Once a month, VMP turns over the blog to Andrew Winistorfer, its resident pizza expert, man about town, and music writer. In Storf Sounds Off, he writes about a few things he thinks you should pay attention to this month. That’s the theory at least.
1. You are not living your best life this month if you don’t dedicate a solid block of it listening to Kacey Musgraves’ sophomore album, Pageant Material. I can’t possibly oversell this thing. It’s an album that makes country “modern” by making one of those Outlaw-era albums from the perspective of one of the badass women Willie, Waylon and Kris were always chasing. Kacey smokes weed, throws stones at the Good Ol’ Boy country radio network that has her relegated to the sidelines of mainstream country, and even duets with Willie at the end. One of last year’s best country songs pondered how things went so wrong for the representation of women in country music; Kacey takes country back from the dudes and flips them the bird. Can’t recommend this enough.
2. You are going to read a lot of #content from music blogs this summer about what the “Song of the Summer” is, but know that any list that doesn’t have “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” as number one is lying. From the Persuasions sample, to the Popcaan-added touches of Jamaica, to Young Thug’s two Mobius Strip verses, to the way the clap comes in in the intro, this thing is as perfect as a summer song gets. As long as you drop this at you July 4 barbecue, you could give everyone food poisoning and all anyone would remember is listening to this as they down their 4th Lemonaderita.
3. This is entirely speculative because I’ve only heard the four songs released to YouTube, but Miguel’s WILDHEART is going to be a dark horse for album of the year consideration. His last album, Kaleidoscope Dream, was practically perfect, a genre-bending, stoned opus that was the mainstream version of The Weeknd and Frank Ocean’s stretching of the R&B genre. Miguel is a consummate craftsman, and stuff like “Face the Sun” are showcases for his greatness. WILDHEART is due out on June 30.
4. I say this as a person who is going to Eaux Claires and Summerfest this summer, but can we consider for a moment that maybe we have too many summer music festivals? Who can keep up with all of these things? Who can afford to go to more than two? The budget for drugs needed to survive 24 festivals of 60,000 people is astronomical! Who can stand to see the same undercard of bands every weekend for an entire summer? Why are Wilco a headliner at Pitchfork, haven’t they called them “dad rock” for the last 12 years? Am I only anti-festival because I hate large crowds, being sunburned, and standing for more than an hour at a time? I feel like there should be some festival tournament where all of them face off to have the right to continue. There shouldn’t be more than one major music festival a month. Just like how WWE pay-per-views used to be.
5. Because we are half way through this year (RIP #2015winterbod) it is time for everyone to put out their “Best Albums of 2015….So Far” lists. I pretend like I hate this development of content mining, but actually I love it. I keep a Google Doc all year where I update my favorite albums of the year. This is one of my favorite music things. So here’s mine:
10. Rich Homie Quan’s If You Ever Think I Will Stop Going In, Ask Double R: Like every Rich Homie Quan tape, this will make you feel some type of way.
9. Hot Chip’s Why Make Sense?: There is a song on here called “White Wine and Fried Chicken.” I rest my case.
8. Bob Dylan’s Shadows in the Night: Look, I’m as surprised as you that this is here, but I listened to this album 700 times this winter, and that counts for something.
7. Metz’ II: I listened to this album once, blacked out, and came to in southern Nigeria somehow eating a giraffe whole. I can no longer see the color green, feel my left elbow (from inside or outside) or taste sauce of any kind.
6. Chris Stapleton’s Traveller: Waylon Jennings died in 2002. What this album presupposes is what if he didn’t?
5. Natalie Prass’ Natalie Prass: “Our love is like a long goodbye” is the best Tumblr quote of 2015. This album is as sick as that quote.
4. Action Bronson’s Mr. Wonderful: Till A$AP’s album came out, this was the number one “rappers are trying to be ‘60s rockers now!” album, as Bronsolino sings and croons and “plays guitar” all over this. He’s gross, but he’s the funniest MC in the game when he wants to be. Chance the Rapper’s verse on “Baby Blue” is the best thing he’s done maybe ever.
3. A$AP Rocky’s At Long Last A$AP (A.L.L.A.): A$AP is the best “I could listen to him rap a pizza menu” rapper out right now; a master at being captivating without saying anything most of the time. As if the “a rap psychedelic album!” promo push isn’t enough to get you, an unreleased Pimp C verse finds him imagining having relations with Sheryl Crow. R.I.P. Pimp C.
2. Rae Sremmurd’s SremmLife: “UNLOCK THE SWAG. THE SWAG UNLOCK.”—Swae Lee and Slim Jimmy, 2015’s best turn up purveyors.
1. Heems’ Eat Pray Thug: There is a certain class of rap fan that says that rap must have a “message,” which means that they prefer to listen to snooze merchants like J. Cole and Talib Kweli. It’s a shame more of them didn’t line up behind this masterful debut LP from Heems, an album that takes on profiling of South Asians, immigration, post-9/11 xenophobia, and perceptions in hip-hop. I’m contractually obligated to mention that Heems used to be in Das Racist, a group that was written off as a joke but who were secretly the best rap group between 2010 and 2013. This feels like it’s going to go down as 2015’s lost classic, but I refuse to let it go quietly.
Andrew Winistorfer went back in time once, and accidentally became the long secret inspiration for Carly Simon’s “Hotcakes.” He’s on Twitter--@thestorfer
Andrew Winistorfer is Vinyl Me, Please’s Classics and Country Director, and an editor of their books, 100 Albums You Need In Your Collection and The Best Record Stores In The United States. He’s written Listening Notes for more than 20 VMP releases, and co-produced Nat Turner Rebellion's Laugh to Keep From Crying. He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.