Thirty Hertz Rumble

A bl-g about movies, music and nostalgia by James David Patrick

Category: 30Hz Music (Page 3 of 22)

30Hz 100 Best Songs of 2016 / #50 – #26

best songs of 2016

Return to Best Songs of 2016 #75 – #51

 

 

50“Carl Sagan” – Night Moves

Zero idea how this relates to scientist, astrophysicist and author Carl Sagan but it’s catchy enough that we should all be sufficiently distracted from investigative journalism.

 

“Breathe A*gain” – Couros

I fell for this track at the 52-second mark when this bit of ball-busting synth kicks in behind the placid vocals. I know nothing about this fellow who calls himself Couros but I’m going to need more than this four song EP, buddy.

 

“What You Get” – DIANA

Did you noticed I changed the color of the flames behind the numbers when I hit #50? Nice, huh? I thought change was in order. Back on topic. I became an instant DIANA fan after their 2013 record Perpetual Surrender. Super breezy, light-as-air vocals with the weight of a thousand heartbreaks and some nice musicianship that could have snuck into a late 70’s Hall & Oates hit.

 

“Black Crow” – Beyond the Wizards Sleeve

This ranks among the best non-Bond Bond songs in the history of James Bond. So much so that I retrofitted it into the opening for The World is Not Enough. Even Beyond the Wizards Sleeve liked it. “Black Crow” remains an oddity on the Wizards Sleeve record, which is a combination 60’s psychedelia and some electronic movement called “acid house.” If I were more hip with my electronic sub-sub-genres I’d explain what that actually meant.

 

46“X-Communicate” – Kristin Kontrol

Kristen Welchez, aka Dee Dee from the Dum Dum Girls, decided she needed more thumping synths and less wall of guitar.

 

45“Kogarishi” – Kikagaku Moyo

Tokyo-based low-key psych-folk pleasantries in the mold of the Fleet Foxes. Their broader range of influences found on their album includes Krautrock, Indian ragas and psychedelia.   Music for people who want to bop idly.

 

44“Doing It To Death” – The Kills

“It” is what you think, and the Kills barely veil “it” with any innuendo whatsoever… which is why it’s so comical/horrifying when my daughters (4 and 7) walk around singing “Double six’ing it night after night / we’re doing it to death / oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh” — which in a weird way is a step up from their obsession with Tove Lo’s ode to wasted nights and recreational drug use.

 

43“Heaven Sent” – Parker Millsap

Another late 2016 arrival on my countdown. Parker Millsap writes bluesy Americana songs with a slice of gospel. He sings like a weathered baseball glove. Cognitive dissonance strikes hard when you actually see Parker Millsap and he looks like he’s gone AWOL from his high school glee club. A remarkable talent with three records already under his belt.

 

42“Sunday Love” – Bat for Lashes

Natasha Khan channels Kate Bush, fancies herself more grounded Bjork. On her fourth record (all of them excellent), 2016’s The Bride, Bat for Lashes proves she’s equal to those lofty influences.

 

“Beneath Fields” – Heron Oblivion

100 songs is a lot of blurbs. Trust me. I’m writing them. And I’d be impressed/flattered if you’re still reading them at this point. You probably started at the beginning intending to read them all, sure… but then the 60’s hit and you scanned a bunch of those, growing very weary of all of this, before skipping this page entirely in order to get to the prime-time 25. I get it. I do. You’re busy. I’m busy. It’s the holiday season. Tell you what. If you’re reading this, post a comment below telling me your 41st favorite song of the year. I won’t fact check. But it’ll be a personal understanding between the two of us. You care enough to read through the 40’s and I cared enough to write them for you. I’ll send anyone that posts their 41st favorite song one of my extra album download codes (while supplies last). Shhhhh. Don’t tell any of the arbs. It’ll be our secret. Also, this impressive debut record from psych-rockers Heron Oblivion sneaks up on you. Elaborate orchestration, sweeping, melodramatic movements. More than worthy of being your #41.

 

40“Somebody Else” – The 1975

Fun fact: I hated this record the first time I heard it. Last week I considered three different songs from the 1975 for this countdown. That’s tied for the most with Minor Victories, Weyes Blood, A Tribe Called Quest and Savages — 4 records that will definitely appear on my Best Albums of 2016 list. We hear and digest music in strange ways. So much of that initial impression relies on mystic things like biorhythms (a word I first learned while playing Double Dribble for the NES) and appropriate presentation and venue and a willingness to let the music present itself on the artist’s terms — not according to your own rigid routines. It’s remarkable, really.

