Tag Archives: Frank Ocean

Top 5 Albums of 2016

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A lot of things informed my list this year – I turned 30 (shriek!), then got laid off from my job, then got another job, then my relationship of over 2 years ended, then I moved to a new city, got a new apartment, then Trump was elected as our next President, oh and then all those musicians everyone loved died. And that’s just my shit, sooooooo…

Yeah, 2016 man. It’s why my list is only five albums this year. It’s not that there weren’t many, many more great albums released this year. It’s that I’m tired. I’m over it. Check please. In strange times I’ve relied more heavily this year on old emo favorites – Aimee Mann, Elliott Smith. Sufjan is never turned off. The National’s Trouble Will Find Me finally found me three years after its release when I didn’t even know I needed it most.

But these five albums also had a tremendous effect on me. They’re the five that I’ve kept coming back to over and over again throughout the year. They’ve kept me going, made me cry, made me laugh, made me get beyond excited to hear one of their tracks in the cloob, helped me be more introspective than I think I’ve ever been. Maybe some of these have done that to you too?

So here’s what’s ‘currently murking’ me. I’ve been a mess – thanks for putting up with me this year.

5. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo

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I was at work hiding in my cube with headphones on and the livestream of Yeezy Season 3 up and running. The Kardashians made their entrance, which was chic but also not chic, and then the crowd at Madison Square Garden cheered even louder as Kanye finally stepped up and played the first track off of his new album, “Ultralight Beam.” And then we all died.

Hope you’re feeling better Ye, stop meeting with Trump.

Favorite track: “Ultralight Beam” / “Highlights”

4. Beyoncé – Lemonade

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I was sitting at home on the couch looking at Instagram when an image from Beyoncé’s account depicting her in a fur hanging out the side of a car casually slid across me screen with a link to the music video for “Formation,” which was literally released that minute. Then the Super Bowl happened the next day and, despite my thinking that not enough time had passed since her surprise self-titled, we all got that taste of Lemonade we were so, sooooo thirsty for. And I mean everyone got that taste, whether they liked it or not. So necessary this year.

Favorite track: “Sorry”

3. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

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It was the worst week of 2016 for me. Although the clues from Radiohead helped a little. I was glued to Radiohead’s Reddit thread along with all the other nerds, keeping myself occupied.

Then the video for “Daydreaming” was released and I could barely get through the day.

Then it was Mother’s Day. Then A Moon Shaped Pool was released. It was gorgeous. It was Radiohead’s breakup album. How perfect.

Favorite track: “Present Tense”

2. Bon Iver – 22, A Million

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I had been feeling exceedingly worse about my decision not to attend this year’s Eaux Claires Festival as it became “duh” that Bon Iver would be premiering their new album in full on Friday.

The last time I saw Justin Vernon live was in September 2013 for a Volcano Choir show at The Metro in Chicago. I was convinced that band was his new point of focus – interviews Justin gave before kind of led you to believe that the Bon Iver project was dead dead dead.

Well it wasn’t. It’s not. Holy hell. It’s entirely possible for me to cry during every single song on this album – I’ve tried it.

It’s almost enough to get me to move back to the Twin Cities – to be closer to family and friends, of course, but also closer to the music scene and culture and the people that made and continue to make this kind of music happen.

Favorite track: Sorry it just really has to be taken as a whole.

1. Frank Ocean – Blonde 

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“Listen, stop trying to be somebody else. Don’t try to be someone else. Be yourself and know that that’s good enough. Don’t try to be someone else. Don’t try to be like someone else. Don’t try to act like someone else, be yourself. Be secure with yourself. Rely and trust upon your own decisions. On your own beliefs.”

– Mom

Favorite track: “Self Control”

 

 

 

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Top 30 Albums of 2012

Many things have influenced this list, most notably my move to Chicago in April. Being in a new city and getting to know music through headphones while riding the L instead of long drives around the chain of lakes in Minneapolis has certainly been a different experience, and a welcome change of pace. I’ve been truly falling in love with an album or bands because of my experiences at live shows in totally new venues to me. When it all ads up, I feel like this list would look a little different if I had stayed in Minneapolis.

I’ve also been nostalgic (story of my life), which is why the list is also a little #dark and emo – musicians like Andrew Bird and bands like Ben Folds Five “bring me back” and it feels weird/sad/good all at the same time. I mean does this even make sense?

This was also a weird year in music because nothing like, totally blew my fucking mind. Don’t get me wrong, every album on this list has definitely given me super fragrant moments, but nothing was really a revelation in terms of being something sounding completely different and new. I mean, Animal Collective released a new album and it didn’t even make my list. What? There are also two Minneapolis-based bands on this list. Double what?

At the same time, it almost made it harder to arrange this list, as a lot of albums could have been traded out for others equally as worthy – it’s just one song or a personal experience or another thing that determined which album one which slot.

Anyways, I’m sure I’ll feel differently about this or would have added other albums and will want to eat my own words six months down the road from now, because that always happens and I’m constantly discovering new music no matter what year it was released. So with all of that, here goes:

30. Poliça – Give You the Ghost

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Trust, I have lots of issues with this band, this album (I tweeted something to the effect that it basically sounds like GAYNGS 2.0), but damn if “Wandering Star” doesn’t take me places every time I hear it. Whatever.

