I listen to a lot of stuff. In addition to the hundreds of metal bands I check out on a monthly basis, I try to branch out into other areas. My family tends to listen to a lot of pop, and I myself was not raised on metal. I have grown up on a steady diet of traditional folk, classic rock, R&B, etc. That having been said, there is not a lot that excites me regarding new music in these areas, but every now and then a diamond shines out from beneath the dirt. These 3 albums have been the ones to catch my ear in 2016.
Of all the genres, I find that rap and hip hop seem to be the toughest for most elite metal fans to swallow. It's a shame, because there is still a lot of great music to be found in this area. From the early days with Wu Tang Clan and A Tribe Called Quest to the more recent offerings from Atmosphere and Apathy, rap can certainly delve into art. As for this year, forget all that radio garbage they cram in your earholes about 40's and bitches, Aesop Rock has us covered. This comes as no surprise to me. My friend introduced me to him with the astounding Labor Days and None Shall Pass several years ago and I have been a die-hard fan ever since. His latest album finds Ian further advancing his already scholar-level abilities in lyricism, beats, and flawless flow into thematic territories that I can really relate to: getting older and more cynical. The results speak for themselves.
Radiohead has been an all-time favorite of mine since High School. Kid A changed the way I thought about music in a big way, and I have been following them ever since. Every album sits proudly on my shelf. A Moon Shaped Pool continues their reign over alternative music. While I was not thrilled with King of Limbs, this album really feels like it picks up where Kid A and Amnesiac left off. It joins the experimentation of ambience and song structure with their maturation in the realms of production and increasing ability to create uniquely accessible music with In Rainbows. Songs range from catchy to spell-bindingly atmospheric. Some may pass this off as pretentious or even boring, but I think that notion is crazy.
Bong Mountain stand out on this list in that they are not a band I have been following. This punk group from crew from Grand Rapids, MI nonetheless captured my heart with this album. Rightly titled You're Doin' Great!, it is one that is incredibly uplifting, but also delves lyrically into some very depressing territories. Listening to this band is like hopping into a time machine to witness my childhood, but I can only watch and wish to actually relive it. And sometimes the memories it takes me to are ones I would rather forget; though they are common to each and every one of us. Sonically, Bong Mountain nail the perfect cross section of beloved groups from the genre like Say Anything (circa Menorah/Majorah), Fucked Up, The Lawrence Arms, Alkaline Trio (circa Maybe I'll Catch Fire), and ev en early Modest Mouse. Appropriately handled by Chicago label, Stonewalled, You're Doin' Great! will see release on vinyl this Friday. You can order it HERE or grab the digital below.