“thermostat check” is a feature we’re running throughout the rest of the month to both take the temperature of music in 2016 so far and to broaden the spectrum of the dimestore’s coverage. we rounded up proprietors of other music sites and asked them to sound off on their five favorite bodies of work that dropped during the first half of the year; today’s installment comes from jon allmond, who runs the blog and tape label vacant magic, and who used to oversee the now-defunct but forever-excellent cassette rewind. jon sounds off about a handful of impressionable albums, a certain mixtape, and an especially powerful track for his five picks of the year so far. dig in.
when i first heard that the fall of troy was not only reuniting but also putting together a new album, both high school me and current me were ecstatic. unsurprisingly, that excitement was not misplaced. although the fall of troy hasn’t been on the scene for close to a decade now, ok is the result of a band that has grown and matured with time while still steadily holding on to their roots. erratic and aggressive, ok is a post-hardcore powerhouse that stands as a testament for “reunion” albums; after spinning it almost endlessly, it’s just as if the fall of troy never left.
honestly, i’m fairly late to the game when it comes to chance the rapper, but his latest mixtape, coloring book, was so hyped up that i couldn’t miss out. though i went into it not knowing what to expect, i ended chance’s latest effort in tears, and i’m not writing that just to be dramatic. not only was coloring book more than i expected, but the exuberance shining throughout was absolutely infectious and hard to shake. that, combined with an eclectic feature list and chance’s charming wordplay, makes coloring book redefine what many think a mixtape can accomplish in comparison to an actual album. considering that coloring book may – and rightfully should – be the first mixtape to bring about a new category to the grammy’s, there’s really no reason why everyone shouldn’t at least give it a chance (no bad pun intended).
when i first heard of toronto’s weaves a few years back, they gave me the raw spirit of yeah yeah yeahs with a eccentric, psychedelic dash torn from of montreal. now that their debut self-titled album has hit my ears, those comparisons still stand, but they no longer solely define the peculiar brand of noise pop that the band has done so well to craft out in the time since their ep. weaves’ self-titled lp is a blistering whirlwind that’s fun from the first time you hit play; even though the offbeat quartet can seem to be scatterbrained at times, there’s a method to their madness that makes it hard to look away and even harder to not move along to. listening to weaves is as close to an aural sugar rush as one can get, and in their short time as a band, they’re already expanding what pop can be with a new noise and attitude confidently in tow.
jorja smith – “blue lights”
if there was any one song that struck a chord with me unlike any other this year so far, it’d be jorja smith’s “blue lights” all day long. back in february, i called it “unsettling and haunting” and even now, thanks to smith’s powerful vocals and her equally strong message, it still has the ability to stop and grab my full attention. since then, smith has added another new track to her belt, “where do i go,” and gained about twelve thousand fans on soundcloud. if that’s any indication of where this newcomer is headed from here, then i’m sure this won’t be the last best-of list that we’ll see her on.
i’ve read that maryland-based r&b wonder gallant was once seen as an underdog that wouldn’t ever be where he is now, yet after listening to his debut album, ology, almost religiously i can’t see how anyone could ever come to that conclusion. even though it’s only been out for three months, ology has quickly become my most listened-to album in 2016 so far; with christopher gallant’s silky falsetto at the forefront, it could easily be regarded as one of the best r&b releases to hit this year. i first caught wind of the singer not long after i first started cassette rewind and ever since, i’ve been hoping that more people would catch on. now that gallant is making television appearances and filling starbucks with his smoky over-the-counter pain-killer-titled hit “percogesic,” it won’t be long before everyone else starts to feel the same. i heard usher on the new yuna album and thought it was gallant, so that should tell you that this dude is something special.
that self-titled weaves album is just one of many stellar albums released last friday that should be digested as soon as possible. it’s also refreshing to see the fall of troy back making invigorating music more than a decade after their heyday, and chance and gallant speak for themselves; there’s more than enough material here to fill a long weekend. be sure to check in on vacant magic on twitter and facebook, and stop back here early next week for the final installments of this feature.