Ryan’s Music Picks 🌦 April 2018

It’s been one of those months, huh? I took a few weeks off of work and really mellowed out and have had a time getting back into the swing of things. I didn’t tweet an album every single day, but got pretty close. The ⬇ means that the album can be downloaded free. There’s so much good music out in the year of our Lord 2018, I hope you enjoy these picks!

Songs of Green Pheasant – Songs of Green Pheasant (Bandcamp)
Mist-shrouded acoustic songs that gently lead down a psychedelic path.

Daphne & Celeste – Daphne & Celeste Save the World (Spotify)
Produced by Max Tundra, it’s a super future pop album overflowing with charm and sincerity in a way that most of the PC Music stuff isn’t.

In Love with a Ghost – gay story (Bandcamp)
The master of ASMR pop delivers a new set of therapeutic soundscapes and sick beats perfect for maximum chill.

Melody’s Echo Chamber – Melody’s Echo Chamber (Bandcamp)
Lush psychedelic songs that hit so many musical sweet spots for me: synths, shoegaze, dream pop, experimentalism. This is exceptionally good and highly recommended. New album in June!

Det Svarta Landet – Verdant Realm (Compilation) (Bandcamp)
The perfect collection of dungeon synth tracks to bring your campaign to a fulfilling conclusion.

Project Pablo – There’s Always More At The Store (Bandcamp)
Five tracks of laid-back house here to lock into your mind and get you thinking.

Duet for Theramin and Lap Steel – 10 (Bandcamp)
Beautifully enrapturing ambient noise that could just as well be created by cosmic entities or an enchanted forest.

The Fearless Flyers – The Fearless Flyers (Bandcamp)
Fifteen perfect minutes of instrumental funk. Includes a Stevie Wonder AND Disney’s The Little Mermaid cover. No joke, this is perfect sunny day music.

Makeness – Loud Patterns (Bandcamp)
A very dense collection of songs that exists on the continuum between psychedelic rock and acid house, making side trips to shoegaze and krautrock. Killer.

Mouse on Mars – Dimensional People (Bandcamp)
Groundbreaking experimental electronic music that stays danceable. This album has a bunch of big name indie collaborators but doesn’t try to soften the strangeness one bit.

Rival Consoles – Persona (Bandcamp)
Resting somewhere between avant-garde experimentalism and deep house, this album slowly encroaches on your mind and takes it over before you realize what’s happened.

Equip – Synthetic Core 88 (Bandcamp)
In 2018, “soundtrack for an imaginary video game” is an entire genre. Equip’s second release (a collaboration with artist Drew Wise) is a stellar exemplar, designed to give you nostalgia for something that doesn’t exist.

Che – Shuco EP (Bandcamp)
Refreshingly dank laid back vibes like the shade on a hot afternoon. Kinda sounds like making computer pop in your dorm room while someone shreds one room over.

CJ Mirra – Static (Original Surf Soundtracks vol. 1) (Bandcamp)
Epic slow motion noise. (Sounds nothing like The Beach Boys, Dick Dale, or The Ventures.)

P X A – S P A C E S (Bandcamp)
ASMR zen ambience and noise for maximum relaxation. You don’t need scientifically proven albums for sleep when you have this much chill.

Superstar Cruiser – Enceladus (Bandcamp)
Big spacey sounds that seem to be formed from the detritus of crashed airbrush spaceships from the covers of 70s arena rock albums.

Dan Lissvik – Archive 1 (Bandcamp)
Literally one hundred tracks of sketchy Swedish balearic chill from half of legendary duo Studio.

The Word – The Word (Spotify)
Occasionally-transcendent instrumental gospel jazz rock that rises above “background music for a church photo montage” thanks especially to Robert Randolph’s pedal steel guitar.

Space Ghost – Endless Light (Bandcamp)
Super synthy, mega chill interstellar house that still stays grounded.

Ebo Taylor – Yen Ara (Bandcamp)
The Ghanian afro-funk legend returns with a mix of danceable melancholy that runs the gamut between jazz and ska.

Paul White – Rejuvenate (Bandcamp)
The Danny Brown producer makes a mellow sample-free R&B album that leans towards late night grooves and ghostly instrumentals.

