Yesterday this very website celebrated its sixth anniversary (yay!). Another big milestone is coming up for the duo that make up Air, the 20th anniversary of their debut Premiers Symptômes. They’ve announced a tour (their first US dates in 7 years) and put out a compilation of their best work since they hit the scene. You can hear it on Spotify or order a deluxe version here.
There was a time for a while when I would listen to Air almost every day. I was working in a kitchen making lunch and dinner for frat boys as one of my jobs for the catering company at which I was working. It was thankless to say the least, so I made a “morning mix” playlist to get my head in the game. It was all stuff from their first four records (minus Suicides, which would have the opposite effect to what I was hoping). It worked like a charm.
Air have always been great at creating an atmosphere with their music. Even into their later works, they’ve stood out as a group that’s identifiable-you know who you’re hearing without even thinking about it.
They also have a knack for picking artists to collaborate with that can elevate their songs to the next level. A few guests pop up in my list below, including Jarvis Cocker and Beck.
The live shows are taking place this June. They’ll be hitting Chicago, as well as New York, Boston, DC, San Francisco, LA, and Santa Barbara. Tickets for these shows are on sale now. Click here for more details.
10. “The Duelist”
9. “Sing Sang Sung”
8. “So Light Is Her Footfall”
7. “Mike Mills”
6. “Highschool Lover”
5. “One Hell Of A Party”
4. “The Vagabond”
3. “La Femme d’Argent”
2. “Playground Love”
1. “Kelly Watch The Stars”
Lemonade isn’t in my top 50 albums of the year. As queen Bey herself would say, “Sorry, I ain’t sorry.” If that makes you say “Boy, bye” than I’ll quote her again: “Suck on my balls, pause. I ain’t thinkin’ ’bout you.”
Like most years, 2016 was neither as bad as some would like to make you think nor great. Unless you’re just talking about the year as a whole. Then it was complete trash. But, musically not so horrible. Certainly enough good music to fill up a list of 50 albums you should’ve heard. I actually could have stretched it out to 75 if I really wanted.
Below, find the 50 albums released in 2016 that I found worthwhile. I’ve spent a decent amount of time with each one, but the top ten or twenty were my favorites. Beyond that you could mess around with the order and I wouldn’t disagree with your opinion. Please feel free to list your own favorites in the comments below, or tell me why I’m an idiot for not including something you liked this year.
