1.13.2020

2019: My Year In Music

MY TEN FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2019
(IN NO PARTICULAR HIERARCHY)

/// Cigarette - Light Blues
The huge washes of reverb, swirling harmonies, and unconventional song structures beckoned me to lay on the floor and melt away for a listen.

/// Teebs - Anicca
It was an interesting turn to hear Teebs team up with a bunch of collaborators to inject some fresh blood into his soothing sounds.

/// Salami Rose Joe Louis - Zdenka 2080
These strange, jazzy, sci-fi dreamscapes gradually kept me returning for more journeys into deep space.

/// Golden Daze - Simpatico
This was my soundtrack to warm, river-side sunsets.

/// Battles - Juice B Crypts
I have been on board with Battles from the beginning and when artists like Shabazz Palaces and Tune-Yards jump on board too, I can't resist their collaborative experimentations.

/// Eagle Eyed Tiger - On The Run
Vapor Wave, Synth Wave, Chill Wave... when it comes to the ever-growing "wave" sub-genres, I road this wave all the way to the beach.

/// Resavoir
I listen to a fair amount of jazz and this album had a positivity and light that became a beacon in the genre for me in 2019.

/// Men I Trust - Oncle Jazz
The cheesy station identifications are a nice touch to this long, consistently woozy record. 

/// Monster Rally - Adventures On The Floating Island
This became my go-to album when I needed a little pep in my step.

/// Bibio - Ribbons
This is far from being my favorite Bibio album, but regardless, the data revealed that it was still one of the albums I listened to the most in 2019.

::: || MY FAVORITE LIVE PERFORMANCE OF 2019 || ::: 
Spoon at the Knitting Factory - Boise, ID
I hadn't seen Spoon perform live since my college days and this unforgettable performance reinforced everything I already knew about them. They are one of the greatest rock n' roll acts of all time.

1.19.2019

2018: My Year In Music

MY TEN FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2018
(IN NO PARTICULAR HIERARCHY)

/// Low - Double Negative
- - beautiful noise - -

/// Orchid Mantis - Yellow House
- - melting sunsets - -

/// Beach House - 7
- - sprawling dreamscapes - -

/// Fog Lake - Captain
- - somber haze - -

/// Paper Dollhouse - The Sky Looks Different Here
- - mystic minimalism - -

/// Half Waif - Lavender
- - longing memoirs - -  

/// Tanukichan - Sundays
- - nostalgic fuzz - -

/// The Bad Plus - Never Stop II
- - avant-mellow - - 

/// Haley Heynderickx - I Need To Start A Garden
- - quite quirkiness - - 

/// A Beacon School - Cola
- - steady sunbursts - -

::: || HONORABLE MENTIONS || :::     
Mimicking Birds - Layers Of Us
Georgia Anne Muldrow - Overload
Mid-Air Thief - Crumbling
Celer/Forrest Management - Landmarks
Jayne Murray - I Cleaned My House

::: || NOTEWORTHY EP'S || ::: 
Yuno - Moodie
Bella Boo - Fire
MUNYA - Delmano EP & North Hatley

1.18.2018

2017: My Year In Music


MY TEN FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2017
(IN NO PARTICULAR HIERARCHY)

/// King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard w/ Mild High Club - Sketches Of East Brunswick
I feel like I initially connected with this album on an almost unconscious level and eventually attributed this seemingly arbitrary connection to being a child raised on the soundscapes presented by late 70's/early 80's Sesame Street. When those flute jams, driving bass, steady drums, and field recordings hit my brain it stirs the deep recesses of my memory.

/// Nick Hakim - Green Twins
Neo Soul will always move forward in its many forms and for some reason, I seem to  gravitate towards it more as I grow older. Nick Hakim hit that sweet spot for me in 2017 while still mixing in enough contemporary production choices to keep Soul from getting stale.

/// Bibio - Phantom Brickwork
It would not be unfair to label this as "background music" and I rarely find such minimalist creations to be top ten material, but the haunting beauty of Phantom Brickwork quietly commanded my attention. This latest release from the already eclectic catalog of Bibio proves that he will continue to explore new sonic territory and do it well.

/// Real Estate - In Mind
I always considered the guitar work of Matt Mondanile to be at the heart of what I loved about Real Estate, so I didn't have high hopes for the first record made without him. It turns out I was wrong, and that this band will continue to support my breeziest of daydreams with or without Mondanile.