 

39“Tuck” – Katie Gately

Experimental electronic musician that trades in beats, eccentric mixology and abstract international soundscapes. “Tuck” feels discordant, mismatched samples and loops that slowly settle into something perfectly aligned. You might not hear the unified harmony on the first or even second listen, but let it simmer, let the music come to you.

 

38“Highway Anxiety” – William Tyler

Tyler has popped up on Best of 2016 lists from both NPR and Pitchfork. He’s worked with artists like Bonnie Prince Billy, Silver Jews, Lambchop and Hiss Golden Messenger. His father wrote songs for Kenny Rogers, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and the Oak Ridge Boys. William Tyler’s music is acoustic, melodic, post-rock country guitar. Gorgeous melodies, patient crescendos. A soundscape for the chapless urban cowboy of 2016.

 

“Your Best American Girl” – Mitski

One of the worthiest buzz records of 2016. Mitski released an excellent record in 2014 called Bury Me at Makeout Creek, but people have finally properly discovered this dynamic, vibrant indie-rock songstress.

 

36“So Here We Are” – Gordi

Australia’s Sophie Payton steals some voice modulator mojo and sneaks into my 2016 countdown with an emotional gutcheck track that bests anything produced by modulator-lover Bon Iver this year. I’m sorry, Bon Iver fanboys and girls, but it’s true.

 

35“Don’t Need to Be Them” – The Sun Days

After some emotional turbulence I need to turn this countdown around with a happy fun time track designed to get your head nodding. This accessible slice of indie-pop craftsmanship from Sweden’s The Sun Days features a constant wall of jangly guitars behind Elsa Fredriksson Holmgren’s sturdy vocals. You probably won’t think about it after the final snare, but you’ll dig it in the moment. Great music doesn’t always leave scars.

 

34“You Ain’t a Star” – Psychic Temple

Thanks to Aquarium Drunkard for turning me onto this excellent album. I’m tired of using the term “psych” to preface anything that even remotely channels 1960’s-era psychedelia, but the band put it right there in its name so maybe it doesn’t nee repeating. Complex and layered musicianship rewards with full immersion and great amplification. Immerse yourself in Psychic Temple.

 

33“Nobody Speak” (feat. Run the Jewels) – DJ Shadow

Whenever Run the Jewels appears they’re worthy of a countdown. DJ Shadow provides the beats. Run the Jewels provides a flow that punches like f’ing Mike Tyson. “Picture this / I’m a bag of dicks / put me to your lips / I am sick / I will punch a baby bear in his shit”

 

32“Everything Is Happening Today” – Flock of Dimes

Flock of Dimes elevates me. Wye Oak’s singer/guitarist Jenn Wasner channels Tracy Thorn (much more so than Wye Oak), and there’s just something about this music that resonates at the frequency of 30Hz. We all need music that resonates at our own personal frequencies. To pick us up. To marshal us through our bad. To provide insurance during the good.

 

31“Same Old Blues” – Phantogram

Other than that Big Boi collaboration last year I’ve never felt this widespread Phantogram love. Until now. “Same Old Blues” serves up soulful electro-pop that’ll turn the strongest willed humans into delusional shower crooners.

 

30“What You Really Mean” – Violent Femmes

I could do karaoke to this song. I wouldn’t do it justice, but it fits into my vocal range. And for that I’ve always loved the Violent Femmes.

 

29“Florida” – The Range

An electronic music producer from the hotbed of…. Providence, Rhode Island? The Range’s claim to fame is the thousands of samples he pulled from YouTube to assemble this record. The album’s a masterpiece of modern digital obsession. “Florida” provides a layman-accessible entrance into virtuoso kitchen sink electronica.

 

28“The Spoils” – Massive Attack, Hope Sandoval

The Japanese have a word for the meaningful silence in music — ma. Massive Attack understands ma. They embrace ma in order to create masterpieces of melancholy electronic soundscapes. With the right vocalist these minimal compositions will stop time. “The Spoils” brings us to the painful, immediate present. The beautiful torture of being aware of your own humanity.

