the original sremmlife is one of the best pop hip hop albums of the 2010s , easily
it serves as an excellent summary of the extremely influential/popular production style of mike will and i can also see it being held up as a time capsule of 2015 pop rap sounds
jxmmi and swae lee started freestyling at parties in middle school and have just been refining their craft continuously since - as a result, they are extremely good at this sort of quasi-meaningless energetic party rap - even if they're not the absolute best when comparing rappers' peaks, they are easily the most consistent - check out their tim westwood freestyle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1_mhjLDb3M
on the first sremmlife mike will let the duo shine with more traditional tracks, and as a result the album is front to back full of fantastic songs - not a single bad one - and of the few tracks with features, they still let rae sremmurd work their magic
compare this to sremmlife 2, with almost double the number of songs with guests , and significantly less straightforward songs, including several that seem to be attempts at aping popular sounds or pastiches of irrelevant (is that too harsh?) genres , and a number that just fall flat entirely or completely fail to grab the listeners attention- to be clear, i wouldnt be criticising them strongly if this project had come together as cohesively as sremmlife , or if they had pivoted entirely to a different sort of project - but how can you listen to "do yoga" and then listen to the amazing "look alive" or "by chance" and think yes, these all need to be on the same album
we know that they can reach great heights when they do what they do best - but sremmlife 2 just felt like an attempt at earning some (undeserved imo) brownie points for some sort of pointless 'experimentation' even when it dragged down the project , and then a few radio singles tacked onto that
this sounds incredibly 'now' for being from 1985...
Iranian-American composer Dariush Dolat-Shahi’s music occupies a unique and timeless place among the countless albums from the last half-century that mixed acoustic performances with electronic manipulations. Dolat-Shahi stands above his peers as a master of both crafts, able to weave together lush melodies from his tar, a traditional Persian lute, and spacey analog synth lines — which sound like they could have been recorded anytime between the sixties and now — into a complete whole that doesn’t feel stuck in one genre or time period. His 1985 album, Electronic Music, Tar and Sehtar, is the pinnacle of his achievements and easily one of the most interesting world music (is it even fair to call it that?) albums of all time. Electronic Music’s core is composed of sparse tar and sehtar — another variety of Persian lute — pieces upon which Dolat-Shahi heaps bleeps, bloops, and squawks of electronic noise, along withe the odd frog or bird, until the two distinct parts become so intertwined you wonder why the idea of Persian classical music run through a wash of moog noise ever sounded so odd in the first place. Dolat-Shahi has done a remarkable thing by taking the two great outsider sounds of world and experimental electronic music and combining them into a album that is more listenable and engaging than either could have been on their own.
rublev does his 'prob my top 10 records of 2016 in no order!' post
demdike stare - wonderland
90s jungle / dancehall cadences /techno-techno-techno all of it feels like it's continuously falling over itself in a really cool way. first listening to this above track reminded me of vatican shadow but grimier. a lot less claustrophobic than previous releases.
huerco s. - for those of you who have never (and also those who have)
my fave quiet album of the year. he's been playing a lot of big euro club nights but this is essentially really absorbing ambient. it does a lot without really going anywhere. some stuff sounds like early autechre while other bits remind me of basinski. tape hiss chimes and loops and it sinks in. i'm repeating this track a lot.
mica levi & oliver coates - remain calm
i first heard mica levi after she composed the under the skin soundtrack. oliver coates is a cellist. the album is made up of little vignettes. it reminds me a bit of arthur russell. i believe it was inspired by an NTS radio show where they improvised together. i think it still has a bit of that feeling.
georgia - all kind music
such an inventive, varied and 'loose' record. i love it. this video is a cool little sample with lots of tracks mixed in. you can listen to a great full piece here. idk what's going on half the time. makes me think about dizzy, shuffling, jazzy, hurried, colourful somethings. at times really quite euphoric. i think every instrument ever made is used at some point.
happy meals - fruit juice
duo from glasgow, really fun. 80s house / synth pop kinda thing with early julia holter / laurel halo vibe. italians do it better recs etc? i believe she is / was a french teacher so mixes up the vocals. very endearing record!
lorenzo Senni - persona
his superimpositions record blew me away. new release now out on warp. might be the best thing they've released in a while imo. uses a roland jp8000 synth and seems to deconstruct and reconstruct traditional 'trance' ideas...difficult to explain. i've read a few people try and compare it to pc music but the empathy here is genuine and deeper.