/// The Ruby Suns - Sprite Fountain
Sprite Fountain feels like a return to the eclectic spread that made Sea Lion one of my favorite albums of the oughts. Though it feels like a new and different spread, it is still filled with mid-summer jams that always perfectly compliment bike rides along the river.  

/// Blanck Mass - World Eater
I can't ever recall enjoying literal noise, which is what comprises the first third of the outstanding suite on World Eater called Minnesota/ Eas Fors/ Naked. This album is a pretty bizarre and intense journey that seemed to connect with the dark and conflicted side of my 2017.
  
/// Oh Sees - Orc
I haven't fully embraced a good old fashioned garage rock record in years and it probably shouldn't surprise me that Oh Sees (AKA Thee Oh Sees) were the band to deliver. I've always enjoyed their prolific output and it feels like Orc brought it altogether and rocked my socks off.         

/// Grizzly Bear - Painted Ruins
I think that Grizzly Bear's craftsmanship and ornate soundscapes have become a little under appreciated through the years. Upon the first few listens of Painted Ruins, I lazily thought, "Yep... sounds like another Grizzly Bear record," but with continued spins, I became reacquainted with the depth of layers and texture that create a signature sound that I truly do appreciate.     

/// Kelly Lee Owens - Self Titled
These dark, slow, thumping tracks pulled me through the rainy mist of Olympia for several months. Pure mood and palpable atmosphere are what made Kelly Lee Owens a force to be reckoned with in 2017.

/// Sun Glitter - IT WILL BE FOREVER
I enjoy this album simply because it almost instantly transports me to peak summer heat. If the chill of winter is getting to me or cabin fever is setting in, this album is my antidote.

::: || HONORABLE MENTIONS || :::     
Photay - Onism
It can be hard to stand out in the world of electronica these days and Photay managed to do that for me by putting a little ultra-modern boogie in my step.
Moses Sumney - Aromanticism
This is a thoughtful cinematic journey that I am still revisiting and unraveling.
Spoon - Hot Thoughts
Man...they did it again.
Tispur - Sleepy Creature
There is a certain magic found in this record hiding among the cottonwoods of the Boise River.
Sylvan Esso - What Now
This is a great follow-up to their first release, building and expanding on a sound that continues to feel like a unique take on dance music.

::: || SOME OF MY FAVORITE SONGS OF 2016 || ::: 
Alvvays - Dreams Tonite
Sun Airway - Small Fires
Shabazz Palaces - Shine A Light
Moses Sumney - Doomed
Real Estate - After the Moon
Milo - Paging Mr. Bill Nunn
Au.Ra - Applause
Oddisee - NNGE
Lowly - Deer Eyes
Phoenix - J-Boy

1.16.2017

2016: My Year In Music


MY TEN FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2016
(IN NO PARTICULAR HIERARCHY)

/// ANDY SHAUF - THE PARTY
The sound of this album brought tears to my eyes on multiple occasions. It was definitely something to drown my sorrows in throughout 2016 with a live performance in Seattle to match.

/// VINYL WILLIAMS - BRUNEI
It’s a transcendental, way-outer space, neo-spiritual, kinda vibe… You know what I mean, man? Brunei isn’t music, it’s an experience. You feel me?       

/// C DUNCAN - THE MIDNIGHT SUN
C Duncan is like a male Enya, but instead of being influenced by old-world folk, his primary influence seems to be modern pop and electronica. This album has been my soundtrack to the softly falling snow this winter.

/// ODDISEE - THE ODD TAPE
Oddisee makes old school beats fresh again. Nothing flashy or groundbreaking, just reliably dope to the core. 

/// LAURA MVULA - THE DREAMING ROOM
While much of the world felt gripped in tumult for 2016, this album was a much needed expression of love, joy, and faith. The orchestration, seemingly from the golden age of Hollywood, was yet another comfort to wrap yourself in while in The Dreaming Room.  

/// BADBADNOTGOOD - IV
I’ve always respected Jazz and enjoyed it in small doses, but BadBadNotGood continues to make Jazz records that I put in heavy rotation. IV is probably their most versatile collection of tracks to date.
  
