Posts Tagged ‘future’

Best Music of 2015

January 14, 2016

2015 went in directions I never could have anticipated. Here is what I loved this year.

Best Albums of 2015

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1. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love

What a triumph. After an almost ten year hiatus, to return and be this great? Sleater-Kinney are one of the greatest bands to ever exist and No Cities is chokablock with burners. Corin Tucker still wails, Carrie Brownstein is still a guitar god, and Janet Weiss is still one of the greatest drummersalive. This album is so powerful and true, it crushes and makes my heart ache with joy. Album of the year, band of your life.

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2. HEALTH – Death Magic

Like being engulfed in a supernova but you can hear a tender voice whispering sweet nothings as the flames consume your body. Imagine the noise of a collapsing building restructured with a melody. The proper follow up “Die Slow” demanded.

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3. Madeon – Adventure

Dance album of the year. Finally someone makes the sequel to Discovery that Daft Punk couldn’t be bothered with. Adventure has about five peak moments and never lets up. My most listened to album of 2015.
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4. Carly Rae Jepsen – E•MO•TION

Jepsen is now two for two for great albums that were ignored by the general public. Like KissE•MO•TION is front to back pop bangers, impeccably produced and performed. Jepsen is over here making fucking albums, ALBUMS! and people don’t even care. Hope she never stops, “Run Away With Me” and “Making The Most of the Night” already classics.

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5. Capsule – Wave Runner

Yasutaka Nakata first came on my radar when I was advised by many a twitter denizen to listen to Perfume’s 2013 album Level3. That album sounds like being executed by a thousand lazer synths at once. It’s incredible but eventually overwhelming. Nakata produces for Perfume but Capsule is his main band and he has a long career of various pop and dance meldings and experimentation. Wave Runner is actually straight ahead dance pop for the most part, but it’s more aggressive than what I am used to hearing. Every song sounds like it was made for a space launch.

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6. Drake – If You’re Reading This Its Too Late

I keep thinking I don’t like Drake that much and then I listen to this repeatedly for a month.

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7. Daniel Johns – Talk

The surprise of the year was the r&b album from the former lead singer of Silverchair. Mostly midtempo, Talk isn’t going from some white guy lover man schtick, instead displaying a wounded vulnerability that Silverchair tended to overpower with it’s alt rock thud. Johns is a confident crooner, and the production is wonderfully varied and unique.

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8. dumblonde – Dumblonde

The production shimmers and it sounds like the vocals were chopped and filtered and sprinkled around the tracks like ornaments. Danity Kane is the worst thing that created the best things.

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9. Vince Staples – Summertime ’06

A double album without the feeling of being worn down by the length. Staples raps with fury and with a smirk and the beats are undeniable.

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10. Local H – Hey, Killer

Local H are one of my all time favorite bands. They are responsible for two of my all time favorite albums and their live show is without peer. Hey, Killer is a better than solid collection of crushers, peaking with “John The Baptist Blues”, which has one of those riffs that makes life worth living.

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11. Future – Dirty Sprite 2

Can a mumble and a gurgle be profound? I say yes. Future raps of opulence and excess overwhelmed by sadness. Is this guy ok? Someone check on Future!

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12. Janet Jackson – Unbreakable

One of the greatest to ever do it, still doing it. This is one of those front to back, bring a smile and bring a tear kinda albums.

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13. Girls’ Generation – Lion Heart

The accusing tone of “songs made by committee” holds less weight to me than say, a film made by committee. A great pop song can be written by someone alone, just flowing out of them as the muse hits. Or it can be made in the lab, tinkering so that the chorus is bigger and the verses are tighter and the whole package races out the door like a spaceship at lift off. That is what this album delivers, carefully crafted and molded pop/dance without a speck of dust or grit. In a way, it is perfect.

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14. Failure – The Heart is a Monster

My senior year of college I became a Ken Andrews obsessive after hearing the album Make Believe he released under the On moniker. I went back and got all his other shit, did an embarrassing interview with Andrews for my college radio station(the recording is in my basement somewhere, safe from us all), devoured his other solo and side project work (Year of the Rabbit is a used bin staple, but it rocks), and of course meeting other Ken Andrews fanatics in my travels. The uniting principle for all of us Andrewsheads is his first band Failure and their 1996 opus Fantastic Planet, one of those cult pieces that burrows deep inside a small audience and has them still talking about and obsessing some 20 years later. The Heart is a Monster is a direct sequel to FP and it ended up being even better than anyone could have hoped. For the hardcore Andrewsheads it is a fulfillment of long held hopes and dreams.

