playing favorites 2018

2018 has been a year of change and heartache. Really awesome, totally not devastating! In all seriousness, things are really turning around for me despite the hard year. One of the only constants of my life have been these lists that I started making in 2009. Obviously, I’ve been neglecting the rest of this space for a bunch of years. But, hey, here’s to scrounging up the energy to put together this list every year for ten years, and here’s to ten more(?).

A’ight. Here is a list of my favorite albums of the year. I usually mix up the order between ranked and date of release or alphabetical or whatever. This year, I’m ranking them. Why the hell not add more difficult decisions to my life?

At the end of this post, there’s a Spotify playlist of selections from these albums and more music that I loved from 2018.

Thanks for reading.

Check out faves lists from:
2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 
| 2016 | 2017

20 | Remember Sports – Slow Buzz

Let me just get this out there. 2018 has been a great year for woman-led punk/emo/indie bands. This is just one of the many entries of that variety you’ll find on my list. Remember Sports started off as one of the 600 bands named “Sports” or some kinda sports-y thing. They set themselves apart with great energy and a dynamic style that comes through in their studio recordings. I need to see these guys live.

19 | Joyce Manor – Million Dollars to Kill Me

Gonna be real, fam. When it comes to Joyce Manor albums, this ain’t my fave, chief. I think they’ve packed a lot more quality over the course of these usually 30-minute or less albums in the past. HOWEVER, THERE ARE SOME STAND OUT TUNES. There are just some songs that I can’t get out of my head on this album. So, good job, y’all. Do better.

18 | Kali Uchis – Isolation

Kali Uchis is probably one of the most exciting and creative artists in her space in a long time. I was really blown away by the production and songwriting on this record, and I’m excited to see what she has in store for all of us whom are unworthy.

17 | Lil Baby & Gunna – Drip Harder

Look, it’s just two of my favorite young rappers going off on stupid ass beats. God bless everyone who made this possible, especially Young Thug.

16 | Long Neck – Will This Do?

Lily Mastrodimos has a haunting voice and the power she generates on this record comes through real loud and clear. That’s not to say this album doesn’t have its incredibly tender moments, but Lily can freaking rip.

15 | Juice WRLD – Goodbye & Good Riddance

Emo rap is finally here, and Juice WRLD might be the most successful artist you can stuff into this category in 2018. The themes and angst in this thing would give early New Found Glory a run for their money. He also put out an absolutely dog shit collab with Future that I’m going to erase from my memory. A podcast I listened to came up with an elaborate scenario where Donald Trump loved Juice WRLD and would sing “All Girls Are the Same” to the American public. I can’t get that out of my brain. Please help.

14 | Tangled Hair – We Do What We Can

One day, I’m going to make y’all enjoy British math rock. I swear to God. Until then, the twelve of us are going to have a great time enjoying near-immaculate releases like this.

13 | Retirement Party – Somewhat Literate

I love this damn band. This is one of those #relatablecontent bands where almost every song strikes a chord with you on themes like death, youth, and becoming your own person.

12 | Snail Mail – Lush

Lil homie just turned 19, y’all. Lindsey Jordan has such a powerful voice and a way of communicating sadness and emotion clearer than just about anyone. This album really hit me hard, especially after this summer.

11 | Lil Baby – Harder Than Ever

Lil Baby is also really great at communicating emotion. Like, the emotion of being so fuckin drippy that all of your contemporaries hate on you but they can’t do anything about it because they’re really bad at trappin or other ways of getting rich. We’ve all felt this.

Notable lyric: “wah wah wah bitch i’m lil baby”

10 | Mitski – Be the Cowboy

AHHHHHHHHHH FUCK ME UP. The wounds are still too fresh to get into this, but damn, girl, same.

9 | Mom Jeans. – Puppy Love

Full disclosure: I wasn’t the biggest fan of Mom Jeans. as a band. As a fashion item, I love ’em. Y’all, keep it up. I think this album just hit me at the right time and quickly climbed up my list. I love relating to people who feel like they ruin everything good for themselves. WOW!

8 | Soccer Mommy – Clean

Two moms back to back, what am I my search history?!? Folks,, , Soccer Mommy is extremely good. Her video for “Your Dog” is extremely weird, but my kinda weird. It also is the riff of the year to me. The riff is subtle, rich, and emotional, and that’s a good way to describe this dope ass album.

7 | Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!

This is by far my favorite Parquet Courts record. IT MOVES. That’s the only word I’ve got for it right now, but it moves moves moves moves. I almost always want to hit play on it again after a single play through. These guys are currently residing in their mf bag.

6 | Vein – Errorzone

Hell yeah, baby, you know what time it is. It’s time to drink exactly one beer, put this record on, and dream about becoming the most brutal version of myself. It’s pretty clear that over the years my fascination with newer hardcore or metal has decreased. It started to feel the same, and any bands doing anything interesting were in the extremes. I’m brutal, but not that brutal. Bands like Vein make being brutal fun again even if you’re a little scared while you’re listening to it. I mean, look at this album artwork. YUCKY!

5 | BlocBoy JB – Simi

BLOCBOY GAVE US “SHOOT” AND THE SHOOT DANCE. HE GAVE US “ROVER.” HE GAVE US “LOOK ALIVE.” HE GAVE US “NIKE SWOOSH.” HE GAVE US “WAIT.” AN ALBUM FULL OF TAY KEITH PRODUCTION?!?!?!?!?!?!? THIS WAS A BLESSING IN A YEAR OF CURSES. GOD BLESS TENNESSEE.

T H A N K   Y O U

4 | Tiny Moving Parts – Swell

I love trios where the guitarist is just singing and playing his ass off. Outside of their technical proficiency, I think this is TMP’s best album to date. Lots of great noodling. Lots of dank feels.