Sweet Valley – Eternal Champ II (Bandcamp)
The Williams bros (one of Wavves fame) return to their schitzo-retro mixtape project and bring the bass and the weird noisy samples to make your head nod.

ZHU – Ringo’s Desert, Pt. 1 (Soundcloud)
Seven tracks of killer electronic R&B for fans of darkness, The Weeknd, and slow motion videos of things being destroyed majestically.

Johnnie Frierson – Have You Been Good To Yourself (Bandcamp)
The importance of the Gospel and self-care in trying times, presented in a fifty(it’s not 50, but it’s vintage)-year-old cassette recording of a Stax singer accompanied only by an electric guitar. This is AMAZINGLY GOOD.

Ryan’s Music Picks 🐇 March 2018

We made it through March. There’s a few albums in here that aren’t on Spotify or Apple Music. I’ve added download links if that’s the case and you can’t get ’em from bandcamp. Non-streaming albums are marked with a ⬇

Khruangbin – Con Todo El Mundo (Bandcamp)
Thai funk-inspired mostly instrumental groove rock from Texas. Addictive to listen to, with an unkillable vibe.

Wall of Death – Loveland (Bandcamp)
Heavy psychedelic rock, like a jangly shoegaze band. Dark and driving music.

Superorganism – Superorganism (Bandcamp)
The millennial/gen z answer to Odelay. The songs have a coherent sound that incorporates Beck, The Tough Alliance, Kanye, Animal Collective into a hazy slime from which earworms emerge. Something for your M.I.N.D. indeed.

Clive Tanaka y su orquestra – Jet Set Siempre 1° (Bandcamp)
Chillwave that actually gets closer to that Daft Punk played on a warped cassette than any other. Also sequenced just like Discovery: Dance on the A side, Romance on the B side.

Dux Content – Lifestyle (Soundcloud, Download)
Built from samples that are immediately recognizable but not identifiable, this whole album is catchy in its own right but it constantly feels like it’s about to be a song you know. Mesmerizing.

U.S. Girls – In a Poem Unlimited (Spotify)
Funky and complex songs that feel handmade, but clearly created by an expert craftswoman who knows exactly how to move you with her music.

2 Mello – Memories of Tokyo-To: An Ode to Jet Set Radio (Bandcamp)
A super fun tribute to one of the most fun video games with one of the best soundtracks ever. If you need more @jetsetradiolive in your life, this is a good start.

Stars of the Lid – Gravitational Pull vs the Desire for an Aquatic Life (Bandcamp)
A stone classic in calming, enveloping ambient noise. Warm and inviting, familiar but still ahead of its time.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – The Kid (Bandcamp)
Whimsical and enrapturing psychedelic layers of electronic sounds and voice that brings to mind a more experimental Björk or a more laid-back Fever Ray.

⬇ You c + Foresteppe – Seven Sleepers (Bandcamp)
Gently gorgeous twinkling noise from Siberia, meant to lull you into sleeping for several hundred years.

Groundislava – Groundislava II (Bandcamp)
A “lost record” that’s blippy and woozy like the best vaporwave but a lot more interested in having fun and crafting actual songs than the cliches of the genre typically imply.

Old Tower – Stellary Wisdom (Bandcamp)
“Black metal” with none of the guitar and drums that you’d expect from the “metal” label, but plenty of mood to get you deep into droning darkness.

Teen Daze – Reinterprets Selections From “Mend” by Geotic (Bandcamp)
An ep of remixes that take Geotic’s master relaxer and redeploys it for maximum chill.

Mythless – Patience Hell EP (Bandcamp)
Half of the dudes in band Fang Island take their posi-metal to two simultaneous extremes: it’s both heavier and more ambient while still having that whole unironic sunshine vibe.

Trentemøller – Into The Great Wide Yonder (Bandcamp)
An electronic album that is only 8 years old but sounds totally classic. This thing balances introspective atmospherics and solid jams so solidly.

Prayer – I/II (Bandcamp)
Two epic gospel house tracks that each traverse the ground between meditation and workout with open hearts.

Baloji – 137 Avenue Kaniama (Bandcamp)
Afro-beat influenced rap with plenty of horns kinda like a Congolese Chance & the Social Experiment.

