Category Archives: 30Hz Music

The 30Hz music-related ramblings

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

Star Wars Stuff – The Mixtape Battle

Star Wars Stuff - the mixtape

 

 

30Hz Mixtape Battle Prelude – Crawl from #Bond_age_ on Vimeo.

 

Mixtape Battle Episode I

THE STAR WARS MIXTAPE BATTLE

It is a period of Mixtape ambivalence. 30Hz, striking from 12-track playlists on 8Tracks and Spotify, has won minor victories against the evil galactic iTunes empire of mindless streams of music. During the one-sided battle (that iTunes never even noticed), 30Hz managed to steal the attention of ConstruXNunchuX blogger, Paul Clemente, who challenged 30Hz to a mixtape battle that could bring balance to the universe… or at least Pittsburgh… but probably nothing will happen.

Pursued by the “evil” agents from iTunes and probably Pandora, ConstruX and 30Hz comb through every Star Wars-related song they can think of to save the Mixtape and restore musical awareness to the Galaxy.

The following tracks cover or sample Star Wars music and/or contain goddamn catchy lyrical references to the Star Wars galaxy. May the force be with 30Hz and ConstruX NunchuX.

Star Wars Stuff Mixtape Battle INSTRUCTIONS!

Once you listen to both playlists (limited by 12-tracks or 45 minutes), vote below for which collection of jams you enjoyed better. The winner this week gets the puppy they’ve always wanted for Xmas so please vote with your heart and vote with your head, but please, sirs and madams, just vote.


Star Wars Stuff: The Mixtape Battle

 

30Hz 8TRACKS.COM:

30Hz SPOTIFY:

 

VS.

 

ConstruXNunchuX SPOTIFY:

 

LISTEN. ABSORB. VOTE.

Who has the better Star Wars mixtape?

30 HZ Rumble
Construxnunchux

SurveyMaker

 

PREVIOUS MIXTAPES:

Halloween Stuff Vol. 1 & 2 / Soulful Stuff to End Power Yoga

Soulful Stuff to End Power Yoga – The Mixtape

soulful stuff to end power yoga mixtape

 

I’m continuing my bl-g series devoted to bringing back the spirit of the mixtape. This past Wednesday I found inspiration in the song played at the end of my yoga practice. Though “practice” may be a bit of misnomer with me lately. Jen always plays a killer song during cool down. This particular evening she ended with Al Green’s “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.”

As I laid in an ever-increasing puddle of my own perspiration, I contemplated the perfection of that song as an individual piece of music, as yogic wisdom, and workout turndown. The song’s pace and depth of soundscape that Al Green conveys with such minimal production. The choice inspired me to explore what other songs from my library might also function as admirably at the end of a brutal series of sun salutations and core strengthening. I humbly present Al Green and 11 other soulful songs to soundtrack your own personal well-earned exhaustion, yogic or otherwise, presented as both an 8tracks.com and Spotify playlist for your listening pleasure.

 

Soulful Stuff to End Power Yoga: The Mixtape

 

8TRACK.COM:

 

SPOTIFY:

 

Previous Mixtapes:

Halloween Stuff Vol. 1 & 2