Another month has gone by and already my mind is becoming a musical encyclopedia filled with amazing trivia like the fact that R.Kelly wrote Ignition (Remix) five years before he wrote Ignition or that Barry Manilow’s chart topping I Write the Songs wasn’t written by him. As you can tell, I’ve spent the past month developing severe trust issues… and listening to a lot of amazing music. I’m a little over two months into my 12 month crusade, and stand at 68 albums deep at the time of writing this.

To anyone who hasn’t read my first post where I go into (at what I’m sure is an annoying length) what this #PRM366 Challenge is all about, what inspired it, and how to track it, here is a brief refresher. Last year comedian, Doug Benson, in order to promote his podcast, Doug Loves Movies, decided to watch 355 movies in 2015. It was an impressive task, and one I knew I couldn’t complete with my poor attention span. I decided to rip of the idea and use this quest as a way to keep PRM’s musical roots going and to preserve my childlike wonder by experiencing new art each and every day. I’m a tad late on my proposed monthly update, but if you check the tape I did say they’d be ‘hopefully‘ monthly… This month plus was filled with so many great pieces and so without further gilding the lily and with no more ado, I give to you, albums 29-66 of my #PRM366 Challenge:

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(For anyone looking to see the full list, some other fun stats, and even running top 10 and bottom 5 lists)

Month two of my quest started off with some amazing finds, I got to experience a young and relatively inexperienced, though no less talented, Tupac on Digital Underground’s Sex Packet. Another amazing piece was the first half of Rush’s 2112 which is a fully contained, 21-minute, concept space-opera; the fact that the b-side of the album wasn’t connected in anyway to this epic was a bit of a letdown. I’m not sure if I’ve ever experienced a more hypnotic and captivating 90 minutes of music than Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven.

I started to feel some of the exhaustion of my daily quest seep in about mid-way through this month and so I turned to new ways to spice things up. I eschewed musical history for some more relevant and palatable music, by listening to some 2016 tunes. This had varying levels of success leaving me with the good (Kendrick’s Untitled Unmastered), the bad (The Porches Pool and The Savages The Savages), and the conflicting (Kanye’s The Life of Pablo).

I also started giving bands more than one album so that I could fully immerse myself into their sound and their growth. This led to me falling in love and spending entire weekends on the sounds of Sufjan Stevens and Joanna Newsom, each with such an earthly beauty perfect suited for this unseasonably warm February. This tactic didn’t exactly work for Diiv, which I found pretty boring and derivative on their first album and uninspired on the second. Nor did it help me understand what all the fuss is about The Smiths and Morrissey, honestly it was tedious; I’m not giving up on that sound just yet, but I’m saving my next taste for after a breakup.

While, I can’t go through these all one by one, here are four standouts from the month that I can’t let you go on without having experienced:

The Antlers – Hospice (2009)

220px-HospicecoverHospice is a concept album by The Antlers which follows the story of a hospice worker and the relationship that develops between them and a patient suffering from terminal bone cancer. While the story in and of itself is depressing, the fact that the piece is so clearly autobiographical, to some extent, is what allows this album to “to emotionally destroy listeners” as Pitchfork claims. Frontman, Peter Silberman, bares his soul on this tape and uses minimalism to deepen the emotions while showing little pretense. The lyrics are a little difficult to get into, but it is worth the struggle, and the disconnect only emphasizes the highly personal nature of this piece. As this is a concept album, I implore you to listen to the entire thing but I’ll leave you with this offering:

Hiatus Kaiyote – Tawk Tomahawk (2013) & Choose Your Weapon (2015)

30270-choose-your-weaponThe internet machine tells me that Haitus Kaiyote’s sound can be classified as ‘Neo Soul,’ but I’m still at a loss for how to describe it. Those two words don’t do justice to the sound, which grows and broadens over the span of their two albums, 2013’s Tawk Tomahawk and 2015’s Choose Your Weapon. It’s a sound that mixes musical sounds from every decade that has preceded, effortlessly blending ’50s Bop with early ’00s Dubstep and everything in between. The most impressive aspect is that somehow, with all these competing sounds, they create a finished product that sounds so effortlessly natural to them, as if they were sponges soaking up the last 60 years of music and releasing suds of awesomeness.

Anderson .Paak – Malibu (2016)

homepage_large.0e1836c9Paak came to prominence after a few great features on Dr. Dre’s Compton in 2015, and followed that up with his first critical success in January’s Malibu. As with any great musician, Anderson has a sound that almost defies categorization. This is definitively a rap album, but the style and tonality of it could be something Bruno Mars might make, if Bruno Mars made good music… This album was clearly heavily inspired by Kendrick Lamar’s work, in both Paaks somewhat offbeat and nasally voice and the construction of the album itself. Paak shows the same uncanny ability as Kendrick, delivering an album which is able to describe himself through his surroundings. Malibu is a fitting title for this album as this collection of songs is going to be perfect for an afternoon in the sun or a drive to the beach.

Joanna Newsom

1374330772_Ys joanna_newsom_Before this past month, I knew Joanna Newsom solely as comedian Andy Samberg’s wife. After spending a weekend digging through her discography I realized I’ve spent the past decade missing out on something deeply wondrous. What seems like nothing more than Regina Spektor with a harp, quickly evolves into the Shakespeare of Psychedelic Folk. Joanna based her early music on the idea of polyrhythms, which are two concurrent but conflicting rhythms. This concept is explored in full in her first two albums, both as the focus of entire movements and as momentary disruptions. This concept fuels the basis for her music which is full of dichotomies. Her music is nothing but eccentric; it’s both continually comforting in its complexities and wonderfully unsettling in its avante-garde modernism.

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