Thursday, December 6, 2018

2018 The Albums: Top 10


It is that time of the year again, our favorite time actually, as well look back on the year in music and let you know our choices for the 10 best albums of the year.

See Our Pick for 2018's League of Their Own Album 

Here are our picks for the 10 Best Albums of the Year: 

10) Robyn - "Honey
9) Kamasi Washington - "Heaven and Earth"
8) David Byrne - "American Utopia"
7) Sudan Archives - "Sink"
6) J. Cole - "K.O.D."
5) Black Panther Soundtrack
4) Logic - "Young Sinatra IV"
3) Young Fathers - "Cocoa Sugar"
2) Pusha-T - "DAYTONA"
1) The Carters - "Everything is Love"

Now in long form with explanations.

 10) Robyn - "Honey"

Robyn left fans patiently waiting for eight years before she would release a proper album. After a handful of collaboration projects, the Swedish pop sensation returned to once again change the course of dance music. Robyn has a knack for making her audience dance through her heartbreak and emotions, the irony of doing something joyous as heavy lyrics about love and loss sing through a speaker make her a sensational artist. "Honey" is a record about recovering from the heartbreak and finding hope. It is a record that was also worth the wait. 

9) Kamasi Washington - "Heaven and Earth" 

The sophomore release from the modern jazz genius is a statement record. Following the mammoth and brilliance of his 2016 debut, "The Epic," Washington returned with the fury that society has seen in the Trump-era.  "Heaven and Earth" is his political album, it is his samurai record, it is also another display of his brilliance. 

8) David Byrne - "American Utopia"

The former Talking Heads front man returned with his first solo record in 14 years and brought the funk. "American Utopia" is a record about modern society as told through the eyes of one of musics most eclectic and pragmatic auteurs. 

7) Sudan Archives - "Sink"

Sudan Archives is the stage name of Los Angeles-based musician Brittney Parks. The violinist and singer took us by surprise this year with her fantastic offering, "Sink." The album is a subtle and relaxed record about love, being black in America in 2018,  and going against the trends. 2018 saw the return of the "short" album meaning many with 7-9 songs were released much like what was done in vinyl heyday of the 60s and 70s, and while "Sink" is technically an EP, we don't look at it this way because EPs are not nearly this perfect.

6) J.Cole - "K.O.D."

For his latest album, J.Cole once again didn't have any features but really why should it matter? "K.O.D." was a record about trying to escape the toxic environment you are in and much like a folk singer wouldn't feature drums or bass and wants you as the listener to focus on the stories and lyrics, Cole follows that same method.

5) Black Panther Soundtrack

Black Panther was unquestionably the biggest film of the year and it should come as no surprise that its soundtrack is on this list. Curated by Kendrick Lamar, the soundtrack plays more like a concept record about roots and representation. Using the concepts of the characters of the film and comic book to drive some of the storylines, the soundtrack is one hell of a compilation featuring Kendrick, SZA, The Weeknd, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, and others. It is a musical voyage to Wakanda and back.

4) Logic - "Young Sinatra IV"

If "Everybody" was a turning point in Logic's career to fully enter the mainstream, "Young Sinatra IV" is him delivering his sucker punch while everyone is expecting another hip-hop / pop record. The record not only is the second he put out this year, it is one of his best and in fact gets a seal of approval from Wu-Tang thanks to the entire Clan appearing on one of the best tracks of the year.

3) Young Fathers - "Cocoa Sugar"

Taking clear inspiration from TV on the Radio, Young Fathers come back with their sophomore album and showcase they too can turn heads. Combining funk, rock, hip-hop, electronica, and jazz, "Cococa Sugar" is the true definition of alternative rock. The Scottish trio rip roar into uncharted musical territory much like what the Talking Heads were doing in the 80s, this is a modern version of that.

2) Pusha-T - "DAYTONA"

One of the most talked about albums came from the former Clipse man. Pusha-T delivered his best work as a solo artist with this Kanye West produced album. "DAYTONA" is a middle finger to everyone, from its cover which is allegedly the bathroom where Whitney Houston died, to firing shots at Drake with the epic "Infrared," it might be the best rap takedown since Nas' "Ether." "DAYTONA" was King Push making a statement and not only did he do just that, he threw the entire kitchen sink out while doing it.

