Born in 2016
Boosie’s mixtapes, particularly In My Feelings (Goin’ Thru It)
, Out My Feelings in My Past
and Thug Talk
Music version of Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet
? The poetic has always been personal for Boosie, but even by his standards 2016 was quite the roller-coaster ride.
Stewart Lee Content Provider
...is both in-progress and being performed in the UK, but the snatches I've caught are a reminder of how much truth we ascribe to a clever story. Quick, someone label him, “Most Dangerous Comedian!”
David Bowie Blackstar
(Columbia; 8 January)
‘Til the end Bowie led some of the finest combo cavalries. Tony Visconti and Donny McCaslin helped send him off in style.
Future Purple Reign
(Freebandz; 16 January)
Future and Metro kicked off the year by wooing us into the purp mud. And then we spent the next 12 months sinking into the muck. How prescient.
KING We Are KING
(KING Creative; 5 February)
*Sigh*, I miss Los Angeles. The album's Grammy nomination is one of the few times I'll big-up the commercial nod, if only for moving people past the perception that the city's sound is simply that of an Aryan surfer's affects. On its own the album is pure synth shimmer and glitter. Their voices aren't half-bad either.
Lil Uzi Vert “Money Longer
(Generation Now/Atlantic; 6 February)
Pure fluff, but catchy as shit.
Kanye “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1
”, “Ultralight Beam
,” “30 Hours
(Def Jam; 13 February)
There are some other songs on TLOP
that I like, but this entire album is such a fucking mess I find myself mostly returning to this trio. “Father” is the rap equivalent of “Heroes and Villains” or Bitches Brew
-era Miles: confrontational cut-and-paste. Noz already joked about “Ultralight” being a Chano track. On the real it belongs on Coloring Book
. And “30 Hours” is the closest Kanye has come to returning to his collegiate flow, which answers “I Love Kanye,” I suppose.
Dae Dae “Wat U Mean (Aye, Aye, Aye)
(Nitti Beatz; 18 February)
You know you've made it when Sir Foster
plays you at a Hawks game.
Yo Gotti “Law
(Epic; 19 February)
Sorta makes up for “Down in the DM.”
Ezale “Day Ones
(self-released; 16 March)
I love crate digging, but obscure samples can also make a TLOP
. Which is why California consistently comes through with party music that’s both live and listenable. Funky fresh, y’all.
M.I.A. “OLA / Foreign Friend
(self-released; 17 March)
I guess this was the year of Lion King
references? Between this and having co-workers old enough to unironically like Rugrats
, the yout' are reminding me I'm old again.
Irving Plaza, New York, 28 March
My cousin chatted me up about them. Fay Milton drums with a remarkable balance of strength and light-handedness, like she was surfing. And someone needs to make a gif of Ayşe Hassan bobbing her head from side to side; such calm amidst the band's chaos.
Susumu Yokota (横田進) Acid Mt. Fuji (Reissue)
(Sublime; 6 April)
Picked this up during the summer while in Tokyo. Really got into him in a hard way after listening to Symbol
. His range was incredible. The title is a tip-off to what he's doing here. Hard to hate on a 303.
James Blake “I Need a Forest Fire
” (Feat. Bon Iver) and Bon Iver 22, A Million
(Polydor; 6 May)
(Jagjaguwar; 30 September)
Two works from simpaticos bookending both sides of the summer. Pushing all the right boundaries in pop.
Chance the Rapper “No Problems
” (Feat. 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne)
(self-released; 13 May)
I thought the '90s had been mined enough for pop to move on to '00s
nostalgia. Kudos to ‘Ye and Chano digging up 90s gospel-hop. I can’t
wait for that Mary Mary retro throwback.
Autechre elseq 1-5
(Warp; 19 May)
Thankfully not everyone thinks a synth is soothing.
Tyshawn Sorey The Inner Spectrum of Variables
(Pi; 3 June)
I'm still trying to make time to see Sorey live, because I need to witness his group's refined ability to sculpt sonic space. For now, his recordings will have to do.
Central Park Summerstage, New York, 4 June
The Kid's first jazz concert in the pouring rain, picnicking on Chit's sweet potato palya.
Sangam: Charles Lloyd, Zakir Hussain, Eric Harland
Town Hall, New York, 11 June
These three play together with a breath-taking ease and symbiosis.
Laura Mvula The Dreaming Room
(RCA; 17 June)
I'm less into this than Sing to the Moon
, but the thinking behind each record is drastically different. There are some incredibly nuanced dance jams here.
YG Still Brazy
(Def Jam; 17 June)
It’s so-so, but I’m mostly surprised that he turned out such a singularly focused album. It’s angry, it slaps and it still hits pretty hard.
Blood Orange Freetown Sound
(Domino; 28 June)
This was a great year for Arthur Russell
(blessings, Tom; your hard work will be appreciated by the masses now), but Hynes has done a splendid job carrying the torch.
