Yes, it's that time of year again: a little late, but it's the musical year in review for 2017. There was a handful of really good stuff this year, and a few albums that I was really excited about! This year, I made some changes: I've added a relative and subjective rating system, from one to five stars. A one star album is not, necessarily, bad (unless I say it is...) -- think of it, really, as how much I am excited about listening to something, so one star just might mean that I haven't really found a place for it in my regular listening habits. The more stars, the more I think other people will want to listen to it too; to that end, this year, I had only one five-star album, but that means that yinz had better go and listen to it!
Got it? Okay, well, let's get started! This year, I bought 18 albums, saw 5 live shows, and recommended another additional 18 pieces of "extra credit", and here they are:
- ⭑⭑ Phutureprimitive - Kinetik
- ⭑⭑⭑⭑ Phantogram - Three
- ⭑ Infected Mushroom - Return to the Sauce
- ⭑⭑⭑⭑ Netsky - 3
- ⭑⭑ Netsky - 2 (Deluxe Edition)
- ⭑⭑ Johnny A. - Driven
- ⭑⭑⭑ Tycho - Epoch
- ⭑⭑⭑⭑ Rhys Fulber - Realism
- ⭑⭑⭑ Emma Hewitt - Burn The Sky Down
- ⭑⭑ Jamiroquai - Automaton
- ⭑⭑⭑ Seeming - Sol: A Self-Banishment Ritual (+ Faceless EP)
- ⭑⭑ The Crüxshadows - Astromythology
- ⭑ Aly & Fila - The Chill Out
- ⭑⭑ Aly & Fila - Beyond The Lights
- ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑ The Thrillseekers - Escape
- ⭑⭑⭑⭑ The Birthday Massacre - Under Your Spell
- ⭑⭑⭑ Craig Connelly - One Second Closer (Deluxe Edition)
- ⭑⭑⭑ Armin van Buuren - A State of Trance Year Mix 2017
- Extra credit.
- Live music.
New albums for 2017.
- January 5th: Phutureprimitive - Kinetik (bandcamp) (⭑⭑; released March, 2011).
Psy. Dub. Chill. Somewhat dark. Recommend for genre aficionados.
I came to this album originally via my boss, oddly enough -- and then, from hearing the first track played at Planet Granite, and Shazam'ing it. This is solidly good programming-work music, I think -- or, perhaps, climbing gym music, too. I haven't listened to it much since I bought it, but I could imagine listening to it in the car on longer trips; to be honest, it just hasn't popped to mind as "I should listen to this album!". Part of the problem, I think, is that the first track sets a standard that the rest of the album has trouble matching. Regardless, I think that that first track -- Cryogenic Dreams -- is a pretty accessible tune that a lot of electronic music fans will enjoy listening to. I really enjoy the chill-psy groove to it, and it is well worth a listen.
- January 9th: Phantogram - Three (⭑⭑⭑⭑; released October, 2016).
Indie/alternative rock. Lightly electronic. Recommend.
I think it was knightofstarz that recommended this to me. I like it! You might be familiar with the hard-hitting track You Don't Get Me High Anymore (which had a Song Exploder episode about it); that was the rare track that got the crossover of a bunch of airplay on (at least) Bay Area radio stations, and also a handful of airplay at Death Guild. It's a solidly good tune, that is both musically rich, and catchy, and it might be maybe the most representative of the album.
There are other things to be said about this album, though. Although it's a duo, they don't fall into the trap of having only one vocalist, and so it's nice to hear the alternation of voices. The album is also pretty short, clocking in at only 36 minutes, which is perhaps a blessing and a curse: it seems like you want a little more of it, but on the other hand, it does not belabor the point it tries to make about its style, and so you don't get sick of it halfway through the album. (Some of the albums I'll review from later in the year have this problem.) This is a good thing, because some of the material can be challenging; Answer, for instance, is musically nontrivial, and Barking Dog is perhaps in a class of its own on the album in terms of subject matter. The album, in many regards, is very rich.