1) The Carters - "Everything Is Love"

One elevator incident a few years ago gave us four brilliants records but now it seems as if that night has officially been put to a close thanks to "Everything Is Love." Jay-Z and Beyonce come together for the year's biggest and best record. It is a record about their reconciliation, their love, their marriage, but also a love letter to each other. While Jay-Z is the rapper in the house, Beyonce showed that she not only can keep up with her husband's talent but outdo him on the mic. This album is Beyonce at her finest and fiercest. The cathartic process of salvaging their marriage so publicly now seems to have been closed and affirms their love for each other. No one needs another "Watch The Throne," but the world might need another record from the Carters.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

2018 The Albums: League of Their Own

This award started long before the site was even a thought, in one publication, radio show or another. Since 2000, I have handed out a "League of Their Own" Award to an album that is made by an artist who is the most forward thinking, open minded, revolutionary musician out there today. Their accomplishments in the past 12 months have either resurrected a sound, broke down walls and created new frontiers or have totally reinvented a genre all together. The choices for "League of Their Own" have become more than just the best album of the year but the most important record to be released at that time. 

In the past winners have included: 

2000 - Radiohead - Kid A 
2001 - The Strokes - Is This It? 
2002 - NERD - In Search of... 
2003 - The White Stripes - Elephant 
2004 - The Killers - Hot Fuss 
2005 - The Mars Volta - Francis the Mute 
2006 - TV On The Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain 
2007 - Kanye West Graduation 
2008 - Santogold / Santigold
2009 - Mastodon - Crack the Skye 
2010 - Gorillaz - Plastic Beach 
2011 - Bjork - Biophilia 
2012 - Flying Lotus - Until The Quiet Comes 
2013 -  Arcade Fire - Reflektor
2014 - Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2  
2015 - Kamasi Washington - The Epic 
2016 - David Bowie - Blackstar 
2017 - Kendrick Lamar - DAMN

...and know to add to this growing list of talent is someone who stepped out from the business office and the decks to fully assemble himself as an artist on his own. The man behind the signings of one of the greatest and most influential indie labels in music history picked 2018 to flex his own muscle and prove that he not only has a great ear for talent but is also talented enough to craft one of the best albums of the year. Ladies and Gentlemen, the 2018 League of Their Own winner is...

Richard Russell - Everything is Recorded

Russell, the head of Britain's XL Records, the label responsible for discovering Adele and releasing records from Thom Yorke, The xx, Frank Ocean, Sigur Ros, King Krule, The White Stripes, FKA Twigs, MIA, among others, turned heads with his solo debut. "Everything is Recorded" is a record that took many by surprise as the producer and label head has dabbled working with icons like Gil Scott-Heron and Bobby Womack along with others from XL but never put anything out on his own. "Everything is Recorded" is a statement record that takes a subtle jab at what music will look like in years to come. XL has always been a label full of taste makers so it shouldn't be that alarming that the label head would craft a delicacy of sound alone and with some friends. Calling in help from Sampha, Kamasi Washington, Ibeyi, Russell takes the subdue and relaxed sounds coming from younger artists today and injects them with the maturity and craftsmanship that an architect would when building a high rise.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

2018 The Albums: Honorable Mentions


Last week we broke the news that the site was going on hiatus but we did promise that each year we will continue to roll out year end lists. 

So it begins.....the rollout of various music lists from us as we look back at the year that was and present our picks for the most recognizable albums of the year.

It has become a Thanksgiving weekend tradition for us to issue our first year end list -- Honorable Mentions. This is the first of three lists we will bring out over the next three weeks, next week we will present our coveted League of Their Own and then finally, the Top 10 albums of the year. Here we go -- our Honorable Mentions, albums that were very good, but not good enough to crack the Top 10 but still worth of note. 
As we always do, we breakdown the list in short form and then with explanations.
2018 Honorable Mentions in Short Form (In No Particular Order):
- Nas "Nasir"
- Internal Bleeding "Corrupting Influence"
- Editors "Violence"
- Albert Hammond Jr. "Francis Trouble"
- Blu & Nottz "Gods in Spirit, Titans in the Flesh"
- The Good, The Bad, and The Queen "Merrie Land"
 Now, in Long Form (In No Particular Order):
 Nas - "Nasir"
Nas fell into the Kanye West production hole that many artists did this year and while some of the releases were hit or miss, the Queens emcee came out with his follow-up to 2012's instant classic, "Life is Good," and handed a solid album to fans. While critics were mixed on some of the messages Nas was saying about vaccinations and failing to address allegations set forth by his ex-wife, the rapper lyrically may have played it safe on some songs but on others like "Not for Radio," "Cop Shot the Kid," and "Bonjour," the legendary rapper flexed over vicious West beats. It was a grand combination that yes, could have been grander, however, with another album allegedly in the can by Nas, "Nasir" was a taste of what seems to be coming. 
 Internal Bleeding - "Corrupting Influence" 
The Long Island slam-core icons returned with not only the most brutal and intense release of 2018 but their greatest album to date. Following the death of long time drummer Billy Tolley, the band could have called it quits or could have rested on their laurels but instead they channeled the spirit of their fallen brother and crafted a record that is not only shaking up heaven but one that also frightens the devil himself. "Corrupting Influence" not only pays homage to Tolley is also hits on the society we live in today thanks to themes of selfishness, loneliness, and always looking for something more. 
 Editors - "Violence"

