It’s that time once again, as the countdown to the end of 2015 quickly approaches we take a personal look back on familiar names, features and musicians’ best releases of the past 12 months. Circuit Sweet will be hosting takeovers from the featured artists of the site with their personal top 5 releases of the year.
Continuing our annual end of year tradition we let our favourites take over the site to tell us the records that have made their end of year lists, their favourite events/gigs and what we can look forward to from them next year.
Our next take over comes from a friend of Circuit Sweet and a musician who released one of our records of 2015. We hand the site over to the lovely Josh Lamdin. Josh, earlier this year under the moniker Temple Complex released his first Debut record and a flawless one at that. Josh is also known for his involvements with Aulos and The Anomalies. We let Josh tell us more about his year in music.
Milo – So The Flies Don’t Come
In 2013 milo’s ‘Things that happen at day/night’ EP’s were 2 of my favourite records that year and I’ve been a fan since. While milo has been prolific, putting out records under his own name and in collaboration with others, this years ‘So The Flies Don’t Come’ record has particularly stood out to me. Milo’s very wordy almost spoken flow is at it’s most direct and sharp on this album. True to form in songs such and Zen Scientist (ft Myka 9) or True Nen (ft Open Mike Eagle) milo is as wordy as ever, pulling together unexpected rhymes and references such as, “preaching black aesthetic gospel/ Michael called it art rap, so you wouldn’t find it hostile.”
In songs like re:animist or @yomilo his flow is almost aggressive, much more direct yet illustrative. Milos stage throughout the album is set upon minimal but tasteful beats. Subtle tones and drones are interrupted by rattling hats, pleasant bleeps, bloops and wonky grooves; placing Milos voice front and centre. The very digital but dusty instrumentals make this record feel much more ageless than some of the references would tell you. While only a little half hour in length this record is concise, but thick with wordplay that’s rewarding every listen.
D’angelo + The Vanguard – Black Messiah
This came out at the very tail end of last year but by smashing the end of a 14 year hiatus this album can’t be forgotten or ignored. So many elements of this album stand out, the production is noisy, textural and the live instrumentation, courtesy of The Vanguard, all sounds very raw. The rhythm section is gritty and visceral while beautifully, and at times experimentally, arranged strings and brass compliment the many styles and influences this record draws on wonderfully.
D’angelo’s focus shift for the guitar on this project is refreshing and their are some great performances throughout. Of course the singing is fantastic in character and range as you would expect but listening to the many of the multi tracked, very breathy yet very soulful vocals was really a new listening experience for me. From the strong opening ‘Ain’t That Easy,’ cold funk of ‘1000 Deaths’ through to very jazzy second half of the album, with ‘Betray My Heart’ and ‘Another Life’ this record sets a high standard which doesn’t stop for anything. I’ve been playing this again and again all year and Black Messiah makes a welcome addition to D’angelo’s already very respectable discography.
Ibeyi – Ibeyi
My sister recommended I check out Ibeyi so I picked up the cd. What I heard when on self titled debut album was striking. Subtle, sparse electronic production but full of latin jazz influence and strong haunting vocals. Songs early in the track listing like Oya and River show Ibeyi’s ability to write a heavy, gripping pieces with vocal hooks that bleed character. Lisa and Naomi Diaz’ vocals fit seamlessly together, as we hear on songs like Behind the Curtain, or the melancholy ‘Mama Says’.
The instrumentation blends together acoustic percussion and traditional instruments with electronic production into generally quite minimal, but rich backings. Like on Think of You, the angular beat with the sampled strings and drums, or contrast to Mama Says, piano, hand snaps and this booming, crunchy sub kick. The mix of samples, synths live instruments across Ibeyi compliment the amazing singing at the forefront of this album, in both Yoruba and English. The influences going into this album from Yoruba and Latin Jazz to Soul and Hip Hop are timeless, and the execution out onto this record is beautiful. This album has grown and grown on me with every listen and I look forward to more from the duo.
Kamasi Washington – The Epic
I didn’t expect Brainfeeder to drop a ‘straight’ jazz album through a new artist, and I really didn’t expect the THREE HOUR behemoth that is Kamasi Washington’s The Epic. Like, this really is THE EPIC. In the briefest summary I can do this thing justice with, this record gives you 17 songs, (thankfully) split into 3 volumes or shorter albums: The Plan, The Glorious Tale and The Historic Repetition. I don’t know if there’s a style of jazz that isn’t made reference to in some incredible way by Kamasi and band across the length of this thing.
Some very memorable and punchy toplines such as on the opening ‘Change of the Guard,’ ‘Miss Understanding’ and ‘Henrietta our Hero’. The absolutely blazing instrument solos throughout this album, like on ‘The Magnificent 7,’ or ‘Final Thought,’ to the very astral backing choirs and string arrangements. There’s much too much of this album to address in such a short space but I can’t recommend it enough.
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
I was first introduced to Kendrick Lamar properly on Flying Lotus’ last release You’re Dead. While the hype of singles like ‘Swimming Pools’ and ‘i’ didn’t fuel my interest initially, it was his on feature ‘Never Catch Me’ that burnt a hole in my ear and the release of The Blacker the Berry that REALLY caught my attention. Then hearing that this album would be full of FlyLo production as well as collaboration from artists like Thundercat, I was sold, certainly enough to buy it on iTunes release day.
