September 22, 2017

End-of-Summer Short List

Today, Friday, September 22, marks the official end of summer and leaves us approximately 77% of the way through 2017. Since we haven't posted since February (hey, life happens!) it is fair to say that a lot of really good music has been released in the last 9 months that desperately needs our attention.

With this, I'm not going to try to catch you up on everything or point out the obvious stuff (that's what our year-end lists are for and you've probably already found Kendrick, Future Islands, P.TM Ryan Adams, Spoon, FJM... etc.), but here are a few tracks and albums that may have slipped past you that, in my opinion, are worth your attention:

Matthew Logan Vasquez - Does What He Wants (album)

Ha Ha Tonka - Heart-Shaped Mountain (album)

alt-J - RELAXER (album)

The Texas Gentlemen - TX Jelly (album)

Jordan Mackampa - "Battlecry" (single)

The Weeks - Easy (album)

Lake Jons - "Positive" (Single)

Leopold and His Fiction - Darling Destroyer (album)

Blank Range - Marooned with the Treasure (album)

February 26, 2017

QCM's "Best of 2016" Playlists (Playlist 5: Summer Jammy Jams)

February 25, 2017

QCM's "Best of 2016" Playlists (Playlist 4: Dancing the Pain Away)

February 24, 2017

QCM's "Best of 2016" Playlists (Playlist 3: Double Martinis & Vanquished Dreams)

February 23, 2017

QCM's "Best of 2016" Playlists (Playlist 2: Power to the People)

February 22, 2017

QCM's "Best of 2016" Playlists (Playlist 1: Best of the Best)

As before, we asked QuickCrit's illustrious annual survey takers to list their favorite songs from their favorite albums. The result is a quirky, eclectic "Best of the Best" playlist clocking in at just over seven hours. This mind-numbingly awesome playlist can be accessed via Spotify below:

Also consistent with past years, to spice things up, we asked survey takers to submit a song or two that falls under some colorfully entitled category. Those playlists will be posted in the following days.

Of course, if you have any suggested additions to the playlists, please leave recs in the comments section below. 

Happy listening!

February 2, 2017

Jesse's Favorite Albums from 2016

Fully realizing their breathtaking potential. So many layers of art pop awesomeness.  
2. Sheer Mag - III             

Cranking up this album makes any day feel like Friday night and every beer taste like a High Life.

3. Frightened Rabbit - Painting Of A Panic Attack             

Their mastery of celebratory self-loathing is peerless.     

4. Candace - New Future             

Just packed with killer dreamy shoegaze. And as you'd hope, it's fantastically noisy live.  

They draw me in with their popping duets, but deceptively clever in their quirkiness.
6. Pink Mexico - Fool     

Buzzing surf pop that is both harder and catchier than the last one you heard. Playing it loud and often.

Two absolutely stunning singles of c86-style indie pop.

A personal & potent EP from the Summer Cannibals' bad ass, renaissance bassist. Easily one of my favorite EPs this year.

9. Minden - Sweet,Simple Things        
Their tightest, funkiest, and most dynamic songs to date. And so silky smooth.    

10. Holy Vision -King Cash         

Binging hard on this shimmering and banging alt. pop. So good. 

Libre's buoyant bilingual harmonies inspiring basking in the warm Saturday morning sun. Glad Y La Bamba are back with their gorgeous indie folk.

12. Mo Troper - Beloved             

Youthful, testy, and dimed out power pop, reminiscent of Superdrag classics.  
13. Augustines - This Is Your Life              

Pull me along on their stumbling late night anthems in a way that U2 and their ilk never could. Take a shot, spread your arms, and soar.      

14. Lucius - Good Grief 

Art pop masters let their identical hairdos down and get noisy.  

Long anticipated and stellar collection of slacker surf pop.

16. Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide to Earth  

Driving straight past his Nashville ascendance, this Waylon-loving iconoclast headed west to Memphis for a countrified soul epic.

