As one of the hip summer interns here at 88Nine, it's time for me to put together a ranked list of my favorite albums that have come out thus far this year. So, without further ado, here we go:
13. Long. Live. A$AP – A$AP Rocky
Easily the most recognized of the Harlem-based collective A$AP Mob (although be on the lookout for A$AP Ferg; his Trap Lord drops next month, and it is primed to be hot), A$AP Rocky and his sexy French braids couldn’t come onto the scene any smoother than he does with Long. Live. A$AP. The former crack dealer gives new life to gangsta rap as he exudes that dangerous swagger over infectious beats, featuring too many solid guest appearances to list. Our kids can once again pretend to be ‘hood out in the ‘burbs. We all know Dirty Stallis can be a tough place to grow up.
That's how the album opens. Wow…
12. Regions of Light and Sound of God – Jim James
Jim James did practically all the work himself on this spiritual adventure, which is pretty damn impressive. The atmospheric record is so packed with engaging melodies that even atheists can’t take their headphones off for too long. Solid rhythm loops throughout purvey those melodies with just enough weight to keep them from becoming bogged down in their ethereality If there’s one album this year to go to when you screw in that stained glass light bulb, spark up that patchouli and bergamot incense, and are looking to just completely space out, it has to be this one.
Girl in a pink dress with a buffalo head. That pretty much says all you need it to.
11. Wolf – Tyler, The Creator
No other rapper is doing what this guy is right now. Leader and sober monitor of OFWGKTA, he ends his psychiatric trilogy with Wolf, a very interesting, yet dark, album that sees the man attempting to deal with his newfound fame. Tyler’s lyrics are extremely self-aware and oblivious to the concept of political correctness. His beats have bizzare samples at times but still fit together so well with his impeccable flow. All of this makes the songs the perfect amount of interesting. It’s definitely an ostracizing album, something the music industry needs more of sometimes to keep things fresh.
Dude knows how to direct a music video.
10. II – Unknown Mortal Orchestra
These guys are helping to pave the way for lo-fi, funky psychedelia and I am all for it. II is filled with catchy riffs backed by some solid drumming, all of which is just begging to be sampled by a cultured hip-hop producer, but that’s beside the point (watch out for my debut as MC Wit sometime soon). All of the arrangements are so crisp, but the instruments playing them are so fuzzy. It really is an absolutely awesome dichotomy. From start to finish, it’s hard to not want to get down in a smoky room with horrible acoustics while listening to Unknown Mortal Orchestra do their thing, a night that sounds pretty damn good to me.
McLovin meets Manson. Yeah, I can alliterate.
9. Floating Coffin – Thee Oh Sees
This is a band that you need to learn about; and fast. Thee Oh Sees are a proven mainstay of the San Francisco garage scene (my favorite scene) and are consistently putting out solid material every year. In fact, they spent only seven months (count ‘em, seven) in between releasing their last album and Floating Coffin. It’s heavy, it’s gritty, it’s ready for a headbanging. It’s a simple freewheeling feast, the exact type of fun ride we’ve come to expect from this band as they experiment with whatever they think will sound cool. At the end of the day, that’s what music should be about: having fun while trying new things.
See what I mean!? How intense was that? No, really, how intense was that!?
8. …Like Clockwork – Queens of the Stone Age
Joshua Homme and his crew are back after a long six-year recording hiatus filled with sweet side projects and a much needed debut reissue to grant us with this musical masterpiece. Homme returns the band to what made them great in the first place while having a stacked roster of collaborators to assist in elevating the record above mediocrity. It’s soaked in that sensual viscera, transporting you to an alluring wasteland you’ve waited for so long to come back to. I also can’t forget to mention that the frontman’s soulful croon is as amazing as ever. Welcome back.
All hail Boneface.
7. We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic – Foxygen
Not afraid to be champions of the whole late 60s, early 70s era that rocked the the AM airwaves of yore, Foxygen pulls out all of the stops and gives it to you just how you want it. They do perceivably imitate all of the heroes of that era, but they do it in a way that more or less pays homage to them, reinventing them almost, that keeps it all from becoming stale. Listening to the album really just reminds you of all of the groundbreaking things that were being done in rock music as it grew into adulthood. It’s the closest you’ll ever get to jumping in a time machine. Consider Sam France and Jonathan Rado (look for his solo outing right after labor day) a musical version of Doc Brown.