 

27“Get Out” – Frightened Rabbit

Wondering who I can get in touch with to become the Hype Man for Frightened Rabbit. I imagine it involves drinking and telling everyone you know about this amazing band called Frightened Rabbit. I already do this; I just think I should get paid for it.

 

26“Yesterday” – Yumi Zouma

Every so often you happen across a record, a record that comes out of nowhere to cause shock and disbelief. It’s the “it’s 4am, I’m drunk and every record sounds like when I heard Pet Sounds for the first time” kind of awesome. Only it was 3pm, I was undercaffeinated and staring at 10 pages I needed to copyedit for 5pm. This New Zealand band clubbed me upside the head with electro-pop and I’m still dizzy from impact.

 

101 – 76   /  75 – 51   /  50 – 26  /   25 – 1

 

 

 

30Hz 100 Best Songs of 2016 / #75 – #51

best songs of 2016

Return to Best Songs of 2016 #101 – #76

 

 

75

“Mystery Fish” – Aesop Rock

Another hard-driving thumper from an indie-rapper who can do no wrong. Also, I have quite literally no idea what this song is about.

 

74“Alaska” – Maggie Rogers

The result of a singer/songwriter weened on Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill. Berklee School of Music songwriting champion. Crafty electronic production and a simple hook.

 

73“Wrong” – Big Smoke

Diagnosed with terminal esophageal cancer in 2015, Adrian Slattery rushed to finish Big Smoke’s debut album in between surgery and chemotherapy. Before Slattery passed in May of this year, he asked Alabama Shakes producer Shawn Everett to come down under to help the band finish the record. The record’s a posthumous testament to a talent taken too soon, and “Wrong” is the earnest, Americana-esque rocker that swells with heart and hope in the face of the heartless human condition.

 

72

“Eva” – HAERTS

The first time I heard HAERTS — sometime in 2013 — I couldn’t stop raving about the song “Wings.” I tossed that little pop ditty into the 2013 Best Songs countdown. This is the evolution of HAERTS from accessible, pop-forward melody to sweeping, melodrama indie-pop that remains immediately engaging, largely due to Nina Fabi’s fragile voice that sounds as if it might crumble right before your ears.

 

71

“Casual Party” – Band of Horses

I’m one of those assholes that scoffs when someone tells me that they’re a fan of Band of Horses, because they haven’t made a decent record since 2007, maybe 2010 if I’m being generous. See? An asshole. I wrote off 2016 Why Are You Ok before even hearing a single track. So… my bad.

 

70“Lost Boys” – Still Corners

We last heard Still Corners in 2013, when they released an underrated, dreamy record called Strange Pleasures. The band’s readjusted their focus on 2016’s Dead Blue, which emphasizes synths and cinematic revelry. “Lost Boys” is straight up 1980’s glam, flickering neon and glow-in-the-dark fluorescence.

 

69“I Know That You Know” – Leslie Odom, Jr. 

The world works in strange ways. Like how I watched the PBS documentary on Hamilton and learned the next day that the guy playing Aaron Burr had released a jazz vocals album with a Willie Nelson cover. While most of the record isn’t exactly my speed of lite contemporary jazz, “I Know That You Know” serves up a piece of vibrant, rage-against-the-dying-light piano composition that serves as a bombastic crescendo for Odom’s love-weary vocals.

 

68“Higher” – Carly Rae Jepsen

Putting modern pop stars to shame with a B-sides record that’s better than most other divas’ A-game. Tricky little synths, a steady beat and Jepsen’s infectious hooks.

 

67“L.I.E.” – Postiljonen

Mystical Stockholm dreampop outfit that sounds like M83 waxing nostalgic and pining for that secret sixth grade crush at 3am with a gin cocktail. (The best track on their record, “The Open Road,” was released last year as a single and appeared on the Best Songs of 2015 as well.)

 

66“Open the Door” – Guy Garvey

Shamelessly stolen from The Guardian’s list for the Best of 2016. If Guy’s timbre sounds familiar its because he fronted a little band called Elbow. (Don’t call me, Guy, buddy.) “Open the Door” is alt-rock Carnival, a roving, percussive band of minstrels sharing joy and a steady rhythm. I’ll admit in advance that if I’d had more time to absorb the record this track would have likely further climbed the charts.