17. Summer Cannibals- Full Of It             

Damn, these songs are explosive. Feeling this righteous anger more than ever.   

18. The Record Company - Give It Back to You  

Only knock against this great retro soul/blues album is I started rocking half the songs so long ago that they sound fresh again. Luckily, the new songs are some of the best.              

19. Photo Ops - Vacation             

I hear some Fleet Foxes in these guys, just smelling less of campfire, which could mean they both just build on sweet Beach Boy indebted harmonies.

I dig TV Girl's pursuit of pop alchemy, floating their wry observations over DJ scratches and an organ riff, and punching it all up with sampled hooks. Like adding an indie pop twist to classic singles by the Avalanches or Wiseguys.

Eric’s Favorite Albums from 2016

1.  Frightened Rabbit - Painting of a Panic Attack    

Love me some Frightened Rabbit. The National's Aaron Dessner's fingerprints are all over this album, and the partnership is a hauntingly beautiful one. Somehow, this album is both deeply sad and uplifting at the same time. Seeing this album performed live flawlessly was also an amazing experience.      

2. Paul Cauthen - My Gospel     

Great throwback country album; cut from the same cloth as Merle and Waylon. This album probably benefitted the most from being released late in the year, because its been front of mind for the last few weeks, and I can't stop listening.   
3. Augustines - This is Your Life

Of course, by now I'm super predictable with my Augustines love, but even after nearly a decade of Augustines/Pela fandom, I still find the passion and emotion in their songs to be nothing short of addicting. If they are truly calling it quits for good, I will forever miss putting their albums in my top ten lists.              

4. Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor’s Guide to Earth    
Another country throwback who can channel the great ones with his own creativity. Clearly, the album is revered in and out of the country music scene and its really not surprising why. 
5. Photo Ops - Vacation

I think most people needed a good feel-good album during this rather dark 2016, and Vacation was that album for me. Echoing the harmonies and patience of Pet Sounds, this album washes over you like a warm summer day and lifts the spirits like an ice cold High Life.

6. Michael Kiwanuka - Love & Hate        

One of the more thought-provoking and emotional albums of the year for me. Kiwanuka gives his powerful tracks time to develop, which may turn some people off, but damn does he do a good job of capturing the mood. This is a brilliant album. 

7. Lake Jons - Explore EP              

I don't usually put EPs on my top ten albums list, but this one did an exception job of winning me over with just six stellar tracks. Watch out world, Finland's coming!     
8. The Record Company - Give It Back To You    

Rock and roll, people, doesn't lie. The Record Company gets down to business with some bluesy, rockin' tracks that come straight at you like some of the best bands from the 70s.  

9. Kings of Leon - WALLS             

KoL bounces back from the mailed-in Mechanical Bull album with WALLS. Do I love WALLS beginning to end? No. However, the 7 or 8 tracks that I do like are good enough to carry this album into the Top 10 for me. What can I say, I just like Kings of Leon.  

10. The Bones of J.R. Jones - Spirit’s Furnace      

Folksy, bluesy, and catchy... you put this on, and people will want to know who it is, how you found him, and when he's coming to town.     

11. Pete Yorn - ArrangingTime  

"She Was Weird" was my favorite track, but there are a lot of memorable songs packed into this album. A very pleasant collection of organized, multifaceted tracks.     

12. The Cave Signers - Banchee

One of favorite "acquired taste" bands. I kept forgetting about and then remembering this album, and listened to it a ton at work. The Cave Signers are certainly not for everyone, but this album works for me.           

13. Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes - Bemidji     
Another EP! "Always/Never" is the track that drew me end, but the rest of the album makes you want to stay. I definitely over-listened to this album.    

14. Kishi Bashi - Sonderlust        

I am a huge Kishi Bashi fan and love his live show. This album dropped off a little bit for me from his prior releases, but his talent and songwriting are still astounding.   

