Before I get to the meat of this post that you’re all dying to see (and can if you just cheat and skip to it), I want to honor some albums that by one or another stupid, technical rule weren’t allowed to make the cut.
First up we have the two-disk collector’s issue of Spoon’s classic Gimme Fiction. I don’t think I can include this because it’s technically a re-release from 2005, but if you haven’t heard this or much of anything from Spoon’s decades-spanning catalog, then let shame fall on you from high! It’s time to take a trip down non-memory lane and hear one of the more epic releases from one of the last truly epic years in entertainment. The anniversary edition of this album comes with an extra disk of home demos and rejected tracks that’s well worth the extra whatever you’d pay for it because most are stripped down to just a guitar and occasional drums or piano (though not in a lazy ACOUSTIC COVER Youtube sense) and offer a distinct experience that’s just as affecting, energetic, and smooth as the recorded versions. I don’t pay much attention to the lyrics in most Spoon songs, but the way they layer instruments, chants, and claps is so entrancing, especially on Was It You? They Never Got You, or the hit I Turn My Camera On, that the lack of angsty Kendrick-esque Poetry doesn’t matter.
I’d also like to give a shout-out to the live EP David Crowder released called Neon Porch Extravaganza, which is a takeoff of last year’s album Neon Steeple and which he was recording on his porch when it unexpectedly escalated into an extravaganza. I don’t think the rap verse on Lift Your Head, Weary Sinner really fits with Crowder’s vibe, but the man somehow wormed in a cover of Drake’s awful Hold On, We’re Going On without totally destroying the project with cheese, so that wins Respect. Crowder’s music generally doesn’t receive its proper resolution unless it’s performed live before a crowd of riled-up worshippers, so I’m glad he took the initiative to put out some official, high-definition renderings of Come As You Are and I Am.
I had the chance to watch Lord Huron live at Beatissima for
free no additional charge some time earlier this year, but I’m afraid the value of this chance encounter was completely lost on me, as I left about three songs into their act from a combination of harmonica and mediocrity fatigue (Best Coast had just preceded them with what sounded like one continuous hour-long song). After retroactively listening to some of the finer cuts from Strange Trails, I kind of hated myself for not sticking through the boredom to hear the deafening, western-evocative epicness of The World Ender live in the park. Your experience with the recorded versions of the Huron Jam will probably be much the same, as you sit through a slog of really similar-sounding, reverb-heavy folks songs to occasionally feel a rush of unadulterated excitement, preferably transmitted and received at maximum volume. If you want the abbreviated, boredom-free edit – or the GPV, to put it in a more positive context – condense it down to Until the Night Turns and tracks 5-8, or maybe 9, if you favor incorporating at least one slower, grittier tune. Darkness, no parents.
Lil Dicky, Professional Rapper –
“First off I’m a dude, so there was a one-in-two chance of that sucking. But now I can run a seven-minute mile, I can defend myself adequately, I can be logical, I can get along with my roommates, watch serious movies without being scared by them. And on top of that I’m white, which is like amazing because…”
He is the best because in 2015 he followed up that song with an original, ironically menacing beat called White Crime, in which he humorously slides through all the low-risk, unsung “dirt” that well-to-do people commit on a daily basis without incurring the judgment of other people.
“Walk in to the movie with my pants full / Twix, bag of chips, plus a Snapple / Stealing all the shampoos, from the hotel’s pretty bathrooms / Cheating, I’ve been peekin’ in the classroom / Looking like a nice guy, ‘til I take your mother_____ Wi-Fi / And torrent every single song in my library.”
He is the best because the album’s pinnacle, the braggadocios, lyrically unstoppable Bruh, utilizes nothing but drumsticks for the underlying beat but sounds more staggering than 99% of other rap beats. He is the best not only because he managed to shoot the music video of his biggest hit to date, $ave Dat Money, for basically no money whatsoever, but also because he caps said video off by haggling a waiter over the value of the ice in his coffee and the bacon in the cheeseburger that he purchased on the side. In speed or wit or wordplay or sheer verbal dynamism, no other rapper aspires to the awe-inspiring messiness of LD. More importantly, he cracks me up.
Micachu and the Shapes, Good Sad Happy Bad –
Carly Rae Jepsen, Emoticon –
Alabama Shakes, Sound and Color –
Fast-travel to other parts: