Originally published on the old KLC Tumblr blog: December 12, 2016
Check out the records and songs that the KLC Board loved the most this year!
Cameron Crowell (Ticket Wizard)
Top 10 Albums:
1. Frankie Cosmos - Next Thing
Serious pure pop magic from NYC’s Greta Kline. Kline has an infinite supply of catchy demos available on her bandcamp page, but Next Thing is her second full-length studio album and it adds lush beautiful synth, keyboard melodies, and harmonies to what were already tender-hearted, powerful songs. Kline’s style of storytelling starts grounded, from a small and simple place like trying to see what your crush is reading (“Sappho”), but expands into moments of enduring transcendence.
2. LVL UP - Return to Love
The third LP of the Brooklyn/SUNY Purchase-DIY stalwarts. Along with running perhaps the most consistently fantastic modern indie labels (Double Double Whammy), this four piece makes loud empathetic-if-slightly-unhinged pop songs in the same vein as Neutral Milk Hotel and Guided By Voices. They split songwriting duties between three people (Nick Corbo, Mike Caridi, and Dave Benton), who have expanded upon suburban loneliness and self-loathing to earnest exploration of personal spirituality and nature.
3. Mitski - Puberty 2
The fact this is my second favorite Mitski album (2014’s Bury Me At Makeout Creek is also phenomenal and gets a slight edge because it’s a Simpson’s reference). Between songs like “Happy,” “Your Best American Girl,” and “I Bet on Losing Dogs” this album has a massive scope blending straight-up indie rock, percussive electronic jazz, and densely packaged folk.
4. Solange - A Seat at the Table
On her third studio album, Solange Knowles showcases her soaring voice over some of the most exquisitely arranged R&B melodies of the past decade. Whether the song is sad, uplifting, or filled with fraught frustration Solange delivers with a raw sensuality and radical sentiment.
5. Strange Ranger - Sunbeams Through Your Head
The Portland band (FKA Sioux Falls) begun 2016 with their double LP Rot Forever, a sprawling and antagonistic exploration that takes post-hardcore to it’s absolute limits. Instead of plunging further forward with their established indie rock-punk sound, songwriters Isaac Eiger and Fred Nixon went for a more understated moodiness adding synthesizers, electric organ, and layers of textured guitars. In place of abrasiveness of Rot Forever, this EP sits and festers with feelings of emptiness and disconnection akin to the Pacific Northwest DIY godfather Phil Elvrum.
6. Florist - The Birds Outside Sang
Florist’s debut LP follows songwriter Emily Sprague’s life after getting hit by a car riding their bike. The first half of the album is fraught with desperation and painkiller-laced isolation, but follows with a slow progressing journey to communal care and connection.
7. Little Star - Being Close
The Portland trio’s debut LP came right at the very beginning of the year, so it could easily fall under the radar. However, Dan Byers songwriting is deeply personal and frighteningly empathetic. His voice delicate, but descending into screeching nightmare is reminiscent of a post indie-rock Cure.
8. Boreen - Cartoons
Portland musician/field recording wizard Morgan O’Sullivan (who, full disclosure: is on the KLC Board) quietly self-released his debut LP to his Bandcamp and I was instantly hooked. O’Sullivan’s songwriting is the kind that builds an entire story world that is both innocent and fragile, gripping at the remaining moments of sweetness within a larger universe that can seem infinitely fucked.
9. Mic Capes - Concrete Dreams
The North Portland (St. Johns) rapper released his long awaited debut album after a string of stellar singles and music videos (“Razor Tongue”, “Jansport”, “No More”) that balanced heavy-danceable beats and biting critique of the “American” tendency to forget about violent racist history (and present). Concrete Dreams is a celebration of Capes community, childhood, and the rapidly expanding Portland hip-hop scene.
10. Martha - Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart
Coming out of the cloudy depths of rural Britain is perhaps the best pure power pop album of the year. This Durham four-piece beautifully chronicles the depths of the shitstorm of a year 2016 has been in “Chekhov’s Hangnail” (When it rains / it really fuckin’ pours), though not without the bubbling elation of a new relationship in “Precarious” (The music video has the best queer meet cute in film history). I slept on this record for far too long and now I actually haven’t stopped listening for the past week. There really isn’t a song that doesn’t ooze catchy emo charm.
Top 5 Songs:
1. Springtime Carnivore - “Nude Polaroids” Had to stop listening to this on the bus, because I can’t listen to this without crying.
2. Frankie Cosmos - “Embody”
A sublime testament to friendship, beauty, and the life-long struggle of seeing both those things in yourself.
3. Strange Ranger - “Oh Oh Oh Oh”
Isaac Eiger plays one of the most moving organ melodies I’ve come across while he screams out haunting questions like, “Is this the deal? / Growing numb or lying / living till your dying.” Whether these questions have answers depends on the day.
4. Florist - “1914”
On The Birds Outside Sang, Emily Sprague’s voice is almost uniformly solitary, sung over sparse, cold musical accompaniment, but “1914” features the entire band singing together in an emergent moment of genuine, loving connection.
5. Snow Roller - “Fritz Brickle”
The catchiest song dedicated to a diabetic cat (who has since made full recovery), Portland power-pop songwriter Collin Kritz makes the line “‘Cause I’m a piece of shit / who never learned to quit” sound blissful.
