2016 in music was a year with a strangely high number of prominent musicians dying (David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen in the same year?!) and also a year with some fun new trends in Top 40 radio.


The easiest way to identify sweeping trends in the music world is to look at pop music, where big-money all but demands that the artists try those sweeping trends on for size. This year, the most prominent musical trend that I have noted is a warm, tropical texture infusing so many pop songs (think of the instrumental riff on Justin Bieber’s “Sorry”). Many artists have dipped into a fun, humid equatorial sound to spice up their music. This is accompanied by that characteristic Caribbean-style, Reggaeton-influenced drum beat that non-Latin pop music somehow missed for so many years. The result has infused popular music with new life.

One other notable trend, building on the intellectual West Coast rap from the last few years, is a return to both gospel and funk in hip-hop music. This has shown up on many new albums from Chance the Rapper and BJ the Chicago Kid to Anderson Paak and, of course, Kanye.


In a very difficult and trying year for most of the world, music has remained a spark of hope and community. Below you will find my Song of the Year, Honorable Mention Albums, and then my Top Ten Albums of 2016.

Song of the Year

Calvin Harris & Rihanna – This is What You Came For: Please don’t reference the lyrics in your critique of my SOTY choice. As I have stated numerous times before, I never pay any attention to lyrics. Vocals are just another instrument (the most soulful instrument, barely beating out flutes) making a wonderful variety of sounds (that some call words) in melodic ways. Maybe that’s part of the appeal of this song to me; Rihanna’s voice, more than any other song I’ve heard this year, functions like an instrument with the main delivery being “oooh, oo0h, oo0h, oo0h, oo0h, oo0h…” Speaking of melody, this is what you get when a big-name Scottish DJ teams up with a big-name Barbadian pop singer: undeniable catchy, dance-ready, and with a hint of tropicality. When pop music invited me to its party, this is what I came for.


Honorable Mention Albums (11 – 20 in alphabetical order)

A Tribe Called Quest – We Got it From Here…: Their first album in 18 years and, most likely, their last album also happens to be one of their best albums. It is a loose and fun outing that sounds like 3 guys in a room having a blast, rapping about timely topics that they care about.

Fruit Bats – Absolute Loser: Folk rock from Chicago (no, not THAT folk rock band from Chicago) with Kermit the Frog’s cousin on vocals. It takes a lot for folk rock (perhaps the most tired genre) to grab my attention these days, but this one did for its quality songs and consistency.

Steve Hauschildt – Strands: Ambient, minimalist techno with very few ‘beats’ and plenty of repetition. If that sounds good to you, you’ll love it. If it doesn’t, you won’t.

James Hunter Six – Hold On! Bands get bonus points when they have an exclamation point in their artist or album name (of course, maybe I’m biased because I am married to Mo!). JHS (non-existent acronym, until now) are a British R&B/soul group doing throwback tunes to the 1950s and 60s.

Donny McCaslin – Beyond Now: An American jazz saxophonist who isn’t afraid to bring in some synthesizer. This guy played with David Bowie on Blackstar and shows, once again, that the best jazz musicians today (all musicians, for that matter) keep their sound fresh by collaborating across genres.

The Radio Dept – Running out of Love: Swedish dream-pop/shoegaze with 80’s-tinged vocals. They sound like a toned-down Cut Copy, full of gratifying melodies.

Sidestepper – Supernatural Love: British DJ Richard Blair teams up with Colombian musicians and create a fun sound that is heavy on percussion and vocals.

Songs of Separation – Songs of Separation: The first super-group that’s actually worked, in recent memory! Ten female musicians from Scotland and England come together to play traditional folk music. A beautiful and powerful release.

Syd Arthur – Apricity: More British music! A talented rock quartet who seem aware of and in touch with rock and roll history and have crafted a fresh, sleek sound of their own. “Sun Rays” and “Apricity” are 2 of the best songs of 2016.

Tegan & Sara – Love You to Death: This Canadian twin sister duo got a whole lot better when they decided to whole-heartedly embrace the delicious, sparkling early-90’s girl pop sound with simple, gorgeously-produced songs about heartbreak.


Tk’s Top Ten Albums of 2016

10. The Early Years – II: The Early Years may be from London but they look to German kraut-rock for their primary inspiration. They have existed for 10 years but this is only their second album… Maybe all that time off and prep time was good for them, as this is a modern rock masterwork.

9. Anna Meredith – Varmints: Anna Meredith considers herself a classical music composer, but also happens to be a forward-thinking artist making forays into electronic music. This debut full-length is overflowing with creativity and won the Scottish Album of the Year Award for 2016.

8. Touche Amore – Stage Four: A Los Angeles-based post-hardcore group with, dare-I-say, some screamo influence. This is the album that reminded me of how much I love this genre and has caused me to dig up some of my high school favorites from the Taking Back Sunday era. It’s also an energetic, heartfelt grappling with death, God, and grief in the aftermath of the frontman’s mother dying from cancer in 2014.

7. Eluvium – False Readings On: Portland, Oregon-based producer Matthew Cooper makes ambient, patient songs that build towards beauty. This is his best album to date and may help him score some movie scores. Score!

6. Kaytranada – 99.9%: A head-spinning debut from the Canadian electronic producer with guest appearance from the likes of Anderson Paak and BadBadNotGood. At 15 tracks and 1 hour of blissful variety, it’s basically your next party playlist.

5. Anderson Paak – Malibu: It was a breakout year for L.A-based singer, rapper, and drummer Anderson Paak. A soulful, sometimes funky, always fresh release proving that smart West Coast post-rap is not losing any momentum. Seriously, watch the video below. It’s basically your next next party playlist.

4. Wye Oak – Tween: I don’t know what it says about a band when their best album is outtakes and B-sides, but I think it’s a good thing. Despite churning out quality tunes for 10 years, Wye Oak hasn’t quite had their breakthrough moment like some of their Baltimore peers (Dan Deacon, Future Islands, and Beach House come to mind). This is evolving, atmospheric indie rock with rich female vocals. The triumphant “Watching the Waiting” was another Song of the Year candidate.