I like to think that they've been sitting on that childhood footage forever, just waiting to make a serious music video with it. Also, who doesn't love western wear?
6. Light Up Gold – Parquet Courts
This is probably my favorite debut effort of recent memory (which admittedly, isn’t that great). It’s a punk album, but it holds a sort of americana influence to it that only these kinds of Texans living in New York could deliver. And even though that transplant has proven to turn out badly in the past, I’m sure that they’re destined to be more fortunate than ol’ Joe Buck. It’s also steeped in that laid-back attitude that made 90s alt-rock so awesome. In a sense, they’re already ahead of their time, seeing as all of that stuff is going to make a heavy comeback around 2020 by way of the highly disputed 30 year rule that I firmly stand behind.. Fingers crossed, I’m knocking on wood.
Breathing new life into the words "forget about it." Thank you, Donnie Brasco.
5. Monomania – Deerhunter
The eclectic personality of Brad Cox and his band shines through on Monomania. Each song is so distinct and unique from the others, that listening to it straight through makes for a brilliant trip. At times riff heavy, at times stripped down, every turn just grabs hold of you, until by the end of it all you’re wrapped in a heavy embrace courtesy of the stylistic bouncing of Deerhunter. I can’t think of anything better to blast on that terrible sound system in your beat up Chevy Celebrity with a cigarillo hanging out of your mouth while you cruise through the seedier parts of the city underneath the moonlight.
My mind was blown after watching that happen on a talk show. It ruined my ability to fall asleep that night. And while I'm on the topic of NBC, will somebody tell WTMJ they're fighting a losing battle, please? Thank you.
4. Woman – Rhye
Definitely the most sexual album of the year so far, Rhye’s Woman is essential for any playlist you choose for those times when you’re planning to be around a woman, especially if they don’t happen too often. Mike Milosh’s countertenor is to die for, as is Robin Hannibal’s sophisticated musical arrangements, expertly blending synthetic and organic elements together to create beautiful backgrounds (be sure to listen to Quadron’s new album Avalanche, his team up with Coco O, a featured vocalist on Tyler’s Wolf as chance would have it, as it is another great electronic R&B outing). I can’t remember the last time listening to a record left me feeling so smooth.
I wish that was my life.
3. MCII – Mikal Cronin
The sophomore outing for the singer/songwriter/instrumentalist shows Mikal Cronin giving his friend and colleague Ty Segall a run for his money in terms of expertise(although watch out for that man's Fuzz project come October, as well as his solo effort Sleeper next month). In an album filled with poppy power hooks an excellent falsettos all about youthful angst, I dare you to crack a frown while listening to MCII. That’s what I thought, you can’t. And at the same time, Cronin doesn’t stray too far from his garage roots, granting the record an absolute perfect balance of sound that it’s impossible to badmouth. It’s essentially an accessible garage album, something the genre needs to attract it’s haters and make them realize that it’s the way of the future (I hope).
I wish I could've been at that house party.
2. Yeezus – Kanye West
As soon as I pop this album in and hear those bombastically raw beats I become instantly empowered. I want to punch through the nearest wall, because I AM THE GREATEST THAT EVER WAS! GET OUT MY WAY, SON, GET OUT MY WAY!!! This album is filthy and conceited, but never distasteful. He set out to show his prowess, no matter who gets hurt, and that’s what he did. You can’t scold a man for accomplishing his goal, you can only praise him. What’s better than an artist not making any compromises to complete his craft? Nothing. And at the very least, you can’t argue that the musical compositions aren’t supremely dope. I can only imagine the hoops Rick Rubin had to jump through to get this thing out on time. If he has any more room to hold some props, I wholeheartedly give them to him.
That was just the right amount of creepy.
1. Random Access Memories – Daft Punk
An extremely ambitious project that payed off in every sense of the phrase. Deciding to forgo sampling and go with live session musicians to recreate the best time for dance music that was the late 70s and early 80s (see: 30 year rule), Daft Punk puts together a seriously unequivocally matched album from an artistic standpoint that brings back disco and funk in such a new way that it can only really be described as masterful. I just hope that it catches on for the rest of the decade, burying the dubstep and pop that one currently finds at a dance club. If by the time I can legally imbibe this stuff takes over, I owe my seemingly unforeseeable enjoyment at an establishment meant explicitly for dancing to these guys. Lord knows disco balls still exist for a reason.
That teaser literally couldn't be any more perfect.
Que up this playlist on spotify: