Another year, another blog post. The trend continues wherein I lament how far behind I am on listening to new releases. My “listen later” list has exceeded 1000 tracks and 89 hours of material to confront. I really wonder if I will ever catch up and it’s not for lack of trying. From the stuff I did manage to listen to, I have four favorites (presented here in alphabetical order).
This post is dedicated to the memory of my best friend from middle school and high school, Christian Cabañero. He was one of the most passionate and unique souls I have known and I will treasure the memories of surviving our goofiest years together.
Arovane – Seismograf
Crystalline and scratchy digital sound design that manages to feel cold and warm simultaneously. It evokes in me a nostalgic feeling similar to my first experience with Arovane, Tides.
Once again, I am WAY behind in listening to this year’s releases. My Spotify “listen later” playlist has 772 songs and would take 50 hours, 25 min to listen to all the way through. My downloads folder has over 3000 items, almost all folders of mp3s from the last few years. I know there’s gold in there. Anyway, here are my favorite albums that I heard this past year (in alphabetical order):
Another year with young kids (ages 3-years-old and 10-months-old) and my backlog of albums-to-listen-to continues to grow exponentially. I feel so far behind and yet I would venture to guess that I still listen to more new music than the average listener. Here’s a handful of albums that grabbed my attention this past year.
What a year. Historic. COVID-19 is a global pandemic and it has disrupted life all over the world. We have lost many entertainment legends this year, including many musical giants (not all to COVID). RIP Harold Budd, Tony Allen, Eddie Van Halen, Neil Peart, Manu Dibango, Millie Small, Little Richard, Ennio Morricone, Julian Bream, Toots Hibbert, Bill Withers, and many others.
There has been a great outpouring of music during the various lockdown periods this year. I, unfortunately, have not had time to keep up because the remote nature of my job meant that the pace never dropped when everything else ground to a halt (though, really, I should count it as fortunate because I have been steadily employed and even started a new job).
Here are my favorite music releases that I heard this past year (in alphabetical order):
So… last year I confessed in my annual blog post that I couldn’t keep up with my usual listening habits so my list of favorites was pulled from a very limited pool. This year was even worse in terms of listening time! As such, my list is super short.
But, thankfully, not having time for listening did not mean no musical activity. Ever since my daughter was born I have been writing lyrics again. I only managed to write and record one of those songs this year. Click through to give a listen…
For much of this year I felt like I had less time than usual for active music listening. I got married, my wife was pregnant, she gave birth to our beautiful daughter, I had work commitments, my band The Twilights recorded and released a new album, etc. As a result I have a huge backlog of albums that I wanted to check out that I have not listened to yet.
So, this year’s list consists of albums that I did hear that made a strong enough initial impression on me that I either 1.) wrote it down to remember for this list, or 2.) immediately suggested some like-minded friends have a listen — with the caveat that my survey was woefully incomplete as I probably only made it through half of my to-do list of albums.
Anyway, here’s my list in alphabetical order:
Beak〉 – 〉〉〉 Geoff Barrow (of Portishead fame) has brought his attention to groove and atmosphere to a fusion of prog rock and krautrock. It’s not highly technical music, but I use the prog rock label because of the production style and drum sounds as well as some pretty precise playing.
2017 was Donald Trump’s first year as president of the United States. Perhaps it is “outrage fatigue” at play, but it seems in retrospect that the albums that resonated with me this past year share certain qualities. Most of my favorites exhibit patience, steadfastness, focus, and determination. I needed music that is restorative. I needed it to provide space for my brain and my soul.
Jared C. Balogh – Between Probabilities (Evgeny Gerasimchuk, Grigory Bazhanov and Jared C. Balogh)
Balogh’s compositions are complex thorny things sometimes. Rhythmically dense, melodically spiky, angular in all the best ways. What a treat to hear this set of compositions realized with live guitar (played by Evgeny Gerasimchuk) instead of rendered via computer. Available as a free download on WFMU’s Free Music Archive. Disclosure: Jared is my friend and bandmate.
For much of this year I felt as though I was not able to keep abreast of music releases well enough to even pick favorites. Then suddenly towards the end of the year I came across several really great releases and A Tribe Called Quest dropped their first album in years which turned out to be amazing. Who knows, another great album might get released in the few remaining days of 2016…
The Body – No One Deserves Happiness
Starting off quiet and dark like Miranda Sex Garden, this album soon gives way to slow-crushing heavy guitar glaciers. Almost like Swans in the 90s turning back into Swans in the 80s.
Here’s my list of favorite releases for this past year, presented in alphabetical order:
Lucrecia Dalt – Ou
This is filmic, cinematic music. Sounds creep in and out of view with the seamless rhythm of the best film editors. Texture and grit are key ingredients but harmonies do sometimes emerge to lend a familiar emotional anchor to the abstraction. There’s a radiophonic wooziness that bathes the whole affair in nostalgia.
There were so many interesting album releases in 2014 I felt I could barely keep up. In fact, I was still adding titles to my Best of 2014 contenders list late into December. Here are some of my favorites, in alphabetical order:
The Bug – Angels & Devils
Kevin Martin returns to his The Bug alias for a full length LP and several EPs worth of mutant bass music in 2014. More than any other electronic music producer, Kevin understands the equal importance of mass/weight and texture. Both aspects are deployed extremely effectively whether the track is an atmospheric snarling dub-wise bass mantra or a neck-snapping mutant-dancehall-cum-grime firestarter.