Thursday, March 15, 2018

Every Album I Own From 2008

Last year, I ranked every album I owned from 2007 in honor of their 10th anniversary. 2007 remains one of my favorite years in music. It makes 2008 look like a weakling. But I just remembered... I own a lot of stuff from 2008 too!
I have a few immediate music memories of 2008. I was listening to MGMT nearly an entire year before anybody else. Kanye West released an album that was somehow both artistic garbage and culturally influential with 808's & Heartbreaks. There was this super brief excitement about indie noise rock. By the time 2008 ended, there was no obvious pick for album of the year. And looking back, there still isn't. 
It was a weird year. And my taste was at a crossroads. I bought many of these albums listed below upon 1 week of their release. I'm scared to admit which ones.
There are 11 albums here. They are ranked. Enjoy!

11 Mudcrutch Mudcrutch
My high school drama teacher burned me a copy of this! I still know how to play "June Apple." "Orphan Of The Storm" has kinda stuck around. And "The Wrong Thing To Do" is classic badass Tom Petty!

10 R.E.M. Accelerate
R.E.M. was one of those bands I worshiped at age 17. I like that they shifted from dinky lounge pop to more fun, hard-hitting rock for this album.

9 Beck Modern Guilt
I called this album underrated in a blog post back in October. This is incorrect. "Chemtrails" is an underrated track, that's for sure. But I can't remember the last time I listened to this whole album.

8 Nine Inch Nails The Slip
Looking back, this is actually pretty good. But I remember downloading for free. For some reason. 

7 The Killers Day & Age
This album is strangely memorable. Songs like "Human" and "This Is The World We Live In" are actually more enjoyable to me now than they were in 2008. 

6 Coldplay Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends
Having owned their 3 previous albums, this stuff didn't settle well with me at first. I had to re-imagine Coldplay as (ahem) "rock stars." Despite their popularity, I still couldn't swallow that thought. But you really have to give in to it. In 2008, arena rock didn't get more interesting than this.

It's fair to note that I had to recount my old 2007 list. I own 17 albums from that year, not 15! With all due respects, here is the actual list of all the artists I own albums from circa 2007: 
Against Me! Animal Collective. Barenaked Ladies. Bon Iver. Bruce Springsteen. Burial. Iron & Wine. Jens Lekman. LCD Soundsystem. M.I.A. Modest Mouse. Queens Of The Stone Age. Radiohead. The Shins. Spoon. White Stripes. Wilco.
Meanwhile, the rest of this 2008 list basically consists of household hipster band names. So fill your mason jar with some Horchata and enjoy.

5 Fleet Foxes Sun Giant EP
I guess by all technicality, my dad bought this, not me. So I see it as a totally separate release from their self-titled follow-up LP. Which I have a lot to write about.

4 Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes
I'll never forget watching these guys perform "Blue Ridge Mountains" on Letterman and buying this album right away. Fleet Foxes hype was the pinnacle of the "weird Americana" movement. Nobody was making music specifically like this in 2008. That sounds dumb now, but you had to be there.
I'd say if I wanted to combine this + Sun Giant as one entity, the overall 2008 work of Fleet Foxes would be #1 on this list. If "Mykonos" + "White Winter Hymnal" were on the same literal album, that'd be a big fat deal. You really had to be there.

3 Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend
Oh yeah, these guys. Most annoying band in the world, am I right? I admit, I roll my eyes every time I hear "A-Punk" these days. But that used to be the only VW song I knew. Over time, the album tracks have become bigger hits than the singles. Despite the band's pompously hoity-toity personality, you don't forget these songs. "M79." "Walcott." "Campus." "The Kids Don't Stand A Chance." This thing is stacked. 

2 Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago
So, this album was actually released in 2007. Most reviewers didn't catch wind with it until 2008. And by the end of the decade, it had become wayyy more popular than it ever intended to be. I'll take it.
Possibly more so than Ezra Koenig or Robin Pecknold, Justin Vernon's voice is immediately recognizable; an indie vocalist standard. Which is crazy, because this originated from the most minimalist low-budget depths imaginable. Just wanted to note that this didn't crack my top 5 in the 2007 list I made. But it's easily an album-of-the-year qualifier if considered a 2008 release. Food for thought.

1 TV On The Radio Dear Science
If you came here thinking I wrote this blog just to reminisce about TV On The Radio, you're right! The last few artists I've mentioned have become the face of hipster shtick, with their 30-minute albums full of songs everyone can play and sing. You can't play these songs. You can't sing them. And you sure as heck can't produce them! This is the only album on this list I get excited to listen to. It's big, electric, colorful... Still today, it's rare to come across a straight-up indie act who can convince you they're the biggest band in the world.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Promo Of Sorts

I just found out there's an old guy who lives 2 blocks away from me with his own recording studio. So there goes my next paycheck.
I think in a of my couple blogs in the last couple months, I've spouted out comments along the lines of, like, "People never talk about things I think about. So I never bring it up." This commentary is 100% true yet 100% vague. For the most part, I'm referring to music. Not so much the stupid hipster music taste I've developed over the years, but the fact that I'm always cooking up songs. Like, on a daily basis. Nobody says stuff like that. So I've always considered it something embarrassing to admit. But yeah, screw it, I want to record some freaking selfwritten music. 
So I know tons of people who can help me with recording music, and probably at a cheaper price at that. For some reason, for the last couple months, I've romanticized the idea of recording with someone I don't know. Many active local musicians are my friends + acquaintances, and they have equipment to help me out. But I walk down Canyon Rd every day, and I love the idea of recording music on this very street. 
I guess I could record plenty of instrumental parts in this dudes studio, and it would sound niiiiice. Yet I don't want to lie to my audience. Why should a 27yearold dude living below the poverty level try to convince people he's "the next big indie altpop act" or some fake garbage like that? If my songwriting skills can't keep a minimalist song interesting, I'm obviously not doing my job. 
I want to crank these songs out. Make it a quick recording process, for financial purposes. I'd like to finish an EP or LP or some godforsaken body of music within the next 2 months. That sounds feasible to me. 
What would my music sound like? I'll narrow it down for you: 
I will not be rapping
Each song will just be my voice + an acoustic guitar or two
From there, not even I know
What would my songs be about? Like hell I'm telling you that much!
Anyways, I guess this blog post counts as a super vague promo for my supposedly upcoming music. I've taken this approach before, but not like this... I actually have a plan now, and people actually read my crap now. So shall it be written, so shall it be done.
I just hope people hear my songs. And that my songs don't suck.

I'm actually not a "poetry" guy, but it's the principle that matters here.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The 10 Best Nick Drake Songs

I assume this post won't get a lot of views, because you're probably only clicking the link if you know who Nick Drake is in the first place. For those who don't, I'll try to give you a brief synopsis on him without sounding as geeky or condescending as your Facebook friends who relentlessly flaunt their love for Bitcoin:

Image result for nick drake smile

Nick Drake is a British artist who made dropdead gorgeous music. He's got this low, soothing voice that you'll get hooked on at first listen. He died in 1974 due to overdose on antidepressants. He made 3 albums in his career: Five Leaves Left (1968), Bryter Layter (1970), Pink Moon (1972). Five Leaves Left is a definitive folk album with with vast, raw instrumentation that sounds like he's in the room with you. Bryter Layter goes for even larger, more colorful arrangements with production that aspires to fill up the entire sky. For Pink Moon, we literally get just his voice and an acoustic guitar for 28 minutes.

So yeah, for an artist with less than 2 hours'worth of LP recordings (a total 31 songs) under his belt, this was an easy list to make. I've been listening to his stuff a ton lately, and I recommend you get to know this guy as well. It's basically the most beautiful music of all time. Not sure where to start? Spotify playlist included, here are my 10 favorite tracks from him:

10 Introduction
4 of Nick Drake's 31 songs were instrumentals. This one kicks off Bryter Layter, but honestly sounds like the beginning of the first day of your life.
9 Thoughts Of Mary Jane
I try not to think about the double−entrendre in this title... I myself am pretty sold on this song once I hear that flute part in the beginning.
8 Time Has Told Me
This might be Nick's most familiar song. I can't remember my first time hearing this song because I feel like I might have heard it throughout my whole life. Plus: I LOVE the lyrics.
7 Which Will
Many of Nick's songs basically just mention girls he has a crush on but he's too shy to talk to. This song is conversational. But definitely nothing wistful. It's actually a painful pin to the heart. 
6 One Of These Things First
This song could be a Bible for people who believe in reincarnation. Yet somehow, Nick reaches for an even more personal and romantic concept.
5 From The Morning
The last song from his last album. I say, as an album overall, Pink Moon is the most depressing album of all time, and yet... this song always makes me smile.
4 Hazey Jane I
This Bryter Layter track lives up to the grandeur and beauty that "Introduction" sets us up for. 
3 Northern Sky
I'd like to think this is equally a love song as much as it is a song of rebirth. And living in Logan UT, it's hard not to think of this colorful "Northern Sky" when watching the sky turn pink at sundown.
2 River Man
Whether musically or lyrically, I think this track would fit nicely on any of Nick's 3 albums. He pulls all of his strengths out for this track. The textures, the mysticism, the clarity, etc.
1 Pink Moon
I gotta admit, there's nothing quite like hearing this opening acoustic guitar strum. A 2minute song with 22 seconds of piano and 25 words in it somehow leads us to ultimate self−introspection.

Friday, January 26, 2018


Adulthood can be hard.

This picture may or may not mean anything.

For me, adulthood has been a bad trip. I don't think it's that way for everyone though. And it's not like I can blame all my problems on a stage of life everyone goes through. But I think a lot of my expectations for my own adult life have just continuously/constantly backfired on me. 

I think there's a person I see myself as; someone who I should attain to be. I've had a blurred vision of this person for years. It's blurred by all the other great things I see around me. There are so many beautiful people and bright opportunities around us, it's overwhelming. I cannot be everyone. I can only be me. 
Despite this blatant truth, this has not stopped me from trying to be everyone at once.
There are a few months of my adult life I romanticize on; most of the 18th year of my life. I think I figured something out then. Because I remember feeling a sense of sincere charity and understanding for others that I have since merely tried to imitate. I remember friendships, service, hiking, my AP English class, acting, musical discovery... The Renaissance of Scott. 
Then I specifically recall my mind being hit with a sense of anxiety and loneliness I'd never felt before. This was some time during my first week of junior college.

Everything I had ever imagined, created or dreamed was slowly sinking down a hole. Over the years, only portions of this have occasionally risen back onto the surface. I've made many choices out of fear of looking like an idiot in the generic public eye. It's so bizarre. I'm always thinking things that nobody ever says out loud, so I never bring these things up. I have felt as though everyone grew up and I'm just a childish boy trapped in a man's body, pretending to be something I'm not: An adult.
This all sounds poetic and negative. Well, I've learned that this is not true. 
**Apparently I'm full to the brim with creativity. 
**...And heaping doses of self-doubt.
I know some of you probably don't believe either of those last two statements, but hear me out.
The college campus is packed with eager business majors done-up in suit+tie outfits from Men's Warehouse and reek of cologne. Engineering majors who are extremely lanky and scholastically intelligent. Art majors who button the top button of their flower-print shirts and keep the hair gel industry alive. Ag majors who were raised on a farm and look like they're literally made out of meat and potatoes. And all these people think they know the answers to life's questions. 
It's overwhelming, really. It's as though I am no longer myself, but a small ball entwined of every character that barks at me as I pass them. The vision of who I want to become gets lost.

Throughout this month, I've had days where I feel like I've been hit in the face with a baseball bat and I'm waking up from some nightmare. I wake up to find that my life is real and that there is still time for me to be me. And the vision of who I want to become is clearer than ever.
I guess it's a constant drive for self-improvement that will keep me alive+well as an adult. Whatever righteous desires and creative ideas I've ever conjured up are for me to share. My views on adulthood have crushed my dreams into oblivion. Some saccharine movie made from gentrification, professionalism and wedding photos has reduced my self-confidence to a crumbled sheet of paper. Somehow, amid this world of cowboys and CEO's, I must be my own person.
No, I'm not gonna go on a backpacking trip to Europe or move to a crappy overpriced apartment in New York City to find myself. All I want is to be my best self possible. The person I aspire to be is willing to help; someone happy and kind. Someone confident in themselves and caring towards others. I just want to do my best in what I do, and do what I feel to be right.
For the first time in a while, I think I can say with a surety that I will accomplish this. Because in a way, it's already happening.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

If I Remember Anything

I woke up around 5:00am to kick off this new year. Definitely not on purpose. All I wanted was to go back to sleep. But for any reason, my first thought was to stay in bed and listen to music. So just lying in bed on a dark, cold, silent morning, the first song I listened to in 2018 was "Love's In Need Of Love Today" by Stevie Wonder. Totally unexpected and instantaneously, I started bawling my eyes out.
It's hard to explain these emotionally gigantic-yet-temporary moments that happen to each of us. Because it's as though one moment we can remember the experience vividly and romantically, then the next we can just simply forget. Heck, sometimes we not only forget these personal moments of peace and clarity, but we go into utter despair. As I type this, I'm listening to that Stevie Wonder track. And although part of me is like, "Frick, I was just feeling this earlier today and the aesthetic is already gone," I don't think this is worth stressing over. I've had plenty of moments of complete inner-joy since then, and I will probably continue to have more. I've kept some pieces of these moments with me. If I remember anything, it's that I've realized my despise for superficiality. 

I've spent a good chunk of my life holding on to the superficial. Yeah, that's kinda my word of the day. Here are some terms the Google dictionary uses to describe it:
-Lack of thoroughness
-Lacking depth of character
-Lacking serious thought
-Existing/occurring at or on surface level
It's amazing (and by amazing, I mean ridiculous) how much irrational judgment we make on our initial impressions of others. Or even toward ourselves. I mean, a guy doesn't wave back to you in the hallway, and all the sudden every small mannerism you see in him has some prideful tint to it. Holy cow, we are literally monsters. And on a self-criticizing level, I think I've felt regret for +/half the text messages I've ever sent. Like it freaking matters!

While I don't think I'll ever crack the code for how deep genuineness can go, I'm learning a lot about just how thick the ice of superficiality truly is. Perhaps your taste in music can say a lot about you. Or the stuff you post on Facebook. But dang, what a terrible way to write someone off. We're all making the same mistakes every day here, and we are all divvying out the pain and joy within us; deciding not only what to keep with us, but how much of it. 
How much joy do you keep with you? How much pain do you carry around? What pain has meant the most to you? What joy has meant the most to you? When you put it this way, it seems obvious that we should be hopeful all the time. Yet when we hit our roadblocks, this is far from obvious.
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah described Christ as a character "acquainted with grief." Due to our human condition, we will all come across some grief and pain. If we let grief become our enemy, we will crumble at its presence. If we allow grief to become our friend, we will stray from cheer. If we sustain an acquaintanceship with grief, we become like Christ. We will have a slight knowledge of it; we'll handle it when it hits us, then continue to go about our lives without it. 
Like I said before, we can never decipher the deepest depths of every person we come across. That would be too emotionally tasking. The fact that there is a surface level to all things keeps life bearable. However, clinging to the surface of things--to superficiality--leads to mere surface-level understanding. We can only assume that perhaps those who seek help truly need it. The happiness that comes from true human connection is totally worth the effort. It's a disciplinary conscious, borderline-spiritual effort to crack through the superficial and truly get to know another person; to truly get to know ourselves.

Through 2018, I have learned to care less about--well--basically anything that appears on the screen of a smart phone. I honestly think that by talking more with other people about valuable things, you learn more about them and even about yourself. You develop a stronger love for other people and oddly enough, learn to love yourself. I gotta admit, the internet is cool, but humanity is that much cooler.
I'm not saying we should all just give up on the material world and gather around a campfire singing "Kumbayah" or something, but...
Actually, yeah. I kinda am.