15. Kaleo - A/B 

The best tracks off this album have been out as singles for quite some time, so I didn't feel as excited by the full album when it dropped. With a little more polish, this band should be able to do amazing things in the upcoming years.

Larson’s Favorite Albums of 2016

1. Beyonce - Lemonade

My wife said “I want to watch Beyonce’s Lemonade” one Friday evening. I was like I don’t know really what that’s all about but I heard it’s potentially about marital drama… and you know. Maybe it is. I watched the video having only previously heard “Formation” months prior. I’m not even going to attempt to write about how fucking good this is. So I’ll do what I do best… talk about me. When I was younger I felt it was important to be anti-MTV because you know… it’s mainstream and I was punk rock. However, that whole time I watched MTV constantly and was in love with the combination of music and video. The Lemonade film is the most amazing example of music and video I have ever seen. I am 100% not afraid to say that I cannot watch/listen to it without tearing up. Hey man… I’m sensitive as fuck. Additionally, I think that it is the women of the world who are going to get us out of some of the terrible bullshit going on these days. I’m with HER.  
2. Avalanches - Wild Flower      

I had no idea this was coming. I listened to Since I Left you so much that I was honestly fine if nothing else ever came out of the Avalanches camp. Their ability to create familiarity out of that which is unfamiliar is astonishing.           

3. Kanye West - The Life of Pablo            

So much to say and so little to say. I’m not going to argue with anyone. I will say this though. The first time I listened to it I wasn’t feeling it. It was far from an immediate click. However, I’m a  fan of the long game. I’m a pretty mellow guy for the most part. However, if you try to tell me this isn’t art I hope you’re ready for me to talk at you for an hour.        
4. Martha - Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart          

I am in love with the trend of new young bands playing 90s style music with more technique and production. I have never been afraid of production. Lo-Fi is great but when you can see a bands ideas fully realized through production it is magic to me. I’m not usually a fan of comparisons (maybe cuz I’m just not that good at it) but this band reminds me of a mash-up of Hefner and Idlewild. Now I know that might seem like a pretty deep cut bullshit comparison but it’s true. Idlewild lyrics and fury with Hefner complexity and Boy/Girl vocals. I’m probably not helping my case but whatever. I love this album.

5. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Nonagon Infinity 

I saw these Australian weirdos play in an in-town venue that is not known for having good shows. It felt at times like the place was going to explode. The non-stop energy of this band combined with zero fucks given of the crowd made for an incredible experience. They have songs with names like "Gamma Knife" and "Evil Death Roll"!!! Plus the album sequenced to play in a loop. Do it.      
6. Sheer Mag - III             

Not an album. I know right?! These guys can do in 4 songs what it takes some bands 4 albums to do. If you aren’t moved by “Worth The Tears” I doubt you and I have much to talk about.

7. Låpsley - Long Way Home      

Another album that came out of nowhere to me via Vinyl Me Please. I had no idea what to expect and was still a bit befuddled when I first started listening. The first time I hit track #5 entitled “Operator" I was super dupes confused. What is this stuff? Why is it all over the place. Why does it seem so familiar yet so new? From there on this album was on regular rotation in our house.        
8. Bat For Lashes - The Bride      

I listened to this album while trying to fall asleep on Tuesday November 7th 2016, or what I like to refer to as the worst night of sleep ever. It helped.        

9. Manatee Commune - Manatee Commune     

The song “Second Guess” was a standout track in a late night KEXP listening session. I’m not a big fan of genre’s and a don’t really know what this genre is. I just know that I’m into it. So clean and chilled out and technical without losing the human element. If it sounds like I don’t know what I’m talking about then your right. Listen to it start to finish and I bet you’ll want do it again.   
10. DJ Shadow - The Mountain Will Fall

I have routinely listened to "Nobody Speak" really loud while dropping my kids off to school (Kindergarten and First Grade). I suggest you do the same.       
11. La Sera - Music For Listening To Music To     

People in love making music for people who love music. Or something like that. I never listened to the Vivian Girls (heard they’re good) and had never heard of Todd Wisenbaker prior to him re-recording 1989 with Ryan Adams. I bet they’re awesome people and they certainly make great music together. It’s quick, it’s tight and it’s delightful.       

