Thursday, December 22, 2016

Justin's Favorite Music Albums of 2016 Part 3

Part 1 (that explains formatting and stuff), part 2

some of these are newly added ones (that replaced some others) and thus don't follow the alphabetical format continuity of parts 1 & 2

51. Alex Cameron - Jumping the Shark

Cameron is a weird soul, playing to the broken dregs of humanity more than the privileged crowds. He makes an art of self deprecation, even so far as wearing fake scars on his face, producing trippy eccentric music videos, and grainy "documentaries" about visiting music festivals and always being on the outside looking in, and writing facebook posts in a lilting sometimes poetic, mostly weird vernacular. Musically he's like a pastiche of Bowie and Nick Cave. Despite his self deprecation as art, his album is actually one of the most beautiful, weird, trippy, creations of music you will heart his year.****

52. Blank Banshee - Mega

I'll be honest I don't get my love for vaporwave, it's a weird messed up genre that spends more time sampling other music than making its own. MEGA is no different, a cornucopia of samples, beats, and electronic sounds. But it's also a great album when you take the time to listen. Blank Banshee have been one of the pioneers of the vaporwave movement for years, and still continue to make some of its best music.***

53. Chance the Rapper - Coloring Book

So many great rap and hip hop artists coming out of Chicago, and Chance The Rapper is one of the best. Along with Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, Childish Gambino, and so many others Chance the Rapper is the voice of a next generation of rap that is going to change the world.***

54. Frank Ocean - Blond

It was a long, long wait for Blond, but it was worth the wait. This is Ocean at his best. Soulful hip hop that is both deep and excruciatingly honest.***

55. M83 - Junk

One of those strange offerings from a band that usually traffics in more indie pop, this is more like a late 70's/early 80's pop record, but it really works, and after the initial shock of its difference, one really finds a lot in it to like.***

56. Marissa Nadler - Strangers

A beautiful, haunting album. Though recorded in 2015, it was released in 2016, and is one of the best albums of the year, according to me at least.***

57. Mass Gothic - Self Titled

After the dissolution of Hooray For Earth, Noel Heroux has gone on to perform solo as Mass Gothic, and this is his debut solo album, out on Sub Pop. A great indie rock record. 'Mind Is Probably' is one of my favorite songs of the year.****

58. Maxthor - Another World

One thing I love about the synthwave scene is how deeply it goes for the nostalgia factor. Take one look at the cover of Maxthor's Another World, and nothing drives that home more than the faded edges. This is an album meant to feel like it came from another era. One of the true tests of whether a synthwave artists does well with this genre is whether they can sound like they're from another era without also giving into lack of artistry and creativity. Maxthor passes with flying colors on this album, making a great vocal synth album that would have fit on any retro 80's station.****

59. Morgan Delt - Phase Zero

Another great psychedelic indie rock record, the second album from Los Angeles native Morgan Delt, out now on Sub Pop.***

60. Mykki Blanco - Mykki

Mykki Blanco is art as much as person, the feminine presenting alter ego of Michael Quattlebaum Jr. who draws more from the riot grrrl tradition than drag queen. Blanco does not consider themself a queercore artist, or a drag queen, they are using rap and hip hop to explore the fluidity of their own gender identity. Mykki Blanco is as much a part of Quattlebaum Jr. as their more masculine presenting industrial rock outfit No Fear. The fluidity  of this gender presentation is in part what makes Mykki Blanco such a great artist, this is art with no fear. Read any review and it's almost funny to see how they try to work around Blanco's pronouns, sometimes referring to Blanco as "her", while in their own descriptions of their albums the artist uses male pronouns, female pronouns, and nonbinary ones. We all want to live in a binary world where if you present feminine you are female, or present masculine you are male, but Quattlebaum Jr., through Mykki Blanco is not here for your gender binary, and is here to screw up your misconceptions. Musically Mykki is a great rap album that breaks many boundaries.***

61. Mythical Vigilante - retrolectro

It's just what the title says, retro electronic music of the synthwave genre, and one of the best albums of that genre this year.***

62. The Northern Lights - Alchemy

Like FM-84 or TimeCop1983, The Northern Lights are well known for playing within the dreamwave subgenre of synthwave, which incorporates the same 80's synth sound giving it a pretty, dream pop sound. Alchemy is a lovely album.***