*This blog post is brought to you by the Bible, Stevie Wonder, and!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

My Asinine Year

I graduated with a Bachelor's Degree from Utah State University 1 year ago.
Here we have a biographical account of this last year of my life. Here's your chance to enter both my inner-psyche and my tangible/real life like never before. If you're not into that stuff, you can turn back now. If you are, buckle up. describes "adventure" as a "risky or unexpected undertaking." The last year of my life has been the exact opposite of an adventure. It's been an all-out abstention from everything in the universe. Refraining from adventure requires a lot of comfort in your surroundings, as well as plenty of confusion and fear of the outside world.
I mean "the outside world" slightly more metaphorically than literally. I guess I've never been anywhere outside the North American Northwest, but when I listen to other people talk about their lives, I rarely understand what the hell they're talking about.
It's the rarest of occasions that I meet someone I connect with. I rarely have stuff in common with any person I meet. I've spent a good chunk of my life-- between childhood and adulthood-- wondering if there's anybody out there who's like me. I mean, I'm under the impression that plenty of people out there like me, and I like plenty of people, myself. But I'm talking about people who ARE LIKE me. Ya know? People who think like me, relatively. People with more than a couple similar interests. Where are these people?
I believe I have a slew of true friends, and yet I am incredibly distant from where I want to be and/or need to be. While at times this can be deeply depressing, I sometimes find it extraordinarily fascinating! Perhaps when people write all this cheesy crap on the internet about ADVENTURE, I could use a huge, literal dose of that. Perhaps a lot of this is creating adventure for myself; perhaps a little stumbling upon an opportunity and jumping on board. Perhaps some things are worth going for broke.

And now, the past year of my life. In 3 parts!

The summer before my final semester at USU brought about a sense of immenent doom that would come back to haunt me. I was staring down the barrel of my own B.A. It's a sign of success; a rite of passage. It's a glorified accomplishment that requires a lot of time, money, and devotion to attain. I know it sounds like I'm ripping on the American education system, but hell, I went through with it. And I liked it!
I freaking loved being a college student. I loved the campus atmosphere and its mixing aesthetic of community with individuality. What I felt the summer before I graduated was the feeling that I would graduate and not know what to do with my life afterward. This turned out to be 100% correct.
These past 12 months have had me feeling lost on a consistent basis. I rarely (if ever) talk to people about my life or how I'm doing. It's an embarrassing topic. When I talk about my fun experiences and professional skills, I'm always referring to moments from the past. It's like my life has literally been on pause for an entire year.
When I graduated, I went straight home to Jerome ID and didn't know how long I'd live there for. I milked it out for 8 months. I was unemployed for 3 of those months. I wasn't sure what to tell people when they asked me about my life. So I moved back to Logan UT. I've been unemployed half my time here, mind you I've started working some random desk job now. I am still not sure what to tell people when they ask me about my life.
But, yeah, I got the Diploma. I got the student loan debt. I got the 10 semesters of college stories I could fall back on if I want to look smart or experienced. It used to be reality, now much of it seems like a dream; as though it never even happened. I wrote for the USU newspaper, I was a stage manager for a couple USU shows, I got a business minor... but it's as though I'm not willing to admit that I accomplished all this. Is there some kind of universal pedestal of prestige that comes with this stuff? Professional credentials? Was this practical at all? Does it still count if Scott E Hall does it? I've never fully grasped my mind around these things...

I say "apparently," but this is not something I learned this year. A doctor diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7 years ago. It's been up-and-down throughout my life. What I've come to learn is that even on my best days, it's still an issue.
This statement will come off cheesy, but I am not my anxiety disorder. It's more like a backpack forever strapped on to me. I decide how heavy I want it to be. In a vicious cycle, I can make it heavier and it will keep painfully multiplying weight on its own. However, I could just subtract from it. Yeah, I guess it would still be on my back, but I'd feel light enough to travel freely without unnecessary self-loaded burdens.
Although I shouldn't be ashamed of my GAD, I still hate talking about it. Here are some reasons why:
-Shockingly, some people don't believe that mental disorders exist
-I feel like I'm starting some kinda "woe is me"-fest
-People overreact, making the situation even more uncomfortable
-That feeling like you're just talking to a brick wall
Anyways, I've learned a lot about my anxiety lately. I've started seeing a psychiatric counselor about a month ago. I think it helps because it gives me a chance to converse things I feel like I never get the chance to talk about; things that are actually on my mind.
So, if anxiety is essentially the same thing as worry, what do I worry about? You name it, I've worried about it. I mostly worry about what others think of me. I don't think I'm fake with people or I put on some facade to fit in with social groups... No, as opposed to acting like I'm someone else, I usually just don't give my whole self to people. Everyone gets pieces of me, and these are genuine real pieces of me, but nobody's getting the whole thing.
At times I think I'm crazy, but mostly I just assume that other people think I'm crazy. Here are some facts about me most people don't know:
-I've always wanted to be a musical performer, or songwriter or something
-I've never kissed anyone before
-I am strongly active in a church I don't always believe in
-I am not a Republican
Anyways, I understand if any of you guys think less of me after all this. It's frustrating how I imagine people being turned off by my actually expressing how I feel about real stuff. The least I can do is be nice to people and tell some jokes. It gets you lots of acquaintances, a Bachelor's Degree, and some random desk job. I guess I'm still not fully satisfied with my life. But making plans is scary and self-promotion is stupid.
However, these days I've been "coming to terms with" my GAD. I've made a choice to understand it, accept it, and deal with it. In order to do this, I must do a lot of stuff that I consider scary and stupid.

So, I attend the LDS Institute of Religion sometimes. I usually don't even sign up for classes just in case I want to bail out mid-semester. Apparently people graduate from it, but people never talk about that. I've been going to a night class these last few months. I showed up last week for our final class, and... BEHOLD! Brother Lucherini gave me an envelop saying I had officially graduated from Institute. I never intended to do this and had no idea I was so close to accomplishing this, but apparently I graduated Institute.
I've been reading LDS talks and scriptures much more often lately. And I gotta admit, it's helpful. I mean, it's one of the weirdest traditionalist organizations someone could get born into, but it helps me.
Even at age 27, I-- much like a real-live emotional teenager-- don't feel like I belong anywhere. Like there's a lack of personal connection. My music buddies and my church buddies usually don't meet in the middle of that Venn Diagram. Things I want to talk about almost never get brought up in conversation. I'm sometimes convinced that it's really just me, folks. Perhaps I have no human capital. Or I'm not attractive. Or I have zero social skills. Or all of the above.
Last night I bought myself a glass bottle of root beer. I only drink soda once a year, so this was a big event. Unfortunately, it was the worst root beer I've had in my entire life ("Private Selection" brand; wouldn't recommend it). I usually reserve my annual soda-drinking ceremony for a night when I feel quite sad. I'll sip the root beer like it's alcohol and listen to Joni Mitchell or something. But last night, with this crappy root beer in my left hand, I stared at my ceiling and couldn't stop smiling... I can't lose.
I really can't. I can do whatever I want and I'll win because of the sole fact that I did those things. I caught a glimpse of both present + future victory. A beam of success and an opportunity for hope. No matter what I do, I can't lose. If I'm doing anything, be that for myself or for another person (especially the latter), I'm winning the game. That is, the game against my anxiety.
This was the most asinine year of my life because I did nothing.
My simple goal for next year is to do more things.
...(sigh) Or have an ADVENTURE, whatever...

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The 25 Best Albums of 2017

2017 is not over yet. But we can always pretend like it is.

I walked to a local park the other night. Sat on a bench and stared up into the dark, clouded, fading sky. It was cold and I was breathing clearly, having just finished a workout. After my mind raced through topics like my purpose in life and my state of well-being, I just observed what was before me... An empty field of grass, kids' playground equipment, silhouettes of trees and mountains... There was no music.
It was peaceful. I imagined some delightfully smug character sitting beside me with his arms stretched to the sky, narrating the view to me:

"You wanna see things as they really are, Scott? This is it, right here! Ha! This is it. That's all. You don't have to be anything or think anything! If you have something to share with the world, you are free to share it. This stuff you're looking at right now isn't going anywhere. This is okay. And you're going to be okay."

Here's a spiffy list I made. Enjoy!

