Sunday, December 10, 2017

2017 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.

In the year we lost voices like Chris Cornell, Tom Petty, Chester Benington, Gord Downie, we were still recovering from last year with the losses of Prince and David Bowie.  

2017 came on right away with great music as artists like The xx, Joey Bada$$, Loyle Carner, and one of the first of many solid releases from King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, saturated it with great sounds. Some of the heavy hitters and Officially A Yuppie favorites released solid albums that didn't make the cut like U2, Bjork, Noel Gallagher, Depeche Mode, Mastodon, Lorde, Ride, Royal Blood, and Lana Del Rey among others. There were some major disappointments from heavy hitters like Gorillaz, At the Drive-In, Snoop Dogg, and TLC among others. 

Yet, then there was Kendrick Lamar, whose album, DAMN., we put in a League of its Own, as it was the most important record of the year.  

While looking behind, 10 albums stood out for us and in our third and final list, we present the best of the year. These records not only made an impact to our ears but also have a welcomed longevity where we will be listening to them for years to come.

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

10. Liam Gallagher - As You Were
9. Logic - Everybody
8. SZA - ctrl
7. JAY-Z - 4:44
6. Ryan Adams - Prisoner
5. Power Trip - Nightmare Logic
4. Thundercat - Drunk
3. St. Vincent - MASSEDUCATION
2. Future Islands - The Far Field
1. The Afghan Whigs - In Spades

Now in Long Form, With Explanations:
10. Liam Gallagher - As You Were

Generally it is Noel Gallagher in one of our Top 10 lists, but 2017 belonged to his younger brother and the voice of Oasis and Beady Eye. The anticipated solo debut from the former Oasis frontman is finally here and does not disappoint. The underrated Beady Eye released two solid records but now, on his own, the younger and more caustic Gallagher brother can bust out and prove his chops. With some of his best ballads, he brings forth a whole new dimension to a man you thought you knew.

 9. Logic - Everybody

Logic has developed a cult following thanks to Millennials but the Maryland rapper showcases his best work on his third studio album – Everybody. From the beats to the autobiographical lyrics to the in-your-face look at society, Logic proves he is just as much of a wordsmith as his contemporaries and not just some sensation for the young kids. With appearances by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Killer Mike, No I.D. and more, Logic is showing off he is for everybody.

8. SZA - ctrl

Our 2017 "Best New Artist" didn't pull any punches. Arriving with one of the best debuts in recent memory, the rapper blends R&B, soul, funk, into her autobiographical LP. Featuring Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Isaiah Rashad, among others, she pulls her influences from Tupac to the Fugees to Odd Future to give the new school a taste of the old in an artistic manner. If this is her first step towards stardom, we are strapped in for the ride forever. 

7. JAY-Z - 4:44

On his 13th studio album, Jay-Z returns with what his best work since 2003’s The Black Album as well as his most personal record to date. What has plagued Jay Z for over a decade, including on Watch the Throne, is that he has nothing to talk about. He has seen and done it all and has Beyonce to call his wife to prove it. Yet, on 4:44, he opens up about his mistakes, setbacks, personal problems, and trying to sustain a legacy outside of being Queen Bey’s husband. 4:44 is easily one of the year’s best and one of his best records of his illustrious career. The minimal production from No I.D. is also a gem because HOVA is forcing the listener to pay attention to what he has to say and what needs to be said. This isn’t a record to blast in the car but one to indulge in on a good pair of headphones and shut the world away.  

6. Ryan Adams - Prisoner

Ryan Adams has always been an artist who wears his heart on his sleeve and on his latest record, his lets it beat in full force. Taking inspiration from his recent divorce, his struggle to find himself and the solace of being alone, Adams creates his best record in years. Touching on almost all of the different sub genres of rock and roll he has written and recorded in, Prisoner is him coming undone and back together again.

5. Power Trip - Nightmare Logic

Take the early thrash sound and production of Slayer, mix it with the technical metal of Megadeath and give it a storyline like early Protest the Hero and you have Power Trip’s fantastic new album. Nightmare Logic is a whiplash of force, power, and brutality rolled into one. More than just one of the best albums of the year, it is without a doubt, the best metal album this century. 

