Tag Archives: Albums of the Year

2017 Albums of the Year: Waxahatchee – Out in the Storm

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The Telescope presents: the top albums of 2017. We gathered best-of lists from contributors, crunched some numbers and came up with a list of records that unanimously wowed us last year.

We already reviewed this one back in August, and there’s little more that needs to be added. Several spins later, it’s still a dead ringer for The Weekend’s self-titled debut.

And we know for sure, now, that nothing could be more attractive in a song than another person’s relationship woes, either because of the kinship found in being able to relate, or the satisfaction of knowing you’re faring better (coupled with the comprehension that happiness is fleeting).

“Does it make you feel good to watch me stumbling in the dark?” It does, yes.

-Scott Bryson

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2017 Albums of the Year: Mura Masa – Mura Masa

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The Telescope presents: the top albums of 2017. We gathered best-of lists from contributors, crunched some numbers and came up with a list of records that unanimously wowed us last year.

Mura Masa’s set was hands down the best thing at WayHome this year. Sure, there were also giant electronic artists like Flume, Justice, and Marshmello on what turned out to be the festival’s final line-up, but young Alex Crossan (he’s only 21) had the audience at the side stage of the Oro-Medonte grounds dancing like no one was watching. To be honest, it became next to impossible to bust out any of your best moves; it seemed like every attendee decided to cram into the smallest performance area of the festival to see what they were missing.

And what were they missing? An actual live performance, complete with Mura Masa on drums and live vocals. So rare in the electronic world!

Anyone who’s listened to the twice nominated 2017 release can tell you that it’s a strong contender for Best Dance/Electronic Album, and not just because it features artists such as A$AP Rocky, Charlie XCX, and Damon Albarn. From beginning to end, the beats are varied and the vocals diverse, but the consistency in quality is there. Not once is Mura Masa boring. Not once.

Still not sure if Mura Masa is for you? “But I haven’t heard anything from the album,” you may protest. Of course, you have; it’s hard to escape “Love$ick.” Have a listen. I promise it’ll sound familiar.

-Michelle Farres

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2017 Albums of the Year: Daniel Romano – Modern Pressure

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The Telescope presents: the top albums of 2017. We gathered best-of lists from contributors, crunched some numbers and came up with a list of records that unanimously wowed us last year.

We already reviewed this one back in May, so we’ll keep this short.

Modern Pressure has aged well; it’s pretty clear now, that it’s Daniel Romano’s best work, though better will probably come. He just released two more albums, by the way [update: they were limited-time only releases and are now gone]. Dude is out of control, in a desirable fashion.

This one doesn’t let you rest. Tracks are bridged by mini songs and sitar jams. It’s the sound of Romano trying to bust himself and his music out of the Swedish cabin where it was recorded (“Roya,” above, was apparently named for an acquaintance there).

-Scott Bryson

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2017 Albums of the Year: Do Make Say Think – Stubborn Persistent Illusions

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The Telescope presents: the top albums of 2017. We gathered best-of lists from contributors, crunched some numbers and came up with a list of records that unanimously wowed us last year.

Canada has long been blessed with two of post rock’s finest acts: Toronto’s Do Make Say Think and Montreal’s Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Both outfits released wonderful records in 2017—GY!BE put out their 6th studio album, Luciferian Towers, and DMST released their 7th, Stubborn Persistent Illusions. Though both are great listens, Stubborn Persistent Illusions stood out.

In 2009, when DMST released Other Truths, those who follow them closely thought they might have reached the apex of their potential—perfection had been achieved. Following that, eight years of nothing from a band that released work every few years on average left fans wondering if they’d decided to leave on a high note.

Then came a new single in March: a powerhouse 12-minute-plus track titled “Bound and Boundless” (it was later split in two and placed dead centre on the new album). With this song in hand and a full-length set for May, many anticipated a heavier sound from the band. They were not disappointed.

Stubborn Persistent Illusions is packed with more punches than any other DMST record. The band went for shorter, beautiful and lusty songs that demand the listener not stray. The video for “d=3.57√h (As Far as the Eye Can See)” (above) is uncomplicated, and demonstrates how the mind can travel when truly absorbed by Do Make Say Think’s music, passing from narrative thought, to abstract imagery, to movement and space.