Editors have been on a rocky path for 8 years thanks to various line-up changes, alterations in sound and style, but also trying to figure out their place in music after the hype around them settled. After 8 years, they not only threw their own rule book out the window the finally sound like a band who are comfortable with who they are and what they have become. "Violence" is the British band's best album since "In This Light and On This Evening" and the gap between the two records were clearly growing pains to get to where they wanted to be and for fans, it was well worth the wait. 

Albert Hammond Jr. - "Francis Trouble" 

Albert Hammond Jr. has been releasing quality solo records since 2006. While he has always lived in the shadow of being the guitarist of The Strokes, after 12 years he finally sounds comfortable with not just that title but being a solo artist as the band continues to be on hiatus. "Francis Trouble" is a deeply personal and tragic record about his family in which he tells the story about finding out later on in life that he was supposed to be a twin but his brother died in the womb. The child was to be named Francis, whom Albert paid tribute to in title and song. The album, which dealing with heavy themes, does in fact have a summer time light feel to it and as you bopping around to dense lyrics but all equipped with perfect pop hooks. 

Blu & Nottz - "Gods in Spirit, Titans in the Flesh" 

While this album is sorta cheating in effort to get on this list, it is so good they managed to break the rules. The very underrated West Coast rapper Blu and equally underappreciated Virginia producer Nottz released two EPs in 2013 and 2016 respectively,
"Gods in Spirit, Titans in the Flesh" is the combination of both of them in one package bringing fans the 90s throwback hip-hop vibe of boom bap and soul. The songs were reorganized in a much more logical song order telling the story of their underground musical dominance while bringing in couple new songs to the mix that were not featured on either EP. 
The Good, The Bad, and The Queen - "Merrie Land" 

The supergroup of Blur / Gorillaz member Damon Albarn, The Clash's Paul Simonon, The Verve's Simon Tong, and Fela drummer Tony Allen return with their second album in 11 years. Unlike its 2007 predecessor, "Merrie Land" does not feature production by Danger Mouse instead behind the decks was long-time David Bowie producer Tony Visconti. The album is a love letter to England but unlike their self-titled debut, it isn't about the doom and gloom aspect of growing up in the kingdom but honoring the fallen soldiers who fought for the monarchy during World War I. Perfectly timed to be released during the 100th anniversary of the end of the first Great War, the supergroup show their appreciation in song.


Sunday, November 18, 2018

No Distance Left to Run

We know we haven't been updating for most of 2018 and there is good reason for it.

November is usually the time we celebrate an anniversary of this website, which I started in my parents basement in 2006. It is also the time I felt was perfect to say goodbye. Officially A Yuppie has evolved and grew into something that I didn't think possible.

While the time working and putting everything into creating Officially A Yuppie was a massive adventure, it since got harder to do as I got older and holding down adult responsibilities.

The ride was all worth it as were the sleepless nights and stress, it taught me a lot and was one of the best learning experiences I could have ever asked for.

With that, it is time I call time on this project. It sorta feels like when a band goes on "indefinite hiatus" and you don't know when it they will be back but they aren't breaking up.

I can assure you the love for music will never die, in fact, we will return each year with at least a Top 10, honorable mentions, and League of Their Own list as we did when the site first launched. In fact, we will do that in the coming weeks for 2018.

Maybe there will be a band that we have to talk about or a gig or an album. Whatever the case may be, the site isn't shutting down but will be inactive until we feel like coming out of "retirement" for something.

Above all else, I just want to say thanks for reading, thanks for listening, thanks for keeping us going and that also goes for the musicians, publicists, managers, labels, and industry folk that saw us as an outlet to speak to.

Until next time, thanks for the last 12 years. I wouldn't trade it for anything.



Sunday, August 26, 2018

Live Review: Interpol Close House of Vans

On Friday night, Interpol performed a very special record release show for their latest album, the very solid, Marauder.

The gig was the final concert ever inside Williamsburg, Brooklyn's House of Vans skate park. For the last 8 years, Vans has supplied a venue for locals to not only skate around in but also attend free concerts each and every summer since it opened.

