Even in the face of grown-up formality and legitimacy after signing to Modest Aeroplane Records, and in turn their debut LP How Often Have I Been This Wrong?, Cleveland-based emo revival group Steadyfire persistently glow a refreshing youthful sheen.Read More
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2018 will be a year I'll always remember; whether by its tumultuous, apocalyptic trajectory or by an "On This Day" notification.
Either way, this is the music we made of it, IMO.
Some notes about this playlist:
I included all 11 Billboard Hot 100 songs in it, because they’re the most likely to live with us forever. We’re all responsible for them, whether they’re great (“This is America”) or downright awful (“Girls Like You”, “Havana”). Ponder them as much as they’re worth to you.
I included controversial but popular artists in this because whether we like them or not they’re present in the music we consume. Whether they should be or not is for someone named not-me to decide.
These are some of my favorite songs of the year, yes, but they’re also partially chosen for their thematic elements. Death, suicide, and indulgence are at the very least intriguingly present in today’s music. And I think that’s something to ponder.
Yes, I included my and some of my friends’ releases this year. Listen to them.
This is more or less an accurate window of the range of music I consume. Always open to recommendations. Tweet them at me.
Favorite Albums of 2018
A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships by The 1975 |Amazon
A Star is Born Soundtrack by Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper |Amazon
Kids See Ghosts by Kids See Ghosts, Kanye West & Kid Cudi |Amazon
Ye by Kanye West |Amazon
Dirty Computer by Janelle Monaé |amazon
Black Panther: The Album by Kendrick Lamar & Various Artists |amazon
God’s Favorite Customer by Father John Misty |amazon
Keep That Same Energy by Teyana Taylor |amazon
Bloom by Troye Sivan |amazon
Euphorize by CupcakKe |Amazon
Let me know what I missed/didn’t mention in the comments. You know you want to.
Carly Rae Jepsen has returned with her first single since last year’s “Cut To The Feeling” with plans to release a new full-length early next year, her first since 2015’s cult smash E•MO•TION.
I’m not a music journalist, but I will never not take an opportunity to show my love for Carly Rae Jepsen. Maybe I’ll get into how her music’s affected me someday. It’s a doozy.
Anyway, I love you. Happy Dia De Los Muertos. TTYL.
Click below to purchase E•MO•TION on vinyl over at Amazon. I receive a small commission for whatever you buy through that link, but if you don’t have this record in your collection, you may be part of a Party For One in a bad way.
It's been a while since I've released a new song, so please be patient with me as I get my sea legs back. This is a song that I felt that, despite it being 'unfinished' and not a fully-produced studio release, needed to be heard now. I at least needed to hear it, and maybe you do too.
So here's me, as raw as can be, singing a song to both you and myself. Here's how to listen to it:
I still don't have a clear answer to this. Do you?
In the meantime, you can check out my brand new, ongoing Apple Music playlist Anxious Millennial Pop for all your nervous, toe-tapping music needs.
I'm always weary about listening to hip-hop demos, far more so than any other genre. There's so much revision that goes into the lyrics and intent behind the song that listening to earlier drafts can lose some of the magic of the passion and spontaneity of whatever's being rapped.
Especially when it comes to a perfectionist like Kanye West, who is famously specific about every sound and word being presented to his audience and the world at large.
Today, three unreleased recordings surfaced from God-knows-where. Two new, previously unheard songs "Southside Serenade" and "Don't Jump" both feature Kanye and Kendrick sharing powerful, but not exactly impactful lyrics. The other is a demo of Kanye West's The Life of Pablo hit "Father Stretch My Hands", though instead of Kid Cudi, Kendrick Lamar takes the spotlight with a wild verse that is sure to raise a few eyebrows.
Though, needless to say, these are demos. They're meant to be heard not as songs but as the ideas and behind-the-scenes peak that they are. Based on Kanye's "All Day"-esq "Southside!" shout on "Southside Serenade" and Kid Cudi's beautiful chorus on "Father Stretch My Hands", it's pretty clear to me these demos are from 2015.
You can listen below for as long as they're available, which shouldn't be for long.
But please, Kanye, officially release some new music very soon. We need you.
Thank you Cody for the tip.
I might be the only person in the world aside from his relatives who believes that Ed Sheeran is destined for pop songwriting greatness. Six years into his professional career and he’s already built quite the name for himself, but not quite a sound. Sheeran has always made a point to highlight his versatility as a songwriter, whether it be sweet-but-basic singer-songwriter tunes or confusingly hard-hitting Brit hip-hop that dances too closely to Macklemore cringiness. However, no matter how many hits he seems to be associated with, there’s a massive amount of bland junk that surrounds his overlong records.
Nevertheless, his sultury, melodic debut single “The A-Team” earned him a Song of the Year nomination and a Grammy performance with Elton John in 2012. Similarly in 2015, his song “Thinking Out Loud” won him Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance, both against his former collaborator Taylor Swift. And that’s where Ed Sheeran will likely always succeed — collaboration. The song he wrote for Justin Bieber, “Love Yourself”, allowed him to essentially go off the grid and take the entire year off from social media, his phone, and life as a whole. It wasn’t until earlier in January this year that he resurfaced with his lead single, the formulaic but apparently successful “Shape of You”.
