The May playlist is here! Ft. new tunes from Hot Chip, Beck, Anderson .Paak, The Black Keys and more. 🎶Have a listen below.
Here's the highlights:
Beck is back with another collab song ft. Pharrell titled “Saw Lightning”.
Hot Chip released a new single and announced an upcoming album. If you know me, you know that Hot Chip is one of my favorite bands and I’m so excited! (I’m actually seeing them tonight! Ahh!) The music video for “Hungry Child” is a wild ride and I suggest you give it a watch here. A Bathfull of Ecstasy is out June 21st.
The Raconteurs also announced a new album! It’s also out June 21st and is titled, Help Us Stranger.
It goes without saying that 2016 was a pretty terrible year for the world at large. Luckily for myself, it wasn't too bad. I landed a new job at Ticketmaster, traveled, adventured, transitioned a room in our apartment into an art studio, and saw a lot of music. So I can't really complain.
According to Spotify, I listened to 60,232 minutes of music this year. That's 41 days on Spotify alone!
I saw nearly 100 bands (96 if you want the specifics)
- One of those five festivals was my first one abroad in Wales where I got to see my favorite band, Hot Chip. (This was a weekend after they headlined at FYF. And I got the set lists from both weekends!) What an AMAZING experience.
Enough of that, let's get to the good stuff. My top 10 albums of 2016!
TOP 10 COUNTDOWN
10. Eternally Even / Jim James
Jim James of My Morning Jacket is a rad dude. He took this time of a political clusterfuck that we're in and made an activist album out of it. It talks about gun control, people in 'power', and how citizens need to speak up (directly stated in "Here in Spirit" with the lyrics, "If you don't speak out, we can't hear it").
It's a really important time right now. I mean, Trump's inauguration is in 12 days. He's not even officially president yet and things are out of control. Shit.
Speaking of Trump in music there's a project called "30 Days, 30 Songs", (which is now 50 songs), that is "united in our desire to speak out against the ignorant, divisive, and hateful campaign of Donald Trump" - 30 Days, 30 Songs.
Jame's song "Same Old Lie" is featured on the album.
9. Dolls of Highland / Kyle Craft
I was listening to KCRW on the way to work one day when I heard "Berlin" by Kyle Craft for the very first time. I arrived at my desk and immediately looked up tour dates and bought a $9 ticket to a show at the Bootleg. Best $9 show of my life! Intimate. Front row. Perfect.
My friend Emily and I got to talk to Kyle after the show. I remember he had this awesome hat he wore everywhere, collecting little knick-knack memories from shows on the trim.
His voice has this broodingly inviting quality to it. Pitchfork described it as "summoning you into its world like a carnival barker wooing customers into a funhouse." Pretty spot on.
8. The Colour In Anything / James Blake
The Colour in Anything, is the perfect album to listen to on a rainy day.
James Blake has this really interesting quirk where he's able to be melancholy and upbeat/optimistic at the same time. I think the electronic R&B sampling in his music plays a big part in that.
Justin Vernon of Bon Iver is featured in "I Need A Forest Fire" which is probably my favorite song off the album. It sort of makes me feel like I'm in a dream when I listen.
7. Epoch / Tycho
Epoch is a collection of wordless, dreamy electronic that makes me feel like I'm floating in the clouds.
It's the perfect zone-out music. When I'm working on a project and need to focus it helps me block everything out. That's probably why it's been a constant repeat listen for me this year.
6. Blue Wave / Operators
Operators was a band destined to find a place in my heart. They're composed of Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs, Sam Brown of Divine Fits (a spin-off of Spoon [one of my favorite bands]), and a multi talented Devojka, a badass woman who plays the keys and much more.
Blue Wave is their first full length, after having released an EP in '14. It was 100% worth the wait. The gritty, echoing vocals over strong drums and twanging guitars in the background have me swooning.
5. 99.9% / KAYTRANADA
I saw Kaytranada a couple years back at a club opening for Purity Ring. It was one of the worst shows of my life. Another shit DJ set with lyrics repeating the mindset of "fuck bitches get money".
I feel like in the past, he didn't have the resources to team up with so many great artists to make his own album so he was playing a lot of other people's music and maybe it wasn't the best curated selection that it could've been. Some of his old singles have been good, but it's all been a maturing process with him working up to this moment.
