Kirk Bowman

Reviews 79
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News Articles 2
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Album Edits 124

Album Ratings 809
Objectivity 62%

Last Active 03-02-23 8:58 pm
Joined 05-29-14

Review Comments 1,254

01.01.21 2k2010.28.20 best of the 2010s s-y
10.20.20 best of the 2010s l-s10.03.20 best of the 2010s d-l
09.22.20 best of the 2010s #-D05.31.20 20 years
01.03.20 2k19 08.03.19 looking for emo/pop/folky recs
01.01.19 2k18 10.27.18 M5+
01.25.18 tear01.21.18 pump
01.19.18 glitch01.17.18 drift
01.01.18 mmxvii12.25.17 best songs of 2k17
01.31.17 sad FRIENDZONE news12.29.16 what I liked this year
More »

best of the 2010s d-l

same as last time. alphabetically by project title, recs welcome and i'm happy to give them too.
2DJ Rashad
Double Cup

Despite his career being cut off tragically early, Rashad is still an extremely prolific artist, with 7 albums and 24 EPs I've found so far released before his death. Even with such an enormous (and rewarding - be sure to check it out if you are a fan, it's absolutely worth it!) discography, there's a reason this stands out for most listeners. It strikes a perfect balance between his more intense deep cuts and his most accessible hits, and is the most polished thing he dropped (most likely thanks to its 2013 release). There's a song here for anyone with even a passing interest in footwork. "Show U How" and "She A Go" are pretty, "Reggie" and "Acid Bit" are grimy, "I'm Too Hi" and "Let U No" are transcendent, and "Drank, Kush, Barz" and "I Don't Give A Fuck" are iconic.
3Jam City
Dream A Garden

FRIENDZONE takes their usual pattern - cloud rap instrumentals created for everyone from A$AP Rocky to Yung Lean - and expands on it on DX, a much more rhythmically and melodically complex affair. With less recognizable samples (besides maybe the obvious "RETAILXTAL"), less easily rapped-over beats, and a longer runtime (made even longer by the 8 track bonus disk), it's easy to see why this was not as popular as the more accessible Collection I. But missing this would be a shame. It's ultimately a deeply satisfying tape with some of the best cloud rap you'll ever hear. Try "Rest Pt. 2" or "8AM" and tell me you regret it.
7Chuck Person
Chuck Person's Eccojams Vol. 1
8Floating Points
Electronic Dream
10Elysia Crampton
Elysia Crampton
11Carly Rae Jepsen
13FKA Twigs
Essential Mix
17Nina Las Vegas
Ezy or Never
18Nosaj Thing

It feels almost invasive to listen to albums like this, ones so clearly the invention of the creator. I don't know if I feel comfortable conceptually, but I do when I listen to this. It sounds like raw anxiety and the feelings that surround that - boredom, restlessness, frustration, interest, etc. When Chance comes in during the otherworldly hip-hop of "Cold Stares," when "Medic" admits to the disappointment throughout the album, when "2K" heralds the end of the world with its unending synths and moaning whispers (and that moment when the drums finally come in, God), that's when I know I'm meant to be here.
19Flying Lotus

This album gets a lot of hate, I assume because for the first time in his career, he has dropped an album that didn't reinvent the wheel. But why reinvent it when there's so much room to explore on the roads we got peeks at in Cosmogramma and You're Dead!? Flamagra takes the time to continue etching forward, but slowly and widely this time. It's not so much a victory lap as an alternate path, the past decade in funk and hip-hop and jazz and everything else that makes up the Flying Lotus ethos, but on the scenic route. And wow, what scenes.

Worldbuilding isn't what Objekt gets praised for, but it's what he should be. Every time I listen to this compelling techno album, I'm reminded just how transformative good production can be. It's that scene in that one sci-fi movie where you pan out to see all the robot arms in the factory working in perfect harmony, the sound of the inside of your PC if a member of Kraftwerk's evil child invented the motherboard, the way you think when you're at your most productive. It feels so realistic it's like it's not even music, and yet, a simple melody-driven person like me can get it. It's at once wobbly and pristine, atmospheric yet precise. Keep bending the limits of audio.
22Macintosh Plus
Floral Shoppe
23Tyler, the Creator
Flower Boy

An intense tonal shift, Flower Boy presented Tyler's new persona - himself - in a way few artists even try. He just was himself, and finally, after years of attempts, he made something as classic as he'd always wanted. It features everyone from Frank Ocean to Estelle to Lil Wayne, and showcases easily his best production to this day. There's incredibly good songwriting here too - every little melody will eventually get stuck in your head. Smooth, cohesive, and most of all true-to-the-heart, Tyler the Creator finally created his masterpiece.
Folding Knives
26DJ Rashad
Freakin Me On The Flo

DJ Rashad (and, consequently, footwork as a whole) is noted for its repetitive structure. Often simply a sample and some drums on loop, Freakin' Me On The Flo showcases his ability to deliver more diverse songwriting styles, with tracks that feel more like songs than club tools. These songs all feature relatively wide-ranging vocals and structures resembling verses, choruses and bridges. A great intro to Rashad for the more tentative listener, and a great start to his numerous EPs for listeners just fresh off Double Cup.
The Friendly Sound

It’s hard not to be cynical entering the music industry, and the Swedish electropop duo are clearly trying their best here. “Nishio” is EDM echoing through the filter of real life years before future bass made that a thing, “Blue Shift” is early Royksopp with pop sensibilities, and “Strobes Pt. 2” is the sound of continuing on even when you’re exhausted. Very few artists manage to replicate the ups and downs of human emotion within their music this early on, and fewer still could make something this forward-thinking simultaneously.
Galaxy Garden
30Oneohtrix Point Never
Garden of Delete

So this is a mostly instrumental "cybergrunge" concept album about puberty. For a certain brand of person, that's already plenty appealing, but if you're not convinced - this is one of Oneohtrix Point Never's best releases. It combines the vaporwave-originating eccojams of his early work with the trance arpeggios of his deeply satisfying masterpiece [I]R+7[/I] within the first two tracks, and it just gets better from there. Peak moments include "Mutant Standard," which evolves from simple fast-paced drums to a full-on rave anthem over the course of 8 minutes, with plenty of sweaty noise and vocal chopping along the way, or the almost conventional "I Bite Through It," which alternates between chaotic synths building tension and what I assume is a MIDI guitar performing simple, calming loops. It's like the destruction of innocence manifested in audio - so, puberty.
31Domo Genesis
Ghost Stories

I like to think that as time passes, we become more forgiving. Frame that how you want. Whether you're a jealous ex holding on to the hatred that naturally comes from separation, or a listener frustrated that a band that once represented fighting back began to utilize the styles fratbros had long since taken over, I believe the more life goes on the more we will lose sight of resentment. In doing so, we can see the beauty in the moments we lost.
Glass Swords
35James Ferraro
God of London
36Lil B
God's Father
38Kacey Musgraves
Golden Hour
Good Faith

For most of the decade, irony poisoning infected our generation. Internet culture meant people were ranked by how little they appeared to care, and how few old things they used. Madeon has been, ironically, ahead of the curve by embracing the sincerity that has become deeply in since PC Music pushed for it and 100 Gecs embraced it. His inspirations are still the Beatles, Gorillaz, Daft Punk, Tame Impala, and EDM. But despite the extremely basic style this would imply, his music does all the better for it. This is some of the most genuinely epic dance-pop ever made, real feelings transmitted through the channel of someone who always cared.
40Kendrick Lamar
good kid, m.A.A.d city
41Tobias Jesso Jr.

Yes, this doesn't do anything that folk rock singer-songwriters didn't do decades ago. Yes, Tobias appeared, dropped Goon and then vanished. Yes, it got BNM despite not really having much of anything new about it and he eventually turned into a Twitter punchline. But why does any of that matter when the songs are just this good? Inspired by the death of a family member and the loss of a relationship, the songs on here feel like classics, with just enough modern production (thanks to artists like Ariel Rechtshaid and Danielle Haim) to keep it a little bit fresh. It's no wonder he went on from this soft, beautiful album to quietly produce music for John Legend, Pink, Charlie Puth, and Adele's best song.
42Gorgeous Children
Gorgeous Children
43Passion Pit
44DJ Lostboi
Got Lost
Green Language
Grid of Points
47Hailee Steinfeld
Halcyon Digest
50Ade Hakim
Happiest People In The World Wide Web

Ade opens this album up with a computerized voice giving a screed about how happiness is all in the head. The only reason I didn't stop listening immediately is because I knew I loved Hakim's production more than any other contemporary hip-hop producer, and I'm glad I kept going. This is one of the happiest, most positive, uplifting albums I've ever heard. Besides the pseudopsychological opener, it's all a fulfilling, meaningful, and legitimately joyful., like a modern day Songs In The Key Of Life. This is for the depressed ones, the ones who celebrate Black joy, the ones who need something to bring them up. It's enough to make you believe maybe you can just choose happiness, even if it's just for an hour. Sometimes that hour is what you need to keep yourself off that bridge.
53Saint Pepsi
Hit Vibes

Throughout his whole career, Future has been torn between two halves. The two we focus on most often are cocky and regretful, misogynistic and hoping to change, hideous and beautiful, and these are not resolved here (at this point, I've lost hope). The fight that is briefly surrendered here is the tenuous balance between R&B and hip-hop, and with its companion album FUTURE, it instead splits entirely. The more melodic, singsong side of Future has always been my favorite element of his perfect voice, and it always felt like it was trying to tear through his other projects. To completely devote an album to it provides catharsis, and not just for him, for once.
55 Budgie
Holy Ghost Zone

Budgie spent most of the decade on his Panty Soakers series, which were excellent showcases of the soultrap movement. He's a good enough producer that he could really just keep making these tapes over and over, but his focus on worship music this time around helped his work ascend another level. By traveling back even farther than the R&B and soul he sampled from to the gospel it originated in, he created something beautiful.
56The Hotelier
Home, Like NoPlace Is There
Hyper Ghetto Baws Mixxxtape
I Am the Dance Commander + I Command You to Dance:
I Become A Shade
64Earl Sweatshirt
I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside

So you're having a bad day. Maybe a bad week. Bad year. Bad life. It's rough being depressed, it's rough facing loss, and it's rough not figuring out how to get out of the funk you've been in as long as you can remember. I Don't Like Shit gets it. This is sad, dark, clever rap for when you just need to let go for a half hour, and hopefully not any longer. If, for some reason, you've given up on Earl or Odd Future as a whole, check out "Grief." It'll change your mind.
I Wish My Brother Rob Was Here

It’s fair to say that conscious hip-hop as a genre is overpopulated with MCs who sacrifice flow for technicality and melody for average syllable count. This is an exception. Feeling more in line with God’s Father than TPAB, Milo spits out his nerdy soul over wonky beats, with the kind of flaws that only emerge from humanity. It’s this spirituality that wraps it all - love, depression, Wizard 101, philosophy, forums, confidence and death - into something whole not despite but because of the cracks. Listen to this 19-year-old pour his soul out and remember for a moment how it feels to be young and lose someone who you never thought would leave.
66Bon Iver

What do you do when you run out of pathways to run, when you pushed your art to its logical apex on "8 (CIRCLE)," when you have done all you can? You carry on, with those you love. A new focus on community gives a renewed energy to Bon Iver - it's a real town band now, with Vernon as the chorister, sure, but a band. What that means is i,i is the most folk record under this moniker since *For Emma,* because even though it continues to blur the lines between computers and instruments and layers more noises for a smooth sound (like Bon Iver, Bon Iver), it feels like it's made for and by folks. So it's not really a Statement or whatever, but it's comforting, real, and social. Let the choir be, they're singing for us.
67RP Boo
I'll Tell You What!
68Tyler, the Creator

