Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Best of 2016

Hey hey hey! So it’s time for my annual get productive post. haha. 2016 was a really good year in my life. A great year for music. No time to spare. As per usual, these are in no particular order. And if you like it any of them, go buy them from a local record store or from the bands directly <3


Russian Circles – Guidance


Obviously, when i write these best of posts annually, the albums featured are releases that really made a impact on me. And its safe to say that as the year draws to a close, i have a idea of everything that will be featured. And some years, I’m lucky enough to have a standout release of the year. And that's pretty rad. Well, this year is odd. Because there were 2 albums that are pretty evenly matched in my head for AOTY. And they couldn't be more opposite. And I think that ultimately makes it really rad that these are the 2 its come down to. Russian Circles, for those not in the know, play extremely heavy, loud, beautiful instrumental music. Genre wise its somewhere between post rock and metal. Post metal? That could be a thing i suppose. haha. My main draw to the band was that it initially had 2 members of the defunct instrumental Math Rock band Dakota/Dakota. And I have followed them since their inception. Eventually, there was a change up in members and the ex-Bassist of Botch/These Arms Are Snakes joined the band. Personally? Some of my favorite stuff they have put out has been since this change. Because I think they kept all the beauty their earlier albums had, but got even heavier. Which I love. If I had any complaint with this album its that i love it so much that i wish there were more songs on it! haha. Though the last song on the album “Lisboa” has one of my favorite passages the band has ever written. It is unbelievably beautiful.

Download The Album Here


Porches – Pool


So that brings us to the 2nd contender for AOTY. And fuck. This album is so fucking good.  I don't really know how to explain it. Heavy, heavy 80’s vibes. Dancy AF. I wont lie that I hadn't heard of this band prior to this year. And truly, I am unfamiliar with their releases prior to this album. I saw YouTube videos of just the singer singing and playing guitar. Which led me to believe that perhaps this was (is?) his solo project? I don't fully know. Truly? I heard of the band because their drummer was (is?) Cameron who used to play in Zona Mexicana. haha. I laugh because this band has ZERO in common with Zona, but I am still stoked I looked into them because I love the album! Once again, if i had to complain about anything, its that its over before you know it. I am not really aware of other synthy pop bands. I know there have to be some but please note i have no point of reference. I don't listen to that kind of music regularly. I just know I like this band. “Underwater” is a amazing opening track. “Mood” makes me feel like I should be on a yacht in Miami in the 80’s. Or maybe just playing GTA Vice City? haha. I cant recommend the record enough. Its upbeat. mellow. fun. poppy. Idk. Its not a very “me” record. And I’ve had alot of fun destroying people preconceptions of what I like musically by sharing it with them. I’ve listened to this record at work more times than i can tell you. And if I can give it one point over Russian Circles, its that it has the ability for more mass appeal. Hell, skramz emo dude me fucking fell in love with it!

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Tortoise – The Catastrophist


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Nothing – Tired Of Tomorrow


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Mouse On the Keys – Live At Red Bull Studios Tokyo


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Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool


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Totorro – Come To Mexico


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Deftones – Gore


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The Mercury Program – New Myths


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Knola – To The Rhythm


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David Bowie – Blackstar

david bowie

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Enemies – Valuables


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Touché Amoré – Stage Four


I have a love/hate relationship with this album. Its placement on this list is no surprise. I think every album they have released since I saw them open for Envy all those years ago have been on these best of lists. I need to be fucking upfront as hell. This album is fucking good. The music on it is right in line with what they put out on “Is Survived By” IMO. But note that for the first time (that I know of anyway) there are vocals that aren't screaming. Idk how i feel about them tbh. But you gotta understand, I was in this from “…To The Beat Of A Dead Horse” on. And I've seen the band get less heavy with each release. So from that standpoint, its a progression that seems expected. But not necessarily where I would like to personally see them go. Anyway, all of that aside? I don't really dislike any of it. My first listen through I thought, “this is good. A bit of a bummer though.” This is before I knew anything about what the album is actually about. And once I found out, and listened again, I cried. Holy shit did i cry. The album touched me in such a personal way that i lost it. Idk if i should really get into what this album is actually about. But lets say I had a personal connection to the themes that are touched on with the lyrics. I identify with the feelings and thoughts. And I am lucky enough to be on the other side of the situation. And having my situation turn out differently. So my love for this album, its because of that connection. Because it was able to move me to tears. In a year of some sad releases (David Bowie’s final album and Radiohead/Thom Yorke’s break up album) this one has taken the cake. So as much as I love it. I love it for making me feel how i did. Being able to touch me how it has. I hate it because it has made me feel more vulnerable than any album I can remember in recent years. And I am scared at what it does to me. I think the ability from simple music and lyrics affecting someone in such a way is very very powerful. And hats off to Touché Amore for that. Now, lets get back to skramz-ier sounding tunes dudes. ;-)

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Contact – Zero Moment


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Dikembe – Hail Something


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John Carpenter – Lost Themes II

john carpenter

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TTNG – Disappointment Island


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Hesitation Wounds – Awake For Everything


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S U R V I V E – RR7349


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Frameworks – Smother


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Lite – Cubic



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Daughter – Not To Disappear


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Explosions In The Sky – The Wilderness