4. Thundercat - Drunk

If Key and Peele wrote songs for Prince it would sound like Thundercat's Drunk. The jazz, funk, psych bassist's third album is a concept record about getting drunk and figuring out life. While the record takes the listener on a musical journey and trip through some very strange places, it is an experience. The music gives the listener a visual idea of what they can play in their head when listening to it. Thundercat and the rest of the Brainfeeder label are the only artists pushing music in new directions and with the help of the label's master Flying Lotus as well as Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, Pharrell, and others, Drunk is a trip and one you want to go back to.

3. St. Vincent - MASSEDUCATION
In 2017, we named St. Vincent an icon simply because of her shape-shifting, never stop, never cease creating attitude. The androgynous singer and songwriter is more than just a musician, she has become a cultural phenom much like David Bowie and Bjork before her. MASSEDUCATION is what you make of it -- a tongue in cheek look at society, a heartbreak record, a recovery album, it raises questions and also makes you want more. It is essential art for this day and age and we should be thrilled we are living in a world where St. Vincent has the paintbrush.

2. Future Islands - The Far Field
On their fifth record, Baltimore experimental outfit Future Islands delivers their thunderous best. The Far Field is a record about obsession, love, passion, and captivation. It is a record that also captures the rawness and intensity of their live shows and even gets applause from heavy hitters like Debbie Harry from Blondie who appears on the album to led her voice.  

1. The Afghan Whigs - In Spades
In their second record since reuniting in 2012, the Afghan Whigs prove they are without a doubt America’s most underrated rock and roll band. On their latest record, In Spades, a contender for Album of the Year, the Whigs show off their funk, rock, goth rock, R&B, and alternative swagger like never before. Like a fine wine not only do they get better with age, singer Greg Dulli is writing some of the best work of his career – and this is a career that spans over 30 years. As the band tour behind the record and seem to be in good spirits, be thankful we are living in a time when they are consistently giving us brilliant music.  

Guided By Voices Anounce Another New LP

Guided By Voices simply don't stop. They released two solid albums in 2017 and in March will return with Space Gun. 

Take a look at the cover, above, and the tracklisting, below, and hear the new single, "Space Gun."

01. Space Gun
02. Colonel Paper
03. King Flute
04. Ark Technican
05. See My Field
06. Liar’s Box
07. Blink Bank
08. Daily Get Ups
09. Hudson Rake
10. Sport Component National
11. I Love Kangaroos
12. Grey Spat Matters
13. That’s Good
14. Flight Advantage
15. Evolution Circus

SZA on 'SNL'

2017's Best New Artist, SZA performed “The Weekend” and “Love Galore” backed by a choir and chamber orchestra on Saturday Night Live. Take a look!

RHYE Detail New Album

In February, RHYE will release their new album, Blood

"We've spent the last few years on the road translating the Woman album from a bedroom project into a full live experience. With BLOOD, it's been the opposite process; the music and sounds were really born out of the live environment and are built for performance," commented RHYE frontman Milosh said in a press release. "It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable in front of an audience night after night. I use the same courage on every song on this record."
Take a look at the cover, above, and the tracklisting, below:
1. Waste
2. Taste
3. Feel Your Weight
4. Please
5. Count to Five
6. Song for You
7. Blood Knows
8. Stay Safe
9. Phoenix
10. Softly
11. Sinful

Friday, December 8, 2017

Royal Blood on 'Conan'

Watch Royal Blood perform "I Only Lie When I Love You" on Conan.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

St. Vincent on 'Daily Show'

St. Vincent was a rare musical performer on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Wednesday night where she performed an acoustic version of "Los Ageless." Take a look.

Beck on 'Fallon'

Watch Beck perform "Up All Night" on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Miguel on 'Kimmel'

Watch Miguel and Travis Scott perform "Sky Walker" on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

U2 Live at BBC

U2 taped a special for BBC inside London's Abbey Road Studios last month. The special ran in the UK last night but the network aired a clip of it on YouTube. Take a look at them performing their classic, "All I Want Is You," with a choir and orchestra.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

2017 Best New Artist: SZA

This superlative and tradition began in 2011 when a little British artist made a lasting impact on us, that artist James Blake, has gone on to release a handful of superb EP's, two more strong LPs, won the Mercury Prize and was nominated for a Grammy. Needless to say, we feel like we were correct in picking him and starting this award with him.
Other winners in following years included artists that were picked:
2011 - James Blake
2012 - The Heartbreaks
2013 - The 1975
2014 - Royal Blood
2015 - Kamasi Washington  
2016 - The Lemon Twigs
This superlative is awarded to an artist who released a stellar debut within the last 12 months and this year's winner is certainly someone special and one to treasure. 

