I reached 40 albums on the first page, and decided it was time to make some more recommendations. I was getting a little annoyed with the layout, as well, with the constant scrolling down. So this time, on THIS page, I will post from the bottom up, with the newest recommendations at the top. I hope that’s ok:)
I’m still listening to music and going to gigs, albeit splitting my listening time between Japanese language podcasts and albums in general. There is simply TOO MUCH music to check out, and I’m a bit behind. But as I listen to them, buy them and love them, I will continue to post about them here!
47. David Bowie, Blackstar (2016)
Again, because of course. I’m not late to the game, just seriously back-logged with music. There are SO MANY good albums to talk about right now! There isn’t enough time in the day.
So Blackstar came out and then David died and we cried for days. We listened to it non-stop for a few days, and then I would get sad every time I heard it, so I had to put it down for a little bit. It still makes me sad to listen, since it’s clear from the lyrics he was preparing to die, but I appreciate this last gift he left us (along with a musical featuring the songs) and think it’s one of his best works.
The album deserves to be listened to loud, on great speakers or headphones. There’s so much going on in each of the songs and you need to hear it. Lazarus is easily one of my new favorite songs, even though it still makes me sad. David Bowie was so present, so absolutely aware of his life and how much time he had left, and he still managed to make this wonderful music. I’m thankful I got to see him in Baltimore on the Heathen tour, and sad beyond belief that I never got to see him perform again.
46. DJ Shadow, the Mountain Will Fall (2016)
Hey. You wanna hear a good joke? Nobody speak, nobody get choked.
So seriously, this album is effing excellent, straight through. I know I’ve been lax on the music posts lately, but clearly there’s been a lot of not-musical stuff going on while so many great albums have been released.
From start to finish, it just flows. The definite high point is OF COURSE Nobody Speak, with some kick-ass, in your face lyrics and imagery. I love the dig at Trump, and I don’t work for free, I am barely giving a fuck away. It’s just perfect. I want Run the Jewels in the House and Senate after the November elections, please.
Although this is one of the few tracks on the album with full lyrics, the instrumental tracks don’t disappoint. Three Ralphs, Bergschrund and Ashes to Oceans are great, as well, and made a lovely soundtrack for my commute to the office. And Pitter Patter following behind is exceptional.
I haven’t really kept up with DJ Shadow over the years, although I still listen to Endtroducing all the time. It is still one of my favorite albums.
Thank goodness DJ Shadow put something new out. This is pure excellence.
45. Eska, Eska (2015)
I’m pretty sure I got this recommendation from the Guardian, since it was shortlisted for the Mercury Prize.
I’m not sure if it won, but I’ve been listening to it so much in the past few weeks. It’s just so relaxing and her voice is so nice! I don’t want to stop.
My favorite tracks: Boundaries, She’s in the Flowers, Shades of Blue, and Dear Evelyn. I’d probably go so far as to say I like every song on the album, since there isn’t one I ever feel like skipping past.
The songs aren’t too fast, or too slow, and the lyrics are strong. Give it a listen.
44. Caribou, Our Love (2014)
I was a little behind on this one, and picked it up before we went to Hostess Club Weekender in February last year. So we were slightly behind on checking out the new album, but not my much since it was released at the end of 2014. Fine.
I’d heard Caribou before, as there have been earlier releases, but I guess I just wasn’t that into it at the time. This one came at the right time. I think for all albums, bands, genres, there might be a time and place. When I was younger (and much angrier) I was so into Garbage and Nine Inch Nails. I still love them now and enjoy listening to those albums from my youth, but I don’t feel the same anymore. Even if the albums bring it back, it’s not the same.
So I imagine that back in 2010 or 2005 or whenever Caribou put something out, it wasn’t my time. But this one was right. We listened to it a few times in a row, the album is so good. It just flows well. It’s mostly instrumental and electronic, with pretty sparse vocals laid over. It’s easy music for a weekend. But it’s not like Enya easy-listening. It’s chill.
