop album in a long time. Gospel and modern rap are melded together flawlessly in a truly breathtaking manner that is something new and exciting for the genre.

Watch: Chance The Rapper – Angels

 

 


 

maxwell-blacksummersnight10. Maxwell – blackSUMMERS’night 

blackSUMMERS’night is probably the surprise album of the year for me as I really wouldn’t have thought I’d be this into an album by Maxwell. I have never really given him a chance until this year, and I am very happy I did. This is maybe the most spacey and beautiful albums of the year and is great for zoning out or really paying attention to the intricacies. Musically the intricacies begin in the stunning opening track and never let up throughout the remainder. Also, Maxwell has a pretty awesome voice in case you didn’t know. Again, this one took me by surprise and I’m so happy that it did.

Watch: Maxwell – Fingers Crossed

 

 

 


 

a2431309183_109. Owen – The King of Whys

The King of Whys, the eighth album former American Football member Mike Kinsella has released under the name Owen, is a beautifully tense album from start to finish. “Empty Bottle” opens the album up with this tension on full display as a loud guitar chord is struck over and over again as Kinsella sings a melancholy melody over otherwise pretty music. This sense of duality is carried on throughout the album, which finds songs diving headfirst into beauty and aggression. There are several seemingly straightforward acoustic guitar led Emo singer songwriter songs, yet the instrumentation makes the tracks much more interesting than they could have been. Sometimes it is flourishing strings and sometimes fantastic drumming, yet the backbone of all the songs remains Kinsella and his ability to pull off melodramatic songwriting with ease. This is easily one of the most beautiful albums of the year, yet it still surprises and leaves you with a sense of unease at the same time.

Watch: Owen – Settled Down

 


 

5918926e8. Twin Peaks – Down in Heaven 

Twin Peaks’ new album Down in Heaven is the type of album that is steeped in various influences, yet wholly original. The overall sound is classic rock mixed with elements of jangly country all with the DIY spirit Twin Peaks has had since their inception. There are ballads, straight up rockers and various other turns over the course of the 12 tracks, resulting in an endlessly entertaining and unique album. There are shades of The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and T. Rex throughout. Twin Peaks member Caiden James describes the direction for the new album in the following way: “We wanted to make a record that employed the restraints of our favorite artists from yesteryear. It was about trying to simplify and hone in on the things that are important to our music and ethos.” This direction and the resulting album are extremely successful and definitely worth listening to.

Watch: Twin Peaks – Getting Better

 


 

dinosaur_trim7. Trim – 1-800 Dinosaur Presents Trim

1-800 DINOSAUR Presents Trim is not your normal grime album; everything in Trim’s world is wonderfully off-kilter. There are staples of grime music here, the heavily accented British rapping and dirty sounding electronics, yet it’s like an alternate reality version of grime at the same time. The music sounds as if it could have been lifted straight off of an Aphex Twin album as the album is full of atmospheric and sometimes meandering electronic music. Trim raps and doesn’t rap at the same time, sometimes settling into a quasi-rap / quasi-spoken word delivery, which is incredibly poetic and fascinating. “Man Like Me,” the albums latest single, is by far the most “normal” or “accessible” song on the album, which means the listener is in for a heady listen. If this at all sounds interesting then this album full of art-house grime is definitely for you.

Listen: Trim – Man Like Me

 


 

c3ad8a769406b97880d7c3368aadda5d-1000x1000x16. Vince Staples – Prima Donna

Vince Staples and Kendrick Lamar are quite different talents, but in the same orbit and are probably the best two rappers currently making music. Last year Staples released Summertime ’06, his debut full length, which was only out shadowed by Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. This year, both Staples and Lamar have released EPs that seem to take the greatness of their previous releases and progresses their sound in fascinating ways. Staples has always made music that is aggressively grimy and murky, yet never in an alienating way. He has somehow been able to keep his music incredibly accessible and challenging at the same time, which is quite a feat to accomplish, especially with hip hop music. Prima Donna somehow finds Staples pushing these conflicting aspects of his music to their limits, making this at times the most challenging and most accessible music he’s made to date. Although there are only six songs on the EP and it’s a short listen, Staples covers more sonic territory than most hip hop albums do in eighteen tracks. These beats are simply mind blowing from start to finish with some real artistic bangers going on. It’s an incredible EP from a real rising star in the hip hop world that simply can’t be missed.

