[16 To End 2016] Ninja McNulty’s Best Of The Year

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Music is subjective and it is not. “What?” Well, we all have our own conception of what taste, treasure, and trifle are in music. The following list comprises my favorite musical treasures from 2016. They may appear as trifles to other ears tuned for different frequencies than my own are. Yet I’m confident that each cut presented here in one way or another makes a contribution to an overall upward trajectory, a positive progression for music which aims at an objective high-quality. Many songs harp on or exemplify trends in popular or underground music which I consider valuable. Some introduce new, well-turned phrases into the eternally in-flux dialogue. Others repackage old wisdom in a shiny new bow. Many simply evince the extremely high production value which I worship, idolator that I may be. If my rhetoric already seems innane, skip it, but do yourself a favor and enjoy a few of these sixteen songs.

Sunflower Bean
Easier Said

Sunflower Bean is a rock trio from Brooklyn. “Easier Said”, the first single from their debut album, is a near perfect pop song with it’s simple but emotive guitar licks and frontwoman Julia Cummings’ serene voice and poetic lyrics – “Should have just stayed home, but I’d rather be alone instead.”

Tom Misch
I Wish

Tom Misch can do no wrong. This one-man-band – vocalist, guitarist, pianist, producer – released his Reverie EP in July, featuring this softly aching song about looking back on one’s past.

Open Ocean
Hurry

According to the producer’s Soundcloud, Open Ocean is about “depth”. 2016 saw the rise in “Wave” music, a strange concept when one considers all music is one intricate arrangement of waves. Open Ocean offers my favorite conceptualization of “Wave”.

Miguel
Waves (Remix) Feat. Travi$ Scott

This tune came early in 2016 and captivated me for employing production techniques atypical in R&B, even its contemporary strains. “Waves” has an uncompromising energy that hit the sweet spot. Travis Scott’s verse precurses his massive success and innovation through the rest of the year.

Jade Cicada
wubbalubbadubdub

Jade Cicada from western Massachusetts makes me almost incredulous with his profound production capabilities. What was first a 30-second clip on Soundcloud was then debuted in full when Jade Cicada opened for Dave Tipper at the latter’s Full Moon Gathering in April in Florida. It’s been a standard in the underground glitch hop scene since.

COPYCATT
Survive (ft. Maksim)

COPYCATT is a 19-year-old producer from Brisbane who released this track with the MC Maksim on Inspected 2, a compilation from the boundary-pushing music/fashion collective Inspected which dropped in November. The British bars over the nutty sound design evokes Grime, but the sound design is far more sophisticated. I desperately hope to be caught by surprise and flattened by this song on a dance floor in 2017.

Wax Future
A Love That Lasts Forever (Tsimba Remix)

Wax Future, a producer/guitarist duo from Philadelphia, have been upping the ante on the sample-collage, electro soul sound popularized by Pretty Lights. Budding Connecticut-based bass music producer Tsimba brought his “future roots” sound to bear on this WF original. The subterranean bass and esoteric thematic material made it an easy pick for me.

Shivaji
Take It

I was introduced to this too-fire track by Bassnectar who dropped it one Halloween weekend. We expect great things from one of Kannibalen Record’s most promising young talents, who has the touch. To end the song the producer samples Doors frontman Jim Morrison who presciently describes the future of music. I see you, Shivaji.

Bombino
Akhar Zaman (This Moment)’

The singer, songwriter and axe-wielding phenom from Agadez, Niger named Bombino stole my ears mid-2016 with his album Azel. With it’s simple popish formula and striking riff, “Akhar Zaman (This Moment)” is my favorite song from this vital North African rock-and-roll masterpiece.

Bassnectar & G. Jones
Mind Tricks Ft. Lafa Taylor

Bassnectar’s 2016 album was more subdued than most of his work from the past five years, but “Mind Tricks” featuring Lafa Taylor on vocals and G Jones on production is an unequivocal banger. The syncopation between the bassline and the drums is a hallmark of both Greg Jones and Lorin Ashton, native Santa Cruzans from different generations who apparently have an EP in the works for 2017. Lord help us.

Kursa
KURO 黒

Clearly, my ears are mostly keenly tuned to dirty, heavy neuro bass music. Few sauce it better than the mercurial producer Kursa who released this absolute flamethrower in October. I was fortunate enough to hear a top notch selecta spin it live before year’s end.

