OVERLOOKED RECORDS 2016

We need more writers! These are the records we listened to, but just could not make the time to review. Instead, here are our very, very short words on the numerous records we may have not been able to tackle. We are human – forgive us.

 

…we need more writers.

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IV – BadBadNotGood

This new album is not as exciting as it should’ve been, and a bit of a “weak one out” compared to other great jazz or jazz-influenced albums in recent times (Blackstar, The Epic, To Pimp A Butterfly, etc.). The addition of a fourth member, saxophonist Leland Whitty, doesn’t stop the album from feeling quite barren.

All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend – Aurora

While AURORA is a good singer, and some of the song topics are quite unexpectedly grim for this genre (“Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1)” is about the act of mercy killing), it’s over-reliance on minimalistic instrumentals that keep getting less and less interesting as well as some awful vocal melodies (“Running With The Wolves”, “Warrior”) keep her from really standing out in the wave of post-Lorde singer-songwriters.

Running Out Of Love – The Radio Dept.

For this album, The Radio Dept change their “Pet Shop Boys meets Slowdive”-esque sound for one more rooted in New Order style electronica. Unfortunately, the result is an album that is much more dull compared to it’s fantastically grim but blissful predecessors, even with the more politically charged lyrics this time around*.
*reference intended.

Tired Of Tomorrow – Nothing

While the alternative rock influences aren’t exactly used as well as they should be, and it ends up making their metal-influenced shoegaze sound less interesting than their previous album, Guilty of Everything, Tired of Tomorrow is still quite a solid album. Anyone interested in shoegaze, or at least those who liked their previous album, should stop to check it out.

Stoney – Post Malone

Admittedly, I’m quite a sucker for spacey,  ambient-esque trap instrumentals, so from a production standpoint, I didn’t find the album that bad. However, Post Malone’s mumbley “sing-rap” schtick is still quite bothersome, and it ranges from being tolerable at best (White Iverson), to being kinda grating (Deja Vu, Cold, Too Young) to being utterly unbearable at worst (literally any “emotive” ballad on this album). It also doesn’t help the fact that anything he says comes across as a well-off kid trying awkwardly to imitate his favorite rappers.

Spirit Phone – Lemon Demon

This album is filled to the brim with really great new-wave throwback tunes. The lyrics are not only goofy and fun, but also showcase a surprising amount of forethought and wit on them (“Lifetime Achievement Award” and “I Earn My Life” in particular). Neil Cicierega again showcases that he is far more talented and competent than the typical internet celebrity.

Worry – Jeff Rosenstock

I can’t believe I did it again. I forgot to listen to this guy’s album until about a month after it came out. This is the best pop punk, power pop, whatever-rock album I’ve heard all year. Brutally honest, funny but still poignant. “Wave Goodnight To Me” has the best chorus of Q4 2016, no doubt. The diversity of sounds on this album is great, too.

Jesu/Sun Kil Moon – Jesu/Sun Kill Moon

It’s very endearing to hear Mark Kozelek ramble on about life over these beautiful and brooding instrumentals on this very odd collaboration. It’s unlike anything else I heard this year and it really stuck out. Too bad I didn’t finish it until this month. If you like post-metal or really straightforward singer-songwriters, you’ll love this.

Hardwired…To Self-Destruct

This is the Metallica you wanted to hear. It’s not without its edginess lyrically, which can be hard to stomach, but these are still well-structured songs that really do rock. Great harmonized guitar leads and tasty production make this a super fun thrash release. This was way better than Megadeth’s new album.

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Coloring Book – Chance The Rapper

Adding to his collection of free mixtapes, Chance released his third album in May of 2016, which immediately stole the hearts of millennials around the nation.  Its upbeat fusion of hip hop and gospel made it the perfect album to throw on when you needed a picker-upper, ranging from soft sing-a-longs like “Same Drugs” and “Juke Jam” to bass-thumping bangers like “All We Got”, “No Problem” and “All Night”.  Perfect for any occasion, Coloring Book was an album to chill to and an album to dance to, and even though Chance was not going for the feel of Acid Rap, songs like “D.R.A.M. Sings Special” and “How Great” seemed to drag amongst the others.  In retrospect, this may have been his intention the whole time, opening Coloring Book with an anthem featuring Kanye West and the Chicago Children’s Choir, juxtaposing mainstream hip hop with his hometown gospel roots.

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Holy Ghost – Modern Baseball

The third studio album by the indie emo/punk rock band Modern Baseball sees no shortage of heavy subjects, despite the sometimes cheery-sounding vocals of Ewald and Lukens.  This contrast between mood and subject matter can be noticed particularly in songs like “Wedding Singer” and “Coding These To Lukens”.  However, the majority of the album is far too depressing to be saved by their creative wordplay and loud instrumentation.  If you’re ever angry, but have no control over the situation you’re in, this album is for you.

