2021 Albums of the Year

This year more than ever has been the year of the album for me. I spent a lot of my music listening time this year just listening to entire albums front to back on repeat. These are the albums from this year that I consider exemplary. All of these are different and unique and I hope y’all find something to enjoy in them.

These are listed in no particular order as I don’t believe in ranking albums I love.

Continue reading 2021 Albums of the Year

Bandcamp Pickups From A While Ago To Now

A lot has happened since the last time I wrote one of these posts. We are in a new year! 2021 is half way done and I have built up a backlog of Bandcamp pickups to talk about. I just haven’t been in the right state of mind to actually writing one of these.

Let’s get into it.

The first one is Songs of Supergiant Games by Darren Korb and Ashley Barrett. In my last post of this nature, I mentioned the Hades soundtrack. Well if you liked that, you will love this collection of songs from Supergiant’s games over the years performed with an orchestral arrangement. Just beautiful all around. Every track shines under the light of the orchestra and Ashley Barrett’s voice continues to be just as beautiful as ever.

The second one is Black Pumas by Black Pumas. This soul album has a lot of…well soul. Sorry, I felt compelled to write that. Seriously though, this is an incredible album with gorgeous instrumentation and lush vocals all the way through. Every track is a delight. I’ve had this on regular repeat since I found out about it via a NPR Tiny Desk video on the Black Pumas. I am listening to it as I write it and I want to keep listening to it all the way through.

The third one is Level 11 by Miracle Of Sound. I have been a fan of Gav’s music for a while and what continues to impress me is his improvement as a musician over the years. This album contains his work from 2020 and it is filled with absolute bangers. Personally, I’m a fan of the two Final Fantasy 7 Remake themed tracks and the Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla themed track.

The fourth one is Graz by Nils Frahm. This one is for those quiet moments when all you want is some soft piano to give your brain time to relax. It is indeed the perfect soundtrack for writing blog posts like these. 

The fifth one is Oasis Sky by Tor. This downtempo electronic album gives me cyberpunk vibes. I feel like this is the soundtrack for a cyberpunk themes game waiting to be made.

The sixth one is Bring Backs by Alfa Mist. Jazz is not a genre I listen to much of; I don’t have anything against the genre, it just isn’t my thing most of the time. This album however is excellent. I think my favourite thing about is the guitar in the first track Teki that just meshes so well with the jazz. Just a solid album all around, if you are a jazz head, you should give this one a listen.

The seventh one is Unlearning Vol. 1 by Evidence. This album hasn’t been released yet but I can’t deny the strength of the three single tracks that I’ve listened to so far and I pre-ordered this based on those alone. As a Boldy James fan, that single track with him on it is already enough for me to listen to this. The production on the tracks that are out so far is incredible as well. I am really looking forward to listening this album in full when it comes on the 25th of June.

The eight one is Outside Child by Allison Russell. I found this album via one of Bandcamp Daily’s posts and I am very glad I did. I’ll just quote from the post here:

Many of the songs on Outside Child hearken back to classics like “Love Child” by Diana Ross and the Supremes and Cher’s “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves”—particularly “The Hunters,” where Russell confronts the parents whose brutality still haunts her. It’s an album that gives voice to the unwanted and the exploited and to those who, like the phoenix rising from the ashes, transfigure their past against all odds

Ad some of the lyrics from the track Nightflyer:

His soul is trapped in that room
But I crawled back in my mother’s womb
Came back out with my gold and my greens
Now I see everything
Now I feel everything good lord
What the hell could they bring to stop me Lord?
Nothing from the earth, nothing from the sea
Not a God Almighty thing

That is all from me this time around. I hope you found something in here that you enjoyed. See y’all around.

harue – 失踪

On my semi-regular music discovery runs where I spend a few hours going through by Spotify Discover Weekly and my Bandcamp new queue to find something good I often come away with not much to show for the time spent. I wouldn’t call it time wasted as its something I like doing but its not always rewarding

However, sometimes you come across something that immediately makes you go “oh shit oh fuck this is incredible” and this track is one of those gems. I found this track via r/listentothis which is a music discovery channel that is not a regular for me but whoo boy am I glad I decided to go browsing there this evening.

As soon as the guitars and vocals hit me for the first time I was blown away. Just incredible vocals and the guitarists absolutely shred. Not to mention, the mixing and production on this track is absolutely stellar, the guitars sound clear and crisp, the vocalist is not getting drowned out. Just perfect.

According to the reddit thread, this track doesn’t seem to be on Spotify at the moment and it only seems to be available as a CD on the record label’s website. That’s a shame because I would love to add this to my Spotify library to listen to on repeat!

Background Music

More and more these days it seems I rely on background music to get me through the day. Usually stuff with minimal lyrics. Things like ambient/downtempo beats from soma.fm or techno from ah.fm if I’m feeling a little from upbeat. Occasionally I will put on the the lo-fi beats playlist on Spotify. If I’m trying to read something its usually the piano stuff that keeps me focused.

The minimal lyrics part is important because lyrics force my brain to actually listen and try to understand and process the words which is usually not what I want to be doing when I’m trying to read a long blog post or a book or whatever. This is why hip-hop with lyrics is not background music for me as I will try to process the lyrics. No Lupe Fiasco while I’m trying to read this book, thanks.

Music like this is not what I would call active listening, none of it sticks to my brain and is memorable. I can’t for example give you a favourite ambient/downtempo track from all the tracks I’ve listened to or any of the techno or piano etc. Its all just sort of background audio stimuli which I need because silence is worse and ambient city noise isn’t really consistent enough for me (also not as pleasant if I am being honest).