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15. Fall Out Boy – American Beauty/American Psycho

FOB’s strange pop comeback barrels on, and for every strange left turn decision that I have trouble reconciling (Big Sean on the last album, the Munster’s sample on this one), they still deliver some career best work(“Jetpack Blues”, “Fourth of July”) and make a song with SebastiAn (“American Beauty/American Psycho”) that sounds just a like a SebastiAn song. So, good. And the remix album for this was not half bad either.

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16. Empress Of – Me

This one reminded me of when Bjork made albums with beats and melodies you could dance to and play over and over again.

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17. Destroy This Place – Animal Rites

Not to discount the previous Destroy This Place albums, but this is the first one that sounds like a real, fully fleshed out Band. The influences are obvious but the tracks aren’t boneheaded, and if you thought the last Foo Fighters album was a dud this one picks up the slack. “No Apologies” is a particular triumph as it is one of the great closing tracks. Great closing tracks are so few and far between! These guys are on a roll.

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18. Dr. Dre – Compton

Dre didn’t owe us shit but he dropped this anyway. I guess there is a backlash to this album but it knocks and I didn’t think Dre was into knocking anything anymore.

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19. Neon Indian – VEGA INTL. Night School

This thing has a weird gurgle sound on the keyboard for the first half but the songs themselves are solid and the back half is all hits. Best thing Alan has done since “Parking Lot Nights”.

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20. Eagles of Death Metal – Zipper Down

My kneejerk response was too slight, but it has grown on me with repeated listens and the riffs are strong. I was also foolish in not realizing that “I Love You All The Time” is a new one for the canon.

 

Honorable Mentions

Grimes – Art Angels
John Carpenter- Lost Themes
Shamir – Ratchet
Jack Ü – Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü

 

Best Songs of 2015 

Cool For The Summer

 

 

  1. “Cool for the Summer” by Demi Lovato: “Cool for the Summer” was my most listened to song this past year. It is a perfect piece of pop design, with the kind of blow-out-the-speakers chorus that Max Martin has become the master of creating. Demi Lovato imbues the track with the obvious sexual fire but also a yearning humanity that I don’t get from someone like Katy Perry. Other artists perform, but Lovato owns this track. There are many ways to sell the “bodytype” line, Lovato made it legendary.
  2. “Back Together” by Robin Thicke featuring Nicki Minaj: Robin Thicke is the most hated man in pop music, and all he did was be kinda skeevy and have a drug problem. In comparison to Justin Bieber and R. Kelly, he’s practically a saint. So this comeback track failed to do just that, but it still stands a supreme piece of production and writing by, yup, Max Martin. My wife and I listen to this song a lot.
  3. “A New Wave” by Sleater-Kinney: This is the feeling of infinite possibilities, set to music.
  4. “Run Away With Me” by Carly Rae Jepsen: Jepsen bringing that sax fire. Bowie would be proud.
  5. “Cool On Fire” by Daniel Johns: The best groove on the album.
  6. “10 Bands” by Drake: Fuck it, let’s not even discuss it, man.
  7. “tender green life” by dumblonde: The vocals are pitched up almost to a chirp, and the coo over the chorus is inspired. The whole thing sounds like “You know what would be crazy? If we did THIS!” But 11 times.
  8. “John the Baptist Blues” by Local H: Monster riff milked for 6 glorious minutes. Rock n roll heaven.
  9. “L.A. LOOKS” by HEALTH: The closest HEALTH will get to being poppy, and the closest to a love song. “It’s not love but I still want you.”
  10. “Sign” by Girls’ Generation: On an album of pop perfection, this one is the most perfect.
  11. “Solid” by Ty Dolla $ign featuring Babyface: No drums! Just the guitar and that hook. When the notes go higher and then ring in unison, ohhhhhhhhh baby.
  12. “Keep Searchin'” by R. Kelly: R. Kelly is probably a sexual predator. That said, he still possesses one of the greatest voices on the planet. It’s tough. His new album is ok, but this bonus track is some wonderful throwback shit. Almost sounds like Michael Jackson near the finale. Oh, Michael was problematic too.
  13. “To Ü” by Jack Ü featuring AlunaGeorge: Best drop of the year.
  14. “Wolves” by Kate Pierson: Kate Pierson has a hall of fame voice. Her work in the B-52s is peerless. Her solo album is a fun jaunt, and this track is it’s peak.
  15. “All Day” by Kanye West featuring Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom and Paul McCartney: The definitive version is live with flame throwers, but the studio version is also fire.
  16. “B Boy” by Meek Mill featuring Big Sean and A$AP Ferg: What? Big Sean on a good song? 2015 was out of control. Best song that Meek Mill kept off his album.
  17. “Coffee” by Miguel: I thought the new Miguel album was a disappointment(Please no more California Songs) but “Coffee” was a strong single and closest to the sound I loved on his last album.
  18. “Right Here, Right Now” by Giorgio Moroder featuring Kylie Minogue: Moroder dropped the ball on his album but “Right Here” is a flames collaboration with Kylie, who tends to pull greatness from her producers. If the rest of album wasn’t a stinkfish I’d say make a whole project together.
  19. “Nightclub Amnesia” by Ratatat: Every Ratatat album has a song that makes you forget that Ratatat albums are largely boring filler.
  20. “Dreamin’ Boy” by CAPSULE: “Are you ready?”