Tipper
Sleeper

I’m not being punny or cute when I say this was a sleeper on my list. Dave Tipper released this song for his stepfather PJ the day he passed away. For someone like me who also lost a close loved one in 2016, the existential beauty of this song stimulates self-reflection and an appreciation for life’s fleeting treasures.

Chance The Rapper
Same Drugs

It would be convenient and almost accurate to substitute my list here for Chance’s entire Coloring Book. Same Drugs soars above the rest because of how sensitive and relatable it is. “Same Drugs” highlights the artist’s versatility as a singer and songwriter, while humanizing someone whose star was soaring so high all year.

Pretty Lights
Only Yesterday’

“Only Yesterday” was an early song-of-the-year pick when it dropped in April as the first new music in almost two years from Derek Vincent Smith aka Pretty Lights. Words can’t describe the catharsis this man creates through sound. He takes the most endearing elements of America’s musical past, and synthesizes them to pioneer its future. Anyone who’s felt lonely or lovelorn could probably bump this tune ad infinitum.

Uyama Hiroto
Minano Pride

I’ve saved the best for last. Perhaps this is unwise in an age of ever-decreasing attention spans. Regardless, if you’ve made it this far then enjoy this acoustic masterpiece furnished by Uyama Hiroto. This favored collaborator of Japanese beat legend Nujabes is a master. His 2016 drop Freeform Jazz takes the Japanese hip-hop/soul sound to new, emotive heights. Minano is a town in central Japan, but whether or not Hiroto is referencing this place is unknown to me. Nonetheless “Minano Pride” is my favorite cut from my favorite record in 2016. Thanks for reading and listening.

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[16 To End 2016] Ninja Clayton’s Best of the Year

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After a full twelve months of sifting through submission emails, IMs and tweets from artists, and pages upon pages of SoundCloud, BandCamp, and Spotify, I’m finally ready to sum up 2016 with my absolute favorite tracks. Some I wrote about, others I simply enjoyed. But, none the less, these 16 tracks filled my headphones, car speakers, and SONOS system over and over again throughout this past year.

Ranging from alternative, to indie dance, to outright dance floor heaters, this year stayed true to my typical tastes. I’m all over the board, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Viola Beach – Boys that Sing

Viola Beach’s debut album was one of my favorite collections of music in a long time, and I wholeheartedly believed that this budding young act was on their way to be the next big thing. As many of you know, all of these young musicians passed away in a tragic car accident on their way to a gig. But, the silver lining in all of this is that their music will live on forever. Throw on “Boys That Sing” and get ready to belt out the chorus.

Viola Beach
Boys that Sing
Argonaut & Wasp – The Sneeze

If you’re not onto these cats just yet, it’s about time you start paying attention. Their inventive, quirky, and highly addictive style is spreading quick. They don’t take themselves too seriously, which is evident in the playfulness of “The Sneeze.” Definitely one of my favs in 2016.

’The Sneeze’
Hidden Charms – Cannonball

I’m a huge fan of the gritty, heavy, and weird. Unfortunately, I don’t typically write up tracks that fit in that wheelhouse, just because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense here on TMN. However, Hidden Charms were a fringe act for me, allowing you to get a glimpse of some of my other musical tastes, while still fitting what we’re all about. It’s dark and hazy, with just a hint of pop, and to be perfectly honest, I still can’t get enough of it.

’Cannonball’
Ethan Burns – Homeward

Ethan Burns is truly an old soul, as evidenced through his smokey, iconic, and downright dreamy voice. I’m usually a fan of artists who call on styles and influences from earlier decades, and this selection definitely has a 60’s soul feel that I just can’t shake.

Ethan Burns
Homeward
Morly – Plucky

Coming in on the calmer side of the equation, this emotive offering from Minnesota-based Morly caught my attention earlier this year. Blending together some future bass elements and traditional singer/songwriter/pop styling, it’s a creative offering that should have you quickly engaged. I know it did for me.

’Plucky’
WEIRDO – Butter

I can’t help but smile when “Butter” comes on. It’s weird and wacky, yet still maintains perfect pop sensibilities, giving listeners an unexpected thrill ride throughout. If you’re into quirky indie pop, look no further than WEIRDO.

