Ziv Biton — Writer

rich gang


1. Rich Gang – Tha Tour Part 1 (Self-Released, September 29, 2014)
In one of the worst years on record, one that had me fearing the headlines every morning and hating the world every night, Tha Tour was the only thing that allowed me to suspend my disbelief. No tape this year was able to make excess sound so glorious. Within seconds, Birdman lays out the thesis for this years Rich Gang mixtape, “That Rich Gang lifestyle: marble floor, gold toilets and chandeliers… we never hung over.” Comforting words in a world riddled of sobering click bait.

Young Thugs ear for melody and total in your face aggression is all over this thing. From the sing song of “Tell ‘Em (Lies)” to the creepin’ mobster of “Imma Ride” and the explosive “WOOOOO” of “Keep It Goin'” Thug is consistently stellar. Richie Homie, to his credit, steals the spotlight on the ground-and-pound attack of “I Know It” and “Beat It.”

Throughout, Birdman hovers over the project like a hand-rubbing scepter. His influence like a magicians misdirection, an illusion so mystifying it can make you double take and lose yourself in the performance, if only for an hour. Stream / Free Download here

2. Various Artists – Boring Ecstasy: The Bedroom Pop of Orchid Tapes (Orchid Tapes)
Before the entire world teetered on its axis threatening to crumble, there was this little record. A small collaboration from the sweet humans at Orchid Tapes, it collects one song from one artist on their roster. The result is a heart-piercing, lo-fi cacophony of earnest lyrics, crackling vocals and submersed guitar strumming. Stream / Buy Here

3. Mac DeMarco – Salad Days (Captured Tracks)
I live in a house with four incredible roommates who I love very much. But that love doesn’t make it any easier to find something that all of us enjoy listening to. But, Mac DeMarco made that easy this year. At our place, Salad Days (Sala Days, if you’re nasty) was on repeat almost all year. Stream Here

4. The Juan Maclean – In A Dream (DFA)
Ever since releasing one of the best dance tracks of my lifetime (“Feel Like Movin'”) I have kept a close eye on The Juan Maclean. This isn’t just because Nancy Whang was in LCD Soundsystem and James Murphy is my spirit animal. This isn’t even just because “Feel Like Movin'” soundtracked many coke-binge, club-night pregames in a loft in New York City. Other cliches aside, the Juan Maclean just makes me dance. On In A Dream they do just that, but they also tap into a sweet endearing place, where the dance floor meets the smoking area, the place where the cigarettes end and the shared cab begins. Stream Here

5. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There (Jagjaguwar)
Sharon Van Etten’s heartbreak is not a private affair. Turning on Are We There Van Etten makes it abundantly clear that, if she has to feel these things, than everyone has to feel them too. She takes us on a spiraling journey of loves sweet highs in the dark (“Our Love”) to the crushing scorched earth foreign relations disaster that is 21st century heartbreak (Your Love Is Killing Me). Throughout, we root for her and rekindle the empathy in ourselves to connect to another and to be “Afraid of Nothing”. Stream Here

6. Real Estate – Atlas (Domino)
In March I was still working as a preschool teacher and my four-year-old students loved this record. We would listen to it during free time. They would play with blocks and play-doh and slightly bob and weave to the sounds. It was some of the most peaceful parts of the day. Which, for a caretaker of 22 kids, is a fucking godsend. Stream Here

7. Cymbals Eat Guitars – LOSE (Barsuk)
I lost faith in a lot of things this year. For a solid month stretch I didn’t listen to anything new. Mostly I just nestled into Loveless like I do when the weight of things becomes too meaningless to even find the energy to lift. But, Cymbals Eat Guitars’ LOSE brought me back into focus. Lead singer Joseph D’Agostino tears his voice to shreds as guitars swirl with jagged edges throughout this release. He focuses on the struggles of his short life with a thematic integrity that puts older film makers to shame. Stream Here

8. ILoveMakonnen – ILoveMakonnen EP (Self-Released)
Just like everyone else, I didn’t really know who ILoveMakonnen was until Drake introduced me. But, once proper pleasantries were shared I started digging into dude’s EP and I was not disappointed. The total weirdness bravado that Makonnen brings to this EP makes him a fascinating character. Stream / Free Download Here

9. Grouper – Ruins (Kranky Records)
This record was almost too autumnal. When the cold weather creeped into LA this album was the perfect soundtrack. Liz Harris’ breathy vocals and Silent Hill 2 piano accompaniment creates an immersive, spell binding listen. Stream Here

10. The War On Drugs – Lost in The Dream (Secretly Canadian)
This would have been higher on my list until the infamous “Beer commercial lead-guitar” diss-of-the-year. For some reason I couldn’t get that descriptor out of my head and every time I listened Lost in the Dream I couldn’t help the Bud Lites and Natty Ices flying across my third eye. I’m sorry, I really am. I am really impressionable.

But, having said that, it still hit the top ten. And Benji can go suck a dead nut like the necrophiliac fuck that record is. Stream Here


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