Thursday, February 9, 2017

2016 Albums: #5 to #1


5: Radiohead A Moon Shaped Pool

I initially wondered if the album was really as good as I thought it was, or if I was just really happy it wasn’t another King of Limbs.


I wonder how things might have played out if this hadn’t been released so soon after Lemonade (the album that dominated my year).

Also I really want a hyphen in the title: moon-shaped.





4: The 1975 I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It

Another band discovered through year-end lists.



There’s a catalog to explore, but I’m not doing that right now. Rather than analyze this a lot I’ll just say that the pastiche of 80s Euro-electronic music is so warmly nostalgic that my recommendation to you is to just dive in, the water’s fine.





3: David Bowie Blackstar

I still don’t want to talk about losing Bowie.



Seriously.





2: Margo Price Midwest Farmer’s Daughter

Holy shit where did Margo Price come from?! I wasn’t expecting an album like this: it’s like an overview of country music greatness over the last 40 years, paying tribute to the sounds and styles without feeling derivative.



The title, both a Beach Boys lyric and an homage to Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” may be a good starting point to frame this overview of styles. Price’s story, summarized nicely by Pitchfork, only makes me love this album more:
"… sounds like every country song rolled into one: Dad lost the farm, Nashville screwed her over, she shacked up with a married man, did a brief stint in jail, lost a child. To record this album, she hocked her wedding ring and car to pay for sessions at Memphis' legendary Sun Studios."
For a brief moment I thought this might end up on the top of my list.





1: Beyoncé Lemonade
“Yes, but think of it this way, Niles: what is the one thing better than an exquisite meal?  An exquisite meal with one tiny flaw we can pick at all night.”—Frasier Crane, Frasier “Retirement is Murder
It is a testament to how fucking great Lemonade is that I even think to wonder if the bit of dancehall and her sudden Jamaican accent on “Hold Up” help the album. I’m not sure I would put the garnish on the left side of the plate, obviously it should be at the top.



I’ve written more about Lemonade, out of my own desire to opine on it, than all other music from 2016 combined. I've learned a lot about African American culture and religion by reading various summaries of the visual album. Early on I wondered if it was all too much, the visuals, the edits, if it was a sizzle and no steak.

There's some fucking steak there.

The reaction to “Formation” says so much about our country that I probably should look into emigrating to Canada. We are so fucked. Hopefully Bey’s got my back.



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