’BUTTER’
Gallant – Skipping Stones feat. Jhené Aiko

I couldn’t have a “Best of 2016” recap without giving an emphatic nod to Gallant. Excuse me, I meant the GRAMMY nominated Gallant. He’s spread across the globe faster than one of Donald Trump’s poorly crafted tweets, and it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. He’s the new voice of R&B and there’s nothing else to really say.

’Gallant – Skipping Stones feat. Jhené Aiko’
Tycho – Division

To be perfectly blunt, I just really fucking love Tycho. His spaced-out, indie-infused, electronica comes through my headphones quite regularly, whether I’m working, writing, or just hanging around the house. His albums never get old, and this year’s release certainly showcases that once again.

Tycho
Division
Pierce Fulton – Borrowed Lives

I was a bit thrown off when I first listened to this track. Could this really be Pierce Fulton? The same guy that put out “Kuaga?” It is. It seems like Fulton has had a change of heart, chasing after music he’s truly passionate about. The end result? Definitely one of my favorite tracks and EPs this year. As an added bonus, this particular track features one of my artists to watch in 2017, NVDES.

’Pierce Fulton – Borrowed Lives Feat. NVDES’
Kidnap Kid – Moments

If one track encapsulates an entire year, it’s this one. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to it, or how many people I’ve introduced to it, or how many Moments I’ve experienced to it. It’s absolutely amazing and deserves the highest of praise.

’Moments ft Leo Stannard’
Justin Jay – What Do You Want

To be perfectly honest, I could list a few tracks from Fantastic Voyage, but since I’m trying to spread the love to some other artists, I’ll just go with my fav. “What Do You Want” has had a heavy place in my regular rotation since the day it came out. I can’t wait to see what Justin Jay does in 2017.

Justin Jay – What Do You Want
Julian Maverick – Move Magic

This one flew under the radar a bit, coming in at just over 50k plays on SoundCloud, but it was fantastic, none-the-less. Silky, smooth, tropical, and perfect for a lazy day by the pool. I definitely blasted this out my windows throughout the last few warm-weather days here in Denver. And, I’ll be holding onto it for future summer playlists.

’Move Magic’
Goldwash – U Wont

I’m in love with Goldwash, and everyone who’s around me knows it. “U Won’t” showcases everything I adore about this up-and-coming act, highlighted by his piano work, funk-laden beats, and gorgeous falsettos. I’m expecting great things out of him in 2017.

’But U Won’t’
The Magician – Shy

I first caught onto The Magician at UMF in 2015, and I haven’t looked back since. From his captivating sets, to his legendary Magic Tapes, to his curated artists on Potion, to his remixes and originals, I just love everything he’s got going on. “Shy” definitely had it’s place in my heart this year, often getting me revved up for a wild night on the town.

The Magician
Shy
Bobby Nourmand – S I S T E R

Being the huge classic rock nerd that I am, Bobby Nourmand always impresses me with his reinterpretations of iconic songs. It takes a confident artist to remix acts like The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkle, and Billy Idol. There’s a lot that can go wrong. Fortunately for this LA-based artist, it always comes out right. Tastefully done and quite memorable.

’BOBBY NOURMAND – S I S T E R’
Roby – Waterfalls (Dear David Remix)

This song is so subtle. So delicate. So sensuous. The vocal samples are so meticulously and creatively crafted and placed, creating an otherworldly experience. I could listen to it over and over again. And, I have.

Roby
Waterfalls (Dear David Remix)
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[Secret Ninja Pass] This Week at Beta 12/29 – 1/1

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With New Year’s Eve right around the corner, we have one thing and one thing alone on our mind. It’s time to head down to 19th and Blake and ring in the new year in the best way possible – by dancing to some top notch beats. Per usual, we’re making it incredibly easy for you to get off your couch and head down. Why’s that? Because we’re hooking you up with free entry.

Here’s how:
– Head to the front door and enter the club before 11pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Get there before 9:00 on Sunday
– Show this post to the cashier (Valid for 21+ only).
– The deal is valid for SUNDAY this week.

