Saturday, December 31, 2016

top 10 singles of 2016


Boy Problems - Carly Rae Jepsen


I Can't Give Everything Away - David Bowie


One Dance - Drake


Can't Stop the Feeling! - Justin Timberlake


Make Me Like You - Gwen Stefani


I Feel it Coming - The Weeknd f/Daft Punk


Intern - Angel Olsen


Formation / Hold Up - Beyonce


Famous - Kanye West


Cranes in the Sky - Solange

Thursday, December 29, 2016

top 10 albums of the year: #1


Lemonade - Beyoncé

Few events in popular music were as exciting and electric as Beyoncé's Lemonade release. Paired with its stunning, dreamy slate of videos, this is a brisk album of impressive genre-hopping: blistering rock on Jack White duet "Don't Hurt Yourself" and a country ditty called "Daddy Lessons" which harbors frustration in its joyful facade are standout tracks. It seems there's no stopping the Queen Bee right now as she continues grow and change fearlessly as an artist.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

top 10 albums of the year: #2


A Seat at the Table - Solange

Solange released a tremendous album and took a huge leap as an artist in 2016. "Cranes in the Sky" is one of the year's most arresting singles: her fluttery, pretty voice waxing poetic on dissatisfaction and the difficulty of facing truths. And while her vocals are soft and cool, her lyrics scald--digging into issues of identity and feeling "Weary" in these times.

"I call it my punk album. Punk artists have been allowed to be disruptive and rage and express anger, be anti-establishment, even when it means destroying property, even when it means provoking violence through moshing or whatever. That’s something that black artists are not usually able to do, especially R&B artists. Hip-hop has more allowance than that, but as an R&B artist, it’s really a hard thing to occupy." -Solange

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

top 10 albums of the year: #3


Freetown Sound - Blood Orange

Smoked with hazy interludes and tuneful motifs, Blood Orange's Freetown Sound features Dev Hynes' signature atmosphere and melodies. Single "Augustine" recalls lives cut short. "Best to You" thrums with sparkly percussion; my favorite track "Better Than Me" skips in trip-hop and mirrorball shadows. But within the fabric of these soothing, optimistic "free" sounds are some deeply personal and timely lyrics.

"The line “you chose to fade away from me” comes back a lot throughout the album. When I first wrote that melody, it was about a couple of friends of mine that overdosed on heroin and died in the last few years. That’s why I was singing about the choices that people have made: “You chose to fade away with him, I chose to try and let you in.” Then, as I was working on the album and thinking about the phrase, it started to become almost like a call for wanting warmth and closeness. The simple idea of someone letting you in is a beautiful thing." -Dev Hynes

Monday, December 26, 2016

top 10 albums of the year: #4


My Woman - Angel Olsen

Album opener "Intern" is a low-burn whoosh of melancholy. The rest of the album kicks up with stuttering pop rock tunes like "Shut Up Kiss Me" and folksy "Never Mine" and "Heart Shaped Face." The melody builds and stops and builds again on grungy epic tracks like "Sister" where Olsen shines with plaintive vocals. It's beautiful, bold work all around.

"Of course people are like: Who is the woman? Are you the woman? And I was like, 'I don't know! I am still finding that out!'" -Angel Olsen

Saturday, December 24, 2016

top 10 albums of the year: #5


Blonde - Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean left behind a haunting vortex of tunes in 2016 on his album Blonde. Not as melody-friendly as his previous effort but every bit as profound, Blond is slack, mysterious and deep, invoking Karen Carpenter and vocordered ache.

"Sometimes I felt like you weren’t hearing enough versions of me within a song, ’cause there was a lot of hyperactive thinking. Even though the pace of the album’s not frenetic, the pace of ideas being thrown out is." -Frank Ocean

Friday, December 23, 2016

top 10 albums of the year: #6


Blackstar - David Bowie

David Bowie passed just two days after the release of his twenty-fifth studio album. "I Can't Give Everything Away" ended up being a fitting close to Bowie's career as artist / persona. A song over a gentle techno beat which sounds wise, desperate and resilient (that major key swell on the word "away"). The rest of the album has an easy rock flair with his unique ability to meld traditional melody structure with off-the-wall lyrics and vocals (see "Girl Loves Me"). A fine set of swan songs from a legend.