Serena's Favorite Albums of 2016

1. Beyonce-Lemonade 

If you have not watched Lemonade, stop what you are doing and do so. You can come to my house and watch it. Be warned that I cry every time I watch. 
2. Solange-A Seat at the Table                  

3. Kanye West-Life of Pablo       

Name one genius that ain't crazy, amirite!?  
4. The Avalanches-Wildflower 

Worth the wait!! Also the video for Because I'm Me is a joyful celebration of black bodies, I recommend it             

5. Manatee Commune-Manatee Commune   
6. Bat For Lashes-The Bride             
7. Common-Black America Again  
8. Glass Animals-How to Be a Human Being   
9. A Tribe Called Quest-We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service             

10. DJ Shadow-The Mountain Will Fall   

JT's Favorite Albums from 2016

1. Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter     

It's country because it's classified that way, and because it has to be when the singer lived in a trailer, lived in a tent, went to jail, grew up on her daddy's farm before he lost it, and mentions whiskey in more than half the songs. But it's also country by way of stellar songwriting, a Sun Records recording, and Jack White producing. If any of those are your cup of tea, you may listen to it over and over. And if you ever wondered what Loretta Lynn would have sounded like if she recorded a disco funk song with BB King cutting a solo in the middle of it, then check out "Four Years of Chances."    

2. The Head and the Heart - Signs of Light           

Major label signing and a major directional shift for Head and the Heart. Some folks didn't dig the transition from moody Northwest folk of the 2010s to sunny SoCal harmonies of the 1970s. (They even walked on stage at the show I saw to The Eagles) It took me about a half dozen listens before it clicked, but once it did, I was hooked.  

3. Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide to Earth  
A throwback concept album that's not nearly as _fun_ as Sturgill's "Metamodern Sounds" but probably even better from an artistic standpoint. Nods to Motown are throughout, but there's really not a single sound to pin down, it's truly an album worth listening to in order, in its entirety. And his Nirvana cover kicks serious ass.

4. Shovels & Rope - Little Seeds

I’ve loved everything from Shovels & Rope, but I really like the first half of this album as much as anything they've done. Overall, I think it's a big step forward from their last one ("Swimming Time") which seemed a little rushed to capitalize on their "O' Be Joyful" breakout. There's a lot here that invokes the White Stripes and the Kills.       
5. The Lumineers - Cleopatra     

Like every sequel except "Empire Strikes Back," it suffers because it's not as good as what came before. Part of the reason may be that they're trying really hard to replicate the "Hey Ho" earworm. I was skeptical after hearing O-O-phe-LIA for a few months over and over. But I really did wind up liking it. In fact, if I listen to it shuffled with the debut, it all just kind of blends together. Which could be good or bad, depending on your perspective.   

Ian's Favorite Albums from 2016

1. Kiiara- Low Kii Savage LP             

I bought the album cause I liked the Gold single, was one of my favorites of the year, but the album was really good.               

2. Bad Religion- True North             

One of my favorite all time bands, totally rocked this album, still going after all these years           

3. Santigold- 99 Cents        

There some really really good songs on this record            

Nesto’s Favorite Albums from 2016

1. Islands - Taste   
2. Frightened Rabbit - Painting of a Panic Attack 
On heavy rotation.         

3. Kishi Bashi - Sonderlust          

Everybody wants a honeybody someday.        
4. The Dandy Warhols - Distortland     
Dandy's still rule, ok?     

5. Miike Snow - iii           

More i's please!

6. Lost Dawn - Fever
For those about to rock, we salute you. 

7. Radical Face - The Family Tree: The Leaves    

A second "d" is optional.              

8. Paul Cauthen - My Gospel     

Is most listened to in Houston, Stockholm, Manhattan, and Austin. Win.

