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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when it comes to this music shit, above all I’m a fan. I mostly listen to classic rock, classic rap and classic rap rock, but I try to stay curious about what the “F” is going on in the modern music world. “After the jump” is a bunch of stuff I’ve enjoyed so far in 2014. By no means a definitive list of even my own personal listening habits, this is more of a freestyle celebration of some music that has gotten me skied in 2K14. No THUNDER ZONE included because that is it’s own goddamn post. Let’s go!!!

I played a show with RATKING in the summer of 2012 at Glasslands in Brooklyn. If I remember correctly, they played first of four and sounded intriguing but unexceptional. Since then, I’ve seen RATKING blossom into one of the most interesting and exciting things happening in the deeply splintered “indie rap underground”. “So It Goes” pulls off a rare trick — it manages to feel modern while still staying tethered to the rich and varied history of NYC rap. Sometimes this record sounds like a Footwork producer remixing COMPANY FLOW, other times it sounds like BLACK DICE jamming in an expensive Midtown studio with DIPSET. In other words, it is a great record to listen to on headphones while taking public transit — something I do a lot.

Making a cohesive dance music LP is hard; many try and most fail. DJ DODGER STADIUM (JEROME LOL and SAMO SOUND BOY) have done the damn near impossible and created a “proper LP” out of 10 banging throwback house cuts. Most dance is deeply club context-dependent, but you can throw on “Friend Of Mine” in almost any situation and it will work. The sample selection and structure of each track is thoughtful and the final product transcends a lot of modern “deep” house and disco music, which can often be navel-gazing. Listening to “Friend Of Mine” reminds me of living in LA and eating at Yoshinoya Beef Bowl alone, depressed. This is an emotional record, people!

Touring in a rental car with satellite radio is a dream. Last May, I lived that dream on the JUICEBOXXX/DJ GEORGE COSTANZA “Business As Usual” tour of America. For three weeks, we raged up and down the heartland highway blasting everything from Stern to Springsteen and just having a ball. One of my favorite discoveries from that trip (via satellite channel #56 “The Highway”) is the song “Beachin'” by JAKE OWEN. This is Nu-Country at its sickest, sounding like SUGAR RAY and FLORIDA GEORGA LINE playing beer pong together at a cut-rate timeshare. In other words, modern Parrothead shit. Respect.

Hot on the heels of one of his strongest mixtapes in years, LIL B drops this inspirational piece of conscious hip hop on the world and further solidifies his status as a visionary. Very few performers have the depth and breadth of LIL B — the staggering volume of his output alone puts him in his own category. The fact that he is only 25 is incredible; LIL B has released more content over the past 5 years than most will do in a lifetime. Within that body of work is a ton of variety. Beyond his more well-known material there’s an absurd amount of music that ranges from new age spoken word to power pop. It almost feels as if the only thing left for LIL B to do is make a super tight 10 track LP — something canonical that would hush his traditionalist critics once and for all.

This mixtape reminds me of (in no order): Ce’Cile, Best Fwends, Maltine Records, 8-Bit Construction Set, Cibo Matto, Young Marble Giants, Bonde Do Role, PC Music, Cornelius, The Slits, Beastie Boys, Smurf Otokogumi, The Streets, K Records. KERO KERO BONITO burn out of the gate strong with a fully formed vision and anyone who’s been in this game knows how special that is. “Intro Bonito” is an honest breath of fresh air and extremely charming. I’ve been listening to it nonstop.


Goddamn I haven’t heard enough good rock and roll music this year. Where has it been hiding? Someone tell me (JB AT THUNDERZONE.BIZ). Anyway, ED SCHRADER’S MUSIC BEAT are from Baltimore and play in a totally singular style. I know I’ve been getting pretty “rock journalist” today but let me just keep that going and say that ESMB sound like SCREAMERS meets GODHEADSILO with some sort of insane Jim Morrison mimic hanging out in the shadows, jamming when he feels like it. Their music hits a sweet spot that is hard to articulate but teeters the line between punk and comedy without being either. It is a refreshing tone and this is a serious band. Ed Schrader’s Music Beat.

