2017 in records

Sort of felt like 2007 (my favorite year in music of all time) all over again with the artists that gave us releases this year. Anyway, here are my ten favorite.

10) Aromanticism by Moses Sumney – Magical, powerful, sultry and heartbreaking. A definite grower.

9) ken by Destroyer – Dan Bejar is like the individual version of Spoon, an artist who churns out consistently good records, that it probably ends up hurting them in the end.

8) Melodrama by Lorde – Very spacious and a well-balanced record, Melodrama is a great pop album front to back. Lorde reminds me of a fellow Australian artist who I love, Missy Higgins.

7) american dream by LCD Soundsystem – Honestly, I didn’t want to LCD Soundsystem to reform. Thank God they did.

6) Humanz by Gorllaz – A little less Damon Albarn and a little more guest features actually did this album wonders. I admit, as a whole, this album sometimes feel incoherent, but I just love so many tracks from this to make it a satisfying experience.

5) MASSEDUCTION by St. Vincent – Experimental without being overbearing, this album is inventive, colorful and fun with great production value. Do yourselves a favor and listen to the song New York, probably the most soul-baring song of 2017.

4) Sleep Well Beast by The National – A slow burner that reaps the listener with great reward, The National adds another great album to their already illustrious career.

3) DAMN by Kendrick Lamar – Listen to this album front to back, or back to front, it really doesn’t matter. DAMN is fantastic and an album where Kendrick pushes boundaries on what records should be once again.

2) Ctrl by SZA – SZA simply has a voice that commands your undivided attention. Soulful, laid back and genuine. Ctrl is the best debut LP of the year, and one that elevates SZA along with the best of them.

1) Life Will See You Now by Jens Lekman – Like most of his records, this one manages to capture my heart with catchy hooks and clever lyrics. My most spun record this year, it’s a surprise to me how this one flew under most people’s radars. Jens Lekman is a master storyteller, a funny comedian, a virtuoso artist and a genius. It’s almost impossible not to smile while listening to his music.

Favorite podcasts

The past two years or so, I’ve found myself moving away from listening to music at every possible time to consuming podcasts instead. Don’t get me wrong, I still love music, but I just feel that podcasts give the brain something more to chew on.

Here is a list of some of my favorites.

  1. Celebration Rock – Steven Hyden, music columnist and critic at Uproxx talks about modern rock and indie music, as well as frequently diving back into the classics. His knowledge on the topics is comprehensive, and the show makes you understand and appreciate music all the more.
  2. Desert Island Discs – From the BBC, this podcast asks guests to list down eight songs, a book and a luxury item that they’ll take with them on a desert island. A nice look at how the great and influential minds think and arrive at their choices, and also an even greater reminder for me to go and seek the music they chose and love.
  3. Dissect – Probably my favorite podcast of all time. The show’s host, Cole Cuchna, spends an entire season dissecting every nook and cranny of an album (Season 1 was Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, Season 2 is Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy) and he spends one episode to study one song. It features thorough and in depth analysis from symbolism to actual events, and music theory as well. I just wish this was the sort of class that I had to take during college.
  4. Heavyweight – From Gimlet, this podcast by Jonathan Goldstein is a journey to the moment where everything changed. Guests are usually taken back to deal with a person, a moment or a feeling that have been giving them intense ordeal for several years. It’s laugh out loud funny one minute, then has you bawling in tears the next. Awesome stuff.
  5. Modern Love – The podcast of the popular New York Times column, this is a great look at the workings and intricacies of love and relationships. What’s best about this show is that I get a peek at how different types of love work, the type of love that I wouldn’t necessarily encounter in my everyday.
  6. Reply All – Another one from Gimlet, this is, as it’s tag line says, a show about the internet. I thought I was internet savvy, but this show tells me that the internet is a bigger and scarier (but funner) place. Please, do yourselves a favor and listen to Long Distance (Part 1 and 2)
  7. Staying Major – PBA great Eric Menk mostly talks about local hoops and being one of the best Philippine players of all time, his insights do have a lot of significance for me. Guests of the show have been stellar too and it’s a lot of fun to eavesdrop on their conversation. My initial criticism is that the early episodes of the podcast were a bit poorly researched, but Menk has certainly grown and steadily improved to make this show a must listen for me.

2016 in records

All in all, it’s been a pretty good year in music. Here are my favorite ten records.

10. A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead

9. 22, A Million by Bon Iver

8. Telefone by Noname

7. Lemonade by Beyoncé

6. Teens of Denial by Car Seat Headrest

5. Wildflower by The Avalanches

4. For All We Know by NAO

3. case/lang/veirs self-titled LP

2. The Life of Pablo by Kanye West

1. Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper

you don’t want no problems, want no problem with me

In most years, I do a post on good to great albums that were released for the first half of the year. Well, it’s almost October(!), but what the hey.

Here (in alphabetical order) are the albums for the year so far been that I think were fire.

  • Anderson Paak – Malibu
  • The Avalanches – Wildflower
  • The Beatles – Live at the Hollywood Bowl (Remaster)
  • Carly Rae Jepsen – EMOTION SIDE B
  • case/lang/veirs – case/lang/veirs
  • Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book
  • Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition
  • Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
  • NAO – For All We Know
  • POLICA – United Crushers
  • Wilco – Schmilco

but that’s when the hornet stung me and I had a serious dream

It’s hard to follow The Tragically Hip living outside Canada, so I don’t really know much of their body of work, except for the brief time that I lived in Vancouver. But from what I know of the band and their music, I hugely admire and respect what they’ve done and what they are to Canadians.

