My 2016 Music Awards – Part 2!

Last week I had my 2016 Music Awards for all my favorite releases of the year. This week I’m going to be showcasing all the music I experienced that was released in previous years! There’s a few extra categories this time around just to make sure I cover all my ground.

BEST “OLDIE”

 

Africa – Toto

Earlier this year, I noted “Africa” as my guilty pleasure jam. I later retracted that statement because I actually don’t feel any guilt at all; this song is pure joy. When my sister and I watched Stranger Things this summer and we heard it come on in one of the episodes, we immediately broke out in song in the most obnoxious way. There’s just something infectious about the tune! And while I certainly wasn’t just introduced to “Africa” this year, it is when I realized just how awesome the song is.

 

Jump – Van Halen

Big hair, leopard prints, ripped jeans… All necessary ingredients for glam rock. I’ll confess that I’ve never been a huge fan of 80’s rock and metal. But Van Halen is the exception, and it’s because of songs like “Jump.” After my brother and I saw Eddie the Eagle this year and this anthem song sounded off at the end, I realized, man, what a great song! It’s got that classic synth style that has somehow remained relevant to this day, and the lyrics – while perhaps not the most encouraging – are as catchy as anything you’ll hear on the radio today.

 

Never Gonna Give You Up – Rick Astley

You’ve been Rick-Roll’d, baby!

While this song has earned its fame as one of the oldest jokes on the internet, there’s no denying how great it is. If I had to label any song as my actual guilty pleasure, simply because of the stigma surrounding it, it’d be this one. Again, not that I even just heard it this year. But I paid real money to have it on my phone and play it any time I wanted.

 

WINNER:

Africa – Toto

 

BEST ARTIST

 

Tycho

reuben_wu_tycho2

As I mentioned in the last blog post, Tycho is brilliant. Scott Hansen has been making music since about the turn of the century and it keeps evolving into more and more creative ambient electronic mixes. This was one of the best musical discoveries I’ve ever made because it expanded my horizon past anything I’ve ever listened to previously.

 

The Black Keys

the_black_keys_1378933759570

Oh, The Black Keys… It’s as if they’re a modern day equivalent of your uncle who exclusively listens to music “back from the good ol’ days.” Anything I read about these guys tells me they’re cranky, stubborn, and hate the modern music scene (and I don’t blame them). For the first 5 or 6 years, The Black Keys were pretty much left to their own devices as an independent act, and with that came some of their most original and true-to-self music: scuzzy, lo-fi garage band-style blues rock that has since only been tried to be imitated. The’ve stuck to their guns since their early days on what type of music they’re all about and they will not budge. And that’s why I love ‘em.

 

Ratatat

nyv_music_20150715_ratatat_jena_ardell

This was one of the few artists this year that was not recommended to me, but rather, I went and took a chance on without knowing much about. I’m glad I did. Another rock duo with earlier roots, I absolutely love the blend of rock and electronic they throw together. But more importantly, their music is just one thing: music. It’s all instrumental; no vocals means they can focus that much more of their attention on the sound, and they really nailed it.

 

WINNER:

The Black Keys

 

BEST AGED ALBUM (10+years)

 

MuteMath – MuteMath (self-titled)

mutemath

As a die-hard fan, I’m proud to say I’ve been their fan since the beginning in 2006. This album introduced a very different style I had never heard at my age, and if I’m being completely honest, I didn’t like it at first. I took a little bit to warm up, but thanks to my brother who was also a fan at the time, my ears evolved to understand the brilliance of MuteMath. They just repressed this vinyl version of the album this month for the first time since it was released to celebrate its 10th anniversary, and it immediately sold out. That is a testament to just how timeless this album has become. I can throw it on the turntable any day and it will never get old.

 

Classics – Ratatat

classics

Now, I’m cheating a little bit here since I only just discovered Ratatat, but this album may as well have just been released this year; it’s great. And what’s more, it’s great from start to finish. So many albums can have a few good songs and the rest just serve as filler, but not a single track here was wasted. Certainly, Classics is a befitting title for a decade-old album that hasn’t aged a bit.