Listen to the Spotify Playlist

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Music, September 2015

October 3, 2015

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What a Time To Be Alive by Drake & Future

Future is on a roll. Drake is on a roll. This album is just coasting but it doesn’t feel halfassed. It doesn’t sound like Drake and Future collaborated on themes but the beats are good to great across the board and “Big Rings” is fire. Drake is referring to this and If You’re Reading This Its Too Late as mixtapes and not official albums, citing (paraphrasing)”a lack of cohesion and quality” that his regular albums supposedly display. I think they’re about equal, and neither of these recordings have nearly as much filler as Take Care.

Every Open Eye by Chvrches

Better than their first one. Still can’t figure out why they let that guy sing at all. His tracks always sound like a favor and a chore. Unless this guy has shit on you, keep him off the mic! A little too workmanlike at times but these guys are solid.

Rodeo by Travi$ Scott

Too long and flames. Sometimes you are bored but then it heats up and you’re chanting “Travis! Travis!” and you have to find a car to flip. Two stars but also five stars.

Rub by Peaches

I liked I Feel Cream way more. This has a consistent throbbing sound throughout but not enough variation in the beats. Great lyrics though about chicks with dicks.

Music Complete by New Order

Brandon Flowers tries to ruin things but he can’t totally undermine this operation and while most of the songs need an editor, it’s more of a too much of a good thing problem. New Order doesn’t owe us anything so every album is a gift.

Fetty Wap by Fetty Wap

Long album. Every song sounds the same, which is good for business but not for me. I wish him well.

Caracal by Disclosure

I thought Settle was a chore to get through, so Caracal wins just by being more benign. Disclosure have no sense of adventure so there are no surprises, just rehashes of sounds and melodies done better by others. The footwork track “Holding On” might be the laziest song of the year. Also all of the vocal guests are rendered featureless, so money wasted there. Disclosure makes music that sounds like they couldn’t wait to get it done and do anything else.

Zipper Down by Eagles of Death Metal

Love these guys forever, but considering the seven year gap between albums, I was expecting more. Fun but noticeably slight, with 11 tracks consisting of one cover, one interlude, and the lead single a re-recording of a song from the Jesse Hughes solo album. However it does rock, which is a rarity these days. Better than the last Queens album.

Dumblonde by dumblonde

Is Danity Kane the worst thing to ever result in great things? Dawn Richard solo albums, Diddy/Dirty Money, and now dumblonde? Wow, thank you Danity Kane. Adventurous dance-pop production, the vocals often reduced to sound effects or other production trickery, I expect this kind of thing from a J-Pop artist, but not the American Pop Music Industrial Complex. They’re touring tiny clubs right now but they should be ruling the world. “Tender Green Life” one of the best songs of the year.

Photograph by Dirty Vegas

I thought Dirty Vegas would go after that Calvin Harris money after 2011’s surprising Electric Love but they seem to be after the indie set instead. Simple sounds for small rooms. I prefer the big dance moments, which Photograph is lacking.

Black Dollar by Rick Ross

Best thing he’s done since Rich Forever. Still sounds out of breath, but that’s just my personal issue. If you love Ross he is ready to love you back.