So that’s it about these kinds of music: It’s Better Than Silence. Hm, that is actually a good name for a playlist that has this kind of background music in it 🤔.

Recent Bandcamp pickups (SEP 4 – OCT 2)

Hey friends, I return with another one of these posts. I would normally say that it has been a while since I’ve done this but the flow of time has ceased to have any meaning to me in 2020. Bandcamp has been continuing to do their Bandcamp Fridays after their first one they did which means I have a bunch more music that I picked up and I would like to talk about.

The first one is Live at WOMAD 1985 by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. This is a qawwali album; qawwali is a form of Sufi devotional music. This kind of music is not something that is normally on my radar and I would like to thank the Bandcamp Daily blog for bringing this to my attention because it is a wonderful listen. The sheer ecstatic energy of the performances builds up through each of these tracks and really showcases why Nusrat was a legend of this genre.

The second one is Sufi Dub Brothers by Ashraf Sharif Khan & Viktor Marek. This album combines the sounds of the sitar and the sound of acid dub and industrial to a fantastic effect. The very concept of combining these sounds is something that never occurred to me and now that I’ve heard this, I want more in this style. Truly a unique gem that I also found due to a post from the Bandcamp Daily blog.

The third one is How Can I by park hye jin. I don’t think I have talked about park hye jin before on this blog. Her music is what I call ethereal club music or maybe dark house. Its music you can easily envision being part of a DJ’s set at a club while also having a bit of a melancholic and lonely vibe to it. Her last album is also worth a listen if you do end up enjoying this one. I didn’t realize she had released a new album because it was released under a different Bandcamp account, here’s hoping I don’t miss out on more of her releases.

The fourth one is Reknowing by Lena Raine. This is a remix album containing remixes of tracks from her debut artist album Oneknowing. I love the variety of remixes on offer from different artists, no track sounds the same. I’m a big fan of Lena’s work and I’m glad to see her collaborate with other artists like this. My most favourite remix is the one by Yasunori Nishiki because it has this sort of haunted ethereal feel to it that I really like. It reminds me of a certain haunted section from Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

The fifth one is わたしの小さなGALAXY by ミカヅキBIGWAVE. For those of y’all unfamiliar with Mikazuki Bigwave, they usually make music in the future funk genre which is a very upbeat genre but this album signals Bigwave’s move into a more chill downtempo style. Very much borrowing aspects of the lo-fi aesthetic and combining it with future funk. This is a very nice and soothing album to listen to on a rainy autumn morning.

The sixth one is Hades: Original Soundtrack by Darren Korb. Ever since Hades was released, Hades has been on my mind. What an incredible game. I bought this OST really for just the one track, the Eurydice solo of Good Riddance with Ashley Barrett’s lovely voice on it. That song really just makes me cry a little bit because of how good her voice is. The rest of the soundtrack is another slam dunk by Darren who has done music for previous Supergiant games before.

The seventh one is Seven Times Down Eight Times Up by Elzhi. I haven’t listened to Elzhi in a while, the last time was when he released his Illmatic homage album Elmatic. I am happy to say that this Detroit area legend is still incredible at what he does. His lyricism is on point and the production on this album is some of the best production I’ve heard in a Elzhi record; shoutout to JR Swiftz.

The eight one is Run Away by Tycho and rum.gold. I’ve talked about Tycho before on this blog so y’all might already know that I’m a fan. This collaboration with rum.gold is quite possibly some of the best Tycho that I’ve heard in a while. rum.gold’s husky voice is smooth as hell and it especially shines on the acoustic version of Run Away. If this is the start of collaborations between these two artists I’m excited to see what the future has in store.

The ninth one is Go Bravely by Denise Chaila. Y’all wonder what happens when a talented artist rhymes Irish with English? Well wonder no more, after you listen to this album you will know what that sounds like. I found this via the Bandcamp Daily blog and I instantly fell in love with Denise’s flow and style, the way she uses wordplay in a cheeky humorous way. I’m really looking forward to hearing her over some better production and especially production that is a little more minimal than it already is because I think it will really allow her spoken word delivery style to shine.

That’s all from me this time around. I hope y’all find something that you enjoy amongst the above. I won’t make any promises about having another of these posts in the near future but I really hope I can write one of these again soon as they are truly a lot of fun to write. Stay safe and see y’all next time.

Album Showcase: No Pressure by Logic

If at the start of this year you told me that one of my favourite hip-hop albums from 2020 would be a Logic album I would have laughed at you. But here we are, I am about to start singing praises for the latest and (allegedly) his last album, No Pressure which was released on July 24, 2020.

When I say I like an album I usually mean that I like every track on the album and I don’t have any tracks that I would skip on a repeat listen. I am glad to say that I like every track on this Logic album which in itself is a new thing for Logic’s music.

Don’t get me wrong, I have liked a few of Logic’s tracks over the past few years but I have never liked an entire project of his. The album before this (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) was quite possibly his worst studio album and if I had to pick a one word descriptor for it would be “wack”. So, when I heard that there was a new Logic album coming out, my expectations for it were quite low. Well, suffice to say that my expectations have been surpassed and then some. My impression of Logic as a person changed for the better as well due to some of the subject matter of the album.

I want to go through this album track by track for this post. Every track will be under its own heading with the name of the track. Let’s get started!

Continue reading Album Showcase: No Pressure by Logic

Album Showcase: Alfredo by Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist

Music video for 1985, a track off of Alfredo

If you would have asked me which rapper would be perfect for The Alchemist’s production style, I would say either Pusha T or Freddie Gibbs. Well folks, I’m glad to inform y’all that this collaboration album between Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist is fantastic and just what one would expect from such a collaboration.

Continue reading Album Showcase: Alfredo by Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist