KSDB’s Top Albums of 2016 (So Far)

2016 is off to a great start with album releases. Here are some of our Executive Staff’s favorite albums that have been released so far.

Dylan Swoyer – Music Director

TacocaT – Lost Time (4/1/16)tac

The Seattle pop punk group’s third album is about as fun as it gets. I mean, just look at the artist name. It’s the same when read forwards as backwards. Whoa. TacocaT is one of many in the modern music industry heading a feminist music movement along with others such as The Coathangers, Savages, and Hinds, who you can all hear on KSDB. Signed to Hardly Art Records, the quartet uses sarcasm to address various feminist issues.

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down – A Man Alive (3/4/16)

Alternative folk rock is probably as good as a description as I can come up with for Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, and that’s a shame. Whatever it is, it’s amazing, and it all starts with Thao Nguyen, whose vocals are a weird stew of hip hop, country, and folk. While having released a few solo albums of her own, this is Nguyen’s fourth record with her backing band, the Get Down Stay Down.

Anderson .Paak – Malibu (1/15/16)

Dr. Dre’s newest signee to his label, Aftermath, has been making waves in the alternative R&B genre, already thriving with the likes of Jerimih, Miguel, Frank Ocean (please come back), and The Weeknd. While definitely more hip hop-influenced than those mentioned, .Paak brings a wonderful blend of fast-paced hip hop and soulful R&B. Check out the review for Malibu done by KSDB DJ, Sydney Dauer, here.

Savages – Adore Life (1/22/16)

Already mentioned as a major player in the feminist music game, Savages brought us Adore Life, the sequel to their widely successful debut, Silence Yourself, which was released in 2013. Savages is an all-female quartet, and they are not screwing around.

psyPsychic Heat – Sunshower (5/27/16)

Lawrence psychedelic fuzz rock group, Psychic Heat, is finally coming out with their debut, Sunshower. Those familiar with the Lawrence music scene have been anticipating this record for awhile. Tanner and Evan are the founders of the group, and the rhythm section, after a few lineup changes, is now made up of the two members of Arc Flash, another Lawrence band, Mark and James. Be on the lookout for an album release show near you, and they begin their Sunshower tour in mid-June.

Nick Fief – Program Director

 Your Friend – Gumption (1/29/16)you

Taryn Miller of Lawrence, Kansas has been heavily involved in the local music scene for years. After releasing an incredible debut EP and being picked up by Domino Records, She returned to recording, this time in a much different location by way of Brooklyn, New York to record her first full length album. Gumption is a gorgeous, full-bodied record with a somehow euphoric flavor packaged in a rather dark box. In a year that’s already been amazing for local musicians, Taryn sets herself above the rest with her latest efforts from Your Friend.

Porches – Pool (2/5/16)

Porches exceeded expectation on his latest record, his first with Domino. Pool is an unusual cross between traditionally styled pop music and electronic. It’s mopey, lonely, and even a little snobbish at times, but it’s entirely a listenable album, if not a slightly danceable one. With Greta Kline (frontwoman for Frankie Cosmos) on backing vocals and the occasional bass line, Pool finds a groove of its own. If you want a listening experience that’s both groovy and dreamy, Pool is the record for you.

Kevin Morby – Singing Saw (4/15/16)

Formerly of the band Woods, Kevin Morby has proven himself as a talented songwriter. His third release shows the most promise and improvement. Morby’s music transcends time and pulls from various influences, most easily recognizable among them is Bob Dylan. His songs are simple in structure, but deep in sound and subject. A truly enjoyable release from a consistently improving songwriter.

Junior Boys – Big Black Coat (2/5/16)jun

I used to think it was impossible for electronic music to reach emotions deeper than just excitement and rage, but it’s artists like Junior Boys who have steadily proved me a fool. There is so much emotional breadth in Big Black Coat that it’s easy to get lost. I found myself taking a swan dive deep into this lush record for listen after listen. It’s upbeat but still smooth, it’s danceable, yet thought provoking. If you enjoyed 2014’s Our Love from Caribou, you will quickly fall in love with this record.

Woods – City Sun Eater in the River of Light (4/8/16)

Admittedly, I didn’t give Woods’s latest record as much respect right out of the gate. Honestly, I hadn’t even listened to it until I saw them live at Love Garden in LFK. City Sun Eater in the River of Light is their ninth studio album and quite possibly their most experimental. They’ve added and subtracted musicians throughout their career, but have maintained a recognizable sound across all of their studio records. This one is still very much Woods, but it’s a funky, jazzier reincarnation. It’s fun to see such an experienced and consistent band release such a big new sound.

