Ideal date: No one is rushed. You pick me up in your electric car, blaring one of the three below albums with your elbow on the windowsill. There’s a Cinnamon bun air freshener hanging from your mirror. Witty banter ensues. At one point in the night I slide down a staircase handrail and absolutely nail it. You’re impressed. All the while, you never say the word “namaste.”
Editor’s note: listen along with this Spotify playlist:
Wildflower (2016), by The Avalanches
The Avalanches’ sound could fit into a multitude of genres, but my favorite way to categorize them is as “electro swing.” Their new album, Wildflower, is something else. It’s been 16 years since their last album, Since I Left You (2000), mashed up my heart into little pieces. Similar to Since I Left You, Wildflower‘s tracks have a sample-based foundation with various vocalists à la mode, but there’s something about this album that differs slightly in its taste. It’s the same candy with a different flavor.
The beginning is loaded with sounds of the city (see: “Subways”), then subtly, the commotion fades and the listener is escorted into the mind-bending countryside (see: “Saturday Night Inside Out”).
The entire album is straight-up scenic.
Comprised of bits of psychedelic music from the 60s, every track reignites a radical playfulness within me. Several tracks include wildly obscure, privately pressed records—i.e., stuff that basically went completely under the radar in the past. There are tons of hidden nuances here, such as “If I Was a Folkstar,” written by Toro y Moi about an acid trip with his wife right before their wedding. The acid trip is sprawled out across a sample of the radio opening from Queens Of The Stone Age‘s “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire,” which means absolutely nothing to me, reference wise, but may mean something to you. Either way, it’s funky. It’s fresh. It’s funky fresh.
Don’t You (2016), by Wet
I can’t listen to Wet on an empty stomach. Every song is a modern, somber lullaby. I can’t believe Don’t You, their first and only studio album, was released this year. I swear I’ve been listening to it my entire life. It’s like the pop remix of “Linger” by The Cranberries that I dreamt about that one time.
I’ve been drowning in feels all year to this album, and since moving to New York last month, their music has been placed into greater context for me. The three members committed to upbeat downtempo (yeah, that’s right: upbeat downtempo) and founded Wet in their Bedford Stuyvesant apartment in 2013. “Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl” may be the most liberating song I’ve ever screamed out of a car window. The lyrics are reminiscent of Modest Mouse’s “Baby Blue Sedan,” which sings, “I miss you when you’re around,” outlining the convolutions of a failing relationship. Is it wrong to crave the emotional peaks of 90s r&b? If so, I’m so fucking wrong.
Slime Season 3 (2016), by Young Thug
I tried to leave rap out of this list— but I have to be true to myself. At times, it’s truly burdensome to enjoy rap as much as I do. The only time my girl friends want to hear it is when they’re getting ready, or when it’s end of the night and they’re nice and sloshed. That being said, I can’t deny that 2016 has been a strange year for hip-hop. Shallow noise-rap has flooded the airwaves, and we basically just have to sit back and let the trend dissolve. J Dilla’s long lost vocal track was finally released in April, and although nostalgic and arousing, I’m not bumpin’ it on the subway. What is rattling my speakers is Young Thug’s three new mixtapes. Look, the guy knows how to keep a beat—it’s not my fault, that’s just the way it is. I’m not saying Slime Season 3 is going to get a Grammy, but it gets me hyped for the future of Thugger. Similar to SS2, Thug gets introspective, sometimes inaudibly so. It’s good stuff. I call it passive rap. Give it a go.
List by Erin Sterchi