-Johnnysomebody

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2016 Albums of the Year: Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial

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The Telescope presents: the top albums of 2016. We gathered best-of lists from staff and contributors, crunched some numbers and came up with a list of records that unanimously wowed us this year.

Welcome to the new era of music: a band self-releases eight albums, signs to a label, puts together a greatest-hits record and obtains overnight success. This is the story behind Will Toledo and the project he named after the place where he came up with his songs.

Car Seat Headrest wasted little time moving on from that best-of, Teens of Style. Seven months later, we had Teens of Denial, a critically-acclaimed follow-up that captures a youthful and all-too-familiar time of experimentation and discovery. And like all great albums that succeed in this, it did so without time stamping, focusing on the confusion and confidence and leaving specifics out of the equation.

Teens of Denial talks to the listener like every teenager who thinks they finally figured it all out. The tone helps you rewind to those naïve days, knowing now that it’s a beginning rather than an end. Toledo’s slacker vocals leave plenty of room to attach to the feelings he’s trying to capture, too. This album has a way of sounding like the sequel to your favorite album from your mid-teens.

The video for “Vincent” takes us back to that chapter in our youth where that guy is cutting too loose and ends up wrecking himself and the night for most of the folks involved. Two open chords played through a basic distortion: the uncomplicated arrangement really helps the song hit its mark. It’s tunes like this that make this record so easy to listen to over and over again.

-johnnysomebody

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2016 Albums of the Year: Twin Peaks – Down In Heaven

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The Telescope presents: the top albums of 2016. We gathered best-of lists from staff and contributors, crunched some numbers and came up with a list of records that unanimously wowed us this year.

Down In Heaven’s opener, “Walk To The One You Love,” boasts such an obvious melodic nod to “Bang A Gong (Get It On)” that you may not believe what you’re hearing. You get the sense pretty quickly, on this one, that Twin Peaks have no interest in limitations—“a band that doesn’t know how to play it safe,” says their bio.

There’s plenty more T. Rex lingering in this album. And the Stones. Maybe some Kurt Vile. Twin Peaks took the last 40 years of rock ’n’ roll, threw it in a sack, shook it and pulled out 13 singular vibes to use as jumping-off points. They employ at least three lead singers on top of it—this is peak eclecticism.

They’re caught up in the same pitfalls that four decades of rock has failed to resolve, as well: longing; self-pity; failed relationships. “Life seems to be all confusion and woe,” they’ve decided, but they pull off a cheery disposition in the face of that conclusion. Down In Heaven is a celebration of despair, in the style of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Howl or any Deadly Snakes record; check out “Butterfly,” up above.

-Scott Bryson

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2016 Albums of the Year: Mitski – Puberty 2

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The Telescope presents: the top albums of 2016. We gathered best-of lists from staff and contributors, crunched some numbers and came up with a list of records that unanimously wowed us this year.

2016 found New York sensation Mitski vaulting to new levels of success with her dare-to-be-me fourth album, an in-depth look at coming to terms with mid-20s sexuality and romance while finding your way in the world. It’s a record of how our viewpoints change in the post-grad era of our lives—how we see that love and relationships are nothing like the first chapters we lived through in high school.

Puberty 2 is sort of a Sex In The City or post-Felicity for people who want a more honest look at a young woman’s struggles with courtship, acceptance, and giving a fuck about other people. Many artists are praised for their take-charge persona; Mitski finds a way to bring all of this to her story while enjoying life as the “little spoon.” She’s only speaking for herself on this album, and she’s telling us that you can be heard and be passive at the same time.

In her video for “Your Best American Girl,” you can see how she struggles with being an American who isn’t of European descent, and how she comes to terms with the realities and complexities of being different (this is her ‘second puberty’). All this and songwriting that’s as powerful as Annie Clark’s, and she does it without ever trying too hard to be artistic. Mitski Miyawaki’s album is infectious and deserves to hold rank on any year-end list.

-johnnysomebody

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