Anderson .Paak: Malibu
If you're into hip-hop and R&B, you probably listened to Anderson .Paak in 2016. Even if you didn't hear one of his 16 tracks on Malibu, chances are you caught one of his many features (two show up later in this post). I caught his set at Pitchfork Music Festival this summer and while he played the side-stage in Chicago, he's destined to headline soon.
Car Seat Headrest: Teens of Denial
2015 ended with Teens of Style and picked up with Teens of Denial. I'm not sure how many more Teens Will Toledo will put on-record, but sign me up for all of them.
Kyle Craft: Dolls of Highland
Dolls of Highland flew under the radar for a lot of people. And while it took a minute to adjust to Craft's timbre, once the tracks took hold, I couldn't shake them from my head.
Cardinal would fit in nicely amongst the music I listened to a decade ago, which makes it even more impressive that it stands up to my current tastes. If you were ever into emo singer/songwriters, this record is for you.
Whitney: Light Upon the Lake
Whitney is another band that didn't take with me on first listen. But once summer came around, the true grace of Light Upon the Lake revealed itself.
I didn't dive deep into full albums the way I have in previous years, but I most likely outpaced myself in listening to singles. This is my best attempt at trimming a year's-worth of my favorite singles down to 50.
|Photo by Jackie Lee Young (edited to fit space)|
Favorite Set: Savages
The number one reason I keep going back to Pitchfork Music Festival is their ability to fill the lineup with surprises. My favorite bands are always sprinkled throughout the weekend, but the opportunity to be genuinely surprised or turned on to a new artist is a real treat. This year was no different.
Savages released their latest album, Adore Life, back in January. Apart from listening to and enjoying the track "Adore," the album itself was an afterthought. But from the moment they took the stage in all black on a 90° July afternoon, their lead singer Jehnny Beth commanded the audience and did not relent. Wailing vocals, thrashing guitars, pints of sweat, and Beth herself washed over the crowd and filled me with pure energy. It's not often that unfamiliar material can hold my attention for a full set, but they could have played for another hour and I would have gone along for the ride.
Favorite Vinyl Packaging: David Bowie
David Bowie's Blackstar 180g heavyweight black vinyl LP is housed in a special die-cut cover art gatefold jacket. It includes a 16-page color booklet with special varnish. The vinyl package is a gatefold with die-cut star cover which you look through to see the vinyl inside. And under certain conditions, the black paper beneath the LP cover’s cut-out star design alters to reveal a smattering of stars.
I think this record and the events surrounding it will go down as legend and the secrets hidden within the vinyl packaging will only add to its lore.
Edit: The Creative Review took an in-depth look at the "secrets of of the ★ sleeve." (Dec. 19, 2016)
Favorite Hip-Hop Tunes
The Cool Kids: Connect 4
I've been on board with The Cool Kids since I heard the opening line of "A Little Bit Cooler" from their 2008 debut EP, The Bake Sale: So I'm sitting on the couch, holding the remote / Flippin' channels, I'm a rebel / Eating a bowl of them Fruity Pebbles, Fruity Pebbles, Fruity Pebbles (yeah) / How gangsta is that? (huh?) Not gangsta at all / Aww you judging me dog? Please you shop at the mall.
Domo Genesis: Dapper (feat. Anderson .Paak)
If Anderson .Paak was on it in 2016, I got down to it.
KAYTRANADA: Glowed Up (feat. Anderson .Paak)
See previous statement.
Mr. Lif: Let Go
My hip-hop history is pretty weak, but I did learn that Mr. Lif is Boston hip-hop royalty.
Vince Staples: Loco
I don't know what I liked more, Vince Staples' new EP or his appearances on Bill Simmons' now-cancelled HBO show "Any Given Wednesday."
Favorite Dance Tunes
Watch the simple music video for "Feeling" and try not to dance.
Domo Genesis: Dapper (feat. Anderson .Paak)
If they played this song at Carousel Skate, I'd probably go more often.
Har Mar Superstar: It Was Only Dancing (Sex)
I mean, it's about dancing (sex).
M83: Do It, Try It
Do it, try it.
Soft Hair: Relaxed Lizard
Not your typical dance track, but it grooves.
Favorite Car-Singing Tunes
Attic Abasement: Guarantee Jesus
I can't hit the high notes, but that doesn't stop me from trying.
Car Seat Headrest: 1937 State Park
This song wasn't a single, but its hook was my favorite on Teens of Denial.
Kyle Craft: Berlin
The only downside to singing this in the car is the restrictive space for leg kicks.
liv: Wings of Love
If you play "Wings of Love" loud enough, you'll create the illusion that you're nailing the harmony.
You know you've heard a track too many times when you can anticipate and sing along to the immediate vocal drop.