“His death was no different from his life – a work of Art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be.” -Tony Visconti

Thursday, December 22, 2016

top 10 albums of the year: #7


A Moon Shaped Pool - Radiohead

With string-set barn-burner "Burn the Witch," gorgeous swirls of "Daydreaming" and "Present Tense," Radiohead returned with another solid set.

"I guess it feels like every record we make, we finish and have a collective thought that we didn't quite mean to do it like that and the next one will be different and then we'll get it right. It's kind of like rewriting the same letter and getting each draft slightly wrong. So it's a good motivation force — it keeps us going." -Jonny Greenwood

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Sometimes the best dramas boil in confined spaces. Filmed in Pittsburgh, occasionally moving out of its tiny backyard, Fences breathes and wheezes within small sets, always swinging mightily, sometimes missing, sometimes cracking under the weight of obvious metaphors and yet, I was fully engaged with the crisp dialogue (authored by August Wilson, from his famed, seminal play), the brisk rashes of humor, and the appealing cast (primarily Denzel Washington, Viola Davis and a salt-of-the-earth turn by Stephen Henderson). Washington owns the thorny monologues that sway between tall tale and hot truth of his garbage man Troy--a character fully alive in complexities and bigness. And Davis, as his wife, brims with scorching intensity, sadness, and occasionally will break into sunshiny laughter. Her Rose feels, in a word, human.

Classical literary devices abound: Rose's name, the title's meaning, the appearance of the wise "fool" (another difficult-to-act character played with gusto by Mykelti Williamson)--and although they were sometimes creaky and made me imagine all of the English class essay assignments this material must have spawned, there was something refreshing about the resistance to scale back on these elements which we often don't find in films of late. In fact, there have been a few notable misfires in recent years with pedigree stage-to-screen adaptations (Doubt and August, Osage County among them), but instead of feeling perfunctory, Fences feels like it has a pulse. It helps that Washington as director is so close to the material: when it focuses on the writing and actors, its nervy; when it aims for cinematic sheen (like the overly gilded sunlight in its coda), it's less compelling. While the gauzy distance of film may not cut to the bone as this may have in the intimacy of a stage setting (I wish I had seen it, especially with these actors), the writing is so electric and the complexities of these characters' situations are so finely-tuned. ***1/2

-Jeffery Berg

top 10 albums of the year: #8

8. The Life of Pablo - Kanye West

Kanye is super annoying sometimes but his artistry is undeniable. His latest album continued his streak of stunning, idiosyncratic collections--this one his most melancholic and moody since 808s & Heartbreak.

“Which Pablo? Pablo Picasso, Pablo Escobar of course, Apostle Paul. [Paul] was the strongest influencer of Christianity, Pablo Escobar was the biggest mover of product, and Pablo Picasso was the biggest mover of art. And that mix between message, art, and product is The Life Of Pablo." -Kanye West

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

top 10 albums of the year: #9


Views - Drake

Drake remains the King of the pop aural anatomy right now: a mix of tonic, digitally-drenched vocals and hemmed-in, repetitive production. Views is a smeary, captivating mash of his signature sound mixing monotony with off-the-cuff spontaneity. Includes the both clippy and smooth summer airwaves hit "One Dance" and killer closer "Hotline Bling."

Drake on the album:

“This album is probably my highest level of vocal performance.”

“I was listening to Stevie Wonder “All I Do” and Alabama Shakes “Give Me All Your Love.”

“The album is based around the change of the seasons in our city. It starts out in the wintertime… That was what I used to tie it all together.”

“It was important to make the album here [in Toronto] during the winter.”

“It’s a constant stream of my emotions at this time, whether it be in love, in life, in this business.”