You Don't Get Me High Anymore, above, is a great, maybe representative, sample of this album. But for my money, I think that Same Old Blues is a standout track: it's punchy and effective, and shows the wide range of musical talent that Phantogram has, from electronic effects to funk- and blues-inspired songwriting.
- January 27th: Infected Mushroom - Return to the Sauce (⭑; released January 27th).
Uptempo psytrance. Uh, Infected Mushroom.
There's a new Mushroom album out this year! I bought it, but it doesn't really stick out much in my head. I went to take a spin through some of the tracks to remind myself of it, and some of them don't register at all for me -- they kind of sound like generic Mushroom. This could be a good thing or a bad thing; after all, when Legend of the Black Shawarma came out, I originally panned it, thinking that it was too much of "generic Mushroom"; but these days, I think that Black Shawarma is actually quite a good album indeed. All that said, if I find myself reaching for newer Mushroom these days, I probably end up with 2015's Converting Vegetarians II.
I probably owe it to myself to listen to this again. But in the mean time, I think that Groove Attack is decently representative of what you'll get on this.
- March 16th: Netsky - 3 (⭑⭑⭑⭑; released June, 2016).
Drum & bass, verging on somewhat oldskool feeling. Dancy! Uplifting. Recommend for genre fans (especially people who used to like Pendulum, back when they made D&B).
I really like this album. It's up-tempo, dancy, and often uplifting. I alluded to this being like Pendulum's work, and I think that musically, they're very similar: the drum sequences and samples often have the same two-measure semi-syncopated "kick, SNARE, kickSNARE" pattern, for instance.
But just as this album is stylistically similar to some of Pendulum's work, I argue that its high points show at least as much talent as some of Pendulum's high points, if not more. For instance, Bird of Paradise seems like the track in which Netsky truly argues the case for his own musicianship, and it is really good. The closest basis for comparison that I have, interestingly, is maybe Infected Mushroom's Dancing With Kadafi. The track is tastefully executed, and executes admirable restraint; despite being at 170+bpm, and getting into some fairly heavy drum breaks, every time you expect the track to descend into noise, Netsky manages to reign it in. It is masterfully artistic, and the first time I heard it, I was in awe.
All that said, this may not necessarily be true about the entire album -- and that might be an OK thing, too. I will call brief attention to TNT, a track featuring Chromeo, which made me laugh for the entire 3 minutes and 41 seconds. But I'll refer to my writing on my first listen through, when I said that the track that I had on repeat was High Alert. I noted that the track was, musically, a "total garbage track, but the amazing thing is that I totally love it". Technically, it's terrible: it's boring verse-chorus-verse-chorus; the lyrics are overwrought; the chord progression is uninspiring (and even not as uplifting as it could be); and the melody on the vocals is almost critically dumb. But that's the thing: I... well, sometimes, I like overwrought lyrics that are really easily comprehensible in the emotion that they convey. I like VNV, right? And this track is basically the uplifting version of VNV, and so it got a lot of airplay from me.
If I had to pick one track that might be a good balance between Netsky's musicianship and his ability to write stupid, catchy, tunes, it might be Work It Out. But you owe it to yourself to listen to Bird of Paradise and High Alert, too, both above.
- March 19th: Netsky - 2 (Deluxe Edition) (⭑⭑; released November, 2012).
Drum & bass.
I like this album a little less than 3, above, which is why I'm writing a little less about it than 3. On the other hand, Josiah likes it more than 3, so there's two different opinions. I think this album overstays its welcome a little bit, even not counting the bonus tracks. But it has a lot of the same magic that Netsky brings in his later album, maybe with a little bit less refinement.
The Whistle Song is insanely uplifting and dancy; I double dare you to listen to it without dancing wherever you're listening. On the other hand, No Beginning is Netsky's opportunity to show off his musicianship on this album, with a beautifully complex drum loop from Pendulum's KJ Sawka.