3. Bon Iver: 22, A Million: I have been on record saying that Bon Iver has the best career arc of musicians in recent memory. He started simple, with Emma, focusing on the core of strong, sincere melodies and acoustic guitar. It fit the times. After its release, he took his time, collaborating with other artists (Kanye West, James Blake) who stretched him and brought out new sides of him. In 2011 came his self-titled masterpiece with full instrumentation. Same melodic core but more of a fully-developed band sound. This won him a well-deserved Grammy. Then came more collaborations and side projects, once again stretching him and taking him in new directions. It would be 5 long years before 22, A Million and it is well worth the wait. Yes, it is his Kid A moment (that followed his OK Computer moment) and there is a bit more electronic experimentation, but what really makes it work is Justin Vernon’s distinct melodic core, which is most pronounced on the sublime, Phil Collins-channeling “8 (circle).” What will your next move be, Sir Justin? I look forward to it.

2. The Range – Potential: Brooklyn-based DJ James Hinton sifted through Youtube clips and found audio that is catchy, memorable, and haunting (“Right now, I don’t have a backup  plan for if I don’t make it…”) and juxtaposes it with electro-pop, dubstep, and hip hop. This is a poignant, modern album that I returned to again and again in 2016.




















1. Laura Mvula – The Dreaming Room: Nobody does it better than Laura Mvula right now. The quintessential new-pop artist who won’t settle for anything less than genre-busting brilliance. Her 2013 debut showed her to be a confident, fearless artist who didn’t need any growing into her sound. The Dreaming Room takes her soaring neo-soul even further with layers upon layers to be unraveled with every listen. It is also deeply personal and reflective of her unique journey (her mother is from Saint Kitts and father is from Jamaica, she suffers from crippling stage fright). She brings in some electronic and orchestral textures at different moments – anything to elevate the sound – but the towering core is always her spirited vocals. This is an iconic release from a quickly-ascending artist who, I predict, will be touring with Beyonce (I know… she’s didn’t make my list, so I had to give her some name-drop love) before too long.






Beginning in 8th grade, I became interested in making sketch comedy. Danno and I made The Princess Power Hour, which featured a wide variety of our middle-school-minded sketches. I didn’t watch SNL or Mad TV at the time; my primary comedic inspiration was Leslie Nielsen slapstick movies, and it was just easier to make short sketches rather than one longer film. When I visited Marcus in Milton-Freewater, we worked hard on our sketch comedy project, The 10 Stupidest Things Ever Done. When we got to #1, we were out of funny (stupid) ideas, so it was just me looking at the camera and saying, “We couldn’t think of anything else, so goodbye.”

Later in high school, Shane and I would have conversations about how we have a distinct sense of humor that felt uniquely ours. We would watch comedy film and TV, but never saw something that seemed like an ideal comedy, tapped into our sense of what is funny. “Someday, we’ll find the perfect comedy, and it will be amazing,” I remember saying.

In November of 2015, during Shane’s visit to Los Angeles, he showed me a few Key & Peele sketches on the computer. I resisted (as I always do) watching a new TV show at first, but it was immediately apparent that they were on to something different–fresher, funnier, and exactly what I wanted in comedy. The moment of truth came when we queued up a regular TV episode… we were leaving behind the pre-approved viral hits and venturing into an everyday, commonplace episode. I was mesmerized at how consistent they were. Every sketch had something to offer, whether it was hilariously stupid, hilariously smart, peculiarly entertaining, or poignantly perceptive.

So, having found what I consider to be the peak of comedy in the 21st century and watching every existing episode, I now give you my 20 favorite Key & Peele sketches, in chronological order of when they first aired (followed by 10 Honorable Mentions). 


Tk’s Top 20 Key & Peele Sketches

Season 1, Episode 1: I Said Bitch (2012)


Season 1, Episode 5: Gay Marriage Legalized (2012)


Season 2, Episode 1: You Can Do Anything (2012)


Season 2, Episode 2: East/West College Bowl (2012)


Season 2, Episode 4: Bling Benzy & Da Struggle (2012)


Season 2, Episode 5: Wendell: Pizza Order (2012)


Season 2, Episode 10: Dueling Hats (2012)


Season 3, Episode 3: Proud Thug (2013)


Season 3, Episode 6: Insult Comic (2013)


Season 3: Episode 8: McCringleberry’s Excessive Celebration (2013)


Season 4, Episode 3: Put Your Hands Up (2014)


Season 4, Episode 4: French Restaurant (2014)


Season 4, Episode 6: Non-Scary Movie (2014)


Season 4, Episode 8: Consequences (2014)


Season 4, Episode 10: Teacher & Class Clown (2014)


Season 5, Episode 2: Turbulence (2015)


Season 5, Episode 5: Awkward Conversation (2015)


Season 5, Episode 11: Deez Nuts (2015)


[I couldn’t find these videos online but they are definitely worth seeing, too]

Season 3, Episode 2: Ratatouille (2013)

Season 4, Episode 5: Final Promises (2014)


Honorable Mention Sketches (21 – 30 in no particular order)

Season 2, Episode 2: Levi & Cedric: Where My Dookie Go? (2012)


Season 2, Episode 3: Valet Guys: What about Non-Stop, Though? (2012)


Season 2, Episode 8: Manly Tears (2012)


Season 2, Episode 8: One Hundred Thousand Dollars (2012)


Season 3, Episode 4: Nooice (2013)


Season 3, Episode 5: Cat Poster (2013)


Season 3, Episode 7: Continental Breakfast (2013)


Season 3, Episode 12: East/West Bowl 2 (2013)


Season 4, Episode 11: Loco Gangsters (2014)


Season 2, Episode 7: The Silent Killer (2012)






Seeing as I was raised on a healthy diet of early-90’s Amy Grant (thank you, Mom), I feel like my entire childhood was preparing me for the year 2015 in music: The Year of Girl Pop.

A Grant

Pop music delivered by strong female leads has been very prevalent in mainstream music for decades. However, never have I seen a time in which the indie scene has embraced it so whole-heartedly. Perhaps Haim’s sudden explosion in 2013 primed the indie scene for it; or maybe it was Ariana Grande’s dominance in 2014, which was fully tolerated (accepted? celebrated?) by Top 40 Radio, hard-to-please critics, and readers of Pitchfork alike. Whatever it was, there is a plethora of female not-just-catchy-but-full-on-pop artists freshening up the music world these days. You’ll see evidence of this in 4 of my Top 7 albums this year.

Below, you will find my Song of the Year, Honorable Mention Albums, and Top Ten Albums of 2015.

Song of the Year

Tame Impala – Let It Happen: As always, it was hard to pick just one song for my song of the year. In the end, I had to go with the only song that I got obsessed with this year. The song that followed me around for a few weeks (grocery stores, buses, public radio, my dreams). The song that Mo, Jessie, Kyle, and I listened to at full volume while driving a rental car through the countryside of New Jersey, realizing that New Jersey was about 9 times prettier than stereotypes would have suggested. The song that I played to motivate my 6th graders with fraction conversions. The 7:47 jam with the perfect, synthesized blend of repetition and evolution.

Honorable Mention Albums (11 – 20 in alphabetical order)

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly: A visionary rapper who just keeps getting better and better. A true artist who is pushing the entire music world in new directions (and getting 11 Grammy nominations while doing so).

John Moreland – High on Tulsa Heat: This 30-year-old Oklahoman has released my favorite Country/Americana album of the year, full of heartfelt and thoughtful tracks.

Pokey LaFarge – Something in the Water: Pokey makes fun, old-fashioned American roots music. Enough said.

Public Service Broadcasting – The Race for Space: This is the 2nd album from the British troop who blends  vintage audio from the 1957 – 1962 Space Race with elements of rock, electronica, and disco. PSB have created an unexpected, cinematic experience unlike anything else I’ve heard.

Ryan Adams – 1989: Pop melodies in folk clothes. I don’t know why Ryan made this album of T. Swift covers (and I’m too lazy to look it up) but I’m surely glad that he did.

Songhoy Blues – Music in Exile: Another stellar release coming out of Mali (so much good music there); passionate desert blues from a band that is truly in exile, having fled the northern part of their country.

Steve Gunn – Seasonal Hire: If I told you that Steve lives in Brooklyn and used to play with Kurt Vile, then you’d have the complete wrong idea of what ‘Seasonal Hire’ sounds like. If I told you that he teamed up with The Black Twig Pickers, an Appalachian old-time folk group, then you’d have a much better idea.

Steve Hauschildt – Where All is Fled: Ambient electronic music that pairs well with reading, studying, or meditating on eternal existence.

Tame Impala – Currents: I didn’t really dig ‘Lonerism’, as too much of it felt like poor-man’s Beatles. When “Elephant” comes on the radio, I quickly change the dial. The highly-realized ‘Currents’ feels more consistent, more dancey, and less guitar-reliant, while still maintaining some characteristic psychodelic elements.

Vessels – Dilate: Powerful, hypnotic British electronica driven by percussion, but with some welcome splashes of melody.


Tk’s Top Ten Albums of 2015

10. Tallest Man on Earth – Dark Bird is Home: When ‘Dark Bird’ first came out, I was on record telling friends that it was “Okay.” I wasn’t crazy about the production, especially the way Kristian’s voice was mixed. Then I saw TMOE live and realized just how damn good these songs are in their essence. Since then, I have listened to ‘Dark Bird’ as much (or more) than any other 2015 album. Despite adding more layers of instrumentation, it feels like his most personal album to date. ‘Wild Hunt’ is still my favorite (by a long shot) but this one is well worth your time.

9. Royal Headache – High: There’s a lot of excellent garage / post-punk music coming out of Australia these days (Blank Realm and Twerps barely missed the cut for my Honorable Mention albums this year). Royal Headache are the most impressive of the bunch. Most of their songs are short, snappy, and upbeat with a 50’s/60’s melodic sense, as rock and roll should be.

8. Destroyer – Poison Season: Dan Bejar’s 10th album as Destroyer sounds a little bigger and a little more urgent than previous outings, while holding onto all the froggy strangeness.

7. Grimes – Art Angels: If you’re not sure if  Grimes’ new album is your thing, just listen to “California” below. All my thoughts and feelings about the album are contained in that song. Delicious 90’s/00’s-inspired unabashedly-poppy music. Grimes pours it on thick. You’ll either relish in it or feel like you’re drowning in it.

6. Jamie xx – In Colour: In my opinion, Jamie’s solo release is much more creative, interesting, and re-listenable than anything The xx have put out. He had a breakout year, for good reason, and has sprinkled this album with so many tasteful rhythms, textures, and guest vocals.

5. Seven Davis Jr. – Universes: This California cat has made one of the most satisfying and fun party albums of the year, chock full of funk/soul flavors and plenty of good vibes.

4. Georgia – Georgia: An emotional and dynamic post-grime pop debut from Georgia Barnes of London. If she cut 2 throw-away songs, this very well could be my #1 of the year.

3. Golden Rules – Golden Ticket: More jaw-dropping music from London (hands down the best music city for 50 years running!). The British producer Paul White teamed up with rapper Eric Biddines to create an old-school, soulful hip-hop album. The result is stylish and in-the-pocket.

2. Susanne Sundfor – Ten Love Songs: Susanne is a Norwegian singer-songwriter who makes fragile, dark, and big synthpop songs. She will keep you guessing; in the first 3 tracks, she moves from a vocal-driven anthem with organ and a choir (seemingly filling a large church with the sound) to a driving goth-pop song to a delicate, lovably-corny tune that channels the aforementioned early-90s Amy Grant. She spent much of the year at the #1 spot on my list but, in the end, was replaced by someone whose relentless innovation demanded my attention.

10 Love.png















1. Dawn Richard – Blackheart: Before branching out to make her own music, Dawn Richard performed with Danity Kane and Diddy-Dirty Money. Since that time, she has been a relentless innovator, perfecting her unique brand of experimental, electro-R&B. Pitchfork calls it somewhere between Bjork and Brandy, while Richard herself says that ‘Blackheart’ is like being stuck in a rain forest alone with blood on your armor (couldn’t have said it better myself). The album is long and impossible to pin down, traversing from the hyper and head-spinning “Calypso” to the catchier-than-any-Top-40-chorus-this-year (yet never came close to the Top 40) “Phoenix.” It is a remarkable release that is so dense, it will demand multiple listens over multiple months. Listen to “Calypso” below and if it doesn’t do it for you, search for “Phoenix” and marvel at the fact that you never heard it on the radio.


Last year, when brother Ty asked me if I’d like to guest post for CKTK, I declined because, honestly, it would’ve been hard to come up with even a Top 5. This year, there were exactly 10 really memorable jazz albums for me. One thing I’ve noticed about the list this year is that it is more genre-bending than in years past, which I’m not sure whether is a reflection of my tastes or the direction of jazz. This year, I’ve added an “Accessibility” rating to each album, which refers to an album’s approachability to those who maybe don’t always “get” jazz but haven’t given up.

Also, if you’d like to follow along with your ears, and you aren’t morally opposed to basically stealing music from artists (or are but are weak-willed and Hell-bound like me), check out my Spotify playlist, which features one or two tracks from each album on my list, from 10 to 1. (And then go buy their music!)

10) Mark Turner Quartet – Lathe of Heaven


Turner is a very intellectual saxophonist who took awhile for me to appreciate. Like, it took me about ten years to start to like him. But more and more I’m convinced that he has one of the most distinct voices in jazz. His lines are noodly, exploratory, and whimsical, but lack conviction. But damn, they’re interesting! He goes places others don’t. This is a pretty strange project. Very restrained, careful, almost chamber-like music. It does sound a little tired sometimes. I’m not quite sure why I like it. Maybe because I don’t understand it. It’s terribly hard to describe. Listen for yourself; I’m not your monkey.

Accessibility: 1/5

9) Melissa Aldana – & Crash Trio


One of the people heavily influenced by the aforementioned Mark Turner is Melissa Aldana, a tenor saxophonist from Chile. A lady! From Chile, playing jazz sax! And she’s wonderful! Very articulate, fun lines that stretch my ears, backed by a very energetic and interactive rhythm section. She’s one of my favorite fresh voices in jazz these days.

Accessibility: 2/5

8) New West Guitar Group – Big City


Okay, full disclosure, I used to play with one of these guys back in high school. But I’m fairly certain this would be on the list regardless. Actually, no, it probably wouldn’t, because I likely wouldn’t have heard of these guys. Which is a tragedy. I’m such a believer in this group and what they have done, namely making their top-notch jazz training accessible and fun. It’s a trio of guitarists playing a combination of originals and covers. I’d recommend this to just about anybody. So excited to see where the project goes next.

Accessibility: 5/5

7) David Binney – Anacapa


My favorite album yet from a very interesting musician. His songs are full of energy, and his songwriting is quite unique but still very engaging. This is a pretty epic album.

Accessibility: 3/5

6) Eric Harland – Vipassana


Very cool blending of jazz and R&B. Far better than Robert Glasper’s Black Radio train wreck from a couple years ago.

Accessibility: 4/5

5) James Farm – City Folk


A pretty wonderful, easy-to-like album with substance. Heavy pop influence, with very singable original melodies, and plenty of mood.

Accessibility: 3/5

4) Becca Stevens – Weightless

What a discovery! This is an old album, but I’m mentioning it because everyone needs to listen to it. This is the kind of pop/folk music that should be Top 40—it’s something anyone can like, but is actually, objectively good from a musical standpoint.

Accessibility: 5/5

3) Pat Metheny Unity Group – Kin


A bajillion Grammys and four decades later, Pat is still the deserving rock star of jazz. He’s always pushing himself, always out-doing himself with something new, often more epic or conceptual. For better or worse, he’s inspired a generation or two or three of jazz musicians. You can hear his influence in half the modern jazz stuff you hear. This is one of his best albums (I’m not just saying that), and successfully combines many elements to his career in one—his sweeping cinematic Pat Metheny Group style, his one-man-band Orchestrion, and a more straight-ahead jazz format. Chris Potter is perhaps the greatest living saxophonist. Seeing them in concert last year was one of the pinnacles of music for me. Pure joy for three hours that didn’t let up.

Accessibility: 3/5


2) Brian Blade Fellowship – Landmarks


Wow. This could be my favorite jazz group in the world now. All these musicians are involved in multiple projects, but every several years, they gather to record and tour with their labor of love, the Fellowship. And it truly is a fellowship. It feels like church in the best possible way: there is reverence, fun, generosity, and ecstasy. But not just any kind of church; a black southern gospel church. (The bandleader, Brian Blade, is a PK of a black southern gospel church, so he knows what’s up.) And speaking of generous, the pianist from the group, Jon Cowherd, released his album, Mercy, about the same time. It serves as a sister album to the Fellowship, with a similar style and most of the same musicians.

Accessibility: 4/5


1) Mehliana: Taming the Dragon


The hippest, nastiest thing I’ve heard in my life. Brad Mehldau plays shameless synths/samples with a badass rising star drummer Mark Guiliana. I wasn’t expecting to like this at all, but it’s one of my favorite things Brad Mehldau’s ever done. It takes you places. It’s just done so well, I can’t help but embrace the grime. Nothing like it. I’m heartbroken that I missed the tour.

Accessibility: 3/5

Well it’s that time of year for the very first time since last year at this time. To be less specific: it’s A time of year… again. Aren’t you excited? I sure amn’t.


What I mean to say is: TOP TEN ALBUM TIME, BITCHES.

While not the most flashy year of music to date, I feel 2014 was much needed. I don’t care what anyone else says, but really and truly, we all could’ve done without the junk from the last couple years. It was almost as if the International Musical Overseer Council gathered in a small, hidden, dimly-lit room, situated somewhere in the Sahara, and collectively hit the “This new crap is getting out of hand and it, well, pretty much sucks. It’s time to start over.” refresh button. This of course is the only explanation for the opening up of the massive, inside-out, time-vortex that has been spewing sounds of classic rock and smoky lounges into the malleable ears of musicians everywhere.


According to several terrible sources, this is a photo of the button that changed the musical world forever this year.

That’s enough of my blabbing. You didn’t actually show up here to read anything.