SZA, who released her brilliant debut, ctrl, earlier this year, was someone who came on our radar in 2014 and we named her a Rising Artist in March of that year. Since then, we have kept an eye on the TDE artist and after three years of waiting, ctrl arrived and it was worth the wait. Arriving with one of the best debuts in recent memory, the rapper blends R&B, soul, funk, into her autobiographical LP. Featuring Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Isaiah Rashad, among others, she pulls her influences from Tupac to the Fugees to Odd Future to give the new school a taste of the old in an artistic manner. If this is her first step towards stardom, we are strapped in for the ride forever. 

Quick News

In February, Wu-Tang Clan's U-God will release his new mixtape, Bring Back God II, with exclusive production from Green Lantern. Take a look at the cover, above.

Eminem took to Twitter Tuesday to announce the tracklisting of his new album, Revival, which will arrive on December 15.

Kendrick Lamar will release a special edition of his brilliant album, DAMN. According to reports, the record will have an alternative cover and a reverse tracklisting which Lamar said previously that the record was meant to hear the order the way it has been presented and in reverse.

Ty Segall was on Conan Monday night and the host announced that the singer will have a new album out next month called Drag City. Take a look at the tracklisting, below:
01 Fanny Dog
02 Rain
03 Every 1’s a Winner
04 Despoiler of Cadaver
05 When Mommy Kills You
06 My Lady’s on Fire
07 Alta
08 Meaning
09 Cry Cry Cry
10 Shoot You Up
11 You Say All the Nice Things
12 The Last Waltz
13 She
14 Prison
15 Talkin 3
16 The Main Pretender
17 I’m Free
18 5 Ft. Tall
19 And, Goodnight

Stereophonics on 'Corden'

Watch Stereophonics perform "Caught by the Wind" on The Late Late Show with James Corden.

Steve Earle & Lucinda Williams on 'Meyers'

Watch Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams perform "You're Still Standing There" on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Ty Segall on 'Conan'

Watch Ty Segall perform "Fanny Dog" on Conan.

St. Vincent on 'Fallon'

Watch St. Vincent perform "Slow Disco" on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

The National on 'Ellen'

Watch The National perform "The Day I Die" on Ellen.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

2017 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 

...and now to add to this growing list is someone who has taken the music world by storm for the last five years and proves to be the most important living musician today and the voice of a generation. His music is more than just hip-hop, it is a verbal documentary about life in hard times, life as a black man, life as a young person under 30, and someone searching for more than just a higher power but understanding. Ladies and Gentlemen, the 2017 League of Their Own winner is...

Kendrick Lamar - DAMN

"I'm willin' to die for this shit
I done cried for this shit, might take a life for this shit
Put the Bible down and go eye for an eye for this shit," Lamar sings as he opens the single "ELEMENT." and four songs into DAMN., he makes the declaration that this isn't a job, this isn't for fame, this isn't for money, this is his life and these are the themes that made this record so spellbinding.

DAMN. is Kendrick Lamar solidifying himself as the best rapper alive and a top five emcee. As he uses the words thrown against him, the headlines that are flashed around the news, DAMN. is a record that is just as much in the ethos of punk rock as it is in hip-hop. If Johnny Rotten fronted The Clash it would have that attitude and political / social rawness and awareness. Yet, Lamar, who is a fan of jazz, Afropunk, rock, and clearly 90s rap and R&B, he mixes his influences together with a record that is not just the best to come out in 2017 but an album that has the Compton rapper touching the arch of music history. 

With appearances by Rihanna, Kid Capri, U2, and Zacari, Lamar left his comfort zone but oddly remained in it while telling his story and observations. If anything, the closing track, "DUCKWORTH." is the proof in the pudding that whatever this young artist was born to do was destiny.  

Stay Tuned Next Week For Our Top 10 Albums of the Year! 