Telefone – Nonanme

This sleeper hit of a record showcases Noname’s knack for fusing eloquent flows & rhymes with soothing, and at times, quirky instrumentation. With the doo-wop magic of “Sunny Duet”, the fragmented xylophone sample on “Forever”, and the 90s – infused “Diddy Bop”, you’re sure to find a moment on Telefone you’ll come to love. With dexterous rhymes delivered very hushed and toned down, it’s no wonder why this gem slithered past your ears. Just don’t let it happen again.

When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired – Mothers

Delicate when necessary, propulsive to match the intensity, and all-around evocative and gut-wrenching, Mothers’ debut is a heart-shattering debut – a folk rock exercise through the typical ups and downs of melancholy. The pristine strings on “Too Small For Eyes” complement vocalist Kristine Leschper’s equally as pristine lyrics perfectly. The album dips in discordant moods (“Burden of Proof”) and driving folk rock tunes (“It Hurts Until It Doesn’t”,) providing a varied palate to soundtrack the low points in your life, and almost always reminding you the importance of getting back up again.

The Sun’s Tirade – Isaiah Rashad

With R&B infused production and a slurred, almost drunken, delivery The Sun’s Tirade is THE smoothest hip hop record of 2016. The entire sixty three minute record slides, glides, and slithers freely and ambidextrously to a transcendent degree. From star-studded bangers (“Wat’s Wrong) to meditative moments (“Silkk da Shocka”) to trap-influenced beats (“Tity and Dolla”), Isaiah Rashad provides an alluring record of hip hop that keeps you diving in back for more, constantly discovering a new detail every time.

Down In Heaven – Twin Peaks

The scrappy Chicago rock group’s second LP is a bittersweet and infectious collection of bluesy, power pop songs that will tickle anyone’s fancy. The album opener is a timeless ode to young love, while bluesy riff of “Butterfly” constantly reminds one why group choruses are, sometimes, a great idea. To diversify, The Boys insert a few hidden gems, such as “Heavenly Showers”, an acoustic ballad that is just as messy as it is sweet.

White Album – Weezer

Weezer is back – no doubt in anyone’s mind, especially after listening to this record. After a few missteps, the group has delivered there most consistent and enjoyable release. Back to the drawing board of the beginning, Weezer crank out power pop tune after power pop tune, complete with the sugary sweet hook and corny yet passionate lyricism. “(Girl We Got A) Good Thing” is an effervescent highlight of 2016 pop rock, while “Do You Wanna Get High?” remains a constant anachronistic title that never gets old, especially for Weezer’s die-hard fans.

The Glowing Man – Swans

Following the fantastic To Be Kind, and closing the chapter on the current reincarnation of Swans, Michael Gira and Co. deliver a dense, meditative, and churning 118 min record of some the most intense experimental rock you’ll hear this year. By trading their blunt aggressiveness for longer, slower, leaner, and more cathartic climaxes, the songs on The Glowing Man blended together, into a nearly two hour odyssey into the twisted and dark minds of one of rock’s oldest, and greatest, acts.

Lil Boat – Lil Yachty

While drowning in auto-tune and generic trap beat after generic trap beat, Lil’ Yachty manages to convey an astonishing amount of innocence into banger after banger after banger. As young as he is, Yachty’s ubiquity in the hip hop scene is unavoidable; and polarizing hip hop heads left and right, it’s an underdog story for the ages. Regardless of the praise and hate Lil’ Boat remains to be a catchy, fun, silly, and at times nuanced mixtape, and one of 2016’s best offerings.

Rheia – Pathbreaker

Blackgaze is still a trend, and it’s not tired just yet. Proof? Oathbreaker’s furiously demanding Rheia – a 63-minute journey of anger, pain, and darkness. Album highlight “Needles In Your Skin” ends with the most intense guitars and guttural screams of 2016. If you’re looking to let go of some aggression, or be immersed in it, then look no further than this burning and impassioned record.

No, My Name Is Jeffery – Young Thug

Young Thug is changing hip-hop for the better. While critics will condone his un-decipherable vocals, one cannot deny his enthusiastic and liberating need to express everything inside him, completely disregarding proper pronunciation and letting loose in a free-spirited manner. It’s unadulterated bliss, and produces some of 2016’s most important bangers; from the reggae infused “Wyclef Jean” to the absolute bonkers “Harambe”, No My Name Is Jeffery is a career best, and signals the irrefutable rise of Young Thug.

 

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