/// ALOHA - LITTLE WINDOWS CUT RIGHT THROUGH
I don’t know if I would have enjoyed this album as much as I did if I wasn’t a long-time Aloha listener. This album just came at the right time. I simply needed Aloha again without realizing it.          

/// RADIOHEAD - A MOON SHAPED POOL
It’s Radiohead, no explanation needed.     

/// HARRIS COLE - PAUSE
Pause is draped in dreamy beats from top to bottom. The perfectly appropriate cover art sums it all up beautifully.

/// BAND OF HORSES - WHY ARE YOU OK
This is  100%, grade-A, good ol’ fashioned “Dad Rock” at it’s finest. I often describe it as a Band of Horses Best-Of album created with new material.

::: || HONORABLE MENTIONS || :::     
Animal Collective - Painting With
Another bizarre turn in the AC catalogue which always peaks my interest. 
Thao With The Get Down Stay Down - A Man Alive
Thao feels very raw and deeply personal in A Man Alive and Having Merrill Garbus in the mix was a huge bonus as well.
Youandewan - There Is No Right Time
A fairly eclectic and minimal electronic record that I kept returning to in 2016.
Kadhja Bonet - The Visitor
A voice like honey, singing about honey, flowing through the mind like honey. Pure gold.
The Album Leaf - Between Waves
I hadn’t connected with The Album leaf’s music in about a decade, but this one brought me right back in like the tide pulling a ship out to sea.
MJ Guider - Precious Systems
Beautiful desolation abounds in these borderless soundscapes. 

::: || SOME OF MY FAVORITE SONGS OF 2016 || ::: 
Beck - Wow
Whitney - Golden Days
Radiohead - Dreamer
Vinyl Williams - Feedback Delicates
David Bazan - Both Hands
Mitski - Your Best American Girl
Liima - Your Heart
Aloha - Signal Drift
Suuns - UN-NO
Whitney - No Woman

2.11.2016

2015: My Year In Music


MY TEN FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2015
(IN NO PARTICULAR HIERARCHY)

/// STARA RZEKA - ZAMKNELY SIE OCZY ZIEMI
I question wether this album would have made it into my top 10 if I didn’t live in Olympia, WA? It is a perfect compliment to our devastatingly long and beautifully dark winters.

/// PANDA BEAR - PANDA BEAR MEETS THE GRIM REAPER
Another collection of experimental trances from Mr. Noah. It lulled me into a wild meditative state from the fist listen.          

/// BUILT TO SPILL - UNTETHERED MOON
Built To Spill is one of my favorite bands of all time and I was a little disheartened by my lack of connection with their previous album. But, Untethered Moon was like a warm hug from my hometown. Thank you.

/// THE HELIO SEQUENCE - SUNRISE DEMOS
This album may be best suited for long time Helio Sequence listeners. It is a pretty seamless combination of their raw early days with the well refined sound they currently inhabit. It is the best of both worlds.

/// BATTLES - LA DI DA DI
Propulsive, progressive, experimental, technical, relentless, forward motion… I love listening to Battles when I’m working out.  

/// TORO Y MOI - WHAT FOR?
Summer jams abound in Chaz Bundick’s sunniest chapter to date. I can already feel the warm light fading behind the pines. 
  
/// HIATUS KAIYOTE - CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON
This is a pretty fresh take on soul/R&B that really brings the genre back to the forefront for me. Just when you think you’ve got them pegged, they drop the funk on ears to keep things interesting.          

/// BEIRUT - NO NO NO
I’m not even that big of a Beirut fan, but this album just hit me with the right sound at the right time. Simple pop songs that were often a instant mood-booster for me in 2015.       

/// UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA - MULTI-LOVE
I’ve always enjoyed the groovy tunes of UMO and the grooves got really infectious for me with this latest record. It is a pretty blatant 70’s time-machine, but hey, I was born in the 70’s.           

/// JULIA HOLTER - HAVE YOU IN MY WILDERNESS
The pure, haunting beauty of Holter’s latest creation slowly, but surely, won me over in late 2015. My love for this album was fully realized against the backdrop of the misty, snow-capped mountains surrounding LaGrande, Oregon.