In no particular order, besides the exact order of which they are presented to you on this very page, here are my absolute favorite musical albums of 2014 (if you’re looking for “My Favorite Facebook albums of 2014” write up, you’re in the wrong place. You can find that one HERE):

Last things first, Honorable mention: No top-10 list would be complete without a number 11. With that promptly forgotten:

10. Pink Floyd – The Endless River


Um, I’m pretty sure a river, by definition, has an end… but hey, the members of Pink Floyd have spent the last 40+ years in a endless SEA of hallucinogenics, so I’m willing to let it slide…

Remember when Arcade Fire won that Grammy for The Suburbs? And everyone who wasn’t like, “Who the balls is Arcade Fire?” was like, “If this is good enough for a Grammy, then Funeral deserves its own country.”? Well The Endless River is kinda like that. Right place, right time. That said, in my eyes, Pink Floyd has always been the “Album King.” Their self-proclaimed, final studio-release is no exception. Utilizing seamless transitions from one soundscape to the next, The Endless River sticks together like glue, which is an unfortunate rarity in today’s industry. As now band-leader David Gilmore told Mojo Magazine “Unapologetically, this is for the generation that wants to put its headphones on, lie in a beanbag, or whatever, and get off on a piece of music for an extended period of time. You could say it’s not for the iTunes, downloading-individual-tracks generation.” In other words, this is a true album (and get the laser-light show in your basement planetarium queued up ‘cause this ish is the real deal). And by the way, don’t expect the usual, somewhat philosophical lyrics that Floyd is known for- only one of the 21 tracks has actual lead vocals. The original atmospheric, psychedelic, progressive, tripp-errific rock band has delivered one last time. Eat your hearts out, dying swans.

Listen to: Side 2, Pt. 1: Sum

*EDIT* At one random point while listening, I handed my dad (a guy who MOSTLY remembers the 70’s) my headphones. Before I even had a chance to tell him who it was, he shouted, “SOUNDS LIKE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON!” Then proceeded to loudly tell me the story of when he saw Pink Floyd play with Deep Purple in Austin, TX. After several minutes of me desperately trying to pry the headphones off his head so as to quiet him down before being fined by the H.O.A. for, yet, another noise complaint, he realized that it wasn’t in fact Pink Floyd he had seen that night. It was The Moody Blues.

9. Childhood – Lacuna


I know I should’ve patented my “Sneeze as an Album Cover” idea…

OK, so Lacuna sounds a little like Diiv covering M83 songs… well NEWS FLASH: Diiv covering M83 songs would be rad. So get off my hairy back, ya bunch of bananas.

Listen to: As I Am

8. I’ve never really liked the number 8



7. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time

Todd Terje - It's Album Time Cover

When does Leisure Suit Larry come out on Oculus Rift? 

It’s funk; it’s lounge; it’s jazz; it’s samba, it’s disco; it’s what’s playing in all of the hippest elevators in town; but most of all, it’s the sound of confidence. I could mention how I think it’s what dance music is supposed be (i.e. there’s no shitty remixes within earshot) but I won’t.

Listen to: Svensk Sås

6. Perfume Genius – Too Bright


Does this top make my butt look too bright?

Reader Involvement Time: In a large mixing bowl, combine equal parts Antony & The Johnsons, Ziggy Stardust, Asaf Avidan, James Blake, Tom Petty, The Knife, and Mount Kimbie until smooth. Poor mixture into a large, lightly-greased baking pan and bake at 700ºC for 3 1/2 months (or until golden). Slice into 11 song-sized pieces, serve immediately. 2 days later, poop into a tape deck. Hit play.

Listen to: Queen

5. Temples – Sun Structures


I have an idea, let’s just stand around outside this little building and not look at each other. It’ll be super fun and make an exciting album cover that will draw in potential listeners.”

-Should’ve said no one

The problem with most new music is that if you’re listening while stuck in traffic, you remain stuck traffic. Nobody likes sitting in a hot, stinky car for an extended period of time, yet many of us don’t take the necessary preventative measures to ensure a smooth, congestion-free ride. As an experiment, the next time you’re at a stand-still on the 101 heading towards downtown LA, listen to Mumford and Sons. Spoiler alert: you’ll be just as bummed (if not more so). What I’m getting at here is, wouldn’t you rather be someplace else? How about on a ride at Disney Land? My thought is: I could be free-falling down the Tower of Terror, or chatting up the single moms in the Enchanted Tiki Room… I don’t care, let’s just freaking GO SOMEWHERE. Enter: Temples- instant flashback to 1974; The world misses The Beatles; Ford Mustangs are ugly as sin; the Happy Days pilot airs; and my dad is stoned at a Pink Floyd Moody Blues concert. Full disclosure, I have no actual clue as to what life was really like in the 70’s, but partly thanks to Sun Structures, I can make a poorly educated guess. What’s important here is that I am, in fact, inspired to make said guess.

Listen to: Sun Structures

4. Benjamin Booker – Benjamin Booker


“No wonder TSA gets freaked every time I step into the body scanner.”

Raw, rugged, real, and rip-roaring are just a few words begining with the letter “R” that happen to describe Booker’s sound. Some other words that are not at all applicable in this situation are: potato, flounder, adhesive, and transmission.

Listen to: Violent Shiver

2 (TIE!!). Robert Ellis – The Lights From The Chemical Plant 


John Gorka – Bright Side of Down


No. I didn’t lose count, look it up.

Now call me old fashioned, but music made for the sole sake entertaining the masses should be taken out back and clunked right in the dome. I’m not saying that music shouldn’t be entertaining, because it, in fact, should be… but it has to be more than just that to have any sort of lasting power. When J-Lo’s abomination of a song, “Booty” finally fades to black, and Adam Levine’s face ceases to appear on the boxes of Costco’s worse-than-having-no-guitar-at-all guitars, Robert Ellis will still be standing tall, creating expressive, reflective, relatable, timeless music. Part of what makes Ellis so effective is the balance he obtains between many of the old, story-telling greats (such as Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Steve Earl, James Taylor, Tom Waits) and his own, modern portrayal of the folk music genre. One other name that comes to mind is John Gorka. Gorka, while not very well known in the main stream, is one of those responsible for the New Folk Movement that first took hold in the early 90’s, and to a lesser extent, continues today. Robert Ellis may be just the kick in the pants that the genre needs to regain some lost traction. In fact, Ellis may specifically draw attention to Gorka’s equally fantastic 2014 release “Bright Side of Down.” Both albums really shine when some time can be dedicated to a quality listening sesh. So your homework assignment for this year is to do just that. If all goes well, I guarantee you’ll learn something- and if you don’t, I’ll eat my pants (jokes on you, I’m not wearing any pants).