Rising Artist: Joyner Lucas

This last week has been a whirlwind for Massachusetts emcee Joyner Lucas thanks to the release of his single and video "I'm Not Racist," which went viral soon after it was put on YouTube. The Worcester rapper released not just the video of the year but the soundtrack to 2017. In the wake of what has gone on in America since Trump's rise, Lucas has the race conversation many are too afraid to have with one another in the single. The six-minute epic is just the tip of the iceberg for what he can do and spit. Going in the underground since 2015, Lucas released his second album earlier this year, (508) 507-2209, and while it was a success with tastemakers, it is now resurrected thanks to he newfound success in the mainstream. While "I'm Not Racist" is a one-off single, his two albums prior show his career has been brewing to this moment and now he is ready to take the world by storm.

Underrated Classic: Morrissey 'Ringleader of the Tormentors'

In the mid-2000s, Morrissey went through a sort of career revival with the release of You are the Quarry in 2004. Two years later, he followed up on his success with Ringleader of the Tormentors. An indie rock opera of sorts as Moz enlisted longtime David Bowie producer Tony Visconti to work with him in Rome, Italy, on the album. The record would become the most personal, lyrically, for the former Smiths singer and the grandest in terms of production thanks to Visconti's vision. When the album arrived in the spring of 2006, it was well received by critics and fans and was propelled by the singles, "You Have Killed Me," "In The Future When All's Well," and "I Just Want to see the Boy Happy."  In the 11 years since, it has fallen off the radar among listeners. As the singer now tours in support of his new record, Low in High School, fans can look back at this as a turning point for the British musician. With a record full of lush philharmonic strings, clear cut themes and stories but also, such a different sound for someone who has been so miserable for a majority of his life.

Movie of the Month: 'The Intouchables'

In December, many people look for feel-good films to put them in the holiday spirit and while The Intouchables isn't a Christmas movie, it is one hell of an inspiring piece of motion picture. The 2011 French film tells the story of a wealthy quadriplegic who needs a caretaker and after interviewing many, he and his assistant come across a man name Driss, a criminal who needs to show the government he is looking for work as part of a parole deal he had. As Driss continues to show no interest in the job, the man who wants to hire him shows more interest in him. After a series of call backs, Driss lands the job and reluctantly takes the position and strikes up a friendship and brotherhood with his wealthy boss, Philleppe. As Philleppe and Driss form a bond, the aides past comes back to haunt him and his boss does whatever he can to help. The plot of the film is inspired by the true story of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo and his French-Algerian caregiver Abdel Sellou, who are featured at the end of the film. The Intouchables is the type of film that will make you laugh, cry, and punch the air with excitement after viewing.

U2 on 'SNL'

Watch U2 perform "American Soul" and "Get Out of Your Own Way" on Saturday Night Live.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Miguel on 'Fallon'

Watch Miguel perform "Sky Walker" on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Talib Kweli W/ Anderson .Paak and Kaytranada on 'Conan'

Watch Talib Kweli Ft. Anderson .Paak and Kaytranada perform "Traveling Light" on Conan.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Live Review: Beach Slang at Gramercy Theatere

One of the most positive tours of the year rolled through New York City Wednesday night as Beach Slang took their "Drunk Or Lust Tour" to the Gramercy Theatere with Dave Hause and the Mermaid and The Homeless Gospel Choir.

Since forming just four years ago, Beach Slang have already received a cult-like following of fans and with two fantastic albums under their belt, they had their first headlining show in Manhattan and played to a packed theatere with some of Pennsylvania's best bands.

Hitting the stage at around 10 p.m., they strutted on to AC/DC's "Hell's Bells" they busted into "Wasted Daze of Youth" and "Bad Art and Weirdo Ideas" with the crowd screaming the words back to singer James Alex.

Alex, who was dressed in a prom tux from the 1980s had his outfit fit his persona -- he is clearly inspired by The Replacements and Against Me! as much as he is by The Cure, Depeche Mode, and The Smiths. His songs can be looked at the soundtrack to a 21st century John Hughes film and his earnest charisma helps the songs feel more authentic than other bands who just lay their emotions out and hope someone can relate.

For the hour they were on stage, the joy they emulated was infectious.

"We are Beach Slang and we are gonna punch you right in the heart!," Alex screamed just a few songs into their set.

