Not everything the music staff listens to here at WPGU can fall into the alternative category! We must admit that we, too, like Rap, Jazz, and can agree that Frank Ocean’s Channel ORANGE was certainly a great album. So, to satisfy this urge, we’re stepping out of our comfort zone to deliver some special staff picks that don’t necessarily fall into the alternative genre.
fun. – Some Nights
Of course we would be remiss if Some Nights was not somewhere on our list. While the album as a whole did not make the top albums list, there were many singles that captivated the entire world this year. The band formerly known in part as The Format finally achieved mainstream success with uplifting choruses and maybe the catchiest singles of the year in “We Are Young” and “Some Nights”. It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago they opened for Janelle Monae at Foellinger. That would have been a great show to witness.
Written by Boswell Hutson
Kids These Days – Traphouse Rock
Kids These Days is one of the most refreshing things to hit the music world in some time. They don’t really fit into a genre in that they feature a rapper, two lead singers, a trumpet player, and a trombonist. I have previously posted tracks from their debut Hard Times EP which was written and recorded when most of them were 16 years old. Now, they’re all around 19/20, and still producing great music. Traphouse Rock live-samples greats like Radiohead, Nirvana, and The Pixies, all while giving them a fresh hip-hop vibe. The best thing about Traphouse Rock: it’s free!
Written by Boswell Hutson
Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts
This was a good year for jazz. While Fiona Apple released a great alternative jazz album, Norah Jones released one of her best vocal jazz albums to date (even better than Come Away With Me? Time will tell). After working with Danger Mouse on last year’s Rome, Norah Jones had him produce this album, where the only weak point is the album cover where she appears to be attempting to re-brand herself as edgy, but this record is still smooth as anything, and her edgiest moments work marvelously specifically because they’re not overdone. Danger Mouse can make anything sound marvelous, but Norah certainly gave him some of her strongest vocal performances.
Written by David Christians
Channel ORANGE – Frank Ocean
I love to Slow Jam. In a world where R. Kelly, in my opinion, was the last great soulful R&B singer, Frank Ocean was like a breath of fresh air. After 5 years of having “The World’s Greatest” on repeat, I needed something new. Frank Ocean burst onto the scene being associated with the rap group Odd Future, and then made a grand entrance in the commercial music world being featured on a few tracks of Jay-Z & Kanye West’s Watch the Throne. Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange not only features great slow jam songs like “Thinkin Bout You” and the 10-minute long “Pyramids” but the lyrics are full of wonderful insight on human nature and the world.
Written by Joe Winner
Gentleman Jesse – Leaving Atlanta
This is a good album my neighbor told me about. It’s basically the beatles-era sound, with the songs are at a faster tempo. A back-to-the-basics album that I think deserves more attention.
Written by Stan Polanski
Whirr – Pipe Dreams
Shoegaze is a genre that can tend to be a bit dry. With the constant noise and effects creating a wall of sound, it can be easy to tune out and let the songs pass you by. It takes creativity in song writing and catchy melodies to keep the listener concentrated on a shoegaze album and Whirr nails both. The melodies are memorable and catchy and the song writing is varied and interesting. The some songs on the album can drag a bit, but its worth getting through for songs like “Home Is Where My Head Is”, “Toss” and “Wait”. If Whirr can push the envelope a bit more and distance themselves from their influences, I think they could eventually put out a truly great album.
Written by Eric Holmes
Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
This album is the revival of west coast rap. Yeah, I said it. There’s not only talent, but honesty oozing out of every track. Frankly, “good kid, m.A.A.d city” is one of the best autobiographical albums in my recent memory. Lamar has a gift for grabbing a listener’s attention and maintaining it until he’s done telling his story – which fortunately, is far from over.
Written by Erika Harwood
A.C. Newman – Shut Down The Streets
In his third solo release, A.C. Newman continues doing what he does best. The album showcases his ability to write catchy, momentum-driven songs. It also shows his improvement in writing more interesting slow songs. Fellow New Pornographer, Neko Case, provides vocals on several songs, which serve to further enhance the album. Shut Down the Streets is great for any preexisting fan of A.C. Newman, Neko Case, or any of the other New Pornographers, but it is also warm and listenable for anyone new to the Canadian rockers.
Written by Claire Schroeder
Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N 2 It
On his sophomore effort Perfume Genius has, once again, proven his thesis that being sensitive does not equal being weak. On the contrary, it takes an awful lot of courage to bare one’s soul, let alone on every single song. While never really upbeat or happy, the album never drags you down, either. Instead, these mostly piano-driven gems offer hope and comfort. Sometimes, that’s all you ever need.
Written by Max De Moor