3 | Travis Scott – Astroworld

This was probably one of the biggest rap records of the year. So, I don’t have much to say past what everyone else has said about it. It’s an incredible way to start your day.

2 | Beach Bunny – Prom Queen

All right. This is the release that made getting through my breakup a little easier. I know you all wanted to know. It’s only 5-tracks, and four of them hit like a mother fucker if you’ve been broken up with recently. I was lucky enough to see Beach Bunny play with Remo Drive, and it was beautiful to see this scene rally around Lili and support her amazing voice and music.

1 | Lucy Dacus – Historian

I had a strong feeling this was going to be my favorite album of the year the second I was done with my first play through. Lucy Dacus is an incredible songwriter, and she really put her elbow into this one. It’s gut-wrenching and relevant to anyone just trying to find their way through life and love. This is probably one of my favorite albums of the last ten years. Period. I’m absolutely mad about Historian.

SPOTIFY PLAYLIST AYYYY!

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/tehdago/playlist/7GWQ37nJAjp7MaftzaPf3B

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Playing Favorites 2017

tenor
RIP

You’d think after 8 years of making these lists I’d be tired of it. Wrong! WRONG! I WILL NEVER STOP POSTING.

This paragraph was going to be about how messed up this year has been, but honestly, you don’t need the reminder. Things suck for a lot of us, especially the marginalized in this country.

Anyway, this year in music provided an absolutely stellar soundtrack for an absolutely shit year. Be it because of Spotify or the increased inter-connectivity of every day life, I feel much more plugged in to so many different types of music these days. This might be the most diverse end-of-year list I’ve put together. MAYBE!

I did something different with this year’s list. Nic dared me to rank my favorite albums this year. I usually list them by release date, but she called me a cuck or something so now I have to do it. So, here are my favorite albums ranked in my favorite-ness. In the comments or Twitter or Facebook or whatever, let me know your 2017 faves! I love learning about stuff I completely missed out on because I was too busy listening to one of twenty political podcasts that all have the same opinion.

If you want to skip all this and just jam out, there is a Spotify playlist of all of my favorite albums this year, not just the top 20 in the link above and embedded at the bottom of this post.

PS: There are always some albums that I learn about late that I wish I could add to this list after-the-fact. Last year’s is definitely Sturgill Simpson’s record. That shit was rull nice. Okay. ONTO THE LIST.

Check out faves lists from 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016

20. Daniel Caesar – Freudian

This kid has it all. I love the tone of his voice, and the beat/musical choices on Freudian just sound rich and neatly put together. This album is just a lot of great choices put together, and it shows. I’m not the biggest R&B fan, but this is definitely up my alley. Definitely give this album a shot if you haven’t yet.

19. Chinese Football – Here comes a new challenger

Uhhh… look I try not being that weird guy who tries to convince you to listen to Chinese emo music, but if you’ve spoken to me in the last two years, it’s pretty likely I’ve brought up this band. Please listen to them. I would die if they came to the United States.

18. Charly Bliss – Guppy

Nic discovered this band and knew it would BE MY SHIT. It isn’t higher up the list I think because I got into it later in the year compared to some of the other stuff on this list, but I love her voice, the hooks are SPOT ON, and Charly Bliss can sound so small and so big all in the same tune, which is no easy feat. Perfect band is perfect.

17. Girlpool – Powerplant

I wasn’t a big fan of Girlpool’s first record. I thought there was something there, but it never really vibed with me. I went into the new Girlpool album expecting a lot of the same, but I was blown away. They transformed from this twangy, weird two piece band to a group with a big ole sound with a lot of texture. I really love this record. It sounds like a fall day in your friend’s parents’ house.

16. 21 Savage – Issa Album

Every 21 Savage album could double as accompanying material for a Scared Straight program. 21’s real menace is in how calmly he explains how he’s going to murder you or friends if you mess with him or his friends. The beats are always fire. Every 21 punchline should be followed by a nervous chuckle. He also sings a little bit on this record, and I think it’s pretty great. Amber Rose has been good for him.

15. GoldLink – At What Cost

By far, this is one of the coolest albums on this list. Laid back and funky as hell, this record does a lot of things right. “Crew” is probably my song of the year, even though that track was released in 2016.

 

14. A$AP Ferg – Still Striving

Doing anything while listening to this album makes whatever you’re doing like 20 times better. That’s not just math. That’s science. That’s theology. That’s physics. That’s everything. This album GOES. Also, how GREAT is this artwork? You know exactly what you’re getting yourself into before you hit play. No jokes.

13. Big Thief – Capacity

I usually don’t listen to anything considered “folk” (really?) music, if we’re being 100. It’s usually too slow or just sleepy for me. Something about this Big Thief album captured my interest. I went back through their discography after listening to Capacity for about a month straight. It’s also very good.

12. Football Etc. – Corner

I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that if Football Etc. puts out an album, it’s going to end up on my year-end list. I’m a Footie Etc. stan. That’ll never end. Saw them for my birthday this year, and it was amazing. Just go listen.

11. Big K.R.I.T. – 4eva is a Mighty Long Time

I’ve been a huge KRIT fan for a long time, and the last couple of releases were really underwhelming for lots of reasons. Now that he’s independent, this might be his strongest “album” if not a close second. I was skeptical about how Big KRIT could keep a 22-song double album cohesive and musically interesting. I really shouldn’t have doubted him. He got some production help this time around, and I think the different perspectives really helped this record be what it is. ALSO SUBENSTEIN IS NOW A HALLOWEEN BANGER DON’T TELL ME DIFFERENT.

10. St. Vincent – MASSEDUCTION

I feel like St. Vincent/Annie Clark is on another plane right now. I’ve loved her work for years, but I think all of that hardwork and craftmanship she poured into her earlier works has culminated in MASSEDUCTION. This album sounds rich as hell. Conceptually and in its execution this record has very few bumps in the road and just nails it.

