Category Archives: Music We Like

Stereotype Top Albums of 2016

2016 has been a great year for music, I found it really hard this year narrowing down this list to a Top 10, and of course I still am only able to scratch the surface off the music released. Maybe I’m at that stage where I like familiar music, or maybe I need to branch out more, but only two artists on this years list hadn’t made my Top 10 before…

10. Steve Gunn – Eyes on the lines

Eyes on the Lines is a solid album from start to finish, it’s really listenable and one of those albums you can put on loop and forget that it’s been the same 40mins of melodies looping for the past 6hrs or more. Great for a road trip, summertime in general or just because you want to listen to some good music from a talented singer/songwriter. Favourite tracks: Full moon tide, Nature Driver, Night Wander

9. Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions – Until the Hunter

One of my favourite female vocalists, Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star just has a relaxing effortless nature to all her music. Let Me Get There featuring Kurt Vile is a stand-out, but there’s plenty more here than just that. Mazzy Star fans should be all over this, and those who need a little peace and quiet, have a listen to this. Favourite tracks: Let Me Get There, Salt of the Sea, Liquid Lady.

8. Dave Dobbyn – Harmony House

One of the few CDs I bought this year, I was very excited to listen to this release from the elder statesmen of NZ music as he’s worked with the Phoenix foundation boys. It’s still a Dobbyn album through and through, but you can hear the influence of the boys across the album, keep doing what you do Dave. Favourite tracks: Our Summer Storm, Angelina, Harmony House.

7. Lambchop – Flotus

Lambchop’s made our top 10 before, but Flotus is a really different album from Mr M. There’s some really interesting samples and instrumental tracks – plus a lot of vocoder use that could be polarizing. A great album to just sit back and relax too. Favourite tracks: In care of 8675309, NIV, Harbour Country)

6. Damien Jurado – Visions of us on Land

Jurado’s last release made our top albums of 2014 list, and I’d say Visions is an even stronger release. I really just like the vibe of the whole album, brilliant in the sunshine with a cold one of wrapped under a blanket with the rain coming down outside. There’s moody tones mixed with upbeat folky tempo’s, that sounds like it wouldn’t work but it does, and it does wonderfully. Favourite tracks: Cinco de tomorrow, QACHINA, Walrus

5. Bon Iver – 22, A Million

When I first heard 8 (circle), it was this live version that blew me away. It took a few listens to get into this album, its more experimental, more sample based and more electronic than any of their earlier works, but obviously its still Bon Iver, and still is held together by Vernon’s vocal capability. This album’s been on high rotate at our place over the year and keeps just getting better and better. Favourite tracks: 8 (circle), 33 “GOD”, 666 ʇ.

4. James Blake – The Colour in Anything

This release from James Blake continues the trend of interesting samples, voice manipulation and an amazing recording. However, the vocal performance on tracks like F.O.R.E.V.E.R and My Willing Heart, really show just what a class act Blake is. Favourite tracks: I Need a Forest Fire (Ft Justin Vernon), Put that away and talk to me, My Willing Heart)

3. David Bowie – Blackstar

And the stars look very different today… One of many loved artists to have passed in 2016, but I don’t think any other loss was felt quite as widespread as losing Bowie. His final gift has truly magnificent moments, for me the drums and bass on this album are unreal. Favourite tracks: Blackstar, Lazarus, Girl Loves Me.

2. Kevin Morby – Singing Saw

I’d never heard of Kevin Morby before 2016 and after listening to Singing Saw I wanted more, I’ve really enjoyed his earlier releases too but opening up this vinyl to find a green colour disc, was the cherry on top to what is an outstanding album. Favourite tracks: I have been to the mountain, Dorothy, Drunk on a Star.

1. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

When news of a new Radiohead album was announced as par for the course the internet went into frenzy, well all us Radiohead nerds did at least. The first two tracks released (Burn the witch and Daydreaming) gave us a taste of what was to come, while I liked these I felt the rest of the album could go either way, but of course, these guys are phenomenal at what they do, and sure enough the rest of the album built on these tracks to be my vote for album of the year. There’s more here than just for fan-boys like myself. Favourite tracks: Decks dark, The Numbers, Present Tense.

