Favorite Albums of 2018 (Part 1)

I’ve made the jump to a two-part list this year. Making cuts is hard, and I still had to make some tough cuts. So, basically I made a top 25 albums. There are some special mentions here for some great EPs as well. This post/playlist will include those EPs and albums 25-11, and then part 2 will be dedicated to my top 10. My usual disclaimer with these year-end lists is that these aren’t really a “Best records of 2018”, but they are more “My personal favorites of 2018”. I make no claim to objectivity. These are the albums I connected with and most enjoyed this year. For those who have followed this blog for a while, then you know I enjoy a diverse array of music. I think this year-end list represents that well stylistically and geographically. There are 9 countries represented in part 1, and part 2 will add a couple more as well. Enjoy!

Listen here to Fortnightly Favorites 2018 (Part 1)

25. The Joy Formidable – Aaarth
Sometimes I think there’s nothing left in the rock trio format to surprise, and no new ground to break, but then there’s The Joy Formidable. This album engages and surprises at almost every turn, and with the quality of execution that the Welsh trio always live up to.

24. Jon Spencer – Spencer Sings The Hits!
Jon Spencer’s wild, howling blues is just so much fun. He’s just got an undeniable charisma paired with such solid talent. This was a late release, and it just snuck into my list. It’s such a blast though, and it definitely deserves its spot.

23. Kurt Vile – Bottle It In
I’ve like plenty of Kurt’s work in the past, but until last year’s collaboration with Courtney Barnett I don’t think he quite had a truly great full album. Man, this is it. He keeps the pace moving better, and highlights more what a great guitar player he is. Standout tracks here come one after another after another with Bassackwards, One Trick Ponies, Rollin With the Flow, Check Baby, and Bottle It In all hitting high for me.

22. Cloquet – Cloquet
At this point, I feel it would be a surprise if I had a year-end list without a Doomtree release or two. This time it was Paper Tiger whose album struck me. Paper Tiger paired up with vocalist J. Gunderson on this project, and it’s got a great, chillwave sound, but still with strong beats rising up throughout. Of course, this is possibly the least hip-hop that Paper Tiger’s productions have ever been, so it’s great to see him try something very different stylistically and have it come out so well. I’ve always enjoyed Paper Tiger’s solo releases, and this one is definitely a favorite. There’s one more Doomtree-related album that will be featured next week as it cracked my top 10.

21. Son Lux – Brighter Wounds
Can’t say much about this without saying that Dream State is just an amazing song. The rest of the album is good as well, but that is certainly the centerpiece. This was a bold, creative record that I found really absorbing at a few different points this year. It’s got such a sweeping and almost cinematic sound. With this being their second release as a trio (previously a solo project), it seems they are establishing Son Lux more as a full band.

20. Centavrvs – Somos Uno
This album was a strong hit for me immediately, and I had it in my top 10 early on. Centavrvs blend past and present so well that it comes out as future. My favorite moments on this record are when the horns come soaring through. They blend latin styles like cumbia, rancheras, bolero and salsa along with a little funk and electronica, and it comes out as a beautiful, cohesive whole.

19. Ocean Wisdom – Wizville
When UK hip-hop really started making their mark it became clear that you had to be fast to make it. While rapping fast is still a hallmark of the UK sound, it has diversified a lot. Ocean Wisdom can do it all. He’s faster than anyone else, and he can hold down a slow groove too. This was one of the most anticipated records in the UK hip hop scene, and it boasted some elite guest appearances including Method Man, Rodney P, Dizzee Rascal and Jehst. Many thanks to the Hip Hop Saved My Life Podcast with Romesh and Rupert for tipping me to this album.

18. Amen Dunes – Freedom
Sometimes I struggle to describe an artist’s sound in a way I’m satisfied with. Amen Dunes has something of light rock or fuzz-folk. There’s a light rasp to his vocals, but also it is soft enough to fit a laid back sort of sound. It’s something in between Jose Gonzalez and The Cave Singers maybe. This is one I might later think I should have ranked higher.