9. SZA – Ctrl

Been a fan of SZA’s since her first EP, and I was really excited for her album to drop. It felt like it never would. When Ctrl finally dropped, it immediately felt like a pretty drastic departure from her earlier stuff. I might have been projecting or mis-remembering, but I didn’t really dig it until about the third listen. Then I GOT IT. This album really takes a hold of you and never lets go. I love it. TDE wins again (despite all of the back and forth and fighting over this album and the frustrating indecision from a lot of people especially SZA).

8. Paramore – After Laughter

Y’all, I’m as surprised as y’all are. Paramore’s rebrand was a lot to take in as an avowed Riot era Paramore stan, but DAMN THIS ALBUM KNOCKS. Hayley and co. really outdid themselves on this record with all the smooth ass production and catchy singles. The ’80s vibes are something I never thought I’d get out of this band or ever get into again — it’s 2017, people! The honesty of Hayley’s writing is really refreshing and not cliche at all. That’s really hard to do on pop/rock records imo.

7. Gucci Mane – Droptopwop

My two word review: HELL YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAHAHAHHAHHAHAHAHHHHHHAHAHAAHHHHH

 

 

6. Playboi Carti  – Playboi Carti

This record was a guilty pleasure for me for a while. I feel like Carti represents a lot of what people think is “wrong” with hip hop. I really shouldn’t care, but Carti’s music just grew on me. Every track on this thing is magic.

 

5. Future – FUTURE/HNDRXX

Future is a scumbag. There’s no getting around that. BUT… I will always prefer someone who embraces that they’re not shit over someone who denies it. Future’s, non-official double album is full of all out bangers and Future singing about being the worst. Look, if singing Future is good enough for Cher, it’s good enough for me.

4. Migos – Culture 

I wouldn’t say this album is immaculate, but it’s pretty close. It’s Migos at the peak of their powers. I don’t know if they’re ever going to be able to replicate both the energy of this album and the cultural moments that their tracks/videos created. This album was a perfect storm. Even if you don’t like it, remember that is gave us this video.

3. J.I.D – The Never Story

I’ll just put it this way. J. Cole isn’t even the best rapper on his label. It’s J.I.D by a large margin. J.I.D’s The Never Story hits me in every part of my soul from the I-HAD-TO-STRUGGLE-ALL-MY-LIFE anthems to the melancholy love songs that really bring this album down to earth. Most importantly, J.I.D can spit. I love this release, and I can’t wait for more J.I.D

2. Remo Drive – Greatest Hits

Every song on this album knocks. Pop punk goodness radiates off these kids. They’re so good for their age, and I really hope they keep it up. The punk world needs their energy and creativity.

 

 

1. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.

DUH.

 

 

 

 

There’s a lot more than 20 artists on this playlist, but these are the albums I really liked this year. Let me know what you liked and thing that I missed!

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/tehdago/playlist/1zkrVO1n84mjmFjPUx02k8

Playing Favorites 2016

I told you I was back. Since my first blog post of the year back in July, I’ve blogged a total of 0(!) times. Yes, baby! We did it! Despite my lack of “stick-to-it-iveness” and my inability to “get right,” I’m back for my annual end-of-year list. I know, you’re probably like, “Damn, what makes Dago’s list better than all the other lists out there. It’s almost like we’re at list critical mass, and Dago’s a nobody. Why should I listen to him?” I’ll tell you why — also, ouch, that’s mean. I’m probably your friend, and if you had an end-of-year list, I would read it. Honest. I would. Mhm. 

2016 has been a wild ass year. The earth continues to burn up. Our heroes are dying at an alarming rate. Unarmed people of color kept getting shot by police with no consequences. The Warriors, Cleveland I-words, and Hillary Clinton all blew a 3-1 lead. I ruptured my Achilles’ tendon, which was probably hard for a lot of you. One of the few redeemable things about this godforsaken year has been its music.

What follows is a list of my 20 favorite albums of the year ordered by release date. To clarify, these are my favorites. If you disagree, tight. Let me know how much you disagree by following me on all social media and @’ing me once about it on Twitter. I’ll fave that tweet, and I probably won’t respond.

At the end of this list, there’s a Spotify playlist with selections from my Top 20 and songs from the other albums that didn’t make the cut but loved anyway. The extra tracks were on albums that were really great, but choices have to be made for the sake of the blog.

Check out faves lists from 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015

Anderson .Paak Malibu

I hadn’t heard of Anderson .Paak until this year, but AP has been releasing music for the better part of 4 years now. Malibu is one of the most critically acclaimed records of the year and for good reason. Anderson .Paak is a musical polyglot who strips down his varied influences to create something beautiful, heartfelt, and well crafted.

Kanye West The Life of Pablo

Saying Kanye has had quite the year is an understatement. I hope he gets well as soon as possible. My first experience with this album in its entirety came from a bootleg of the MSG show. I was out on a walk when I found the Soundcloud link. I hit play and almost immediately started crying. Those first 8 tracks are legendary. TLOP has its highs and lows, but it sure as hell was not dull.

Pinegrove Cardinal

Who knew emo country was a thing? This is my favorite non-Beyoncé, non-Chance the Rapper album of the year. A lot of the storytelling on this album reminds me of my tumultuous early-20s navigating my way through relationships and trying to figure myself out. It’s nice to know you’re not alone. Lyrical content aside, the musicianship on this album is really noteworthy. I would kill for these dudes’ guitar tone.

Young Thug Slime Season 3

Discussing Young Thug on Twitter is just asking for a fight. Some people want him banished from the planet and others, like me, admire his music, brashness, and playfulness. Young Thug is the gift that keeps on giving in a growing world of one-hit wonder rappers and artists. Slime Season is packed with quotables and incredible production.

