Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Post Millennial 2014 Top Five Albums

The gleaming and digesting is complete, and the ears are awash with all the cuts dropped. Overall the year hasn’t be an album-heavy year for me. Granted, the ones that made the cut are my favorite, yet I wonder how many will infect me and stick in my aural DNA for years to come. It has been more of an exploratory year filled with mixtapes and solo YouTube clips heard in the middle of the night. I have a Spotify playlist that I have developed a blog post, sitting in draft form, describing them. I’m going to expand it tomorrow and post it as well. Now, on to the albums.

Azealia Banks – Broke With Expensive Taste

“212” was not the greatest of songs when it was dropped in 2011. In its proper place, however, it is the true banger people made it be a while back. Banks’ debut combines a variety of sounds – house beats, R&B, garage, Latin music – and melds it with her sing/rap combo, creating an extended party playlist best played on a sound system in the best clubs. Which is a far better home for her songs than anywhere else, and I don’t mean that in any denigrating manner. This is fun hip-hop the radio shouldn’t get in its filthy goddamn hands.

Favorite song: “Gimme A Chance” – Azealia goes hard over horns, turntables, then brings her Harlem on and belts out lyrics and rhymes in Spanish. Can’t say no to that.

Caribou – Our Love

What kind of emotion does Our Love achieve? It has a steady undercurrent of subtle happiness hidden beneath many of the songs in this album. Even when it picks up on songs like “Julia Brightly” it has this downtempo joy embedded under the faster BPM. The music drives you and cools you down at the same time, which is an interesting prospect to have for an electronic album to have.

Favorite Song: “Mars” – Snaith masterfully started that drum sample to start the song, serving as the backbone for the rest of a frenetic mix of repetition of other samples. What came out: a danceable, amazing semi-paranoid jam.

St. Vincent – “St. Vincent”

The breadth of Annie Clark’s work is quirky and enjoyable before the self-titled. They had pop sensibilities, but not enough to really grab a sizable amount of people. This album, however, changes that.   In a less-crappier world where the radio would allow at least decent music, a couple of the songs on this album would have been on the cycle. This really is the most accessible St. Vincent album as she comes at you, guitar riffs and all, and pulls you in.

Favorite Song: “Digital Witness” – Her normal singles are good guitar-infused jams, but this one has sonic maximalism  that comes from the brass and electronic sounds in the chorus.

EMA – The Future’s Void

What EMA does on this album is take the desolation found in cyberpunk and at make it into music. If you have heard her work in the past you have see her do similar things, but this time around it is refined, like a short film shot in 4K-quality, shot through a distorted fliter. Her zine/manifesto on the creation and basis of the album really goes into this, I highly suggest you read it. The next time you feel the internet is filling up your mind, your lungs, you bones, go and give this a listen for a purge.

Favorite Song – “Neuromancer” – An electronic tribe song taking down Instagram whores, reminding them Big Brother is not in your PC, your phone, and your tablet – he’s in you as well.

Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2

On their debut album, Mike and El bounced a rap grenade off one another, waiting to pull the pin. Well, it was finally time to toss the motherfucker into the general population. RTJ2 is threatening, political, dirty as hell, but retains the humor of the previous album.  So many parts of the songs can’t help make the listener let out a devilish smile as Mike paints the picture of a prison riot or El reps his NY so hard it messes with his gait, or the uber-lewd romantic masterpiece that is “Love Again”. The duo give no fucks about your sacred cows, and it’s apparent here –  people are robbed and waterboarded, all to the soundtrack of El-P’s signature dystopia beats.

Favorite Song: “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck) (Feat. Zack De La Rocha)” – There are a lot of amazing guests on the album, but bringing De La Rocha out to grace us with 18 bars of fury with Miles Davis and Blade Runner references? Done.

Honorable Mentions

Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

RATKING – So It Goes

Sharon Van Etten – Are We There

Banks – Goddess

Christian Löffler – Young Alaska

Phantogram– Voices

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Can’t Let Them Catch The Midnight Writer

The first time I can remember writing alone was in third grade. It was well past my bedtime and I barely sat on the kitchen table enough to scribble down on one of those composition books with the scattered black-and-white patterns throughout the cover and back. I don’t quite remember what it was on – insects, perhaps – but I remember the time being past the 11 o’clock news and no one being in the room with me. The only reason my parents didn’t try to stop was because these were the days in which my mom went into work around six in the morning and my dad’s hours were completely fucked from all the residency he did at multiple hospitals.That was around 1995.

It’s 2002 and my sister is fast asleep. Years of staying up late writing or playing games have added up by then and the internet have mixed it all up and made me into a huge mess of insomnia and information addiction. The Compaq PC was the only computer my family had  at the time, and I was the one that was on in more than anyone else. When I wasn’t downloading music at the speed of Congress getting any work done, I pulled up document files while I talked to other friends with sleep problems – mostly girls – and wrote. I played music at very low volumes so that no one noticed I was awake, at least not until it was two or three in the morning. I pulled many all-nighters writing topic and country papers for Model UN (yes, I was that kind of nerd, and I’m not ashamed of it). My brother introduced me to energy drinks because of my nocturnal writing patterns, and I learned the concepts of deadlines and how to produce quality work. It just took the darkness.

More sleep disappeared in college, as I wrote my fiction/poetry out of boredom at night when I wasn’t working on lab papers during the day. There was less sunlight there, creating days with an illusion of perpetual twilight. And that was all I needed to keep the words flowing. I was pretty much a wreck at that point and well on my way to the major crash that would occur near the end. Every night has a dawn, and some are painful and blinding.

When I finished school and my brain finally decided it was time to go haywire, I had to give into a set sleep schedule. I had help from someone, but the more I slept the more I lost the night, and there went the dark and the silence and the click-clack of my fingers on something. The first rounds of medication didn’t help either – they dulled everything, from my physical hunger to my thoughts. I took a considerable amount of time to write again, and to no surprise it came back to me in the dark, when I was working a night job with a bunch of Mexican guys. During breaks I would take out a small notebook and jot down pieces of a story inspired by what I was doing.

As of this writing, it’s almost  6 AM and the sun is just making its way up. The sensation is the same as it was years ago, and I am spell-checking and fixing any grammatical errors on my sister’s paper after doing some of my own personal work. The rush of night writing, the liberation and isolation it allows me to have, is amazing, but there is a new thought that crosses my mind – will this always be the way it works?  I hoped I could find a way to do this with the sun but I never can. This thing, this path that gives me strength, it’s unhealthy and this will hurt eventually but I don’t see any other way to do this. I’ll just continue writing until the light comes, then find my way to sleep if the day allows it.