Phillip here. Continuing our tradition of awkward band member introductions, how about I share with you an embarrassing childhood story? Okay, not yet, but it will come soon enough! As much as I would love to talk about myself, this blog entry is dedicated to the people of Mississippi, and to all of the joy they brought us last weekend.
In preparation for tomorrows Grammy awards ceremony, I thought it would be appropriate for us to talk through our favorite records from 2016 (since, most of these won’t see much love from the Academy…)
The Strokes – Future Present Past
Guitar Hero introduced me to The Strokes in 9th grade, when I was beginning to understand that the mighty Zep wasn’t the ONLY rock n’ roll band to roam the earth. It was the Strokes’ Reptilia that caught my attention with its poppy hooks and edgy, unorthodox production. Their latest project, Future Present Past, fuses the Strokes signature brand of lo-fi robo-rock, with an ominous sea of noisy guitars and keys. The concept of this EP is to demonstrate three phases of songwriting from the Strokes’ career: what they used to sound like, what they currently sound like, and what they’re going to sound like. “OBLIVIUS” was my number one guitar jam of 2016. On top of that, a remix of OBLIVIUS (produced by the bands’ drummer) makes an appearance in the end of the EP, and it’s just as listenable as the original version. And I don’t even like remixes.
Wild Nothing – Life of Pause
And just when I thought satellite radio had lost its relevancy, a new band called Wild Nothing wiggled their way into daily rotation on Sirius XMU. This dream-pop group caught me by surprise with their ambient guitar playing (which, as a whole is growing on me) and layers of dirty drum machines. If you enjoy listening to bands like the War On Drugs, then Wild Nothing is for you. I would love catch them live sometime this year.
Kings K – Beyond Control
What can I say? It’s Kings K. These guys are constantly pushing their musical bounds. Amidst the sea of controversy surrounding “A Prayer”, they continue to be well received by the CCM market – which may be the most difficult market to break into. The album as a whole feels raw, untamed, and honest. It’s a musical journey that mirrors the many ups and downs we face in our Christian walk. I hope that Kings K continues to challenge the industry with their forward thinking compositions and lyrics.
Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book
Confession time – I didn’t enjoy listening to hip-hop until I started college. For whatever reason, I shunned the genre as a whole (with the exception of the classics, like Run-DMC and Public Enemy) all throughout high school. That’s just called being close-minded, folks! I’m glad that I finally came around, because 2016 was a monumental year for hip-hop. Here we have Chance, an artist who effectively made imaginative, non-commercialized hip-hop accessible for anyone willing to give it a listen. From top to bottom, Coloring Book is pure gold. The lack of polished vocal performances and the simplicity of his beats are refreshing. It’s hard to pick a favorite track, but I will say that Blessings will move you. I’m deeply encouraged to see Chance taking the opportunity to share Christ through his music. In doing so, he’s able to spread positivity and gospel truth to a mainstream audience. Let’s hope he takes home a Grammy (or two) for this one.
M83 – Junk
This mess of 80’s-ish spaced-out pop is one heck of a ride. I’ve been a fan of M83 since high school, but I love the feel and production behind their newest record. From a production viewpoint, it’s captivating and sonically interesting. As for wow factors, it features Steve Vai ripping an obnoxious (read satisfying) solo on their lead single “Go!” It’s a glorious moment filled with loads of retro cheese. If you’re looking for a fun record to chill with, look no further.
Band of Horses – Why Are You OK
Dawes – We’re All Gonna Die
Vulfpeck – The Beautiful Game
I haven't done a great job seeking out new music this year. I've discovered artists that have been around awhile and listened to more podcasts in the car than I have music (They help me stay awake), but a few have made a great impact. Here they are:
Vulfpeck - The Beautiful Game
My friend Jordy introduced me to Vulfpeck early this year, and I'm so glad. They're one of the best new acts around if you like listenable-yet-musically impressive songs.
Lucius - Good Grief
Lucius became one of my favorite bands in 2015 when they were the opener at a Lake Street Dive show (Sorry L.S.D. - Lucius blew you out of the water). Their sophomore album showcased a more mature and diverse Lucius, and did not disappoint.
Kings K - Beyond Control
To be honest, this album had to grow on me. The rawness caught me off guard, but the best steaks aren't the well done ones. This crushed the limits of Sacred music and I'm thankful for it!
Penny & Sparrow - Christmas Songs
I know it's weird to have a Christmas song on this list, but in my opinion, this is one of the best-produced albums of the year. These sweet guys' version of "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming" is a pool of sweet Christmas melody. It somehow fills every essential frequency with such a small amount of instruments... just listen to it even though Christmas is over.
Dawes - We're All Gonna Die
This past summer, my friend Will and I snuck into a Dawes show and caught the last 3 songs. That was pretty much my first exposure to the band, and after reading up on their newest album a bit, I gave it a listen. I knew it would be good (mostly because Blake Mills produced it), but I didn't know it would be this good. Go listen to it.
Sia - This is Acting
Sia is better than almost every female pop singer and 87% less famous. This album changed that, and you'll see why if you listen to it!
Colony House - Only the Lonely
If this album had released on its initial release date, it most likely would have been # 1 on my list. The 4 singles that have come out so far are refreshing rock n roll tunes to say the least.
Chance the Rapper - Coloring Book
This album is still growing on me, but I realize what a game changer it is. He's an indie artist who released an indie album and took it to the top. It also brings what seems to be a genuine gospel influence to the rap world, so that's cool. He's doing it right.
Now, go listen to some new music!