Watch: Vince Staples – Prima Donna


 

a3806482547_105. PUP – The Dream is Over 

PUP’s lead singer found out that his vocal chords were incredibly damaged due to the amount of abuse he had been putting them through on long, grueling tours. When referencing his future as a rock singer his doctor said “The dream is over.” Instead of listening to that advice, PUP named their next album after the phrase. This is an incredible set of super powerful and hard hitting rock songs done with just the right amount of pop sensibilities. Imagine Weezer’s Blue Album but with way way more muscle. It’s a truly magnificent feat.

Listen: PUP – Doubts

 

 

 


 

09e256ce885fe6b3cf181239c3b3231c-1000x1000x14. A Tribe Called Quest – We got it from Here … Thank You 4 Your service 

Runner up for surprise album of the year has to go to A Tribe Called Quest. When I first heard that they were going to be releasing a new album I was obviously intrigued, but never imagined it would be as good as this. Especially considering they have evolved their sound to fit into the modern rap landscape. It’s a move that does not often work for a well-established group, but they pulled it off wonderfully. Obviously the best hip hop album of the year. Also, I could straight up listen to Q-Tip rap the dictionary and be completely content.

Watch: A Tribe Called Quest – We The People…

 

 

 


 

mannequin-pussy-romantic-14773442273. Mannequin Pussy – Romantic 

11 Songs in 17 minutes. I still cannot get over how much terrain this crazy band covers in that short of time. Seriously, this album has a few movements in it; shifting from hard to soft, both musically and thematically, Mannequin Pussy have crafted the best rock album of the year. Yet, it’s still going criminally unnoticed. That’s right, I said criminally, and in my America those who were unfamiliar with this album would be jailed. It’s that good. There are some great straight up scuzzy hard punk moments mixed with tender spacey rock and a great amount of really great pop punk as well. Why are you reading this? You could have listened to half the album by now. Seriously, stop and listen!

Listen: Mannequine Pussy – Denial

 

 


 

a1285209301_102. Eric Bachmann – Eric Bachmann 

After years creating music as the front man of indie rock legends Archers of Loaf and then Crooked Fingers, Eric Bachmann is back with an absolutely stunning self-titled album. Eric Bachmann is filled with nine songs centered around impeccable lyricism, bright piano and dazzling harmonies, making for a truly beautiful album. There are several stylistic ventures along the way, including country, doo-wop and alternative rock, but the songs are perfectly paced throughout the album so they never seem out of place. If you’re a fan of great lyrics sung in intricate melodies, you should definitely check out this album.

Listen: Eric Bachmann – Carolina

 

 


 

solange_cover-1475240092-1000x10001. Solange – A Seat at the Table 

For most of the year I was convinced that Eric Bachmann’s album would be my favorite of the year. I had a hard time envisioning an album that could dethrone his and did not think it would happen. Then Solange put out A Seat at the Table and I knew after one listen through that this was the best album I’ve heard in a very long time. The subtle yet complex music consisting largely of piano and drums is beautiful, interesting and the perfect backdrop to the stellar vocal performance from Solange. This album wasn’t made for me as the themes largely cover loving and being proud of being Black and depending upon yourself and the Black community to help one prosper. This album is a microcosm of 2016 and I find myself leaning very hard on the optimism that pulsates throughout because I have a hard time finding things to be optimistic about. Again, it wasn’t necessarily written for me, but the beauty in these themes and the craftsmanship that Solange displays is absolutely universal.

Watch: Solange – Cranes In The Sky

 


 

This is Past Sounds. Every Friday Ghettoblaster Magazine is looking back and finding great music from various eras. Below are songs that sound great no matter what decade they’re played in. So strap in as we take a musical journey, back in time.

Sparks – Sherlock Holmes (Angst In My Pants, Atlantic)


 

The LA-based duo Sparks, made up of oddball brothers Ron and Russell Mael, made some of the most interesting music of the 70’s, 80’s, and continue to make great music to this day. Lead by, but not oversaturated with, Ron Mael’s signature synths in association with electronic music pioneer Giorgio Moroder, their sound was  way ahead of it’s time. The song begins with Russell describing Sherlock Holmes’ intelligence and playfully taking on the role of Sherlock to entice his lover. As the song progresses he pleads with his partner to stay the night if he pretends to be the much superior Sherlock. Building to an upbeat, power-pop bridge where Russell frustratedly declares, “I can’t be Sherlock Holmes.” This song is a quirky, little heart-breaking tale and a prime example of Sparks’ significant influence on modern synth-rock.