That's why I was so surprised to find myself wrapped up in 99.9%. Like it's REALLY good. I can't even tell you how many times I've listened to it.
The way the percussion and rhythm weaves their way through the lyrics to the foreground and background, the funk R&B feel that's having an affair with electro, and the collaborative aspect are what really makes this album for me.
AND Little Dragon is featured on the track "Bullets"??! Sold.
4. Stiff / White Denim
I got to see White Denim at Free Press Summer Fest this past year shortly after they released Stiff. They're indie rock at it's finest. When they play live it's like one huge jam sesh. No setlist, they just do what they want.
Stiff has a forceful retro soul that hits you in the face with its sound. It's so groovy and just makes you want to get up and dance
With lyrics like "Be yourself, try to have a good time", it's really hard to not have a good time. Listen to "Ha Ha Ha Ha! (Yeah)" and try to tell me you didn't at least tap your foot...
3. Blackstar / David Bowie
David Bowie's death last year came as a surprise to all of us. I'm not gonna lie, I cried like a baby when I watched Lazarus. I had chills the whole time watching what seemed like the foreshadowing of his passing. All the songs off Blackstar have this eerie yet beautiful feeling that accompanies them.
Just today, on what would've been Bowie's 70th birthday, an unreleased track from Blackstar beamed down like a message from heaven. You can watch the video for "No Plan" here, or stream it on Spotify.
2. Are You Serious? / Andrew Bird
Ever since seeing Andrew Bird at Coachella years ago, I've been in love with his music. Did you know he took whistling lessons at Julliard? For some good whistling on this album, check out "Chemical Switches". Also, the amount of different instruments throughout Are You Serious is impressive. Specifically the violin in Capsized.
1. Teens of Denial / Car Seat Headrest
Earlier this year I described Car Seat Headrest as sounding like Tapes 'n Tapes infused with a hint of Modest Mouse. But they're much moodier and introspective than those two combined.
I think part of the reason I relate so much to this album is that Toledo is basically the same age as me, older by only a few days. The lyrics seem like they're maturing, becoming more aware of the real world and the issues surrounding them.
The song "Cosmic Hero" deals with what you want/need vs what you do to make it happen. How you can be your worst enemy or your most useful advocate. Powerful stuff.
Have a listen to the 2016 playlist below. It includes songs off of my favorite albums of the year, as well as ones I constantly had on repeat.
COMING UP FOR 2017
I only have a few shows queued up at the moment (Bonobo and Jose Gonzalez) but I know this year will be filled with massive amounts of music.
- Bonobo's new album "Migration" comes out January 13
- I'm DEFINITELY NOT going to Coachella, (cough, what the fuck happened?), but I do want to check out some new festivals I've never been to
- The Shins are working on new music!
- SPOON IS WORKING ON NEW MUSIC!
Yeah, it's gonna be a good year.
You guys, I survived my first electronic music festival.
HARD Summer was last weekend at the Auto Club Speedway of Southern California in Fontana. Where's that, you ask? Basically the middle of nowhere.
I won tickets through work and thought, "yeah this is close enough to home, let's just drive each day"... that was my first mistake.
A drive that should have only be an hour and a half somehow took us 3 hours. The line to get in had four layers of line: Flashing your tickets/IDs to workers, having your ID physically scanned, security check, and scanning the barcode on your ticket.
For starters, um wristbands would've been helpful here. Also, how about investing in more shade structure for the 98 degree weathered lines instead of having a massive TV with a stupid video of Diplo playing on a loop?
Anyways, we finally got in, and made it for Anderson .Paak's final song. Then we waited until Ice Cube and Pretty Lights as there wasn't anyone we wanted to see in between.
Let's just say Saturday involved A LOT of drinking.
There was this really sad moment when we were walking around, probably an hour-ish into the day where I took a step and my foot stuck on the hot asphalt. I felt a pull. Stopping, I looked down to see the tiny heel of my glittery disco shoes melted on the ground.
Not like "Wizard of Oz"-witch-melty, but I mean it was so hot that it melted the adhesive apart; the thing that held my shoes together. I picked it up, put it in my bag and kept on trekking. Dancing off balance throws you off a bit.
