Showing posts with label kyle craft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kyle craft. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

video review: 'showboat honey' by kyle craft & showboat honey

So yeah, this isn't great... but it is still good and worth a few listens, so definitely give it a chance, I think Kyle Craft has real potential regardless if they iron out the kinks.

And before we get to the next possible disappointment, let's handle Billboard BREAKDOWN next, so stay tuned!

Monday, July 15, 2019

album review: 'showboat honey' by kyle craft & showboat honey

I feel like I should be less surprised we already have a new Kyle Craft album.

And here's the thing: when you look at how much music Kyle Craft has put out in the past couple of years, it shouldn't be surprising, given how between Dolls Of Highland and Full Circle Nightmare he did put out a covers project, and given that he now has a full backing band called Showboat Honey, it makes sense that he'd want to have something for the general public sooner rather than later. And of course I wasn't about to complain: Kyle Craft has been one of the most startling breakout talents in the 2010s and his two albums of original material have been in my top 10 for their respective years - a huge voice, a distinctive instrumental style, and some of the best writing you'll get in rock - period.

That said, when artists start churning out projects every year, I get worried that the content and refinement might suffer, and given how potent Kyle Craft is as a writer, I genuinely wondered if he'd have enough fresh material. But apparently he and his band were working at such a pace that apparently he had an album ready even earlier, but then a quick gut check moment had him step back and record another project full of material, which from there the best songs were chosen. What was even more promising, at least to me, was the fact that Craft had apparently brought back some of the recording and production style he had back on Dolls Of Highland, my one serious nitpick from the last album, so this could well kick a lot of ass too. So alright, he's not wasting time and neither should I - what did Kyle Craft deliver with Showboat Honey?

Sunday, January 6, 2019

the top 25 best albums of 2018 (VIDEO)

And that's the last of year-end list promotion...whew.

Next up... honestly, no idea, we'll see - stay tuned!

the top 25 best albums of 2018

Normally this is the list that feels like the greatest relief to make - it's the final moment where we can lay a year to rest chronicling the best of the best, the sort of release that comes with it being the last list but also one that feels the most professional, for lack of better words. I'm having fun with the lists of the best and worst hits, I'm getting more personal with the overall songs list - this list for critics is staking claim, drawing our lines in the sand, and as such, it's normally the most professionally rewarding.

But I have to say, in comparison to previous years, this list was not that hard to make. Even though I covered far more albums in 2018 than ever before, it felt like I hit greatness less often on average. Which is probably not completely true, but it sure as hell feels like it, especially given that the cuts weren't that painful this year, or it certainly seemed like there was less of them to make. And while I don't do an Honourable Mentions segment for this list, I will say I'm a little regretful that I have to leave Rolo Tomassi and Against All Logic off this list, and I'm sure I'm going to surprise some folks by saying that Beach House and Kacey Musgraves also missed the cut - sorry, but especially in country, Kacey had stiffer competition. But really, if we're to highlight a genre that turned out in spades in 2018, it was hip-hop - and no jokes here, this is more hip-hop on this albums list than I think there has ever been before... which yes, means that there were two painful cuts in the form of Marlowe and Armand Hammer. But you know, let's start off with hip-hop here...

Saturday, June 30, 2018

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2018

There are years where I struggle with this midyear list, sometimes in years overloaded with quality that force me to make some painful cuts, or years that are a little more scant I'm stuck with what seems like a smaller list... and still have to make painful cuts. 

And thus it feels odd that building this 2018 midyear list is perhaps one of the easiest I've ever assembled, and since I'm not about to assume I'm getting good at this, I'm genuinely curious why that might be. I will say that outside of hip-hop, other genres don't seem to be having an exceptionally strong year - great albums in rock and country and metal but few that really went over the top in terms of quality, and I'd argue pop has had it even worse. But more than that, even the records that just missed the cut - Beach House, Iceage, Parquet Courts, Against All Logic, and especially Phonte - while they were truly terrific releases, I'm not precisely torn up that they had to miss the cut, as they all have a considerable shot for the year-end as my tastes evolve and change. 

So given that this is my fifth list like this, you know the rules: the albums and songs have to have been reviewed in 2018, and while I'm fairly certain you'll all know what's going to top this list, I'll add that there are songs from The Trailing Edge that have a chance to wind up in the individual songs, because there really were some incredible cuts there. So let's not waste any time and start with...