63. Nowtro - Dream Digital

"The year is 2036. Now implanted at birth, the nano computer has become an integral part of modern life. Forgetfulness a thing of the past; memories stored permanently on the chip. Governments and corporations have invested in technology that will one day allow mankind to live forever in a machine; individual lives meshed together in a database. In this digital world, time and space are an illusion, limited only by the speed of thought. Dreams become reality, revisited at any time." So is described Nowtro's synthwave futurisitic yet retro concept album, an album that reflects much of the science fiction wonderment of the 80's as well as looks forward to our own, dare I say hopeful, transhumanist future.****

64. Ogre and Dallas Campbell - Beyond The Infinite

What would the seminal science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey sound like with a synth score instead of it's more conventional orchestral one? This is what Robin Ogden (aka Ogre) and Dallas Campbell set out to create when they collaborated on what is probably the most ambitious album of the year, if not the last few years. Through many painstaking hours of simultaneously watching the film and scoring with vintage authentic synth instruments, these artists have crafted a masterpiece that not only manages to pay due homage to film and original score, but also add a great deal to it. Don't miss out on this album!**** #3

65. Okkervil River - Away

Away is not a swansong, though it almost seems like it. From the first lilting harmonies of 'Okkervil River R.I.P.', it seems as if Will Sheff is singing goodbye. And maybe he is, if not to the band, then to the person he once was, dead and buried, the new Will Sheff rising from the ashes to the hopeful morning depicted on the cover of this album, where hundreds of species of birds are taking wing into the sunrise. It is truly a work of art. In a year where hopelessness seems the reality of the world, Away is a "thing with feathers" perching on our souls, letting us know there's light at the end of the tunnel, dawn at the end of the night.****

66. Operators - Blue Wave

Operators is yet another Dan Boeckner band, and if that sounds like criticism it's not. He's had a long illustrious career, with Wolf Parade, with Handsome Furs, with Divine Fits, and now with Operators. Continuing the same new wave indie rock sound of the other bands, Blue Wave picks up on a lot of the paranoia that haunted that genre of the 80's. It's a great album that manages to be one of the best Boeckner has put out in years.****

67. Perturbator - Uncanny Valley

Figured I'd go ahead with the "safe for work" cover of this album, but you can see the actual cover by clicking on the link above to their bandcamp page. A great industrial synthwave album that like Dance With the Dead and GoST plays with the horror genre of the 80's and in this case adds a cyberpunk flair.***

68. Polica - United Crushers

Indie pop that is both sultry and beautiful. United Crushers is the protest pop album for all those too tired to protest anymore, filled with both sadness and ennui, but a continued desire to see justice prevail where there seems little to prevail.***

69. Porches - Pool

Pool is Aaron Maine channeling an introvert's dance party, a quiet, affecting pop album that is less dance and more contemplation. It's a quiet introspective piece of art.****

70.  Postiljonen - Reverie

Swedish dream pop similar to Bon Iver's more electronic songs, or M83. Beautiful music.***

71. Puro Instinct - Autodrama

Shoegaze that is less rock and more pop. Great album.***

72. Rogue Wave - Delusions of Grand Fur

Following two annoyingly crappy radio friendly indie pop records that really didn't do it for me, Delusions of Grand Fur is a modest return to form for this band that has always been one of my favorites. Ambitious cover art too (a Confederate general with his eyes cut out, representing America's current present blindness to the sins of their past.)****

73. Sad13 - Slugger

Slugger is circa 90's pop sound for the social justice warrior generation, a female empowerment record with exclamation points. While some reviews feel it hammers it over the head too much, I love the lyrics angle, and the music itself is fun. Sadie Dupuis (of Speedy Ortiz) has crafted music with an actual message. Just check out the fun music video for "Get A Yes" a song all about learning and practicing consent in relationships. ****

74. Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop - Love Letter For Fire

Another beautiful collaboration record, this time from Iron and Wine's Sam Beam, and up and comer Jesca Hoop. Their voices harmonize and dance on this pure indie folk record. ***

75. Santigold - 99 cents

 Probably my most favorite pop album of the year, 99 Cents is just a fun, sunny, pop album full of hopeful dance beats.**** #4

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