- Grimes “Flesh Without Blood”
I almost never dance, which is to say I am sure that I am a terrible dancer. That being said, I hope no one ever catches me listening to this song. This infectious pop single off Grime’s November release Art Angels is a strange cross of ’80s pop and Dance Dance Revolution Korean K-Pop that makes this awkward man dance. The lyric “I love you almost every day” can sum up so many of my non-family relationships. I don’t think I would sign up for this track on paper, but I do love this song. Grimes isn’t for everyone; most people I ask remember Grimes as the act they didn’t like that opened for Lana Del Rey last summer. I’m not that down on her, but its not my wheelhouse. However there is no denying this track regardless of you how you feel about her other material. Hopefully you don’t see me in the gym when it comes on, dancing like funky Frankenstein.
2. Ty Segall “California Hills”
By the time I finish writing this sentence, Ty Segall will have finished at least two albums one way or another. The latter part of 2015 saw the 29-year-old California native release a compilation of previously recorded T Rex covers called, of course, Ty Rex and also metal album from his side project Fuzz called II. “California Hills” off his 2016 release Emotional Mugger starts off like prime era T Rex distorted glam bliss and slowly turns into a classic ’70s blues metal jam, going back and forth, blending and going everywhere between back and forth a few times. While that might sound annoying, it works. (Ty Segall & The Muggers play Royale in Boston on March 1.)
3. Nude Beach “Its So Hard To Love You”
One of the best things I did in 2015 was subscribe for the Don Giovanni Records YouTube station. Not only do they showcase their own roster of artists (like California X, Screaming Females, Waxachatchee and this band Nude Beach), but they also promote other interesting indie artists on their YouTube Blog “MTV12” series. The label’s roster reminds me of the late ’90s great indie labels, where talent and vision were the only boundaries for acceptance not fitting into a type. All styles from punk, indie rock, metal, hardcore, folk and anything between are represented by Don Giovanni records, so long as it’s good. I don’t love everything they do as I don’t love all music, but when I like it, I love it. And this song is a great example of when I love it. “It’s So Hard To Love You” is off their recent release 77, and it could just as easily be from a Nuggets garage collection as from 2016. I hope to catch them live soon.
4. Islands “Charm Offensive”
Nick “Diamonds” Thorburn is another prolific indie songwriter. His first act, The Unicorns’, album from 2004, Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone, is in my top 10 all time albums. He has released 15 albums since 2003 between The Unicorns, supergroup side project Mister Heavenly, solo albums, the scores for both Serial podcasts, and the bulk of the rest of the releases with his band Islands. On May 13, Islands will release two separate albums, Taste and Should I Remain Here At Sea? on PledgeMusic. “Charm Offense” is the teaser off Taste. It’s somewhere between ’80s French Pop, the band Enon, and aggressive Casiotone sampler. The keyboards sound great, but the vocal harmonies carry the song. (Islands play in Boston at Great Scott on May 20.)
5. Vince Staples “Jump Off The Roof”
Vince Staples seems to have left 2015 as the hip-hop artist on the verge of breaking into the mainstream. His 2015 album Summertime ’06 and the single “Norf Norf” was on most of the music magazines’ and blogs’ best-of for the year lists. While this track wasn’t one of the singles of his album, it was the catchiest. The song grows on you more and more with each play. I don’t need to, as in the song, jump off the roof to make sure I am alive when I can continue to live vicariously through other artists.
6. Wiki “Livin’ With My Moms”
Finally a hip-hop song about living at home with your parents that can rival Brooklyn underground skillionaire Thirstin Howl III’s “Still Living With My Moms.” While Wiki finds home in the upper east side of Manhattan, the two rappers do share a cunning control of language and sly sense of humor delivering it. The 22-year-old artist is best known for his earlier work with his collective Ratking and some with EL-P and Run The Jewels. His December release “Lil Me” is unavailable on iTunes of course, and his name is one of the most difficult searches on the web. But with some luck and really just typing bandcamp, you’ll find what you are looking for. Check out the video for this track and tell me that’s what you imagined he would look like.
7. Charlie Hilton “100 Million”
If I took anything out of 2015, it’s that young artists want to be stoned, apathetic and by bodies of water. I’m not sure why that surprises me. I tried watching the Lana Del Rey video where she takes acid and galivants around with Father John Misty, but I couldn’t take over 10 minutes of pretty people by water. I’d rather be with Charlie Hilton laughing at the bottom of the sea given my seasonal depression of New England kicking in full force. I like this track, and the more I listen to it, the song reminds me more of the Julia Holter song, “Sea Calls Me Home” from last year that I love more than the Cali stoner crew.
8. Chairlift “Crying In Public”
I like how we reevaluate ourselves and the process of love through song. What I take from this song is that the songwriter has figured in the moment that she has fallen for her lover due to her crying in public over something or other. There’s a good chance it will come full circle for the character since so many break-ups happen in public places like restaurants or parks. Anyway, this song is pretty. It’s off the Brooklyn band’s new album Moth.
9. Sunflower Bean “Wall Watcher”
I dig this song a lot. Their new album Human Ceremony is out now on Fat Possum Records. The band describes their sound as “neo psychedelic for the digital age.” Reminds me of somewhere in the middle of Dum Dum Girls and the Von Bondies. Great sound — I would like to see them on a bill with new local act Tall Teenagers. Check them out, too?
10. Pup “DVP”
This video means everything to me. So many 8-bit video games I forgot existed. It’s like tapping in to memory I forgot existed and I am not sure I need, but want to hold on to now that its been recovered. Like the toy wrestlers and baseball cards in your mother’s basement, you forget they are there and the once you are reminded you want to hold onto them forever for no reason. The song is as good as the video — a refreshing blast of pop punk. The typical pop punk problem, she hates when I drink too much and problems ensue. Put the right riffs together, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. The band is great live, try to catch them when you can. (Pup play in Boston on June 23 at Great Scott.)