Monday, February 5, 2018

video review: 'full circle nightmare' by kyle craft

Well, this was something... and honestly, I'm pretty pleased with how it all came together, especially as I got to go deep into themes and find a lot more to like in its defense (a defense that shouldn't have been necessary but that's Pitchfork for you).

Next up, the one you've been waiting for - stay tuned!

album review: 'full circle nightmare' by kyle craft

So I may have mentioned this on Twitter, but the lineup of records released in February that don't just seem good but damn near great or better... well, at last count I was up to at least ten, and that's damn near unprecedented for this time of year, especially when you consider they span a half dozen different genres and styles. In other words, if you start seeing me give out high scores like candy... again, this much quality concentrated this early in a year is rare, but pretty damn thrilling all the same.

And we're starting out with one of the big ones, one of my most hotly anticipated records of 2018 - and if you heard his star-making debut in 2016 with Dolls Of Highland, you'll understand why. Kyle Craft was the sort of talent that came out of nowhere: a singer-songwriter-producer from the Deep South who moved to Portland, signed to Sub Pop, and recorded the sort of awe-inspiring debut that floored nearly everyone who heard it. A huge, theatrical voice and bountiful personality that recalled Meat Loaf in his prime, production that took 70s glam and fused it with southern-fried gothic rock - emphasis on goth - and writing that was impeccably detailed, wonderfully textured, and yet framed with a modern eye for progressive melodrama so he never felt like a throwback, he was the sort of talent where critics started making unprompted comparisons to Dylan and Bowie - all the more stunning considering that debut was recorded with DIY equipment in his laundry room! Hell, I found the record pretty much by accident browsing Pitchfork and it rapidly became one of my favourites of 2016 - hell, it could have topped that list had Lydia Loveless not blown in with her own genre fusion and those two other two albums to which I gave perfect scores! 

And it wasn't just me, as Kyle Craft's cult following starting blowing up fast, and he signed on as an opener for the Drive-By Truckers all the while dropping a few sly but heartfelt political tracks and an album of covers last year, all of which I've really liked but I did find some of the covers a tad too restrained, even if it wasn't every day you get Craft covering TLC, Sharon Van Etten, Hurray For The Riff Raff, St. Vincent and Blondie! No, I was excited for his true sophomore project, which gave him a full backing band, Chris Funk of The Decemberists on production, and an actual studio. Now naturally I was a bit reticent - many an indie act has stumbled towards indulgence in going bigger, and I loved the rich textured atmosphere of Dolls Of Highland so much that I was concerned it'd be compromised here... but hey, the guy has great instincts and he's a tremendous talent, if anyone could stick the landing, it'd be him. So, what did we get on Full Circle Nightmare?

Monday, January 9, 2017

the top 25 best albums of 2016

And now, the final list, the one that always gives me the most anxiety but also the one that I'm always happy to have finalized by the end of the year - or by the first few days of next year, I'm going on vacation for the first week of January and I'm in a bit of a rush to get packed and ready on time, so this video might be a day or two late. 

But in an odd way that's kind of representative of 2016's albums as a whole, as I've definitely not seen a lot of common consensus surrounding picks - and fair warning, that'll be very true with these as well. Great records in 2016 came in fits and spurts, with a lot of big returns that didn't quite impress me, some debuts that blew me out of the water, and a predominant theme of endings that ran through a lot of albums that I covered and loved this year. I'm not quite sure if it's reflecting the tempo of the times or my personal feelings surrounding the year, but this list really feels all over the place, all albums I loved but coming from radically different locations, styles, and genres than I expected. In other words, there are albums that you will not recognize on this list, and a few major exclusions.

But it also runs deeper than that: for instance, this is the first year I've ever given out a perfect score on this channel - and then I did it twice. I'll get more into this when I talk about the albums at length, but I would recommend you consider my top two choices as interchangeable at best, I flip back and forth with them every day. There's also a whole bunch of albums that narrowly missed the cut, from punk veterans like Against Me!, White Lung and Jeff Rosenstock, to metal and experimental rock like Swans, Savages, Epica and Tarja to hip-hop powerhouses like clipping., Ka, LMNO, Elzhi, and Denzel Curry. And as I've mentioned a number of times, country had one of its best years in recent memory, and that led to some extremely painful cuts, from the superb pop country of Jennifer Nettles to the neotraditional tones of Cody Jinks and Mark Chesnutt to the stripped back indie starlets like Karen Jonas and Dori Freeman. Everyone I just mentioned dropped albums this year you can consider honourable mentions that I couldn't rank if I wanted to and are all worth your time, but now it's time for the list proper, starting with...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

the top 50 best songs of 2016

I've gone on record that this list in particular is always the hardest to make. Refining a list of songs that I've covered on albums I've reviewed over the course of the year - which numbers in the thousands of songs - down to a select six hundred or so, then down to a subset of just under 200... and then the final fifty. Suffice to say, there's always a lot to cover.