Growing up, the city of Providence, Rhode Island loomed large in my imagination. The place that birthed FORT THUNDER will forever hold weight for the freakout scene it launched in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, but this is 2014, and there are a bunch of kids in the city doing their own thing. “The Mi Concha EP” by MALPORTADO KIDS is sonically and politically aggressive, sounding at times like B L A C K I E playing Baile Funk. It is an exciting record and makes me want to see them play live. Also worth checking out is the MALPORTADO KIDS sister band DOWNTOWN BOYS, who share members and play frantic saxophone fueled party punk.

This is a deeply misunderstood album. RIFF RAFF fits strongly within a continuum of eccentric and mysterious American troubadours and if you can’t see that man I don’t know what to say.  It blows my mind when people shit on a song like “Time” because to me it is an instant Nu Americana classic that could (and should) be covered in any number of styles (ska bands, I’m looking at you). RIFF RAFF uses modern tools to perpetuate a timeless mythology, one that is far from over but already legendary. Much like ANDREW WK or even DAFT PUNK, I have a feeling RIFF RAFF‘s genius will unfold over time and eventually be appreciated on a totally different level. So why wait? Get on board now. Things are just going to get sicker.

When I first heard “Bipp” by SOPHIE in 2013 it felt as if a new lane had opened up. Over the past year or so, it has been exciting to see labels like PC MUSIC get in that lane and just fucking ride it, churning out idiosyncratic electronic pop and dance music that actually sounds new and at times undefinable. “Lemonade” is the newest single from SOPHIE and continues on that path of pure fun and sonic insanity. Is this the new “IDM”, as some have suggested? I’m not sure, but I do hope Aphex has been jamming some of this shit.

I’ve known (and played shows with) FUTURE ISLANDS for over 5 years, so their recent ascent has been thrilling and inspiring. I love to watch bands play on late night talk shows; a particularly good performance in this arena can give me newfound respect for an act I might have ignored in the past. I’ve always described FUTURE ISLANDS as “MEATLOAF meets NEW ORDER” and that spirit fully crystallized in real time on national television. And of course, Letterman’s reaction warmed my heart. Between this and Dan Deacon playing basketball arenas, Bmore music has been having a pretty good 2K14.

This is easily the rap song of the summer in New York City. A lot of folks have been saying that it sounds too similar to what’s been happening in Chicago, but I don’t really care because there is something deeply catchy and addictive about the track that lets it stand on its own. Plus, I think the NYC shines through just fine. I mean, what would you rather hear? Some teenager rap like Nas over a dusty soul sample? To be fair, that can be sick too.

GAGAKIRISE are buddies of mine from Tokyo. We have raged many shows together in Japan and I’ve seen their development firsthand over the past 4 years. “Heaven’s Titan” is their second record and feels strong from end to end. Take the “epic post rock” of MONO and the “heavy rainbow rock” of LIGHTNING BOLT and divide that by some seriously fried electronics and you get a band that sounds like their own goddamn band. GAGAKIRISE are extremely fun to watch live and I have a feeling they are just going to get better and better. They also have a collaborative record on deck with EYE from BOREDOMS so you know that this is the real deal Japanese freakout shit.

I’m not trying to fire any shots, but most recent developments within the “noise underground” have left me uninspired. That said, ODWALLA 88 from Baltimore are on their own tip entirely. It’s refreshing to see a band emerge out of a hive mind with an unapologetically singular style. Although they are loosely rooted in whatever experimental music or performance art means in 2014, I believe ODWALLA 88 are a pop act at heart. They have songs I can remember and look forward to hearing live, which is more than I can say about most bands. I’m a big fan.

This one took me around 100 listens to like. I had a surreal moment hearing this while in a cab riding alongside the French Riviera. I was broke and having a quiet panic attack; I truly had no idea why I was in a cab riding alongside the French Riviera. I asked the cabbie to turn on the radio and it was at this moment that everything clicked. SONG OF THE YEAR 2014 NO DOUBT ENTER THE THUNDER ZONE!

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