Best Albums of 2017

In the 70s music critics had an edge on the fans – if Richard Meltzer is to be believed, they got free records, invites to parties studded with stars, drugs and other party favours. In 2017 it is becoming increasingly common to not get sent the biggest new releases at all, never mind before they come out. (I note the dry irony in Taylor Swift’s album cover art appropriating newspaper logo fonts – several critics I know still haven’t received the promo.) In the mid 2000s I used to keep stacks of CDs in my desk, ordered by release date. When you opened the drawer, they stared back at you – imploringly, for less known artists, and reproachfully for the big names. Now digital promos from the majorspo arrive in dribs and drabs, sometimes expiring before you have a chance to hit ‘Play’ on track one. You can hear practically everything on demand via streaming, which is not new, but for me the landscape has finally flattened into a featureless horizon – your access is limited only by your time management. Everything is available, and everything is passing you by.

The effect on my listening is two-fold: I focus on genres I know I like, because there’s no force pushing me to engage with pop – it isn’t playing in the bars I go to, it doesn’t cross my twitter feed, I never hear commercial radio. (Pour one out for the major label marketers.) But I also feel perpetually behind, listening to records only once or twice because there’s an endless supply of new records being pushed by my genre outlets of choice (media content farms and ever-scrolling social feeds) and the FOMO is real, y’all.

So aside from the emergence of two new sounds, ‘weightless’ beat-deprived grime and dusty electro-ish drum machine industrial funk I’m dubbing CabVoltCore – neither of which I’ve seen trend pieces about so I’ve just guessed they exist – my listening this year roamed in a vast but fenced-in auditory landscape. And really, aside from the FOMO, it’s all good. I don’t miss what I don’t know exists (or don’t put at the top of a playlist). For what I didn’t miss, read on.

1. Jlin - Black Origami (Planet Mu)

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I really liked Jlin's debut, but I was a little suspicious of it being named The Wire's disc of the year - arriving amid the explosion of footwork at the time it seemed more like they wanted to celebrate the idea of experimenting with its rhythms than the actual result. Now I think they were just more perceptive than me - Black Origami is not conceptually that different from 2015's Dark Energy but it hit me like a bolt of lightning, maybe not coincidentally because the micro-bubble in radically strange footwork albums seems to have burst. With the field now largely to herself, Jlin's vision comes across as truly her own - a haunted landscape of reptilian hihats and shakers snapping menacingly over sand-blasted vocal snippets. If David Lynch remade Dune this would be the perfect soundtrack, all alien tones and martial snares conjuring a frightening yet fascinatingly unique planet ruled by huge worms. I don't know what worms sound like but they're in here somewhere, I'm sure of it.

 

The List

*Canadian
*** Not on Spotify

1. Jlin – Black Origami (Planet Mu)
2. Kendrick Lamar – Damn. (Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope)
3. *Sinjin Hawke – First Opus (Fractal Fantasy)
4. Floating Points – Reflections – Mojave Desert (Luaka Bop)
5. Richard H Kirk – Dasein (Intone)
6. Eric Copeland – Goofballs (DFA)
7. Peverelist – Tessellations (Livity Sound)
8. Gnod – Just Say No To The Psycho Right Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine (Rocket)
9. Fjaak – Fjaak (Monkeytown)
10. Errorsmith – Superlative Fatigue (Pan)

11. Pissed Jeans – Why Love Now (Sub Pop)
12. Ekoplekz – Bioprodukt (Planet Mu)
13. Blondes – Warmth (R&S)
14. Wolf Eyes – Strange Days II (Lower Floor)
15. Kingdom – Tears In The Club (Fade To Mind)
16. Claude Speeed – Infinity Ultra (Planet Mu)
17. Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory (Artium/Blacksmith/Def Jam)
18. Sampha – Process (Young Turks/XL)
19. Delia Gonzalez – Horse Follows Darkness (DFA)
20. Bjorn Torske and Prins Thomas – Square One (Smalltown Supersound)

21. Yo Gotti and Mike Will Made It – Gotti Made-It (Gotti Made-It/EMPIRE)
22. Queens Of The Stone Age – Villains (Matador)
23. Mura Masa – Mura Masa (Polydor/Interscope/Downtown/Anchor Point)
24. *Drake – More Life (OVO Sound/Young Money Entertainment/Cash Money/Republic)
25. The Mole – De La Planet (Maybe Tomorrow)
26. Future – HNDRXX (Epic/A1 Recordings/Freebandz Entertainment)
27. LCD Soundsystem – American Dream (DFA/Columbia)
28. ***Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe – Kulthan (Latency)
29. Farbror Resande Mac – Farbror Resande Mac (Horisontal Mambo)
30. Kelela – Take Me Apart (Warp)