17. Olafur Arnalds – Re:member
The innovative composer/multi-instrumentalist from Iceland released another amazing record this year. One this new record, he implimented a groundbreaking new system called the Stratus Piano. He uses two self-playing, semi-generative pianos that are triggered by the playing of one central piano played by Olafur. The result is that the Stratus pianos, while following his lead, hit unexpected harmonies helping the artist think differently about his craft.

16. Loma – Loma
This album got a fair amount of play at our house. In part this is due to it being one of those albums that my wife and I found our tastes were alligned. I didn’t initially know who was in the group, and when I later learned that the lineup included Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater I started making the connection in their sounds. I also got to see Loma play at Sub Pop’s 30th anniversary festival this summer. They were certainly hitting a sound no one else was that day. With all the punk rockers surrounding them, they had the audience absolutely transfixed.

15. Bombino – Deran
Bombino still has a steady blues groove and a seemingly endless supply of stellar guitar hooks. 2016’s Azel made my favorites list 2 years ago as well, and I said at the time that he made me completely rethink the guitar. I stand by that, and it seems his Tuareg blues or Desert Blues sound continues to progress beyond its old boundaries and incorporate diverse styles within itself. “The role of the artist is to help preserve culture even if this culture has no border. The guitar has always helped lost causes.” – Bombino (taken from the 2017 film, Residente)

14. IDLES – Joy is an Act of Resistance
Pure punk. Righteous anger directed into music. Straight-forward and aggressive, IDLES shouted a message of love and acceptance with ripping guitars and thundering bass and drums. Danny Nedelko was the early standout for me. It’s a lashing out against the culture of fear and division that’s been worming it’s way into politics throughout the US and UK. The message stays consistent throughout the album with tracks like Great and Samaritans.

13. Soft Science – Maps
All guitars set to phaser, wailing synth lines on top, and clear, soft vocals cutting through. The opening track, Undone, grabbed me right away. The Sacramento quintet had some excellent hooks throughout this record, and it sort of snuck up on me. When I started really putting this list together, I was sort of surprised how high I found I ranked it. It desreves its place here though with its weaving guitars and synths at some points offering a throwback sound and other points forging ahead to new ground.

12. Kikagaku Moyo – Masana Temples
What a discovery this was! Masana Temples is the 4th studio album from the Japanese psychedelic band, Kikagaku Moyo (the name translates to “geometric patterns”). Listening to this album is quite a musical journey, and some of the individual songs even seem that way. There a blend of psychedelic, funk, and rock, but elements of traditional Japanese music woven throughout. The cultural leap seems nonexistent because as different as this album is from my typical music, it remains easily approachable. Dripping Sun and Gatherings stand out for me, and, being the 2nd track and 2nd to last track, they help frame the whole album.

11. HOLY – All These Worlds Are Yours

This record was so close to being in my top 10 that I’m bound to question it next week. Listening to All These Worlds Are Yours is like listening to 10 movements of one long orchestrial piece. The soaring opener Night on Earth leads straight into and she breaks the day! A clarity and on straight to the end in a beautiful blend of ’60’s pop, modern garage rock with elements of chillwave swirling around. HOLY is mainly Swedish musician Hannes Ferm, but he has a host of talented collaborators joining him on this record.

EPs and series singles (no particular order):

Open Mike Eagle – What Happens When I Try To Relax
Following on an amazing full-length album with last year’s Brick Body Kids Still Daydream, Mike Eagle offered up a very solid EP this year. Justifiably, he was proud of the work he’d done. He tweeted a link to the release saying “It is 6 rap songs I’m releasing on my own record label that I’ll put up against any 6 rap songs that came out this year.” To be honest, that’s a fair assessment.

Moses Sumney – Black In Deep Red, 2014
This was a short 3 song release, but it had all the power of many albums that came out this year. Rank & File is easily among my favorite songs of the year. If this is a sign of things to come from Sumney, then I wouldn’t be surprised to have him among my favorites of 2019.