HITNRUN Phase One by Prince

This album stinks. Bad songs, bad production, like someone’s dad wearing skinny jeans to a Lady Gaga concert.

Beauty Behind the Madness by The Weeknd

Come for “Can’t Feel My Face” and then quickly leave. Everything else is a wet slog.

Compton by Dr. Dre

There is already a backlast but it sounds great and it fucking knocks. Much of this is the textbook definition of “fire”. We waited a long time and this delivers, and in such big quantities.

Permanence by No Devotion

Much of this sounds like The Guest Soundtrack with more riffs. Pretty great, tell your friends.

Lorin’s Favorite Music of the year 2013

December 30, 2013

2013 turned about to be the year when every major artist in the game dropped a big album and maybe half of them were any good. For every triumph like Yeezus or Hesitation Marks you’d have a disappointment like Magna Carta Holy Grail or Random Access Memories. I could write a whole thing on the let down albums this year. Nah. Too easy.

20) Stay Trippy – Juicy J

Those Rubberband Business mixtapes were my shit and Stay Trippy was a long time coming and totally worth the wait. All bangers about strippers and drugs, which is what we as human beings want from Juicy J. “All I Blow Is Loud” and “Gun Plus a Mask” are instant classics and “The Woods” is probably the best thing Justin Timberlake did all year.

19) Heartthrob – Tegan and Sara

“Love They Say” is pure beauty and sadness. So is “Closer”. Whole thing has this weird mix of happy/sad going on. I’ve never really cared for Tegan and Sara before this album and I know there was talk about Heartthrob as some kind of craven grab at popularity but these songs sound real good, and real true. Getting a budget doesn’t mean you can’t still be true! And everyone wants to be popular! Who are we to tell Tegan and Sara they can’t put food on their families?

18) Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke

If this guy could dance he would have the world on a string. Still, everything on this album is better than both those bloated 20/20 thuds. Breezy and fun, done in 40 minutes.

17) Trap Lord– A$AP Ferg

All you need to know about this album is that the chorus to “Dump Dump” is

“I fucked your bitch, nigga, I fucked your bitch

I fucked your bitch, nigga, I fucked your bitch

She suck my dick, nigga, she suck my dick

She suck my dick, nigga, she suck my dick”

16) Artpop– Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is overstudied and not nearly as good as she thinks she is. And yet, this album is fire. So many bangers, just vicious shit. Purposely ugly in all the ways that appeal to me, yet with these huge neon hooks. The hook for “Sexxx Dreams” is like a laser to the face. “Aura” is a monster.

15) B.O.A.T.S II: #MeTime – 2 Chainz

2 Chainz goes front to back here, just casually dropping bangers and classics like it is just the most natural thing in the world.

14) Save Rock and Roll – Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy are one of my favorite bands. Their three album run in the mid 2000’s is some hall of fame shit. They don’t get any respect though because their audience is largely girls and old men like to write rock history. Save Rock and Roll is weird and actually doesn’t have a ton of guitars on it, but it still has great hooks, fantastic singing from Patrick Stump, and a song about masturbation. The boys are back.

13) Nothing Was The Same – Drake

2013 was my year of Drake. I know why people don’t like him and sometimes I still don’t like him but I think he has more songs I like than dislike and Nothing Was The Same is pretty good. I think it could have used a couple more bangers like “Started From The Bottom” but that wasn’t what he was feeling at the moment. But did you hear “Trophies”? Shittttt.

12) Excuse My French – French Montana

This may be the last we hear from French Montana. The album flopped and people have already moved on but this album has tracks. Hot fire all over and these beats, son. Diddy paid good money for these beats and it would be a shame for all of us to ignore them. Also, the ignorance of “Pop That”, “Marble Floors” and “Ocho Cinco” all on the same album is awe inspiring. May French continue to be worried about nothing.

11) Dynamics – Holy Ghost!

The first three songs are kinda eh but then it makes a huge jump in quality and you can forgive those first tracks and come to like them a little bit. I saw these guys live this year and they aren’t very interesting performers but the songs sounded good and while they can’t really pull off their ballads live, those tracks are the best songs on Dynamics. “I Want To Be Your Hand” is an instant classic.

10) Matangi– M.I.A.

