Blugold Radio is excited to be part of the roll out for Waldemar’s new release “Visions” that is due out tomorrow! We will be playing tracks off of the EP and will also be streaming the album right here on BlugoldRadio.org! To help spread the word and promote this big debut (and also just cuz we know he’s a huge music fan who we had no doubt would have some great and interesting picks!) we asked the main man behind Waldemar–Gabe Larson–to fill us in on some of his favorite music from 2016, and boy howdy he did not disappoint. Scroll on through for his great picks and his thoughtful reflections on each selection, and be sure to tune in Friday to 99.9 and check back right here on our website to hear brand new music from Gabe/Waldemar.
P.S. To help you get extra excited for the debut, check out the music video for EP title track “Visions” embedded below:
A warning to all who are about to read my reflections on 2016:
I have never been accused of being a concise person. Rarely am I a man of few words.
You will find this is true of the reviews that follow. Additionally, as many of you know,
2016 was a busy year for me personally. I recorded a record under the name Waldemar
and that record will be released this week. When I work on writing and especially
recording new music, I tend to stop listening to music as a way to “clear my palette” and
as an effort to clear away my influences for a moment to tune into the music that I want
to write without others’ songs rattling around in my head. Despite 2016 being relatively
sparse in terms of new music discovery for me personally, there were a few records that were unavoidable for me. Despite my best efforts to put sanctions on new music reaching me, the records that follow were the ones that slipped through the cracks.
…and I am better for it.
With that, I am excited to contribute my unordered list to Blugold Radio’s Year In Music
DAVID BAZAN – Blanco
David Bazan to me has always seemed like an over-looked and underrated artist. Bazan creates soul crushing, beautiful records. For those who know him, they know. And yet,
there seems to me to be a lack of widespread attention given to his unbelievably worthy
records. This has always puzzled me.
David Bazan is one of those rare artists who has amassed what some would call a cult
following from previous records in his former band Pedro The Lion as well as his solo
records. Surely he’s most well known for 2009’s ruthless and heart wrenching Curse Your Branches. Though some of Bazan’s most devoted followers would likely disagree, I’m of the opinion that Dave’s Blanco might be the greatest record he’s ever created. Not to mention, one of the greatest and most over looked records of 2016.
Back in May I happened across the album opener “Both Hands” and I haven’t stopped
listening to the record since. This is a record where remembering song titles is hard for
me because I press play on track one and don’t stop or skip a track until the album is over and it’s time to press play again.
Favorite Tracks (if I had to choose): Both Hands, Trouble With Boys
POLICA – United Crushers
David Bazan might be an underrated artist overall and thus it is unfortunately
unsurprising to not see his work atop many end of the year lists. Poliça, on the other
hand, has enjoyed massive amounts of worldwide appeal – and yet, it seems that critics
and listeners alike somehow forgot that Poliça released arguably their best record ever earlier in 2016 – United Crushers. I don’t mean to arrogantly pat myself on the back, but I didn’t forget about this record. I couldn’t forget. It’s been on almost constant rotation at home and on the road for me since it’s March release.
United Crushers has been accurately described as a political record – a protest record of
sorts. And while the political elements of the record are certainly unavoidable throughout the record, I tend to listen to it as a record about relationship, love, loss and loneliness -fitting it snugly amongst previous records Shulamith and Give You the Ghost.
I’ve always had a hard time nailing down my favorite aspects of Poliça. I can never decide what I pay attention to the most throughout all of their records. Allow me to break Poliça down for a moment. As a drummer, Drew and Ben have always absolutely blown me away in the way they achieve such a complex yet unified drum texture as dual full-kit drummers. Ryan Olson is probably the greatest producer of electronic music in the past decade, and Chris’ bass lines are probably the most underrated and most amazing aspects of Poliça’s sound. And yet, I always inevitably come back to Channy’s vocals. As if having one of the greatest producers in the band isn’t enough, Channy might be one of the greatest vocalists I’ve ever heard.
All of these elements that make Poliça an incredible band are completely present in United Crushers. Please don’t forget about this record. It’s really good.
Favorite Tracks: Wedding, Lose You
FLOCK OF DIMES – If You See Me, Say Yes
“Sometimes it is right to have no answer” – the opening line of Jenn Wasner of Wye
Oak’s stunning debut album as Flock of Dimes. I have no answer to this record. For
someone as wordy as I am, it is a rare thing indeed for me to be left relatively speechless in reaction to a record. This album appeared on Dave Power’s Year In Music on Blugold Radio and I whole-heartedly agree. Dave and I caught Flock of Dimes live at 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis back in October and literally song after song, Dave and I would nudge each other and practically in unison say “I freakin love this song”. Jinx! …you owe me a soda, Dave.