About – Bongo (Spotify)
Glitchy laptop pop-punk from the mid-2000s.

Caroline Says – No Fool Like An Old Fool (Bandcamp)
Hushed guitar-fronted dream pop that travels a careful continuum between lush and stark.

The Seatbelts – Music For Freelance (Youtube, Download)
An album of remixes from the show Cowboy Bebop’s soundtrack, with canonical radio interstitials. Pure turn-of-the-century funk.

Jason Forrest – The Unrelenting Songs of the 1979 Post Disco Crash (Bandcamp)
A very mid-2000s mashup album that’s more Avalanches than Girl Talk but harsher and more intense than either of them.

Gost – Possessor (Bandcamp)
Dank and brutal synthwave with death metal vocals and horrorshow samples.

Orquesta Akokán – Orquesta Akokán (Bandcamp)
Fantastic mambo that instantly washes away conceptions of 50s sitcoms or 90s pop songs through its sheer excellence.

Cavern of Anti-Matter – Hormone Lemonade (Bandcamp)
Driving beeps and boops to get you through a work day.

Yamantaka//Sonic Titan – Dirt (Bandcamp)
Experimental psychedelic metal that grabs you. Like the music a psychic alien entity would create if trying to reconstruct the birth of heavy metal.

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.

Ryan’s Music Picks 🌜 January 2018

I decided to post a link to an album every day in 2018 on twitter (@ryanruppe). Here’s January:

USF – Pacific Decade (Bandcamp)
Head-nodding electronic atmospherics for a new year.

Deltron 3030 (Bandcamp)
A stone cold classic. The best scifi rap in existence AND if it wasn’t for this album (specifically track 14), the Gorillaz wouldn’t exist.

Jean Jacques Perrey and Luke Vibert – Moog Acid (Bandcamp)
Delightful synthesizer sounds, beeps, boops and beats that straddles the line between retrofuturistic and actually futuristic.

NHK yx Koyxen – Exit Entrance (Bandcamp)
Laid back clicks and beeps like some machines having a intimate coffee date. Great for quiet Saturdays.

Monster Rally – Flowering Jungle (Bandcamp)
Loops and beats branching out from vintage exotica to doo-wop and Motown loops with slowly blooming grooves.

fraNcis. – Y2K: The End Times Mixtape (Bandcamp)
One of my favorite artists from http://mp3.com in the late 90s, also formerly half of Viva Voce. Tons of solid groove that soundtracked my high school and early college.

Balmorhea – Clear Language (Bandcamp)
Pastoral and dense, with relentless feeling. Great soundtrack to your favorite fantasy novel.

H. Takahashi – Raum (Bandcamp)
Gentle sounds to absorb and envelop. Perfect auditory therapy after one of those days.

Rostam – Half-Light (Bandcamp)
My favorite member of Vampire Weekend strikes out on his own and makes what might be the best album to come out in 2017.

Louis & Bebe Barron – Forbidden Planet Soundtrack (Spotify)
A groundbreaking recording of early experimental electronic music, it was credited as “electronic tonalities” in the film. Still mind blowing and fresh sounding now.

The Como Mamas – Move Upstairs (Bandcamp)
Roaring gospel tunes that crackle with live energy. Hard to believe they make stuff like this anymore.

Elder – Dead Roots Stirring (Bandcamp)
Chunky riff metal, like if Zepp did only 10-minute sludgy grooves.

Algiers – The Underside of Power (Spotify)
Dangerously passionate southern gothic post-punk with the right amount of soul for this dystopia we live in.

Adrian Utley’s Guitar Orchestra – In C (Spotify)
A dude from Portishead and some guitar and organ friends play Terry Riley’s legendary minimal composition with an electric drone and an edge of menace.

Surfer Blood – Snowdonia (Bandcamp)
Classic power pop sound with layers and depth and feels.

Software – Digital-Dance (Bandcamp)
Proto-vaporwave with saxophone, synth guitar and gated drums like everyone wants to do now, but from contemporaries of Tangerine Dream. Actual rockin’ spa music.

The Go! Team – Semicircle (Bandcamp)
The champs return with another one for the ages. Stomp out your winter doldrums with sousaphones, youth choirs, and block-rocking bears.