Joshua Burnside – All Round The Light Said
Burnside was among a crop of artists I discovered from the 2018 Hard Working Class Heroes festival lineup. The Irish festival has been establishing itself for bringing on a lot of young artists and up-and-comers. Burnside, in particular, struck me with this 4-song EP that blended traditional and experimental in his folk music.

boygenius – boygenius
Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, and Phoebe Bridgers have managed to crack some of the top 10 lists I’ve seen so far, which is remarkable for a short 6-track release. They’ve really managed something beautiful here, and I fully understand the buzz around this project. The trio harmonize beautifully, and each takes strong turns in the lead role.

The Hold Steady – 4 two-song releases
It was close to the new year that The Hold Steady released their first 2 tracks with Entitlement Crew and A Snake In The Shower. They did the same thing 3 more times over the course of 2018, and it’s all very strong material. It was a great treat to get new Hold Steady throughout the year.

Sudan Archives – Sink
I don’t know when we can expect a debut full-length from Sudan Archives, but her releases continue to be incredibly high quality at whatever length. Her unique mastery of violin played as an R&B, afro-pop, jazz instrument sets her apart, and she just keeps expanding her sound and unveiling new talents.

Black Thought – Streams of Thought Vol. 1 & 2
Black Thought took the reins of a solo project that made headlines this year with Streams of Thought Vol. 1. The release was somewhat of a surprise as Black Thought had, until this year, never made a run at a solo career. It reminded people that he’s among the best rappers to hold a mic, and made us all hip-hop fans hungry for more. More arrived just a couple weeks ago with Streams of Thought Vol. 2. At 9 tracks, it’s almost a skimpy album rather than an EP, but the runtime isn’t long with 4 of the songs coming in under 2 mins.

Tracklist:
HOLY – Night On Earth
HOLY – and she breaks the day! A clarity
Open Mike Eagle – Relatable (peak OME)
Sudan Archives – Pay Attention
Moses Sumney – Rank & File
Cloquet – Folded
Son Lux – Dream State
Kikagaku Moyo – Gatherings
The Joy Formidable – The Wrong Side
IDLES – Danny Nedelko
Jon Spencer – Fake
Kurt Vile – One Trick Ponies
Amen Dunes – Blue Rose
Centavrvs – Volar Muy Alto
Black Thought – Twofifteen
Ocean Wisdom – Eye Contact
Bombino – Tenesse
The Hold Steady – Star 18
Joshua Burnside – Paul
Boygenius – Stay Down
Loma  – Joy
Soft Science – Sooner
Olafur Arnalds – nyepi

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The Fortnightly Playlist, December 2nd, 2018

Well, here we are in December. This will be the last regular Fortnightly Playlist of the year. I’ve been working on some extras in the last couple weeks. I’ve sorted out a top 25 albums this year, and also picked some shorter releases to include as well. Next weekend will be part 1, and will count down albums 25-11, and in two weeks I’ll do my top 10. I’m interested to know your favorites for the year, and would love to talk about them in the comments below.

Listen to the new playlist here!

As we reach the end of the year, there are some releases from 2018 that deserve some more attention before we close things out. Among those is the new album from Japanese, psych-rock band, Kikagaku Moyo. Their new record, Masana Temples, is a impressive, and blends psyc-rock, funk, traditional Japanese elements, and jazz. It’s well worth listening.

The new Amen Dunes record, Freedom, is another that I really ought to have featured by now. The album has a laid back approach, but still retains an edge to it. Freedom is a finely crafted album, and Damon McMahon took his time with this release. It came about 3 and a half years after his last full length, but it was well worth the time and effort. The end product is a high quality one.

Also in this edition, there are also some local highlights out in the Seattle area with Whitney Monge releasing her new EP, and with the debut album from Cold Soda (a new project featuring members of The Cave Singers). 2019 releases are on the horizon as well, and there are new singles out from The Dandy Warhols, Junius Meyvant, and Grandaddy.

Enjoy!

