As this year comes to an end, we had our own man in the band, Michael Massaro of San Francisco garage rockers GRMLN, pick his five favorite songs of 2016.
“Plastiglomerate & Co.” — James Ferraro
In Far Side Virtual, James Ferraro used more sounds coming from 1980s synthesizers to recreate a very traditional new age sound. Now, in his newest effort, Human Story 3, Ferraro delves into classical, specifically post-minimalism in the same vein as Colin Stetson or Luciano Cilio, to show how market crashes, smart cars and lattes will eventually lead us all to our demise. “Plastiglomerate & Co.” is my favorite track off the album because it perfectly summarizes its concept, like the last track of a concept album should. He does this all this while using plenty of chamber instruments.
“Giggle” — Odwalla88, remixed by Lil Ugly Mane
Odwalla88 is a two-woman band with a minimalistic synth approach paired with a punk aesthetic and message. Its lyrics pull influences from the catharsis of early synth punk, like Suicide and the Riot Grrrl scene. While the duo’s production is usually very experimental, producer and rapper Lil Ugly Mane worked with Odwalla88 to create a very atmospheric and jazzy sound. The result is one of Odwalla88’s most accessible tracks with a refined sound that they’ve failed to create in the past.
“I Am in Athens and Pericles Is Young” — Jute Gyte
Black metal as a genre has been around for a while and with such a simple formula, it takes a lot of experimentation to separate yourself from the pack. Luckily, Jute Gyte does exactly this with their new album Perdurance. While it still has the elements that black metal is known for, most notably its relentless speed and repetitiveness, this album adds an electronic edge that the genre has rarely explored. Perhaps the most unique aspect of this album is the focus on the use of microtonal intervals (or pitches not found in the typical twelve-note scale). “I Am in Athens and Pericles Is Young” showcases this experimentation the best and also keeps intact everything else I enjoy about black metal.
“Giving Bad People Good Ideas” by Death Grips
Ever since they released Exmilitary back in 2011, Death Grips have been pioneering a style of hip-hop that uses industrial beats and abstract lyrics. This style has become more prominent recently with artists like Danny Brown and Run the Jewels releasing more experimental albums in 2016. But even with other artists crowding to this sound, Death Grips show that they’re still innovating with their most aggressive and fast-paced track yet. Featuring blast beats and pounding guitar intertwined into hip-hop this track is unlike anything the genre has explored before.
“Footy” by Deakin
Painting With was overall a very disappointing album to most Animal Collective fans. Luckily for us, Deakin, the guitarist from Animal Collective, released a solo album that rekindled our faith in the band. “Footy” stands out to me because of its grand climax. It sounds like a return to form to Merriweather Post Pavilion-era Animal Collective, using a wide array of deep electronic sounds and complex rhythms. Intertwined are great melodies that keep the listener engaged. This song by itself is better than anything Animal Collective, or any solo projects by the members, have done in seven years. I’m glad I can still look forward to the music they release.
Follow writer Michael Massaro at Twitter.com/michaelcmassaro.