By JESSE AUSTIN.
Oh what’s that? It’s World Record Store Day? Let’s go score some new vinyl! Here are ten of the best for you to check out.
#1. Last Dinosaurs – In A Million Years
I first heard Last Dinosaurs played to me by my friend, while sitting on the bus on the way to school one morning. I instantly fell in love with their track Honolulu and followed them ever since.
Their debut effort In A Million Years really stuck with me when I heard it. It revolutionised what I thought guitar could sound like. The steel drum tone of Andy and the shimmer of Used To Be Mine fits well with the other guitar parts, where the melody weaves in and out of the foreground.
To me, this album seems to be an undiscovered indie wonder which I never fail to let people know about.
#2. Everything Everything – Get to Heaven
I have been an avid follower of Everything Everything for a while now, meaning I was very much looking forward to their third album Get To Heaven, released last year.
The lead single Distant Past featured their distinct, almost rapped, obscure lyrics/vocals that jump back and forth from falsetto. These characteristics are featured all over the album along with their frenetic instrumentation. Spring / Sun / Winter / Dread features the biggest sing-along moment of the record, while The Wheel (Is Turning Now) boasts an almost transfixing descending synth line at the beginning.
This album is definitely not for everyone, and I know a lot of people that hate it. It sounds as if Everything Everything haven’t stopped drinking caffeine and for that, I am glad.
#3. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
I feel it is difficult to say something about this album that hasn’t already been said. Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 masterpiece is an opus for American culture and feels even more relevant among all that surrounds the current bid for presidency.
This hip-hop album takes elements from all types of music. Many of the tracks begin with spoken word monologues; King Kunta references funk music of the ’70s and These Walls draws in some soul characteristics. From Good Kid, M.A.A.D City to To Pimp A Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar has stepped up to create what some consider the album of a generation by the artist of a generation.
“Where to go from here?” It makes one ask. If he can somehow step it up from here, then it would be very hard to deny the parallels with Michael Jackson.
#4. The Blue Nile – Hats
1980s band The Blue Nile seemed quite mysterious when I first heard of them. After some research, they appeared to be very well received by critics, yet I had never come across them before, mostly due to their tendency to shy from publicity. That made me feel all the more luck to have come across their 1989 album Hats.
This laid-back ’80s dream-pop album is full of soothing synth and guitar tones with simple, yet dynamic arrangements. Opening track Over the Hillside has a stripped back instrumentation focusing on the vulnerable, solo vocal that features so effectively throughout the album. This album is perfect to lay back and relax to while simply pondering life.
#5. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love
Former Mint Chicks’ guitarist Ruban Nielson quietly released UMO’s first single Ffunny Ffrends back in 2010. Two albums followed, until the third was released last year to huge critical acclaim.
From artwork to music to lyrical content, it appears as if Nielsen is creating a post-psychedelic dance experience. Title track Multi-Love enters with a bouncy piano refrain; when accompanied by the vocal, gets as close to a ballad as UMO could. The drums quickly enter, adding drive and a dance groove. The funky Can’t Keep Checking My Phone is infectious and almost impossible not to move to, even when sitting down.
This album is definitely one of the highlights of 2015 and one of the most underrated gems of the year.
#6. Maroon 5 – Songs About Jane
Everyone has a love affair with the first album they owned, and this is mine.
Most people will be familiar with this album’s singles, such as She Will Be Loved, Sunday Morning and This Love, but it’s the other tracks that I seem to enjoy the most.
The Sun is home to a tight drum groove, with singer Adam Levine showcasing his falsetto in the bridge, while Shiver is focused around a gypsy-sounding guitar melody. The band’s debut shows a clear skill for catchy melody applied to excellent musicianship and I’m glad it was the first album I ever owned.
#7. Snarky Puppy – We Like It Here
Snarky Puppy is an instrumental jazz fusion band who was formed in Texas by bandleader Michael League.
Once you listen to this album, you will hear why it deserves its place on this list. The combination of confusing rhythms and complex harmonic sequences combined with simple, catchy melody means this music can be appreciated by musicians and those with no musical history whatsoever.
Track Shofukan involves a yell-along ending with the brass section, while What About Me? showcases their drummer’s and percussion section’s expertise.
This is the sort of album and band that anyone who is introduced to loves. Also feel free to check out their YouTube videos of the live recordings of these pieces to only add to your love for the band.
#8. Kimbra – The Golden Echo
The follow-up to Vows, Kimbra’s 2014 album is a refreshing progressive pop piece of art. To follow up her debut seemed no mean feat, but she did that and so much more on The Golden Echo.
All of the textures are so expansive, and she uses such thoughtful ornamentation from other parts, aiding the core of the songs.
Love in High Places shows off bassist Thundercat with an unorthodox ambient bass solo, while he also sounds as if he is tripping over himself in Madhouse. Kimbra’s exceptional vocal talent is spread across all of the songs, but stands out to me in Goldmine, when leading to the chant-like chorus.
This is no doubt one of the best albums by a New Zealander ever, and incorporates amazing pop songs filled with intellect.
#9. Shamir – Ratchet
The debut album from Las Vegas’ Shamir was well regarded as one of the surprise gems of last year. In what appears to almost be an education in dance music, Shamir uses quirky lyrics to draw you in into a repetitive loop of synth-laden groove. He frequently uses his voice to change the whole attitude of a track.
The rapped On the Regular seems to reek of confidence, where Shamir doesn’t care of the response of others, whereas the awkwardly spoken Make a Scene leaves room for the synth driven chorus. Ratchet is a superb debut from someone who no doubt is carving a place for himmself in the alternative music canon.
#10. Grimes – Art Angels
Grimes’ 2012 album Visions was widely regard as a ground-breaking success, due mostly to it’s aesthetic. To follow that up is no small task, but Claire Elise Boucher did so with 2015’s art pop wonder Art Angels.
Single Flesh Without Blood, probably the most poppy on the record, shows off Grimes’ range, with her very high, thin voice. SCREAM is an odd concoction of screaming (surprise, I know!) and rapping by Taiwanese musician Aristophanes. Venus Fly, which features Janelle Monáe, uses Grimes’ high range to cheekily lead into a drop, helping it to sound far bigger than you would imagine.
This is most likely the weirdest album on this list, but in a confusing way, one of the most poppy.SHARE THIS POST...