Tracklist:
Kurt Vile – Check Baby
Mark Knopfler – Good On You Son
Whitney Monge – Day n Nite
Black Belt Eagle Scout – Sam, A Dream
Kikagaku Moyo – Dripping Sun
The Dandy Warhols – Be Alright
Jon Spencer – Overload
Cold Soda – Anna May
Amen Dunes – Miki Dora
Junius Meyvant – Let It Pass
Saintseneca – Beast In The Garden
Cafe Preto – Tudo Na Minha Vida
Malibu Ken – Acid King
Fokis, Oh No – Practice Patience
Friction – Running
Black Thought – Conception
Chris Cornell – Sunshower
Kurt Vile – Rollin With the Flow
Grandaddy – Bison on the Plains

The Fortnightly Playlist, November 18th, 2018

What’s been your favorite music of 2018? I’ve been adjusting and re-adjusting my own running list trying to decide what I’ll include in my year-end list of favorites next month. In the meantime, here’s a whole bunch more new releases to consider! New Jon Spencer, Bow Thayer, boygenius, Christine & the Queens, All Them Witches, Vince Staples, and Tash Sultana all included in this edition.

Listen here!

Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers have all been featured on the Fortnightly Playlist in the last couple years, so it would be hard to ignore their new collaborative EP under the name boygenius. The 3 talented, young singer-songwriters trade the lead on this new project, and they work so well together. I really hope to see them do more together in the future because the harmonies and the weaving guitar lines are so well done. I included my personal favorite from the EP in this edition: the Dacus-lead, “Bite the Hand.”

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion got a big profile boost last year when “Bellbottoms” was featured prominently in the movie Baby Driver. The song was originally released in 1995 on the album Orange, so really the film brought the band to the attention of a whole new generation. Now Jon Spencer has released a new solo album called Spencer Sings the Hits! There’s a lot of the raucous blues-rock here that is signature Jon Spencer, filled with fuzz-laden guitar hooks, overdrive bass, and an blues-rock howl and swagger. It’s an incredibly fun album!

Other favorites this time around include Tash Sultana, Ricky-Tick Big Band, Bow Thayer, and Robyn.

spencer-sings-the-hits

Tracklist:
Little Dragon – Lover Chanting
Helado Negro – Come Be Me
Ricky-Tick Big Band, Julkinen Sana – Uudestaan
Ice Cube – Arrest the President
Obeah, Chuck D, Mux Mool – Against the Grain
Vince Staples – Don’t Get Chipped!
Residente, Trooko – Queirido Louis
Christine and the Queens – Damn (what must a woman do)
IV League – Lose Me
Regina Spektor – Birdsong
boygenius – Bite The Hand
Mandolin Orange – Golden Embers
Bow Thayer – A Better Version of the Truth
Ed Schrader’s Music Beat – Dunce
Jon Spencer – I Got The Hits
All Them Witches – Diamond
Tash Sultana – Murder to the Mind (Album Mix)
Pan Amsterdam, Open Mike Eagle – No Snare
Girafot, Balkan Beat Box – לא היתה נחיתה על הירח
APE, A-WA, LOCO-HOT, [dunkelbunt] – I’m a Tribe
Robyn – Ever Again

The Fortnightly Playlist, November 4th, 2018

I rounded things out this time at a tight 19 songs, but there’s plenty to talk about in this solid playlist. Eliza Shaddad is one of my surprises for the year, and right now I have her debut full-length, Future, sitting at my #5 album for the year. American treasure, Willie Nelson, has a great new single out. And to top things off, Pedro the Lion is back!

The Fortnightly Playlist, November 4th, 2018

So credit to my wife, Sara, for drawing my attention to Imogen Heap’s score for Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. Imogen is an amazing composer, well worthy to be considered among the most talented musicians currently making music. She just is. She mixes eastern and western music traditions, creative and tradition instrumentations, and old and new techniques. She’s done something special with this project.

Personally, I think Sean Lennon has come to terms with the fact that his voice sounds like his father’s voice. He’s able to do his own thing without concerning himself about people making the connection to The Beatles. The Claypool Lennon Delirium takes joy in diving into the weird and psychedelic, but with this new single I think they’ve struck a little more balance. No, they are not gunning for pop appeal, but this new tune has hook enough to draw people in while still sounding unusual and even unique. You’d expect nothing less from this pair, really.

Other favorites in this edition are Beirut, Eliza Shaddad, Residente, Willie Nelson and Cloquet. Enjoy!