 

Bring on 2017 and from Tiens and I here at Stereotype Hifi, Merry Christmas!

Stereotype Top Albums of 2015

The first half of 2015 I was struggling to get into albums, there were plenty of singles I was enjoying but when listening to the rest of the artists work I was starting to think it might be a bad year for albums – is there such a thing? No! It turns out, I just needed to listen to less radio and invest some time searching out new music, rather than just going to my current collection. Having said that, I still barely scratched surface of what has been released, and I’m sure in the coming years I will find many gems that were released this year that don’t feature here.

Let us know what you’ve enjoyed in the comments below, here’s our picks for 2015:

10. The Phoenix Foundation – Give up your dreams

10Wellington based The Phoenix Foundation have featured in our top lists before, Give up your dreams sees more experimentation and variety, a slight deviation from the proven track perhaps which is essential for any band to stay relevant. I found this record took quite a few listens to get into and the new sounds sometimes work great; as on Celestial bodies, and other times have me finding the skip track button as on Playing Dead.

Favourite tracks: Prawn, Celestial bodies, Sunbed

9. Leon Bridges – Coming Home

09Coming Home is a bit different from my usual tastes, it’s a soul album with a retro feel, Bridges reminds me of the brilliant Amy Winehouse at times with his ability to bring something new at the same time as sounding like it could have come out in the heyday of the likes of Aretha Franklin or Sam Cooke.

Favourite tracks: Coming Home, Better Man, Shine (live)

8. Mark Ronson – Uptown Special (Daffodils)

08You must have been living under a rock if you haven’t heard the single Uptown Funk or the incredibly catchy Feels right for that matter. But there’s more to this album that these two pop masterpieces. Daffodils featuring Kevin Parker of Tama Impala fame is my favourite track on the album, and Leaving Loz Feliz also featuring Parker is another stand out. This is a fun summer album.

Favourite tracks: DaffodilsFeels right (clean version), Uptown funk

7. Calexico – Edge of the Sun

07There’s so many musical styles on Edge of the Sun its hard to pin down what category you would class this, sure there’s goign to be something on here you don’t like, but as an album something so diverse shouldn’t work but for me it does. Have a listen to my favourite tracks below, and if you don’t like them, the other half of the album is completely different so give that a listen.

Favourite tracks: Bullets & Rocks, Tapping on the line, Moon never rises

6. Tame Impala – Currents

06-currentsArguably THE act of 2015, Tama Impala has delivered a solid album that kicks off with one of the tracks of the year Let it happen. The second half of Let it happen I just love, and this is an album that will reveal more to you on each listen.

Favourite tracks: Let it happen, The less I know the better, Love/Paranoia

5. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

05-sufjan-stevensI didn’t know what to expect prior to listening to this, as is the case with any Sufjan Stevens album, he’s one crazy creative cat! With delicate guitars, airy vocals, beautiful but sombre tones, Carrie & Lowell proves once again that you don’t need an album to be happy, upbeat or written in major tones in order to be uplifting. Have a read of the Pitchfork review for some insight into the intimate and family background of his best work yet.

Favourite tracks: All of me wants all of you, Drawn to the blood, The Only Thing

4. Beach House – Depression Cherry

04-beach-houseNot to be content with release one album in a year, Beach House released Depression Cherry and then 2 months later dropped the follow up Thank Your Lucky Stars. For me, Depression Cherry was the stand out work and took the band in a slightly different direction while remaining firmly within the dream pop genre and producing and album that could only be Beach House.

Favourite tracks: Bluebird, Sparks, Beyond love

3. SJD – Saint John Divine

03-SJDI had heard critics raving about SJD’s Saint John Divine, and the radio friendly I wanna be foolish had certainly got me interested, but I was not expecting to be so blown away with the album. I love NZ music, but only if it’s good, not because its from NZ. This is a special album and if you can get the opportunity to see SJD live, jump at it, his catalog of work is impressive and has so much to draw on and Saint John Divine adds even more strength to this.