Rusko - 12/29
’Kid Sister – Pro Nails (Rusko Remix)’
Feed Me / No Mana - 12/30
’Premiere: Feed Me ‘Spilt Milk”
Goodnight 2016 NYE Party - 12/31
’Magnetic (Extended Mix)’
Henry Saiz - 1/1
’Unmei (Live At Sonar 2014 Version)’
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SHEAFS – Nobody’s Watching [MUSIC VIDEO PREMIERE]

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SHEAFS
Nobody's Watching

After forming just a year ago. Sheffield-based indie act SHEAFS are on the right track. Highlighted by an iconic, guitar-driven sound, they’re quickly turning the collective head of tastemakers, bloggers, and some of our favorite emerging bands alike. And, it doesn’t look like there are any signs of slowing down.

Their style is one that fuses multiple genres and influences together, lead by dark and twisted lead guitar work. At times, it calls on associations of the legendary Surf Rock guitarist Dick Dale, if he were crafting the soundtrack to a sadistic horror movie. And, at other points, we can’t help but think of the Arctic Monkeys, if they were hopped up on too much caffeine and going through a bout of darkness.

Today, we’re bringing you the first look at their debut music video, produced by Sheffield Filmmakers Ben McFarlane and Jordan Carroll. Shot in the basement of Theatre Delicatessen in Sheffield, the story of “Nobody’s Watching” comes to life through a black and white treatment, an industrial background, and quickly shifting shots that keep up with the fast and furious tempo lead by impressive bass and percussion work.

If you’re feeling the haunting vibes from this tune and accompanying music video, we highly recommend visiting the other selections from their 4-track EP.

Photo Credit: Lewis Evans

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[MP3 Playlist] Indie Dojo (December 2016 Round #4)

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Here it is. The last Indie Dojo of the year. It’s been a wild ride, dear friends, but here we are. We made it. And we are ready to face another next 365 days with 52 more indie dojos to put in our pocket. Cheers!

’Bad Pony – Bottles’
’Fog Lake – Side Effects’
’Yellow
Days – Gap In The Clouds’
’Wild Front – Rico’
’Alae – All Gived Up’
’Patrick Joseph – Don’t You Know’
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[Get Crunk] Friday Party Playlist (Vol 227)

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First of all, Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukkah to holiday celebrators. With Christmas this Sunday, we wanted to give you all we could in this week’s edition of the Friday Party Playlist. Within it, you get a whole lot more than the twelve usual tracks. Sure, you get songs from the likes of Breathe Carolina, Choppa Dunks, Twofold, Tha Trickaz, YOOKiE, Dubloadz and more, but you also get multiple records from Kastra and Aylen, who have short mixes of some song packs. Lastly, Carter Cruise dishes out a nostalgic mix for all to enjoy. As usual, everything is downloadable for free. No need to spend anymore money, treat yourself to these free presents today! Most importantly, make sure to #danceirresponsibly.

’The Chainsmokers – Setting Fires Feat. XYLØ (Ronin & Olmos Remix)’
’VALENTINE – Her (Shhh Remix)’
’Aylen – Dippin Dots VIP’
’Breathe Carolina & Olly James – Talisman’
’Kastra XMAS 2016 Bootleg Pack (11 Tracks – Free Download)’
’Choppa Dunks & Luke Da Duke – Bakaton’
’Twofold & Holly – Novella’
’Erotic Cafe’ x reaken – Saturate’
’Tha Trickaz ✖ Dope DOD – Drop’
’YOOKiE – SUBS’
’Dubloadz x Spag Heddy – Rotten Tomatoes (Free Download! Merry Cucksmas!)’
’Prismatic – Downfall’
’Throwback Mix Vol. 1 (90’s & 2000’s Jams)’
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[Dubstep] Datsik – Sensei EP

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Datsik is all about ninjas. We’d hope he’s all about the Music Ninja’s as well, since we’re all about him and his new EP, Sensei. Datsik has long been a leader in the dubstep community, pushing severely dirty growls onto headbangers worldwide. With his new EP, we get just what we bargain for with the Firepower Records‘ head.

Sensei features seven songs, including collaborations with Virtual Riot, Excision, AD, Lox Chatterbox and Zack The Lad. If we could only choose two words to describe this project in full they would be sharp and heavy. Sharp is a katana, and as heavy as a sumo wrestler. Throughout Sensei Datsik kicks forth his signature vibe that pays homage to the more classic, pre-2013 dubstep sound. Despite this, he still manages to keep things fresh and forward thinking, showing yet again why he is one of dubstep’s big hitters. Get your copy of Sensei today!

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