Also, if you missed it… I posted an Election Special playlist earlier this week, and you can check it out HERE!

shad-a-short-story-about-a-war-620x620

Tracklist:
Steve Gunn – New Moon
Eliza Shaddad – Daydreaming
Pedro The Lion – Yellow Bike
Bob Mould – Sunshine Rock
Dan Mangan – Just Fear
Stars – Are You With Me?
Shad – All I Need
Atmosphere – Jerome
Residente – Rap Bruto
Imogen Heap – Suite One: Platform 9 3/4
Beirut – Gallipoli
Punch Brothers – Three Dots and a Dash
Willie Nelson – Vote ‘Em Out
Deerhunter – Death in Midsummer
The Dandy Warhols – Forever
The Claypool Lennon Delirium – Blood and Rockets: Movement I, Saga of Jack Parsons -Movement II, Too the Moon
Robyn – Honey
Cloquet – Often
Imogen Heap – Suite Three: A New Prophecy

The Election Special, 2018

Election day is one week away. Here in Washington, we do all mail-in ballots, so my ballot is already filled out. I’m not going to go into great detail here, but if you can vote then you should do so. That’s basically all I’m writing this time, but also… here’s an extra playlist! New music, old music, longtime favorites, political songs, angry and cynical songs, and determined and positive songs. I’ll just let the music do the talking. Enjoy!

The Election Special

Election Special playlist:
Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – Long Shadow
Public Enemy – By The Time I Get to Arizona
A Tribe Called Quest – We The People…
Vel the Wonder – Woman in the Crowd
Ms. Lauryn Hill – Every Ghetto, Every City
The Staple Singers – Respect Yourself
Marion Williams – Heaven Help Us All
Charles Bradley – Change For The World
The Temptations – Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)
The Clash – The Clampdown
Patti Smith – People Have The Power
Drive-By Truckers – The Perilous Night
The Hold Steady – Stay Positive
Pearl Jam – W.M.A.
IDLES – Danny Nedelko
The Clash – Know Your Rights
Willie Nelson – Vote ‘Em Out
Ry Cooder – Jesus and Woody
Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – Yalla Yalla
Stevie Wonder – Love’s In Need Of Love Today
Gabriel Teodros – Everything Comes To Light
Public Enemy – Fight The Power
David Bowie – I’m Afraid of Americans (Nine Inch Nails V1 Mix)
Nine Inch Nails – Terrible Lie
P.O.S. – Fire In The Hole/Arrow To The Action
Rage Against the Machine – Testify
Longshot, Lazerbeak – Parades
Dessa – Fire Drills
Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (Detroit Mix)
Lee Fields & The Expressions – Make The World
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – This Land is Your Land

The Fortnightly Playlist, October 21st, 2018

Hi. Here’s some music. Some of my favorite songs of the are in this edition. Open Mike Eagle, Bob Moses, Israel Nash, Milo, and Big Red Machine are among the artists I’m listening to most right now.

The Fortnightly Playlist, October 21st, 2018

In the last couple years I’ve listened to a lot more of what one Open Mike Eagle has called “art rap” and Busdriver has called “avant core”, but they use those terms somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Complex jazz rhythms, merging styles, philosphical content and a general pushing the boundaries of what is typically expected of hip hop are the hallmarks of these artists. In this edition, Milo, Open Mike Eagle and Four Fists (P.O.S. and Astronautalis) each have a track included. What Happens When I Try to Relax is Open Mike Eagle’s new EP, and I’ve been listening to it a lot this week. There’s a lot to be said for an artist that fully admits they are excited about their work, so here’s what Mike had to say about its release:

I don’t really know how Bryce and Aaron Dessner decide who gets to work with who outside of their work as The National. Last year Bryce did Planetarium with Sufjan Steves and Nico Muhly, and now Aaron is doing this Big Red Machine project with Justin Vernon (Bon Iver, Volcano Choir). This is a really beautiful record, and I highly recommend giving it a listen.