Senni sets an affirmational standard for the way music is constantly overlaid with the cultures, qualities, and lives that participate within it, an ever-more complex economy at this stage of contemporary music production. This affirmation explores the formal mechanics that make the genre work in the first place; yet, perhaps more pertinently, Persona has a deeply oscillating, emotional core that is within and without the study taking place — that odd place of human vitality and sentiment in any scholarly, observational method.
not one drum sound used on the whole record btw.
charli xcx - vroom vroom
*checks over shoulder* speaking of pc music. not really an album but an ep... but yeah. i have a weird relationship with pc music but the title track to this is a post-material girl pop masterpiece that haunts me daily to the point that even if i hated it i would still be humming "lemme riiideeee" urghhhhh.
eli keszler - last signs of speed
posted something from this record before on here but very good. 'lots of slow drones and weird dub / jazz rhythms scurrying around the place' still sounds about right. very moody. kinda sounds like a spooky house with all its clicks and splutters in an organised chaos. great percussion.
omar s - the best!
i know nothing about this guy at all. found him on a mix earlier in the year and loved it. feels pretty timeless in that i would buy this being some weird un-earthed reissue from the early 90s. detroit soul! very simple but it works. fyi this track from a few years ago is killer...wait for the bass
jefre cantu ledesma - in summer
ridiculously beautiful record from jcl. he's slowly moved towards more shoegaze'y pop in his last few releases but kept the warm noise parts when necessary. he has always hidden pop hooks under layers of feedback but here it is not so deep. some of it reminds me of cocteau twins. the whole record is based around a series of photographs. i hate to describe anything as lush but i guess it is. it all feels very alive. ps he also sells his own ceramics.
this is really worth watching as well. 8 minute piece that starts relatively normally but fizzes out of control. video is by paul clipson who is great!
This RTJ album is fucking insane. The production in particular is stellar; most of the beats are sound influenced by some EDM-trap producers, like Eprom and Stooki Sound and dozens of others as well, but those two especially. Refreshing to hear an album like this when most releases this year are still using uninspired DJ Mustard/Zaytoven style beats.
Strongly suggest you check out those artists (and others in that genre) if you like the sorts of beats on this record.
Last edited by BobbyZamora on Wed Dec 28, 2016 6:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Rateyourmusic is pretty bad and falls victim to the same Pitchfork-Syndrome problem that every other general "music" forum and website has.
While these places can sometimes be good for getting a big (but seriously incomplete) list of "classic" records to check out, as a sort of "starting point" for people who aren't really in to music, they are usually pretty useless for anything else. It does not help that these places tend to be heavily biased towards a very specific type of sound. (which is how you end up with "best of all time" lists that rank Arcade Fire and Neutral Milk Hotel in the top 10 but don't even mention James Brown or Parliament-Funkadelic.)
If you really love music, trawl Soundcloud and Bandcamp and even Youtube and if the option is available to you, go to local shows and events.
Last edited by BobbyZamora on Wed Dec 28, 2016 6:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Yeah, I know. Something something it's all arbitrary.
The website presents a viewpoint that's so white and male that it'd be incredible, if that wasn't par for music critique. I've met people there who are uncannily similar to myself, which is in parts comforting and in parts a challenge to not nestle into that comfort. They actually do a better job of critiquing established artists and major releases than Pitchfork et al. will, but they're presenting a view that's massively informed by rock music heritage.
It's been really good to me, though, since I've already got a pretty nice grasp of contemporary music, and 7th grade me trawled through all the classic rock. I basically use the website to parse smaller genres and releases from this year. I dramatically prefer single user's best-of-year lists to major media publishers, but I guess I had already learned that from gorillavsbear's best of 2015 list.
BobbyZamora wrote:If you really love music, trawl Soundcloud and Bandcamp and even Youtube and if the option is available to you, go to local shows and events.
I'm living in Manhattan, now, so it's counter-intuitively kind of difficult to find new music by going to shows. Like, I live a couple hundred feet from the bowery electric and webster hall (between the two), so I'd actually be more of a pitchfork worshipper if I went to local shows. I'm missing The Hotelier in a few days, though, by being back home. And I missed the Elvis Depressedly, Alex G, et al. mega concert during my finals week.
I actually really like rateyourmusic. They have reviews for a wide range of music since the site's user driven. The "best of" lists are by avg user rating and # of reviews only which makes them meaningless since they're not compiled by anyone.
Every blog/website will inevitably gravitate towards certain styles, I usually just use an aggregate site to look at what's new and then browse through some of the individual sites I like.