Beyoncé Lemonade

This one time Beyoncé decided to be the best at EVERY GENRE. One of those genres was country. The Country Music Awards invited her to come on and with the help of the Dixie Chicks, Beyoncé solved all of our life’s problems for 6:15. This album’s been dissected to death, but it deserves all the praise and dissection tbh.

Skepta Konnichiwa

The last time grime was hot this side of the pond, I was too busy trying to be the most obnoxious college freshman of all time to know what the hell was going on. In 2016, grime has made a resurgence on the back of Skepta and his BBK brand. Konnichiwa is a frenetic album that’s half anthology of tracks that had been floating around for a while and new stuff. Konnichiwa is a triumphant album that set Skepta apart as not only one of the best grime artists out now but one of my favorite rappers.

Kaytradana 99.9%

Hey, your boy just loves to vibe out sometimes. Kaytradana provides a really great blueprint for that with 99.9%. I tend to not listen to a lot of dance music, but Kaytradana does a really great job of mixing genres, feels, and features to create a more diverse and interesting album that many of his counterparts.

Chance the Rapper Coloring Book 

So much has been written about Chance this year. I don’t have much to add. Here’s a couple of things. 1) TLOP and Coloring Book both out at the same time made me question my lack of faith for enough time that maybe a little bit of the Holy Spirit slipped in. IDK! 2) My favorite line is the one where he talks about giving Satan a swirlie.

This is a message to those of you who don’t like Coloring Book: YOU HAVE TO TELL ME IF YOU’RE A COP IT’S THE LAW

The Hotelier Goodness

this is emo af fam lmao

PUP The Dream is Over

The moment I realized that maybe I wasn’t some washed up old piece of crap was when one of the kids from Stranger Things turned out to be a PUP fan. I was way too excited to hear that news. The Dream is Over is a nearly perfect mix of their already established punk as fuck sensibilities with fun as fuck gang vocals and catchy as fuck riffs and melodies.

YG Still Brazy

YG unwittingly gave us the political anthem of 2016 that we thought we wouldn’t need past early November. In my heart, YG is the other Bing of Balifornia alongside Bendrick Lamar. I know YG relies heavily on a nostalgic west boast sound at the moment, but I feel like he has the tools to break out of that and give us something different the next time around.

Sidenote: I like to think YG is such a goddamn G that no one had the guts to tell him that the word is bollected instead of bollective.

Blood Orange Freetown Sound

Blood Orange is probably one of the most surprising artists to end up on my list. I think it speaks to the influence the internet has had in expanding my musical taste. I don’t think I would have listened to this album at all let alone fall in love with it 5 years ago. This album is a treat front to back. Shit. It’ll make you dance AND think. Hmm.

Gucci Mane Everybody Looking

Gucci Mane hit the ground running after his release from prison. He’s spit heat all year even landing himself his first #1 song with his feature on “Black Beatles”. Being completely honest, I didn’t listen to a lot of Gucci before this year. I could never get into his stuff, but Everybody Looking changed my outlook on the dude. I’m glad he’s out, and I wish him nothing but the best.

Field Mouse Episodic

THE DREAM OF THE ’90S IS ALIVE AND WELL WITH FIELD MOUSE

Angel Olsen MY WOMAN

Another genre I had no business listening to many years ago “psychedelic country,” according to the internet. I love Angel Olsen’s haunting voice, her storytelling, her songwriting. MY WOMAN is a true display of Angel Olsen’s prowess as an artist.

Solange A Seat at the Table

Solange’s Seat at the Table is on everyone’s best of list this year, usually somewhere between #1 and #5. It’s a thoughtful, well-crafted album. A Seat at the Table feels like a love letter to black women in a time where it’s very understandable to feel overwhelmed and undermined by a society and government designed to silence your voice. Solange is magic.

Joyce Manor Cody

Joyce Manor is probably one of my favorite bands at the moment. They mix all of my favorite things. Guitar, songs about growing up/relationships, weird music videos, a dude that sounds like Kermit the Frog. But that’s none of my business.

Jeff Rosenstock Worry

Lowkey Jeff’s been dropping gems for years with his various projects and solo stuff, but Worry might be the first time he’s put it all together at the same time for me. Worry is full of fast and furious songs about what a fuck up he is. Same. I will be listening to it well into 2017.

You Blew It! Abendrot

There were times during my first few listens of this record that I was super pissed at You Blew It! for releasing better American Football songs in 2016 than American Football. Abendrot is a welcome addition to an already impressive body of work.

Bruno Mars 24K

This is about as pop as it gets, folks. Everything on this album is a sweet little nuggets of nostalgic pop goodness, and I’m not mad at it at all. 24K borrows a lot from the current trend of funk-infused pop that felt like it hit its zenith with Mark Ronson’s most recent album and “Uptown Funk”. Going further, Bruno Mars’s 24K draws in influences from ’80s and ’90s R&B and pop to create a 9-track tribute to beautiful women and overspending.

Hey! Hi! Here’s that playlist!

Playing Favorites 2015

tpab albumYou might be asking yourself, “Damn, does Dago ever get tired of no one reading his lists?” The obvious answer is “No.” I’m back after a year away from my beloved, shitty blog dedicated to my distaste for candy and fear of El Cucuy.

If you didn’t know, every year I write a lil bloggy-poo about my favorite albums/releases of the year. The list isn’t ever too long. This year, it’s 20 releases by a really diverse set of artists, if I do say so myself. 

On a personal note, 2015 was a really difficult year for me. Music was a big part of me getting through a lot of the stress related to my mom’s situation and a new job. It gave me something to look forward to and lose myself in, while everything around felt like it was crumbling down. That being said, this is just a list of my favorite. This isn’t the BEST list or the ONLY list out there. Let me know what some of your favorites were in the comments or on Twitter

Check out lists from 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 

Alright. For the sake of brevity, I made a Spotify playlist for y’all to subscribe to. It contains a single song from every album I mention here. The playlist is located right under this text. You can just listen to the playlist and forego the whole reading my explanation/feelings about each release. 