31. Sherwood and Pinch – Man Vs. Sofa (On-U Sound)
32. Dizzee Rascal – Raskit (Dirtee Stank/Island)
33. Joakim – Samurai (Tigersushi/Because)
34. Gas – Narkopop (Kompakt)
35. Clap! Clap! – A Thousand Skies (Black Acre)
36. *Egyptrixx – Pure, Beyond Reproach (Halocine Trance)
37. *Daphni – FabricLive 93 (Fabric)
38. Sote – Sacred Horror In Design (Opal Tapes)
39. Tyler The Creator – Flower Boy (Columbia)
40. *Jacques Greene – Feel Infinite (Arts & Crafts)

41. Special Request – FabricLive 91 (Fabric)
42. *Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Luciferian Towers (Constellation)
43. ***Craig Taborn and Ikue Mori – Highsmith (Tzadik)
44. Circle – Terminal (Southern Lord)
45. Oneohtrix Point Never – Good Time sndtrk (Warp)
46. Ikonika – Distractions (Hyperdub)
47. ***Weightless Vol 1 (Different Circles)
48. ***Weightless Vol 2 (Different Circles)
49. The Horrors – V (Wolf Tone)
50. ***Jay-Z – 4:44 (Roc Nation)

New mix: There’s Gonna Be Good Times

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Jus a lil something to take to cookouts, the park, the highway, the pool, the stoop, the club, the basement, the gym, the sauna and anywhere else that needs a summery soundtrack. Dyn-o-mite!

Click here to download from Mediafire

 

Deemo – There’s Gonna Be Good Times by Deemo on Mixcloud

1. Beyonce – Drunk in Love
2. Freddie Gibbs – White Range
3. Rae Sremmurd – Up Like Trump
4. Big Sean, Pusha T, Kanye West, 2 Chainz – Mercy
5. 2 Chainz feat Drake – No Lie
6. Three 6 Mafia – Poppin My Collar
7. TNGHT – Higher Ground
8. T.I. feat Young Thug – About The Money
9. Sia – Chandelier
10. Taylor Swift – Bad Blood
11. Jamie XX feat. Popcaan, Young Thug – Good Times
12. Rihanna – Bitch Betta Have My Money
13. Popcaan – The System
14. Robyn feat. Maluca – Love Is Free
15. Z-Ro – Talking To The Po Po

mixed by dave morris a.k.a. deemo on july 18 2015 for a-void.ca

New mix: Black Tie Affair

Black Tie Affair: a-void Salutes Canadian Hip-Hop by davemorris_to

Download MP3 here: http://www.mediafire.com/listen/qb485bnbnqe4qnf/01_Black_Tie_Affair.mp3

I’m going to be appearing at the Polaris Music Prize Hip-Hop Salon on Dec 14, at the Drake Hotel in Toronto, on a panel with Ty Harper, Anupa Mistry, Thomas Quinlan and moderated by Joshua Ostroff. It should be a cracking event, not least because we’re talking about our favourite new Canadian hip-hop records (in my case, by Rich Kidd and Ian Kamau).

Come check it out! http://www.facebook.com/events/282778095094189

In the meantime, I made this little tribute to some of my favourite Canadian hip-hop, which you can stream or download to your heart’s content. Some old-school gems, obscure stuff, and a smidgen of scratching. DO IT. Tracklist below.

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1. Kardinal Offishall, “Bakardi Slang”
2. Drake, “City Is Mine”
3. Rascalz, “Dreaded Fist”
4. IRS, “No Hesitation f. Planet Asia”
5. Empire, “Boom & Pound”
6. Tona, “Dial Tone (Lyve rmx) f. Theology 3, JD Era”
7. Saukrates, “Bag Da Biscuit”
8. Michie Mee & L.A. Luv, “Canada Large”
9. Ghetto Concept, “Precious Metals (rmx f. Sticky Fingaz)”
10. Main Source, “Where We’re Coming From”
11. k-os, “B-Boy Stance”
12. Buck 65, “Benz f. Cadence Weapon”
13. KGB, “Letters Of Three”
14. Maestro Fresh Wes, “Drop The Needle (45 King remix)”