Artists like Novalima, Four Fists, Middle Kids, GYDA, and Sa-Roc give this edition a very diverse mix. Enjoy!

battle-lines

Tracklist:
Bob Moses – Heaven Only Knows
Milo – stet
Open Mike Eagle – Every Single Thing
Dem Atlas – Can it Fall
Sa-Roc – Goddess Gang
Novalima – Ch’usay
GYDA – I Annarri Vidd
Big Red Machine – Deep Green
Low – Dancing and Fire
The Helio Sequence – April (Demo)
Maxton Schulte – Smoke Gets In Our Eyes
Frances Cone – Wide Awake
Middle Kids – Salt Eyes
Laura Gibson – Domestication
Four Fists – Joe Strummr
Little Dragon – Lover Chanting
Black Belt Eagle Scout – I Don’t Have You In My Life
Hunkpapa – Losing All
Empress Of – All For Nothing
Israel Nash – Rolling On
Thom Yorke – Has Ended
Big Red Machine – Forest Green

The Fortnightly Playlist, October 7th, 2018

An influx of Irish artists, some local grunge legends, the Screaming Eagle of Soul, Finnish bigband/hip-hop, and previously unreleased Joe Strummer… It’s been another two weeks, so here’s another playlist full on new music.

Listen Here!

Last weekend was the 2018 Hard Working Class Heroes festival in Dublin, Ireland. Since 2003, this festival has built a name for itself by promoting emerging artists. The lineup this year was chock full of great up-and-comers, and I had a hard time choosing who to include in my own list. I did include 7 artists from their lineup, but if you enjoy them then you can check out a playlist of all of them here! The artists I chose to include are 1000 Beasts, Crook, Alan Finan, Joshua Burnside, Bicurious, Brenna Carroll, and Damola.

Charles Bradley, the Screaming Eagle of Soul, died little more than 1 year ago. He worked at numerous odd jobs from dishwasher to James Brown impersonator, he endured homelessness off and on since he was a teenager, and was not given a chance in the music industry until late in life. He was 62 when his debut album was released. His long struggle ultimately was what made him the artist that so many fell in love with… full of humility and gratitude. It was only 6 and a half years after his debut album that he passed away from stomach cancer. In that period, he released 3 full-length albums. Now an album full of unreleased material is set to be released on November 5th (his 70th birthday). I believe this is the same show I linked to when he passed away, but it is my favorite. I remember listening to this live on the radio, and it gets me every time: Charles Bradley live in the KEXP Gathering space.

Well, I’d thought that I had this playlist all set early this week, and then I found out about this new Joe Strummer collection, 001. The songs are mostly from the years after The Clash split up, and include 12 that have never been released before. I’m a huge fan of Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros, and there are some real gems here from the years between The Clash and The Mescaleros. Unreleased tunes with other Clash members, some Mescaleros favorites, songs recorded under a variety of names, and a duet with Johnny Cash covering Bob Marley are all in this brilliant collection. As I said, I had pretty much done the playlist already, and trying to figure out where to fit Strummer in was a challenge. I decided to just stick a trio of tunes at the end as sort of a coda to this edition.

Favorites this edition include Ricky-Tick Big Band & Julkinen Sana, Courtney Barnett, Alan Finan, Eliza Shaddad, and Cloquet.

gabrielkahanebookoftravelers_600_600

Tracklist:
Eliza Shaddad – Just Goes to Show
Brenna Carroll – Like I Do
Charles Bradley – I Feel a Change
Gabriel Teodros, Shakiah, Rell Be Free – Summer Haze
Anderson.Paak, Kendrick Lamar – Tints
NAVVI – Sampaguita
1000 Beasts, Janet Grogan – Lord (It’s OK)
Phosphorescent – C’est La Vie No.2
Sharon Van Etten – Comeback Kid
Bicurious – Sleep
The Joy Formidable – The Better Me
Emmaline Twist – Desperate Measures
Mudhoney – Please Mr. Gunman
Courtney Barnett – Small Talk
Kurt Vile – One Trick Ponies
Crook – Easter Morning
Joshua Burnside – A Man of High Renown
Alan Finan – Slumber
Gabriel Kahane – November
Cloquet – Chances
Four Fists – 6666
Damola – Snoozing
Precyce Politix, D.R.U.G.S. Beats – To the Giants
Ghostface Killah – An Unexpected Call
Ricky-Tick Big Band, Julkinen Sana – Kohtalo
Joe Strummer, Johnny Cash – Redemption Song
Joe Strummer – Burning Lights
Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – London is Burning