Rae Sremmurd – SremmLife

I think every adult I know now doesn’t like Rae Sremmurd, but that’s too bad because that just means MORE. RAE. SREMMURD. FOR. ME. Also, how dare you?

It took me about 9 months to be able to say their name correctly. Despite their stupid name, Rae Sremmurd are one of my favorite rap groups/duos at the moment. They’re fun as hell and their energy shines through on stage and on wax.

They gave us so many quotable tracks that it’s hard to pick just one to pick out as the best, but my personal favorite is “Wear my hat to the front, yea, like I drive a truck.” BARS. They single-handedly revitalized the trucking industry. God bless Mike WiLL Made-It. (Released January 6) 

Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

I was a reluctant Drake fan at first, I swear, y’all, but you can’t argue the hits. Even Drake’s “throwaway” songs and beats are a cultural marker these days. If You’re Reading This… took a lot of getting used to musically. It was a departure from Nothing Was the Same, but after a few listens, I found myself softly murmuring “runnin through the 6 with my woes” while walking around the office. (Released February 13) 

Adventures – Supersonic Home

Adventures is one of my favorite bands to make their debut in the last 5 years. This, their debut full-length album, is a great representation of their evolution as a band over the past few years. They run the post-hardcore gamut in 10 songs. From aggressive highs to pensive lows, Supersonic Home has just about everything you’d want a record to have. (Released February 17)

 Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

For me, this is the most important album of 2015. To Pimp a Butterfly (TPAB) is a look into the mind of a man at the height of his artistic powers trying to find a way to send a message of love and hope to a community facing violence and discrimination, while he is struggling with bouts of self-loathing and doubt. TPAB is a complex, heartbreaking, and empowering album that perfectly captures a moment in time when frustration over systemic violence and racism was boiling over into the streets.

Aside from its important emotional and political power, TPAB set itself apart from other widely popular rap albums at the time. Gone was the production of Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City (GKMC). TPAB works in a lot more jazz influence and live instruments. This sound may have ben off-putting to a lot of the fans that he picked up during GKMC, but this album wasn’t for them. It was for him. It was for a community. (Released March 15)

The Long Knives – This is Your Life

This is the only EP on this list, and it makes me SO ANGRY THAT THIS ISN’T AN ALBUM. Okay, not really, but it’s a gorgeous project that blends both sweet and powerful female-led vocals over expertly crafted pop punk. (Released April 7)

Alabama Shakes – Sound and Color

Being 💯 I didn’t like Alabama Shakes before this record. I don’t know why I didn’t. It didn’t make sense. I started doubting myself. I gave Sound and Color a try because of peer pressure. This time around, it clicked. Brittany Howard is a force to be reckoned with, and this album is a dynamic piece of music that doesn’t get ambitious to the point of losing the listener. Musically, it’s nestled nicely in a pocket where Brittany can deliver her beautiful, powerful voice and story. (Released April 21)

Braids – Deep in the Iris

I’m very stupid and had a grudge against Braids because once they tricked me into thinking BRAID was going to be at SXSW in like 2012 or something. I was like, “Oh, shit, they misspelled BRAID, that’ll be fixed, and we can live happily ever after with this reunion tour thingie.” But it wasn’t a mistake, and it was BraidS after all. I was so mad. (Released April 28)

Sorority Noise – Joy, Departed

If not for K. Dot, this would be my favorite album of the year. It feels like Sorority Noise came out of nowhere with this album. Their last album Forgettable was solid, but it lacked Joy, Departed‘s cohesiveness. Cohesiveness is a feat considering this is one of the most stylistically diverse emo records I’ve heard in a while. (Released June 16)

Kacey Musgraves – Pageant Material

This might be the real surprise pick in this whole group of albums.

Reasons why I shouldn’t like this album

1) It’s County/Western music (is that what it’s called idk)

2-5) Reason 1 over and over again.

Reasons why I did like this album

1) Kacey Musgraves has BARS.

2) K-Gravy has the voice of a Texan angel that just told me that everything is going to be alright and handed me a Lone Star.

3) Willie Nelson fucks with her, and I live in Austin. So, like, I have to.

4) She’s from Texas. Uh duh.

5) She’s got a powerful message that a lot of people need to hear. “Mind your own biscuits, and life will be gravy.”

 (Released June 23)

The Internet – Ego Death

As a lot of you already know, I really love the Internet. From “WHAT ARE THOSE?!” to crying Jordan face, the Internet is pretty great. What’s also pretty great is the band that they named the Internet after — The Internet — put out another wonderful album this year. This album is full of sexy, hypnotic tracks that would be perfect for you to play as background music to your sexyyyyy voicemail greeting. (Released June 26)

Future – DS2

All four Canonical Gospels state that during Future’s Best Year Ever with his disciples, Future predicted that Dago would deny knowledge of him, stating that Dago would disown him before DS2 dropped that summer. Following the success of Future, Dago denied knowing him thrice (Monster, Beast Mode, 56 Nights) , but after the third denial, Dago heard DS2 and recalled the prediction as Future turned to look at him. Dago then began to cry bitterly. This final incident is known as the Repentance of Dago. (Source: Wikipedia)

(Released July 17)

Donovan Wolfington – How to Treat the Ones You Love

If someone asked me what I like about the current state of punk, I would hand them this album. This project does circus tricks stylistically. It goes from teen-friendly pop punk to stoner metal seamlessly in the blink of an eye without becoming a boring exercise or forced. (Released July 31)

Lianne La Havas – Blood

I’m notorious for not caring what someone’s voice sounds like, but Lianne La Havas has one of my new favorite voices in the game right now. Her voice can jump from vulnerable to empowered in a split second, and the emotion she pours into her music shines through in her gorgeously arranged music. (Released July 31)

