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GutterBubbles Top 100 Songs of 2016 (part 2)

 

Jump to: Deerhoof, Deftones, Demdike Stare, DJ Shadow, Echo Beds , Emerald Siam, Extra Kool, Filter, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, Frank Ocean, Garbage, Gazebos, Ghost, Gojira, Holophrase, Huerco S., Iggy Pop, Iron Reagan, Japanese Breakfast, Jenny Hval

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Deerhoof – “Criminals of the Dream” – The Magic

The greatest virtue of Deerhoof is that you never really know what you’re going to get but that it’s going to be fascinatingly unlike most other music coming out that same year. The Magic is arguably the band’s strongest album to date and “Criminals of the Dream” demonstrates how brilliantly the band isn’t really trying for a specific sound, a specific style or follow any trends other than its natural trajectory of development as a band. -Tom Murphy


 

Deftones – “Doomed User” – Gore

It’s never easy to predict what kind of music you’ll hear when the Deftones release a new record and their latest release Gore was no exception. For the most part, the band has turned their back on the faux nu-metal of their earlier albums in favor of a more progressive-shoegaze sound of more recent works, but that doesn’t mean that Sacramento’s finest don’t know how to churn up a pit anymore. Proof of just that can be found on “Doomed User” which sees Chino Moreno’s vocals shifting from a soaring croon to bloodcurdling screech at the drop of a dime, all while being anchored by Steph Carpenter’s drowsy, down-tuned pummeling of his 7 string. “Doomed User” is definitely the exception on Gore, but serves as a staunch reminder that the Deftones are a force to be reckoned with when they want to be. -Ryan Brun


 

Demdike Stare – “Curzon” – Wonderland

Supposedly Wonderland is Demdike Stare’s more dancefloor-worthy album to date. If “Curzon” is any indication, the duo hasn’t exactly left its dark soundtracking far behind. Naming the record Wonderland has many implications all suggesting a heightened state of something whether its Alice, the Laurel Canyon Murders or a more generalized idea of a place filled with stimulating experiences. If someone makes a good movie version of Neuromancer this should be the outro music. -TM


 

DJ Shadow – “Depth Charge” – The Mountain Will Fall

It was with trepidation I first clicked play on the first DJ Shadow long-player in five years (fourteen since a good one), but I needn’t have worried. The preeminent turntable virtuoso has been forced to find a new path forward since artistic drive for evolution likely combined with shifting legalities surrounding use of sampled vinyl to rule out another “Endtroducing”. It wasn’t an easy path, but the sixth track on The Mountain Will Fall shows that he’s still got the gift. As appropriately titled as a track can be, “Depth Charge” is an exercise in the possibilities of the low end. Buzzing, eerie rhythms build with ethereal soundscape and aloof guitars into thudding syncopation that evokes the alien beauty of a frozen abyss. After a few false restarts, Shadow has shown he still has that magic power to chill out and hype up with the same piece. -Nick Abaddon


 

Echo Beds – “Why Bother Stacking the Chairs on a Sinking Ship” – New Icons of a Vile Faith

The title of this song is a salient question in these troubled times. It’s a reminder to exit routine when those routines no longer have meaning. Routines, traditions, habits, institutions, outmoded manners—all are pounded into dust by bass grind and mechanistic tribal drumming. Like the modern American Test Dept., this song rips to the core of the dark center of late democratic capitalism and its creation of an ever-present but suppressed raw desperation among the have-nots ready to erupt in unpredictable ways. -TM


 

Emerald Siam – “KIST” – Single

“KIST” represents a new direction, or at least a thrilling new flavor, for Emerald Siam. Its languid, brooding dynamics and densely fuzzy texture is reminiscent of the edgier moments from a Spacemen 3 record. Except darker and moodier. It gets under your skin and stays there as a reminder that maybe life can get brutal and disheartening but at least you have music to soothe your agonized psyche. -TM


 

Extra Kool – “Rabbit Ears” – Eight

This song really fools you into thinking it’s going to have some soul overtones in the beginning before it shifts into duskier territory both tonally and in Danny Vincennie’s gifted wordsmithing in the language of despair. Although Vincennie is heroic in confronting personal demons with his music this song is somehow comforting in its exposing the vampire in one’s very soul to the sun. -TM