- April 17th: Johnny A. - Driven (⭑⭑; released June, 2014).
Jazz, blues, guitar. Recommend for Johnny A. completionists; everyone else should buy Sometime Tuesday Morning instead.
I know that I said "recommend for completionists". This is not a bad album. Here's the thing: Johnny A. is a very talented guitarist, and I'm glad to hear him writing some on his own, but -- well, if I'm being honest, I think a lot of his best work is putting his own (again, incredibly talented!) spin on other people's standards. Nothing on this album is bad, but the percentage of things that really stood out to me was kind of small. (I think that this album was mastered kind of hot, anyway, which maybe took away some of the "punch" from previous albums, too.)
So what I'm saying is, you should listen to The Night I Said Goodbye. And if you liked it (which, of course, you will, because you have good taste, after all), then you should go buy his first album, Sometime Tuesday Morning.
- April 21st: Tycho - Epoch (⭑⭑⭑; released September, 2016).
Downtempo. Chill. Electronica. Almost, but not quite, ambient. Recommend if you like that kind of thing.
I actually really like this album, but I'm not convinced it's terribly accessible. I reach for it in special situations, but not all the time. If I'm putting away a lot of miles -- be it behind the wheel, or out for a hike, or churning away tarmac beneath my pedals -- I find that I end up looking for this album. If you know that you like Tycho, you will like this album.
I think I bought this album after hearing a live set from Tycho at Coachella on SiriusXM. Impressive -- even more impressive after you hear what he does on the album -- is that the vast majority of the instrumentation that they play on the album, they can also play live. So, as much as you expect this genre to be "laptop music", Tycho is really quite talented. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find a link to listen to that set, but here's a close enough analogue.
Representative from this album, I think, is the opening track, Glider. To be honest, though, I would be remiss when mentioning Tycho to an audience that may not know him if I did not also link the title track from his previous album, Awake, which I think most people would instead know as being "the Tycho song".
- May 26th: Rhys Fulber - Realism (bandcamp) (⭑⭑⭑⭑; released May 18th).
Industrial. Like, really, really, really industrial. Recommend for industrial fans.
Rhys Fulber is an artist that you may know, if you like the kind of music that I like. He is half of Delerium (the other half being Bill Leeb), and also, the mastermind behind his non-self-named solo project, Conjure One. (He's been involved in Front Line Assembly, too.) I really like Delerium, and I really like Conjure One. This, then, is his first self-named solo project. It's dramatically different from the lighter Delerium and Conjure One work, being heavily dark and rhythm-driven. The first track, Effigy, makes no bones about what it is, placing you solidly into the beating heart of the machine, with changing soundscapes and spoken vocal samples as the track progresses.
If you want to listen to something that's unlike the vast majority of things you'll listen to this year, you should give Effigy a spin. After all, the worst that could happen is that you decide you don't like it -- and in the best case, you have found a new genre of music to love!
- July 13th: Emma Hewitt - Burn The Sky Down (⭑⭑⭑; released May, 2012).
Electronic; alternative pop; atmospheric; a little dark. Recommend.
This is a good album that overstays its welcome by about five tracks, I think. It starts with this wonderful combination of an atmospheric track, a memorable single (Colours), and a driving collection of harmonies (Miss You Paradise), which are all musically interesting. Foolish Boy has a hi-hat pattern at the beginning of it that reminds me of the drum sequencing in Delerium's Stay (off of last year's Mythologie), and, really, the entire album isn't too far from that general idea, in sound. Eventually, the sound in the album loses its luster, and I find myself fatigued with it.
All that said about the content of the album, it's probably worth putting it into context. We were used to Emma Hewitt solely as guest vocals, on other people's albums: Dash Berlin's Waiting, and then Disarm Yourself. And this betrays something of a pattern in dance music: it is way more common, as far as I can tell, for women to be named after the "featuring", rather than as the album artist. So, more than anything else, it's a refreshing change for Emma Hewitt to have "first author" credit, as it were, and reminds me that I should also check out Betsie Larkin's solo effort, All We Have Is Now.