Future x Drake – What a Time to Be Alive

I’m not a scientist, but radio waves containing WATTBA are hurtling through space to unknown planets and galaxies right now. One day, other life on the other side of our dying universe will hear “Jumpman” and “Diamonds Dancing.” These intelligent beings will build spacecraft and search through galaxies for the origins of these transmissions. They will find us. They will land their ships on our planet. They will open their doors, and their first words to us earthlings will most likely be a high-pitched “I don’t want no liquor cause I been drinking that dirty.” All earthlings will respond with “Sensational.” (Released September 20)

The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die – Harmlessness

I might be the only person on Earth that thinks The World is… have a dope name. Harmlessness takes the personalities of it’s 2,000 members and combines them into a polished, sophisticated album that is entirely unique and digestible. It’s hard to imagine this is the same band that released Formlessness some 5 years ago. I fucking love this record. (Released September 25)

Deafheaven – New Bermuda

There is almost no metal on this list compared to years past, and I don’t know what to say to that except that Deafheaven is the only metal band that has stuck out to me this year as exceptional. (Released October 2)

 Bryson Tiller – T R A P S O U L

This album is so sexy. I’m getting uncomfortable looking at the title. OMG  I HAVE TO GO (Released October 2)

Foxing – Dealer

This is an album I would hand someone if they were going through a tough time. The songwriting on Dealer is serious without being cheesy. The album sonically accompanies the sincerity and pain in the lyrics beautifully. It’s warm and welcomes you in like an old friend. No one else sounds like Foxing. (Released October 30)

Beach Slang – The Things We Do

Beach Slang sounds like if the Gin Blossoms and Jawbreaker had a cute baby that everyone wanted to play with. (Released October 30)

Logic – The Incredible True Story

GUYS, THIS ACTUALLY ISN’T A TRUE STORY EARTH IS NOT DEAD AND WE ARE NOT TRAVELING THE GALAXY IN SPACESHIPS ATM. The Incredible True Story is an ambitious sci-fi, hip-hop hybrid thing that turned out to be a pretty great concept album from a guy that’s finally getting noticed for his rapping ability and the great songs he’s putting together. Under Pressure might be one of my favorite rap albums of the past few years, and The Incredible True Story might be just as good. (Released November 13)

Playing Favorites 2014

a0748811866_10Hey, y’all, it’s that time of year again. I’m dusting off the old blog, and I’m going to share my favorite music releases of the year. Just for clarification I consider a release anything from a 7″, EP, LP, or a mixtape. Pretty much everything is eligible unless it’s just single solitary song. Last year, I tried the whole song list thing, but it wasn’t me. If you want a decent list of those, go visit Nic’s blog. She’s a song person.

Check out lists from 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013

Alright. For the sake of brevity, I made a Spotify playlist for y’all to subscribe to. It contains a single song from every album I mention here. The playlist is located right under this text. You can just listen to the playlist and forego the whole reading my explanation/feelings about each release. Note: There are two releases from Sport and Human Hands that are not on Spotify that made the end of year list. Embedded frames for their albums from Bandcamp can be found later in this post.

Another clarification, these are my favorites. Don’t get upset with me when your faves not on here. Okay?


Beyoncé – BEYONCÉ

This album came out two weeks before 2014, and it didn’t make my 2013 list because it was released so damn late. This is the first Beyoncé album I loved. There is not a skippable song on this thing, and it might be the best thing to happen to the Internet/world since the polio vaccine. I don’t know. Jury’s still out on that.


 

Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again

I actually didn’t like Joyce Manor when I first heard them a year or two again. I was so surprised when friends of mine were reaching out to me to tell me how great this album was. I fell in love upon first listen. It’s a perfect mix of emotion, solid songwriting, and catchy hooks.


 

Weatherbox – Flies In All Directions

It’s rare to find bands that pay a lot of attention to the dynamics in their music, especially in the “punk” genre. Weatherbox draw you in and blow you away in the span of a single song. It’s really fantastic to see live. I suggest catching them if they roll through your town.


 

Childish Gambino – Kauai/STN MTN

Childish Gambino just went ahead and answered all of his critics with these two joint mixtapes. Kauai is a solid solid release that highlights Donald’s ability to write a great song with personality. STN MTN  feels like a big middle finger to his critics who say he isn’t real enough or street enough. He did the same stuff a lot of rappers are getting tons of credit for in hip hop but better and with more passion. I’m officially a Gambino fan, guys. It finally happened.


 

Two Knights – Shut Up

I love watching this band live. Seriously. Go see them. You can see my head in the back in this video.


 

Isaiah Rashad – Cilvia Demo

I’m definitely excited to see what Mr. Rashad has ahead of him. He’s definitely got the skills to make something of himself.


 

Donovan Wolfington – Scary Stories You Tell in the Dark

Young and energetic are a couple of things I am no more. DW definitely use their youthful exuberance to bring a special kind of light to their music that’s missing from a lot of emo bands at the moment. I’m very excited to see what they do in the future.


 

The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace Is There

I’m trying not to play favorites with my favorites, but this is definitely a top 5 if not top 3 release for me this year, and I just heard this album this month. I couldn’t believe I missed its release earlier this year. I’m about 10 months late, but I don’t care. This shit bangs.


 

Big K.R.I.T. – Cadillactica

Mount Olympus was the Star Wars trailer of music this year. I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I just wanted to hear it over and over again. I was so hype. This album is that feeling in a 17-song pod. Jesus. Thank


 

Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2

One of the top albums of the year for a lot of people. This thing is propulsive as hell. You can’t help but dance to RTJ2.


 

Logic – Under Pressure

I was a big fan of this guy’s cypher during the BET Hip Hop Awards this year. It was one of the few bright spots of the entire awards ceremony. I really wanted to check his music out, but I didn’t really know where to start with his discography. Luckily, this album came out shortly after the

BET Hip Hop Awards aired. It’s really a mix of a lot of my favorite things about hip hop at the moment. I strongly recommend listening to this album.