Here are some honorable mentions that almost made the list.
- Alex Cameron Forced Witness
- Ariel Pink Dedicated To Bobby Jameson
- Broken Social Scene Hug Of Thunder
- Jay-Z 4:44
- Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings Soul Of A Woman

Now the list.
The 25 Best Albums of 2017

25 Feist Pleasure

This probably won't make sense to any of you, but the album actually sounds like what the album cover looks like.

24 The War On Drugs A Deeper Understanding

While Adam Granduciel may just be a really corny figurehead for dad rock, you gotta admit he swung for the fences on this new album.

23 Power Trip Nightmare Logic

It's not like I actively look for throwback Texas thrash metal, but perhaps it's the mere fact that this album exists that it made this list.

22 Jlin Black Origami 

I don't know jack about footwork, but I like that there's an elephant on the album cover because most of its musical influences come from countries that have elephants.

21 Thundercat Drunk

I still can't think of a good blurb for this one, but that's probably because I've never had alcohol before.

20 SZA Ctrl 

I've been debating whether or not this album belonged on this list, but it's that heart-breaker of a closer "20 Something" that just seals the deal for me.

19 Tyler, The Creator Flower Boy

I think this is the closest to Channel Orange Tyler's gonna get.

18 Protomartyr Relatives In Descent

A good fix for some good post-punk; Elvis-death theories and fatherhood struggles included.

17 Fleet Foxes Crack-Up

Ya know, this thing turned out alright.

16 The Mountain Goats Goths

"What if John Darnielle was secretly a big 80s goth culture junkie and he's just been waiting his whole career to record a jazzy elevator lite-rock album about it in extensively nerdy detail?" asked No One Ever.

15 Rapsody Laila's Wisdom

This a jam-packed fun West Coast rap album that I kinda find comparable to Anderson.Paak's Malibu in nature.

14 Moses Sumney Aromanticism 

I love this guy's voice (and his apparent-yet-respective influence taken from a bunch of 2000s indie bands).

13 King Krule The OOZ

Turns out that smiling redhead kid from MAD Magazine is a super depressing British dude.

12 Converge The Dusk In Us

As long as we're keeping score here, All We Love We Leave Behind is the better album, but The Dusk In Us ranks pretty high on this list because it really was just that kind of year...

11 Sampha Process

I never thought I'd write this, but I'm really glad there's an artist out there owning the mantle of "the modern-day Seal."

10 Bjork Utopia

This album is gorgeous, mind you, this is still a Bjork + Arca collaboration, and I wouldn't recommend this to anyone easily prone to headaches.

9 Kelela Take Me Apart

Kelela delivers some of the most impressive alt-R&B stuff I've heard in a while, and in bulk.

Richard Dawson Peasant 

This is really somethin' else, guys... as beautiful as it is strange, here we have a freak-folk album with complex arrangements, vibrant instrumentation, lo-fi production, and weird stories about people's lives during medieval times.

Father John Misty Pure Comedy

The whole world is going to hell so we might as well listen to some Elton John.

Ibibio Sound Machine Uyai

I'm gonna go out on a limb and guarantee that all of you would love this band's zany spin on Afropop music.

5 Charlotte Gainsbourg Rest

November came and I suddenly realized that I was waiting all year for something with bold, sly melodies and thick, French textures to be my obvious pick for "pop album of the year."

4 Run The Jewels Run The Jewels 3

Outside its place on this rather muscle-less list, I should clarify that this grandiose-soundscape rap album is literally from 2016 and its Christmas release will go down as part of the 2016 narrative. 

3 Perfume Genius No Shape

Looking at his loaded (yet still-young) career under the Perfume Genius name, this exquisite delicacy of an album solidifies Mike Hadreas' spot among the most exclusive realm of this decade's greatest songwriters.

2 Kendrick Lamar DAMN.

For those following the whole "Radiohead-Kendrick" connection, part of me believes DAMN. is Kendrick's In Rainbows because of its lovable natural flow, but part of me says this is his Hail To The Thief because it's a 14-track, 55-minute, politically-conscious album taking a step down from the artist's usually extreme experimentalism; complete with a full-album song-title shtick to boot.

1 Mount Eerie A Crow Looked At Me

Death is real.