So even notwithstanding my complaint that this album would be better suited at the length of Three, above, the part of the album that comes before I get tired of it is, alone, worth the purchase. Have a listen to Miss You Paradise, and enjoy Emma Hewitt's ability to use her voice both as lyrical conveyance and as harmonizing instrument to set a soundscape.
- August 11th: Jamiroquai - Automaton (⭑⭑; released March 31st).
Funk. Yes, it's more Jamiroquai!
I gave this a kind of low rating, but realistically, it's because I never really had cause to rate it higher. I think I listened to it once at work and once on my bike. Listening to it now, I really like the first track, Shake It On, but I seem to remember that the rest of the album was not as much my jam. The title track, Automaton is commendable inasmuch as it's a good experiment, but I'm not sure I'm really in love with it. Fundamentally, I think the problem with this album is that there isn't a place where I would listen to this; it doesn't fit in with any of the places I usually listen to music.
All that told, I think that the title track, Automaton is a good sense of what this album is all about, and you wouldn't do badly to listen to it. And, if you like the opening track, Shake It On, you might really like some of Jay Kay's earlier work -- Dynamite is a great album that's well worth listening to.
- August 31st: Seeming - Sol: A Self-Banishment Ritual (+ Faceless EP) (bandcamp) (⭑⭑⭑; released August 4th).
Alex Reed, in a genre of his own. Post-industrial funk, if you have to label it. Recommend for Alex Reed fans.
This time, Alex took an almost funk-like direction, as he produced a concept album flowing from track to track. This is a challenging album: as usual, there is a good deal of the "Alex is smarter than you" going on, as he speaks in metaphor deeper than my little mind is capable of putting together. There were a handful of memorable tracks on the LP: Stranger is something that I quite enjoyed, while Knowledge takes an almost P-Funk approach to the backing. Talk About Bones would not be out of place on Madness & Extinction, and has a catchy beat and melody.
The companion EP, Faceless, is full of a mix of tracks that I actually like better than Sol, on the whole. Stylistically, some of it harkens back to the ThouShaltNot era of Alex's work; maybe the most true to that is Phantom Limb (Classic Mix), which has a sound almost like an updated version of the sound from the 2003 album The White Beyond. I quite enjoy that track!
Fans of Alex's know what they're getting into with this, I think, but in case you're curious, Phantom Limb (Classic Mix) is probably represntative of the Faceless EP, and Knowledge is probably your best introduction to the themes presented on Sol.
- September 4th: The Crüxshadows - Astromythology (⭑⭑; released September 1st).
Rock. Goth. Recommend for genre aficionados.
The simple story is this: if you like The Crüxshadows, you'll like this album; if you don't, you probably won't. Stylistically, this album is pretty similar to Under Your Spell, below, and of the two of them, frankly, I like Under Your Spell better. All that said, the opening track (and single), Helios is good listening! But I'm not sure the rest of the album is an hour and three minutes worth of interesting.
Have a spin listening to Helios if you want something new and rock-like to listen to. But there's only so much of it you can listen to in a single go, I think.
- September 18th: Aly & Fila - The Chill Out (⭑; released March, 2015).
Electronic. Trance. Chill. Remixes.
I bought this while I was impatiently awaiting Beyond The Lights, below. If you want slightly chilled -- but not really as much slower as you really want -- remixes of some Aly & Fila classics, then I guess this is the album for you. I probably owe it to myself to give this album another spin to see if any of it would be appropriate to fit in my yoga playlist, but I don't expect any of it to be. It's not a bad album, but I don't love it, and I don't really think that the songs had the reimagining that they really deserve for this format.
Here's Running (Chill Out Mix).