::: || HONORABLE MENTIONS || :::     
Youth Lagoon - Savage Hills Ballroom
A strange new turn via another one of my hometown favorites.
Ducktails - St. Catherine
One of those day dream-enducing records I just can’t resist.
Shades - Common Desire
More hometown jams… I must miss Boise, or Boise just creates killer music… probably both?
Lianne La Havas - Blood
Neo soul at it’s finest and most classic.
Ibeyi
This collection of world-influenced thumpers is making me hopeful for what these young siblings have in store for our ears in years to come.

::: || SOME OF MY FAVORITE SONGS OF 2015 || ::: 
Panda Bear - Boys Latin
Jamie xx - Gosh
Shades - Desert Eyes
Botany (with Milo) - Au Revoir
Eskimeaux - Folly
Braids - Letting Go
Gilimatias & Alina Baraz - Pretty Thoughts
Youth Lagoon - Kerry
The Helio Sequence - Lost Images
Tobias Jesso Jr. - Without You

::: || MY FAVORITE LIVE PERFORMANCE OF 2015 || ::: 
Youth Lagoon at the Nuemos - Seattle, WA
It was like watching an insanely mad scientist at work in his dark lab of wonders.

1.03.2015

2014: My Year In Music



MY TEN FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2014
(IN NO PARTICULAR HIERARCHY)

/// ADULT JAZZ - GIST IS
Every year there is usually somebody out there that feels like they are bringing something new to the table and Adult Jazz was that “somebody” for me in 2014. It is a slow, steady, experimental affair… but it doesn’t feel like they are creating experimental music just for the sake of “challenging the listener”. They softly lulled me into submission. Perhaps the most “challenging” part of listening to one of their tracks is to find a part that you absolutely love, only to realize that it may not come around again. Many of their songs feel like six songs in one. This makes for a very interesting and unexpected journey through a world that gist is

/// tUnE-yArDs - NIKKI NACK 
Merrill Garbus and Nate Brenner know how to have fun with music. They have created a wild and diverse playground of an album called Nikki Nack. Seeing them perform live for a second time reaffirmed my belief that Garbus is an artist in the truest sense of the word who oozes instrumental capabilities while wielding an elastic voice that is unparalleled. Fellow concert attendee Rocky Thomas described the performance appropriately when saying, “It was like a bunch of little girls got together and planned a rock show.” I would add, “Little girls who love watching Pee Wee’s Playhouse!”. Stir all this in with lyrical content that is powerful, thought- provoking, and shared through an incredibly introspective lens on being a woman in 2014, then you realize what a gift tUnE-yArDs is.          

/// FLYING LOTUS - YOU’RE DEAD!
Another dizzying audio journey was unleashed from the brain of Steven Ellison as a meditated on the afterlife. This trippy, jazz-soaked album includes an army of guest artists that take Fly-Lo into new territory. Seeing him live at The Neptune Theatre in Seattle gave the album even more depth for me. It was a full-on assault on the senses with state of the art 3D visuals and bass that was used like a weapon of mass destruction. The foundation shook beneath us as our eyeballs swam through otherworldly portals. It was a perfect complement to the concepts behind the album. You’re Dead! is a trip man… a total trip.  

/// CHAD VANGAALEN - SHRINK DUST
I have always liked Chad Vangaalen, but this album spoke to me on a level that no previous effort has. Shrink Dust is a collection of songs that floated around in my head like an apparition for days. Vangaalen is literally a one-man-band that also crosses over into the visual arts. He creates his own album artwork, animated music videos, and other amazing projects for the eyes. It is easy for me to embrace his uncompromising worlds of weirdness. Listening to a diverse track like Frozen Paradise immediately followed by the lazy burn of Lila makes me want to lay down and melt into the floorboards. Chad Vangaalen is a true talent that is often overlooked.  

/// REAL ESTATE - ATLAS
The return of Real Estate was a great way to kick off 2014 for me. It made me really homesick for Boise, sending me into daydreams of riding my bike among the well worn houses of the North End. Atlas grew closer to my heart as spring melted away the harshness of the winter months. I’m not sure that I would love Real Estate without the warm and delicately intricate guitar licks of Matt Mondanile; he is a master at what he does. It doesn’t feel like Real Estate is necessarily doing anything new with their 3rd release, but they sure are feeling like an old friend.  

