Eau Claire based singer/songwriter/beatmaker/producer Eric Christenson has been putting out catchy, melancholic, low-fi electronic pop jams for a few years now–previously as Wisconsin Built and now under the moniker of Two Castles. 2016 was a busy year for Eric musically: he put out a Two Castles EP entitled “Night Talk” at the beginning of the year, produced the debut Sniffle Party EP called “Peach Dream” that dropped in the spring, and just released a new single titled “Survive” (embedded below! …give it a listen!) earlier in December. Fittingly for an artist who was so busy in 2016 Eric is seeing the year out on stage, playing as Two Castles and along with Sniffle Party as part of “The Golden Hour” festivities taking place at The Plus in conjunction with the amazing Light Up Eau Claire celebration that’s happening all across downtown this NYE.
With so much time spent producing his own music did Eric still have a chance to check out some of this year’s releases? You bet he did…and he was kind enough to give us a great list of his favorite tracks of 2016!
NxWorries – Link Up
Anderson Paak and Knxwledge are the dream team of my dreams. Their record “Yes Lawd!” was easily one of my favorites this year. It’s so funky and full of swagger and soul and I love it. But “Link Up” is the jam, and the music video is just Paak and Knxwledge drinking 40s in a gas station. One of the most vibey songs I’ve heard in a long, long time.
Kaytranada – “Glowed Up (feat. Anderson Paak)”
OK, I didn’t want to mention Anderson Paak too much on this list, but the dude is crazy prolific and he put out some amazing work this year, especially on “Glowed Up.” Kaytranada is one of my all-time favorite producers and his beat on “Glowed Up” is so spooky and bangin’ and perfect. This song’s an incredible moment for two artists in their peak. And Kaytranada’s album 99.9% was ultra-groovy and fantastic front to back.
A Tribe Called Quest – “Whateva Will Be”
Every time I listen to Tribe, it makes me feel like we’re all gonna be OK. “We Got It From Here, Thank You 4 Your Service” was such a blessing. The blown out sample, the lo-fi production, and Phife Dawg’s verses on “Whateva Will Be” give me chills every time. RIP Phife.
Rihanna “Needed Me”
Oooooo baby I love this song. Rihanna’s voice has never sounded so silky and so powerful and this song made me fall in love with her all over again. We don’t deserve Rihanna.
Promises Ltd. – “American Eyes”
Lowkey one of the year’s most perfect pop gems. I’ve been a huge fan of Chrome Sparks for years, and the production on this new Promises Ltd EP is masterful. Warm shimmering synths get paired with 80’s pop hooks and the whole thing coalesces into something really magical. Give it a spin or two or a hundred.
Whitney – “Golden Days”
I adored the Whitney record that came out this year. This track “Golden Days” is perfect for crunchin’ leaves under your boot, driving around the countryside, and drinking beers on the golden days that slip away from you. And the horns that come in near the end will make your lil’ heart soar, I swear.
HERO – “The Juice”
It’s an instant classic, baby! I stumbled on this track this summer, and I don’t think many people know about it. It’s sounds like all the best 80’s inspired synthwave stuff you’d find on the soundtrack to Drive or Stranger Things, but with the sleekest R&B twist. I can’t get enough. Everything’s on point and it makes you feel like you, too, might have the juice. Certified banger.
Kanye West – “Real Friends” (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)
First things first: I don’t really care what you think about Kanye West. “Real Friends” is one of his best songs ever. I loved seeing Yeezy go back to some lowkey sample-driven production too. It’s a track that’s full of biting words about flaking out and lying to each other, but he executes it in such an honest way. The Life Of Pablo was great, but “Real Friends” is understated in a way that makes me go back to it over and over again. Also, for the record, Ty Dolla $ign is hella underrated.