 

65“Control” – The Operators

Dan Boeckner could front a middle school band that only covers Smashmouth and I’d probably still chart it.

 

64“With Her” (Chad Valley Remix) – Banoffee

Banoffee (Martha Brown) released “With Her” on her 2015 EP Do I Make You Nervous. Chad Valley’s made a living of late remixing and improving other artists’ work. Here, Chad Valley, aka Hugo Manuel takes Banoffee’s “With Her” and brings out the natural ebb and flow of the song, bridging the gaps in Banoffee’s uneven production with constant, fluttering background synth. The isolation and simplification of Banoffee’s vocal track further streamlines, creating a unified, more perfect version of the original track.

 

63“Go!” – M83 (featuring Mai Lan)

I’ve changed my mind about this song so many times that I’m just going to go ahead and write this really fast so I don’t boot it off the charts again. Do not let my complicated love/hate relationship with this song somehow misrepresent my uncomplicated feelings about the disaster of an M83 record from which this hails.

 

62“Settle Down” – Twin River

It’s not a 30Hz “Best of” countdown without some Canadian indie-rock jangle-pop up in your face.

 

61“Faces” Damien Taylor Remix  – David Hollebon

Hollebon’s greatest asset is his voice. He undermines his voice, which actually shares a register with Spoon’s Britt Daniel, with a tendency towards overproduction. Producer Damien Taylor introduces a slow build to the track, drawing anticipation for the grand crescendo, and final cathartic release of Hollebon’s full vocal capacity.

 

60“In Heaven” – Japanese Breakfast

One of many sweet little ditties from Michelle Zauner. As Japanese Breakfast, she crafted one of the finest pieces of pure pop or indie-pop available in 2016. Original hooks, tinkly synths, grounded lyrics. She walked a dangerous tightrope above a saccharine pit of failed pop artists and came out with one of the finest records of the year.

 

59“Tearing Me Up” – Bob Moses

High-school chums from Brooklyn bond over a love of 90’s punk, go their separate ways, re-team after individually working in the far off lands of Euro-techno and singer/songwriterdom to create a bouncy, bluesy, home-cooked killer jam.

 

58“Turn Me On” – Dinner

Electro-pop Future, meet Electro-pop Past. It’s all about the primal pairing of toms and synth and lusty lady whispers.

 

57

“Used to Be” – Weyes Blood

Weyes Blood aka multi-instrumentalist Natalie Mering released the singer-songwriter record of the year. Sorry, Angel Olsen. Soaring vibrattos, layered instrumentation, complex emotional transcripts. Karen Carpenter backed by Angelo Badalamenti.

 

56“Lying Has to Stop” – Soft Hair

Experimental sexy time music that fancies Flight of the Conchords and Marvin Gaye in equal measure.

 

55“The End of Reason” – Kate Jackson

Kate Jackson, former frontwoman for the Long Blondes, 1990’s Debbie Harry, noughties fashion icon, crafts pop about driving on the U.K. highway system. Honest. It’s great to have her back — no matter the source of her inspiration.

 

54“Take the Wheel” – Fort Frances

The best song you’d ever hear on a Starbucks coffeeshop playlist. I’m guessing. I get that chill, too-cool for drip coffee vibe from this band, purveyor of edgy Americana.

 

53

“Giant” – Banks & Steelz

I get all kinds of warm and fuzzies when rock artists team with rap artists to make a record. I still consider the Judgment Night soundtrack one of the best records ever released. I’m that delusional. Overall, I didn’t love the Banks & Steelz record, but I couldn’t shake this track despite how “easy” it felt. Like the chorus was just a tossaway Paul Banks (Interpol) scribble and the bits in between were filled with RZA being RZA. On the flipside of that — what the hell’s wrong with tossaway bits of Paul Banks songs and RZA being RZA? Not a damn thing. I surrender. Turn it up, maybe.

 

52“Breaking My Light” – Minor Victories

Gloomy, otherworldly shoegaze supergroup featuring members of Slowdive, The Editors and Mogwai. Fly, decadent sadness, fly.

 

51“Badges” – Yohuna

Sober, minimal soundtracking for sad sacks staring at the rising sun with the reluctant acceptance of a new day.