 

The Grateful Dead – Ripple (American Beauty, Warner Bros.)


 

The National’s Aaron & Bryce Dessner recently released the Grateful Dead tribute album Day of the Dead, featuring The Walkmen doing a great cover of Ripple, however nothing is better than the original. Seemingly a jaunty folk tune, this song has some of the deepest and most enlightened lyrics, contemplating the purpose of music itself and encouraging the listener to forge their own path in life. While the song is rooted in reality it hints towards unseen forces, “Ripple in still water when there is no pebble tossed or wind to blow.” There are gorgeous 3-part harmonies throughout, ending with a glorious vocal chorus, in which the band was backed by a choir of friends and family members. There are mixed views of The Grateful Dead, some are die hard fans and others subscribe to the “jam band” stereotype and write them off, but if you listen to this song the music speaks for itself.


 

Dirty Projectors feat. David Byrne – Knotty Pine (Dark Was The Night, 4AD)


 

2008’s Dark Was The Night is another Dessner Bros. produced complitation album, made to raise money and awareness for HIV and AIDS. The album is a who’s who of indie-rock stars, including this brilliant collaboration of Talking Head’s David Byrne and Dirty Projectors. The marriage of Amber Coffman and David Byrne’s vocals is bold and majestic, trading off verses then joining in the chorus. A driving bass drum and perky acoustic guitar riffs build to a boisterous staccato-piano hook. This is a fun track and an unexpected, yet ingenious pairing of indie-rock greats.


The Mountain Goats – San Bernardino (Heretic Pride, 4AD)


 

Last year, Rolling Stone dubbed The Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle “Rock’s Best Storyteller,” as his songs tell intricate stories with complex characters that embody relatable truths and emotions. This song tells the tale of an indigent young couple who stop at a roadside hotel for the birth of their child. John often speaks for people who are dismissed and underestimated, and demonstrates how they have unseen potential and value. He does that on this song as he describes the love between the couple and their newborn, “we will never be alone in this world, no matter what they say.” This track consists of Darnielle singing over lovely strings arrangements, a departure from the folk rock style the band is known for. John said these are some of his favorite characters that he’s ever created, “their feeling for one another inspires me.” He is now a father of two, but 3 years before the birth of his first son, he tapped into a parent’s love with this beautiful ballad.


Frightened Rabbit – Holy (Pedestrian Verse, Atlantic)


 

On Holy Scott Hutchison demonstrates his ability to take a theme and run with it, the verses are packed with biblical imagery as he faces off against a self-righteous pier. The chorus repeats, “you’re acting all holy, me I’m just full of holes.” This line varies and mutates as the song builds until finally Hutchinson proclaims, “I won’t ever be holy. Thank God I’m full of holes.” This song is about not just accepting your imperfections, but loving them as they are a part of you. Frightened Rabbit pioneered the folk rock sound popularized by bands like Mumford & Sons and Of Monsters & Men, but that sound evolved over time into the polished, poppy indie-rock you hear on this track.


 

Chance The Rapper – Prom Night (10 Day, Self Released)


The second to last song on Chance’s first mixtape, 10 Day, recorded during a 10 day suspension from his high school, shows how much he has grown and reminds us why we loved him in the first place. As always Chance uses childish buffoonery to convey much deeper truths. Comparing himself to teen movie troublemakers Charlie Bartlett, John Bender, and Ferris Bueller, he establishes himself as a rebellious youth and talks about how he missed his graduation and prom to pursue his passion of making music. There is a coming-of-age/high school nostalgia vibe to this song, but ultimately this is Chance first tapping into his signature style of epic compositions about his successes and the great things that he sees in his future. Throughout his career he has consistently preached a message of positivity. No matter if he’s speaking to his fans, his newborn daughter, or a person who threw a beer bottle at him on stage, he takes a line from this song and says, “It’s all love.” This song is done in the style of classic 90’s rap, with a bright, orchestral beat and it’s an interesting look back at the high school hip hop prodigy before he transformed into the young father who is running the rap game and making history.