Ten Albums

By Jake Edgar|January 10, 2017Student Writing|

The Ten Albums of 2016 Everyone Was Too Busy To Listen To.

(But Really Should Get On Listening To.)

By: Jake Edgar

 

Okkervil River, Away*

“Away” is Okkervil River’s eighth full length record, and the first since the monumental Black Sheep Boy to really step outside of the formula he developed on BSB. The album shows songwriter Will Sheff in a new chapter in his life, more introspective and full of wisdom than any of his other records have succeeded in offering. The record discusses the turmoil he experienced as his previous backing band chose to leave the group, and sadly, a death in his family. Despite the bleak nature of its development the record itself is beautiful, with big peaks and excellent lyrical content. Listen to Track #2: “Call Yourself Renee.”

BadBadNotGood, IV*

BadBadNotGood is a Jazz improv, hip-hop influenced, synth-fearless group hailing from Toronto Canada, and they might just save the world. After a dizzying array of collaborations with the most prominent members of the hip-hop community they returned with an absolutely beautiful record plainly titled “IV.” The album is primarily instrumental, as their previous work has also been, but it does contain a few guest appearances from vocalists which provide forward momentum and catapult an already compelling record into the atmosphere of sonic wonder. For fans of Hip Hop, listen to Track #8 “Hyssop of Love,” and for fans of Jazz listen to Track #3 “Time Moves Slowly”

Parquet Courts, Human Performance*

For punk enthusiasts, Parquet Courts fills the role of that basically every other punk band falls short of these days. They write intellectual lyrics, stick to formulas while breaking them at the same time, and best of all: tour like insane people. This album shows an absolutely fearless band pulling from inspirations we can all identify with: anxieties, the rapid nature of modern culture, the crumbling of friendships and relationships and everything else in between. Listen to Track #3 “Human Performance.”

Sioux Falls, Rot Forever*

Sioux Falls is a Portland based Post-Punk-Emo-Indie-Thingy. Their first album “Rot Forever” encapsulates a fervent energy found only in pop-punk and swirls it together with the long winded cyclical nature of more mature indie acts like Modest Mouse and The Fall. They’re fresh off the boat, so get it while it’s hot. Listen to Track #1: “3fast.”

  1. Ward, More Rain*

After rumors of retirement swelled following M. Ward’s previous release, this record came as a pleasant surprise. While the Portland based singer-songwriter hasn’t broken any molds with this album, his familiar wise-beyond-his-age sound is as welcome as ever. The songs are rich with the same distant melancholy one comes to expect from M. Ward, but there are still some surfer-esque pop tracks to keep the depression at bay. Listen to Track #2: “Pirate Dial.”

Conor Oberst, Ruminations*

If you’re like me and you’ve been following Conor Oberst since you were 14-years-old, then I hope you have shared my love for watching him grow too. “Ruminations” is the first album Conor has ever released with such a bare soundscape: guitar, piano, harmonica, and voice; that’s it. But the thing of it is, it works, and his writing is as luminous as ever. Listen to Track #10: “Till St. Dymphna Kicks Us Out.”

Homeboy Sandman, Kindness for Weakness*

Homeboy Sandman, or Angel Del Villar II as he was born, is a rapper from Queens, and like another famous rapper from Queens (Aesop Rock) he isn’t afraid of the philosophical angle. The album is smooth and chill for the most part, but it often gets caught up in musical tangents that provide complexity often lost by lesser performers. Listen to Track #6 “Talking (Bleep)” and also definitely Track #7: “Gumshoe.”

Open Mike Eagle + Paul White, Hella Personal Film Festival*

Michael W. Eagle II is a highly prolific Art-Rapper, and with Paul White, he has released absolutely prophetic record. The album itself features a soundscape unlike anything else on the market today. Originally from Chicago, Open Mike Eagle now resides in Los Angeles where he initially moved for grad school before recording his first solo Album. “Hella Personal Film Festival” is a remarkably consistent record that touches base on a vast array of themes without showing up short on any of them. Listen to Track #9:”A Short About A Guy That Dies Every Night.”

Frankie Cosmos, Next Thing*

“Next Thing” finds Greta Kline, who operates as Frankie Cosmos onstage, in the midst of perfectly bittersweet pop-punk music, with enough nostalgia sewn in to make it an unforgettable record. The album has a tendency to return to the sentiment of affection for the wrong person at the wrong time, and it’s just lovely. Listen to Track #3: “Fool.”

 

Album of the Year:

Florist, The Birds Outside Sang*

“The Birds Outside Sang” isn’t the kind of record you can listen to out of order, or the kind of record with just one song you recommend to hook someone; rather, it’s the kind of record you lay into and drink slowly, it’s the kind of record far older in context than its creators are in age. Florist is the brainchild of songwriter Emily Sprague, and according to their Bandcamp they hail from Brooklyn, New York and were founded in the Catskill Mountains. Florist has the type of subtle Lo-Fi one would expect from early 2000’s Radiohead, except instead of the soaring vocal stylings of Thom Yorke, you are invited to listen to someone who is more gentle, and in some ways, more profound than anything else to be released this year. The album is rich with vibrant percussion, spoken-word poetry, and the most lush soundscapes one young person’s vocals can muster. Listen to: The whole damn thing.

 

(Honorable Mention)

Solange, A Seat at the Table

With all the success of Beyoncé’s “Lemonade,” and much of that being a result of its political angle, it is ever more important to pay attention to other politically savvy records that hit the market, and Solange’s “A Seat at the Table,” is, as far as I’m concerned, the most important record of the year in that regard. If you haven’t listened yet, get on it.

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