29. Sun Kil Moon – Among the Leaves

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A kind album with kind music made for shuffling down Lincoln Avenue in the crisp air, especially while listening to “Sunshine in Chicago.

28. Yeasayer – Fragrant World

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This album kind of kicked off a theme of big names releasing albums that were good, just not great, or as great as their previous efforts. Sorry Yeasayer, I’m talking about you. But this was still decent, and album closer “Glass of the Microscope” does really nice things to me.

27. Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N 2 It

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It’s pretty. It’s depressing. It’s pretty depressing. I like it.

26. Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

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Really solid album, with a live performance at The Cedar to put it over the top for me.

25. Rufus Wainwright – Out of the Game

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Certainly not Rufus’ best work, but still enjoyable. This one may be more of a nostalgic pick for me, but you can’t deny the man’s skillz.

24. Delta Spirit – Delta Spirit

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Sorry I’m not sorry.

23. Woods – Bend Beyond

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A very prolific band who released their best album yet this year.

22. The Shins – Port of Morrow

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Although I’d prefer to be a little bit more emo when spending time with The Shins, this is a solid album for a return.

21. Ben Folds Five – The Sound of the Life of the Mind

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I mean hiiiiiiiii, grade school, high school and college memories smacking me in the face. I really, really enjoyed this album.

20. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d. city

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Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe.

19. Here We Go Magic – A Different Ship

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A personal favorite of mine. I just love everything about this band. As for the album, it’s all fantastic, but “How Do I Know” is just pure fucking genius.

18. Shearwater – Animal Joy

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Again, I was honestly expecting something just a little more from Shearwater, especially for a debut on Sub Pop. Little gripes aside, I Shearwater are a great band and Animal Joy is still a joy.

17. First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

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These ladies kinda came out of nowhere for me, but The Lion’s Roar is a sweet album filled with thoughtful songs that tug all the right heartstrings.

16. Passion Pit – Gossamer 

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After reading that Pitchfork feature, I think everyone just wanted to give Michael Angelakos a big hug. So I’m already emotionally vulnerable and then we learn all of that #dark stuff and then we have an album that sounds like a party on the surface but is actually just super sad? Sign me up Oh, also, my twin is in the band.

15. The Walkmen – Heaven

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Aaaand again, not my favorite album by The Walkmen, but Heaven still definitely has its moments.

15, Horse Feathers – Cynic’s New Year

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This isn’t groundbreaking music, but frontman Justin Ringle’s voice is just so nice, and these folk tunes are simple yet gorgeous at the same time, welcoming repeat listens for whenever you want to feel cozy. Yeahhh.

 

13. Grimes – Visions

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My goal in life is to become a Grimes backup dancer. Holy chic.

12. Tame Impala – Lonerism

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I don’t know what more I can add to the discussion of how good this album is, other than to say how good it is. It’s really good. “Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control,” is one of the best songs of the year.

11. Hot Chip – In Our Heads

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I don’t know if people just forgot about how good this album is, but In Our Heads has been snubbed on many other lists. Again, it’s nothing totally radical for Hot Chip, but it is some of their best work yet.

10. Lana Del Rey – Born To Die

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LEAVE LANA ALONE!!! But seriously though, I really love this album, including the new songs added to the Paradise edition. Just give into it already.

9. Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself/Hands of Glory

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The lovely Mr. Bird returns with another lovely album.

8. The xx – Coexist

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I guess I’d call this album dense, in the best way possible. You just kinda get enveloped in the whole thing. The xx just keep getting better.

7. Lost in the Trees – A Church That Fits Our Needs

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This album is about the suicide of lead singer An Picker’s mom. She also had cancer. Just know that going into this. The brilliantly arranged strings that swirl around these folk-tinged songs do Picker’s mom justice. It’s not the happiest album of the year, but there can be beauty in death, and A Church That Fits Our Needs emotes that in the best way. I saw a lot of shows this year and I think Lost in the Trees’ performance at Lincoln Hall was my favorite.

6. Grizzly Bear – Shields 

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I wanted something just a little more from Grizzly Bear, but again they get away with sounding like they’re playing by the numbers, because by the numbers for Grizzly Bear is extraordinary.

5. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

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Pyramids.

4. Dark Dark Dark – Who Needs Who

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Best breakup album in recent memory.

3. Beach House – Bloom

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Beach House never disappoint. Another situation where a band just keeps getting better. Put on “On the Sea” if you wanna see me cry in public.

2. Father John Misty – Fear Fun

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A nearly perfect album. It’s funny, touching and beautiful at the same time, with harmonies for days. You can listen to it over and over and it never gets old. The songs just drill in your head even deeper. The man can also dance.

1. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

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I mean have we met? We’ve been waiting for a while for this one. I’ll admit I was a little nervous when I heard she hadn’t really teamed back up with Jon Brion – the songs are some of the most stripped down and spare in her career – but this just highlights Fiona’s voice and the subject of each masterpiece. Sure there are musical flourished but only where they absolutely need to be, hitting at the perfect place to really pull at your heart, or head. She’s one of the finest songwriters around. The Idler Wheel was worth the wait and more. It was the best album of 2012.

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