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Sam’s Top 23 Songs of 2016

11 Jan

(Sequenced for flow – not ranking – purposes.)

Tyvek “Choose Once” (In the Red)
My single of the year, from my album of the year. So raw, so good.

Mass Gothic “Every Night You’ve Got to Save Me” (Sub Pop)
Family Sing-Along Song of the Year honors go to this raucous doo-wop jam.

DIIV “Under the Sun” (Captured Tracks)
Shining down from a shimmering crack in the clouds that hung over 2016.

A Tribe Called Quest “We the People…” (Epic)
I could have chosen any of a half dozen tracks off this album but this here’s the anthem, get your damn hands up.

Francis and the Lights w/ Bon Iver “Friends” (KTTF)
Alan Parsons meets auto-tuned R&B meets, well, Bon Iver.

KAYTRANADA “LITE SPOTS” (XL)
Half this song is impossible to dance to; the other half is impossible not to dance to.

De La Soul “Royalty Capes” (AOI)
I wish this album had been more fulfilling than my anticipation of it, but there are some real gems amidst the scattershot experiments. This one’s about why a guy can’t find vintage De La on any of the streaming services.

Homeboy Sandman “Heart Sings” (Stones Throw)
Homeboy Sandman w/ I Am Many “Real New York”
(Stones Throw)
Sometimes he rhymes slow, sometimes he rhymes quick.

Beach Slang “Spin the Dial” (Polyvinyl)
“I was born at the bottom
But I never belonged
I’m hardly ever right
But I’ve never been wrong”
Could’ve been ripped straight from Paul Westerberg’s notebook.

The Men “Dreamer” (We Are the Men)
What you’d imagine to be playing anytime a parent pounds on their teen’s bedroom door and yells, “Turn it down!”

The Radio Dept. “Committed to the Cause” (Labrador)
A slinky statement of a song with hints of Prefab Sprout and St. Etienne.

Parquet Courts “Steady on My Mind” (Rough Trade)
Mmmn, Velvet-y.

Grandaddy “A Lost Machine” (Sony)
Man, this album can’t come soon enough…

James Blake “Love Me in Whatever Way” (Polydor)
That laugh track makes this even more heartbreaking than your average James Blake song.

ot to, not to w/ Noah Smith “Regretta I” (Other People)
Listen very closely.

The xx “On Hold” (Young Turks)
I know their 15 minutes of fame should be long gone, but that Hall & Oates sample…

Sonny & the Sunsets “Needs” (Polyvinyl)
The album where Sonny fell in love with a drum machine and made some goofy babies like this one.

Sunflower Bean “I Was Home” (Fat Possum)
Critics fawned over their debut but I found most of the album kinda boring. That said, this single is some transcendent psych rock amazingness.

Terry Malts “Used to Be” (Slumberland)
Terry Malts has been to me in the early 20-teens what The Wedding Present was to me in the early 1990s – completely durable and indispensible.

The Intended “Don’t Wait Too Long” (In the Red)
Rollicking goodness from Detroit’s garage (or basement, as the case may be) scene.

Leonard Cohen “It Seemed the Better Way” (Sony)
I’m a man of faith but after a year like this one, I get it. I really do.

David Bowie “Lazarus” (ISO/Columbia)
As my grandmother was bedridden and dying of cancer she’d ask my mom to open the curtains so she could watch the birds in the tree outside her window. When I first heard the bluebird line, I crumbled into a sobbing mess. Bowie gave until the very end…ain’t that just like him?

RUMTUM

31 Oct

Mora Tuga is the imaginary world that RUMTUM (sometimes known as John Hastings) created through drawings as a kid. A graphic novel that he wasn’t able to finish as a kid has now been completed through his new LP of the same name. Like RUMTUM’s drawings and illustrations, his music is created very much in the same way, as layers upon layers of guitars, percussion, synths and more play and bounce off of each other with precise intent.

Mora Tuga is clearly a labor of love. I highly recommend getting lost in it. Give “Hemispheres” (below) a spin – it’s a perfect peek into the world that RUMTUM has created.

Mora Tuga is available now on vinyl through the fabulous Wax Thématique Records – you’d be a fool not to get a copy of this on vinyl. If vinyl is not your thing you can get it digitally from RUMTUM’s Bandcamp page. Please enjoy.

RUMTUM – Hemispheres from Mora Tuga (2016)

Holy Monitor

30 Jun

If fuzzy, spaced-out, psychedelic, kraut rock is your thing then Greece’s Holy Monitor is the band for you. Get lost in the reverbed, jangly, grime of “Golden Light” below. It’s a killer example of what these guys can do.

Ongakubaka Records has compiled both of Holy Monitor’s self released EPs onto one fine cassette (available for preorder now) which will be unleashed on July 16. Golden Light/Aeolus is also available now digitally via Ongakubaka’s Bandcamp page.

Holy Monitor – Golden Light from Golden Light/Aeolus (2016)

Lasso

12 Nov

Lasso is the solo (mostly) project of Tucson multi-instrumentalist/beat maker Andy Catlin. He covers about every genre imaginable throughout his seven release discography, including psych, pop, electro, hip hop, pop and rock. His newest release, Into The Lasso, is a kind of groovy, psych-pop meets hip hop beats hybrid. Check out the Money Mark-like album opener “Pepper”, it’s a great example of what this guy can do.

