25-21

25. Bang it to the Curb – Far East Movement

Earlier this year on Power 106, the boys at Far East Movement said they reached out to Southern California powerhouse King Taco to sponsor their new album. Alas, it wasn’t to be, which is a mild shame considering the marketing potential of Los Angeles’s favorite taco chain paired with the city’s favorite Black Eyed Peas disciples. No matter; K-Town’s Billboard representatives will most likely never reach the same heights they did with “Rocketeer” and “Like a G6,” which doesn’t bother me when their newer stuff has proven more abrasive and tons more enjoyable. “Bang in to the Curb” may never have gotten past the curb while PSY’s true far east movement spread like a pathogen across international borders, but just like King Taco, it might be better if they stay within city limits.

24. Dearly Departed – Shakey Graves (2), Esme Patterson

Shakey Graves wrote, as Shakey Graves does, a sad country song about longing after a loved one. He’s become really good at following his own formula, which may be why he decided to break it and bring on the vocal talents of Esme Patterson. With Patterson’s jaunty personality, the song, with no structural changes, all of a sudden turns into a lover’s romp, turning Alejandro Rose-Garcia from a morose heartthrob into an ebullient hunk. Shakey Graves continues to be the solo artist that gets a 100% approval rating from everyone to whom I introduce, and I certainly wouldn’t mind if Patterson lifts him up to the spotlight he deserves.

23. Bye Bye Big Ocean – A Sunny Day in Glasgow

A Sunny Day in Glasgow, you get it? Because it doesn’t happen? Except they’re American, so the joke goes out the window along with the cliché. Except they sound as Glaswegian as any band from Philadelphia can possibly get, so…where can we go with this? How about that Annie Fredrickson’s cloud-piercing voice proves that not even shoegaze is immune to the whole “big sound/tiny voice” phenomenon we’re getting all over the radio. Or how about how the chorus really feels like one large build up that doesn’t actually build anything, leaving the listener in a hanging anticipation for a resolution that never comes. Or how about that these guys make noise rock as accessible as it ever has sounded, and that’s not a small feat considering the whole point of distortion as repellent.

22. Salad Days – Mac Demarco (2)

When Jimmy Buffet and Jack Johnson replicate island sounds, it’s “relaxing,” but when Mac Demarco does the same thing, it’s “slacker?” That’s not particularly fair. Even though Demarco is best known for an ode to a niche brand of cigarettes, and even though Demarco’s fan base is mostly constituted of Deadheads who were lucky enough to procreate with other Deadheads, it doesn’t make Demarco any less hammock-worthy. His sophomore album displays more polish than his first, all while loosely holding on to that lax attitude that made him so appealing to start with. The title track says it all: the new Demarco is leaner and meaner, well, as mean as you can get while playing a slide guitar.

21. Stand For – Ty Dolla $ign

Drake didn’t release an album this year, which means rap radio’s secret weapon finally got a chance to showcase himself as the best hook man in the game right now. And when he wasn’t propping up B.O.B. or Wiz Khalifa, he was making very good decisions for his highly anticipated debut album dropping early next year. For one, you don’t waste a Diplo beat, and Ty$ treats “Stand For’s” instrumental like a cherished orchestration, going straight Bone Thugs n Harmony effortlessly singing his raps. And then there’s that music video in which he proudly proclaims all of us as schizophrenic airheads, or as the top commenter points out, a guy with “…a Lady GaGa imagination for making videos.” That’s not the only GaGa he has in him, for sure, and no doubt Stand For will be making its radio rounds pretty soon.

 

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