[17 To End 2017] Ninja Clayton’s Best of the Year

A friend in the music industry told me a few years ago about a study that shows changes in musical tastes as you grow older. There comes a certain point where you shift the weight of your interest from discovering new music to revisiting music that meant something to you at different points in your life.

This year was that year for me. I don’t think I’ll ever go full-blown “you kids don’t understand good music” mode, but I did spend a good portion of my year looking back, rather than forward. Thrice, Strung Out, As I Lay Dying, Metallica (pre-Black album), Pantera, and countless other punk and metal acts filled my headphones, leaving little time for much discovery.

But, as much as I delved into songs from my past, my profession keeps me into up-and-coming acts, which continued to impress me throughout 2017. Here are my 17 favorites, in no particular order:

Martin Luke Brown – ‘Opalite’

I received an offer to premiere “Opalite” earlier this year. It was a no-brainer. I immidiately loved the juxstaposition between booming kick drums and raw, enchanting vocals. In fact, not only did Martin Luke Brown deliver one of my favorite songs, but he also became one of my new favorite artists.

’Opalite’
Martin Luke Brown – ‘Into Yellow’

The artist so nice, I listed him twice. Holy, hell. ‘Into Yellow’ is absolutely gorgeous. Definitely one of the highlights from this past year. It calls on associations of other solo-vocalists like James Vincent McMorrow, James Blake, and Bon Iver. If I were you, I would definitely keep him on your ‘Artists to Watch’ lists in 2018.

’Into Yellow’
Mat Hunsley – ‘Do You Need Me Near’

Mat Hunsley’s folky gem always gets me longing for epic summer adventures in the mountains. His voice is powerful, dreamy, and soothing. It’s the perfect accompaniment to whatever warm weather activities lie ahead later this year. I just can’t wait to crack out this one out come May.

’Do You Need Me Near’
James Vincent McMorrow – ‘True Care’

JVM is one of my absolute favorite artists and will be till the end of time. To put it into perspective–my wife walked down the isle to ‘Cavalier.’ When I interviewed him and let him know, he dedicated it to us later at his show. ‘True Care’ is my favorite off his 2017 album offering. It’s raw, gorgeous, and showcases what everyone should know about him–he’s one of the voices of our generation.

Absofacto – ‘Light Outside’

I’ve been head over heels for Absofacto for years. It was an absolute pleasure to see him come roaring back with a stellar new tune. ‘Light Outside’ is absolutely worthy of you belting out each and every lyric as you drive to work. Take one listen and see for your self.

’Light Outside’
Someone – ‘Forget Forgive’

Someone delivered one of the most beautifully simplistic tunes from 2017. It’s very minimal, but offers a completely encompassing experience from start to finish.

’Forget Forgive’
Sam Dew – ‘Runner’

I first got turned on to Sam Dew with his Bill Wither’s cover. I would love to include that, but it’s a few years old, so I’ll opt to showcase another tune. ‘Runner’ is dubbed as R&B, but the heavy, distorted bassline guides it into the alternative realm, crossing genre lines with ease. It’s a fantastic tune and one that left a lasting impression on me.

’Runner’
Northern Faces – ‘Messin’ With Me’

Absolutely loved this indie rock jam from NY-based trio Northern Faces. With a big, bold, anthemic nature, I was immidiately hooked on ‘Messin’ With Me’ and could see this as a pivoting point for a huge 2018.

’Northern Faces – Messin’ With Me’
Moncrieff – ‘Symptoms’

Gritty, bluesy and soulful. This Londoner has plenty of attitude to share, and ‘Symptoms’ is the perfect embodiment of that edge. It’s raw and powerful, but still beautifully refined.

’Symptoms’
Vilde – ‘Just Visiting’

I wrote up a few tracks from Vilde this year. I love his unique tone and range and inventive instrumentation. It has such a unique air around it, one which I couldn’t shake throughout 2017. Keep your eyes peeled for more from this up-and-coming artist.

’Just Visiting’
The War On Drugs – ‘Pain’

I didn’t get into many albums this year, but The War on DrugsA Deeper Understanding was one of the few. It was a body of work that shimmered with reflections with the likes of Dylan and Springsteen. Fantastic listening experience, through and through, with ‘Pain’ leading the way for me, personally.

Butterjack – ‘Good Girls’

One hell of a tune from an artist that has less than 100 followers on Soundcloud. It’s smooth, groovy, and has lyrics that keep you coming back. Be on the lookout for Butterjack in 2018.

’GoodGirls’
Eat More Cake – ‘Heat of the Night’

Undoubtedly my favorite new song from 2017. I honestly can’t count how many times I’ve listened to it. All I have to say is thank you, Eat More Cake.

’Eat More Cake – Heat Of The Night (Original Mix)’
Bobby Nourmand – ‘D U S T’

Bobby is a close, personal friend of mine. I typically don’t include him in lists like these because it feels a little awkward. But, I’ve been waiting on this track’s release for years. It’s easily one of my favorite works by him and I simply cannot leave it out. Absolutely brilliant piece from one of my favorite people on Earth.