Harrison Smith (General Manager)
1. Life of Pablo - Kanye West
2. Cardinal - Pinegrove
3. Goodness - The Hotelier
4. Flood Network - Katie Dey
5. Human Performance - Parquet Courts
6. WORRY. - Jeff Rosenstock
7. Borrowed Floors - Lithics
8. Light Upon the Lake - Whitney
9. BBF Hosted by DJ Escrow - Babyfather
10. In Summer - Jefre Cantu Ledesma
black beatles - #SREMMLIFE
captive of the sun - parquet courts
Skyler Pia (Owns a Very Cool Cocteau Twins Shirt)
Skyler’s 10 Favorite Albums of 2016 (+ haiku reviews):
i tend to ramble
when i write about music
so i’m trying this
1. Mitski - Puberty 2
explosive and calm balance atop perfect pop plus, that goddamn VOICE
2. David Bowie - Blackstar
you know this is good easy number two, and a perfect last statement
3. Solange - A Seat at the Table
‘lemonade’ was great i liked this much better though why? “cranes in the sky”
4. Anderson .Paak - Malibu
sometimes life’s too good not to throw a party to neo-soul bangers
5. Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial
will toledo sure can write thoughtful lyrics but sometimes they’re liKE THIS!
6. Told Slant - Going By
like a friend who knows when you’re sad sometimes it helps to commiserate
7. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
twinkly and downcast in other words, all i could ask of thom and friends
8. Mutual Benefit - Skip a Sinking Stone
speaking of pretty: this album sounds real nice quite underrated
9. Naps - Checking Out Early
pretty aptly named (both the artist and album) snoozy ambient
10. Andy Shauf - The Party
idk, my dudes sometimes pretty, well-written folk pop’s all you need
SOTY: Pinegrove - Old Friends
“emo with banjos”
doesn’t really do justice to how good this is
(i put less effort into these as i went on cuz it’s gimmicky)
Elias Williamson (Knows Car Seat Headrest Lyrics Better Than You)
1 told slant - going by
2 bad heaven - cool hell
3 angel olsen - my woman
4 anderson paak - mailbu
5 pinegrove - cardinal
6 mitski - puberty 2
7 hello shark - delicate
8 florist - the birds outside sang
9 crying - beyond the fleeting gates
10 juliana barwick - will
11 porches - pool
12 ttng - disappointed island
fav song : bad heaven - if u want
Miguel Posada (Multicultural Engagement Manager)
1. Emotion Side B - Carly Rae Jepsen
2. Emotion - Carly Rae Jepsen (Didn’t come out in 2016- still relevant)
3. #1 - Jaloo (Didn’t come out in 2016- still relevant)
4. Dangerous Woman - Ariana Grande
5. Freetown Sound - Blood Orange
6. Lemonade - Beyoncé
7. Teens of Denial - Car Seat Headrest
8. Mind of Mine - Zayn
Wilson Mather-Glass (Events Team, Occasional Hunk in Certain Lighting)
10 Favorite Albums by Leading Female Songwriters:
Grimes- Art Angels (Ok, admittedly, this is not the most solid front to back, but it contains (probably) my two favorite songs of the year, so it takes the top spot.)
Mitski- Puberty 2
Crying- Beyond the Floating Gates
Frankie Cosmos- Next Thing
Angel Olsen- My Woman
Cate Le Bon- Crab Day
Solange- A Seat at the Table
Margaret Glaspy- Emotions and Math
Brendan Nagle (DJ Co-Manager)
1. Young Thug- JEFFERY / Slime Season 3/ I’m Up
2. Blood Orange- Freetown Sound
3. David Bowie- Blackstar
4. Kanye West- The Life of Pablo
5. Jeff Rosenstock- WORRY.
6. Frank Ocean- Blonde/Endless
7. Pinegrove- Cardinal
8. Preoccupations- Preoccupations
9. 21 Savage & Metro Boomin- Savage Mode
10. Katie Dey- Flood Network
SOTY: Rae Sremmurd- Black Beatles
Cade Miller (PR Manager)
A Moon Shaped Pool - Radiohead Blackstar - David Bowie Bottomless Pit - Death Grips Plays the Music of Twin Peaks - Xiu Xiu Everything he put out this year - Young Thug Preoccupations - Preoccupations Atrocity Exhibition - Danny Brown Sirens - Nicolas Jaar A Place to Stand - Sculpture Club MEGA - Blank Banshee Amnesty (I) - Crystal Castles Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing - Lost Under Heaven Birds in the Trap Sing Brian McKnight - Travis $cott Too Many Voices - Andy Stott Blonde - Frank Ocean
Song of the Year: Memory - Preoccupations
Ben Weinstein (Blog Boi)
1. Young Thug- JEFFERY / Slime Season 3 / I’m Up
2. DIIV- Is The Is Are
3. Kanye West- The Life of Pablo
4. Pinkshinyultrablast- Grandfeathered
5. Whitney- Light Upon the Lake
6. Frank Ocean- Blonde
7. Yumi Zouma- Yoncalla
8. Death Grips- Bottomless Pit
9. Noname- Telefone
10. Hovvdy- Taster
SOTY: Frank Ocean- Self Control
This post is part of The KLC blog Archive. The previous & now defunct KLC blog, formally known as The Umbrella, can be found here.