 

Filter – “Mother E” – Crazy Eyes

This years lesson on the importance of dynamic shifts in music comes courtesy of Richard Patrick and his band Filter. “Mother E” the opening track on Filter’s latest effort Crazy Eyes is by far one of the strangest songs of the year. Shifting from a nearly inaudible whisper to a full-on shout has long been employed by Patrick throughout Filter’s discography but perhaps nowhere as effectively as on “Mother E.” Eschewing any really solid foundation, the song slowly gains momentum before exploding in a maelstrom of bass-heavy synthesizers, distorted guitar and Teutonic-sized four on the floor pounding which all but vanish for moments before dragging you through the storm once more. It’s a bizarre way to open an album for sure, but supremely satisfying nonetheless. -RB


 

Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes – “Lullaby” – Modern Ruin

Frank Carter might just be one of, if not the most, captivating frontmen in music today. A big part of that is thanks to Carter’s seemingly bottomless well of energy, but perhaps even more important than that is his capability as a vocalist to sing in nearly any style he chooses. From his early hardcore leanings in Gallows and the first Rattlesnakes album, to the decidedly poppier output of Pure Love, Carter can seemingly belt out a tune in any style he chooses. That diversity is on full display on “Lullaby” the first taste from his upcoming album Modern Ruin. A meditation on the effects of sleep deprivation, “Lullaby” sees Carter flexing his vocal prowess on a soaring chorus which leaves you wondering what exactly, if anything, Carter can’t achieve with his voice. -RB


 

Frank Ocean – “Nikes” – Blond

The seemingly endless wait for the new Frank Ocean album finally came to an end this year, with the surprise if not unconventional release of Blond. The albums first single “Nikes” is a chilled-out journey that showcases Ocean’s strengths as a songwriter but it’s the songs stunning NSFW video that really propels it to new heights. Unfortunately, the release of Blond was marred by setbacks and unorthodox release methods, which means this fantastic album likely hasn’t reached its maximum potential. To date, there has only been a very limited physical release of the record, but do yourself a favor and hunt it down, online or otherwise. You won’t regret it. -RB


 

Garbage – “If I Lost You” – Strange Little Birds

It’s hard to believe that Garbage first rose to prominence over 20 years ago. What’s even more unbelievable is that they are releasing some of the best music of their career to date. 2016’s Strange Little Birds showcased a band that sounded like they were hungry for more, like they had something to prove in spite of their past success. While all of the usual Garbage tropes are found throughout, from their take on glittery yet rough around the edges electro-pop to singer Shirley Manson’s musings on love, loss and everything in between, but Strange Little Birds also offered something that was missing from their previous couple of albums. Confidence. Nowhere else on the album is this more apparent than on the sultry “If I Lost You” which combines a soaring, lovesick chorus from Manson laid bare over a slick, downtempo dirge courtesy of Vig, Marker and Erickson. It’s nothing you haven’t heard from the quartet before, but you haven’t heard it this good in many many years. -RB


 

Gazebos – “Just Get High” – Die Alone

This song has the kind of jangle and playfulness you’d expect out of some weirdo pop band from Georgia but Gazebos is in fact from Seattle. The video for the song appears to imitate a video capture run through for a surrealist game mimicking an old school game console aesthetic. Because the melodies are tied to unusual rhythms the song forces you to take it, and the band, on its own terms. -TM


 

Ghost – “Square Hammer” – Meliora

Hooray for technicality! Yes, Ghost’s album Meliora was released last year, but the deluxe edition featuring this and many other tracks was just unleashed in 2016. If there’s ever been a good connotation to the term “Preachy” it applies here. “Square Hammer” admonishes an ungrateful, unobservant Satanist to kneel before his lord and rededicate. The guitars of the chorus pay homage to the squealing excesses of Ozzy Osbourne’s heyday without indulging in their ostentatious testosterone. Real passion and craft compel fists skyward. Yet another odd, earnest release for the odd, earnest swedes wearing the best makeup in the business, but once again delivered with musicality, slickness and theatrical flourish that makes their fans the joyful cult they are. Loyal congregants rejoice, this one is on the level. -NA


