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Five Albums You May and Shouldn’t Have Missed

American-Chilean+composer+Nicolas+Jaar+released+Against+All+Logic+Feb.+17%2C+2018.+%28Courtesy+of+Facebook%29
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Five Albums You May and Shouldn’t Have Missed

American-Chilean composer Nicolas Jaar released Against All Logic Feb. 17, 2018. (Courtesy of Facebook)

American-Chilean composer Nicolas Jaar released Against All Logic Feb. 17, 2018. (Courtesy of Facebook)

American-Chilean composer Nicolas Jaar released Against All Logic Feb. 17, 2018. (Courtesy of Facebook)

American-Chilean composer Nicolas Jaar released Against All Logic Feb. 17, 2018. (Courtesy of Facebook)


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By Adam Payne-Reichert

To people, geezers and youngsters alike, who insist that music listeners living in the ‘60s, 70s or 80s “really had it best” – let’s get real. It cannot be denied that those decades enjoyed the presence of towering musical geniuses. Yet on the other hand, recent advances in electronic music production have widened both the spectrum of capabilities presented by these tools and the user base that has access to them.

The consequence of these shifts has been a democratized, massive outpouring of music, with a far higher volume being made across a wide range of both old and new genres.

So yes, the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s do boast some legendary musicians who are owed an immense due. Yet, nostalgists would be better off adopting a more appreciative view of the incredible pace of musical production we’re seeing today. However, this rapid clip is not without downsides.

First, because there is more music being made, there is more bad music being made. Second, for the same reason, there is a lot of excellent music being made that people just are not aware of as it slips through the cracks. With this second issue in mind, I have compiled a list of five incredible albums that were released this year and that deserve all of the attention they can get.

  1. Against All Logic – 2012-2017

Nicolas Jaar’s surprise side project release from earlier this year is the ideal album to convince someone that house music can serve as more than just background noise for sweaty Friday night gyrations.

The album pulls from a significant number of non-traditional house sources, including noise rock, soul and disco, to create a highly complex and varied collection of tracks.

“This Old House Is All I Have” twists a generous David Axelrod sample about the human-induced destruction of the planet into a noisy soul groove. “Now U Got Me Hooked” uses a tepid cowbell beat and energetic guitar strumming to set the stage for the thumping bass pattern and shimmering wind chime textures that dominate the middle of the track. Jaar makes it clear that he is aiming at a number of listening environments, quiet bedroom-headphone sessions and crowded club rooms alike.

  1. Sidney Gish–No Dogs Allowed

All credit for this discovery goes to Rodrigue’s Coffee House, who hosted Sidney Gish during Welcome Week. Gish’s reflective, sarcastic lyrics smack of a young, intelligent hipster with an air of ironic detachment.

The music never falls victim to the pretentious sense of removal that can sometimes characterize similar lyrics. Gish’s music, on the other hand, balances pleasant bedroom pop sensibilities with more driving indie rock influences, a good blend for any thoughtful college student with an ear for enjoyable melodies.

  1. Parquet Courts –Wide Awake!

This album is a massive step forward for Parquet Courts. While previous Parquet Courts records have at times felt like impressive genre studies, this album sounds unapologetically energetic and unique.

Creative, politically-driven lyrics ground the album’s themes and never sounds overly preachy thanks to ingenuine imagery and a biting sense of humor.

“Before the Water Gets Too High,” a great example of such lyrical talents, centers around a bass-heavy, catchy groove textured by a droning keyboard. “Wide Awake,” in a similar lyrical vein, derives its energy from a Latin-sounding funk jam that features plentiful tom-tom licks and shouted, insistent vocals that both prop up and poke fun at “wokeness.”

  1. Jack White–Boarding House Reach

Instrumentally, this has to be the most unrestrained, convention-bucking rock album I have heard this year. The usual critical reception of the album contends that it is unfocused and inconsistent, but fans of the wild ride The Life of Pablo should be similarly pleased by the huge number of surprises White packs into this record.

“Get in the Mind Shaft” opens with a melodramatic description of White’s first exposure to music creation, an intro which is then swallowed by a spacey, psych-inspired drum pocket that contrasts against bright piano flares. “Corporation,” on the other hand, repurposes the typical anti-Citizens United narrative into an upbeat, highly sarcastic call to begin corporations in order to get things done.

  1. JPEGMAFIA–Veteran

My last pick has to be one of the most bizarre rap albums of the year. The best support for this may come in the form of “Real Nega,” in which JPEG flips an obscure Ol’ Dirty Bastard vocal interlude into an unrelentingly percussive, tribalistic assault.

If you are not convinced by this, check out “Thug Tears,” which peaks into a disheveled, noisy intro, moves into a bubblegum-rap-inspired section and then transforms again with a rumbling, forward bass line and assertive lyrical delivery. The total time frame for these three major switch-ups? Less than a minute and a half.

 

 

 

American-Chilean composer Nicolas Jaar released Against All Logic Feb. 17, 2018. (Courtesy of Facebook)

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Five Albums You May and Shouldn’t Have Missed