By Bryan Miller
Originally published on the old KLC Tumblr Blog: December 3, 2016
Editor’s note: Now that 2016 is coming to a close, we wanted to know which records and songs were favorites amongst KLC DJs and board members. Throughout the final weeks of the year, we’ll be posting lists from the KLC staff, and ideally determining the 2016 releases that were most loved by KLC Radio as a whole.
Bryan Miller, a DJ here at KLC, broadcasts his show “The Metal Detector” Thursdays at 3 PM PST. Miller says: “The show focuses on the broad genre of metal. Each week, normally, is a different theme centered on either a specific subgenre or a specific country’s output.”
The Metal Detector’s Top 10 of 2016
Preface: This year, as proclaimed by those who create media and echoed by those who consume media, was terrible. I don’t know how true that is in reality, obviously a lot of people who shouldn’t have suffered did and a lot of people who shouldn’t have prospered did. But a year is not a vacuum in time or space, it is not separate from all that came before it. 2016 did not appear out of nowhere. Anyone who has faced the institutional prejudices and oppression, that so many of us just this year became aware of, could tell you that any of the problems that we love to talk about with outrage and panic have actually existed for longer than most of us have been alive. That being said, good things came from this year as well, good music specifically. It’s important to remember that, like all the issues that faced our society in this year, most of this music did not simply appear from the void. These albums are labors of love that often take a long time to make. If and when you, the reader, chose to listen to any of the music that I recommend, try to let it transport you to a place transcendental of “bad years,” a place where the human condition is revealed as it truly is, something that I’ve always felt is a fundamental purpose of good art. Thank you for taking the time to read this list and all the others compiled by the loyal DJs of KLC. Without further ado, I present 10 albums from 2016, in no particular order, that I would consider to be my favorite.
10. Carl Stone- Electronic Music from the Seventies and Eighties
I have to admit something: though I said that this list would be in no particular order, this is my favorite. For those unfamiliar, Carl Stone is a pioneer in the use of sampling both traditionally musical and nontraditional audio to create long-form experimental pieces. He does this in some of the most incredibly creative and thought provoking ways imaginable. While this is technically a reissuing of several of his older songs, it also contains previously unreleased material that is very worthy of exploration. I could not recommend this highly enough to anyone interested in experimental music.
Favorite Track: Shing Kee
9. Joey Purp- iiiDrops
While the most popular member of the Chicago based Savemoney crew is undeniably Chance the Rapper, it is my humble opinion that to overlook their other members would be a grave mistake. Savemoney is the talented collective featuring Vic Mensa, Towkio, and Leather Corduroys (which is comprised of Joey Purp and Kami). All of these artists have proven at least once that they can each create projects with enough variety and talent to please any listener, but I would posit that their best release of this eventful summer would be Joey Purp’s iiiDrops. The songs show an impressive range in style but remain consistently headnod-worthy, while Purp’s flow grows increasingly infectious throughout the album.
Favorite Track: Godbody
8. Japanese Breakfast- Psychopomp
I first heard of Michelle Zauner’s inventive, Cranberries-influenced band when I went to see a Porches show at the Analog Cafe in September. Since then I’ve been nothing but obsessed with their brief yet powerful debut album. Zauner’s voice has a clarity and strength unlike any I’ve heard in recent years, but beyond that it carries a vulnerability that lends a truly unique quality to the music. There’s really not more to say besides the fact that there’s no reason not to like this album.
Favorite Track: Jane Cum
7. Xiu Xiu- Xiu Xiu Plays the Music of Twin Peaks
I’ve been a Xiu Xiu fan since Angel Guts was released last year, but before this semester I had never delved deep into their back catalogue. This was why I was initially surprised to find out that they were putting out this album. It became clear to me, through a little digging, that Xiu Xiu not only are able to deftly transform another artist’s music into their own — they often produce their best work when doing so. In the canon of Xiu Xiu’s albums Nina and Die Die! You 80’s Obsessed Pinocchio!, Xiu Xiu’s rendition of the Twin Peaks soundtrack simultaneously captures the spirit of the original while also feeling incredibly familiar to any fan of Xiu Xiu.
Favorite Track: Harold’s Theme.
6. Blank Banshee- Mega
I hate the fact that vaporwave is a meme. I hate the fact that it started that way and I hate the fact that it is still considered that way. I am not afraid to say that my love for vaporwave is totally unironic. I think that Blank Banshee’s skills as a producer are unmatched in the world of electronic dance music and I think that anyone whose only interest in vaporwave is shitty videos of Bart Simpson bopping along to a (great) Blank Banshee song are cheating
themselves. Blank Banshee seems only to be improving his craft and this new album proves it beyond a reasonable doubt.
Favorite Track: My Machine
5. Vektroid & Siddiq- Midnight Run
I wasn’t joking when I said that I really loved vaporwave. For those unfamiliar, Vektroid is the Portland-based vaporwave pioneer who has gone by many aliases (most popularly Macintosh Plus). On this album she teams up with Texas rapper Siddiq, whose laid back flow fits in perfectly with the hazy, obscure synths and pounding beats that Vektroid lays down. This album is perfect for those days when all you want to do is soak in a hot tub in your neo-Tokyo highrise apartment.
Favorite Track: Midnight Run 2013 (also would recommend their follow up EP: No Title, under the name Palacio Del Rio).
4. G.L.O.S.S.- Trans Day of Revenge
This album puts all the rage and violence it can fit into 5 excellent tracks. This superb punk album features seething vocals and wailing guitars as well as a very political agenda. For anyone who would like to get really angry about institutional oppression or really anything, this short release will certainly get your blood boiling. I’m not really sure if I could say anything for TDoR that it couldn’t say for itself; it really is short enough that there is no reason not to check it out.
Favorite Track: Out From The Desk
3. Russian Circles- Guidance
This far into the list, I’m beginning to run out of words to describe the music I like. Incidentally, this is the only band from the list thus far that I’ve actually played on my show. These guys are amazing Chicago prog-metal musicians in the tradition of Tortoise or Yakuza. If you’ve enjoyed their stuff before this is very in line with that.
Favorite Track: Mota
2. Boris with Merzbow- Gensho
I have played songs from both of these Japanese noise legends. This album is horrible and magnificent all at once. Not for the faint of heart and not for those who cannot play 2 CDs at the same time.
Favorite Track: I don’t have a favorite track, it’s all terrible
1. Kool A.D.- Real Talk
The members of Das Racist have both found truly unique voices in their post-breakup, but I think Kool A.D.’s monstrous collection of work is some of the most worthy of examination in hip-hop today. He possesses a carelessness and silliness that is not seen in most rappers, and his adoption of total auto-tune saturation makes his tunes catchy and campy, not an easy feat by any means. Real Talk is one of many rambling, artsy, joky releases from 2016 but it is definitely the most coherent.
Favorite Track: G Flat Minor
This post is part of The KLC blog Archive. The previous & now defunct KLC blog, formally known as The Umbrella, can be found here.