Artist. Designer. Awkward wad of nerd. Fights off existential terror and self-loathing with Godzilla films.

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THAT'S THE WAY THE GUILLOTINE CLAPS

I've been circling and circling, trying to figure out how to write about all the music I got into in 2016, picking apart my favorite albums, songs, and EPs, trying to come up with something structured. I don't think I can. So here, in no particular order, is a list of my favorite music related things this year:

Aesop Rock- The Impossible Kid

Aesop Rock is my favorite rapper, one whose imaginative lyrics have always made me feel like his brain is wired in a way similar to mine. This song, Rings, is about the guilt he feels over giving up on painting and drawing after his time spent as an art student. He elegantly describes the joy of creation, and laments over moving away from it. Giving up on art is such a huge fear of mine, so this hits close to home.

The album it's off of, the Impossible Kid, came out on my birthday, April 29th, and I've listened to it relentlessly since it dropped. The whole thing has this personal feel to it, the biggest one two combo being Get Out of the Car, which is about recognizing the depression he's been in since his friend died, followed by Shrunk, about going to see a psychiatrist in an attempt to deal with things. As personal and clear as it is, it's still incredibly imaginative, with all kinds of allusions and references sprinkled in. I keep picking up on new things, and don't think I'll ever grow tired of it.

At the Drive-In- Governed by Contagions

At the Drive-In is back, and holy crap, I needed them. 2016 has been a grueling year full of horrible things. By this point, I'm fairly sure I'm not the only one who feels beaten down and tired. Then, last week, almost out of nowhere this new track dropped, the band's first since their last album Relationship of Command was released in 2000, and it's so cathartic. I haven't heard this level of ferocity from Cedric Bixler-Zavala's vocals in YEARS. Same for Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's wailing guitar. I didn't realize just how badly I was missing this frantic, aggressive energy this year, especially considering that nothing else I've listened to sounds like this.

clipping. - Splendor & Misery

I had just gotten into clipping earlier this year (thanks Hamilton), and as abrasive and all over the place as they are, this album was such a huge surprise. All Black is probably the most powerful thing I've heard this year. I keep turning this album over and over in my head, marveling at how brilliant and perfectly structured it is. Seeing several tracks performed live back in October only intensifies my love for it, it was such a monumental experience. I'm torn between this and the Impossible Kid, trying to decide which is my favorite album of the year, but they're so different that I just can't compare them. The Impossible Kid feels like a core part of who I am, Splendor & Misery feels like something so much bigger, more majestic, something that shakes me and leaves me in tears.

Carly Rae Jepsen- Emotion Side B

...And then there's the part of me that's actually a teenage girl. I have failed every time at trying to articulate to friends why I'm into this EP and last year's album that it's a companion to. Her music exists in this dazzling, uplifting world that I want to be a part of. I hope I can create a piece of art some day that feels the way songs like Higher and Cry make me feel. In its own way, it's something else I needed in this dour year. Especially considering:

David Bowie- Black Star
 
I still ache from his death. No one was as effortlessly weird and singular as he was, and the way he turned the end of his own life into this gorgeous, meticulously orchestrated work of art is just...it's something only he could do. I still can't fathom this. Goddamn, but I miss him.

Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool

"This is a low flying panic attack." Those words describe my general state of mind this year better than I ever could. This album's a fantastic rebound after the disappointment that was the King of Limbs. It's beautiful in a lowkey way.

Bastards of Fate - Freemasons

A friend of mine posted this, and I keep coming back to it and listening to it on repeat. I'd never heard of this band before. I recognize certain elements, I can sort of guess what kind of influences they're pulling from, but I've never heard anything quite like this song before, the way it effortlessly leaps around. Do you know how long it's been since I've heard something that sounded so utterly different from anything else I'm familiar with? It's so weird and catchy, crunchy but poppy. Just delightful and bizarre.

The Lippies- self-titled

A badass feminist pop punk band, whose energy is infectious and powerful. I'm so sad that they broke up not long after releasing this, their one and only album.

Shiro Sagisu- Persecution of the Masses

What a way to reintroduce Godzilla to the world. Sagisu's soundtrack for Shin Godzilla is moody and ornate, perfect for Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi's new interpretation of the monster. This is the first track you hear in the movie, when you first see the monster, and it's just excellent.

clipping. - Wriggle
 
Oh yeah, before dropping Splendor & Misery, clipping also released an EP, and this title track is absurdly wild. When they played it live, the crowd started moshing. I still can't believe this song is real.

There's more that I'd like to write about: John Carpenter's Lost Themes II is better than last year's album, Iggy Pop and Josh Homme prove to be a killer duo in Post-Pop Depression, Colleen Green returned to her chill style with a self-titled EP, Jóhann Jóhannsson's score for Arrival is incredible, and White Lung's album Paradise is a dizzying 28 minute punk maelstrom. But these are the big ones. These are what made this year for me.

I guess I need to figure out how to write about movies next, don't I? 

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