9. The Lumineers - Cleopatra                     

10. Augustines - This is Your Life              

An appropriate finale scene.      

11. Peter, Bjorn, and John - Breakin' Point      

12. Blind Pilot - And Then Like Lions        
13. Steve Mason - Meet the Humans

Dan’s Favorite Albums from 2016

1. Anderson Paak, Malibu     
L.A restuvus festuvus atbestu.. 

2. Baauer            

think homies canadia: newfound respek...but just for him            
3. go go hello adele covers         

D.C (mambo, whatnot...)             

4. DJ Shadow    

no words diks, right        

5. oddisee             
6. yuksek       
7. the get down

michael kiwanuka, janelle monae; leon bridges and kamasi washinton 

8. adele's hello covers                  

9. trudy and the romance                     
10. the tossers 

played at kennedy center: bad brains; more than a Minor Threat ;)           

11. young rapids and paperhaus   
basecamp whiteboyz can play a bit     
12. Nag Champa              

dope DC, Future and dem   
13. Lee Scratch Perry live            

shares weed, he won it All                            

February 1, 2017

Paul's Favorite Albums from 2016

1. The 1975 - I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it     
Of all the albums released in 2016, this was the one that caught me off guard. It's 80s synth-pop-influenced but it combines that sound with an alternating mix of mean-spirited cynicism and beautiful bare sincerity. Whatever it was about this album, it got its hooks in me and stayed on repeat for at least a month... and now I'm listening to it again. I regret nothing. 

2. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool      

The relentless driving strings on Burn The Witch may make for the best opening to an album in 2016, but get past that and you'll find a quieter album that is content to lurk in the background without overwhelming the listener. The quiet allows the impassioned singing of Thom Yorke to shine in a way that somehow gets lost on more complex Radiohead albums. This is truly one of their best.    

3. Beyonce - Lemonade

All hail Queen Bey! A surprise album drop full of deeply personal but instantly catchy songs? Yeah, that was pretty damn cool, but did you see that video??? That thing is stop-you-in-your-tracks beautiful. Oh, and Jay-Z, you better watch yourself or you're going to end up with a six-inch heel stuck in your back. 

4. Tegan and Sara- Love You To Death   

Check your cynicism at the door for this one. Love You To Death is an album full of songs about the best parts of love, told through synthesizers with a distinctly 80s Madonna vibe. If listening this album doesn't give you that new-relationship feeling, you may be broken inside. 

5. Frank Ocean - Blonde              

It's quiet. It's experimental in the way the best Kanye West albums can be. It's beautiful. I'm not sure anything could have ever topped Channel Orange but this comes damn close. Of everything that came out in 2016, this is the album I feel like I'll get the most out of by listening to it again.    

6. Radiation City - Synesthetica

Oh, Radiation City, you've gone and made an amazing album! Beautifully paced; it holds back just enough to allow those moments when it lets loose with the soaring vocals to truly stand out. How will you ever top this? Oh, you're going to breakup and never make another album together? Yeah, seems reasonable.      

7. Frightened Rabbit - Painting of a Panic Attack   
No one sells depression and pain better than Scott Hutchinson. If you need richly toned songs about lives half-lived, crumbling relationships, and regrets, this album should be your first stop.  
8. Candace - New Future             

The perfect amount of reverb. Crunchy and droning guitars. Vocals that almost fade into the background. This is shoegaze at its best.      

9. Summer Cannibals - Full Of It

Fast, fierce, and over in 33 minutes.       

10. Tove Lo - Lady Wood             

This is dark pop that hits hard. If I went out to a club and True Disaster or Cool Girl, I'd wonder what the hell was wrong with DJ.

11. Kanye West - The Life of Pablo          

Kanye West, I'm mad at you. You put out an amazing album and then did everything you possibly could do to 1) not let me hear it (I'm not signing up for your streaming service) and 2) make me never want to hear you speak again. You get relegated to the overflow list. Please be a better person next year.