Favourite tracks: Helensville, I Wanna be Foolish, Invisible man

2. Father John Misty – I Love you, Honeybear

02-Father-John-MistyIt’s always risking quoting YouTube comments, but I have to agree here; “this is music at some of its finest. I wish I could bottle it n take it like a drug wen needed” (sic). This album has featured on many top lists for 2015, and I have to agree, its gotta be one of the most played in my house (after Toddler radio on Pandora) with plenty of variation across the album, check out my favorites below and see if you agree? 

Favourite tracks: When you’re smiling astride me, True Affection, The night Josh Tillman came to our apt

1. Jamie XX – In Colour

01-jamieXXSitting on top of many album of the year lists for 2015 is Kendrick Lamar, but not for me. In Colour took me back to my love of big beats and big bass while on many evening commutes, it’s been somewhat of a headphone album for me, but one that never fails to be played right through and keep me interested from start to finish, with no skipping of tracks.

Favourite tracks: Loud places, Obvs, I know there’s gonna be (good times)

What’s in store for 2016? Well we know that Beck will release his teased album and on the back of Dreams and one of the best tracks of the year The Chemical Brothers – Wide Open (links to Spotify) where he performed vocal duties, and with Radiohead, Wild Nothing, Choir of Young Believers, Sun Kil Moon, Gorillaz, Deftones, James Blake, LCD Soundsystem, The Horrors and many more all expecting to release albums, I think its going to be a great one.

Stereotype Top Albums of 2014

IMG_3368-2Another year has gone past and yet again it has produced many fantastic albums, of which we have only listened to minority of what was released in 2014, but here’s our favourites that we kept coming back to time and time again. Happy New Year!

10. First Aid Kit – Stay Gold

14589-stay-goldFirst Aid Kit’s debut albums The Lion’s Roar picked up top honours in 2012. Stay Gold continues where the Swedish sisters left off with a set of delightfully easy to listen to pop/folk tunes. Favourite tracks are opener My Silver Lining (Live on Letterman), title track Stay Gold and the Summery Waitress Song (Live). Recommended, but if First Aid Kit are new to you, I suggest you also pick up The Lion’s Roar.

9. Steve Gunn – Way Out Weather

Steve-Gunn-Way-Out-Weather-608x608Title track off Steve Gunn’s Way Out Weather would be a contender for song of the year for me, I absolutely love everything about it, and as the YouTube comments say it is an absolute crime that this has only had 30K views, come on people!! Do yourself a favour and click the link above now, everything in the world will seem right for a few minutes. The rest of the album doesn’t disappoint with stand-out tracks like Milly’s Garden and Drifter upping the tempo a bit, and the laid back Atmosphere all rewarding the listener with sonic goodness.

8. The Black Keys – Turn Blue

turn-blueIt took me a while to listen to Turn Blue because I really couldn’t get into the single Fever which was being thrashed on Hauraki. Once I did pick up the album and give it some time I was loving the fact the rest of the album is quite different from Fever… Stand-out tracks for me are title track Turn Blue (Live at BBC), Waiting on Words and In Our Prime. The Black Keys prove yet again they are one of THE bands of this decade and keep delivering solid albums by making our Top 10 lists in 2009 with Keep it Hid (Dan Auebach’s solo release), 2010 with Brothers and in 2012 with El Camino. Had I started this blog in 2008 Attack & Release probably would have made my Top album list for that year too!

7. Damien Jurado – Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son

Damien-Jurado-Brothers-And-Sisters-Of-The-Eternal-Son-608x608A friend of mine posted the track Silver Timothy on Facebook and from that I check out the rest of the album which was my first experience of Damien Jurado. What an album! Some of the songs take a few listens to grow on you, and others hit you right away. Stand-out tracks for me are Metallic Cloud (Live acoustic on Jools Holland), Silver Malcolm and Silver Joy. Yes lots of the song titles start with Silver! Go get this, it will become one of your favourite albums that you’ll listen to for years to come.

