Jams 2016 Vol. 17


"Swing for the wretch and the rock n roll kids, who roam this earth repeating all their sin until this wicked world makes sense in time."

~Kyle Craft | Lady of the Ark


One of my most awaited albums of the year was released this week. Former GASHCAT member Kyle Craft released his solo debut Dolls Of Highland. This record reminds me of albums like Foxygen's We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic, where the songs are an amalgam of nostalgic influences that blend into a fresh sound. These albums are great because they draw inspiration from so much of the classic music that my generation grew up loving. Kyle is often compared to Bob Dylan and GASHCAT was often compared to Neutral Milk Hotel. All of these influences and more are present, Kyle writes incredible stories with the rambling style of Dylan, sings with his powerhouse voice like Jeff Mangum. All of this backed by instrumentation that runs the gambit from the Ragtime piano on Eye of a Hurrican, the Springsteen-esque organs on Black Mary, the country/blues harmonica on Balmorhea, the NMH style horns on Gloom Girl. In the past Kyle has been a bit of a drifter and on this album you feel a new location and new characters with each song. No matter what the song is about: a stripper he's fallen for or his dear friends suicide, Kyle finds the raw emotion in any situation. The album is so powerful and a lot of fun at the same time. You couldn't ask for a more impressive debut, hopefully we'll be hearing a lot more from Kyle in the years to come.

This week heady, hipster rapper Aesop Rock, released The Impossible Kid, his seventh album. Aesop has been putting out great rap for over a decade and he always manages to do something cool and interesting. Whether it's talking about therapy or his cat or his tattoos, Aesop makes any subject compelling. His vocabulary is stellar, his wordplay is clever and creative, and his beats are dope as always.

Speaking of dope beats, rap legend Freeway is back BABYYYYYYYY!!!! When I was a kid watching 106 & Park on BET some of the hottest rappers were Jay-Z, Benie Siegel, Memphis Bleek, and Freeway. The Roc-a-fella gang had some hits and while Jay-Z was the mega star in the group Freeway definitely held his own and became regarded as a rap great. His album is very reminiscent of that age of rap, with melodic beats sampling music of the past, as opposed to what we hear today with which is usually more dark and minimalist. On behalf of all rap fans I would like to say welcome back Freeway, we're glad to have you on mic again.

Indie rockers Rouge Wave released Delusions of Grand Fur, a title which Scott Aukerman confirmed on this week's Comedy Bang! Bang!  is a play on the phase "Delusions of Grandeur" and can be abbreviated DOG Fur. Most people know these guys from their 2006 single Lake Michigan, which is what made me love this band. I lost track of them over the years and was excited when I saw they had a new album. This record is full of catchy, indie rock tunes. Don't call it a comeback, even though they returned into my consciousness this week.

Another band I loved in 2006 has a new album this week. We Are Scientists released Helter Seltzer, another turn-of-phrase title. You can tell from the name these guys are goofy and quirky, but there is some weight to these new songs. With lyrics like, "Don't stop now it's never too late." It's clear these guys have come a long way from the suit-clad nerds holding cats in front of their faces. This is another fun and catchy, good ol' indie-rock album.

After appearing in LEMONADE, Beyonce protege's Chloe x Halle released their debut ep. They sing, they rap, and they are very mature for their age. At ages 16 and 17 they have really gotten started early, and they are extremely talented. Under Queen B's tutelage they will no doubt be superstars before long.

Folk singer/songwriter Jaye Bartell released Light Enough. This album is really lovely. Jaye's baritone, reminiscent of The National's Matt Berninger, paired with his Sun Kil Moon-esque acoustic guitar style make for an incredibly touching and intimate album.

Sorry folks I know this was a long one, but we'll end (or begin?) with King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard's Nonagon Infinity. Touted as the first loopable album, this one falls into a category with The Flaming Lips' Zaireeka,  an album that is not just a collection of songs but an innovative audio experience. The album does indeed begin right where it ends, with the last note of Road Train is the first not of Robot Stop. The style of these songs is reminiscent of 70's rock bands like Black Sabbath. All the songs feel connected because riffs and lyrics are repeated, reprised, and revisited in different ways. This album is filled with psychedelic imagery and catchy guitar riffs. These guys had a great album last year and then they dropped this one, mere months later. Even if you aren't a fan of their style this one is worth a listen. (Also they have a song called People-Vultures so we're on the same page with the whole v[o][u]lture thing.)

So much great music came out this week check out the full list below. Fly on Voltures! Ca-CAWWW!