’D U S T’
Icarus ft. Talay Riley – ‘Trouble’

Hot damn, I grooved my ass off to this number quite a few times in 2017. The horns, the lyrics, the driving, four-to-the-floor beat all add up to one of my top picks from this year. It shouldn’t come as any surprise, though. Icarus has been killing it regularly.

’Trouble (feat. Talay Riley) (Extended)’
Walker & Royce – ‘Take Me To Your Leader’

Despite my growing age and receding hairline, I do, in fact, like to still get out on the dance floor and boogie. This tune from Walker & Royce was always my go-to when I was ready to ramp up for an evening out. Sporting silly lyrics from Dances With White Women, it’s a carefree party-starter. Big ups, boys.

’Walker & Royce – Take Me To Your Leader (Radio Edit)’
Jesse Ware – ‘Midnight’ (Goldie Remix)

Oof. This track saw a heavy placement in my regular rotation. I’m a massive DnB head and this Goldie jam not only holds a place in my 2017 favorite list, but in my all-time DnB favorites.

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[MP3 Playlist] Indie Dojo (December 2017 Round #5)

Holiday hangover? We’ve got a cure in the form of an Indie Dojo. If you can muster up enough energy to press play that is.
’Belle Mt.
Hollow’
’Courtship
Perfect People’
’Steve Benjamins
Purification Ritual’
’Stevie Wolf
Who’
’The Maria’s
I Don’t Know You’
’King Princess
Sunburn’
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[Festival Preview] BUKU Music & Art Project – Where Art Comes to Life

Watch out New Orleans! BUKU Music and Arts Project is coming March 9th & 10th to the party of all parties in downtown New Orleans. As expected, this festival is bringing the underground industrial nature of techno culture back to the festival circuit with an incredibly diverse genre-crossing line up that will keep you movin’ and groovin’ for two days straight.

Get lost in the multi-genre performances from electronic acts like Bassnectar and Borgore, rock bands like A Day to Remember and MGMT, hip-hop artists like Migos and Isaiah Rashad, and tons more. Talk about buku bands! There will also be live street art, custom-made industrial art installations, local food vendors, and a ton of “pop-up” performances to keep the thrill alive.

If you’re looking to up your experience, the festival also offers a VIP ticket option that gets you access to the Buku Rooftop, a multi-level structure with special amenities and VIP-only artist performances. Checkout the playlist below featuring every artist that’s been announced so far, then click here to get your tickets rolling.

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[MP3 Playlist] Indie Dojo (December 2017 Round #4)

‘Tis the season of giving. And what better way to give than a playlist full of handpicked indie goodness. Gift it to yourself or share it with others. Nothing wrong with spreading a little indie cheer!
’la lune
lucid’
’LUCA
Wales’
’ambrose
Get On Up’
’Imaginary Future
Up We Go’
’Cecilia Ebba
Voices’
’C. Burrows
Angelfish’
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[MP3 Playlist] Indie Dojo (December 2017 Round #3)

Sick of the holiday cheer yet? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Not ONE christmas song can be found on this Indie Dojo we place before you. Not one. You can count on us.
’The Map Room
Hold Me Up To The Sun’
’Cake The Bakery
Walk With Me’
’The Habits
Feeling It’
’JT Roach – Tipsy Love’
’Gracie and Rachel
Go’
’Matt Hartke – Sign Me Up’
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[Indie/Dream-Pop] Ravennas – Meet in a Garden

Ravennas
Meet In A Garden (prod. by DoM)

Worming their way into your ears on this beautiful Hump Day is up and coming Seattle duo Ravennas. Comprised of childhood friends Ben Grant and Paul Dutton, Ravennas have been playing various shades of music together in some form since grade school, while their debut single “Meet in a Garden”, which was produced by tastemaking favorite DoM, sees the brand new project fusing a foundation of psych-pop, indie-rock and electro-pop. Clearly, the pair have cultivated an aural chemistry and understanding of each other’s musical prowess which can already be heard on “Meet in a Garden; an introductory tune which carries the kind of sharpness usually reserved for artists much further along their creative journeys.

Dutton’s reverb-laden, jangly guitar hearkens back to the blue print laid on some of those treasured early Captured Tracks releases, while symmetrical two-step drum pacing and a chugging bass line underpin its vocal track beautifully. About the collaboration with DoM, Dutton remarked: “DoM has a profound ability to follow his instincts and started shaping the song, shortening different sections and vibing the song out more so that it wasn’t so clean and dry.” Hearing such proficiency and direction on the duo’s debut single is quite promising, and you can be sure we’ll be anxiously awaiting the next offering from Ravennas, which is expected out early 2018. For now, sit back and enjoy “Meet in a Garden” above.

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[MP3 Playlist] Indie Dojo (December 2017 Round #1)

For the times when looking for the perfect music to soundtrack your day pisses you off more than soothes your musical soul. 2 words. Indie Dojo. Every Tuesday. Don’t forget.
’Nolan Garrett
Morning’
’Still Woozy
Cooks’
’Sports
Crime’
’Midnight Pilot
Stepping Stone’
’Meursault and the Absurd
The Troubadour (Don’t leave me now)’
’Mono Club
Memory Critical’
’Luka
Generation Everything’
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