This will be my first “end of the year” type post. Following this week will be my favourite video games, as well as my favourite television shows!
Gorillaz – In Spring 2016, according to an interview on Beats One with Zane Lowe, Pusha T says he was contacted by Damon Albarn about a guest spot on his new album that he described as like a, “party for the end of the world, like if Trump were to win.” That bit of prescience produced an album that served as my party album of dread all year. The live version didn’t disappoint either with appearances from Vince Staples, Anthony Hamilton and many others at the tour opener in Chicago. So, let’s celebrate what a great year 2018 will be and ring it in with “We Got the Power” which closes Humanz in such a positive fashion it’s hard not to look ahead.
St. Vincent – St. Vincent released one of the best albums of 2017, and brought a live show fully embracing what an album MASSEDUCTION is. The first half of the show delved into familiar favourites with Annie Clark standing entirely alone on stage. What this created was a sense of intimacy that left a sense of awe hanging over the room. When the MASSEDUCTION version began is when the show really became special. As the curtains dropped away and revealed a video screen, Clark reemerged and a much different show began, one less intimate and much more theatrical.
Portugal. the Man – Though I did see them twice this year, the band didn’t make this list on the strength of their live show. Woodstock was one of the best albums of the year, though some of the songs had been floating around for a while, the election of Donald Trump hung heavy over the album. From the initial moments of “Number One” as someone shouts, “no fake presidents” to the fiery video for track of the year “Feel It Still” shows the band is more interested in how they represent themselves than changing for their new-found popularity. Nothing like starting a flame war with Alex Jones and InfoWars ilk to let everyone know you aren’t interested in gaining those type of fans.
Vince Staples – The last musician to make this list. I didn’t jump on the Staples bandwagon until this year, I apologize. From the initial lines of Gorillaz album-opening “Ascension”, I was hooked. Big Fish Theory was my favourite hip-hop album of the year. My favourite lines from “Party People” go back to what Albarn was looking for on Humanz, “How I’m supposed to have a good time when death and destruction’s all I see?” I felt that way often this year Vince, so thanks for putting it in song form. Still a dope dance track though. Props to Vince for taking on First We Feast Hot Ones’, which you should absolutely watch here. His appearance with “BagBak” in the Black Panther trailer felt highly appropriate and got me amped to listen to Vince and see the movie, so great promotion work for everyone involved!