Celadon City – Somehow We Will Get Through This (Bandcamp)
Emotional/pastoral electronic music for hard days and good days.

Roberto Carlos Lange – Cutups (Bandcamp)
The mastermind behind Helado Negro makes aleatoric drones and pulsing oceans of sound to immerse yourself in.

Greta Van Fleet – From the Fires (Bandcamp)
Throwback 70s-style metal but with 2018 production. Zeppelin dads take note.

Von Südenfed – Tromatic Reflexxions (Spotify)
Mark E. Smith (RIP) and the dudes from Mouse on Mars have a go at that mid-2000s indie-dance sound from LCD Soundsystem et al by having MES toast over motorik beats.

Canada Effervescent- Ridin’ America (Bandcamp)
Clear, crisp synthesized sound, blastin’ across the plains with the warm hum of an ambient embrace.

Club 8 – Golden Island (Link)
Swedish quiet pop kings Club 8 get dark and mystical.

Electric Wizard – Time To Die (Bandcamp)
Slow, heavy, dark metal. The perfect soundtrack for underground lizardman battles in Dungeons & Dragons.

Pastel Ghost – Abyss (Bandcamp)
Spectral synthwave that’s balanced between outrun and dreampop.

Greg Jamie – Crazy Time (Bandcamp)
Dark and haunted songs that crawled out of a forbidden wood to tell of happenings outside of the material plane.

Philip Glenn – Outsider (Bandcamp)
Homegrown Southern California bluegrass that makes you feel like you’re there in the room as they play.

Ryan’s Music Picks 🎄 Christmas 2017 Edition

It’s been a while. I have long playlists for September, October, November, and December. I’ll put them up one day.

Anyway, I am compelled to share new Christmas albums I’ve found this year. Only a couple of them are on the streaming services, so no playlists this time.

Jherek Bischoff – Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire Walk with Me (Bandcamp only)
Six classic Christmas songs done in the style of Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks soundtrack. Instrumental, complete with saxaphone. Surprisingly perfect.

Said Fantasy – Carols Gloria (Bandcamp only)
Ronnie Martin of Joy Electric turns four sparse instrumental synthesized carols and one original song that’s up there with some of his most classic tracks.

Excelsis vol. 1: A Dark Noel (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
A slow, dark, gothy Christmas album from 1995; it’s perfect for those long dark nights around the solstice.

The Eagle & Child – O Christmas vol. II (Apple Music, Spotify)
A quieter release than last years’, this collection of hymns is still joyous and full of heart and hopes for the season.

Ryan’s Music Picks ☔️ 31 August 2017


Arcade Fire – Everything Now (Apple Music, Spotify)
The new Arcade Fire has a track produced by Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk and a track produced by Geoff Barrow of Portishead. Both tracks (Everything Now and Creature Comfort, respectively) are among some of the best Arcade Fire songs. The album has some weird moments, and specifically all of the Infinite Content tracks can get a bit of grating. I get where they’re going with it, but the whole thing’s a bit heavyhanded. The album loops almost perfectly, and definitely gains from repeated listens.

B12 – Electro Soma (Apple Music, Spotify)
Electronic music has a come a long way, but this album from 1993 still has a lot to offer. It’s not the lush spa version of ambient music that we expect in 2017 (there’s plenty of heavy beats), but it’s a rad throwback time.

Bodies of Water – Spear in the City (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
Nobody makes music like Bodies of Water does. They have a sound rooted in Gospel music, but have branched pretty far from what you’d expect. They’re reverent and soul-searching and they keep you thirsty for more. This album doesn’t hit the heights that some of Bodies of Water’s previous album does, but it plunges some depths that have been heretofore untouched. Recommended.

The Books – Lost and Safe (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
I’ve been a big fan of this album for a really long time. It’s weird. It’s mostly sample-based, with cello and guitar. I find it soothing, though I’m not sure everyone will.

Chris Thile – Bach: Sonatas and Partitas, Vol. 1 (Apple Music, Spotify)
Sometimes you want some Bach played on mandolin. A little bluegrass in your baroque, you know?