 

Demon Days – Gorillaz

demon-days

While I wasn’t a huge fan of their first outing, Demon Days has certainly earned its place as one of the best albums ever made. I think it gets better every year. Damon Albarn, the mastermind behind this virtual band, really created the most unique experience I’ve had yet not just in this past year, but several years. As years go by, Demon Days especially will be the album I remember most. Blending collaborations between other artists like De La Soul and Shaun Ryder and covering multiple genres like techno, rap and alt-rock, it’s the most eclectic album I think I’ve ever listened to.

 

WINNER:

MuteMath – MuteMath

 

BEST ALBUM

(I created two categories for albums just because there were so many)

 

Cast Away – Strange Talk

cast-away

Boy, if there were a category for “You should have bought this when you first heard it,” Cast Away would win for sure. I remember listening to the song “Eskimo Boy” not long after this album was released, and I even liked it enough to write it down so I could listen to it later! Alas, I wouldn’t check that note on my iPhone until over a year later. Cast Away is straight-up pop, and it’s done very well. Again, there doesn’t seem to be a single wasted track on here. I can listen to the entire album from start to finish and not have to skip any “meh” songs.

 

Gossamer – Passion Pit

gossamer

Another electronic pop album, this was purchased on a whim. And again, it’s awesome through and through. Sometimes, the albums no one tells you to buy end up being your favorites. I discovered this one on my own yet again, and it turned out to be another fantastic edition from a band I had never given to shakes at.

 

Brothers – The Black Keys

brothers

Fans of The Black Keys are going to endlessly debate over which of their many albums is the absolute best. But in my books, the answer is simple: Brothers. I wish I had decided to give these guys a fair shot sooner, but that was my own fault I suppose. My brother had had this album for years before I finally discovered it. In a word? It’s perfection. A consistent through-line from start to finish, yet each song is well-distinguished from the last. I went so far as to find a limited edition out-of-print vinyl copy of this album; it’s one of the crowned jewels of my current collection.

 

WINNER:

Brothers – The Black Keys

 

BEST SONG (One-hit wonder)

(I’ve expanded my nominations for this category because, again, there were quite a few to pick from.)

 

“Undercover Martyn” – Two Door Cinema Club

I think I actually heard this song like 5 years ago by accident, stumbling across it on YouTube’s front page perhaps? I’m not entirely sure. It wasn’t until this year that I made the realiztion of how great it is! However, nothing else from TDCC has really captured my attention. Perhaps I’ll give them another shot in 2017?

 

“Walking On A Dream” – Empire Of The Sun

Wow. Just, wow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an artist with a more flamboyant style. I read in an interview with vocalist Luke Steele that he believes that performing music is 50% sound, 50% visuals. Guess I can’t argue with that. I don’t think I’ve jammed out to any other song this year as much as this one.

 

“Midnight City” – M83

As with a lot of these songs, I discovered them through Pandora. It’s a great way to find great songs, but not necessarily great albums. Like with Two Door Cinema Club, I just haven’t found myself getting invested in the rest of M83’s material. That might change, but for now, I will enjoy the anthem that is “Midnight City.”

 

“Cool Blue” – The Japanese House

This little-known artist from the UK was discovered on that same mixtape where I found Nico Yaryan’s “Just Tell Me.” This song holds a very special place in my heart because of what was going on at the time I was listening to it. But as it stands, it’s a beautiful, spacey, dream-like lullaby.

 

“Luna” – Bombay Bicycle Club

Bombay Bicycle Club was an artist that I invested a little too much in this year. I went off a recommendation and ended up buying almost everything they had released. That’s not to say their music is bad, but it pales in comparison with songs like “Luna.” And songs of theirs like “Luna” are, unfortunately, far and few between. Still, what a gorgeous song.

 

WINNER:

“Walking On A Dream” – Empire Of The Sun

 

And that’s a wrap on my music awards! I hope you discovered something new today 🙂 If you have any recommendations, please feel free to share!

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