Very Belated Favorite Albums of 2016 Part 2

As I promised last week, here is the conclusion to my list of favorite albums from 2016. I hope you find something on this list that grabs your attention.

6) Thee Oh Sees- A Weird Exits














When I listened to A Weird Exits for the first time, I made a snap judgement that this was finally going to be a Thee Oh Sees record that wouldn't make my year-end list. It didn't have the same melodic magic as much of the band's discography to that point, and a lot of the songs had a similar vibe to them. After giving the record some time to sink in, I realized that my initial thoughts were clouded by expectations of what they should sound like. Once I relaxed, and just let the sounds wash over me, I couldn't get enough of the blistering guitars and pummeling drums that filled my earhole. The sound that is presented on this record is pure ecstatic euphoria!

Gelatinous Cube and Unwrap the Fiend Pt.2

7) Aesop Rock- The Impossible Kid

 












It's been four years since the critically acclaimed, self-produced Skelethon was released by Aesop Rock, and the entire world can take a collective breath knowing that he hasn't missed a beat on his latest record The Impossible Kid. I was so eager to listen to new music by Aesop, but I held off a few days before even allowing myself to watch the video for "Rings," the first single from the album.   As usual, Aesop's verbal dexterity is on point, and the production techniques he uses on the record are to my ears even better than Skelethon. The rhymes are more coherent, but there are still plenty of puzzling non sequitirs and double entendres to keep the listener on their toes, as well as boom-bap beats for the classic hip-hop heads.  Once you get into this record, you'll find that it's really difficult to stop listening to it.

Mystery Fish and Lazy Eye

8) Heron Oblivion- S-T














Heron Oblivion are a supergroup of sorts, as each member has been in other high-profile bands from the psychedelic and experimental folk scenes of the early 2000's. Meg Baird, the lead singer and drummer, was a member of the experimental folk group Espers. Ethan Miller, the bass player for Heron Oblivion, was the guitar player and vocalist for bands such as Feral Ohms and Comets on Fire. Noel V. Harmonson and Charlie Saufley, guitar players in Heron Oblivion, were both members of Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound. With a resume like this, there is no way that this wasn't going to be anything other than amazing. Lazy journalists would probably describe the band's sound as the equivalent of Neil Young and Crazy Horse jamming with Fairport Convention while listening to a steady diet of Sonic Youth and rare folk records. While this wouldn't be far off the mark, it simply lists off a bunch of bands that influenced Heron Oblivion, rather than exploring what makes this album so special.  Personally, I feel that there is nothing more beautiful to listen to than the soft, soothing textures of Meg Baird's voice. When you add the soft to loud dynamics of the band's sound featuring caterwauling guitar solos and frenzied bass playing, there simply isn't a more exciting band out there doing this style of music. "Rama" will transport you to another dimension.

Rama and Your Hollows

9) A Tribe Called Quest- We Got it From Here














Upon first hearing that a new A Tribe Called Quest album was coming out, I was skeptical that it wouldn't even come close to measuring up to their classic records without Phife Dawg's contributions to the songs. This was before I found out that Phife had made up with Q-Tip, and that they had recorded most of the tracks prior to his passing. Now, I was at least intrigued. Would they be able to  balance the expectations of fans who worship at the altar of their classic records like The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders with the millenials who want to be force-fed auto-tune and trap-beats?  Did they have anything new to say about the conditions of the world, and would they be able to present these ideas in a catchy, innovative way? Could they still rap well enough to carry an entire record without a bunch of skits and throwaway songs? The answer to all of these questions was a resounding "yes". They managed to pull all of this off while creating one of the best swan-songs in hip-hop history. This record effectively employed offbeat samples, quirky production techniques, live instruments and killer rhymes, all while making a satisfying Tribe record for people wanting to break the chains that bind us and prevent us from evolving into better human beings.

The Space Program and Dis Generation

10) Sunwatchers- S-T

 











The fact that this record was released on John Dwyer's label Castleface should at least peak your interest a little bit. While most of my list has featured pretty straight-ahead music, this album is the outlier. It sounds like a free jazz band caught in a never-ending loop of psychedelic madness, while a cacophonous barrage of saxophones, drums and guitars assault your ears. If you like adventurous music that never lets up, this is your ticket to a four-walled room filled with funhouse mirrors. Some might say that it's too psychedelic to be called free jazz, and vice versa, but fans of both styles of music will find plenty to sink their teeth into here.

Herd of Creeps and Ape Phases

Here is the rest of my list with short descriptions of the music rather than a full review.  I will gladly provide you with links to songs from these albums if you leave a comment with your request.

11) Allah Las- Calico Review- reverb-soaked jangle pop with melodies for days.
12) Rangda- The Heretic's Bargain- a mesmerizing mixture of epic jams, slow burning dirges and fast-paced rock with hints of flamenco and middle eastern flavors.
13) Causa Sui- Return to Sky- intense, raucous flights of fancy that take you to another world.
14) Homeboy Sandman- Kindness for Weakness- thinking man's hip hop with inventive samples and bars that are instantly quotable.
15) Charles Bradley- Changes- heartfelt soul music from one of the best contemporary vocalists in the business.
16) Deerhoof- The Magic- infectious danceable pop melodies mixed with razor-edged guitars.
17) Nick Millevoi- Desertion- If Calexico continued to perfect their desert soaked instrumentals, it would sound something like this.
18) Lorelle Meets the Obsolete- Balance- a well balanced mix of squalling guitars with ominous synthesizers adding another dimension to their sound.
19) Tim Presley- The Wink-irresistible art-pop with quirky melodies from the lead singer of White Fence who is finally letting his vocals be heard over the din.
20) Wireheads- Arrive Alive- absorbing, eclectic effort from this punk band that features a great mix of spastic punk, mellow dirges and groove-heavy art rock.    

Comments

The Swede said…
A fantastically esoteric list - just the way I like 'em! The Heron Oblivion LP is a big favourite in this house, as is Thee Oh Sees and Causa Sui, but I'm looking forward to investigating the names I'm not familiar with. Your description of Sunwatchers is particularly intriguing.
Kevin said…
Hey Swede! I'm glad you're digging the list. It really makes doing these lists more fun when there's more responses from people who visit the blog. If there's any of the groups from the remainder of the list that you'd like to hear song samples from, please let me know. That Sunwatchers album is pretty insane. I'm curious what you think of it.

Best,

Kevin
Rampage said…
Wow! I found a good tracks in this playlist!I know good site with similar samples to some tracks frome this list,i left link here - www.lucidsamples.com

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