Listen to: Robert Ellis – Houston **AND** John Gorka – Bright Side of Down

Bonus Listen: John Gorka – Armed With a Broken Heart This is some O.G. Gorka, but it proves even further that Homeboy’s got the skillz to pay da billz.

1. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream


Oh, there I am- always in the last place I look.

So as you may have noticed, my mind works (or doesn’t) in a, let’s say, “unique” way. For example, my immediate train of thought the very first time I hit play was: Bob Dylan + Paul Simon ≈ Dyson –> Dyson vacuums suck –> “I did not inhale.” –> Clinton –> Monica –> Joey –> Friends –> 90’s TV –> TGIF –> Family Matters –> childhood –> Chicken curry sandwich. That is one serious journey that took place in under a minute and, um, in case you didn’t notice, it almost ended at CHILDHOOD. Kudos to The War on Drugs for making me forget about my jacked up, old-man back; the, at times, overwhelming weight of my unpaid student loans; the rough reality of not knowing what lies ahead whether it be success or struggle. Instead, for a brief, invaluable moment, my biggest concern was what my mom may or may not have packed me for lunch when I was 10.

Bottom line: If my mom’s chicken curry was an album, it would be #1 on everyone’s list, forever.

Listen to: it.

For the full 2014 playlist, give THIS a click.

ALSO: A big thanks to CKTK for letting ruin their blog again this year! Keep checking back for other guest spots, and don’t forget to take a look at the previous few posts by theirs truly (CK and TK) for some serious insight into the 2014 (or as I never refer to it: Twomp-K-4-Deen) music scene.

Ten records. Four debuts. Three albums that could be soundtracks. One list.


Let’s ride!

To listen to all ten of these albums, check out this Spotify playlist.

10. Highasakite – Silent Treatment
A late entry into my top ten, I’ve been entranced by this Norwegian band since Tk first recommended them to me. This is decidedly the most beautiful pop album of the year. There’s something so intriguing about Ingrid Helene Håvik’s voice on the record; it’s almost Joanna Newsom-esque (though less squeaky).
MUST HEAR: “Darth Vader,” “Lover, Where Do You Live?,” “Since Last Wednesday”

9. Spoon – They Want My Soul
PHEW! I have to admit, I was worried after 2010’s Transference left a bitter taste in my mouth. Luckily, my trepidation coming into this album turned out to be unfounded. They’re BACK! Once again, they’ve put out a catchy juggernaut that threatens to stick in your headspace for months after even a single spin.
MUST HEAR: “Inside Out,” “Do You,” “Rent I Pay”

8. Twin Forks – LP
Although this is a debut album, it seems like we’ve heard this one before. Maybe it’s the proliferation of indie-folk hybrids made popular by Mumford & Sons, or maybe it’s the triumphant return of Chris Carrabba (the singer-songwriter behind Dashboard Confessional). Either way, the mixture of folk/bluegrass instrumentation and Carrabba’s voice is one not to be missed.
MUST HEAR: “Back to You,” “Cross My Mind,” “Kiss Me Darling”

7. TV On The Radio – Seeds
If you haven’t noticed already, a strong, unique vocalist is perhaps my favorite elements of a band. As a result, I will always be a sucker for Tunde Adebimpe’s voice. This album seems perfectly crafted, with that deep rumble crooning over a meticulously-arranged rock record with a huge heart. To punctuate the punctilious nature of this release, the CD and vinyl versions of this album have perhaps the best packaging of any album this year.
MUST HEAR: “Careful You,” “Lazerray,” “Happy Idiot”

6. The Warren G. Hardings – Get a Life
The Warren G. Hardings are Seattle bluegrass at its finest. After being successfully kickstarted, they’ve put out a debut album that is sure to put a smile on the face of its backers. Heck, this album is a freewheeling, toe-tapping extravaganza, no matter who you are. If you’re in the greater Seattle area (or even if you’re not), make sure to find a way to see them live.
MUST HEAR: “Darling,” “The Devil’s in the Roots,” “Drifting”

5. The War On Drugs – Lost in the Dream
I love the cadence of Adam Granduciel’s vocal melodies; Tk stole the comparative thunder here, but it reminds me a bit of Bob Dylan. My only complaint with the album is that sometimes the songs take a little too long to develop and as a result, the music seems to fade a bit too far into the background.
MUST HEAR: “Red Eyes,” “An Ocean in between the Waves,” “Burning”

4. Bleachers – Strange Desire
Jack Antonoff decided to make a record that sounded like it could be the soundtrack to a John Hughes movie. Listen to the record through that lens, and it takes on new meaning, seeming all the more nostalgic, wistful, and fun.
MUST HEAR: “Rollercoaster,” “I Wanna Get Better,” “Reckless Love”

3. Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright In The End
Just like Spoon, it’s so great to be able to say “They’re BACK!” for Weezer. I’m a huge Weezer fan, but their previous album, Hurley, is the only Weezer album that I don’t own. They’d hit rock bottom. Through the years, I defended Weezer when they dropped album after album that failed to recapture the magic of their first two records. It was beginning to seem as if that elusive album might evade Weezer forever. I don’t know what the magic element was this time around (producer Ric Ocasek?), but now, finally, FINALLY, it’s here. Everything Will Be Alright In The End is that record.
MUST HEAR: “Foolish Father,” “Go Away,” “Cleopatra”

2. Antemasque – s/t
This is the best record Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala have been involved in since (and perhaps including) Frances the Mute, back when they were the braintrust behind The Mars Volta. Perhaps the dissolution of that band has freed them up to create something a little more accessible and straightforward. Don’t get me wrong, their trademark intensity shines through as always; It’s just so great to have these two making music together again, and to hear Cedric’s voice on a record you can actually sing along with.
MUST HEAR: “50,000 Kilowatts,” “In The Lurch,” “4AM”

1. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
This album refuses to fade into the background. Instead, Transgender Dysphoria Blues is arresting, demanding the listener pay attention for the duration of the record. Alternating between moments aggressively profane and profoundly heartbreaking, this is punk rock with a purpose. I don’t think Laura Jane Grace set out to become an icon when she wrote this record. I don’t know if that’s what she wants. But if the next generation of punks starts to think about acceptance rather than rebellion, she will have made a difference.
MUST HEAR: “Transgender Dysphoria Blues,” “True Trans Soul Rebel,” “Black Me Out”



My Top 10 list for 2014 features some emerging artists that I had not heard until this year (#2, 3, 4, 7, and 10) and some established artists that have released their best album to date (#1, 5, 6, 8, and 9). While I feel passionate about my #1 choice (and will still be listening to it when I’m an old man), I don’t feel as passionate about numbers 2 through 10. Someone could have slipped them out from under my feet and replaced them with my Honorable Mention albums, and I wouldn’t bat an eye. 2014 was not a bad year for music but, as I stated before, it was not a particularly exciting year either.

This gal didn't bat an eye either.

This gal didn’t bat an eye either.

10. Goat – Commune: Goat is a Swedish 70’s-influenced, neo-tribal, quasi-spiritual group who wear masks and costumes during their live performance. It should only be listened to loud and long in a darker setting. In fact, it would probably sound kinda lame short and quiet in a brightly-lit setting.

9. Spoon – They Want My Soul: Spoon is one of those bands that knows exactly what they want musically and consistently accomplish it. Always comfortable in their own skin, their albums remain stylistically similar while drifting appropriately between more raw and more produced output. “They Want My Soul” is beautiful, catchy, and slickly-produced. Turn it on anytime, anywhere.

8. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues: This album is so well-paced that the pesky condition of pop-punk-fatigue will not likely kick in. An impassioned, important release from Laura Jane Grace and her crew in which every song counts.

7. Kevin Morby – Still Life: Kevin Morby is the 26-year-old bassist of Woods who put out his first solo album last year. Still Life is brimming with folk-rock songs that sound so classic and singable that I felt like I’d heard them before. This warm familiarity, though, is a strength rather than a liability.

6. Perfume Genius – Too Bright: Seattle-based artist, Mike Hadreas, performs as Perfume Genius. His precious chamber-pop tracks take many an unexpected turn, sometimes light and playful and other times heavy and brooding.

5. Eno Hyde – High Life: A transcendent, ambient surprise from Brian Eno and Karl Hyde that incorporates just the right amount of African instrumentation, guitars, and electronic bells and whistles to keep things moving.

4. Future Islands – Singles: When you Google “Future Islands,” the first thing that comes up is “Future Islands Letterman.” So, if you haven’t watched their now-famous performance on Letterman, then do so now. Artsy Baltimore synthpop with some David Bowie and 1980s flourishes, Singles is an excellent, peculiar album that deserves multiple spins.

3. Angelique Kidjo – Eve: Ms. Kidjo is remarkably unknown for someone who has won Grammy’s and been listed among the “40 Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa” by Forbes. She is from the country of Benin and sings in 4 different languages (including English). Her multi-genre music is energetically propelled forward by diverse rhythms and powerful vocals. You should seriously check out her video below.

2. Highasakite – Silent Treatment: Once Highasakite can reign in their vision and produce an album that gels together as a singular piece of art, then they will dominate my Spotify listening time and future lists. As it stands, Silent Treatment is an album of songs; mostly damn fine songs (including my Song of the Year). A touch of Imogen Heap, The Cranberries, even She & Him… but, mind you, I don’t care much for any of these artists. Highasakite wear their influences but come up with something of their own that is unique and charming.

1. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream: Wagonwheel Blues was my #1 album in 2008 and here The War on Drugs are, back in my #1 spot. There really was no contest here. A rare album that I: a) listened to the day it came out b) listened to it straight through c) wanted to hear it through again the moment that it ended. It is spacious where it needs to be and dense in other parts. Adam Granduciel puts every word and note where it belongs, a more precise Bob Dylan. His supporting figures are a more subdued E Street Band. Lost in the Dream is an hour-long but never drones on. It starts off big and ends up intimate. I suggest listening to it in order from start to finish. Until then, you can jam to “Eyes to the Wind” (below).

The War On Drugs - Lost in the Dream Cover

Months of the Year

Once again this year, I couldn’t pick just one… so here’s three to chew on:

Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues (language warning)

Michael Jackson – Love Never Felt So Good

The War On Drugs – Red Eyes


The Airport District – Smash
I love a good mash-up album, and that’s exactly what we’ve got here. It probably isn’t the best idea to define an artist solely by another, but this album fills the void left by the lack of a new Girl Talk record this year. (Girl Talk did release his “Broken Ankles” EP with Philadelphia rapper Freeway this year. It’s a solid EP, but it doesn’t have the staying power of his solo records).

The Antlers – Familiars
After The Antlers’ 2009 record Hospice, it seemed like there might not be much higher for them to go. That record was such a complete, beautiful statement that no one would blame them if they had hung it up then and there. 2011’s Burst Apart is a great record as well, but Familiars brings back more of what you may have expected from a Hospice follow-up. The only drawback for me was “Doppelgänger,” a song that really drags the album down just as it’s launching.

The Family Crest – Beneath the Brine
This might be the biggest record of the year. The title track gets things rolling in a way that caused NPR’s Bob Boilen to sarcastically remark, “gee, I think they may have been holding back a little bit.” They’re throwing crescendos and instruments around on this album like they’re going out of style. The Family Crest’s goal is to have 1,000 people involved in recording and performing on their next album, and they’re well on their way.

Foster the People – Supermodel
The biggest strength and weakness in this album is its similarity to their debut. If you liked 2011’s Torches, you’ll like this one. It’s perhaps the laziest thing you could say about a record, but it fits here. There are great moments here; the first three tracks rival any 1-2-3 punch this year.

Kishi Bashi – Lighght
“Lighght” (the word, not the album) is a one-word poem by minimalist poet Aram Saroyan. While Kishi Bashi’s sophomore record isn’t as simple as that, it holds a similar sense of beauty and playfulness. If “Q&A” doesn’t melt you, I don’t know what will. You may want to make sure that you’re human.