This album should have been called Bangers. M.I.A. never fell off, really. I’ve gone back to MAYA a few times and it is still hit and miss but who doesn’t have a moment like that? We keep giving Jay-Z second chances. Matangi is easily M.I.A.’s best album, no contest. The production is vicious, she still doesn’t give a fuck, and unlike her other records it isn’t back loaded, it’s just loaded.

9) My Name Is My Name– Pusha T

I still listen to Hell Hath No Fury all the time. I bought Till The Casket Drops even though the reviews were bad. I listened to No Malice’s solo album(terrible, btw). I rocked that Play Clothes mixtape for like half of 2009. I’ve listened to the Re-Up Gang record at least 4 times. I really really like The Clipse. My Name Is My Name is largely flames, Pusha T goes hard, Kanye hooked him up with some hot beats(“No Regrets” oh shit), dude is back. I wish The Clipse were back but this is great. Best Pusha track of the year is “Millions” off of the Wrath of Kaine mixtape.

8) Hesitation Marks – Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails have never made a bad record. This is a fact. Look it up. Every album is good to great, though us hardcore Nailheads can argue over which is which. (Year Zero is my shit). Hesitation Marks isn’t a return to form, thank god, it’s just the next step. There are dancey songs and funky songs and songs that are slow like “Hurt” and it is all fine and good.

7) Black Panties– R. Kelly

What do I do with you, R. Kelly? How do I reconcile your past actions with the music you made and continue to make? It’s tough. And tougher for the victims of your crimes. Black Panties is a really good album. The track with Future is next level. “Legs Shakin'” is bananas. “Every Position”, totally nuts……Man. I dunno.

6) Long.Live.A$AP – A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky is a cool dude. That’s what he sells, being cool as shit. The first half of this album is like riding in a haze of cool(and weed smoke). Then he drops “Fucking Problems” and “Wild For The Night” and your heart level jumps up and you freak out and start breaking things and then you simmer down again. Then “Ghetto Symphony” comes on and you level a city.

5) Old– Danny Brown

If you ever bad mouth Danny Brown on Twitter, Danny Brown Stans will come out of the darkness and flood your mentions with anger and vitriol. “Danny Brown is the truth!”, they will scream. “Danny knows what is going down in these streets!” He does! I agree! This album is great, leave me alone.

4) Beyoncé– Beyoncé

Like the rest of you, I’m still digging into this one, but it’s highlights are plentiful. “Drunk In Love” and “Blow” were early favorites, and “XO” gets better with every listen. I was rocking “Bow Down/I’ve Been On” since January so “***Flawless” is of course my shit. Frank Ocean is still boring, though.

3) Yeezus – Kanye West

I like how nothing is going right for him in “I Am A God”, which everyone seemed to miss. Oh well, Kanye foreverandeverandeverandever.

2) For Professional Use Only – Araabmuzik

Araabmuzik got shot this year by some guy trying to steal his chain. Araab lived, dropped a sick remix album, kept on keeping on. Plus, you’re asking for trouble trying to rob the guy who made “This For The Ones Who Care”.

1) Paramore – Paramore

I started to like Paramore a lot after those two guys left the band and some astute blogger somewhere pointed out that all the songs on their last album were about how those two guys were just a bunch of assholes. That they quit because they were concerned about “keeping it real”, whatever that means in the pop/punk scene, which is the phoniest scene around. This album is a great rebuke to those guys, and really anyone who shit on this band, because the songs are sooooo good. Songs about being adults, and moving forward, and living your life after hard shit happens. I listened to this album a lot, and it was a no brainer when I had to pick my favorite of the year. “Ain’t It Fun” is a nice final “fuck you” to those guys who quit, but it could also just be about lazy people. There are levels to this shit.

Best songs of 2013
1) “This For The Ones Who Care” – Araabmuzik

2) “Fo Real” – Future featuring Drake

3) “Do What You Want” – Lady Gaga featuring R. Kelly

4) “Hold On, We’re Going Home” – Drake featuring Majid Jordan

5) “Fucking Problems” – A$AP Rocky Featuring Drake, Kendrick Lamar, & 2 Chainz

6) “Suit And Commercial” – The Hood Internet (Daft Punk/Justin Timberlake)

7) “Higher” – Just Blaze x Baauer featuring Jay Z

8) “All You’re Waiting For” – Classixx featuring Nancy Whang

9) “Going With You” – Sebastien Grainger

10) “I Told Em” – French Montana

The Best Music of 2012. Sorry for the lateness. (I’m not sorry)

February 5, 2013

I have been messing with this list for so long that I almost let 2013 pass me by. 2012 was good. I saw The Afghan Whigs live. I started doing improv which has completely changed my life for the better. I celebrated a year of marriage to the love of my life. THE RAID: REDEMPTION came out. Banner year all around. Let’s get to the tunes!

