Useless Weirdo’s picks:
5. “Giving Bad People Good Ideas” by Death Grips
I cannot stress enough how much I f#%king love this band. Death Grips is the perfect music to listen to while trying to vent any rage or just a soundtrack to a trip to the gym. They’re perpetually angry and the closest thing to a successful 70s punk attitude today. This year’s Bottomless Pit was pretty good, but felt a bit like a “safe” album for Death Grips, as it felt a lot like Disc 2 of The Powers That B from last year. Having said that, the opening track is the band at its finest, with MC Ride screaming at full volume, Zach Hill banging his drums at a velocity and rate that would make a Guitar Center employee sweat nervously, and Andy Morin inserting sounds that would make the demons of Hell feel uneasy. It’s quality work from a band that announced its “break up” over two years ago.
4. “Shut Up Kiss Me” by Angel Olsen
This may surprise you, but relationships can be a little frustrating. Hard to believe, but it’s true. Angel Olsen’s ode to that building drama within your significant other’s relationship and how you just want to kiss and make up (quite literally in this song’s case) is masterfully crafted. The fighting is in the background and the inner thoughts of one side of the argument take the lead, but in the end, it all just falls apart around Olsen. That inner desire to cut out the BS versus how things actually turn out make for solid lyrical storytelling behind a thumping guitar in the chorus that hits with a killer punch. How this song didn’t do better in terms of sales is disappointing to say the least. Here’s hoping 2017 turns her into a huge success that she deserves to be with a song (and album My Woman) this great.
3. “FloriDada” by Animal Collective
I highly doubt that Animal Collective will be able to recreate the critical success they had with Merriweather Post Pavilion, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to still put out some great work. Panda Bear’s solo album from last year Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper was a blast to listen to and I think that album was a huge influence on this work. It’s the trio having their way with the classic surfer Beach Boys style the only way they know how, with bizarre Moog effects, echoing vocals, and the closest you can get to an acid trip with audio. It’s amazing what Animal Collective can do when they want to acknowledge that Florida is a weird place without outright hating on the Sunshine State.
2. “Same Drugs” by Chance the Rapper
Sometimes a simple piano ballad can hit the perfect chord and Chance the Rapper somehow found it in this song. According to him, “Same Drugs” had nearly 20 different versions before being finalized, including a version hotly prized for featuring guest vocals from Regina Spektor. It’s a pretty simple song overall about lovers that have mutually reached their end, but acknowledging the good times that were had, with a couple nice nods to Peter Pan and Hook. But in that simplicity, there’s genuine emotion from Chance’s vocals that are only elevated by the choir acting as a gospel version of a hype man. Chance is singing his sorrows away in a way to reflect that despite the end of something he thought was beautiful, there was a life lesson there as well, which in itself is a pretty great reward in itself. There’s a reason why Misterwives chose this song over any others on Coloring Book to cover. The emotion is on the surface without being too preachy or too forced. It’s so genuine that you can’t listen to it just once.
1. “8 (circle)” by Bon Iver
Yeah, may be a little weak to go with a song off this album that wasn’t a single, but it’s damn hard to pick the best one off this masterpiece. Strangely enough, it’s the song that least reminds me of Kanye’s influence, which is the reason I love this album more than anything else Bon Iver has put out. It could have probably ended up on For Emma or Bon Iver, Bon Iver without a fan batting an eye, but there is some brilliant subtly to the song that barely reminds you that this is a new era track from Justin Vernon. Maybe it’s because it’s placement on the album to remind you of where the band is coming from after seven songs of the band looking to the future. Maybe it’s just the perfect song to help close out a miserable year, as if to put 2016 away on its death bed with quiet acceptance that “it”, whatever that means, is finally over. But nonetheless, Justin Vernon’s mashing of older that old school aesthetics with modern sound glitches has been transformed into something I can only describe as perfect.
5. “Genghis Kahn” by Miike Snow
Well… technically this song came out in 2015, but the album came out in 2016, so just deal with it. I’m a big fan of Miike Snow’s third album iii and “Genghis Kahn” is just a pure dance-y delight. Seriously had this song on repeat for months and after watching them play this acoustically in our Live Lounge, while frontman Andrew Wyatt had a concussion, only made me love it more. Well-produced, electric melody, catchy lyrics: perfect recipe for a fantastic song. And Miike Snow definitely accomplished this with “Genghis Kahn”.
4. “Amerika” by Young The Giant
On my top albums list, Home of the Strange by Young The Giant is extremely well-written, especially the song “Amerika” which chronicles the struggle of growing up as a first-generation American. “Amerika” has a dreamy/haunting feel that almost transports you to a different place, allowing you to step into someone else’s shoes and experience life through someone else’s eyes. Beautiful lyrics and my favorite on the album.
3. “Life Itself” by Glass Animals
Just like “Genghis Kahn”, I had this song on repeat for a very long time. “Life Itself” gave me life, so to speak. I felt so vibrant and cool when this song came on and would make my friends listen to this over and over. I even made up a choreographed dance to it… which you will never see. So happy to have caught them at Not So Silent Night and was even more excited that Dave, the lead singer, has the same awkward dance moves as me. Killer song, great hook, full of fun. I’m gonna go listen to it right now.
2. “Psycho Lovers” by Local Natives
Local Natives is one of my all time favorite bands and this song really grabbed me from first-listen. I saw them play this live at Popscene a few months before they released any new songs officially, and I instantly fell in love with it. Psycho love, if you will. I really do love all the songs on this album but “Psycho Lovers” is the best in my opinion. Really catchy “ooh’s” which is a huge plus for me and lovely harmonies between Taylor Rice and Kelcey Ayer. Local Natives has such a knack for capturing heartache and longing in their songs and “Psycho Lovers” is a perfect example of that. Listen to this album, you won’t regret it!
1. “33 god” by Bon Iver
Hands down favorite song of 2016. Bon Iver’s style has evolved so well and this album was like a breath of fresh air. Very different from his past releases, “33 god” is chaotically beautiful and also does an excellent job at tugging at your heartstrings and making you feel ALL THE FEELS. Excellent writing, producing, it’s all there. Justin Vernon is a very talented individual and has a true passion for music, and he makes it known in “33 god”.