 

Dads – I’ll Be the Tornado

Another emo band. I can’t help myself.


 

empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate) – You Will Eventually Be Forgotten

Empire! Empire! are one of my favorite band. I’ve been anticipating their second LP for a while now. Although it doesn’t hit the heights of What It Takes to Move Forward, it’s a very good record.


 

Dikembe – Mediumship

Dikembe’s sound has changed pretty extensively over the past few years in my opinion. With every release, their sound evolves. Mediumship is the next chapter, and I’m really interested in how they got here from Chicago Bowls. Someone ask them for me.


 

Restorations – LP3

They remind me of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band without the horns and with more punch.


 

Dad Punchers and The Exquisites Split 7″

Dad Punchers wrote the emo song of the millennium for this split. Literally every emo kid that finds this song covers it.


 

Schoolboy Q – Oxymoron

Not going to lie. This album didn’t really meet the lofty expectations I had for it. That might be partly my fault. That doesn’t mean this album isn’t a really fun listen. There are some questionable song choices on this thing, but for the most part, this is a strong release.


 

SZA – Z

Another TDE release. I’m starting to sound like a gd fanboy, but I don’t care. This is a really interesting sound release in a genre that I’m not too familiar with, if we’re being honest.


 

You Blew It! – Keep Doing What You’re Doing

I’m still waiting for You Blew It! to release a bad album or even a mediocre album. Hell, even their cover albums are fantastic. All hail You Blew it!


 

Joie De Vivre/Prawn Split

Probably my favorite all around split of the year, Prawn and Joie De Vivre really put some of their best work together for this release.


 

SPORT – Bon Voyage

A French punk band, y’all. They’re sooooooo damn good.


 

Human Hands – s/t lp

I couldn’t buy or download this album for some reason. It wasn’t available to anyone in the US. I commented on a Facebook post about this album mentioning that, and someone from the band reached out to me and sent it to me for free. That’s so goddamn punk and amazing. I couldn’t believe it. Thanks to the people in Human Hands. Your album rules, and it got me through a lot of shit.


 

My Favorite Songs of 2013

I THOUGHT I'D PROBABLY DIE IN PRISON

It’s the time of year again! Everyone’s lists are coming out, and you can’t wait to read them. I know you can’t wait. I see it in your eyes. Look at you. These are my favorite songs of the year. I usually do albums, but I thought I’d change it up a bit this year. Honestly, though, I have the habit of listening to albums all the way through. I normally don’t listen to one or two songs from an album. So, this is kinda like an album of the year list. 

ANYWAY, I’m in no way saying these are the best songs of the year. I know I listen to some intolerable shit. I hope you enjoy this list and maybe find something that interests you. These are in no particular order. Oh, also, I only had 16 songs in my first list, but I made it a round 20 for dat azz. 

Oh, and I’m going to read this list and talk more at length about it on a podcast I co-host with my girlfriend — Breakfast for Dinner Podcast

Past years’ lists 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012

Adventures “Promise” Clear My Head With You

Saw these beautiful people in their more metal incarnation, Code Orange Kids, at Fun Fun Fun Fest this year. I was sorta hoping they would just slide right into one of their songs as Adventures, but that was a fool’s wish. Their EP Clear My Head With You is one of my favorite punk releases of the year.

 

The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die “Picture of a Tree That Doesn’t Look Okay” Whenever, If Ever

There’s so much to love about this band. The dynamics, the builds, the atypical song-writing, all of it is just spectacular. TWIABP has definitely matured over the years, and I would say their LP Whenever, If Ever is the most impressive release of this band’s career. I will say that this music video looks like an iTunes visualization setting. There’s that.

Football, etc. “Down the Field” Football, Etc/Plaids Split

Not only are they based out of my hometown, footy, etc. are some of the most consistent performers in the emo scene right now. This track isn’t from their new LP Audible. It’s from their seemingly unheralded 7″ split with Plaids. They’re a mix of Rainer Maria and Mineral. Lindsey’s voice is so beautiful and sincere.

Joey Bada$$ ft. Smoke DZA “Death of YOLO” Summer Knights

Definitely one of my favorite rappers. The kid is trying to make it on his own, and I think 2014 could be a big year for him. He released Summer Knights with a lot of anticipation behind it, and I think he delivered. This is probably my favorite song from that record.

Kanye West “Blood on the Leaves” Yeezus

You ain’t got the answers, Sway.

Action Bronson ft. Wiz Khalifa “The Rockers” SAAB Stories 

Action’s had a great year. He released SAAB Stories and Blue Chips 2 this calendar yearBlue Chips 2 is a wild ride through Action’s very serious flowing chops whereas SAAB Stories feels more like a polished album with aptly-timed highs and lows. I love this track’s beat and Bronsonlinho’s smooth delivery. Wiz Khalifa tries his best to ruin this song, but he can’t ruin EVERY feature he does.

Danny Brown “Handstand” Old

This is easily one of my favorite songs of the year and one of my favorite releases of the year. Danny gives us two sides of his complex persona in this record. Side A is really raw, hood stuff. Side B is bass-heavy and twerk-ready (Sorry for using that word). I love it all. I wanna walk down the aisle to this song, y’all.

Chance the Rapper “Juice” Acid Rap

Hands down top mixtape of the year. Got some getting used to, but this thing is as solid as anyone’s album this year. If you don’t already know this cat, go and get Acid Rap. It’s FOR FREE.

R. Kelly “My Story” Black Panties

I love his music, but finally I’m learning to dislike the man. Some things you can’t look past. That aside, I love this song.