Pretty Lights put on an awesome show, with you guessed it, a massive amount of pretty lights. We were probably 3 rows back from the front for most of the show, then the pit got to be a bit too much to handle so Denise and I back-tracked. Pretty cool to see his set from close up and afar. Look at that gif though...
Since Pretty Lights closed out the festival on Saturday night, that meant we left when everyone else did.
HARD really made it hard on us getting out of there. For the entire speedway there was only one exit which was very poorly manned with staff. The entire process of walking to our car / sitting in our car in a line waiting to get out took an hour and a forty-five minutes. Luckily, we made it to In-N-Out before it closed.
On Sunday we left around 11:30am to avoid a repeat of Saturday. There was even enough time to grab a cold brew and some grub at The Combine Kitchen before heading to the festival.
We parked in a nearby neighborhood and walked over this time, thinking we were being super smart.
The line to get into the festival was even longer than Saturday's and so much more unorganized. After an hour of waiting in line to get into HARD, we filled up our waters at a water station and headed over to Bixel Boys.
I remember seeing them on my 21st birthday play with Digitalism and thought hey, why not check 'em out here? After listening to a loop of "eat sleep rave repeat" we knew it was time to move on to something else.
Bob Moses was up next. He had one of the smallest crowds of anyone we saw (maybe because he had actual instruments there), but was one of the best performances of the weekend. I highly suggest you go listen to "Tearing Me Up" right now.
Denise wanted to check out Fat Joe so we made our way over to the HARD stage. He would play a bit of a song and people would start to get into it... and suddenly cut to something else after thirty seconds or a minute. I guess only having a thirty minute set you try to pack as much into it as possible, but come on.
I did our makeup on Saturday with some heart gems and rainbow glitter, but Sunday got WAY more intense. Lucky for us, confetti and glitter are easy to come by in my apartment. Surprisingly, this stayed all day in the hot, hot heat. My friend turned me on to this special FX adhesive which is perfect for festival glitz, called Ben Nye Spirit Gum. Just make sure to get the remover, too!
We hung back at AlunaGeorge and afterwards got some veggie noodles and pizza.
Then came the best part of the festival: Kaytranada.
DJ Mustard was playing at the Purple Stage right before him, so we inched our way up while people were filing out to go see Major Lazer. Our tactic, go to the side and get as far front as you can, then work your way to the middle, worked and we were front and center. There was so much bass and we were so close to the speaker that the water bottles on the ground were being thrown around by the pulse.
I've been obsessed with Kaytranada's most recent album, 99.9% ever since it came out in early May; dancing to it live was amazing!
I was watching some videos of his performance back on YouTube and found Denise and myself dancing in this video at 0:28, 1:49 and 2:45.
Leaving the festival meant once again joining in on the herd of people filing out. We walked for literally an entire hour before we got to our car. A total of 13 miles for the day. Wow.
Parking in a nearby neighborhood helped with the fact we didn't have to wait bumper to bumper leaving the lot. However, we were unaware of the massive amounts of road closures in our path. We had to backtrack about 3 miles so we could go onto another freeway entrance.
Around 2am we got home; I showered because I felt disgusting, and then knocked out in bed. Work the day after a festival is always fun!
Overall, I'm glad I got to experience HARD. It was worth it for the bands I got to see, but I would never willingly pay for an EDM festival ticket.
I think I'll stick to my indie tunes.
June is going to be a month filled with music! Or at least the first week is... I'm seeing Digitalism Friday night at the El Rey, then flying to Houston Saturday morning for Free Press Summer Fest, and the following Thursday seeing Islands. Trying to contain my excitement!
Here's some highlights from the June Playlist:
- I've probably listened to KAYTRANADA'S new album 99.9% at least 99.9 times.
- James Blake released a new full length titled, "The Colour in Anything", AND there's a song with Bon Iver. Swoon.
- Unknown Mortal Orchestra dropped a new single, "First World Problem". They also announced they'll be doing a free show at the Santa Monica Pier on September 1! (Do me a favor and go for me since I'll be in Wales at a festival [talk about a first world problem, right?])
- Flume and Beck got together and made a song.