Taking Back Sunday – Happiness Is
When the original Tell All Your Friends-era members rejoined Taking Back Sunday, they breathed new life into the band. This renaissance has led to two albums that at least match the energy and inspiration of their first two albums. My favorite songs from the album are “Stood a Chance” and “Beat Up Car,” but how can you resist this?

Jack White – Lazaretto
In between working as the ambassador for Record Store Day, performing at the Grammy Awards, and enjoying taxidermy, Jack White found time to record a solo album that somehow sounds like the intersection of those three things. The guitar lick on “That Black Bat Licorice” is still reverberating through my mind grapes.

You Blew It! – Keep Doing What You’re Doing
I’m ready for Promise Ring-influenced emo-rock to make a comeback, and You Blew It! is off to a great start. This short album is just enough to whet your tastebuds for a trip down mid-2000s memory lane. If you need more, make sure to check out their You Blue It! EP, their tribute to Weezer’s blue album.

2014 was the year that I listened to the most new music in my life (Spotify + lesson planning a lot as a teacher) but have the fewest words to say about it. The music world seemed settled this year–bands content to build upon their successes with straight-forward, solid releases. Not an especially edgy year for music, nor experimental. In fact, the most exciting pop release is also the least exciting pop release. Ariana Grande is attempting nothing new, yet very successful in doing so and being rewarded for her talent (and maybe some other things… though stage presence can’t be counted among them).


So, without a further dude, let’s go.

Song of the Year

Highasakite – Lover, Where Do You Live?

The War on Drugs’ “Red Eyes” was a very close second, but I had to go with the song that I listened to the most times in 2014. Highasakite’s “Lover, Where Do You Live?” is a gorgeous, stirring song sure to send shivers down that spine of yours. Thanks to Brother Shane for pointing out the haunting sonic bliss of 1:50 – 2:20. According to some guy on youtube, the formula for this Norwegian band is “soaring melodies + strange lyrics =  skewed pop glory.” I could have said it better myself, but I’m too tired.

10 Honorable Mention Albums

Ariana Grande – My Everything: An Italian-American girl channeling Mariah Carey pop and somehow managing to appeal to Pitchforkers (people who read the popular music blog), New Yorkers, and pitchforkers (people who move hay from Point A to Point B using a pitchfork). She still has some room to improve her stage presence and make her voice more dynamic, but, y’know, she is only 21.

Childhood – Lacuna: A band called ‘Childhood’ that sounds like my childhood (1990’s Buzz Shop radio) on an album in which Track 1 was a candidate for my Song of the Year. In other words, 5 minutes into listening to this English indie rock release, it had already guaranteed its spot on my list.

Robert Ellis – The Lights from the Chemical Plant: 25 year old Robert Ellis moved from Houston to Nashville and is making a name for himself with his nasally, poignant Country-Americana sound. And I might add that he actually pulls off the line, “Oh my god, I love watching my TV.”

Run the Jewels – RTJ 2: I dare you to listen to “Blockbuster Night Part 1” and not pump your fist (it might be fitting that the very next song on the album features fellow must-pump-fist Zack de la Rocha from Rage Against the Machine). Hard-hitting NYC hip hop featuring Killer Mike and El-P.

Sun Kil Moon – Benji: My Honorable Mention often features ‘Woulda been top 10 except…’ albums. This is one of them. Should it matter that Mark Kozelek took the spotlight off of his brilliant 6th studio album by being a relentless bully to fellow artists and fans? Should it matter that he also put out a boring Christmas album with 1 good song? It matters some, because it affects the way I hear Benji. But make no mistake, Benji is a stunning, heartfelt, and raw  acoustic album.

Todd Terje – It’s Album Time: Norwegian house/disco/jazz that doesn’t take itself too seriously but has surprising depth and relistenability.

Lydia Ainsworth – Right from Real: Canadian strange-pop with a penchant for the pentatonic. A compelling debut release featuring the stand-out, anthemic track “PSI.”

The Men – Tomorrow’s Hits: Not as impactful as Open Your Heart but packed full of rousing, barn-burning, too-much-fun classic rock designed for the live show. The song “Pearly Gates” reminds listeners of the very reason that rock and roll exists.

Eagulls – Eagulls: Post-punk always has a way of weaseling its way into my Honorable Mention Albums. This is a slightly dingy, sometimes forceful, and thoroughly convincing debut album from Eagulls (not to be confused with ‘Eagles, The’).

Literature – Chorus: A fun album of concise, jangly, Clash-like songs. Rumor has it that Philadelphia is on the rise, and Literature surely will not thwart this momentum.

Wildbirds & Peacedrums – Rhythm: Swedish husband-wife duo that somehow create a gripping 40 minutes of music using primarily (only?) drums and vocals. For people who appreciate the creativity of Tune-Yards but find her music a bit grating…

CK’s Song of the Year and Honorable Mentions are next, followed by our Top 10’s!

I'm proud of my new shirt.

Is my new shirt making you feel good yet?

You have been waiting for G-Ferb 2013’s best music picks successfully. You will not be ashamed. I have picked three themes for music this year. They are gold, Cheetos, and Nickelback.

Song #1: Ecstasy of Gold

Gold is the only thing that makes me happy. So does this song. I use this song for everything. Here are some samples.
-Labor parties
-Wearing turtle necks
-Garage sales

I listen to this song when I look for gold. It reminds me that looking for gold is fun and cool. Then I get ecstasy when I find the gold. Sometimes I pretend that Cheetos are gold only they are different because Cheetos

Song #2: Hot Cheetos and Takis

No song has ever made me feel about Cheetos like this one. When I look down into my soul and I find darkness this song restores that hot spicy feeling that only Cheetos are proud of.

Cheeto almost winners!

Holy crazy cow, a Canadian cooking show? For a special Canadian cheeto delicacy, check out this video at 2:00

These might be my grandchildren. I hope so because I am proud of them

Song #3: How You Remind Me, lullabye edition

Sometimes babies are cool. Sometimes babies are dumb. This years best song makes babies less dumb and more sleeply.  I have always wanted to dance without the judgement of awake babies.  Now this can be possible.

CKTK on twitter

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.