David Dougherty – Co-Promotions Director

 Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered. (3/4/16)

This album is short and was dropped as an unannounced surprise. The tracks are titled only by numbers and dates. If the dates are of when the songs were recorded then all of the tracks are post good kid, m.A.A.d city and likely tracks that didn’t make it onto the final version of To Pimp A Butterfly. Don’t let the fact that these tracks were recorded during the same time the tracks on To Pimp A Butterfly fool you though, hearing To Pimp A Butterfly does not mean that you’ve heard untitled unmastered.. This is one of my favorite tracks of 2016 so far because it demonstrates the depth of Kendrick Lamar’s creative talents and his ability to maintain a dynamic sound as his body of work grows. untitled unmastered. is the perfect transition from To Pimp A Butterfly to whatever Kendrick Lamar has in store next because it expanded what he accomplished with To Pimp A Butterfly, which was showcasing that Hip Hop should go beyond the superficial, make you think, be a way to convey something that is bigger than the artist, and incorporate a variety of musical influences.

 Radiation City – Synesthetica (2/5/16)

This album is easy listening from start to finish and definitely worth a listen. Radiation City combines driving bass lines with colorful melodies into a psychedelic funk that makes you just want to slow down, turn the tunes up, and relax. If Synesthetica is a sign of things to come, listening to the next Radiation City album is going to be a must. This album is not only a step in the right direction following their 2014 release, Animals in the Median, but also a great progress in their appeal. Milky White, one of my favorite tracks from the album, sounds like a groovy mashup of Phantogram and Kimbra. I would definitely recommend giving this album a listen.

Low Cut High Tops – Eh, Whatever (2/5/16)

One of the funnest albums of the year to listen to, in my opinion. Let’s Runaway kicks the album off with a ligScreenshot 2016-05-11 at 10.24.38 AMht, pop-y sound that you could definitely picture hearing on a top 40 station. Don’t let this fool you though, Low Cut High Tops may utilize “sparkling” sounds but there’s a lot more to the band’s sound than being the soundtrack to a night out for high schoolers. The next track on the album, Red Lipstick, hits you in the mouth with the garage punk-y fact of that matter in the best way imaginable. Low Cut High Tops bring a lot of energy to each of their tracks and enjoying each one in Eh, Whatever isn’t hard to do. This album is a lot of fun and definitely worth the listen.

Fake Drugs – Glass Eyes (2/1/16)

This album is a bit dark but in a very good way. Fake Drugs combines an edgy, electronic sound with synthpop and the result is energetic melody and beats that might be heard in European night clubs. Glass Eyes is one of my favorite tracks on the album and an excellent track to kick the album off and prepare the listener for what’s to come. The album is a sign of good things to come as its sound is more refined than the band’s last release, Drake Fugs, and definitely easier to listen to. If you enjoy synth heavy music, this is definitely an album I would recommend listening to.

Fullbloods – Mild West (2/25/16)
This album is incredibly easy listening and puts you in a better mood. Fullbloods incorporate a melodic sound with amild_west_cover little bit of funk in Mild West to produce something that’s upbeat and laidback. I listened to this album a few times when it came out and both reminisced on the days of The ACBs and got excited about where the band is headed with their sound. Money, No Keys, and Shrimp Etouffee are some of my favorite tracks on the record and would recommend at least listening to those if you don’t think you have the time to listen to the entire album. If you’re not lame and don’t think you have the time to listen to the entire album, I would recommend listening to the entire album over a few sittings because it’s a really good album and definitely worth the listen.

Monica Brich – Website Director

Panic! at the Disco – Death of a Bachelor (1/15/16)

This album blew me away. As with all of Panic’s other albums, Death of a Bachelor experiements with a different sound, this time going with Las Vegas/Frank Sanatra-esque sound. But Brendon Urie has a great way of experimenting with different genres while still having his own distinct sound. The fact that Urie recorded most of the instrumentals himself solidifies that he can be successful as a solo artist.

Mystery Jets – Curve of the Earth (1/15/16)

Curve of the Earth noticeably different than Mystery Jets’ other albums.  They keep their Indie Pop sound, but add in more electronics than usual, giving them an almost Muse-like sound, especially during the song “Telomere”. This album didn’t impact me as much of their other albums, but it’s still a great listen, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Nicholas St. James – Theatres (2/22/16)

nichstjNicholas St. James has a sound that you rarely hear from other artists presently. His voice is very raw and gutteral, and his music is a great mix of folk and blues music. His songs have very dark themes, but this album is executed in a way that the sound fits with the lyrics, but at the same time it’s not too sad to listen to or enjoy.  Nicholas St. James is one of those artists that you can only feel the real impact of his music when you listen to him live, so if you ever get the chance to see him perform, you should definitely go.

The Last Shadow Puppets – Everything You’ve Come to Expect (4/1/16)

Everything You’ve Come to Expect is the second album from The Last Shadow Puppets, a collaboration with Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys, Miles Kane from The Rascals, James Ford from Simian Mobile Disco, and Zach Dawes from Mini Mansions. This album sounds very similar to the Arctic Monkeys, largely due to Turner’s distinct voice, but there is also violin used throughout the album that separates it from the artists’ other work.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – This Unruly Mess I’ve Made (2/26/16)

This album was everything I hoped it would be. There’s a great balance between the upbeat and fun songs, and the deep, impactful songs, like there was in The Heist. There were great artists featured in almost every song. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have a great formula for making an album, and they use their popularity to spread important messages, which many artists are scared to do.

By: KSDB Staff

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