Do Pas O – Join the Fucking Drum Circle (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
The drummer from DFA’s new Guerilla Toss, Do Pas O (real name Peter Negroponte) has put together a noisy, wonky collection of tracks guaranteed to brighten your day and send you down a bizarre path.

Frankie Rose – Cage Tropical (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
I can’t believe I missed this when it came out. Frankie Rose has a signature sound that combines low-down home-made reverb-drenched shoegaze with cosmic space sounds, but in a less self-conscious way than guys like M83 does. It’s beautiful.

Karen Gwyer – Rembo (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
Karen Gwyer makes techno music. Like, no other genre modifiers. I mean, it’s got some ambient sounds, and little elements of microhouse, but mostly it’s just good, solid techno.

Lee Bozeman – The Majesty of the Flesh (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
Lee Bozeman is an orthodox priest, and has also been in rock bands for 25+ years. It’s an interesting balance, and this four song EP also rides on that balance of serving God and being fully human. It rocks.

Odd Nosdam – LIF (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
I keep gravitating to ambient music made from cut up guitar noise. Odd Nosdam somehow dumps tons of emotion into his compositions and I keep coming back for more.

Petracovitch – Blue Cotton Skin (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
This is another album that’s I’ve known for a really long time. It’s quiet, haunting synthpop and it sticks around for years. I was reminded about this album when I woke up recently, having heard the song Nighttime in a dream. So, uh, I guess watch out for that.

Photay – Onism (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
Holy crap, this one snuck up on me! It’s killer left-field grooves with a polyrhythmic flavor and international instrumentation. This one’s very likely to go on the year-end list.

Sam O.B. – Positive Noise (Apple Music, Spotify)
Vaporwave has been a thing for a bit now, and it’s cool to see it begin to bleed into other genres. This is basically vaporwave R&B, with filtered but not sampled vocals, and a vhs-degraded new jack swing feel.

Sandro Perri – Plays Polmo Polpo (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
Sandro Perri IS Polmo Polpo–it’s his former electronic music pseudonym. This album is his transition from the organic beats of Polmo Polpo to the lush acousticism of the music under his given name. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned how much I like acoustic versions of electronic songs, but here’s a big reason why.

Stereolab – Dots and Loops (Apple Music, Spotify)
Bro, do you even listen to Stereolab? They’re one of those bands who I can see myself getting stuck in, to the point that I just listen to only their albums for several years. They’ve got a range, and their gorgeous experimentalism is unparalleled. They veer from motorik krautrock to french ye-ye pop to weird 22nd century lounge songs, sometimes on just a single song. They’re the best.

ZGTO – A Piece of the Geto (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
A combo made up of techno pro Shigeto and rap group Zelooperz, the raps on this album are as important a rhythmic element as the off the wall beats. It’s not safe for work or kids, but it is safe for bumping loudly in your headphones or your car.

Ryan’s Music Picks 🌞 23 August 2017

The Knocks & Skylar Spence Present Amelia Airhorn (Soundcloud, FREE DOWNLOAD)
Skylar Spence is formerly known on the internet as Saint Pepsi, and he has always been someone who seeks out and samples perfect and mostly forgotten grooves and brings them forwards to the internet age. With DJ/Remixers The Knocks, they’ve created a sonic journey through legendary disco NYC perfect for these dog days of the summer.

Beacon – Escapements (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
It’s cool to see genres start to blend in ways that were unthinkable when I was a kid but seem totally obvious now. Beacon merge ambient soundscapes and skittering electronics with soulful white R&B singing, kinda like vocal house in the early 90s, but this time in slow motion and with added warmth/claustrophobia.

Cécile Corbel – Arrietty (Original Soundtrack) (Apple Music)
Arrietty is maybe a lesser Studio Ghibli film but it’s definitely got its charms, and a big one is this unexpected harp-based soundtrack. The story is that French singer/harpist Cécile Corbel had some promo albums left, so she hand-addressed one to Studio Ghibli, which caught the eye of producer Toshio Suzuki just as he was thinking through how to do the music for The Secret World of Arrietty.