Speedy Ortiz “Hitch” Major Arcana

I have a soft spot for this type of garage, languid 90s-era alternative rock. It reminds me of a more melodic Sonic Youth meets a female-led Nirvana with a tinge of Pavement. I dig the sound. I know it may be a bit derivative, but I’m 27 almost 28. I’m allowed to be a bit nostalgic.

Little Big League “Lindsey” These Are Good People

When I first played this song for Nicole in the house and told her how much I loved it, she looked at me like I was crazy. She couldn’t believe I would like something like this, but I think of it as a natural progression in my listening taste. This song has beautiful, intricate guitar work. It’s dynamic. It has really cool breakdowns. It’s got a lot of the elements I love in a good song. This song keeps moving and keeps you guessing. I love her voice too. Although, it can sometimes feel a big grating. Oh, and the lower end backup vocals near the end of the tune are really great. Reminds me of Guns ‘n’ Roses. #dadrock

James Blake ft. Chance the Rapper “Life Round Here” 

To be honest, I didn’t really get Chance when I first listened to him, but after I heard this track, I decided to give him another shot. I’ve not regretted it yet. This is one of the best tracks of the year for me, and I gained an appreciation for James Blake I never had before. One of the smoothest white dudes on the planet.

A$AP Rocky ft. Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson, Big K.R.I.T. “1Train” Long.Live A$AP

This is this generation’s “Flava In Ya Ear” (Remix). If you don’t know what that is, go listen to that song and come back to this paragraph. Okay. Now that you’re back, every dude on this song had a great 2013. This song has so many dudes featuring on it that haven’t even realized their full potential. It’s an exciting track and every verse has some memorable lines. Favorite moment: “Dick so big it’s like from Earth to Venus” -Danny Brown

Their / They’re / There “Concession Speech Writer” Self-title EP

This is just so damn good. The guitars make me drool. It’s so great to hear Mike Kinsella behind the drums again. Evan’s voice is just magic. Go see them if they’re rolling through your town. They’ve had two releases this year. You should pick both up post-haste.

Drake “Worst Behaviour” Nothing Was the Same

I know what you’re going to say. So, save it. Drake’s album was really, really good despite his simpin tendencies. “Worst Behaviour” is a glimpse into my favorite phase of Drake. “Stay Schemin'” and “No New Friends” almost made this list, but I thought this was the strongest track out of all of those. The production is fantastic. This video is great too. Totally makes up for the catastrophe that is the “Hold On…” video.

Dad Punchers “Haircut Man” Dad Punchers / The Exquisites Split 7″

This song is emo in its purest form. Beautifully storytelling, kinda shitty vocals, and passion. I almost cried when I heard this track for the first time. Couldn’t find a video that wasn’t an acoustic or live performance.

Mixtapes “I Think I Broke It” Ordinary Silence

Good ole fashioned pop punk done right. Female vocals, dude vocals, axe-grinding guitars, melody. \m/

Title Fight “Hypnotize” Spring Songs EP

I included the full EP in this list because I couldn’t find a YouTube clip that had “Hypnotize” on it. So, here we are. These kids are amazing musicians and are only getting better with time. Saw them twice this year — once at Fun Fun Fun Fest and another in Houston at Fitz — they were phenomenal each time. One of the best bands to go see live. They have a intense energy about them in person.

Diamond Youth “Separator” Orange

This is probably the most uncharacteristically Dago track in this list.

Foxing “Rory” The Albatross

This is a late entry for this list. This is a recent addition to my listening rotation, but The Albatross is definitely one of the most intricate and emotional releases I’ve gotten my hands on this year. Reminds me of Cursive a bit but with a smoother and more expansive sound.

I made a Spofity playlist with most of these songs in it. Subscribe, if it suits your fancy. Thanks for another great year, musicians. Here’s to 2014.

The Wall

As much as I like to play a disinterested fool on the Internet, I’m pretty dang sensitive and probably more than most. I’m a highly idealistic person (not like in an elitist way but in a “everyone’s humanity should be respected” way), and it’s hard for me not to get my heart broken just about every day. I become enraged when I hear about the many innocent people discriminated against, bullied, hurt, and murdered every day in this country because of the color of their skin, their sex/gender identity, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We claim we’re better than that, but we’re not. I won’t list all of them off to you, but the past 18-24 months have been grueling in terms of tragedy in America.

I’ve got outrage/compassion fatigue. I know I’m not the only one. I’m not special.

I’ve been avoiding articles like this one all week because I can’t take anymore. I’m constantly faced with articles and videos in my various feeds on everything from bombings, shootings, murders, rape, various injustices, and the like. I wish I could set a filter in my Tweetdeck for “depressing” to be rid of it for a while, but no one tags their shit as #depressing. [Note to news agencies: Please start doing this.]

I grew up in a tough neighborhood, and for a long time I thought that gave me a special perspective on how to emotionally deal with injustice. It happened around me all the time. Family members were taken from us too soon. Mom constantly was trying to make ends meet while working 2-3 jobs. The legacy of a bloody civil war still looms over the heads of family members. Yet, I don’t think any of that has prepared me for this age of constant sorrow and hate. At least in my youth I still felt joy regularly. At least in adolescence I could still blame the problems of the world on adults. Now, I’m the problem, and I try to do as much good as I can through my work, but how can I make transformative change as one person?

We as a nation, or I guess an Internet community, rarely have moments of great joy or things to celebrate. When we do, there’s always this sinking feeling like it’s an anomaly. This won’t last, and the world will go back to being a sad place full of sad people doing hateful things to us. Someone will find a way to ruin this for us. 1,000 people will make snide, racist remarks about a beautiful brown woman that won Miss America, and they’ll get all the attention instead of focusing on a gorgeous, brilliant person that worked her ass off to achieve her dream.

This is us right now, and I when I think of my youthful desire to grow up and become a part of American society, I grow angry with myself. I am a fool for wanting this, and unfortunately, I’m not that disinterested.

-dago

RIP Jonathan Terrell Image