/// HUNDRED WATERS - THE MOON RANG LIKE A BELL
This album became my soundtrack to Capitol Forest in 2014. Much like summertime in Capitol Forest, it is thick and dark with temperate beams of sunlight peaking through the treetops. Like moss it crawls over decaying wood and ancient stone supping on the morning mist. There is something mystical about the whole encounter. 
  
/// SPOON - THEY WANT MY SOUL
This is rock’n roll, period. They do it every time and they did it again. Every couple of years I think to myself, “Do I really need another Spoon record?”. Then after a few listens of their latest effort I think, “Yes, Yes I do!”. Spoon has the unique ability to take the fundamentals of rock’n roll, work with them in a relatively minimal format, and create something very contemporary while simultaneously feeling timeless. They is one of my favorite rock outfits of all time.          

/// MANATEE COMMUNE - BRUSH
When it comes to electronica music, Grant Eadie knows how to hit most of my sweet spots. The dream-inducing sounds of Brush pulled me in pretty quick. Then by the time I reached it’s amazing centerpiece Island I was fully invested in the ride. It’s rickety beats and gentle guitar strums slowly dive into deep underwater based drops eventually building into a finale that sores on the wings of a violin above the clouds. I look forward to seeing where this young artist’s burgeoning soundscapes will take us next.       

/// FATIMA - YELLOW MEMORIES
Fatima’s anti-diva approach to Soul/R&B is refreshing. At times, this album takes me clear back to my middle school days, but then, production on tracks like Circle, Ridin’Round (Sky High), and Talk, put it squarely back in the present. It certainly has its share of downcast moments... Yet, the album over-all is filled with positive vibes that put a bounce in my step when needed. If you have any interest in Neo-Soul, then I would highly recommend giving Yellow Memories a spin.           

/// CRAFT SPELLS - NAUSEA
This was my summer jam. It was the perfect compliment to riding along the Puget Sound, the sunlight reflecting off the water, salt air against the face, seagulls overhead… ahh summertime. Almost every song on the album has a well-crafted solo that is in just the right spot at just the right length. This album doesn’t bring many new things to the table, but it is just a great collection of little woozy pop gems. It was just what I needed this summer. It also has some of my favorite album artwork of the year with most of the credit going to visual artist, Vicki Ling.

::: || HONORABLE MENTIONS || :::     
Sylvan Esso
My favorite Pop album of the year that feels like a contemporaty cousin to The Postal Service.
Tycho - Awake
Another solid record from this ever-emerging ambient & electronica artist.
Badbadnotgood - III
Perhaps the first jazz album that I’ve fully embraced.
Foxes in Fiction - Ontario Gothic
This was my antidote for winding-down this year.
Oliver Wilde - Red Tide Opal In The Loose End Womb
This is another excellent record from a very underrated artist in my opinion.

::: || SOME OF MY FAVORITE SONGS OF 2014 || ::: 
St. Vincent - Digital Witness
Slasher Flicks - Little Fang
Lord Raja - Van Go (feat. Jeremiah Jae)
Shabazz Palaces - Colluding Oligarchs
Hundred Waters - Murmurs
tUnE-yArDs - Real Thing
Mimicking Birds - Bloodlines
Real Estate - Talking Backwards
Alex G - Harvey
Conor Oberst - You Are Your Mother’s Child

9.02.2014

Seattle Art Show at Portage Bay Goods

The Art of Ben Wilson  |  Sept 5th - Oct 1st, 2014
Portage Bay Goods
621 North 35th Street  |  Seattle, WA 98103
Opening Reception: Friday Sept. 5th, 2014, 6-9pm
Gallery/Shop Hours: Daily 10am-7pm 

I’m grateful to be the featured artist at Portage Bay Goods this September, located in Seattle’s legendary Fremont neighborhood. The opening reception will be part of the Fremont Art Walk this coming “First Friday” evening Sept 5th, 6-9pm. I will have a nice mix of paintings, sculpture, art prints, and concert posters available through the end of the month. I’d like to thank La Ru, Shalene and everybody at Portage Bay Goods for welcoming me into the neighborhood. Check out more details at portagebaygoods.com and fremontfirstfriday.com.

Portage Bay Goods  |  Exterior
Portage Bay Goods  |  Entrance
Portage Bay Goods  |  Interior
Portage Bay Goods  |  Window Display