“I never set out with malicious intention, I’m just a really honest person…There’s some harsh truth on this album.”

“It wouldn’t be a record without Rihanna. We do well together as a team.”

“I’m trying to make music that transcends gender and nationality.”

Monday, December 19, 2016

top 10 albums of the year: #10


Midwest Farmer's Daughter - Margo Price

Recorded in a mere three days at the legendary Sun Studio on Jack White's Third Man label, Nashville-based Margo Price's debut is an unfussy, raw slate of vintage country tunes. The opening "Hands of Time" turns cliches counterclockwise. The bouncy honky-tonk of "Hurtin' on the Bottle" and "Desperate and Depressed" would be at home with Kenny, Loretta, Merle Haggard or Waylon Jennings' repertoire of barroom toe-tappers in their ironic structuring of sad lyrics woven into a major key. It's an album that holds both a sense of deep familiarity and surprise.

"I don't know what's drawn me to it [country music] so much, but I think a lot of the tragedy and the lonesomeness, there's something uplifting in there as well. It's like when you hear George and Tammy sing a song about divorce." -Margo Price

Friday, December 16, 2016

megamagictape 2016

The Magician waves his wand goodbye to 2016 with a big ole megamix of tunes.

– Bonzai : Skhokho
– Bobby Nourmand : Smokin Joe
– The Blaze : Virile
– Clew & Prov : Tarzan
– Kungs : This Girl
– Martin Solveig : Do It Right
– Disciples : Daylight
– Jodie Abacus : Good Feeling (KDA Remix)
– Lee Walker vs Dj Deeon : Freal Like Me (Sonny Fodera Remix)
– Mr Oizo : All Wet feat. Siriusmo
– Motez : Down Like This (Dom Dolla Remix)
– Bobby Nourmand : Deep in NY feat. Doc & Goodmorning
– Weiss : You’re Sunshine
– Apexape : Joy & Pain
– The Magician : Shy feat. Brayton Bowman
– The Weeknd : I Feel It Coming feat. Daft Punk
– Drake : One Dance feat. Wizkid & Kyla
– Mr Oizo : No Tony feat. Phra
– Basstracks : Get Your Way
– Pat Lok : My Own Throne feat. Claire Mortifee
– The Aston Shuffle : Make A Wrong Thing Right
– NVOY : Make You Mine
– King Henry : Don’t Stay Away
– Abeyance : Don’t Stop
– Eugy x Mr Eazi : Dance For Me (Redlight Remix)
– Kideko & George Kwali : Crank it
– Fabich : One, Two
– Punctual : Eva
– Drake : Too Good feat. Rihanna
– Slaptop : Passenger
– The Aston Shuffle : Only 1 feat. Nathaniel
– Disclosure : Boss
– Blvion : Reckless
– Park & Sons : Uncle Carl
– Jax Jones : House Work feat. Mike Dunn & MNEK
– Calvin Harris : My Way (Offaiah Remix)
– KDA : Just Say feat. Tinashe
– Armand Van Helden : Spidey Sensei
– Dj Snake : Future pt.2 feat. Bipolar Sunshine
– Gorgon City : Smile (The Magician Remix)
– Fono : Feet On The Ground
– Claude Vonstroke : The Rain Break
– Dj Licious : Calling
– Kölsch : Grey
– The Weekend : Starboy feat. Daft Punk
– Duke Dumont : Be Here
– Aluna George : I’m In Control (The Magician Remix)
– Karma Kid : Man Of The Year
– Jay Pryor : All This
– Offaiah: Trouble
– Armand Van Helden : Wings
– Odd Mob : Into You feat. Starley
– Riton : Rinse & Repeat feat. Kah-Lo
– Mickey : Harlem
– Tourist : Run
– Limits : Keep On
– Roby : Waterfalls (Dear David Remix)
– Watermat : Fade
– Boys Noize : Birthday feat. Hudson Mohawke & Spank Rock
– Frank Ocean : Nights