Ryan’s Music Picks: 18 July 2016

I love listening to music in the car; it’s probably my favorite place to pump up the jams. I was traveling last week and, even though I had headphones, I didn’t listen to nearly as much music as I would in a typical week. Music is, in a sense, therapy to me and I can definitely see how my state of mind was affected by my lack of excellent jams. So here are some for you this week:

Jamila Woods – HEAVN (only on Soundcloud)
If, like me, you’re into Chance The Rapper, you probably will recognize Jamila Woods’ voice. She is the driving force of Sunday Candy and Blessings (I) and her solo album is incredible even given the high expectations I had going into it. It turns out that she is a poet and playwright in her spare time, and that’s hardly a surprise after listening to the album. It’s a free download from soundcloud and you should absolutely not sleep on this.

Crystal Skulls – Outgoing Behavior (BandcampiTunesSpotify)
This album is a low-key masterpiece. It’s perfectly smooth from top to bottom, with unimpeachable guitar work, superlative steel guitar and totally singable songs with lyrics that are silly and strange enough that you’ll probably do a “wait, what?” while singing along. A good amount of the dudes in this band later were members of Fleet Foxes but this is so much quirkier and fun( and less pretentious) and absolutely should not be missed.

Zammuto – Veryone (BandcampiTunesSpotify)
The second song on this 3-song EP is the closest I had to a zen moment this week. I realize that it sounds like GLaDOS telling you to wear your sunscreen but I promise that there is something buried in this track that acts as a balm to soothe your mind.

CN – The Derelict (BandcampiTunesSpotify)
Nicely complex but sufficiently weird electronic science fiction music. If you need a productivity booster, load this into your brain.

Moby – Hotel Ambient (BandcampiTunesSpotify)
Over the last few years I’ve really gotten into Moby’s ambient music. It’s not necessarily groundbreaking like Aphex Twin, but it definitely predates and has influenced a lot of the current scene of electronic-ambient musicians. This album is almost 10 years old and was released along with what is considered one of Moby’s worst albums, but it’s soothing and perfect chill out/fall asleep music. It was helpful as I was trying, and failing, to sleep in a hotel this week.

Meishi Smile – (reclamation) (BandcampiTunesSpotify)
Speaking of ambient, Meishi Smile rides the line between soothing and noisy, tipping the balance to one side or the other occasionally to keep it interesting. It’s deceptively deep on subsequent listens.

Suicide – Suicide (1977) (BandcampiTunesSpotify)
Alan Vega, singer of Suicide, died at 78 last night. This legendary album’s Wikipedia page tells more than I could about the influence and importance of this album, but you should know that the influence of it is not overstated and might not be capable of overstatement. It’s punk AF before punk was even a thing used to describe music. Plus, the first (killer) track is called Ghost Rider and it’s Comic Con week, so get into it.

Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People (BandcampiTunesSpotify)
Turns out I own this album on CD twice. One of those CDs resides pretty permanently in my car, so I guess it’s good I have a second copy for home. This is one of my favorite albums of the dawn of 2000s indie rock and it still holds up incredibly well. Several of the tracks are stone-cold classics (the one-two punch of Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl and Cause = Time is a favorite of mine), and this album features both Feist and Emily Haines (of Metric) before either of them got big.