Which brings us to Divide, the third album following Plus and the massively successful Multiply. With Multiply, he was able to more or less successfully show his dynamic range in songwriting, going from gooey cheese to punchline rap in a matter of seconds, which for a time worked. The album’s singles, “Sing”, “Don’t”, “Photograph”, and “Thinking Out Loud” brought out the best of Sheeran. It highlighted his narrative as a husky ginger surrounded by the most famous and wealthy people in the world. To me, there was something charming about a small homeless British kid rapping over a loop guitar pedal and singing impassioned and in superlative about love and laziness. With Divide though, he’s now a millionaire and among the most famous pop stars in the world with apparently not a whole lot to say about it.
It took a whopping 8 tracks into its beefy 16 track deluxe album to find a song I would classify as ‘good’, or at least a song worthy of the consistent radio play it’s likely going to achieve (That song is “New Man”, it’s cute, catchy, fun). This album achieves a strange feat by being consistently boring and hookless while also being overly sporadic and eclectic. Divide is so-clearly first draft Sheeran. Basic songwriting, basic lyrics. It’s likely this album may not even make it through a whole spin at a local Starbucks, let alone a bedroom or car.
Still, not all hope is lost. “Shape of You”, for all its unsexy blandness that probably sounds like a Maroon 5 album track (scientists have still yet to uncover what those songs are), is still fun to sing along to in dance-remix form in public settings. There’s enough here to last Ed through the 18 month album cycle (“Galway Girl” and “Barcelona” might be weird enough to be something). Let’s hope he’s got a few songs on Harry Styles’ debut record, or Ed Sheeran’s complacency will get the best of him. There may never be a time where an Ed Sheeran song doesn’t sound like a John Mayer/Jason Mraz/Justin Timberlake/Macklemore mishmash, but it’s about past time for him to figure it out.
Divide by Ed Sheeran 4/16 enjoyable songs, 25%
Recently, there was a thread that came across my Facebook feed that posed the question “What’s the one album you had wished you written?” Scattered answers ranging from Kid A to The Suburbs littered the comments section, and for good reason, sure. But without much hesitation at all, I commented with The Format’s 2006 gem Dog Problems and moved on with my mindless scrolling. Dog Problems, which turns 10 years old this summer, is one of my favorite records ever, and one that’s followed me well into adulthood. It’s an album of bubbly heartbreak, sporadic frustration, and orchestrated whimsy few records accomplish with such happy-go-lucky charm. Bombastic vocals, daring arrangements, and occasional lyrical knife-twists made it all the more memorable. Of all places, I discovered them through MySpace and, of all bands, saw them tour in support of The All-American Rejects.
I unapologetically adore all things pop — particularly its brash, sweeping melodies that get tastily stuck to the inside of your jaw like a movie theater box of Dots. There’s a predisposition that pop — in modern terms, at least — means mindless, soulless, pitch-corrected, calculated records whose sole purpose is to be featured in CoverGirl commercials and sent to VH1’s We-Love-The-Whatevers oblivion. That’s fair, sure; but pop’s main purpose, to me, is to express not only the songwriter’s emotions — but the listener’s, as well. I think Billy Joel said that.
A great pop song is a time-capsule containing memories of the summer you went to the lake with that girl from youth group and her family, or that time you sat in your room with your ears buzzing with rage and hurt because you found out your best friend’s been seeing your crush behind your back. Lots and lots of albums can do this for a person, obviously, but when the timing is just right — it can act as a bookmark for a season (or a year, even) and that’s what makes music that much more special.
The Format, and Dog Problems as a whole, embodies this for me. Together, duo Nate Ruess (now of fun. fame) and Sam Means (perhaps the brains behind the operation, and who just put out his first effort since The Format this past January-it’s really good) crafted an album that shone from the rest of the PureVolume sludge a decade ago. From open to close, Dog Problems is thematically focused on a shattered relationship in which our protagonist is cheated on, with each song detailing his subsequent failed attempts to move on — i.e. sweeping, power-pop-genius singles like “She Doesn’t Get It” and my favorite track, “The Compromise.” However, when the album is split in half with the eponymous ballad “Dog Problems”, an almost carnivalesque journey waltzes usthrough a haunted, hurt mind and a heart full of trombones and horns. It’s weird. It’s broad. Dog Problems is a glitter-filled hourglass
Impeccably produced by Steven McDonald (who later went on to produce fun.’s 2009 debut Aim & Ignite), Dog Problems has a timeless aspect that unfortunately isn’t afforded to many of Nate Ruess’ more recent efforts (save for “Some Nights”), but that’s neither here nor there. The Format’s two-album career was an inspiring one; it brought about a resurgence of cinematic, orchestrated, pop/rock music that almost fell by the wayside in the late 90s but is now resurging in a huge way. With such precision, these big horns and loud strings scored teenagers’ bedrooms and, in effect, their lives.