It reminds me a LOT of Burial, actually. So if you happen to like Burial or maybe even How to Dress Well, I would definitely recommend it.
43. St Vincent, St Vincent (2014)
I’m a fan. In general. And I haven’t mentioned her other albums here on the blog because I didn’t love them front to back, which is important. Otherwise, this list would be a lot longer and not nearly as high-quality.
But this album, which is her fourth, is rock-solid. Backwards and forwards, I could listen to this one all day. And one day, we basically did. We listened to it on repeat as we drove south in Australia last year, since we’d just bought it from a concert she’d had. She was the headliner for Hostess Club Weekender in February, and we did our part to support her by buying the album there. Sadly, they were all sold out of t-shirts and I have yet to buy one.
As I said, I’m a fan in general, but this album is lyrically superior to her others. Every song has a good idea behind it. There isn’t a single track on here that feels like a filler, or it doesn’t belong. I’d be hard-pressed to choose a favorite. But I’ll say this: Digital Witness has a pretty serious message behind it, and I’m glad she’s calling people out on the way we (they) consume media these days. It’s depressing. And it is so depressing, and we related SO WELL to what she was saying, that we made it a point to NOT take (many) pictures of her while she was performing.
But I couldn’t help myself completely, so I took a few. Just at one point in the show. For one song. And I even felt bad about that. But anyone who knows me (and my history as a concert photographer) will understand exactly how hard it was for me to not document the entire event. It was SO hard, like quitting nail-biting (which I master, but only from time to time).
That being said, I’ve also carried that idea with me and have tried my best to really be present at concerts and not take so many photos. And it has made a lovely difference. I remember more of what I saw. I like that!
St Vincent is an amazing person and personality. Give it a listen, and *really* listen to what she’s saying.
42. Azealia Banks, Broke With Expensive Taste (2014)
Regardless of who she might be starting shit with this week, I have to talk about her because this album is great. Does it slow down at all? Even when you get to Wallace, it’s not too slow.
I was a little annoyed on the first listen when I got to the third track (Desperado) to hear almost a full track from MJ Cole, because to me it seemed like she just yanked the track and rapped over it. Which is what a lot of artists will do, but the rest of the album feels a lot more original than this one song. Whatever. I guess we’re not supposed to love every song on an album, as iTunes purchasing options have shown.
I especially love 212, JFK, BBD, Miss Amor and Ice Princess. I think half of the things she says in 212 have gone through my mind on any given day. The collection on this release is a versatile set of songs that show she’s capable of more than just one style of rapping. And I like what she’s saying. And I like her voice. And I think I like her in general.
I can’t decide if the shit she says on social media is her actual opinion, or if she’s trying to be a firestarter. Either way, she’s interesting and is ok with getting in trouble. Such a nice change, right?
41. Santigold, Master of My Make-Believe (2012)
Yeah, it’s 2016 and I’m late in posting this, but this is ANOTHER album that lives on my iPhone for whenever Mark wants to listen to Spotify. It was a hit when it came out, and it’s still great listening 4 years later. Not much has changed in the world of music, minus whatever Beyonce is doing and Gaga basically disappearing. And Santigold is off somewhere, but maybe not coming to Tokyo for a tour anytime soon, sadly. Oh hey, and PJ Harvey released a new one! More on that later:)
I’m not sure there’s a bad or boring song on the album, but favorites are GO!, Disparate Youth, Freak Like Me, This Isn’t Our Parade, and Look at These Hoes (of course, that’s on the running list). Santigold came out with the help of MIA and at the time, a lot of people commented that their sounds were similar. I think with time, they’ve definitely grown more apart in their sounds, although I guess lyrically they’re still talking about a lot of the same things. Which isn’t a bad thing.We need more empowered women taking the microphone than love-sick little girls complaining about Disney not being real.
Loved the first album, and I think I love this one more. Maybe it flows from song to song better?