The Fortnightly Playlist, September 24th, 2018 ( The Late Edition)

Vacation was good. Thanks for asking. Clearly, I wasn’t so off the grid as I still managed to put together a pretty good collection of tunes here if I do say so myself. Some great new music here from Natalie Prass, Open Mike Eagle, Allan Kingdom, The Hold Steady, Low, and Disclosure.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/28mGtzhKkmEgYlcrKWq43P

Last year’s Brick Body Kids Still Daydream by Open Mike Eagle just missed my year end top ten. I want to say it landed somewhere in the 11 to 15 range. It also featured my favorite album art of 2017. I was pretty happy to hear of his new single, “Relatable”. Mike Eagle is a pretty unique artist, and perhaps an artist that could only happen here and now. It’s never fair to pigeonhole an artist, but if you said Mike Eagle is a grad-school rapper… well, if the shoe fits. He’s got complex songs with relevant messages delivered eloquently, and it’s got an edge to it as well. It’s impressive and always worth a listen.

Please take note of Natalie Prass. Discovering this artist was a discovery and a half.. The Future and The Past is her 2nd album, and it was released early this summer. It’s certainly worth a few listens.

Other favorites this edition include Allan Kingdom, Balun, Spiritualized, The Hold Steady and some up-and-comer called Paul Mc-something…

open-mike-eagle-relatable

Spiritualized – A Perfect Miracle
The Hold Steady – Confusion in the Marketplace
Chorusgirl – No Goodbye
Paul McCartney – Come On To Me
Disclosure – Where You Come From
Allan Kingdom – All Night
Cloquet – Hollows
Low – Dancing and Blood
Eminem – Stepping Stone
Open Mike Eagle – Relatable
Balun – La Nueva Ciudad
Stu Mindeman – El Aparecido
Fleurie – Constellate
Rostam – In A River
Natalie Prass – Sisters
Nadine Khouri – A New Dawn
Lauren Balthrop – Maple Tree
Kurt Vile – Bassackwards
William Elliott Whitmore – Fear of Trains
Noah Gundersen, Sisters – Wrong Side
Sycamore Tree – Shelter (Magnus Johann Remix)
Film School – Go Low
Wolf Girl – Maths in the Real World
The Hold Steady – T-Shirt Tux

The Fortnightly Playlist, September 9th, 2018

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m trying to get caught up on a lot the wealth of new releases from the past few months at this point in the year, and they just keep coming. This edition offers a look at new albums from Blood Orange, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, Reed Turchi & His Kudzu Choir, Devotchka, Interpol, IDLES, and Mitski, as well as new singles from Clipping, Laura Gibson, Junius Meyvant, and Ty Segall.

I first heard Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears sometime around late 2013, and got really into his modern blues rock swagger and the tight band of excellent musicians he surrounded himself with. I got the chance to see them perform on last year’s Backlash tour, and now here they are with an excellent new record only a year and a half later. The band sounds better than ever, and I highly recommend their live show.

There’s good reason that I put Blood Orange right after Prince in the playlist this edition. Dev Hynes is a massively talented musician and producer. I first became aware of him back when he was still performing under the name Lightspeed Champion, and I still love the music that project produced. Blood Orange is a more diverse project, that also seems to have a more energetic and purposeful feel. Additionally, Hynes has written, produced, and collaborated with a wide array of other artists, and each time he returns to his own projects he brings this experience with him.

I’m hooked on this Marlowe record. I’ve included a couple tracks from it on playlists earlier this summer, but I just can’t get enough of this one. For me, I get a lot of throwback to classic hip-hop on this. It has a solid connection to soul and R&B, but has good dose of aggressive edge that you need in a good hip-hop record. There are several tracks that jump out to me, and I recommend giving the album a full listen, but my favorites here are Lost Arts, Thing We Summon, and Mayday.

Other favorites this edition include Reed Turchi & His Kudzu Choir, Amos Lee, Van Stee, and Laura Gibson.

