I’m a simple man. All I want out of 2016 is a president who will get us on the metric system and a new album from Grandaddy. The metric system so we can all say “Royale with Cheese” and Grandaddy because a new album equals a new US tour. My short list of Most Underrated Bands of my lifetime: Faith No More, Massive Attack, & Grandaddy.
But enough about the past, let’s talk about 2015. Sorry I’m a little late compiling my list of favorite music from the year. I got a PS4 for Christmas. Then David Bowie died and I slipped into a state of depression for a few days.
Anyhow, it was another great year for music. I’ll give you a few of my favorite picks from last year. Then you can tell me why I have no idea what I’m taking about and let me know what I missed.
Let’s hear it, Fayetteville. What have you been listening to lately?
Patrick Watson – Love Songs for Robots
According to NSA surveillance records this was my most listened to album of the year. (I don’t know why they care either. Your tax dollars at work, sheeple!)
Sometimes the numbers don’t lie. I couldn’t get enough of this album. In Love Songs for Robots, Canadian Patrick Watson creates music made for sitting on top of a crumbling building watching the sun set in front of a mushroom cloud backdrop.
It’s the soundtrack to the apocalypse. The underlying atmosphere of despair and frustration permeates every track. But small rays of hope creep through in both the vocals and the band’s super-creative sounds.
If you like this, you might also dig: Dan Mangan & Blacksmith – Club Meds, Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear, Jon Hopkins – Late Night Tales
Fuzz – II
Sometimes finding quality new artists is an exhausting exercise in trial and error. You have to spend countless hours listening to music you can’t stand in hopes that you’ll stumble onto a few gems.
You won’t see me share any of the bad experiences because no one wants to hear some guy twaddle on about art he doesn’t get. And then every once in a while finding something great is as easy as your brother saying, “Hey, dude. You should listen to Fuzz.” I listened and was instantly hooked. Then I did a little research and found out it’s another Ty Segall project. This guy is like a modern day James Brown.
He has released a new solo album each of the last seven years. He’s in multiple bands. He produces. He constantly tours. He has his own cooking show on Food Network called The Many Flavors of Ty Segall. Okay, I made that last one up. Point is the guy is busy. Fuzz is my favorite Ty Segall incarnation to date. It’s everything fun about garage rock.
If you like this, you might also dig: Pond – Man It Feels Like Space Again, Wild Throne – Blood Maker, Lighting Bolt – Fantasy Empire, All Them Witches – Dying Surfer Meets His Maker
Vince Staples – Summertime ’06
I’m going to assume errbody knows Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly was one of the best albums to drop in 2015 regardless of genre. (PS – If errbody doesn’t know that, I suggest spinning the album asap.) But you better not sleep on Vince Staples. Unlike To Pimp A Butterfly, there’s nothing inherently new or flashy about Summertime ’06. It’s old school hip hop. Staples raps about growing up in the gang culture of southern California with all of the expected references to guns, drugs, & violence that come with it.
The difference is in the delivery. Staples doesn’t glorify the scene. Instead he gives a matter-of-fact account of the fear and hard choices of his youth. In an interview with The Fader, he said about the album, “This is the thing – I really did all of that, so I know it’s not fun & cool. It sucks.”
Apart from the content, the dude has great flow and the album is jam-packed with addictive hooks.
If you like this, you might also dig: Future – What A Time To Be Alive, Action Bronson – Mr. Wonderful, Lil Dicky – Professional Rapper, The Internet – Ego Death
Deafheaven – New Bermuda
Ah, the metal section. I would say it’s a guilty pleasure except I don’t feel guilty. Metal is necessary. Motorhead is the yin to Taylor Swift’s yang. Let’s face it, without the Dark Side, the Rebel Alliance would just be a drum circle down by the river and the Jedi Council would be performing parlor tricks at kids’ birthday parties. San Francisco metalheads Deafheaven first grabbed my attention with 2013’s album Sunbather and they took their sound to another dimension with New Bermuda.
If there is such a thing as accessible death metal, this is it. I’d call the sound shoegaze black metal. Much like an American version of Opeth, the band wanders from blistering screams to sludgy guitar riffs to slow flowing moments of soft bliss.
The result is a 5-song, 46-minute chunk of jagged genius.
If you like this, you might also dig: The Body – Released From Love / You, Whom I Have Always Hated, The Sword – High Country, Lord Dying – Poisoned Altars, Wolf Eyes – I Am A Problem: Mind In Pieces
Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness
Julia Holter can sing. That fact is immediately obvious.
If that was all it took to create a great album, the countless reality TV talent show finalists would be overwhelming us with their work. They aren’t.
The thing that sets Holter apart is the way she uses her voice. She probes and explores the boundaries of what is comfortable. Have You In My Wilderness is Holter’s poppiest effort to date. T
he album is soft, but refuses to be relegated to the background. It demands your attention.
If you like this, you might also dig: Tobias Jesso Jr – Goon, The Staves – If I Was, Circuit Des Yeux – In Plain Speech
WARNING: Cute dog video ahead.
honeyhoney – 3
At this point you maybe be saying to yourself, “What is this crap? Give me something with some banjo and fiddle.”
Fine. Try a little taste of honeyhoney.
The alt country duo of Suzanne Santo and Benjamin Jaffe have hit their groove with their third album, not so creatively named 3.
Santo’s dirty, bluesy vocals take center stage with Jaffe’s harmonies and guitar playing a supporting role.
If you like this, you might also dig: Sam Outlaw – Angeleno, Leigh Nash – The State I’m In, Punch Brothers – The Phosphorescent Blues, John Moreland – High On Tulsa Heat
SUPER SPECIAL BONUS SECTION! – Two Women Redefining Electronic Music
JLin – Dark Energy
Manic, fluttering percussion. Creepy vocal samples. The complete absence of repetitiveness.
JLin makes in your face, instigating house music. Are you gonna dance or what?
Don’t come here looking for hooks. You won’t find any on Dark Energy.
When not working her job at a steel mill in Gary, IN, Jerrilynn Patton somehow finds the time to innovate the Footwork music scene in the Chicago area. Footwork involves battle-type dance offs that resemble an urban clog.
With Dark Energy, JLin is making her mark on a male-dominated scene.
Holly Herndon – Platform
This girl’s stuff is bonkers. Bonkers I tell you!
It’s like someone crammed Crystal Castles, Animal Collective, & Bjork into Telepod 1. The resulting Brundlefly abomination that emerges from Telepod 2 is Herndon’s auditory awesomeness.
She simultaneously pulls you in four different directions. Then, just before your brain is quartered, she slams you with a bass heavy beat that snaps you back to reality. And repeat.
If you like this, you might also dig: Colleen – Captain of None, Mbongwana Star – From Kinshasa, Brodinski – Brava, Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, Jamie XX – In Colour
Pagiins – Opium Den Pool Party
Last I checked this was still the Fayetteville Flyer. We wouldn’t be keeping it real if there wasn’t a little local flavor.
I’m picking Pagiins’ Opium Den Pool Party as my local album of the year because, as the title suggests, it’s just so much damn fun.
Their nonchalantly rowdy jams are bound to grab more widespread attention.
Catch them around town while you can.
Other Arkansas albums to check out: Witchsister – Time Out, Arkansauce – All Day Long, Lo Thraxx – Sharkansas