 

Gojira – “Silvera” – Magma

Every time Gojira announces they are releasing a new album, I always feel a slight tinge of trepidation. Since their debut album, 2001’s Terra Incognita, Gojira have simultaneously found a way to keep their core audience happy by maintaining their signature sound while growing exponentially as musicians and expanding their horizons with each successive release. It’s a delicate balance to be struck for sure, but with every passing album they show they are more than up to the task. “Silvera” again showed Gojira’s predilection for expansion with their trademark staccato rumble but paired with a massive, clean-sung chorus and a hyper progressive bridge that would give even the most dedicated musician fits. Combine that with the stunning visual accompaniment directed by Drew Cox and you are left with a piece of art that could just as easily make its home in the Louvre as it does in moshpits around the world. -RB


 

Holophrase – “Alligatron” – Stay Being

The secret weapon here is the main rhythm line because it frames an unusual songwriting strategy. Like writing music to be played live but informed almost entirely by sampling while at the time incorporating samples or loops into the composition. All of this without sacrificing a sense of utter spontaneity and disorientation. Like a deconstructed Björk song. -TM


 

Huerco S. – “Lifeblood (Naive Melody)” – For Those of You Who Have Never (and Also Those Who Have)

Even in a time when beat makers have often become some of the best soundscapers, Huerco S. stands out. With washed out and slightly out of focus tones this song contrasts textures and sound styles to produce a fluid dynamic and generative aspect that is ever evolving and ever cycling back in on itself like a water feature in an underground cave. -TM


 

Iggy Pop – “Gardenia” – Post Pop Depression

It wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that Iggy Pop is only as good as the people he works with. Now that’s certainly not to say that the ageless frontman doesn’t have his own identity. No one lasts in the music business for nearly fifty years without a boatload of talent, which Pop clearly posseses. However, it does bear mentioning that some of Pop’s best work comes when he is collaborating with other amazing musicians (Bowie, The Stooges, Steve Jones, etc.) Perhaps it was with this in mind when Pop teamed up with Josh Homme for his latest album Post Pop Depression. “Gardenia” bears the fruit of the pairing, with Pop’s hypnotic baritone soaring over Homme’s trademark desert-tinged rock, creating a song as fresh as it is timeless. It was a pretty unexpected pairing to say the least, but one that further solidifies Homme’s impressive resume while introducing the genius of Iggy Pop to an entirely new generation. -RB


 

Iron Reagan – “A Dying World” – Crossover Ministry

Virginia’s Iron Reagan will destroy you. Over the course of just a few short years and two LP’s, the band has solidified their lofty placement of one of the most exciting bands in heavy metal today. But why you ask? Well, first and foremost the band fucking rips. Look no further than their new track “A Dying World” off their upcoming album Crossover Ministry for proof. All the hallmarks of great thrash/punk are present from the blistering guitar riffs to the absolute pummeling of the drums. It’s enough to whip any metalhead into a frenzy. But the real secret to Iron Reagan’s success is their carefree attitude. Sure, their songs tackle some weighty subject matter, but unlike a large chunk of American metal bands today, Iron Reagan seems to have fun doing so and because of that you’ll have fun too. -RB


 

Japanese Breakfast – “Everybody Wants to Love You” – Psychopomp

Too much social critique is on the nose, and often it needs to be, so this song addresses multiple issues in a sensitive and clever way without rewarding the behavior in question. Catcalling, fetishizing and more are tackled in an accessible manner here without minimizing the issues. -TM


 

Jenny Hval – “Conceptual Romance” – Blood Bitch

The sustained sense of hyper reality in this song is a combination of Hval’s warm yet ethereal vocals and layers of low tones and higher melodic drones changing pitches slowly like the energy frequency of dream states breaking with the regular flow of time. Switching between striaight ahead vocal melody and a slightly distorted sound like a radio broadcast from another era heightens a transportingly otherworldly sense making this song and all of Blood Bitch one of the most entrancing listens of 2016. -TM

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