But I don’t think anything could’ve quite prepared me for the album that was released. From the opening Boris Gardiner sample to the album’s closing conversation and poem, 2PAB blew me away from first listen. There were and are more than several moments throughout listening to this record I just lost and lose my shit completely. This album wonderfully collates heavy influence and inspiration from Funk, Jazz, Soul, Rock and frames them together beautifully under Hip Hop. The original instrumentation and composition is complemented with tight production under names such as FlyLo, SounWave, Pharrell, Terrance Martin and more. Kendrick’s versatility in tone of voice and flow kept me engaged and hanging onto words across the 1 hour 20 min run time.
Lyrically and thematically there’s a lot of ground covered. Through stories and personal issues of
Kendrick’s own ascent we hear themes of politics, love, race, economics, sex, community, ism’s schism’s and so much more. While these themes are rarely laid outside the first person frame of ‘I/My,’ Kendrick’s talent and ability to tell a story, flip perspective, as displayed on songs like, ‘The Blacker the Berry,’ ‘How Much A Dollar Cost,’ and ‘U’ is undebatable. As just a fan of conceptual and detailed music, there was a lot to take from this record. I personally found this album to be very relatable, very powerful and very enjoyable and I hope it proves to be as timeless as it sounds to me.
FKA Twigs – M3LLI55X
LP1 caught my attention last year, a release I thoroughly enjoyed. But this year FKA Twigs take a full step forward with M3LLI55X. The glitchy, digital soundscapes created by Arca don’t feel nearly so pristine on this EP but rather unapologetic, dense and aggressive at their loudest while creeping and brooding at their most subtle. The writing is fluid and memorable, sometimes chilling, like the thumping verses of ‘Mothercreep’ to the banging chorus to ‘In Time.’
Open Mike Eagle – A Special Episode Of
I loved Open Mike Eagle’s Dark Comedy last year and this short EP follow up makes for a solid second instalment. Open Mike Eagle puts forth his perspectives through his relaxed but very characteristic flow and playful rhyme style. Laden with with dry humorous observations and light, fun electronic instrumentals and personality this is well worth checking out.
Freddie Gibbs – Pronto
Gibbs wasted no time this year following up last years amazing collaborative album with Madlib, Piñata, with the Pronto EP earlier treading up to the the Shadow of a Doubt album. This was my soundtrack for home physio for the first half of the year. Three track EP, Three different producers, if you know Gibbs you know it goes hard what else can I say on this?
Iglooghost – Chinese Nu Year
I don’t think you could have more fun in less music! Another golden Brainfeeder release from this year. Iglooghost bursts into my headphones with bold, colourful electronic sound that sits right at home on Brainfeeder. This EP is fast, dense, loud and ‘pretty’. While the production is very clean it doesn’t feel overproduced or totally synthetic. I don’t know I’ve listened to anything that reminded me quite so much of watching adult swim cartoons on 2c’s. There’s no better way I can put it really.
Thundercat – The Beyond/ Where Giants Roam
The shimmering atmospheres and very wide, airy production on this EP really make sound as spacey and psychedelic as the title suggests. The opening Hard Times, and songs like Long Wolf and Cub, with these amazing chord progressions are dripping with reverb and ambience. Thundercat’s soft but recognisable over songs like the incredibly catchy Them Changes, gives me a strong Marvin Gaye vibe. While not as hard hitting as his full length solo projects, but no less musically exciting and full of bass guitar wizardry, Thundercat delivers another solid, and instantly recognisable record.
Missy Elliot – WTF (Where They From) Ft. Pharrel Williams
Ishdarr – Too Bad
Kendrick Lamar – The Blacker the Berry
Thundercat – Them Changes
Little Simz – Dead Body
Best Show Played
In January I messed up the ACL in my knee really bad, so unfortunately I’ve only got to play a few shows this year. It’s made every one of those quite an ordeal. But of those, the best was probably performing at Nozstock at 2am with The Anomalies. It was I think the biggest show I’ve played so far in terms of time, act and amount of people watching.
However the pressure that built up in the months of no playing live, no drum kit, commuting city to city for rehearsals, hospital appointments and other ridiculousness, to being sat behind the drums onstage at 2am, in the pissing rain, quite badly injured, in front of ~2000 kids knee deep in mud and off their faces was quite surreal. The relief I felt leaving the stage was pretty big.
Best Show Attended
With the exception of the few I’ve played I actually haven’t been to a show this year! Mostly injury related, but a younger self would not be too proud of me right now. I did hang around at Nozstock for most of the weekend though and I got to see Mad Professor live which was pretty special. My parents would play his stuff around the house and in the car, I love those records to this day.
Putting out a solo record this summer was a big step in the right direction. I’m very critical of it now personally, but in the 18 months it took to make and get that thing out I really learnt a lot. Technically, in regards to the music I make and the way I manage my own ‘business’ to personally, in terms of learning how I work best, where I want to be.
Artist to Watch
I’ve been pretty out of the loop this year on local scenes. But good friends Chemistry Lessons have just dropped a crushing disco record. The fact that I can use crushing and disco in the same sentence is already rewarding, I’m going to be spinning that this Christmas for sure. Chillman from Hereford has been busy this year too getting ready to drop his debut next year, the singles leading up to that are sounding really nice, definitely excited to hear more from him.
Plans for New Year
As I write this I’m 2 days out of knee surgery I’ve been waiting for since January. Going practice crazy earlier in the year gave me RSI in my right wrist so I haven’t been able to play any music properly for a while. My only plans for the new year are getting back to normal health, after that I can worry about sorting my life out a bit. Ideas for projects are floating around, definitely aiming to be busier next year than this year.
A huge thank you to Josh, we can’t wait to hear the new material we know you’ve been working on already and trust us 2016 will be much more active. It was a true pleasure to help and stock your debut in the shop and even more so to be stood in the rain at 2am watching you crush it at this years Nozstock.