Clams Casino – Instrumental Mixtape 4 (Apple Music [sampler EP], Spotify [sampler EP], FREE DOWNLOAD)
I love rap music a lot, but sometimes what I love even more than rap music is rap instrumentals. Clams Casino’s instrumentals are definitely a far cry from a sample + a drum machine origins of rap instrumentals–they’re noisy and enveloping, with tons of reverb and unexpected textures. They wrap me up and make me feel things. Also the full download has the instrumental version of Clams Casino’s killer remix of Sia’s Elastic Heart, which is incredible but feels much more full of doom and destruction without Sia’s voice.

Ebo Taylor – Love & Death (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
My pal @the_shrillest turned me on to this album when he tweeted: “At 74, with an entire life in the rearview, the highlife king dropped a perfect album” and I don’t know if I have much to add other than highlife is possibly one of the top genres of music that exist and if you’re not hip to it, now’s the time.

Gloryhammer – Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards (Apple Music, Spotify)
Look, man, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s a band called Gloryhammer, and the album is called Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards and if that isn’t enough for you, I’m not sure what I can do to get you into this. It’s symphonic space metal about wizard battles that’s in continuity with the space wizard stories they sing about in their other albums, okay? There’s a song called “An Evil Wizard Does a Quest” and another one called “Victorious Eagle Warfare”, do you need me to spell this out for you?

Jonathan Coulton – Solid State (Apple Music, Spotify)
Internet dude, songwriter of the songs that GladOS sings in the Portal games, JoCo has a new one that’s also loosely a scifi rock opera with its own graphic novel. And the graphic novel is all-caps GOOD. Listen to me and the boys talk about the comic book on episode 94 of Four Color Commentary at about an hour in.

Psychic Temple – IV (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
Chris Schlarb is Psychic Temple’s mastermind, cult leader, and, this time around, lead singer. This album is getting lots of “Steely Dan in 2017” comparisons and they work because they imply both songwriting skill and instrumental prowess. Schlarb doesn’t hold back when it comes to collaborators, inviting disparate players together to form an unrivaled and totally killer studio crew. They even made a (short) documentary about the making of this album that’s worth seeing. Watch out, these songs seem unassuming at first listen, but once they get implanted, you’ll find them popping up and you’ll be drawn back in, over and over.

Richard Edwards – Lemon Cotton Candy Sunset (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
The first solo album from the former leader of Margaret and the Nuclear So and So’s, Lemon Cotton Candy Sunset, is sweet and sour and not just a little wistful. It’s sonically lush and lyrically heartbreaking, and it leans towards that LA country sound but with a vulnerability atypical of the genre.

Sleep Party People – Lingering (Apple Music, Spotify)
The work of a single imaginitive Danish dude named Brian Batz, Sleep Party People fit into that genre that we used to call synthpop but now is evangelized by the likes of CHVRCHES and Purity Ring. This album only gingerly encourages you to dance while pushing the sonic boundaries of these totally sing-along-able songs.

Tall Tall Trees – Freedays (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
Maybe one of my favorite albums of the year so far. The first track, Backroads, is so, so good. And the album proceeds from there, continuing to draw you in and enrapture you with its beauty and soul. It’s hard to believe that a lot of the sounds on this album come from multitracked, effects-laden banjo. No, really. It’s AMAZING.

Wolves in the Throne Room – Celestite (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
I’ve always had this weird affinity for music that you can move from one genre to another simply based on the volume your headphones are at. There’s a particular crushing electronic metal noise produced on this EP that is soothing and calming at low volumes but brutal and cathartic at louder volumes. Plus, French horn.

Ryan’s Music Picks 💎 27 July 2017

I’m way behind. This list was compiled about a week and a half after my last proper music picks email/post. This might be a more slapdash post; I’m aiming for one-sentence album descriptions. I’m trying to exorcise this albums from my mental backlog. A lot of music has come out since I put this group of albums together–I have two other lists sitting, waiting to be written up as well. Hopefully they get out faster than this one did.

Steven Universe, Vol. 1 (Apple Music, Spotify)
Not only is it the best animated show ever, but it’s produced at least 8 songs which I require for sustained living.

Jay Som – Everybody Works (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
This is just so good, there’s so many excellent moments in this delightfully surprising album.

Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up (Apple Music, Spotify)
I’m a huge fan of Fleet Foxes and I’m not yet convinced of this album’s greatness, but to be honest I haven’t listened to it in a cabin in the woods either.