I hate hierarchical/ranked lists for everything from games to movies to music. They get especially cringy when it's the same list every year with a few of the spots switched. For music especially It's like a big blogosphere echo chamber of people with uninteresting opinions and writing but who desperately want to show they have something worthwhile to say about the culture. I understand critics need a way to endorse the stuff they like and I use aggregate sites often to get a sense of the general body of work that everyone likes, but it's moronic to rank something one place higher or one place lower and think that it means anything. Or putting out lists with the same albums with like one slightly more obscure album and thinking that adds anything of value instead of just clogging the discourse.
With that said here's my list of favorites from 2016:
Gathered from my last.fm: Jessy Lanza, Tim Hecker, Babyfather. Didn't listen to as much new music as last year.
I wish there were more critics like the old Christgau who was both interesting himself and had extremely specific tastes that he stuck to when panning the stuff that others liked. Now he's confined to handing out free A's while writing for some minor yahoo blog while the newer generations judge music via numerically precise down to the tenth decimal ratings a la pitchfork and getting their "canon" from best of the decade lists that are just some horribly insulated hipsters' opinion.
I had this idea of starting a music blog called "UntrainedEars" where I made completely baseless critiques/reviews of music as a way to push myself to think more critically/learn a bit more about music/have fun writing and practicing writing.
Don't think I'll go through with it because A. there are plenty of user cites like RYM and B. I'm really really clueless lol
Just in general, I feel like music critics are possibly the least useful type of critic, especially in an age where it's so easy, accessible and quick (and free) to just check out the music for yourself.
I guess one could say they have a good role as music aggregators? But the issue with that is these publications tend to lean very heavily towards a very specific subset of musicians, with a handful of bigger names that everyone already knows thrown in. If you aren't a fan of the specific "sound" that the publication is pushing, then it doesn't really have anything to offer you.
But even then, you're still better off being engrossed in whatever "scene" or "movement" is associated with the type of music you like, as opposed to relying on a music aggregator for finding new music.
The more subjective a form of art is, the less useful critics are for it, and music is pretty much about as subjective as you can get. The issue is furthered by the fact that music has a super low barrier to entry, and making music is really not actually that hard. What separates the "good" from the "bad" in the listener's mind usually has nothing to do with the actual talent, skill or effort involved and more to do with whether or not they dig the energy you're putting out.
That's why a lot of people cling to lyricism and any sort of political or social message the music has within it, because it's easier to objectively put out some sort of statement or criticism on that message, but are you really criticizing the music at that point? I'd personally say no, you aren't.
The mere context of your listening may also drastically change how you perceive the music. Certain types of music make more sense in different settings, and usually "In a pair of headphones while reading the pitchfork review" is a setting in which nothing thrives. While learning to DJ, I realized that the true skill of a DJ has little to do with the actual technical part, and more to do with being able to feed off of the energy of a crowd and make connections between songs that allow them to take the listeners to places they otherwise would not have normally gone. It's an interesting thing, because when you are DJing you can "trick" people in to enjoying types of music they normally never would like or seek out, if you can make those connections between what they are familiar with and what you want to show them. It's a great feeling when you can get people drunkenly singing the lyrics to the chorus of a song on their first listen. I think the same is true for live performers, and that the greatest musicians are those who can ease their listeners in to something unexpected in a way that is natural, and in a way that they will welcome the unfamiliar.
This is why I tell people to go out and see shows if they have the opportunity. Go to concerts, raves, festivals, bars, clubs, anything. Even for genres you may not be interested in. Even for types of music you think are "bottom of the barrel". You've never heard folk music or punk rock until you've heard it played live by a small group of people in some dingy bar, and you've never heard EDM until you've heard it on enormous festival sound systems with earth-shattering bass output.
Very briefly met Floating Points after a set to ask him what the last track he played was. He said he didn't remember and began to leave but as he was walking away through the crowd he stopped and typed something on a random guy's phone and pointed at me. Turned out to be the name of the artist which he'd just remembered (Jeff Lorber, v good).
Just found out that most of DJ Sprinkles' tracks are mastered in such a way that they're really quiet at normal volume. Listened to Midtown 120 Blues with the volume turned up for the first time and it was like hearing a whole new record.
Unfortunately, my headphones don't pick up the deep bass tones that surface at this volume so I can't listen to it properly in this form at night without disturbing my neighbours. This is particularly annoying because night time is probably the best setting for this music.
Last edited by DeafIdiotGod on Wed Jan 18, 2017 8:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.