 

 

101 – 76   /   75 – 51   /  50 – 26 /   25 – 1

30Hz 100 Best Songs of 2016 / #101 – #76

best songs of 2016

 

 

 

inifinity

“Lazarus” – David Bowie & “You Want It Darker” – Leonard Cohen

I find it impossible to remove emotion from these two songs. Is each as good as I think? The swan songs from two of our most legendary musical artists, bowing out as only they could — with some of the most emotionally turbulent songs of their storied careers. You cannot distance either of these songs from the death of the artist. Therefore, I’m putting them here — technically outside the countdown — and yet bigger and more important than the countdown itself.

 

100

“Who’s Got You Singing Again” – PREP

The mid-tempo soft-funk burner comes from London’s PREP, who released their debut EP this year. Three words: Sincere. Jazz. Flute. I treat my countdowns like massive mixtapes. “Who’s Got You Singing Again” comes out of those David Bowie/Leonard Cohen tearjerkers with a much needed sense of hope.

 

99

“Mercy” – Eric Bachmann

The doo-wop-wop-wop intro gives way to a songwriter crooning melancholy existentialism, but with a catchy little hook. “Take your idols and fables / trick your mind so you’ll be able / to deal with pain and death and loss of those you love.” Despite all the song’s talk of emptiness and senseless pain, Bachmann makes your heart grow two sizes.

 

98“Take It Easy (Ever After Lasting Love)” – White Denim

Neo-soul begins its global takeover — or at least it’s relative omnipresence of this particular countdown — here. Funky falsetto backed by some Stax-era orchestration encourages random acts of unfortunate sing-along.

 

97
“What’s It Gonna Be” – Shura

Self-assured pop debut that channels Janet Jackson and Madonna at the most pop-forward points in their career. Shura, aka 25yo Alexsandra Denton, strikes right to the heart on this ultimatum song — is it forever or is it never? she asks, nay, she demands in the most danceable way ever.

 

96“Man” – Skepta

U.K grime vet churned out one of the best rap records of the year and earned a Mercury Prize over sentimental favorite David Bowie. “Man” stands out as the highlight. Skepta’s tireless, persistent delivery found a fan in Drake, who pushed the record stateside. Therefore, Skepta’s Konnichiwa is also the best thing Drake’s ever done.

 

95“Doctor Doctor” – Oh Pep!

It’s only an Khan-brand (TM) earworm if it’s not good. Lucky for us all, Australia’s female duo Oh Pep! lives up to their exclamation point. You won’t mind when this bounces around your noggin for a few days.

 

94“Sleaze” – Klangstof

Psych-pop Amsterdam-based band featuring a Norwegian singer and producer weened on Radiohead and Sigar Rós and inspired of late by Alt-J. They fall squarely in between all of those bands to become something else — something immediate, atmospheric and accessible. “Hostage” may have been the more widely accessed cut, but this is the one that represents, in my mind, the band at maximum potency.

 

93“Ladies Don’t Play Guitar” – Tennis 

It’s not because I have the slightest of indirect connections to this band that they keep popping up on my countdowns — lead singer Alaina Moore’s my former and longtime dental hygienist’s younger cousin — it’s that they have an uncanny talent for channeling a lazy, retro, mid-tempo vibe. And that lazy, retro, mid-tempo vibe seems to be my preferred frequency. On this particular track, the lyrics “Tell me what can I give / If all my work is bleak and abstracted / Tried to build a legacy / That will not complicate the future of your own progeny,” feels very now and 2016 necessary.

 

92

“Branches Break” – GoGoPenguin

You may not have noticed but this experimental jazz trio was shortlisted for the Mercury Prize back in 2012. I could have picked a number of songs to represent GoGoPenguin, but I chose “Branches Break” as a fine intersection of classic three-part jazz composition and glitchy experimentation. If you fancy the experimentation more, check out “Protest.” If you fancy classical jazz, give “GBFISHYSIH” a listen.

 

91

“Genghis Khan” – Miike Snow

Stockholm’s Miike Snow’s solidified their place as a reliable indie-pop chart-topper with their 2016 album iii. This, their second single from the record, relies on a slick hook that could have come from a better, more electric version of Maroon 5. It’s pronounced “Mike” Snow, by the way. The two “i” thing helps with Google searches I’d imagine.