- September 26th: Aly & Fila - Beyond The Lights (⭑⭑; released September 18th).
This is an okay album, but fundamentally, there's one problem with it -- and that problem is their 2014 album, The Other Shore. If The Other Shore seemed to stay fresh, reinventing itself as it progressed, Beyond The Lights seems to fall back on the same two or three ideas that it sets out early in the album. It might be that my expectations were unreasonably inflated for this album, and maybe if it were not in the shadow (so to speak) of its older sibling, then it would stand alone much more readily. It's not bad, but I keep feeling like I did with Mythologie last year, or maybe The Sum Of Its Parts: if I want to listen to Aly & Fila, then instead I think I'd rather just listen to The Other Shore.
There are good tracks on this album, and it's probably worth one spin just to familiarize yourself with them, if you like this kind of thing. The title track, Beyond The Lights, hits all the Aly & Fila tropes, including the Middle-Eastern melodies, and the trademark Aly & Fila bass drum roll about 3/4 of the way through. But if you only get to listen to one track, Surrender, ft. Sue McLaren is what you're lookign for. (You might remember Sue McLaren from Running, off The Other Shore, and her performance on this album is at least as uplifting as it was there.)
- September 28th: The Thrillseekers - Escape (⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑; released December, 2016).
Electronica; trance, but not heavy. Recommended for everyone. Drop what you're doing and buy this album right now.
This is the album this year that I didn't even know how much I needed until I heard it. Last year, I bought Chicane's The Sum Of Its Parts in the hope of an album in the vein of Behind The Sun; this album is the clear spiritual successor that I was looking for. You may remember that The Thrillseekers (Steve Helstrip) did a remix of Saltwater that was on Behind The Sun; he hasn't had his own full-length artist album, until now. It has been worth the wait.
Like Behind The Sun, this is an album of something of an emotional journey. Rarely do I feel compelled to quote the promotional material for an album, but in this case, I think it's reasonable and accurate: "...and that's what this album is all about: escaping from it all, and getting lost in the emotions conveyed within it." The album is expertly crafted to put forth the messages of both hope and pain, back and forth, expressing the breadth of the human experience. Lyrically, it is not terribly challenging, but I find that the soundscapes that The Thrillseekers create do an incredible job of shaping the voyage that you embark on over the course of this album.
You owe it to yourself to just sit down and listen to the whole album from start to finish, I think. Go out for a hike, or a run, and put it on your headphones, and get lost in it: just do it. If you need standout tracks, consider the contrast of Love Me For A Day with How Will I Know. But don't spoil it for yourself: listen to this album from top to bottom.
- December 1st: The Birthday Massacre - Under Your Spell (⭑⭑⭑⭑; released June 9th).
Rock, bordering on metal. Goth. Recommended for people who like that kind of thing -- or those with a sense of adventure.
I really like this album. It has all the right combinations of things that stick music in my mind: both hard electronic sounds, and fulfillingly real instrumentation; soundscapes that fill; and infectious melodies. I am not convinced that this is a particularly courageous move, musically -- perhaps it's more of a "safe" sound for what TBM listeners expect -- but it's very clear about what it's trying to do, and it executes that basically flawlessly. There's enough variety in the album that it feels fresh for all 41 minutes; the common sonic themes in sounds are present for most of the album, but I don't find myself fatigued listening to it. Tempos vary from the mid-90s all the way to mid-150s, which help avoid the perception of "one really long song", too.
Often, I find myself singing along in the car, or if I'm on my bike working hard, sometimes involuntarily harmonizing with whatever breath I have left. The album feels upbeat and driving most of the way through. For my ears, the best introduction to the album is probably One, and if you enjoy rock, you should have a listen to it. (Note that the video mix is not exactly identical to the album mix; I like the album mix a little better.)
- December 17th: Craig Connelly - One Second Closer (Deluxe Edition) (⭑⭑⭑; released November 10th).
Uplifting trance. Recommended for trance aficionados.
