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.

Love,
Dad

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.

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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.

Tagged

Halle Berry, or Hallelujah

Some quick thoughts over lunch…

Kendrick-Lamar-To-Pimp-A-Butterfly-560x560

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.

Everybody needs somebody, you’re not the only one

Just a random post listing the tunes I’ve heard as of late.

November Rain by Guns N’ Roses

Listened to the two Use Your Illusion albums (on casette!) lately. And while I (probably like most) prefer the second volume, it’s hard not to give the first one its time, especially when one of the most epic and sweeping rock anthems in history is in there.

Sour Soul by BADBADNOTGOOD and Ghostface Killah

I don’t know about you, but I think that Ghostface Killah’s rhymes and BADBADNOTGOOD’s jazz harmonies are a match made in heaven. It’s an album I eagerly anticipated from early on and it’s an album that does not disappoint.

All Day by Kanye West (feat. Theophilus London and Allan Kingdom)

Blow torches and black hoodies aside, that was a great Brit Awards performance by Yeezy, one that I will put in multiple viewings on Youtube before that new ‘surprise’ record finally drops.

Christy by Natalie Prass

Reading several praises for Natalie Prass, I was genuinely surprised by what came out. Listening to her music is like a man drinking mojitos, there might be some embarrassment, but damn, it really is a good drink.

Sehnsucht by Rammstein

Everyone needs a little German industrial metal band in their life once in a while.

Your love is better than ice cream

A few weeks ago, while on the car ride home, my wife requested me to play something more apt for the season. As Mark Kozelek Sings Christmas Carols was the only Christmas album I had on my phone, I went with that.

‘Who is this band?’

‘Oh, it’s Mark Kozelek. Also, known as Sun Kil Moon.’

I then proceeded to ramble about how much I liked most of what I’ve heard with his former alter ego, The Red House Painters, and how I (and a lot of critics) loved his 2014 release Benji. Next, I described how on the latter half of last year he became such a dick (eg. his beef with The War On Drugs), then proceeded to tell her about how critics might have unfairly pounced on his Christmas album on the freshness of how he’s been a dick lately. Finally, I discussed how I managed (although with some difficulty) to step back and enjoy the Christmas songs for what its worth.

Now, I know that indie music is a topic that doesn’t particularly interest her, nor do I expect her to remember any of the details I told her that day. But I will forever remember how in that moment, she was interested in the things that mattered to me. To me, the way she asked questions and gave her opinions on the subject was everything I had hoped for in a relationship. (Bonus nalang yung maganda siya.)

So thank you honey. Coming from you, it really means a lot.

Happy new year!