Charlie Parker Unheard Bird: The Unissued Takes
(Verve; 1 July)
Growing up I was one of those kids that learned Bird solos. So this comp is pretty nuts because it shows his recording process. You hear solos start, stop, evolve. It's all remarkable. Drove the Kid kinda nuts listening to this during a car ride, but it was worth it.
Gucci Mane “All My Children”
(Atlantic; 22 July)
has a few better cuts, but “All My Children” stands out for Gucci un-ironically naming
this song after the long-running soap opera. Combined with his
inscrutable accent at the end of verse 1, the levity is welcome on an
otherwise surprisingly humorless album.
Sextina Aquafina “Get Dat Fetus, Kill Dat Fetus
(Kill Rock Stars; 22 July and 30 September)
Kondabolu and Bell’s twin gifts of comic wit and political curiosity were especially helpful navigating this year's election. Their Politically Reactive podcast
was the obvious channel for the NPR-leaning, but their albums helped pull the lens back to macro.
Narcos, Volume 1
and Volume 2
(More Music from the Netflix Original Series)
(Lakeshore; 5 August and 28 October)
I checked out of this series after the Season One, but I didn’t forget the loads of Discos Fuentes. There’s also a smattering of exotica from across South and Central America, all pretty tough.
Exploded View Exploded View
(Sacred Bones; 18 August)
The perfect balance of space, echo, noise and pop.
Frank Ocean Endless
(Def Jam; 19 August)
Remember the day before Blond(s)? I like it better. No ambiguity in the spelling.
Andre 3000 “Solo (Reprise)” on that Frank album
(Columbia; 30 September)
Really, about half the record.
Shirley Collins Lodestar
(Domino; 4 November)
I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that Stewart Lee reminded me of the wonder of Collins. Her Folk Roots, New Routes
album w/ Davy Graham has been in rotation for a minute, but I'd focused mostly on the guitar work. Shirley's voice is, of course, magical, so exploring her body of work has been enriching (more on that below). So, no, I'm not a long-time fan who waited decades for her return. But I can appreciate the road she traveled to get to Lodestar
. Her delicately fractured voice aptly captured the fragility of this year.
A Tribe Called Quest “The Space Program
(Epic; 11 November)
I'm happy with this album because a childhood hero got a dying wish granted: to record one last time with his day ones. However, Phife isn't on the bulk of the album; Jarobi and others from the Tribe community stepped up in a big way, but count the bars: Malik is barely there. Which makes those snippets so special. Glad to see his brothers finally get it together one more time.
Town Hall, New York, 11 December
Paid my respects to Bowie
shortly after his death, but big surprise the grief was still there at year's end. Combined with Jorge's announcement that his father had also passed away recently, the show felt heavy in the best way possible.
Jams that didn't come out this year, but I listened to because if we're making arbitrary lists about things that happened in a given year, why not make more arbitrary lists. And this is more-or-less in chronological order from when in the year I listened to these the most.
(Sound Signature; 2012)
“Prettiest things could sour / When the seasons change / Shit don't smell like flowers / Sunshine turns to rain”
David Bowie Heathen
, VH1 Storytellers
, Scary Monsters
(ISO/Columbia, EMI, RCA; 2002, 1999, 1980)
These were my go-tos in the aftermath.
Asa-Chang and Junray 影の無いヒト
My post-OOIOO chillout soundtrack.
Lemon Jelly '64-'95
(XL Recordings; 2005)
Found this in the floor of a homie's car. Had actually been looking for this record for a while, haha.
Jackie Chain Bruce Lean Chronicles 2
“Trippin'” and “Climax” for the one-two combo.
Mac Mall Illegal Business?
(Young Black Brotha; 1993)
Yup, still slaps.
Sir Douglas Quintet “Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day
Heard Frank Black cover this during a radio session on KCRW years ago and instantly fell in love with the song. Learned it to play for the Kid.
Suzanne Vega 99.9F°
I'm still trying to wrap my head around this record. So many unexpected twists and turns.
Vulpess “Me Gusta Ser Una Zorra
(Dos Rombos Discos; 1983)
This actually rocks harder than the Stooges.
Does Joyce have Joni-level recognition in Brasil? She deserves it.
Noré Davis Home Game
(Rooftop Comedy; 2014)
Pastor Troy We Ready - I Declare War
(Madd Society; 1999)
This must have been the point in the year when I started to get a little upset.
Iggy Pop Zombie Birdhouse
My gripe with the Berlin albums is that Bowie's involvement gives the albums an orderliness that doesn't always suit Iggy. “Run Like a Villain” feels like Pop manically escaping the lab environment and jumping back into the loving arms of chaos.
Beth Stelling Simply the Beth
(Comedy Dynamics; 2015)
2 Dope Queens
brought me here.