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25. Rufus Wainwright – Out of the Game
I’m not a hardcore Wainwright fan. I like his upbeat stuff more than his ballads, I don’t have any interest in his reenactments of Judy Garland concerts. His last album was horribly self indulgent but this Mark Ronson produced record is Rufus taking the hint to have fun, be loose, and sing songs about Rashida Jones. I’m at the point in my life where the artists who once sang of wild nights and hedonism now sing songs about island vacations with their husband and kids. That album title is heavy.

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24. 2 Chainz – Based on a T.R.U. Story
I think we all inflated our expectations for this album. 2 Chainz was murdering guest appearances all over the place, being the best part of every song he popped up on. A whole album of 2 Chainz? Yes please. The highlights tend to be the guests like Drake on “No Lie” and Kanye West on “Birthday Song” but 2 Chainz has charisma and a knack with hooks so you have a pretty fun ride. Delete the Mike Posner track on sight.

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23. Blinker The Star – We Draw Lines
90’s could-have-been drops a sleeper. Is this alt or indie? We Draw Lines is super hooky and well produced, which I guess means it isn’t indie. With so many 90’s groups returning with absurd twists on old sounds and songs, Blinker The Star came out with just great tracks that manage the trick if being reminiscent of the old sound without being derivative.

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22. Usher – Looking 4 Myself
“Climax” is great and we should be happy just to have that. That the rest of Looking 4 Myself turned out as well as it did is kind of a miracle. Usher doesn’t strike me as the best barometer of taste, and I still recall how bad “Love In This Club” and “Moving Mountains” were, so the style experiments that work on this are nice surprises. The two Swedish House Mafia tracks aren’t mindless EDM like “O.M.G.” and most of the lyrics on the album are introspective in ways I never would have predicted. “What Happened To You” is a particular higlight in this regard. At the same time, the sexual confidence of Usher is largely unfettered and very hilarious. I think we’re like one album away from a song that will have the subtext of “I sexed her so hard she died. My bad.” Can you keep up with Usher sexually? He is doubtful.

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21. R. Kelly – Write Me Back
Dude can’t stop. Write Me Back falls right in line with 2010’s Love Letter. Good to great throughout, with the exception of two songs that you can delete from your iPhone like I did. “Feelin’ Single” is one of the greatest songs R has ever written, and “Share My Love” endorses impregnating as many people as possible. See you in July, Robert!

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20. A-Trak – Tuna Melt EP
Four bangers and then he steps back to let you collect yourself. A-Trak is one of those “genius takes hours of practice” kind of guys and his time and effort shows on this pretty flawless little EP. I think this bodes well for the years of classic bangers to come.
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19. Gucci Mane – Trap God
Gucci Mane also dropped Trap Back last year but Trap God  is just a little bit better. I’ve finally come around on Gucci’s mush mouth style and I like it quite a bit. Of course it’s best when coupled with someone frenetic like Waka Flocka Flame, who elevates a track like “Rollies Up” to classic status. Also, do you guys know how much a rolex watch costs? A lot! Having multiple rolexes seems financially irresponsible. Plus who owns a watch nowadays? The time is on your phone, Gucci!
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18. Katy B – Danger EP
It only took a year and change for all the dubstep people to switch up their style to actual danceable EDM and what a joy it is to behold. Apparently just a teaser EP for an upcoming full length, B sets the bar high. Even the ballad is good. True story, I listened to “Aaliyah” four times the first day I heard it.
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17. Waka Flocka Flame – Triple F Life: Friends, Fans & Family                          