 

90

“Degraded (Edit)” – Preoccupations

The Band Formerly Known as Viet Cong. People call this “art-rock” but I have no idea what that means. I’ll call it scuzzy, cynical post-punk. The album version of “Degraded” takes ages to find its groove; this “edit” gets the point, stays there, needles you some more.

 

89

“Hands of Time” – Margo Price

Every year I seem to champion one “country” artist. This year, the 30Hz Recommended banner hung from the back of Margo Price’s pickup. This Emmylou or Loretta for the 21st century spins short stories through her songs, and this heartbreaking ballad oozes nostalgia for shattered ideals, childhood freedoms and a bygone era of country music.

 

88

“Can’t Let Go, Juno” – Kishi Bashi

Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist K Ishibashi toured as a violinist for Sondre Lerch, Regina Specter and Of Montreal before going solo under the monicker Kishi Bashi. His 2014 sophomore record Lighght is an eclectic morsel of sonic pop-experimentation and “Can’t Let Go, Juno” picks up where that record left off. If you have a chance to see him on tour, likely opening for someone less talented, do so. And get a front row seat.

 

87

“Kismet Kill” – Haley Bonar

Canadian-born singer/songwriter Haley Bonar unfairly occupies a less visible indie strata than the similarly-styled Aimee Mann but also inspires comparisons to Mazzy Star with intermittent walls of guitar — as on “Kismet Kill,” her standout track from the 2016 album Impossible Dream.

 

86

“Crying in Public” – Chairlift

Just yesterday I learned that after ten years, Caroline and Patrick, the electro-pop duo known as Chairlift, has called it quits. Caroline will begin a solo career, and Patrick plans to focus on producing. That their final record, Moth, may have been their finest, most accomplished collection of music is a bittersweet send off. And this track, this soul-wrenching ballad about unrequited love, also happened to be the very first track I selected — way back on January 23rd — for a spot on this Best of 2016 countdown.

 

85

“Triumph ’73” – The Felice Brothers

These brothers from New York City via the Catskill Mountains channel a raw blend of folk music and Americana and clearly have a thing for Bob Dylan and Uncle Tupelo.

 

84

“Atomic Number” – case/lang/veirs

The indie-folk supergroup of Neko Case, k.d. lang and Laura Veirs sing like angels. Hell, maybe they are actual angels. I wouldn’t be surprised. Their voices envelop you with sweet, sweet comfort indie-folk. Like sitting in a chair of marshmallows drinking a glass of straight whiskey.

 

83

“Silly Me” – Yeasayer

Tossup between “Silly Me” and “I Am Chemistry” for Yeasayer representation on the Best Songs of 2016 countdown. Yeasayer occupies the 201x role of the Talking Heads. Constant experimentation, mid-tempo pop sensibility with an eye towards album construction and identity. Plus they called me out on Twitter when I said I wasn’t entirely sure about their latest record after an first listen. The band told me to be patient with Amen & Goodbye; they were right.

 

82

“I Don’t Want to Be Funny Anymore” – Lucy Dacus

Singer/songwriter with a streak of punk  — but the punk elements imbue her music with a warmth and relatability. She’s an everygirl, making cutting and purposeful observations about social mores and the burdens of being young, smart and female in the 21st century.

 

81

“Below” – White Lung

An infectious ballad from loud, infamous punk rockers. At face value, “Below” is the most un-White Lung track in their entire catalog. Take another listen to the blistering drums and driving guitar that propel this ersatz “power ballad.” This is punk, melodic and intelligible, but punk rock nonetheless.

 

80

“Gamesofluck” – Parcels

Australia’s new wave disco act calls themselves Parcels and dislikes spaces in their track titles. They haven’t yet released a full LP or even an EP, but they’ve teased us with two excellent, highly danceable daytime disco tracks and I need more. We all need more happy-time.

 

79

“Bum Bum Bum” – Cass McCombs

Low-key guitar, tempered vocals, organ, bits of synth and understated greatness. I’ve never been a big fan of Cass McCombs but this song and his latest album Mangy Love have caused me to re-evaluate all of my old opinions regarding McCombs’ AM-radio sonic thoroughfare. Quite simply — I was grossly mistaken about Cass McCombs.

 

78

“Sun City Creeps” – Woods

Even a lesser Woods record deserves your ears. Wah-wah guitar, psychedelia and a smattering of Ennio Morricone bring out a more melodic side of Woods… and then the guitar solo — a playful, sure-fingered groove that could have only come from this lo-fi Brooklyn indie/freak folk/psych/jam institution.

