Vinyl Update: My 2016 Rap Album of the Year, A Loner Folk Masterpiece, Classic ’80s Pop-Rock & More

Lately I have had the biggest itch to do some crate diggin’. I hadn’t bought myself some new records in over a few months, so last weekend I made it a point to splurge a little bit and finally add some more to my collection. I’ve been collecting vinyl for almost 2 years, and since I started, there are few things I like to do more than spend a few hours scavenging through crates and bins for some goodies. By the end of last Sunday I had 6 new records and wanted to take this chance to talk a little bit about each one I got. A couple are from some of my favorite artists while others were 100% impulse buys – I simply couldn’t resist.

1. Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition


Danny Brown has been one of, if not my favorite rappers ever since his breakthrough mixtape/free album XXX. Over the last half decade he’s developed a cult like following that stretches overseas just as much as it does in the United states. Atrocity Exhibition may be his most cutting edge release yet – a 46-minute merry go round of dark, twisted songs that paint the perils of drug addiction and depression in a way that not a lot of rappers have even attempted. This album is not for everybody. The instrumentals are eerie, utterly disturbing and brilliantly terrifying, and Danny’s rapping is as sharp as ever. To call it weird would be the biggest understatement of the year. As Anthony Fantano put it, “one of the wildest hip-hop albums ever recorded.” It will be a classic in due time.

2. Mac Demarco – This Old Dog


The newest Mac Demarco record is one of his best. I was overly obsessed with it right when it came out, and it will definitely be towards the top of my end of the year list when 2017 is all said and done. This Old Dog is Mac’s most introspective record yet. It ditches some of his signature guitar-twangs for slower, acoustic and synth heavy production that feels all too appropriate for the topics he’s singing about. Songs like “My Old Man”, “Moonlight on the River” and “Watching Him Fade Away”, which dive into his growing age as well as his relationship with his absent, dying father (a prevalent theme on the album), are some of the most well-written and heartfelt tunes we’ve ever heard from him. Can’t wait to see Mac live in Santa Barbara in October!

3. Chris Stapleton – From A Room: Volume 1


If you like country, you’ll love Chris Stapleton (as if you don’t already). In a time where popular country music is horribly watered down and commercial, Stapleton is a remarkable talent who’s been blessing the Nashville scene for years with both his penmanship and his amazing voice. His 2015 release Traveller turned him into a star, but his latest record shows him honing his country skills in to an even more impressive degree. This is good country music from a great country artist. “Second One to Know” and “Them Stems” are favorites of mine. Hoping to do a full review for the album later this week!

4. Moonlight (Official Soundtrack) – Music by Nicholas Britell


Out of all the records I came home with, this might just be the one I’m most glad I purchased! All I can say is – WOW, this soundtrack is incredible! When I saw the movie in theaters back at the end of last year, I wasn’t able to stop thinking about how great the music was. The original score is painfully beautiful and the mood it sets is so serious and emotive, it makes you realize just how impactful the movie’s story is. Overall it’s just a masterpiece of art – bold and afrocentric in every sense. I haven’t stopped listening to it.

5. Don Henley – Building the Perfect Beast


As a huge Eagles fan, it’s about time that I added some of Don Henley’s solo work to my record collection. That’s not to say his solo career was a slouch. After the Eagles called it quits, Henley became one of the most admired singer-songwriters of the ’80s. He perfected the art of the mournful ballad and adapted his sound into a synthy, pop-rock style that embraced the essence of the current era. Though not as fully realized as his 1989 masterpiece The End of Innocence, Henley’s second solo effort Building the Perfect Beast was a thoughtful, poetic work in itself. Of course, I can’t finish without mentioning “The Boys of Summer”, one of the most memorable songs of the time. (Best part is I got this record for $5!)

6. Philip Lewin – Am I Really Here All Alone?


Does this name ring a bell? It probably shouldn’t. Philip Lewin is a Canadian singer-songwriter that release 2 records back in the 1970s, that for the most part are completely unheard of and long forgotten. This album right here was released in 1975 with only 300 copies! After more than 40 years, it’s been reissued on wax and boy, am I glad I came across it. Am I Really Here Alone? is a folk album for loners. The mastering is a little rough in some spots, but Lewin’s unique takes make for some beautiful, introspective songs. “Unusual Day” and “Watercoulours” are especially amazing. I had no prior knowledge of this album even existing before I saw it in the Country/Folk drawer at the shop. The only reason I wanted to get it was because I thought the cover was super sick. What a find huh?! The album’s since been uploaded to all streaming platforms, so be sure to go check it out. Here’s some more info on its background, really interesting!

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