Oh, hi… I didn’t notice you there… I don’t know how to ever start anything. Anyway, it’s been a little while since I’ve posted anything. The first half of the year has been pretty messy and unfortunately has taken up a lot of my time. However, I have still used a lot of that time to listen to LOTS of new music, and guess what I have an opinion on all of it! So let’s have a year in review of sorts… Well, half a year anyway. I’m also still trying to figure out what this is. Should I have a day that I write and put something out? Should I make certain days, theme days? Is it OK if I talk about metal, even though I’m trying to reach a broader audience? I don’t know, you tell me. Until then, I’m just going to write about things I like, and some things I don’t like, and try and show some people what I think is cool in music today.
The last time I posted I talked about the things I was most looking forward to in 2017. Some of those things have not yet come to pass (yes, I’m a nerd. I am writing on Ranting Media right?), and some of these things have been outright dreadful. You guessed it, the new Katy Perry album.
I don’t need to tell anybody how awful it is, you have probably heard a song, or gotten an annoying line stuck in your head for hours, “swish, swish, bish,” am I right? If it’s not cringeworthy 90’s throwback cash-ins, it’s lyrical quality that would make a 12-year-olds junior high slam book sound more aligned with the work of John Lennon. I don’t need to say much more.
Let’s talk about the bright spots of 2017! Like I said, I’ve listened to a lot of music so far this year and I compiled a list, a short list, but a list of 5 albums that I think stand heads above the rest. I also made a Spotify playlist that I’m going to link below for those who wanted a wider view of the music I’ve liked from this past year. If you don’t see your favorite, tell me about it! That’s why I do this because I genuinely want to talk about music with everyone. So here we go…
Hurray for the Riff Raff – The Navigator
The creative force behind HftRR, is a woman by the name of Alynda Lee Segarra. A New York runaway fueled by the sounds of Bikini Kill and a little bit of Leonard Bernstein. On her 6th record, she brings a refreshing twist on the Americana/folk genre. The album is a concept album that really brings out a feel of Americana in the 21st century. No longer is this music a specific niche carved out from country or folk, this album is in some ways just like America, a melting pot accepting of all lives, and all lifestyles. This record is not one that should be ignored and will oddly make you feel hopeful during divisive times.
Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked at Me
I won’t sugar coat it, or bury the lead. This album is rough. It is hard to listen to, but if you’re looking for music that delves deep into the darkest experiences of the human existence, this is it. A Crow Looked at Me is an album written and performed by a man named Phil Elverum. In 2016, Phil lost his wife, and mother to his 1-year-old child to cancer. This album is a document of his grieving process. This album isn’t clever, there are no metaphors that represent the symbolization of death and mourning, this album is real. He is not trying to hide anything from the listeners as to how he is feeling. The subject matter as mundane as a new backpack for his daughter become tear-jerking anecdotes, thoughts put to a very simple and basic soundtrack. Don’t look for beautiful singing either. Earlier I stated that this was a mere documentation of moving on in the face of absolute soul crushing heartbreak and it is presented as such. This is as real as music can get.
Run the Jewels – RtJ3
If you know me, you knew this was coming. In my opinion, Killer Mike, and El-P can do no wrong, and what I say next may be a controversial opinion, but this album is the best of the three. It took me a few listens to get there, but I am here. The reason I think it’s the best is that energy, that the duo brought on the first two albums is still there. You can tell that they absolute still adore making music together. This album is a manifestation of everything these two have been working towards. Making hip hop great again, and shine a light on all marginalized people and make sure their stories get told.
Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
A lot of folks don’t like this album. I’m not entirely sure why, though. It is a robust scene of grandiose storytelling reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens’ Come on Feel the Illinois. Perhaps because the entities that contribute to the shaping of the public’s opinion on what music they should be listening to, is who FJM is going after on this album. If you’re unsure, Father John Misty is the pseudonym of a gentleman named Josh Tillman. This album is the third album under the Father John Misty moniker, although certainly no amateur, he released several albums under his name J. Tillman. On Pure Comedy he lets his opinions be known on everything, whether it be politics, the entertainment industry, religion, all those things that make people feel uncomfortable. He even pokes fun at himself quite a bit, although you may not notice through the desert dry humor that flows through this opus, even referring to himself as, “just another white guy in 2017.” In today’s world, this album does run rather long at approximately 80 minutes (almost a Disney movie!), it’s a journey but one that is very necessary for 2017.
Pallbearer – Heartless
I usually try and keep metal on its own list which I will release soon. But this album just cannot be ignored. Pallbearer is a doom metal band from the least likeliest of places, Arkansas. I caught on to these guys during a 2012 SXSW showcase for Brooklyn Vegan. I was there to see French post-black metal band, Alcest, but this new band called Pallbearer stole the show. I bought their first album, Sorrow and Extinction on vinyl before I even had a record player. The song, Foreigner is one of the finest pieces of doom metal in existence. With their second album, Foundations of Burden, I wasn’t impressed. It was more of the same. Pallbearer color by numbers if you will. When I hear the first single from Heartless, Thorns, I was hooked again. The riffs that open that song are the best Pallbearer has ever put together. Heartless is Booming in every single way. They took the doom guidebook and through it in a crockpot with a little bit of prog and came out with the most absolutely beautifully put together album of 2017 from any genre. This album if given the chance by the masses would be huge, it transcends the genre it claims to be, which is always exciting.
There you have it. What did I miss? Let me know what I should listen to, and let’s talk about music.