 

77

“Love & Hate” – Michael Kiwanuka

The title track from Michael Kiwanuka’s brilliant second album serves as a testament to the UK neo-soulster’s growing isolation and disillusionment. The son of Ugandan emigrants, Kiwanuka presents sincere retro-styled tracks in the mode of Bill Withers and even Van Morrison. The lyrics will crush you, and the familiar orchestrations will sooth you — leaving you somewhere in the grey purgatory between the lines.

 

76

“Electric” – Brett

For their latest album, the electronic art-pop outfit claims to have been influenced by Jean Luc-Godard’s latest film Goodbye to Language. I don’t know how that informs anyone’s listening experience, but I can say that Brett’s album Mode allows listener identification and proximity whereas their 2014 debut stressed colder, synthetic isolation. I much prefer this direction. Also check out “Dans Un Autre Reve,” another standout track that just barely missed the final cut.

 

101 – 76   /   75 – 51   /  50 – 26  /   25 – 1

 

30Hz 100 Best Songs of 2016

best songs of 2016

 

In honor the official meme of 2016 — the dumpster fire, I’ve also shifted my Best Songs of 2016 title from Killer Jams to Smokin’ Tracks. (Get it? Because the tracks are on fire!) I’m more than happy to light the fuse on this m’f’er known as 2016 and close the blast doors. As 2016 dealt blow after blow, many of us turned to music for solace. The year produced some of the most amazing music of the last decade. From the opening volleys of January until these last, merciful breaths of December, artists turned out beautiful, meaningful, socially conscious, melodic, energetic, hopeful, angry, militant, soul-affirming music — the soundtrack of 2016, the reminder that all is not lost — that all is never lost as long as there is music steering our ships through the blackest night. As one of hundreds (thousands?) of music writers churning out their “year end” lists, it’s our job as a collective community to make sure that all of this good doesn’t gets consumed by the quaking quagmire.

 

Commence the 30Hz 100 Best Songs of 2016 Countdown

Every year since 2005, my friend Mike at bsidesnarrative.com and I have been compiling our “Best of” lists. It’s a competition without a winner or a loser. It’s a way for us to communicate about music and share our thoughts without being able to chat as much as we’d like anymore. The above link will take you to his list.

2016 could have been known as The Year the Music Died. David Bowie, Glen Frey, Phife Dawg, Merle Haggard, Prince, Guy Clark, Ralph Stanley, Leonard Cohen, Sharon Jones. The innovative. The inspirational. The poetic. Instead of mourning these legends, let us celebrate the music they gave us and the music they still inspire. Three of these artists appear on Best Songs of 2016 list, but their ongoing influence cannot be measured.

I always use this pre-show countdown to enter a disclaimer about how I consume and sample new music. I see no reason to quit a solid holiday tradition. My preliminary “Hits List” of any track that might fill a final spot on the countdown swelled past 300 this year, a new record… and I’ve been doing this for 11 years now. I obsessively listen to new release lists every single week in order to appear competent while compiling my “Best of” lists. This is serious business. And yes, it stresses me out, especially now, as I’m filling out the final roster with brutal, gut-wrenching cuts to songs that have been with me nearly all year.

Even if I were exhausted from listening to new music every week — and I am — I couldn’t stop. They never stop making new music. I do this because I listen to so many people tell me that “nobody releases good music anymore.” When someone tells me this, I can’t help but shrug and try not to offend. What they’re telling me is that they’re too lazy to do anything but turn on the radio or tell Pandora to play an algorithmically generated (read: soulless) playlist. The music is out there. You just have to look. A little.

Music is as vibrant and creative as its ever been… probably more so due to the unlimited avenues available for independent distribution. Here’s the flipside, however — there’s so much volume that it might be overwhelming. Find a writer or a blog or a bl-gger (ahem) that you trust, whose tastes align with or challenge your own. There are many great blogs out there that filter through the seas of information to pick their favorite tracks. A few times a month I visit Said the Gramophone and My Old Kentucky Blog. I read and consider reviews at Consequence of Sound and mock Pitchfork whenever possible. I write reviews infrequently for the Toronto-based Spill Magazine (as time permits). It’s out there.

