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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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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The 10 Best Albums of 2015 So Far

Posted by Billy Gil, July 1, 2015 06:38pm | Post a Comment

best albums of 2015

Now that the year is officially half over, we’re checking back over the albums that have been released thus far in 2015. Maybe all of this will change in six months, but for now, here are the albums I’ve been most excited about this year. We’d love to hear some more under-the-radar albums that came out this year that haven’t been as covered by the blogosphere, so please leave a comment and suggest some more picks.  

1. Father John MistyI Love You, Honeybear

father john misty i love you honeybearThe former Fleet Foxes drummer has put out the most emotionally manipulative album of 2015, and that’s a good thing. Songs like “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” are all sweeping melodrama on the surface, horns and strings and Southwest jangle decorating Joshua Tillman’s sonorous voice, but his words destroy the superficial veneer the handsome troubadour puts out on first blush, sneaking snarky lines into a love song to his new wife (“I wanna take you in the kitchen/Lift up your wedding dress someone was probably murdered in”). Songs like “The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apt.” and “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow” dismiss young would-be groupies with borderline arrogance (the oft-quoted “She says, like literally, music is the air she breathes/And the malaprops make me want to fucking scream”), Tillman’s use of detail flip your impression of him from douche to annoyingly charming dude who’s just telling it like it is. And as the album progresses, Tillman’s observations turn more self-effacing, and his pathos makes for some brutally candid moments—“Bored in the U.S.A.’s” white people problems are played for literal laughs, and the self-loathing present beneath the beard transcends its trappings and becomes entirely relatable. It’s also a great love album because it’s romantic but doesn’t sugarcoat shit, starting semi-sarcastically using the pet name “honeybear” and later featuring the line “Maybe love is just an economy based on resource scarcity/What I fail to see is what that’s gotta do with you and me.” There have easily been more sentimental singer/songwriter releases in 2015, but Tillman’s cynicism feels like the most honest thing I’ve heard this year.

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Album Picks: Bjork, Courtney Barnett, The Go! Team, Surf City

Posted by Billy Gil, March 24, 2015 11:11am | Post a Comment

Bjork - Vulnicura

bjork vulnicura lpVulnicura is the album Bjork fans were longing for. Co-producing with white-hot underground beatmaker Arca, Bjork crafts some of her most singular and affecting music yet, writing complex string arrangements that elevate the drama in songs like “Stonemilker” to that of classics like Homogenic’s “Joga” or “Bachelorette.” Vulnicura measures the effects of the end of a relationship—the end of Bjork’s partnership with artist Matthew Barney serves as the catalyst—and she acts as an emotional scientist on tracks like “Lionsong,” tinkering with what’s left in the aftermath (“Should I throw oil on one of these wounds? But which one?”) amid vocal manipulation that calls to mind her work on the voice-centric Medulla. As that striking album art portrays, the core of Vulnicura is a gaping wound. On “History of Touches,” she sees every touch and sexual ecounter as a singularity, illustrated by electronics that glow like an aurora borealis. But her shield of objectivism crumbles on “Black Lake,” Vulnicura’s absolutely devastating centerpiece. Over 10 minutes, Bjork details how hitting absolute bottom at the end of a relationship that feels like a life’s worth of work coming to and end. Every so often, the music, a dark swirl of strings and beats supplied by Bjork and Arca, cuts out for a strange, long coda that feels like a necessary swallowing of air before she delivers the next stanza, sometimes wearily, sometimes desperately. Each time it hits like a punch to the gut. She’s simply never done anything so affecting before; given her catalog, this alone is remarkable.

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Bjork's 'Vulnicura' Has Insane New Cover Art

Posted by Billy Gil, March 3, 2015 02:00pm | Post a Comment

Bjork can always manage to surprise us. After Beyonce-ing her new album, Vulnicura, online earlier this year, she's just revealed the cover art for Vulnicura's upcoming physical release on March 24, and it's a doozy.

Designed by Bjork and Andrew Thomas Huang, the image still has the open heart featured on the album's digital release, but instead of looking like the Rubber Man from "American Horror Story," now the figure on the cover (I'm guessing it's Bjork) looks more like a victim from Pompeii, frozen in ash while doing yoga.

Bjork's albums have a history of looking pretty badass, especially the Alexander McQueen-designed cover for her masterpiece Homogenic. Speaking of that album (and all of her others), they're also due on LP reissue this month.

Check out that back bend below! You can also preorder Vulnicura now on LP and CD.

bjork vulnicura lp new cover art


Hear "Black Lake," the harrowing centerpiece to Vulnicura, below:

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