Joni Mitchell The Hissing Of Summer Lawns
In particular the demos for this record which outline the brilliance of these songs.
John Coltrane Offering: Live at Temple University
(Resonance/Impulse; 2014 reissue)
Still digging this 1966 show. All that Kamasi talk got me thinking about Trane again, I suppose.
and One Nite Alone... Live!
and The Undertaker
and “prpl b-sides”
In any given year there should be no justification necessary for listening to Prince. Of course this year was a bit different. These are the sides I kept returning to.
The Gladiators “Bongo Red
,” “Boy in Long Pants
,” “Beautiful Locks
(Studio One; 1974, 1974 and ?)
Big tunes. All Tuff.
David Holland Quartet Conference of the Birds
Fantastic reed work from Anthony Braxton and Sam Rivers, the two folks that attracted me to this record, but Barry Altschul's drum/percussion work and Holland's bass playing are phenomenal.
Finally saw these chaps live. Good clean fun.
I still don't comprehend the jump from Born Innocent
to this, but geez. I listened to “Deuce” a lot this year, probably as some form of therapy. The McDonald bros. were also top-of-mind because I read the Keith Morris memoir My Damage
More therapy music.
No good reason for not listening to this sooner. Hard-as-hell singer with Salaam Remi production? Make em say...
(Beggars Banquet; 1984 and 1985)
More catch-up. Special thanks to the librarian at the Mulberry Branch who told me some funny stories of seeing them live and gave me some recommendations I'm still tracking down.
(Polydor and Harvest; 1968 and 1969)
This is a musicologist's dream. Well-researched tunes with cracking arrangements performed by ace players. And then Collins knocks every tune out the park. Brilliant.
(Heavy on the Grind; 2014)
I'm still catching up, will probably get to the D-Boy Diaries in the next year or two.
Considering how much I love Pryor, I'm surprised this flew under my radar. He has a small role in this mess of a movie, but it's a funny artifact with a pretty cool soundtrack.
(Jagjaguwar; 2009 and 2013)
Like a lot of parents I have to find music that works for the family. Shimmering guitars awash in echo works for this bunch.
Always revisiting my youth, I suppose.
Where else does Brenda and the Tabulations' “Dry Your Eyes” sit so comfortably next to Rodney O and Joe Cooley's “This is For the Homies?”
And then here's the whiter side of Los Angeles, haha.
(Au Go Go; 1983)
Thanks to Numero
, The Scientists are having a nice second look. Personally, I thank idon'tkaren
for pointing my attention towards Australia. Lots of good stuff from across the years, but this mini-album has been stuck in my craw for a while.
Alicia Hall Moran HEAVY BLUE
Thank The 13th
for hipping me to her.
Bobby Hutcherson Stick-Up!
(Blue Note; 1968)
I heard this back at KALX, but for some reason never came around to picking up a copy. One of the baddest motherfuckers. Really miss him.
Miguel Atwood-Ferguson Library Selection
(Ring Sounds; 2015)
I really don't get why this record is a Japan-only release.
Cocteau Twins “Sugar Hiccup” (12” Version)
Can you feel me curling inward?
After Don Buchla's death
, I finally came around to checking out Oliveros' seminal work from various points in her career. The early tape stuff
is ill, but the late '80s/early '90s work (Roots of the Moment
, Deep Listening
, Crone Music
) is really engrossing. So sad to have missed hearing her in-person.
Mort Garson Mother Earth's Plantasia
put me up on this shortly after Oliveros' passing. I hear a strong connection between Garson and Jean-Jacques Perrey. A fitting way to cap
off an exceptionally shitty year for synth pioneers.
Leonard Cohen “Dance Me to the End of Love” and The Future
(Columbia; 1984 and 1992)
Ready to die.
The Kid's Playlist
Hank Williams The Complete Hank Williams
(minus the preachy Luke the Drifter cuts)
“Everything Sesame” (i.e., Sing the Alphabet
, Grover Sings the Blues
, The Count Counts
, The Year of Roosevelt Franklin
The Muppet Movie
Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie Folkways: The Original Vision
Sir Douglas Quintet/Doug Sahm
Nick Lowe “Half a Boy And Half a Man
Gloria Ann Taylor
John Holt “Ali Baba
Brother Soul “Cookies
Scissor Sisters “I Don't Feel Like Dancin'
The Kid's music camp CDs, particularly an all-horn performance of “St. Thomas”
Mac DeMarco Another One
and Salad Days
First two Happy End/ハッピー・エンド albums
ドリーミング それいけ！アンパンマン ベストヒット’16
Max Romeo “Three Blind Mice
Jeremy Zmuda “I Never
Harry Belafonte “Cocoanut Woman
The Skates s/t
DJ Quik Rhythm-Al-ism (Clean)
Charles Lloyd and Billy Higgins Hyperion with Higgins
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Shit the Kid told me to turn off. And that I agreed to turn off.