James Irwin – Shabbytown (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
Some dang songs that just decide to plant themselves inside of you while you are distracted by the fantastic production.

The Drums – Abysmal Thoughts (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
Another member of the secret Joy Electric cabal, Johnny Pierce really excells at songs that sound upbeat and positive until you really dig into the lyrical content.

Marty Robbins – Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
Cowboy songs, man. They’re coming back. Thanks to Jason Opus for the heads up on this gem.

Eamon Fogerty – Progressive Bedroom (Bandcamp)
At some point, people decided that jazzy, overly complex light rock sound that Steely Dan pioneered needed to be updated with 2017 sounds. Turns out they were right.

Amber Coffman – City of No Reply (Apple Music, Spotify)
THE VOICE from Dirty Projectors venturing out on her own and bringing pop to the forefront without losing the weirdness.

WHY? – Moh Lhean (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
WHY? has always tugged heartstrings but now they add some space and weave a web. I’d lost track of WHY? and I’m glad to have found them again.

Marnie – Strange Words and Weird Wars (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
She’s the voice you remember from Ladytron, sticking with synths but sounding fresh and killer.

Michael Nau – Some Twist (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
Throwback hazy laidback singer-songwriter fare, like something that should be played through carpeted speakers in a hotel lounge.

Lo-Fi-Fnk – Nightclub Nirvana (Apple Music, Spotify)
Lo-Fi-Fnk started out on the same path as Hot Chip and then diverged towards dancefloor pop and never looked back.

Oceanator – Oceanator (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
Guitar-led rock that keeps things interesting and gives you feelings.

∆aimon – Amen EP (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
Electro-goth that crushes you with beats.

Toro y Moi – Causers of This (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
Can you call a seven-year-old album a classic? This album makes the case for “yes”.

Ryan’s Playlist Picks 🌤 28 June 2017

A lot of the time I listen to music in my car, I just shuffle my entire library and see what comes up. I like the idea of just having what is essentially a Ryan radio station, made up of just music I’ve added to my library. That said, I’ve always been a bit paranoid about Apple’s shuffle feature. It seems to have a recency bias, and doesn’t ever seem truly random. Stuff that’s getting promoted by iTunes tends to pop up on shuffle more frequently, and I am pretty sure it seems to prefer songs I’ve listened to a lot. I guess that’s better for the listener than something truly completely random–it seems random but is familiar enough that it feels like my phone just gets me.

Anyway, this is a playlist of songs that, with the exception of track 1, came up randomly in this exact order on my phone last night and this morning. I think it’s a pretty wide variety of artists, but it works remarkably well as a single musical object.

  1. Backroads by Tall Tall Trees
  2. Places by Georgie James
  3. Open by Com Truise
  4. Colluding Oligarchs by Shabazz Palaces
  5. Falling by Morella’s Forest
  6. Drifter In the Dark by Ween
  7. Surge by Above & Beyond
  8. Pictures of Matchstick Men (Mono Version) by Status Quo
  9. Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect by The Decemberists
  10. Strength by Fraunhofer Diffraction
  11. Bad Friend by Bon Voyage
  12. Red Hot Drops by Chad VanGaalen
  13. Working for Vacation by Cibo Matto
  14. Zeeman Effect by Melodium
  15. Bulletproof by La Roux
  16. clouds & Rain by Zac Love

I hope you like it! It’s good for driving and doesn’t have any bad words.

Ryan’s Music Picks ☁️ 5 June 2017

Here’s a bunch of albums that have fallen in my lap. A lot of them are pretty dark; some are quiet and some are noisy. It’s a weird bunch of albums–there’s something for everyone.

Back to the Future the Ride – Health on Earth (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
BTTFTR make some of my favorite sounds on the earth. He constructs pavilions and landscapes and entire planets with of machine echos and other noise. It gets to my soul and into my being in a way that few things do. Pay what you want (including free!) on Bandcamp.

