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The 50 Best Albums of 2015

Posted by Billy Gil, December 18, 2015 07:40pm | Post a Comment

50 best albums of 2015

1. Tame Impala - Currents

tame impala currents lpTame Impala’s Kevin Parker shifts gears a bit for his third album, drawing as much from ’80s soul and disco as he has from prog-rock and psychedelia. Though such a change could threaten to derail a good thing, Parker is the consummate perfectionist, and Currents’ various strands are braided together without a hair out of place. Opener “Let It Happen” builds from a proggish uphill chug into a psychedelic freakout and finally hits its stride with a silky disco beat. “Eventually” relies on rock dynamics but uses fat synthesizers to achieve its booming changes. And a tune like crystalline psych-funk jam “The Less I Know the Better” seems to marry all of Parker’s influences into a perfect amalgam, calling to mind everything from Michael Jackson to My Bloody Valentine. Through it all, Parker is the same chill knob-twiddler he’s always been, but he’s come out of his shell a bit more—it takes confidence to command a song like “’Cause I’m a Man,” which gloriously oozes ’70s cheese, akin to Gary Wright’s “Dream Weaver” or 10CC’s “I’m Not in Love.” From the get-go, Parker himself seems to be reflecting on the change—“Something’s trying to get out/And it’s never been closer,” he sings on “Let It Happen.” It’s confirmed by the time we get to “Yes I’m Changing,” ostensibly a breakup ballad but it seems more pointedly about an introvert accepting accidental stardom (“Curse indulgence and despise the fame/There’s a world out there and it's calling my name”). This lyrical theme, the sense that Parker is coming into his own as not only a songwriter and performer but human being, gives Currents a unity that even the superb Lonerism didn’t have. In every way, Currents is a complete triumph, both as a fascinating headphones album for production junkies and as a set of immaculate psych-pop songs that feels endlessly giving.

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5 New Holiday Vinyl LPs That Don't Suck

Posted by Billy Gil, December 11, 2015 02:40pm | Post a Comment

cool holiday lpsWhen you're looking for holiday music, there are always the old reliables, but sometimes we need some fresh tunes. Just like we did last year, here are a few great new holiday albums that have just been released on LP.

Sharon Jones & The Dap-KingsIt’s a Holiday Soul Party

sharon jones it's a holiday soul party lpSharon Jones & The Dap-Kings come up with a winning set of originals and classic holiday tunes, all rendered in their impeccably performed and produced retro-funk-soul style. The band strikes all the right notes, from celebratory (a “White Christmas” rave-up is an easy standout) to wistful (“Ain’t No Chimneys in the Projects” and “Please Come Home for Christmas” are especially touching). It hangs together beautifully as a set and would work perfectly as an upbeat backdrop to any holiday soiree.

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Album Picks: Grimes, jennylee, Cass McCombs, Archy Marshall

Posted by Billy Gil, December 11, 2015 08:47am | Post a Comment

Grimes Art Angels

grimes art angels lpJust released physically, Grimes’ Art Angels is a brightly colored collection of artpop magical realism. The drumline beats and sunny guitars and melodies of “California” and the title track could almost pass for something on mainstream radio, if not for Clare Boucher’s clarion voice cutting through. Similarly, the nimble “Flesh Without Blood” might not be the most original song Grimes has put to tape, but it’s the catchiest and is damn near irresistible. Yet in between those songs we get “Scream,” which has none of the safety of her more accessible tunes, between Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes’ twisting flow and Boucher’s curdled screech. The previously released “REALiTi” throws fans of her more straightforward electro-pop a bone, though it continues with the posi vibes and influences of K-pop and early ’90s house that flow through the rest of the album. Meanwhile, “Venus Fly,” her spacey hip hop duet with Janelle Monae, is a pure delight, coming off like a futuristic art-school spin on the Spice Girls, and “Kill vs. Maim” has the feel of the drama kids taking over a pep rally with Boucher’s yelp simultaneously spirited and demented. Boucher has no use for genre boundaries and is seemingly allergic to negativity, all of which gives Art Angels an unbeatable all-embracing energy. The biggest change from Visions is that Boucher’s personality is more front-and-center; whereas that album could be more cold and cerebral in its in-between tracks, Art Angels is entirely engaging, and even its most digitized moments are stained with blood. 

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Weekly Roundup: KING, Rangda, Kendrick Lamar, La Sera, Golden Daze

Posted by Billy Gil, December 4, 2015 02:52pm | Post a Comment

Last weekly roundup of the year! Check back in with us next year for more coverage of local music from L.A. and the Bay Area.

KING – “Hey (Extended Mix)”

king bandThis gorgeous cosmic R&B love ballad comes from L.A.’s KING. The track gently unfurls its breathy vocals and layered synths so gracefully, you almost miss the nuance that makes the song something special. It’s reminiscent of Stevie Wonder’s best, turning a simple sentiment like “You were made for me, and I, you,” from trite to transcendent. The song first appeared on their 2011 EP The Story, which Pitchfork points out got them the attention of none other than Prince. This expanded version will be on their debut LP, We Are KING, which is due in February.

 

Rangda – “To Melt the Moon”

rangdaBen Chasny of Six Organs of Admittance, Sir Richard Bishop of Sun City Girls and Six Organs contributor Chris Corsano come together to craft a serpentine, snarling guitar track called “To Melt the Moon.” Chasny’s psych notes and Bishop’s African-influenced playing dance with Corsano’s steady 5/4 beat like a North African surf-rock track. Rangda’s The Heretic’s Bargain is due Feb. 19 on Drag City. Stream below via Pitchfork.

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20 Vinyl LPs to Look For in the Holiday Season

Posted by Billy Gil, November 30, 2015 09:00am | Post a Comment

vinyl lps for gifts

Looking for a gift for yourself or someone special this holiday season? Check out these 20 upcoming or recently released vinyl LPs, including some of the best albums of 2015, holiday classics and rad reissues.

Phil SpectorA Christmas Gift For You [Red Vinyl]
Out Now

phil spector a christmas gift for you vinylThe greatest Christmas album ever! If you don’t have it already, get these lively wall-of-sound, girl-group renditions of holiday classics like “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and “White Christmas” on shiny red vinyl.

 

William OnyeaborAtomic Bomb
Out Now

william onyeabor atomic bomb lpJust released as a “Record Store Day First” Black Friday title, world music legend William Onyeabor’s second album includes the title track, a standout from his well-received 2013 compilation, Who Is William Onyeabor? Get into these hypnotic Afropop grooves, and pick up his other just-reissued albums, too: Body and Soul, Crashes in Love, Tomorrow, Hypertension, Good Name and Anything You Sow.

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