6. Conor Oberst – Upside Down Mountain

conor-oberst-1400163701Conor Oberst is best known for his work with Bright Eyes, and also features on First Aid Kit’s King of the World. Oberst is a fantastic songwriter and Upside Down Mountain has many great poetic examples, such as:

I want to walk in that howling wind ’til it scatters all my thoughts, Sit alone on that riverbank ’til I Forget that I can talk, Just listen.

Stand-out tracks for me are Time Forgot, Zigzagging Toward the Light, Enola Gay and Double Life. You can listen to the whole album here, enjoy.

5. Angus and Julia Stone (Self Titled)

Angus-Julia-StoneI’m a huge fan of Angus and Julia Stone, the Aussie brother and sister duo have served up a great range of tunes over the years and in 2014 they teamed up with Rick Rubin to create their 3rd full length studio album together. Angus’ solo album made my 2009 top album list and Julia’s solo album made my 2012 list. Stand-out tracks for me aside from single Heart Beats Slow which you’ve probably heard on the radio are: Little Whiskey, Please You and Get Home. And as always with these two, a fantastic recording too.

4. Ryan Adams (Self Titled)

ryan-adams-d138c563Ryan Adams is likely the most played artist in my home, both my wife and I really enjoy his work and many of his songs have been the soundtrack to special times in our lives. This album kicks off with Tom Petty style guitar riffs with Gimme Something Good (Check out this Letterman performance) and ends in true Adams style with a quieter yet stunning number Let Go. Everything in between is great too, this is a solid album from beginning to end, with Kim (Live on Jimmy Fallon, spot the drummer missing his first note) and Tired of Giving Up being other stand-outs.

3. Beck – Morning Phase

12275-morning-phaseBeck’s Sea Change (2002) is somewhat of an audiophile darling when it comes to recordings, I think Morning Phase can be best described as side two of Sea Change. Both in terms of outstanding recording quality and overall tone, sentiment and beautiful song writing. There’s never a dull moment on here, but if you want to show off your system try Morning, Unforgiven, and Don’t Let it Go. Oldschool Beck fans might complain that its all too grown up and beg for another Mellow Gold/Odelay/Midnight Vultures-esque record, but I don’t mind at all if Beck keeps going on this path.

2. Elbow – The Take Off and Landing of Everything

elbowElbow’s sixth studio album really hit a cord with me from the first listen. Their 2011 album Build a Rocket Boys! made 3rd place on my Top 10 list and I’ve enjoyed this record even more so it deserves to jump a position and make it to #2. Hearing Elbow live for a second time this year was a concert highlight for me, especially when they played Scattered Black and Whites which they hadn’t played live for years. Stand-out tracks are plentiful but Charge, Fly Boy Blue/Lunette (it’s so good when Lunette kicks in at 3:11) and Colour Fields would be my picks if I had to pick. Check this record out, and if you haven’t heard much of Elbow go back through the catalogue and you won’t disappointed. This is seriously good music that gets missed in a world of mass produced forgettable pop.

1. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream

41f440f9#1 on many top album of 2014 lists, and for good reason. The War on Drugs have produced an album that appeals to so many, and in doing to have firmly put themselves on the musical map. With an 80’s rock flavour, this collection of ambient yet melodic rock songs is one that you never tire of, it can be played over and over, and at the end of each time, you’re glad its starting again. The opening 3 tracks are killer, but my favourites also include Eyes to the Wind (Live) and In Reverse (Live Acoustic), but the second track Red Eyes (Live on Letterman) would get my vote for song of the year. I can’t say it better than Pitchfork, so here’s what they wrote:

The album is loaded with songs whose greatness is revealed slowly, where the simplest, most understated chord change can blow a track wide open and elevate it from simply pretty to absolutely devastating.

You can listen to the full album here, I recommend you do so right now.

Bring on 2015, we can’t wait to see what new music comes out, especially when a new Radiohead album is being worked on…