If you're paying attention to popular music criticism, you have heard (or, at minimum, heard of) this album. I'm probably not going to convince anyone to love it who has already listened, but I'll try. First off, it's a grower - like Flower Boy before it, the initially irritating textures and sounds begin to sound more right on further efforts. Second, on a storytelling basis, Tyler is getting subtler, so you might notice more details than you thought. Third, he's finally getting an exact handle on the blend between abrasive and sweet he's been circling or batting back and forth between for years. Last, and most important, it's another testament to "showing these Black kids they can be who they are."
69Jon Hopkins
70Jamie xx
In Colour
72Clams Casino
Instrumental Mixtape
73Todd Terje
Its The Arps
If You're Reading This It's Too Late

When you hear “the emotional centerpiece to Drake’s discography, the moment when he really let his feelings take the stage,” you probably think of Take Care, and for good reason. But if you’re really looking for the point where he opened up the most, the project that explains his career more than any other, If You’re Reading This is the one. It’s looking back with equal parts disgust and longing, raw expression without the features or the filters, pride overcoming innocence. It’s the sound of giving up so much that you can’t even admit it.
75Jai Paul
Jai Paul
76James Blake
James Blake

Ignore all the context, everything we know about James, what he's done and what he's influenced in 2020. Imagine hearing this for the first time again. From *that* moment in "The Wilhelm Scream" to the incredibly satisfying drop in "Limit To Your Love," everything you thought you knew about singer/songwriters or dubstep is torn apart and fused back together seamlessly. For a few minutes, you can try it again. Hear the contrast between his gorgeous vocals, the empty space, and the cautious portions of heavy subbass. Feel the raw emotion, the aching loneliness and regret. You'll find another hole to hide in for a moment, an escape from the overwhelm of reality.
77Young Thug
The Blue Album
79DJ Rashad
Just A Taste

Just A Taste is not the project I would recommend for first-time footwork listeners, but it's one of the most rewarding for experienced fans. The first few tracks are punishing and tough, with lots of dark bass and quick vocal loops, but very little of the ambient respite Rashad usually places oh-so-well. But this difficulty ends up balancing itself out on a larger scale with some very pleasant samples later on in tracks like "I'm Gone" and "Love U Found" that make it clear this tracklisting was very intentional.
Just Like You
81Teyana Taylor
83Passion Pit
84DJ Jayhood

Jersey Club is a massive, distinct sound. Unfortunately, due to copyright issues associated with its sample-heavy nature and placement firmly in remix culture, it has not received general acclaim and attention. KING is a perfect place to start, or a great way to continue exploring the genre. From anthems like "Hands On Ya Hips" and "Skip to my Lou" to the emotional "Can't Be Friends" and "Lie About Us," these are a great set of tracks for anyone who wants to know more about the sound of Jersey Club. Frankly, it's a miracle it even exists.
85DJ Koze
knock knock
86Hudson Mohawke
87Jon Hopkins
Late Night Tales
Let Love
89In Love With A Ghost
Let's Go
91Four Tet
Live at Funkhaus Berlin, 10th May 2018

Four Tet's career has been greatly misunderstood, with some of the greatest electronic albums of the past decade under his belt. But if you are not convinced, listen to this. Just like Daft Punk's live performance greatly enhanced Human After All in many eyes, this live performance may change your mind on albums with middling reception. If you didn't see the appeal of Beautiful Rewind, "Kool FM" will excite you like you never expected. If you didn't see why Morning/Evening was so long, note the way everything in this set builds up to the powerful finale of "Morning Side." And if you didn't like New Energy, just wait until the calming encore. From an artist who could have gotten away with just playing the hits, he recontextualises the most misunderstood moments in his discography into something even more beautiful.
92James Ferraro
Live at Primavera Sound 2012
Live in the Boiler Room
94Ana Caprix
Long Dark Summer
95Julia Holter
Loud City Song
96FKA Twigs
97Gold Panda
Lucky Shiner
Lune Rouge
99Lil Uzi Vert
Luv Is Rage 2
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