This is a solid trance album that I think overstays its welcome by about 20 minutes (even not withstanding the remixes on the deluxe edition). The best analogy that I can give is that it's a good successor to John O'Callaghan's 2009 Never Fade Away (though, I think I liked Never Fade Away better). This is Craig Connelly's first artist album, though, and in this era of fewer and fewer people making full-length artist albums, I can't fault anyone for getting out there and having a go at it; as I listen to each individual track in isolation, I remember why I enjoy this kind of trancey vibe, and I think of how much I'd enjoy any of these in the middle of a good DJ set.
This album is at its best when it's at its most uplifting, and I think the peak of that is probably How Can I, ft. Jessica Lawrence -- but, for extra double uplifting points, you should really consider, on the bonus album, the John O'Callaghan remix of the same tune, which is really something else, and made me dance in my seat while I listened to it right now.
- December 17th: Armin van Buuren - A State of Trance Year Mix 2017 (⭑⭑⭑; released December 15th).
Yep, it's another ASOT year mix. One of the better ones in recent memory.
Do you like ASOT year mixes? This one is pretty good, and I enjoyed listening to it, and I could even see myself listening to it again in the future -- something I probably haven't said about an ASOT yearmix until 2009 or so. Also, the intro got even more absurd this year, so it has that going for it. One thing that's nice in recent memory is that you get full tracks also if you buy the full mixed version on Amazon MP3, so if you like anything in particular, you get another 100 or so tracks to listen to on your own.
- Gabriel & Dresden - The Only Road.
I didn't mention this above because I only bought this in January, but, here, look, let me put it in no uncertain terms: buy this right now. This would have been a strong contender for "best thing I listened to this year" if it had met the January 1st deadline. But, basically, all you need to know is that Gabriel & Dresden did their first artist album since 2006, and it's absolutely fantastic. (Trance-style, if you must know, but musically, it kind of wanders around genres, and has the same "everyone should listen" characteristic that Escape does.)
- TR/ST - The Dazzle. A TR/ST single that I didn't know existed. Good stuff.
- Camo & Krooked: BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix (2017).
If you liked Pendulum's 2005 Essential Mix and have been looking for your entire life for another mix like that, well, your search stops here. This is an awesome two hour long drum & bass set that will make you want to just keep dancing. If you need work music, sit down for two hours with this and don't emerge from your headphones until it's over. Via James.
- Mat Zo, ft. Eyes That Lie - Hurricane (2011 Club Mix).
- Mat Zo - Natural.
Mat Zo's SoundCloud is kind of a treasure trove full fo all sorts of stuff that didn't quite make it onto his albums, for whatever reason. The Hurricane edit is -- to borrow an EDM turn of phrase, "massive", and Natural is just a good track. Basically everything that Mat Zo does feels inspired, and even when he shitposts on SoundCloud, it is not an exception.
- Platina Jazz - Tank! (Cowboy Bebop cover). Presented without comment. If you know what this is, you need to
listen to it right now.
- Tokyo Brass Style - Cruel Angel's Thesis. If you needed to listen to Tank!, you really really need to listen to
this. If you don't know what either of these are, you can safely ignore
- Dave Simon: Frolic NYE, Winter 2015, D&B mix. Apparently 2017 was the year of drum & bass discovery for me.
- Resonate - Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Hard to believe that so much rich sound can come from just four
- Lange, ft. Sarah Howells - Out of the Sky (Radio Edit). I've heard the Kyau & Albert mix in ASOTs years past, but I actually
really like the radio version -- and this is a great reminder of a great
- ThouShaltNot - Land Dispute. I rediscovered this album this year, and, just like my discovery of
The White Beyond, I like this, too. Enjoy having Like Apple
Trees stuck in your head for the next week. You're welcome.
- Ferry Corsten - Blueprint. Reviews are good, but I didn't manage to listen to it last year. I
should give it a spin this year. It is, anyway, a new Ferry artist
album, so I have higher hopes than 2016's >hello>world.