But I have to say, this year felt easier than others. I'd say part of it is that I'm getting a better handle on my organization going into these lists, but that would assume I've got some inkling of what I'm doing here. I think the larger factor is that the truly amazing songs that monopolized my year - the top 35 or so - they fell into place remarkably quickly, and that made ironing out the details easier than I expected. Maybe it was because it was easier for me to get passionate about some of these tracks than before, because if you ventured away from the mainstream Hot 100, there was a lot of great music in 2016. Away from the charts there was great metal, rock, synthpop, hip-hop, and especially country, which had one of its best years in recent memory, and fair warning, there's going to be a lot of it on this list.

As always, the songs had to appear on any one of the albums I reviewed - singles or deep cuts, all are possible, so no more wasting time, we have a lot to get through! So let's start off crazy with...

Sunday, July 3, 2016

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2016 (VIDEO)

Well, this video was a ton of fun to make. Took me less time than I expected too, but it's always one of my favourites every year.

Next up... look, I've never had any interest in Blink-182, so I kind of want to cover the Weval record or Blood Orange... but we are coming up to my third year anniversary, and you all should remember what that means, so stay tuned!

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2016

There will be a lot of headlines that suggest that 2016 has not been a good year for music - and if you follow the mainstream between the losses of several legends and a haphazard set of releases that slide between underwhelming and disappointing, that's easy to believe.

Of course, that view is not really reflective of reality, because if you look away from the Billboard Hot 100 - which I would advise, it's been a rough six months there - there is quality here. I think the big issue comes in that there have been fewer than normal outright smashes and instant classics as there were at the midyear of 2015, which was really frontloaded with incredible records. 2016 has been more scattershot, with a lot of great records that don't quite rise to the level of immediate classics, and also a fair bit more diverse. Country and folk, for one, have been a great year across subgenres, underground hip-hop has been pretty solid, and there's some great R&B, metal, and rock music that I've liked a fair bit. And that's before you get the genre-bending stuff that sticks the landing incredibly well, and I'd argue we've seen a lot of that thus far.

What this means is that it's been excruciating trying to narrow this down to my usual top twelve, in that the top half was very straightforward but the bottom half is a lot harder to cut. So while I almost chose to open things up to a top fifteen albums of the mid year, I figured I might as well stick with tradition and keep it at twelve, which meant some painful cuts - some of which I think will surprise you. So without further ado, let's start with...

Monday, May 2, 2016

video review: 'dolls of highland' by kyle craft

So this was amazing. Seriously, everyone should be checking this out, I absolutely adore this record - so damn catchy!

Next up is Billboard BREAKDOWN, where I effectively get to enjoy myself by re-reviewing Beyonce's Lemonade, so stay tuned!

album review: 'dolls of highland' by kyle craft

So before I begin, let me talk a little about my schedule. Right now I'm at a bit of weird place: I've got upcoming releases that of course I'm going to cover, but a few records in my backlog have pretty extensive discographies to revisit and review. So while I'm intending to Aesop Rock, I just need some time to completely absorb his existing material. As such, I did the next best thing, went to Pitchfork, and scrounged around for an act that looked interesting... and here we are.

So, introductions in case you haven't heard about this guy - and I reckon that's probably a strong possibility, given that outside of the critical circle he hasn't made a huge splash just yet. Kyle Craft is a Louisiana songwriter who started off crafting some rough-edged southern glam rock before moving to Portland and signing with Sub Pop. Now immediately for me that's a good sign - Sub Pop tends to have a good reputation with signees and I was kind of intrigued by what I heard from Craft, blending a certain sort of Southern carnival theatricality with rough-edged, early-Bowie-esque melodic grooves. And while I wasn't convinced his debut would be a great record - that sort of style can get a little gimmicky if not played with smart songwriting or poise, and it can feel a little dated - at the very least it would make for a release with a lot of personality. So I dug into his debut record Dolls Of Highland - what did we get?