At the beginning of June, one of my favorite singer/songwriter/musician/producers, Richard Swift, passed away. He was involved in a ton of my favorite music and I’ve listened to and written about a lot of his music over the years. The first 8 picks this time around are albums he was involved with.
Yuuki Matthews – Funny Morning (Bandcamp)
A guy who plays in your favorite bands records a near-perfect dream pop song, gets Richard Swift to remix it, then adds two gorgeous, enveloping ambient tracks to even out the LP.
Instruments of Science & Technology – Music for Paradise Armor (Bandcamp)
Fifteen warm instrumental tracks of technological bleeps and boops, clicks and clacks, and hums. Recorded by Richard Swift for Asthmatic Kitty’s Library Catalog Music Series.
Gardens & Villa – Gardens & Villa (Bandcamp)
Synth-heavy, close-harmonizing beach goth from Santa Barbara. Richard Swift collaborated with the band and produced this album, their debut.
Map – Secrets by the Highway (Spotify)
Starts with a solid gold opening track and it remains great the whole sad way through. Richard Swift coproduced and sang and played on this album, but Josh Dooley’s melodic guitar is the star of the show.
⬇️ Jessie Baylin – Pleasure Center EP (Soundcloud)
Nashville singer Jessie Baylin and Richard Swift recorded this little EP straight to four-track cassette and it has a sultry 70s glitzy backroom vibe that I keep coming back to. It looks like there’s nowhere to download this album from the internet anymore, so click here to download.
Marco Benevento – Swift (Bandcamp)
Piano-driven pop with a throwback edge and so much of Richard Swift’s patented basement glitz that the album is named after the collaborator/producer.
Starflyer 59 – Old (Bandcamp)
SF59’s been ahead of their time the entire time they’ve been releasing albums. Richard Swift jumped into the producer seat on this album and added wall of sound/kitchen sink production that would be all the rage about 10 years later.
Richard Swift – The Novelist/Walking Without Effort (Spotify)
Swift’s debut album is really his first two albums. The Novelist is a Tin Pan Alley concept album, and Walking Without Effort is an experiment in pure pop songwriting. They’re all-time classics.
Mike Adams at His Honest Weight – Casino Drone (Bandcamp)
Cavernous midwestern dream pop with an uncommon warmth.
Tanukichan – Sundays (Bandcamp)
Sun-baked, fuzzed-out California dream pop. Intimate and handcrafted less like a purchase from Etsy and more like something a friend made for you.
Pure Bathing Culture – Pray for Rain (Bandcamp)
Pop that’s sunny and dreamy at the same time with huge choruses meant to push you towards a better day.
The Ophelias – Almost (Bandcamp)
Totally chill art rock that’s too punk to be chamber pop but too florid to be straight up punk rock. It’s urgent and straightforward but has intricate instrumentation that takes it to another level.
Balún – Prisma Tropical (Bandcamp)
The perfect dreamy summer album. Made of equal parts warm evenings, cool breezes, fruit-flavored drinks, and sultry glances. One of my favorites of this year.
Thousand Foot Whale Claw – Black Hole Party (Bandcamp)
Noodling space drone at its finest. Proggy and grand while riding a hardcore mellow vibe, yet still danceable when it feels right. (Fans of S U R V I V E & Stranger Things soundtrack, get into this!)
⬇️ Bwana – Capsule’s Pride (Bikes) EP (Download)
A long EP of heavy, brooding tracks amalgamated from samples of the Akira soundtrack (30 years old this year!). Really excellent headphone music for computer work. The album can be downloaded by putting your email address at the link above, or by clicking here.
David García Díaz – RiME (Deluxe Soundtrack) (Bandcamp)
Gentle and suitably epic, this orchestral soundtrack is an excellent companion to the magical mystery of puzzle-solving game RiME.
Nitemoves – Don’t Ask! (Bandcamp)
Electronic music that traverses the continuum between ambient noise and four on the floor dance beats while keeping the listener enthralled and a little haunted.
Capitol K – Goatherder (Bandcamp)
Weirdo beats and paleo dub constructed in a cave out of reeds, and electric bass guitar, and a drum machines.
Dana Buoy – Ice Glitter Gold (Bandcamp)
Future pop aiming for digital maximalism but with too much personality and soul to feel like a sanitized product. Wild and fun.
The Budos Band – The Budos Band III (Bandcamp)
Conspiratorial instrumental jams perfect for your latest caper. Featuring unstoppable horns that register somewhere between mariachi and Fela Kuti. (Shout out to @DoorMatPrice for this excellent recommendation.)
Off World – 2 (Bandcamp)
Sandro Perri and a whole cavalcade of collaborators construct alien music that remains warm and inviting.
Via Vegrandis – II (Bandcamp)
Five songs of dreamy noise pop or noisy dream pop, complete with big choruses, big synths, big vibes, and small moments of perfection.
Lydia Képinski – Premier juin (Bandcamp)
Perfectly-produced pop en français that has an undeniably Montreal feel–melancholy but still with that joie de vivre and experimentalist streak that make things really stick in your head.
⬇️ leon chang – re:treat (Bandcamp)
Gentle tunes ideal for maxing and relaxing, but with precisely-placed oomph to get you to nod your head. Fans of Animal Crossing and other good, friendly things, take note.