Into The Lasso is available now from Lasso’s bandcamp page. While you are there be sure to check out his other releases, you will not be disappointed.

Lasso – Pepper from Into The Lasso (2015)

Band and The Beat

25 Sep

Band & The Beat is the new project of husband and wife duo Tracy Shedd and James Tritten. Using only analog synthesizers and an analog drum machine, they have created quite the infectious dream-pop sound.

Dig on the warbly synths and lo-fi vocals of their first single “Buoy” below. Hopefully there will be many more songs from these guys in the future. Enjoy.

Band & The Beat – Buoy (2015)

Be sure to catch Band & The Beat on tour in a city near you:

Oct 14 . Durham NC . The Pinkhook . w/ Jphono1, Schooner (solo)
Oct 17 . Raleigh NC . Slim’s . w/ Jason Herring & The Mystery Plan
Oct 18 . Chapel Hill NC . Local 506 . w/ Nuns (Oklahoma)
Oct 19 . Knoxville TN . Pilot Light . w/ Bark (mems. of Tim Lee 3)
Oct 20 . Nashville TN . The Basement - 8:00pm - New Faces Nite
Oct 20 . Nashville TN . The 5 Spot - 10:00pm - $2 Tuesday
Oct 21 . Nashville TN . The Basement East - New Faces Nite
Oct 22 . Athens GA . Flicker
Oct 23 . Charlotte NC . Petra’s . w/ Jason Herring & The Mystery Plan
Nov 1 . Durham NC . Duke Coffeehouse . w/ Free Pizza (Boston MA)
Nov 7 . Chapel Hill NC . The Cave . w/ Tim Lee 3

Unknown Mortal Orchestra

26 May

Unknown Mortal Orchestra is set to release Multi-Love, their 3rd LP and 2nd with Jagjaguwar Records.  Multi-Love, showcases the wonkier side of UMO, similar to their 2011 Fat Possum self-titled debut.

Check out “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone” below. It’s a funky, head-nodding slab of psych-pop goodness.

Multi-Love is out now and available to buy from Jagjaguwar or your favorite record store. Enjoy.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Can’t Keep Checking My Phone from Multi-Love (2015)

Yalls

23 Apr

Berkeley-based musician Dan Casey’s (a.k.a. Yalls) debut album, United, is a 44 minute escape from reality, filled with groove-holmes beats and synths straight from outer space. The warbly synths of “Warlords” (below) is just what I’m talking about – combined with a chilled-out beat and hushed vocals, it’s one of my favorite tracks from the LP.

United comes out May 6 on Gold Robot. Do not miss out on this release.

Yalls – Warlords from United (2014)

Monster Rally

23 Oct

Ted Feighan is back with Return To Paradise, his best Monster Rally release yet. Check out opening track “Orchids” (below), it’s a killer mix of old vinyl crackle, hip hop beats and pure tropical bliss. This album is solid, and does just as it’s title suggests. Return To Paradise comes out on October 29. You can get it on vinyl from Gold Robot or digitally from Monster Rally’s Bandcamp page. I highly recommend it. Enjoy.

Monster Rally – Orchids from Return To Paradise (2013)

HOTT MT

13 Oct

Los Angeles’ HOTT MT tag themselves on their Bandcamp page as “experimental, noise pop, surf, thai, gaze”. Those tags are all right up my ally, and while I don’t really hear the “surf”, these guys have all the “gaze” you could want and then some. HOTT MT have made the rounds in their short career as a band, collaborating with Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne and opening for such bands as Django Django, Bats For Lashes, Flaming Lips and Wavves.

HOTT MT’s debut album, I Made This, came out back in May on their Bandcamp page and on cassette with Burger Records. It’s a fuzzy, chilled-out album that will take away the stresses of life – for 24 minutes. Check out the spacey, slow-jam goodness of “Lil Saigon” below, I know you will dig it.

HOTT MT – Lil Saigon from I Made This (2013)

Fergus and Geronimo

17 Aug

You know that “Whoa! What is this?” reaction you can have when listening to a band or album for the first time? Sometimes it’s not a good reaction, and other times you’ve just been blown away. I had the latter moment last week when I first sat down to listen to Fergus & Geronimo’s new album Funky Was The State of Affairs. This two-piece band from Denton, TX sound like a Devo meets Zappa meets Ween mashup, with a snotty Descendents-like song (“Roman Tick”, below) mixed in here and there. It’s fantastic zaniness! Funky Was The State of Affairs was recently released on Hardly Art, and I highly recommend it. Check out the songs below, if you like them be sure to buy the album. Enjoy.

Fergus & Geronimo – Roman Tick from Funky Was The State of Affairs (2012)

Fergus & Geronimo – No Parties from Funky Was The State of Affairs (2012)

Fergus & Geronimo – Baby Don’t You Cry from Unleam (2011)

Fergus & Geronimo – Powerful Lovin’ from Unleam (2011)

Hardly Art

Fergus & Geronimo