For the final gig, the sneaker company signed local heroes Interpol to close out venue and what a way to say goodbye.

Leading up to the band's set, many inside the packed venue were sharing stories about how the House of Vans became a summertime staple for them to not only see bands, drink free beer, and skate around but it was a place of unity in the neighborhood and for those around New York City. The venue attracted characters from all walks of life and Friday everyone was on full display from the middle aged skater to the young hipster who just moved to the neighborhood to the student to the professional and even the elderly, as an elderly woman was seen spotted at the show. It was a bittersweet moment for all which led to Interpol's Paul Banks to express his gratitude as much as he could for be allowed to headline and curate the important event.

Hitting the stage just before 10 p.m., the dapper Manhattan band opened with "Number 10," a track from their brand new record but then dove into the hits like "All the Rage Back Home," "Evil," "Public Pervert," "NYC," as well as mixing in new songs like "The Rover," "NYSMAW," "Complications," which fit in just fine.

It was the kick-off of a small tour for the band but they looked relaxed and well rehearsed to make some of their new songs come alive for the first time all while holding the audiences attention.

Guitarist Daniel Kessler would dance around stage while singer Paul Banks would show off his unique and powerful voice to the delight of everyone in the room. Drummer Sam Fogarino is still holding his own as the backbone of the band they sound as tight as ever.

As Marauder is set to take them around the world to tour, the band will be back in New York in February where they headline Madison Square Garden.

Live Pix: Fantastic Negrito at SOB's

Just ahead of his Afropunk performance this weekend, Fantastic Negrito played a special New York City gig Thursday night at the legendary SOB's. 

We were on hand to capture the action, take a look! 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Tuelo Releases Live EP

Tuelo has been out of New York City since the fall of last year and bouncing around her native South Africa and across Europe writing and recording. 

She has now shared a raw Live EP as a free download. Stream it / Get it below:

Friday, June 15, 2018

Alt-J with Pusha T and Twin Shadow on 'Colbert'

Watch Alt-J with special guests Pusha T and Twin Shadow perform "In Cold Blood" On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Underrated Classic: Jonathan Fire*Eater 'Wolf Songs for Lambs'

Last month, the music world was stunned by the sudden passing of musician Stewart Lupton, the enigmatic frontman of New York via D.C. indie pioneers Jonathan Fire*Eater. The 43-year-old help put New York rock and roll back on the map in the mid-to-late 90s when Jonathan Fire*Eater relocated to the Big Apple from the capital and caused one of the largest label bidding wars in history at the time. Jonathan Fire*Eater had a sound unlike many others at the time with jingle-jangle guitar hooks, thumping rhythms, and sinister and dark lyrics that were showcased via Lupton's unique voice. Dreamworks eventually won the band on their label after the bidding war and they released their critically acclaimed but commercially flopped Wolf Songs for Lambs in 1997. After they signed their lucrative deal with Dreamworks, the L.A. Times called the band "possibly the most hyped young group that nobody has ever heard of," in the era before social media that was a bold but accurate statement to make. The album would basically set the standard for New York City bands of the early millennium like Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Strokes, and Secret Machines. Wolf Songs for Lambs would be the template that those artists would use for their respective debuts and early styles. Wolf Songs for Lambs now sounds just as fresh as it did 21 years ago and the oral history of the record was displayed in Lizzy Goodman's brilliant 2017 book, Meet Me in the Bathroom. A year after the record was released, the band split and members Paul Maroon, Matt Barrick, and Walter Martin would later form the critically acclaimed indie band The Walkmen. While Jonathan Fire*Eater received their acclaim from critics and the NYC and DC audiences that flocked to see them and not from the masses, the influence they had is something no one can argue and their legacy is a testament to that.

Spiritualized Announce New Album

Spirtualized will release their first album in 6 years in September called And Nothing Hurt. 

"With a bit of trial and lot of error, I found ways of doing something that’s quite simple if you’ve got the resources. I spent two weeks listening to classical records and strumming the chord that I wanted on my guitar. When I found something to match what I wanted, I’d sample that bit and go for the next chord and try to match that. It took weeks, trying to put together and layer convincing string sounds. But, if I’m honest, all I wanted was for someone to come and play the part and bring their own thing to the record," frontman J. Pierce said in a press release.

Take a look at the cover, above, and the tracklisting, below:

1. A Perfect Miracle
2. I’m Your Man
3. Here It Comes (The Road) Let’s Go
4. Let’s Dance
5. On The Sunshine
6. Damaged
7. The Morning After
8. The Prize
9. Sail On Through