Published on December 21st, 2016 | by Danielle Young0
The Feedback Society’s This Week in Music
Some 2016 albums that Dani has been listening to this year at The Feedback Society, like Phantogram, Childish Gambino, Megan Trainor, Lady Gaga, and more.
Phantogram – Three
On the back of their recent side project Big Grams featuring Big Boi of Outkast fame, ‘Three’ is a collaboration of the duo’s electropop roots and signature layer of charcoal, moody undertone. Everything from the quality of Sarah Barthel’s vocals to the record’s eclectic groovy beats prove that these two are a match made in musical heaven. It’s a shining example of how successful and legitimate electronic music can be in a post-autotune environment if you back it up with real musicianship and strong vocals.
The track listing is a journey through dark, hypnotic instrumentals like ‘Funeral Pyre,’ ‘Run Run Blood,’ and ‘Cruel World,’ to infectious hooks in contagious tracks like ‘You Don’t Get Me High Anymore’ and ‘You’re Mine’. The album takes a bit of a left turn with soft spoken ballads like ‘Answer’ and ‘Destroyer’ before going way off kilter with its final track ‘Calling All,’ a song that proclaims that, “We all got a little bit of ho in us.” This is a perfect album for enthusiastic sing-a-long as well as somber relaxation — and is undoubtedly the bands best work to date.
Standout tracks: ‘You’re Mine’, ‘You Don’t Get Me High’
Meghan Trainor – Thank You
Meghan Trainor was never someone that I saw myself listening to, but this album changed my whole perception of her. Her vocals are solid, the songs are sincere, and the music is catchy as hell. Trainor displays her range in a track listing that is both silly and stunningly mature. It feels genuine to who she is. Songs like ‘Dance Like Your Daddy’ will make you laugh, ‘Kindly Calm Me Down’ will tighten your chest and ‘I Love Me’ and ‘Me Too’ will make you want to dance in your seat.
Young women in popular music get a bad rap in so many ways — they live under the constant scrutiny of their own profession and its audience in a quest for perfection. Meghan Trainor stands out as a force of positive change in that industry. ‘Thank You’ is a start-to-finish homage to loving and being yourself, embracing relationships that lift you up, and dismantling those that bring you down. Most of all, its about having fun.
Standout tracks: ‘Kindly Calm Me Down’, ‘I Love Me’
Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love!
Childish Gambino, a.k.a. Donald Glover, a.k.a. the future young Lando Calrissian, is one of the most interesting young people in Hollywood today. He successfully balances a career in standup, he was a writer on 30 Rock, he starred in cult darling Community (arguably as the best character), he has one of the best TV shows of the year with Atlanta, and he has maintained a strong rap/hip hop career all the while.
2013’s ‘Because the Internet’ still sees constant rotation in my music library because of its witty lyrics, modern day appeal, and infectious beats. I can’t get enough of it. So you can imagine my surprise when I listened to ‘Awaken, My Love’ and heard…well…no rapping. In fact, there is no resemblance whatsoever to his previous works. It sounds more like Funkadelic. At first, I was not receptive to such a drastic change, but when I dropped the comparison I began to enjoy it more and more.
I have an unflappable love for old school soul music, and that love is what made me appreciate ‘Awaken, My Love!’ so much. It blends the roots of soul and funk music with modern day hip hop influence in a very unique package. There are barely any lyrics involved here, just quality music and Glover’s signature style that is purely and simply weird.
Standout Tracks: ‘Me And Your Mama,’ ‘Redbone’
Blink 182 – California
Blink 182 has done the impossible — they have continued to be successful well past their prime. Not only are they still successful, but they are still making fantastic music that stays true to their origins. Even though the band members are well into their adult lives, they continue to indulge their childish sense of humour and blend it with maturity and the melancholy feeling of youth that has a tendency to stick with us all.
You may notice one thing on ‘California’ (aside from the endless shout outs to the titular state); the singing has gotten a whole lot better. I risk potentially ruffling some feathers by saying so, but the addition of Matt Skiba (of Alkaline Trio) in place of departed member Tom Delonge is a refreshing change. His vocal style is similar enough that it fits in well with the group while bringing a whole new sound with it.
‘California’ brings back the upbeat energy to a band that has put out its share of overly serious records in the past few years, possibly because of turmoil within the group. This record does justice to its lifelong fans by maintaining the Blink style that you probably loved in albums like ‘Take Off Your Pants and Jacket’ and ‘Enema of the State’ while being a whole new sound for a whole new generation of Blink fans.
Standout tracks: ‘Bored to Death’, ‘Los Angeles’, ‘Rabbit Hole’
Lady Gaga – Joanne
You might assume that Lady Gaga is nothing more than generic pop hits and wacky outfits, but ‘Joanne’ is proof that she has been so much more than that all along. She is a performer, a songwriter, a singer, and a beautiful soul who is just as weird as you and I.
Inspired by the passing of her Aunt Joanne, Gaga dedicated an entire record to her memory and to the lessons that she learned from her. In embracing those ideas, she all but ditched her over-the-top persona to spill her heart out in a sincere way. Not to say that the old Lady Gaga that we know and love is gone, but this phase of her career has naturally turned towards one that showcases her as an artist more than her fashion choices. Since the electro-dance-pop compilation that was ‘Artpop’ she has collaborated on a jazz album with the legendary Tony Bennett, which seems to have built up her confidence as a singer and swayed the music world more towards her favor.
You can still hear the familiar ring of sensual-meets-sassy Lady Gaga lyrics in songs like ‘John Wayne’ and ‘Dancin in Circles’ but this album is overwhelmed by personal and emotional songs like ‘Diamond Heart’ and ‘Perfect Illusion’. An outspoken advocate for equal rights, she sings out to a world that is suffering and calls for healing. ‘Joanne’ as a whole sucks you in with a passion that is down to Earth yet otherwordly, much like the woman herself.
Standout tracks: ‘John Wayne’, ‘Diamond Heart’, ‘Perfect Illusion’
Protest the Hero – Pacific Myth
This is really a 2016 top five album list for me, so the only reason that ‘Pacific Myth’ is not in my top 5 is because it was technically released in 2015. The album was released under a subscription service and then given an official release in 2016. Moving along.
Protest the Hero’s 2013 album ‘Volition’ is one of the few albums that I can proclaim as near perfection from start to finish. That’s how much I love it. I didn’t think that there was any chance in hell that they could top it. I can’t say for sure that they did top it, but ‘Pacific Myth’ is some of their best music to date. In this short six-track album, they manage to create a rise and fall of melodic, heart pounding, gut wrenching music that is exactly what they do best. The technical skill and vocal range displayed in every track is nearly unparalleled and unlike anything else that you’ll hear in and around their genre. I compare every song to a Simpsons episode; it never finishes the way that it begins, and you never quite know where it’s going to end up. It’s the kind of music that is hard to nail down. You have to let it grow. When it does, it gets underneath your skin, and it is a beautiful thing.
Standout Tracks: ‘Tidal’, ‘Cold Water’