For the albums that *just* missed my yearly list.

Every year when I write my top albums list, there are a few records about which I end up having very little I want to say. Normally I’ll either drop them from the list entirely, or eke out some mediocre blurbs and try not to think about it. Neither solution is optimal. So I figured that this year, I should dedicate a segment to those albums which I enjoyed greatly, but wouldn’t feel quite at home on the list proper. Here they are.

Jeff Rosenstock defended his title as pop-punk’s eminent…

Considering the latest chapter in rap artist Rory Ferreira's quest for freedom.

From the “Leaving Hell” music video. © Ruby Yacht 2020

What’s in a name? The nommes de guerre of the best in hip-hop tend to say something, to wink or to yell about the intent of the artists behind those monikers: OutKast, Run the Jewels, A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy. Many provide strong brand recognition, the most iconic have become globally recognizable calling cards. There’s power in claiming a pseudonym as your own — but names are also inherently limiting. …

Chronicling some of my strongest memories.

3/9/20, South Prince Street, New York, NY

In 2007, my hometown in North San Diego County was hit hard by a series of ghastly wildfires. On the night in question, my family knew there were fires, but we didn’t know what we were going to do — what we should do. I fell asleep fitfully late in the evening, only to be awoken around 3 A.M. by a quiet clamor of sudden mobilization. It was time to evacuate, Dad said. My father’s habitual procrastination told me that the threat must be rather imminent.

Piling everything important into our 15-seater van.

Failing…

Some may have felt it a slow year, but there was no shortage of stuff I loved.

2019 was, for lack of a better term, an odd year for music. Where there’s typically one release that can be agreed upon as the overall “Album of the Year,” this calendar had no such landmark. There were a few that came close, but a clear winner’s noticeable absence felt reflective of what some saw as a larger lack of quality. Instead of last-minute Album of the Decade contenders coming in a barrage as the 2010s drew to a close, the general consensus…

(No, it’s not catchiness.)

Photo by Luigi Rizzo

This decade has seen the internet star Cinderella story — average citizen sings/raps/dances et. al into a cheap microphone/camera, goes viral seemingly at random, and reaches triple A mega-fame in the span of a weekend or two — become all but passé. As the 2010s draw to a close, the music industry is beset with a slew of uniquely 21st century figures both arisen and sustained almost solely through the World Wide Web. Sometimes they don’t stick, not so much fading as dropping into obscurity about as quickly as they come up, and sometimes, they do.

Examining how personal experiences affect our understanding of art.

True Panther Sounds, © 2017

At the release of his sophomore album The OOZ, my exposure to King Krule was limited. I had listened to his debut 6 Feet Beneath the Moon a couple of times when it came out after hearing it discussed with great fervor by friends, but never explored beyond that. He was one of the sea of indie artists whose names I’d heard thrown around over the past few years while having only the vaguest idea of what his music even sounded like.

When a new King Krule record was announced in…

Tackling a future funk classic and the jumbled themes it carries.

2013 KEATS//COLLECTIVE

Attempting to granulize the “true” meaning of a piece of art as an end user is ultimately a futile process, and there are few cases for which this applies more strongly than vaporwave. An internet-dwelling microgenre that traffics in pitch-shifted pop music and seemingly endless layers of irony, its works tend to be more impressionistic and evocative than purposeful or coherent.

Something of a cousin to vaporwave, future funk works from a similar template, repurposing vintage pop music and embellishing with added drums and effects to make… some kind…

Ben Ryland

two-stepping through banality

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