30 Best Albums Of 2016

bestof2016greenlandsmall

Looking back at what a shit year 2016 has been, it’s no wonder I published more music writing than ever before. As the months wore on I found myself swiping away more and more real news in my feed and just getting lost in Bandcamp and other music sources. I wasn’t really trying to bury my head; I was looking for a better way of thinking.

The world is what it is, but I can frame it and focus on it however I choose. Immersing in the toxicity of bad news and worse reactions changed my perception one way, so I aimed to change it another way. Art has been a life sustaining tonic all my life, a refuge sought in times of stress, loneliness, and most of all, deep frustration. If I’ve hit a brick wall, I know that obsessing about the problem won’t help. I need to detach, breathe, and follow something made to surprise. A good story or song is something to be lost in, sure, but it grants perspective. It can bend the light just so, showing me a new way to see.

Perspective also comes from travel. The simple but profound act of experiencing other parts of the world can never be overestimated. This is where the image at the top of this list comes in. It’s Greenland, as seen from my plane back home to the United States from Ireland a month ago. I happened to open the window shade during the brief window when we were passing over the very tip of the continent-sized island. It felt like magic.

I’m entering 2017 with hope that good news can happen and that we can press on, even when our heroes are gone. I look around and I wonder who the future heroes are going to be. Those people will be standing against the dark tide and risking everything. They’ve got new ideas to replace the scary old ones that never quite die.

Looking back on the past year of music, I see a lot of new ideas and new perspectives on old ones. The best kind of music always elicits surprise, even if it’s made in a familiar way. There’s a flash of feeling, a rush of blood, and it clicks. Everything on this list mattered to me and I hope some of it can matter to you.

Let’s begin the countdown. These are the 30 best albums of 2016:

Continue reading

FP-oner – 6

fp-oner 6

6 is the second album from FP-oner, the latest alias of techno legend Fred P, aka Black Jazz Consortium. While his deep house and techno releases under that name became some of the best work I’ve heard all year, I was unaware that he’d dropped a followup to last year’s incredible but under the radar 5, under the new name.

Continue reading

What I’m Into This Week (6/12 – 6/25)

Aphex Twin laying in grass

The past two weeks rolled with dark gravity, anchored by the massacre in Orlando that saw 49 people killed in an LGBT dance club. It may be only the latest in a nearly constant string of mass shootings in the US, but it’s the most devastating in my lifetime. I’ll never forget the gut punch of hearing the news.

It’s important to seize on the image of us at our worst, not just to examine how and why, but so we can truly appreciate us at our best. Still, it’s just as important to grasp the good news when we have it. With that in mind, I want to share the great musical discoveries I made in the past couple weeks.

Continue reading

Black Jazz Consortium – Reactions of Light

Fred P aka Black Jazz Consortium

Black Jazz Consortium is the latest artist responsible for sustaining my never ending journey into the dreamlike world of deep house. Since I write for a living, I’m always looking for another perfect mood glide, new music to swallow me up while I cascade words on the page. After discovering it last month, 2007 album Reactions of Light has become something of an obsession of mine.

Continue reading

What I’m Into This Week (4/24 – 4/30)

Beyonce - Lemonade still

What happened this week? What didn’t happen?

No more rock gods died. We’ve got that going for us. Aside from continuing my Prince binge and getting cereal lessons from Kendrick Lamar, I replayed one of the greatest video games of all time. I luxuriated in some deep house tunes. Oh, and Beyoncé dropped one of the biggest surprises I’ve ever heard from a pop star.

Things are looking pretty good from here.

Continue reading