8 Top Notch Alternative Songs (Nov 2016 – Jan 2017)
Sometimes music feels a lot like driftwood, an almost infinite number of twisted things washing up on a shoreline, things that I will never know. But occasionally, in that windy space, my gaze will fixate on a branch. And through its polished, veneered surface that the sea has rendered bare, I am able to see into its soul.
Long may the ocean weave its pathways of debris, for I rejoice in drifting down this auditory beach. Here are the latest waifs and strays I have collected over the past couple months…
Car Seat Headrest – (Joe Gets Kicked Out of School for Using) Drugs With Friends (But Says This Isn’t a Problem)
Will Toledo’s deft lyricism and catchy indie guitar hooks gel to perfection on Car Seat Headrest’s first proper album (he’s self released a whole lot online). Entitled Teens of Denial, the album’s strength is its dry, smart and often funny observations, centered around the emotions of growing up. This song is one of my favorites of 2016.
Childish Gambino – Redbone
The highly talented actor-rapper-singer Donald Glover returned as Childish Gambino in December with an album, “Awaken, My Love” that featured none of his cheeky, happy-go-lucky rap. Instead the album was packed full of soft, funky neo-soul, possibly fueled by his recent foray into fatherhood. This track, along with ‘Me and Your Mama’ are fantastic.
Destroyer – Kaputt
A colleague at work recommended Kaputt to me; cheers Ken. It has an eclectic fusion of jazzy pop that’s able to sound modern at the same time. The title track is great and merges multiple genres into one cohesive song.
Yo La Tengo – Stupid Things
As I said in my previous music post, I was a late adopter of Yo La Tengo. But these Velvet Underground acolytes have a treasure trove of great material. They were probably the band I listened to the most in 2016.
Leon Vynehall – Midnight on Rainbow Road
British producer Leon Vynehall creates lush, beautiful deep house. What sets him apart is the detailed textures and layering he manages to bring to each song.
M83 – Unrecorded
The first M83 album I listened to was 2009’s Saturdays = Youth. And all the albums that followed had a similar sound. But recently I listened to some of his earlier work and I was astounded at how different it was, in a good way. Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts is now my favorite M83 album.
Bonobo – No Reason (feat. Nick Murphy)
Early 2017 provided two albums that got me genuinely excited. The first was Bonobo’s Migration. Although not as strong as his previous album The North Borders, Migration is nonetheless captivating and entrancing and uses a few guest vocalists – in this instance Aussie electro-crooner Nick Murphy (formerly Chet Faker) – to good effect.
NB. This music video is unabashedly awesome.
The xx – Replica
The second exciting release of January 2017 was The xx’s I See You, whose third album offers a few standout tracks, with ‘Replica’ the pick of the bunch. The hushed male-female vocals are still there and the lyrics still cover the same territory, but it demonstrates a step forward through more varied, nuanced production; Jamie xx’s solo adventures have aided their sound a lot.
Just a reminder, you can listen to (virtually) every song ever featured on this blog here on the Spotify playlist:
If you liked this post, feel free to read a bit about the perils of neoliberalism, which the serious side of me recently wrote about. Happy listening and reading, people.