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Tracklist:
Prince – 17 Days (Piano & A Microphone 1983 version)
Blood Orange – Saint
Foxing – Heartbeats
Van Stee – Blanket
Interpol – Stay In Touch
Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears – Nothing But A Cliche
The Staggers & Jaggs – Ring The Bell
Reed Turchi & His Kudzu Choir – Listen to the Wind
Mitski – Come Into the Water
Laura Gibson – Tenderness
Junius Meyvant – High Alert
Ty Segall – I’m a Man
Clipping – Stab Him in The Throat
Fliptrix – No Time to Rewind
Marlowe – Mayday
Atropolis – Gaita NYC
Rubblebucket – What Life Is
BRONCHO – Boys Got To Go
IDLES – Samaritans
Olafur Arnalds – brot
Roo Panes – My Sweet Refuge
Tunng – Sleepwalking
Devotchka – Straight Shot
Jade Bird – Uh Huh
Breaks & Swells – Won’t Lose Hold
Amos Lee – Crooked

The Fortnightly Playlist, August 26th, 2018

Well, the playlist is on the long side this edition, with well over an hour and a half runtime. I guess it was difficult trying to cut things down this time. There are some big new releases coming out right now. Just released Death Cab For Cutie, Fliptrix, and Cullen Omori, as well as some more releases right on the horizon like IDLES’ Joy As An Act Of Resistance coming out on Friday.

I’m excited for Eliza Shaddad’s debut full-length that is set for October. Shaddad has released a couple EP’s in the last few years, and there are a handful of singles available from the upcoming release. I was only recently made aware of her material, and she’s certainly a young artist to get excited about. I’ve especially enjoyed this track that I’ve included in this edition, “This Is My Cue”.

Moses Sumney is following up last year’s debut full-length, Aromanticism, with some of the most poignant songs to be released this year. It’s only 3 tracks, but I would put them right in with the best music of the year. I have to think that he’ll continue to reward his audience with excellent music for a long time to come. I highly recommend giving this new material, Black In Deep Red 2014, a listen. For me, it makes him one of my top artists to watch. Whatever comes next from him will be a huge.

Starting with “Rank & File” by Sumney, this playlist goes into a short back-and-forth between UK Hip-hop and US Hip-hop. I could discuss for a long time the strengths, similarities, differences, and the influences between them, but it’s probably better to just let the music speak for itself. My point here is to display the diverse strengths in hip-hop right now. There’s so much life in Hip-hop right now. Particularly, I want to highlight Fliptrix. Now to talk about Fliptrix, then you need to talk aobut High Focus Records. Fliptrix is also the CEO of the label, and has been instrumental in the careers of High Focus artists including several that I’ve included on this blog in the past. It’s well worth digging into Fliptrix’ full catalog including two full-lengths as one quarter of the group The Four Owls along with fellow High Focus artists, Verb T, Leaf Dog, and BVA. His new record, Inexhale, is an excellent, lyric-forward listen.

Other favorites this edition are BODEGA, Ben Khan, The Chamanas, WHY? and Dirty Projectors.

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Playlist:
Futuropaco – Bambino Tiranno
BODEGA – How Did This Happen?!
Kristin Hersh – No Shade in Shadow
Eliza Shaddad – This Is My Cue
Low – Disarray
Death Cab for Cutie – Northern Lights
Cullen Omori – Four Years
Moses Sumney – Rank & File
Smellington Piff, BVA, Scorzayzee – Ruled By the Numbers
Four Fists – Dork Court
Fliptrix, Ocean Wisdom, Onoe Caponoe – Inside The Ride
Jedi Mind Tricks – San La Muerte
Ben Khan – Ruby
Dirty Projectors – Break-Thru
The Chamanas – La Verdad
La Union – Tiempo
Jah Chango & Jarabe De Palo – Sofa de Cuero
Iron & Wine – Waves of Galveston
Let’s Eat Grandma – I Will Be Waiting
AUK5, Sudan Archives – Fairyway
WHY? – The Water (Kishi Bashi remix)
Sink Ya Teeth – Substitutes
Whitney Ballen – Fucking
Jose Gonzalez & The Brite Lites – Killing For Love
Deafheaven – You Without End
Cloud Nothings – The Echo of the World
IDLES – Great