 It is tough to follow a classic. That’s right, Flockaveli is a classic. Deal with it. Triple F can only pale in comparison but Waka still brought the heat. “Lurkin” is an instant classic and “Candy Paint and Gold Teeth” is laidback fun. “Rooster In My Rari” is the kind of crazy fierciness I expect from Waka out the gate. I’m not entirely on top of the vernacular but I’m pretty sure “Rooster” is about getting head a in Ferrari. I COULD BE WRONG.
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16. G.O.O.D. Music – Cruel Summer
Hey, I know there are a couple crap songs on this, but it also has “To The World”, “Clique”, “Mercy” and “New God Flow” right in a row at the beginning. And that Cudi song ain’t bad either. “Cold” is fire. Every Kanye verse is a career highlight. This thing is great! Great! (I deleted “Sin City” off my iPhone long ago)
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15. Skrillex – Bangarang
I don’t think I’ve come around on dubstep so much as the artists who know what they are doing have managed to make dubstep’s more abrasive elements more fun and listenable. So Bangarang is just uptempo bangers, with very little of that that slowed down drop garage that was the Skrillex calling card on previous releases.
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14. TNGHT – TNGHT
Someone somewhere pointed out that this album is just trap beat instrumentals. Good description, person I can’t give proper attribution. Every beat knocks, 16 car shaking minutes.
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13. The Presets – Pacifica
This is actually a heck of a lot like the last album by The Presets, Apocalypso. Best tracks are in the middle, kind meanders at the end, fun experiments all around. They do seem more earnest now. Hey, we all get older. It’s fine. “Fall” and “Promises” are dance songs with real emotion within them.
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12. Gossip – A Joyful Noise
This is the best Gossip album, full stop, no debate. Total dance party, great production, and Beth Ditto sounds amazing. Worst album art of the year though.
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11. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
This album took me a couple months to really start digging. These guys rock faces and do that “Whoa oh!” singing that is a lot of fun to sing along with in the car. “Continuous Thunder” is a great closing track which is saying something since most rock album closing tracks are total bummers. You know who knew how to close an album? Rage Against The Machine. The last song on their first album is “Freedom”, which is a balls out classic. End with a classic. Make me happy I stuck around til the end.
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10. Death Grips – The Money Store
I’m not going to lie to you, some of this album is terrible. But it is mostly awesome. The drums and the synths will suddenly merge out of their isolated chaos and sync up into a joyous union of laser anger. That is a pretty accurate way to describe “Hustle Bones”. The guy can’t really rap and the lyrics make no sense but it all comes together on “Hacker”, which goes all disco ball synths out of nowhere and reminds us that angry punks still like to kiss girls.
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9. Vitalic – Rave Age
Vitalic drops some hall of fame bangers on this one. “No More Sleep”, “Stamina”, “Next I’m Ready”, all monsters. No one has dropped an all banger, all monster tracks dance record since the duel headed releases of MSTRKRFT’s Fist of God and The Bloody Beetroot’s Romborama in 2009 but this comes pretty close.
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8. Future – Pluto/Pluto 3D
You can listen to either version of this album, I’ve just been listening to the 3D release because it has the “Same Damn Time” remix on it and Diddy’s verse is amazing. Also I think having “You Deserve It” as the first actual song is a better look. Future is a hook machine and all of his tracks are hits or hits to be. Like Waka, he knows how to make his guests shine, like T.I. on “Magic” and especially R. Kelly on “Parachute”, where Robert basically hijacks the album to tell all his haters that he is back and better than ever. Truth.
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7. DMX – Undisputed
Got intensely into DMX in 2012. It started when i caught his appearance in the concert film Backstage where he suffers no fools, leaves it upon his wife to properly greet Chuck D and answers Chuck’s question about the tour experience saying that every moment not spent on stage is pure misery. Then I watched DMX in Belly and my mind was blown. This guy is too real. I believe everything he says. It isn’t always nice(it is never nice) and it is frequently ugly and it is riveting. DMX is an amazingly consistent artist. His discography is largely dud free and his previous two albums have an incredibly high ratio of bangers to not-bangers and while Undisputed is more 50/50 bangers to not-bangers, X stays X. He’s passionate, he’s angry, and he has a great ear for beats. Swizz Beatz stays DMX’s greatest collaborator. “Y’all Don’t Really Know” is an insta-classic X/Swizz collaboration.