- TR/ST - Bicep.
- TR/ST - Destroyer.
TR/ST has a new album coming that he's been teasing singles from for the past two years. Bicep is not my favorite thing, but Destroyer I think is freaking fantastic, and features a sound that's identifiably TR/ST, but otherwise feels fresh and like a complete new dimension for him to explore -- a stripped-down sound almost reminiscent of Coldplay. I'm excited for whatever the album brings, when it finally lands -- and maybe even more excited for the tour that comes with it.
- Ari Mason - Musica Lunae.
Last year, I wrote about Ari Mason: "Anyway, I think it's pretty clear that she is still developing as an artist, and if this is anything to go by, I really look forward to whatever she does next.". I stand by this, but what she did was 100% not what I was expecting. In this case, she decided to cover... a collection of 16th century motets. She brings her own flavor to them, with an electronic, vocoder-based style for the entirety of the album. Initially, I wasn't sure what to make of it, and felt kind of negatively about it, but as the album progressed, I realized that the electronically-obscured sound wasn't an unintended side effect, so much as it was the entire point of the album!
I didn't buy it last year because it wasn't out on Amazon MP3 yet, which is where I seem to have centralized my music consumption. I don't know if it will get all that much airplay from me, either. But I'm really excited to see an artist finding her sound, and making such a strong statement: "this is what I believe that this genre should draw from", and "it's okay to have crosspollination in our influences". This is a gutsy album to release, and I'm so glad that she did it. I bought it in 2018.
- Vienna Teng - Harbor.
- Vienna Teng - Eric's Song.
- Vienna Teng: Live from Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse, December, 2017.
Piano and vocals.
Maybe one of the biggest discoveries that I've made this year is Vienna Teng. I came to her song Harbor from Syncopation's a cappella cover of it at Techapella this year, where they did a fantastic job navigating the complicated rhythms that build the piece up; and in that, really, lies the first hint of what an incredibly talented musician that Vienna is. She pours raw emotion into her work, but on the piano and in her writing -- and the amazing thing is that, despite the technically challenging music, it doesn't feel contrived in the slightest. The rhythms aren't unusual for the classic "prog rock" reason of "because we had to put something weird in there", and the writing is not overblown for the sake of being overblown; there's something refreshingly honest about all of her work.
The depth of this honesty, I think, comes when you see her live, which I only wish that I had. She does a show around New Year's every year, as far as I can tell, and I didn't quite get in on tickets in time. (I won't make that mistake again this year.) She is at least as talented of a performer live as she is on an album, and you can tell that the performance is truly like second nature to her; she chooses songs to play, as far as I can tell, by pulling them out of a hat, and because she knows them inside and out, she executes them perfectly. (She did a second night of the show, with a largely different setlist, but I haven't listened to that one yet.)
You would do yourself a great service to listen to the recorded tracks that I linked above. Then sit down for two hours and listen to her live set. You won't regret it. (Then, get tickets to see her as soon as you can.)
- Kite at DNA Lounge (March 26th). Pretty darn good live set; DJ Sage's opening set was also good. Photos.
- So Stoked: Rave to the Grave (ft. Darude and VNV Nation) at DNA Lounge (May 19th). An unusual combination of two people in the same room; DJ sets from
- VNV Nation: Automatic Empire tour at Bottom of the Hill (August 18th). VNV again. A really nice intimate set in a packed venue. Photos.
- Wil Blades at Cafe Stritch (December 2nd). I forgot how much I missed seeing live jazz. Wil Blades put on a really
good show, and if you ever get the opportunity to see him, you should.
Or, for that matter, if you ever get the chance to see anyone playing a
Hammond B-3, you should... Photos.
- Techapella at Fox Theater (December 4th). Yep, another year, another Techapella. Feedback put on a really great
show. Sadly, no photos taken.
So that was 2017. What did I miss?