Ryan Wen is Music Host Friday 11 p.m. to Saturday 1 a.m. Here are his top 6 songs of this year:
1) Nick Hakim – Bet She Looks Like You
When I heard Nick Hakim’s first EP a couple of years ago I thought Jeff Buckley had risen from the dead and teamed up with Neil Young to record a handful of sparsely arranged downtempo heartbreakers. Unfortunately his sound has moved on in his debut LP, Green Twins, but his warm croon fits nicely in his newfound sonic template.
The arrangements are lush and groovy, and the mood somber and dreamy through this collection of extraterrestrial love songs. Green Twins sounds like it’s broadcasted from a smoke filled jazz club on a distant planet, with Hakim performing the perfect cosmic soul set for all the sad bastards in the galaxy.
2) Shabazz Palaces – Shine a Light (ft. Thaddillac)
Thanks to my older sister I was turned on to Digable Planets as a wee lad. I’m thankful that now as an adult I can hear fresh material from Ishmael Butler every couple of years. Although Shabazz Palaces has generally withheld from sample-heavy beats, they picked a good one in Dee Dee Sharp’s “I Really Love You” as the main loop in “Shine a Light.”
3) (Sandy) Alex G – Bobby
Although I’ve always enjoyed Alex G’s sonic freakout moments, he really has a talent for crafting quality Americana melancholia. I think if I heard “Bobby” or “Proud” from Rockets without knowing who the artist was, I’d assume it was some Jeff Tweedy recording that somehow slipped under my radar. Good stuff.
4) lojii & Swarvy – wurkn class
If you love Madlib style beats and smooth Rakim inspired flows, lojii & Swarvy’s debut collaboration will fulfill your desires.
5) Sheer Mag – Fan the Flames
Okay, technically this wasn’t released this year, but Sheer Mag finally released all of their EPs in one place. They sound like Thin Lizzy played through a shitty clock radio speaker—it’s incredible.
6) Mr. Jukes – Grant Green (ft. Charles Bradley)
I first saw Charles Bradley at the New Parish in Oakland, CA right after his debut album came out. He was wearing a factory worker’s jumpsuit adorned with sequins and rhinestones—he was beautiful. Grant Green may be the last thing he left us, but it’s a banger like the everything else he did in his tragically brief recording career. Rest in power, Mr. Bradley.