Danger – 太鼓 (Drum) (Apple Music, Spotify)
I’d lost track of Danger and was excited when they popped up on my tumblr feed, of all places. It’s a mysterious French electronic music band that anticipated the whole vaporwave thing and have now fully embraced that aesthetic. Expect post-apocalyptic music that travels between looped easy-listening spa music samples, heavy glitchy drums, and that incredible 80s cop movie soundtrack synthesizer sound.

Elder – Reflections of a Floating World (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
If there’s one thing you’ve learned of my music tastes by now, it’s that I like my metal to be sludge-laden, doom-heavy, and with plenty of shredding. Elder hits most of these, and has the southern charm and slow-motion chug that can only come from heat and humidity. It’s awesome.

Formation – Look at the Powerful People (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
When I first listened to Formation, I nearly wrote them off as a LCD Soundsystem soundalike. While they definitely are cut from the same cloth as LCD, this is a group of young positive dudes from London, not some world-weary old school hipsters from NYC. The songcraft is light and fun, with some elements of the manual and a good amount of posi-core and late night parties. I love this album.

Fraunhofer Diffraction – Threads of Fate (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
No joke one of my favorite things is when someone recommends an album to me because they think I’ll like it. That’s exactly what happened this and they recommender was right on. They’re dark, gothy electronic music that veers towards hardcore. It reminds me of a less caustic Atari Teenage Riot, or a less mopey Cold Cave. It alternates hot and heavy or cold and dark, but never lets up.

Johnny Jewel – Windswept (Apple Music, Spotify, Buy the digital copy for $1)
Johnny Jewel might be a genius. He excels on using a guitar and a synthesizer to get the exact mood that you need to wistfully sit on your hood in an empty parking lot late at night. He knows how to manipulate that mood to push you towards love or paranoia. Some of the music on this album is in the new Twin Peaks show, too, so obviously he knows how to make music for black lodges and red rooms and damn fine coffee too.

King Tarahumara – The Mystic Mixtape Trilogy (Apple Music: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Spotify: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Bandcamp)
King Tarahumara is Kevin Robinson (formerly of Viva Voce) and a friend of his making weird psychedelic dub cutups. It’s esoteric and kinda noisy, with toasting en Español dripped over the top. Robinson’s funk and pop tendencies push the music into evolving weirdo jams rather than unlistenable tape splices, and it gets deeper with subsequent listens. My favorite chapter is 2 (Turquoise), but the whole thing works quite well in sequence. Pay what you want (including free!) on Bandcamp.

King Tubby Meets Scientist In a Revival Dub (Apple Music, Spotify)
King Tubby is one of the unquestionable originators of the Jamaican Dub sound (along with Lee Scratch Perry), and Scientist was his student. This album is a soundsystem battle alternating between King Tubby and Scientist, each of them one-upping the previous track. Expect that heavy bass roll and that laid back beat in the music of the future.

Monster Rally & Rumtum (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp (old version missing last 3 tracks))
Not unlike King Tubby and Scientist, Monster Rally and Rumtum are two producers who rely heavily on samples, and this is a collaborative album between them. Monster Rally brings his trademark exotica samples and animal sounds, and Rumtum slides in with driving hip hop beats and some beeps and boops. It’s an excellent match.

Radioactive Man – Luxury Sky Garden (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
I’m mostly bad at electronic music genres. There are words and phrases that indicate to me that I’ll typically like a particular piece of electronic music, but most of the time, after I find something I like, I’m hard pressed to call it a thing that others will recognize as a specific genre. So Radioactive Man is the non-Andrew Weatherall half of Two Lone Swordsmen (his name is Keith Tenniswood), and he makes music with lots of synthesizer sounds, acid loops, and microhouse beats. It’s techno? or acid house? maybe you could call it electro? Like I said, I’m bad at electronic music genres but I know what I like.

TOPS – Sugar at the Gate (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
Finding out about a previously-unheard female-fronted dream pop band is always exciting to me. TOPS gets a good dreamy feel and adds a guitar-based funky element, like the Phoenix album Alphabetical. It’s classic pop rock at its best.

Wavves – You’re Welcome (Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp)
That Wavves has sustained a bratty, snotty, DGAF attitude so long in his career without becoming a parody of himself is a feat. That fact that each album keeps that fun feel with increasing sonic depth is really impressive. It’s 100% summer jams that get good and weird and sound awesome and don’t care.