Alex, who had his mic stand wrapped in white Christmas lights and flowers, is ever the showman. From spitting water out of his mouth like Triple H in the WWE to jumping around on stage like Pete Townshend in his prime, any form of rock and roll he has come in contact with he seems to have adapted to like a real life version of Jubilee in the X-Men comics.

Halfway through the band's set, they began fielding requests from fans which included The Replacements "Can't Hardly Wait," and Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence," as well as their own tracks like "Dirty Cigarettes," "Punks in a Disco Bar," and "American Girls and French Kisses."

As they closed with a cover of Pixies "Where is my Mind," everyone in the room wanted more from the Philly punks but at the rate their going, it will just be a matter of time before they return to the city.

Opening in the show were The Homeless Gospel Choir, a one man band from Pittsburgh whose emotional lyrics and basic strumming had the audience in the palm of his hand as everyone in the room related to at least one song that Derek Zanetti sang. The songs are about growing up as a misfit, being bipolar, being queer, and trying to carve a life out for yourself in unconventional manors. They are songs you wish you wrote but didn't because you were scared to. He put your fears and thoughts into his music because he felt them too and like any punk you know you are not alone.

Also on the bill was former Loved Ones singer Dave Hause and his band The Mermaid. The Philly rockers made their set feel as if it was almost a co-headlining venture between him and Beach Slang as the fans in the room reacted the same for Hause as they did for the headliner. Hause, whose guitar strings kept breaking during the show, had a fan help him a few times, furthering Zanetti's sense of community in the punk scene. Plugging away at new songs from his solid latest release, Bury Me in Philly, Hause and the Mermaid also delivered a stunning cover of Tom Petty's "Won't Back Down." We have covered Hause numerous times over the years and each of his gigs have been solid but what was evident now more than ever was how happy he was playing with this band and we hope it continues.

VINTAGE CLIP: Beady Eye on 'Letterman' in 2011

Liam Gallagher wrapped his first solo tour of the U.S. but for this VINTAGE CLIP we look back to his first post-Oasis performance on American TV with Beady Eye (everyone in Oasis sans Noel) as they performed "The Roller" on The Late Show with David Letterman. 

Andrew W.K. Announces New Album

Andrew W.K. will release his new album, You Are Not Alone, in March. 

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

1. The Power of Partying
2. Music Is Worth Living For

3. Ever Again

4. I Don't Know Anything

5. The Feeling of Being Alive

6. Party Mindset

7. The Party Never Dies

8. Give Up On You

9. Keep On Going

10. In Your Darkest Moments

11. The Devil's On Your Side

12. Break The Curse

13. Total Freedom

14. Beyond Oblivion

15. Confusion and Clarity

16. You're Not Alone

Quick News

Heavy metal icons Judas Priest will release their new album, Firepower, in March. The band are nominated to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year, it will be announced if they make the class of 2018 soon. Take a look at the cover of Firepower, above.

 A new documentary called Prince's Last Year, will air on UK's Channel 4 sometime next year. The documentary will chronicle the "Purple Rain" singer's his battle with painkillers, the secret concert he put on for the Obamas at the White House, and his final tour dubbed the "Piano and Microphone Tour." No release date has been set.

In an interview with FACT magazine, Bjork said that she and Wu-Tang Clan wrote a few songs together during her Homogenic era in the late 90s. "We wrote a couple of songs together,” she said. “Sometimes when you do things and you don’t plan them it’s magic. And I really think what we made was magic. But I think because it wasn’t part of the whole Homogenic thing and it wasn’t part of what Wu-Tang were doing at the time, it was better as an idea, if that makes any sense?”

In March, The Vaccines will release their new album, Combat Sports. Take a look at the cover, below:

Taking to Instagram, Dr. Dre released a teaser video announcing that Eminem's new album, Revival, will be out December 15. Take a look:
A post shared by Dr. Dre (@drdre) on

Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine announce on Instagram that she is releasing a book of poetry and lyrics next year.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Jay-Z said that he and Beyonce worked on a collaboration album together during a rough patch in their marriage. "We were using our art almost like a therapy session. And we started making music together," he said. “Then the music she was making at that time was further along. So her album came out as opposed to the joint album that we were working on. Um, we still have a lot of that music. And this is what it became. There was never a point where it was like, ‘I’m making this album.’ I was right there the entire time.”