Even if all you do is check in at the end of the year for my Best of 2016 list, I’m good with that, too. I put a lot of work into these countdowns and I’m happy you’re stopping by to hear/discover/enjoy music. After all, “Best of” is really just a misnomer. These are the tracks that moved me — a small cross-section of the music that filled my year, unfairly distilled into individual bullet points and rankings.

Commence the countdown. No skipping ahead.

 

101 – 76   /   75 – 51   /  50 – 26 /   25 – 1

 

Christmas Stuff – Originals and Oddities: The Mixtape Battle Vol. 2

christmas-ish stuff a mixtape

 

Mixtape Battle Vol. 2

Christmas Stuff – Originals and Oddities Mixtape Battle

 

Twas the fortnight before Christmas when all through the Web,
Not a creative was stirring not even the celebs.
The playlist was slow jams, standards, the usual fare,
Hopeful that St. 30Hz would soon be there.

The audiophiles felt weary, one more “Silver Bells” would drive them to drinker,
While visions of Meatwad and Tom Waits danced in their thinker.
Mama in her yoga pants and I in my Guster tee
Had just settled our butts down to enjoy bread and a hot, bubbly brie.

Then out of the Macbook there arose such a clatter.
I sprang from my sofa to see what was the matter.
Away to the Facebook, I flew like a blink,
Tore open the notifications and clicked on the link.

The gift was a collection of rarely heard gems,
That reminded not all Christmas tunes were regurgitated phlegms.
What to my wandering ears shoulder appear,
But a playlist of 16 goodies from 30Hz that made me say “Oh dear!”

***

“Christmas Stuff – Originals and Oddities”
Mixtape Battle INSTRUCTIONS!

 

ConstruxNunchux has once again challenged 30Hz to a Mixtape Battle to end all Mixtape Battles! (That is, until we regroup for Mixtape Battle III in the new year.) Below you will find one playlist from me, 30Hz, and one from the Nunchux boys. Once you listen to both playlists (limited to a mere 60 minutes to holiday tunage), vote below for which collection you enjoyed more. The winner this week gets extra gravy on his mashed potatoes so please vote with your heart and vote with your head, but please, sirs and madams, just vote.

30hzrating1 Sales Pitch: I aimed for a balance of sincere holiday warm fuzzies and Scrooge-y cynicism with a side of yuletide jollies. The ebb and flow of the playlist remained imperative. Though holiday songs often require a different mindset, a less critical approach, I didn’t want to sacrifice listenability or the overall playlist integrity. Holiday or otherwise, I needed killer jams that fit a collective compositional theme.

I kept the blaspheming to a minimum, though you’ll note a few choice phrases and mention of hookers, affairs with siblings and Scott Stapp (the horror!). Be careful not to become too blissfully complacent or seasonally merry. After you hear that Paul Kelly song near the end… if your heart doesn’t grow three sizes, you might just be a Grinch after all.

I hope your holiday season brings family together, friends closer and allows you to imbibe heavily. Share our playlists with others and make your own. Give the gift of good music. Also books. People need to read more.

 

30Hz Spotify:

 

30Hz 8Tracks.com


 

ConstruxNunchux Sales Pitch: 

Mixtape Battle #2 – X-mas Originals and Oddities: The second challenge between your humble bloggers construxnunchux and 30hz Rumble was an easy one to pick. We decided to dig into the void of obscure X-mas music and pull out of best (worst) holiday tunes we could find.

Ian and I put together a formidable collection of X-mas songs for you all out there. I sprinkled in a few songs about dicks, and other unsettling topic as I tend to do and it turned out to be a great collection.

I have to admit there were dozens and dozens of a amazing songs I’ve never heard before from artists I never expected. This was an incredibly fun one to do and incredibly difficult making cuts to “essential” songs. We asked Santa for a 60m tape in our stockings and he obliged!

We are giving you bonus songs for free! So please, enjoy, have an amazing X-mas (or whatever you’re into) and spread some of that surplus holiday cheer to everyone around you.

 

ConstruxNunchux Spotify:

 

LISTEN. ABSORB. VOTE.

Which mixtape did you most enjoy?

30hz Rumble
ConstruXnunchuX

 

Previously on  30Hz Mixtapes:

soulful stuff to end power yoga mixtape

Star Wars Stuff - the mixtape

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