Ryan’s Music Picks 🐾 February 2018

I’m still doing the album a day thing on twitter. Happy Black History Month!

Konono No. 1 – Assume Crash Position (Bandcamp)
Relentlessly buoyant and just this side of cacophony, this is that sunshine and rainbows music that I like to hear.

Rain Machine – Rain Machine (Spotify)
Kyp from TV on the Radio stretches his guitar-playing fingers and, solo, gets intimate and personal but stays good and weird.

Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star (Spotify)
This 20 year old album is one of the best rap albums ever made. The beats still bang, and the bars are still undeniably killer. A rare album that’s fun, thought-provoking, and keeps your head nodding.

Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment – Surf (Spotify)
Not many albums feature Busta Rhymes and an extended reference to Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way. Chance the Rapper is all over this but it’s Jamila Woods on Sunday Candy that blows this album away.

The Dirtbombs – Ultraglide in Black (Spotify)
One of the most legit of the early 2000s garage rock revival, composed mostly of awesome punked-up Motown covers.

Jamila Woods – HEAVN (Spotify)
Simultaneously art and literature with singalongable choruses and clever wordplay that never holds back or minces words. This is so good and way too slept on.

Black Hat – Impossible World (Bandcamp)
Spacey dreamwave that veers between corrupted ambient spa sounds and clicks and cuts territory.

J. Dilla – Donuts (Bandcamp)
Legendary beats are legendary for a reason: they rule.

Mamman Sani – Taaritt (Bandcamp)
Vintage Nigerian space synth jams like you’d expect to hear at throwback night at a Wakandan club.

Mulatu Astatke & The Heliocentrics – Inspiration Information 3 (Bandcamp)
The father of Ethio-jazz gets transcendent in his collaboration with a British psychedelic band.

Gallant – Ology (Spotify)
Complex future pop soaked in heart and soul. Dense and rewarding and totally singalongable.

KING – We Are King (Bandcamp)
Smooth af songs that take the 80s/90s R&B blueprint and inject just enough experimental psychedelia to make it fresh without getting too weird.

clipping. – Splendor & Misery (Bandcamp)
Science fiction noise rap that’s introspective and brutal in equal measure (and features broadway star Daveed Diggs)

Shamir – Hope (Soundcloud, FREE DOWNLOAD)
I love it when an artist sets their sights on a new style of music and knocks it out of the park. Shamir gets lofi and noisy but keeps pushing out pop perfection.

Ellul – Ashes (Bandcamp)
Deeply complex, dense electronic songs shot through with feeling.

Kashmere Stage Band – Texas Thunder Soul 1968-1974 (Spotify)
Killer funk played with expertise and exuberance by a high school band in Houston. A hidden gem brought out through a crate-digger’s rerelease that was instantly iconic.

Fela Kuti – Best of The Black President (Bandcamp)
A compilation of the foundational afrobeat godfather’s greatest singles.

Benjamin Clementine – I Tell A Fly (Bandcamp)
The piano wunderkind gets deeply weird and experimental both lyrically and musically. A rewarding listen.

Sam Cooke – Night Beat (Spotify)
A gorgeous early example of a cohesive R&B album that surpasses anything the Beatles or The Beach Boys were doing at the time.

James Tillman – Silk Noise Reflex (Bandcamp)
Not that J. Tillman, James Tillman makes super smooth quiet soul with plenty of atmosphere. It’s the space yacht rock that Thundercat wishes he could make.

Hailu Mergia – Lala Beylu (Bandcamp)
Accordion-based Ethio-jazz that edges towards free jazz in moments but always sticks with that classic vibe.

Quincy Jones – Big Band Bossa Nova (Spotify)
One of the most influential band leaders and producers in the 20th century expertly imports 60s Brazilian bossa nova and Americanizes it. Of course, now all anyone hears is Austin Powers.

Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Spotify)
It opens with a 9-minute guitar solo and then launches into some of the greatest funk songs ever created by man. Truly an album for the ages.

Sinkane – Life & Livin’ It (Bandcamp)
Can an album be a force for good? There some kind of magic that inhabits this album’s combination of Afrobeat, dance vibes and classic pop.

Cannibal Ox – The Cold Vein (Bandcamp)
The OK Computer of rap. Devastating experimental beats and rhymes that sounded like nothing else at the time. Still a masterpiece.