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American Football – LP2

american football

I’m going to do my write up about this album in a way that's potentially weird. I am going to first, talk about everything I DISLIKE about the album. Okay. First and foremost, Mike’s voice! I know, I know. A lot of people are very defensive of this. “It’s been such and such however many years since the self titled. You can’t expect him to sing the same.” Really? I point you to the Colossal and Owen (oddly enough, Mike Kinsella’s solo project) Split from this same year. And more so direct you to Colossal specifically. Their last full length came out 12 years ago. Their last recorded content released on comps 10 years ago. And yet, their song? Sounds exactly like them. No difference in voice OR music. It sounds like a Colossal song. Which brings me to my next thing I don't like about this album. It is clear that it WAS NOT written like previous American Football songs. American Football was a trio. 2 guitarist and a drummer. I think those 3 wrote in a very specific way. Not only is this heard on all the pre break up material, but you can hear it on the newly released demos that came out on the reissue of the first LP. NOW, I am not putting down Nate Kinsella. The last Birthmark record is fucking stellar. A+. No hate on him. BUT personally? I think including him, and his instrument, in the writing process of THIS record definitely changed its tone. And made it LESS American Football-y. If that makes sense. My personal opinion, and what I would've liked to have seen, is that they should've wrote the album as a trio, and brought in Nate to add his basslines once the songs were written. Now, I get it. They toured. Played all those reunion shows. And he was there. He helped them play live and helped the songs sound fuller live. So maybe it was that they thought they owed it to him. Or that he was actually a member at that point. But they didn't take into account how that would ultimately change the writing process and the music produced. Okay, so get this. THATS IT. that's all the issues I have with this record. Any problem i have can be traced back to those 2 things. It took quite alot of listens before this album grew on me and i was able to get through all the bs I had with it. Its good. It has alot of the qualities that are associated with their material from back when. I think there is some definite show of age though on the songs. Not just Kinsella’s obvious different singing style. But the songs all seem ALOT more straight forward. Very little of AF’s “signature” polyrhythmic drumming is present. There are some minor attempts here and there. But nothing to really write home about. And nothing that really grabbed me. That's fine and I honestly think that was probably a conscious decision by the band to maybe be more appealing to the general masses. But that's obviously speculative. Listen, if you've heard the AF’s EP and LP and like them, you kind of owe it to yourself to listen to this. You may like it, you may not. Most of what I’ve seen is people raving about it. It took me a lot longer to warm up to it. But I can now say I enjoy this record and have some great memories connected to it.

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Mogwai – Atomic


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scntfc – Oxenfree OST


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Monument Valley – OST


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The Blasting Company – Over The Garden Wall OST


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You’re Next – OST

youre next

I have not been able to find this album digitally. I’m sorry.


Stranger Things – Volumes 1 & 2


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Splits & EP’s

Colossal/Owen – Split


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Lifted Bells – Over Reactor


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Suis La Lune/Shirokuma – Split


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Red Hare – Lexicon Mist


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Youth Novel/Coma Regalia – The Gentle Harm Of Tradition


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Lite/Mouse On The Keys – Split

lite mouse

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Reissues & Compilations

Converge – You Fail Me Redux


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Jeff Buckley – You And I


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Oswego – Self Titled


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Snowing – That Time I Sat In A Pile Of Chocolate


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Saetia – Collected


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Local/Friend’s Bands

Secret Pizza – Nothing Needs to Happen

secret pizza

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Slingshot Dakota – Break


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Cattle Drums – Sorta Is The Best We’re Doin


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Birthday Boy – Hi Anxiety


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Living Room/Typesetter – Glimpse


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Difficult – To Heal


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Ohne-ká And The Burning River – Tree Lines And Birth Rights


Years ago there was a local Syracuse metal band called Cicada. Cut to the chase, they SLAYED. Beloved doesn't really begin to describe their local support. The issue with Cicada? The time it took for them to release their album took FOREVER. Seriously. I remember talking with friends at shows about the anticipation and when they would actually release it. It did eventually come out. And people rejoiced. But I always joked that that was the local album that took the longest to come out. Well, that was until the release of THIS album. haha. I feel like for YEARS this album has been done, or being mixed or something along those lines but there was always no release date or projected release. Friends of the band talking about how they have a early demo version of the album. Etc. Etc. Well, would you believe that half of Ohne-ka and the burning river were in the band Cicada? Haha! Anyway, i will say that this is a great fucking record. And while i didn't give up on it getting released, i kept my anticipation for the release low, so it wouldn't drain any sort of excitement i had toward the record. For those not in the know, Ohne-ka and the burning river play instrumental metal music that is heavily post rock influenced. Is post metal a thing? haha. Idk. Start to finish, this is a very good record. And it flows really well. How they structured the tracks is a really good fit. If you have heard their previous record (and you should've as it was featured on this site's best of for the year of its release!) this record continues in the same vein. In a lot of ways, from song structures or sonic experiments, they have grown. And I personally feel like the album has a concept album vibe to it. One cohesive goal or vibe with all songs attempting to work together to get you there. To be fair though, I do have a few minor gripes with the release. I honestly just don't like the singing on the vocal heavy track "Shadows On The Wall." . The music is good. But i do not love the vocals/vocal style. If anyone knows me, they know that when a instrumental band stops being instrumental and starts having singing, that's usually when i check out. (Tera Melos is a great example of this happening) This didn't happen with Ohne-ka though. The final track on the album "Into The Dark Without" ends its almost 20 minute run with singing that i really enjoy. So don't pigeonholed me as a vox hater! haha. My only other complaints are so minor and nerdy that its not worth getting into. haha.  And I know the album was recorded, mixed and released by the band themselves. So realistically, releasing a album of this quality is a outstanding feat! For many years, Ohne-ka And The Burning River have been a local band that has consistently challenged themselves and blended all sorts of elements to be one of the most unique and beloved Syracuse bands in recent history. This album continues their impressive musical legacy. Let’s hope they keep it up. (And maybe at a quicker pace? :’D )

Download The Album Here

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