Having read a few weeks ago that singer Gord has terminal brain cancer made me sad. Today, I caught a few moments of the live stream of their last ever show, and it was crazy as expected.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in attendance for their final show, and said great things about the band. I was one of few who thought they’d make it big internationally and sad that they didn’t, but Trudeau said it best when ‘he’s so glad they’re all ours.’

Goodbye The Tragically Hip!

2015 in records

I skipped doing this list last year, partly because I was swamped with work and life, but mostly because I didn’t want to admit that Taylor Swift’s 1989 is my favorite album of 2014. (There’s no shame in admitting that now though.)

Still am swamped this 2015, but I figure, what the hell.

Here are my top ten records for the year that was.

10. I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty

9. Simple Songs by Jim O’Rourke

8. b’lieve i’m goin down by Kurt Vile

7. Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens

6. 1989 by Ryan Adams

5. Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit by Courtney Barnett

4. Return to the Moon by EL VY

3. E•MO•TION by Carly Rae Jepsen

2. Natalie Prass by Natalie Prass

1. To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar

Hi hi howdy howdy hi hi

It’s almost the midway point of the year and I must admit that I haven’t listened to a ton of music lately. (I’ve been favoring podcasts now.) Still, here are some releases for this year that piqued my interest.

  • Action Bronson – Mr. Wonderful
  • BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah – SOUR SOUL
  • Kamasi Washington – The Epic
  • Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
  • Natalie Prass – Natalie Prass
  • Shamir – Ratchet

(Except for Natalie Prass, pucha puro rap or jazz. Or both!)

So sad I couldn’t even come up with ten releases. But it’s worth mentioning that there are lots of albums that I’m sure are great but I just hadn’t had time to listen to. Like Sufjan’s Carrie & Lowell, Viet Cong’s self-titled, Jim O’Rourke’s Simple Songs and My Morning Jacket’s The Waterfall.

Now if only I can find that time.

Here Comes Your (Old) Man

Hi son,

You’re probably not conscious of it yet, but on most Sunday mornings, I play a sampling of random tunes for your enjoyment. The range is quite varied; Beatles, Robbie Williams, Boy Krazy, Miles Davis, Fleet Foxes, etc. Mainly, I do this just to see what reaction I’d elicit from you. Sometimes, I’d see you jump up and down, while more often than not, I’d see you just wearing a blank and unamused stare.

Anyway, I’ve decided to come up with a playlist of what I think are representative of the greatest artists / albums / songs of all time. These are the songs that in one way or another, soundtrack my moments of love, pain, triumph and heartache. I want to share these with you in hope that one day, you’d get a chance to ask me why these songs are a part of my life. And hopefully, you can make some of these songs a part of your life as well.

For best results, just click shuffle play.


P.S. Now is not the time for hip hop, son. Maybe in the future.

I don’t want you monkey mouth, motherfucker sitting on my throne again

More quick thoughts on the new Kendrick Lamar album over lunch..

I’ve literally not listened to anything else since this album dropped a week and a half ago. Not even when news of the new Sufjan Stevens, Death Cab for Cutie, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor albums came out. I’m sure I’ll get to those some records at some point in the near future. But for now, it’s all about Kendrick.

In my last post, I ended with a question on whether or not I’d grow to love this record. And the answer, is a resounding YES! Like most great and classic albums, this one is a grower. There are things that I didn’t quite enjoy at first, but after a couple of listens, I was blown away.


At first, I was bothered by the poem Kendrick recites over and over throughout the album (I remember you was conflicted, misusing your influence..), but when I absorbed what the album really was about, I found it to be a stroke of genius. He was reciting the poem to Tupac, and asking him about opinions about race, fame and power. He then ends the album asking Tupac about his thoughts on his caterpillar / butterfly analogy, one that ties the album beautifully together. And when Tupac doesn’t answer back, Kendrick awakes from his dream. I think how this album ended is the best ending to any album in recent memory.

I have more thoughts on this album, but I’m quite hungry so off to lunch I go. (Which also happens to be the reason about this post’s incoherence.) But before I leave, I’d like to say that I think I’m at a place where I can proclaim that To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar is the best album released by anyone since 2012.


Halle Berry, or Hallelujah

Some quick thoughts over lunch…


I’ve had the opportunity to listen to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly a couple of times over the past two days. And as much as I want to fully embrace it like good kid, m.A.A.d city (for the record, one of my top 3 albums released this decade so far), something tells me to hold off on my acclaims.

I believe that Kendrick Lamar is one of the top MCs in the game today and I also feel that he himself knows this as fact. His output suggests though that his motive is no longer to be one of the best rappers in the industry today, but instead, be regarded as one of the best of all time (See Exhibit A: Control). As such, in this album, he tries to explore another side of his creativity.

Granted, he could have gone and went ballistic with his rhymes like usual, something that his previous body of work has embodied not only with his own tracks, but even those where he is merely a featured artist (Schoolboy Q’s Collared Greens, A$AP Rocky’s Fuckin’ Problems, etc.). But he chose to deviate from what is expected of him and delivered funk, soul and jazz melodies layered over his lyrics. Think Andre 3000’s with Stankonia progressing into The Love Below.

While not the first Kendrick Lamar track(s) to deliver this style (last year’s Never Catch Me collaboration with Flying Lotus comes to mind), this definitely came as a surprise to me in that he delivered a full album as stylistically different as his two preceeding records. And while I have not been able to fully grasp and appreciate this album as I hope I would, I admire and respect what Kendrick Lamar is out to do here. And that is to make his mark on rap history.

Now on the question of whether I’ll eventually grow to love this record, that remains to be seen. However, when good kid, m.A.A.d city was released, it took me a few weeks to fully appreciate its genius. So if I’m to base this question on history, then appreciating To Pimp a Butterfly seems to be very possible.