50. Bleached-Welcome To The Worms
49. Islands-Taste/Should I Remain Here At Sea?
48. Mudcrutch-Mudcrutch 2
46. Jamila Woods-HEAVN
45. J. Cole-4 Your Eyes Only
44. Cousin Dud-Sunspots
43. Okkervil River-Away
42. Cross Record-Wabi Sabi
40. Arkells-Morning Report
39. July Talk-Touch
38. Hiss Golden Messenger-Heart Like A Levee
37. Solange-A Seat At The Table
36. Santigold-99 Cents
35. Ezra Furman-Big Fugitive Life
34. Shovels And Rope-Little Seeds
33. Fort Frances-Alio
31. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds-The Skeleton Tree
30. Mitski-Puberty 2
28. Twin Peaks-Down In Heaven
27. Brian Fallon-Painkillers
26. Deap Vally-Femejism
25. The All-About-Be Safe Goodbye
24. The Felice Brothers-Life In The Dark
23. HÆLOS-Full Circle
22. Jason Collett-Song And Dance Man
21. St. Lenox-Ten Hymns From My American Gothic
20. Sons Of An Illustrious Father-Revol
19. Conor Oberst-Ruminations
18. Blood Orange-Freetown Sound
17. A Tribe Called Quest-We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service
16. Glen Hansard-A Season On The Line
15. Night School-Blush
14. The Thermals-We Disappear
13. Slothrust-Everyone Else
11. AJJ-The Bible 2
10. The Strumbellas-Hope
9. Savages-Adore Life
8. Hinds-Leave Me Alone
7. Kendrick Lamar-untitled unmastered
6. Childish Gambino-Awaken, My Love!
5. Frank Ocean-Blond
4. Leonard Cohen-You Want It Darker
3. Angel Olsen-My Woman
2. David Bowie-Blackstar
1. Christopher The Conquered-I’m Giving Up On Rock & Roll
It’s hard to believe it’s already halfway through the year. Time flies, but at least we’ve had some great music to keep us company through that long winter and week-long spring. Now it’s summer and festival season is already in full swing. I’m looking forward to getting some pictures over the next few weeks at Pitchfork and 80/35 that will make the end-of-year list of Best Photos. Til then, these will have to do
The best songs this year come from a wide variety of genres. Pop music has been getting more interesting and some artists that have been around for a while have found new life. Below, find my top songs of the year so far, in no particular order. I usually listen to it on shuffle.
For those that don’t already know, I keep a running “Best of” on the site at all times for albums. You can click at the top where it says “Records Of The Year” or you can follow this link. I can tell you, I haven’t heard anything better than Christopher The Conquered’s I’m Giving Up On Rock and Roll. He remains in the number 1 spot until I do.
10. Seeing The Rolling Stones-In hindsight I probably should’ve just let the myth live in my imagination. The greatest rock and roll band of all-time (in some minds) playing their biggest hits right in front of me! Well, after an opening slot by Rascal Flats in which they covered Hozier’s “Take Me To Church” in a medley of what I assume were RF originals. I could be wrong though, it may have been the lead singer re-enacting the sounds his favorite cow made when Pa sent it to the slaughterhouse.
By the time Mick and the gang came out I was kinda over it. Then they launched into a phoned-in 2 hour set of classic Stones jams being played by what can only be considered the greatest Rolling Stones cover band ever. Mick could barely catch his breath during “Gimme Shelter” and Keith didn’t seem to pay much attention until it was his turn to sing “Before They Make Me Run.”
9. Dead Weather-I was feeling pretty good about Jack White’s current role in popular music:idolized by some, respected by most, hated by a few. He ended his last tour saying he was going on a long break, and then BAM! A new Dead Weather record. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first two albums, but they were better than this garbage.
8. Viet Cong-Congrats gents, you made a pretty good record that I’ll probably never listen to again. Look, when someone asks you about your name, just say “We like the name so screw it!” Do not say well we didn’t really know the origins of the term Viet Cong or “we never meant our name to be provocative or harmful.” It’s ignorant and makes you look foolish. At this point I feel like a name change is the only possible solution. Maybe something like Benevolent Leader or Chairman Cow.
7. Drake’s bad records-When If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late came out, a lot of people were convinced that it was a song dump released to satisfy his contract and free him from the shackles of his label. Initially met with a lot of criticism, that backlash gave way to a kind of acceptance. Many fans have even called the tracks “some of his best work.” SHUT UP! Everything Drake has put out this year: the full-length, the Future collab, goddam “Hotline Bling” have all been awful and a huge step backward for the Toronto rapper/singer/talker/horrible dancer.
6. The Frank Ocean Wait-Like every other human on the planet I’ve been waiting for the follow-up to channel ORANGE for what feels like forever. Ocean himself got the buzz started posting ominously about July. Now December, and still no Frank Ocean record. There has been some talk of a new track called “White Ferrari” dropping soon, but will it be enough?
5. Sam Smith’s Bond Theme-What a waste of time listening to this turd. I mean, I knew it was going to suck when I found out Sam Smith was doing it, but holy crap! There have been some not-so-great Bond themes in the past, but this one takes the cake.
4. Tidal-Everyone wants a piece of the streaming pie, I get that. I really do. But to bring around a conglomerate of some of the highest paid entertainers and say “We deserve to be paid for our work!,” um…yeah you kind of already do. Madonna, is the money from Tidal really enough to even notice? Jay Z, Beyoncé, Coldplay? Y’all been getting paid for years. Why not develop a new platform like Bandcamp that ACTUALLY helps struggling musicians make money? You know what? Nevermind. Bandcamp already does that so I’m just gonna go spend a year’s worth of your subscription money on independent artists.