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6. Hot Chip –In Our Heads
Such beautiful songs. Hot Chip at their most sincere, at least to me. I haven’t watched any of the videos off this album but all the videos for their previous albums seemed to undercut the emotional sincereity of the songs, like Hot Chip were worried about being too real. These songs sound like they come from a pure place, like they’re talking and “it’s just me and you”. (h/t Kanye) Closing with the one-two punch of “Let Me Be Him” and “Always Been Your Love” is an emotional wallop.
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5. Torche – Harmonicraft
It’s all about the tones, man. I don’t know how to play guitar so I don’t know if they’re tapping, plucking, or flicking the strings with a guitar pick but it sounds majestic. And powerful. And delivered with a brevity unseen in metal. Next song! Next Song! Is this metal? It seems too poppy and clean, yet it roars. I’ll leave that for someone else to worry about.
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4. Carly Rae Jepsen – Kiss (Deluxe Version)
I still don’t care for “Call Me Maybe” and that horrid song with the Owl City guy but just about everything else here is fantastic. A couple club bangers(“Tonight I’m Getting Over You”, “Wrong Feels So Right”), great pop tracks(“This Kiss”, “Hurt So Good”, basically every other song) and nearly every single one is about forbidden love or risky romance. I think at least a quarter of these songs are about the queasy feeling you get when you first develop feelings for someone, and the rest are either about hooking up with someone even though Jepsen’s character is involved with someone else, or in the case of “Tonight”, dancing away the pain of a breakup. All produced to glistening perfection. Shit’s great. I also deleted all the ballads long ago. We are truly in the future.
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3. Deftones – Koi No Yokan
Is this the best Deftones album? Maybe. These guys just keep getting better and Koi No Yokan hits all the sweet spots and never falters. This is easily the best collection of Deftones midtempo slow burn ballad monsters that they’ve been trying to perfect since the self titled album in ‘03. If “Entombed” doesn’t become a metalhead wedding staple I will be very surprised. It still has plenty of blazing riffs but it’s pretty great to hear these gorgeous ballads, with Stephen Carpenter’s guitar just wailing into (what I imagine is) the night sky.
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2. Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music
“Oh!”
“Whoa!”
“Oh man!”
“This album ain’t kidding around.”
“Seriously? SERIOUSLY?!?”
“C’mon, that isn’t fair.”
“…..shit.”
– Me listening to this album the first time.
My reactions haven’t changed. Killer Mike and producer El-P go hard for the entire running time, with Mike covering Reagan’s poisonous legacy and telling enjoy stories about Jojo’s conversations with a phantom Ghostface. El-P’s beats are across the board hall of fame shit and “Big Beast” is the kind of monster track that is so perfectly constructed and powerful with two great guest spots from T.I. and Bun B that continues their tradition of being better on other people’s records than on their own.
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1. Miguel – Kaleidoscope Dream
Kaleidoscope Dream is the best album of 2012 because it is infused with joy and ingenuity. Miguel is locked in to what he wants his music to sound like and he doesn’t chase any trends, he is undeniably himself. The production is lush and expansive but the focus is always on Miguel’s voice and his lyrics, which are really good. I love The-Dream but the guy traffics in a kind of smart-dumb style, same with R. Kelly at times. Miguel writes himself characters and scenarios that are interesting and funny and sad. “Pussy Is Mine” manages to sound like the deepest lark ever made. “Oh, I was just messing around in the studio on this heartfelt paeon to a woman who I think is going to leave me. No biggie.” Anyone else get goosebumps from the first 30 seconds of “Don’t Look Back”?

Best songs of 2012

1. “New God Flow” – Kanye West, Pusha-T, Ghostface Killah
2. “This Kiss” – Carly Rae Jepsen
3. “Feeling Single” – R.Kelly
4. “Sweet Life” – Frank Ocean
5. “My Life” – Rich Kidz feat. Waka Flocka Flame
6. “Big Beast” – Killer Mike feat. Bun B, T.I. and Trouble
7. “Climax” – Usher
8. “I’ve Seen Footage” – Death Grips
9. “Don’t Look Back” – Miguel
10. “Aaliyah” – Katy B x Geeneus x Jessie Ware
11. “No More Sleep” – Vitalic
12. “Birthday Song” – 2 Chainz feat. Kanye West
13. “Lurkin” – Waka Flocka Flame feat. Plies
14. “The House That Heaven Built” -Japandroids
15. “Snakes Are Charmed” – Torche
16. “Hacker” – Death Grips
17. “Bad Girls” – M.I.A.
18. “Bangarang” – Skrillex feat. Sirah
19. “Fuckin’ Problems” – A$AP Rocky, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chainz
20. “Hot Cheetos & Takis” – Y.N. RichKids