Sam’s Top 23 Songs of 2016

(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

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)

Newstalgia

Using cuts from the 1966 French spy movie Agent 505: Death Trap Beirut on his newest release, The Formula, Michigan producer/beat maker Newstalgia has created one of the coolest hip hop/beats albums I’ve heard in the past couple of years. If you’re a fan of Madlib and/or early 90’s Beastie Boy instrumentals, The Formula is the album for you.

Check out some of Newstalgia’s goodness on title track included below.

The Formula is available now via Producers I Know’s Bandcamp page. It’s definitely worth your time. Enjoy.

Newstalgia – The Formula from The Formula (2016)

jinsang

California beat maker jinsang combines jazz cuts over chilled out beats to create some killer, smooth, grooved-out tracks. His latest release, solitude., is 26 tracks of pure groove. The more I listen to it the higher it jumps up my favorite releases of 2016 list.

His entire catalog is available to buy on his Bandcamp page for only a measly $7 bucks! Trust me that’s $7 bucks well spent my friends. Below are a few tracks from solitude. and a new one he just put up on his Soundcloud page. Check them out, then go get your hands on some of his music. Enjoy.

 

Lasso

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)

Lazy Knuckles

Lazy Knuckles is the sample-based experimental project of Ohio’s Brandon Klaiber. The word Bucolic, the title of his debut full length, means “of or relating to the pleasant aspects of the countryside and country life”. The chilled out, lo-fi beats on Bucolic hit that definition to a T – it’s like listening to the leaves change.

Check out one of the standout tracks, “Sudser”, below to see what I mean. Bucolic is the soundtrack for enjoying the last few days of summer/first few weeks of fall. Enjoy.

Bucolic comes out digitally on September 11 via Gold Robot Records.

Lazy Knuckles – Sudser from Bucolic (2015)

You can also check out/download another track “Dreams of Memories” from Gold Robot’s Soundcloud page.

L Orange and Jeremiah Jae

Beat maker L’Orange and wordsmith Jeremiah Jae have collaborated to create one of the best grooved-out hip-hop albums of the year, The Night Took Us In Like Family. L’Orange’s dusty beats are on point and Jae flows with them like these two have been working with each other for years.

I was unable to get permission to share any downloads, but please enjoy the streams (below) of the jazzy “Taken By Night” and head-bobber “All I Need” feat. Gift of Gab. Both tracks are rad and represent the entire album well.

The Night Took Us In Like Family is available now on vinyl (recommended) or digitally from Mello Music. This is a must add to your collection. Enjoy

Monster Rally and Jay Stone

After a long holiday break, I feel refreshed and ready to start bringing the hits again. For the first post of 2015, I am stoked to be sharing a couple tracks from the upcoming Monster Rally & Jay Stone collaboration, Foreign Pedestrians.

Monster Rally’s hazy, exotic beats mixed with Jay Stone’s razor-sharp vocal delivery are a match made in Heaven and hopefully the first of many collaborations between the two. I can’t recommend this album enough. You must buy it now. Foreign Pedestrians is possibly the best album of 2015.

Foreign Pedestrians will be released on January 27 through Gold Robot Records.

Monster Rally & Jay Stone – Cognac (w/Brandon Rayson) from Foreign Pedestrians (2015)

Monster Rally & Jay Stone – Recollection from Foreign Pedestrians (2015)

Paces Lift and Ben Bounce

After a 30 day “one beat from both of us everyday” challenge Seattle’s Paces Lift and St. Louis’ Ben Bounce created the framework for their new collaboration LP, Quick Trigger. Two years of mixing and fine tuning, their masterpiece Quick Trigger was ready for consumption. The result is fourteen lo-fi, psychedelic, beat driven tracks sprinkled with bits of spaghetti western and old vinyl crackle. It’s a solid release which has quickly risen to the top of my albums of the year list.

Quick Trigger is available now on killer looking “ox blood” vinyl with cover art done by none other than Ted Feighan (aka Monster Rally) from Wax Thématique. It’s also streaming and downloadable from Paces Lift’s Bandcamp page. Feast your ears on some of Quick Trigger‘s goodness below. Enjoy!

Paces Lift & Ben Bounce – Clot (Beerline) from Quick Trigger (2014)

Paces Lift & Ben Bounce – Delusions of Farley Granger from Quick Trigger (2014)

RUMTUM

If you like listening to cut up bits of soul, tropical, world and basically any other genre of music all mixed together with some slick hip-hop beats, then Cleveland’s RUMTUM (aka John Hastings) is the artist for you. Even if this concept seems completely foreign to you, trust me, you will dig this.

RUMTUM released his debut LP Mystic Wonders back in September on 1320 Records and his own Bandcamp page. He has also collaborated with the one and only Monster Rally on a couple EPs. Enjoy the songs below, they are just a taste of RUMTUM’s greatness. Now get out there and track down the rest of his stuff, all of it is must have music.

RUMTUM – When from Mystic Wonders (2013)

RUMTUM – Get It from Mystic Wonders (2013)