3. Jamie xx-Ok, so remember that first the xx album that was amazing? And the second album that wasn’t amazing but was still ok? Take that, but remove any kind of compelling sounds or themes and you’ll have jamie xx’s solo record In Colour. It’s enough to make me wanna stab q-tips in my ears just to make it interesting. How this steaming pile keeps coming up on year-end best lists is beyond me.
2. Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats-I dig Nathaniel Rateliff. His solo stuff is really great and I think he’s an interesting dude. Even this record isn’t BAD, there’s just something missing for me. It feels like a stab at trying to get in with The Alabama Shakes scene which also feels a little false. I know some people really love this, but I’m not buying in.
1. Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings-You know what’s great? That when an artist dies we can go through all the crappy demos and stuff they never meant anyone to hear and release them so everyone can tear apart their horrible version of a Beatles song. Maybe the idea came from a good place, but I can’t imagine Kurt would have wanted this.
Happy 72nd birthday, Mr. Malick! One of the great visual storytellers of the last half-century, Malick’s films are more-or-less love it or hate it. I generally fall on the love side, though I admit he’s made some clunkers. Here’s how I would rank his films. What are your favorites?
6. To The Wonder
5. The New World
4. The Thin Red Line
2. Tree Of Life
1. Days Of Heaven
I saw AV Club had just done this and I hated some of the films on their list, so I made my own.
48. Love Is Strange
47. Take This Waltz
45. The Town
44. Kings Of Summer
43. Sleepwalk With Me
40. 20 Feet From Stardom
38. Into The Abyss
37. In A World…
36. Big Hero 6
34. The Babadook
32. Short Term 12
30. 21 Jump Street
29. Midnight In Paris
28. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
27. The Act Of Killing
26. Wreck-It Ralph
25. Holy Motors
24. Mistaken For Strangers
23. Obvious Child
22. Begin Again
21. Source Code
19. The One I Love
17. The Tree Of Life
16. Django Unchained
15. Grand Budapest Hotel
14. Force Majeure
13. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World
11. Upstream Color
7. Inside Out
6. Beasts Of The Southern Wild
5. We Need To Talk About Kevin
4. The Wolf Of Wall Street
3. Moonrise Kingdom
2. The Master
1.The Place Beyond The Pines
It’s been a pretty good year for music so far. Last week I posted my top albums that have come out this year (up to Friday of last week). Now it’s time for the best songs list, which I’ve limited to 25 (and yes, two of those spots are taken by Leon Bridges so deal with it).
25. The Decemberists-“The Singer Addresses His Audience”
24. St. Lenox-“Just Friends”
23. Of Montreal-“Virgilian Lots”
22. Hiatus Kaiyote-“Shaolin Monk Motherfunk”
21. Leon Bridges-“Lisa Sawyer”
20. St. Vincent-“Teenage Talk”
19. Fort Frances-“Anonymous”
18. Ivan & Alyosha-“Easy To Love”
17. Molehill-“Gain Green”
16. The Mountain Goats-“Heel Turn 2”
15. Torres-“Cowboy Guilt”
14. California Wives-“Over & Over”
13. Natalie Prass-“My Baby Don’t Understand Me”
12. Gloom Balloon-“You Are Shadowless, I Am Windowless”
11. July Talk-“Summer Dress”
10. Shilpa Ray-“Shilpa Ray On Broadway”
9. Ike Reilly-“Born On Fire”
8. Bhi Bhiman-“Moving To Brussells”
7. Thundercat-“Them Changes”
5. Ezra Furman-“Lousy Connection”
3. Kendrick Lamar-“King Kunta”
2. Leon Bridges-“Pull Away”
1. Tobias Jesso, jr.-“How Could You Babe”