One of my favorite things to do with this record is think about the animated, childhood
classic movie Pocahontas while listening – specifically the classic “Colors of the Wind”. By no means am I accusing Jenn of stealing melodies from the movie soundtrack, but there are melodies and progressions throughout If You See Me, Say Yes that are wonderfully reminiscent of that movie for me. There’s a sense of adventure, nature and an underlying tension that grips me throughout.
Like Blanco, this is a record where song titles get a little hazy for me. Whenever I listen to Flock of Dimes (which is incredibly often), I start at the beginning and love the next 44 minutes of my life until I start the record over again. This record wins the award for
“having the most cohesive album flow while also being a collection of hits”. Don’t ask me to pick out the lead single, because there are 11 justifiable tracks on the 12 track record (not including the gorgeous 21 second intro track “Sometimes It Is Right…”). But if I had to choose…
Favorite tracks: Birthplace, Semaphore, …To Have No Answer
LAMBCHOP – FLOTUS
If you have had a conversation with me about music within the last 2 months, likely
you’ve had to endure me talking your ear off about how obsessed I am with Lambchop’s
FLOTUS. Who’s Lambchop you likely are asking? Same here. Before I happened across
this record, I had never heard of Lambchop before. Turns out they’ve been around since 1990 and have released 12 studio albums. For all of you lifelong Lambchop fans out there who are feeling upset that I’m only now coming to the table to feast on Lambchop (joke intended), it is I who is truly sad to be so late to the game with Lambchop. FLOTUS – which stands for “For Love Often Turns Us Still” – is full of surprises beyond even the acronym title of the record. Listening through the rest of Lamchop’s discography, it’s really hard to pin Lambchop down to a concise description or genre. Some records are alt-country records. Others are post-rock. FLOTUS is yet another deviation and I’m still trying to put words to describe its genre and sound in general.
Some of the best qualities and insights into what this record is are laid out immediately in the opening track, “In Care of 8675309”, which would absolutely find itself in a separate list of my favorite tracks of the year. FLOTUS is a patient record. It’s a lyrical record. It’s a meditative record. The nearly 12 minute opener is as simple as it comes in arrangement and texture. The chord progression and structure is repeated, over and over and over again like a meditation throughout the whole song. 58 year-old songwriter Kurt Wagner’s sweet and sultry baritone delicately sings gentle recitations through gorgeous vocoder processed effects.
To say that FLOTUS is a patient record is an understatement. “In Care of 8675309” at 12
minutes long isn’t even the longest song on the record. Album closer, “The Hustle” clocks in at just over 18 minutes.
To those who lack patience, Lambchop will feel like labor. For those willing to go the
distance, Lambchop will feel like a journey. For the love of love that often turns us still, go on the journey.
Favorite Tracks: In Care of 8675309, Writer, The Hustle
Solange – A Seat at the Table
“Wait, what? Beyonce has a sister?” …that was me back in September when I heard the first rumblings of what would quickly become a No. 1 record from Solange. Giving her “a seat at the table”, as it were, amongst all of the other huge names in music in 2016. In A Seat at the Table, Solange steps out of the shadow of her older sister and displays profoundly that there certainly is something in the Knowles’ blood. A Seat at the Table, as the name alludes to, is at its core a social commentary record about the joy, pain and pride of being black. More specifically, being a black woman. As a white man, I feel I am likely among the least qualified voices for putting words to what Solange has done in A Seat at the Table. And as such, I attempt to approach this record humbly and with a desire to simply listen and learn every time I put it on.
Throughout the 55 minute, 21 track album, Solange seems to “turn the diamond” of
black womanhood, taking a stop at a different face to express and describe it. To reduce
Solange’s album simply to it’s message certainly leaves the listener with a lot to work with. But to only focus on the striking message of the record, one might miss the beauty in the music and the mesmerizing flow of the record as a whole. Solange’s proclamations of the beauty of being black are equally mirrored and delivered through the beauty of the music and seamless connectivity track to track.
Until this point, I’ve only highlighted records that have been sadly absent from many end of the year lists. Not the case with A Seat at the Table. It deservedly ranks at the top of lists all over the place.
Favorite Tracks (ever changing): Cranes in the Sky, Don’t You Wait
Aaron and Bryce Dessner (Sort Of) / Various Artists – Day of the Dead
Ry X – Dawn
***Waldemar picture by J. Scott Kunkel – Scotify****