There’s so much new music to go through once again. We’ve got a fantastic collaboration from Kronos Quartet and Trio Da Kali, as well as new records from Matt Cameron (Skin Yard, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam), Rostam (Vampire Weekend), and Hiss Golden Messenger.
There’s been a lot of buzz around the new Foo Fighters record. Particularly, the collaboration of Dave Grohl and Greg Kurstin on the production side has generated a lot of attention. What does Concrete and Gold sound like? Well, like the Foo Fighters, but with a different producer. When a band as big as the Foos does something to change it up there will always be some division among fans as to how it is received. In this instance, the Foo Fighters have positioned themselves as one of the most prominent rock bands in the last 20+ years. They’ve managed time and again to strike a balance between hard, modern rock, grittiness and mainstream pop appeal. This record takes a mellower tone overall. It is more atmospheric. They are covering ground they haven’t before, and they are leaving behind some of their familiar territory. It may be what is expected with Kurstin turning the knobs, and guiding the sound. Kurstin has been behind some of the biggest cultural touchstones of the past several years. You’ve heard his work whether you realize it or not. Most prominent would be Adele’s Hello and Beck’s Dreams. Some fans will like that, and some won’t. This record simply takes a different tone than they have in the past. It’s hard to say how fans will look at this record 10 yrs from now. It’s good, but it’s different.
In the last few years, I have gotten much more into hip hop than I used to be. I’ve come across some great artists that are challenging both lyrically and musically. This time I’m highlighting Open Mike Eagle, and his new record Brick Body Kids Still Daydream. What I love about good hip hop is the that it draws on so much other material. Sometimes it does this very obviously. It’s a shout out, and it directs your attention to another artist. Other times it is more low-key, subtle and intimate. This record draws on a lot of jazz music. Open Mike does this in a lot of ways. One of the more subtle ways that I love to hear is his working in jazz scales in his vocal lines. Rap is often about the rhythm and cadence of the lyrics, to layer melodic scales on top of that is really difficult and this record does it so well.
Personal favorites in this list are the Kronos Quartet & Trio Da Kali cover of Mahalia Jackson’s God Shall Wipe All Tears Away, Hiss Golden Messenger, Wolf Parade and Morrissey.
1. Wolf Parade – You’re Dreaming
2. Morrissey – Spent the Day In Bed
3. Bully – Running
4. Hiss Golden Messenger – Jenny of the Roses
5. The National – Empire Line
6. Rostam – Never Going To Catch Me
7. Open Mike Eagle – Hymnal
8. Vel the Wonder – Pursuit of…
9. Sotomayor – Tierra Viva
10. Arcade Fire – Mind Games (John Lennon cover)
11. Teen Daze – Echoes
12. Matt Cameron – Through the Ceiling
13. Prophets of Rage – Living on the 110
14. Da Cruz – Virose
15. Ibeyi – Me Voy
16. Pheobe Bridgers – You Missed My Heart
17. Declan McKenna – Isombard
18. Hiss Golden Messenger – Gulfport You’ve Been On My Mind
19. Trio Da Kali & Kronos Quartet – God Will Wipe All Tears Away (Mahalia Jackson cover)
20. Foo Fighters – Concrete And Gold