Makeup For The Silence

The digital home of music writer Jesse Richman

Makeup For The Silence

Tag: Cash Cash

My Top 10 Albums of 2016

(feat. track – Dinosaur Pile-Up – “Bad Penny” [spotify] from Eleven Eleven)

[Posted 1/3/18] So… I was going through the blog to make some updates and found my 2016 “Best Of The Rest” lost in a draft. Of course, I never did get around to doing write-ups of my top albums for 2016 – or even posting them on the main blog! – much less posting what didn’t quite make it. (The list is, and will remain, over at the Top Tens page.)

Still, this blog feels incomplete without the list living here, even sans commentary, so I’m popping in to retroactively post it, along with the Best Of The Rest list I had written up at the time.

So without further ado…


10. Myrone – Drift Stage Vol. 1 [spotify]

9. Let’s Eat Grandma – I, Gemini [spotify]

8. 18th and Addison – Makeshift Monster [spotify]

7. Boys Night Out – Black Dogs EP [spotify]

6. Cash Cash – Blood, Sweat & Three Years [spotify]

5. Garbage – Strange Little Birds [spotify]

4. The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It [spotify]

3. Kitten – Heaven Or Somewhere In Between EP [spotify]

2. David Bowie – Blackstar [spotify]

1. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo [spotify]



American Football – American Football [spotify]

Bon Iver – 22, A Million [spotify]

Brand New – 3 Demos, Reworked [spotify]

Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book [spotify]

Dinosaur Pile-Up – Eleven Eleven [spotify]

The Downtown Fiction – Alligator Tears [spotify]

Frank Ocean – Blond(e) [spotify]

From Indian Lakes – Everything Feels Better Now [spotify]

The Hotelier – Goodness [spotify]

Jeff Rosenstock – Worry [spotify]

John K. Samson – Winter Wheat [spotify]

k.flay – Crush Me [spotify]

King Neptune – A Place To Rest My Head [spotify]

Lights – Midnight Machines [spotify]

Look Park – Look Park [spotify]

The Monkees – Good Times! [spotify]

Moose Blood – Blush [spotify]

Pity Sex – White Hot Moon [spotify]

Suede – Night Thoughts [spotify]

Tancred – Out Of The Garden [spotify]

Makeup For The Silence – Best Of 2016 Mix

Makeup For the Silence - Best of 2016!

So I’m a liar. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. Between some job-related scrambling and a three-day-long headache that ended with a CAT scan and a few many fistfuls of Advil/Tylenol/HeavierStuff, I didn’t manage to get this thing online before the new year swung around.

The good news is, three days in, this year is basically the same as the last, so you can still listen to this. It’s cool. I promise.

I know 2016 was supposedly an annus horribilis – and we did lose many more musical icons (not to be confused with Mandy Moore, Musical Icon) in a single revolution than we ever should* – but honestly, if 2016 had ended on November 7th, I think we’d all be talking about the year just past in much different terms. And while I’m pretty dubious that 2017 will be anything but a disaster for our most vulnerable and an introduction to vulnerability for a whole bunch more of us (who hadn’t considered we’d be there, perhaps ever, in our lifetimes), the truth is 2016 itself was actually a pretty good year – personally, and I think collectively. So while next year’s mixtape might just be a track-list etched by a thousand bent fingernails on the walls of the work camp, this year’s mix pretty fairly reflects what was, by and large, a positive experience when lived from day to day.

I’m gonna miss it like candy.

The seventh** edition of my year-end mixtape arrives in much the same way last year’s did: with maybe six songs that were locks to make this list from the jump, and then a lot of rooting through the 300-odd tracks on my Top Tracks of 2016 playlist***. I’ve, as always, avoided any big pop hits – otherwise this years list might just be O.T. Genasis feat. Young Dolph on loop – but I’ve backed away from the tradition of keeping tracks from my Top Ten albums off of the list. Truth is, even when I wasn’t listening to those albums, it was certain tracks from those albums I kept coming back to, and this year’s mix would feel incomplete without them. They’re the anchor pieces.

If last year’s mix trended darker, this year’s feels a little brighter, a little more hopeful. It’s not all wide-eyed; if anything, this year’s selections are a little more introspective than the last. But even its denser moments generally offer something to dream on.

It’s also the first mix I’ve made where every track is available on Spotify****. That’s probably largely reflective of my listening habits – Spotify’s ease of use, and of playlist compilation, led me to spending less time on SoundCloud and the like, because even once you find something good, it’s frankly a pain to grab music from elsewhere and then sync it to Spotify, especially when I often go weeks without touching my MacBook. I do 90% of my personal computing on my mobile now. The medium is the message, or something. (The message, however, is rarely on Medium.)

Enough of the rambles; on with the show.

Makeup For The Silence – Best Of 2016

  1. Empty – Garbage
  2. Purge – Frameworks
  3. Fall On Me – Kitten
  4. Bury It – CHVRCHES (feat. Hayley Williams)
  5. Tiger Hologram – Swet Shop Boys
  6. Zadok – Myrone
  7. Bottle It Up – Sherwood
  8. Me & Magdalena (Version 2) – The Monkees
  9. Sell My Head – Tancred
  10. Humblest Pleasures – Turnover
  11. Blood In The Cut – K. Flay
  12. Goodness, Pt. 2 – The Hotelier
  13. Broken Drum – Cash Cash (feat. Fitz of Fitz & the Tantrums)
  14. I Am Chemistry – Yeasayer
  15. No Time Valentine – Roy English
  16. All Night – King Neptune
  17. Rebecca – Against Me!
  18. U-turn – Tegan & Sara
  19. The Sound – The 1975
  20. May I Have This Dance – Francis & the Lights
  21. Deep Six Textbook – Let’s Eat Grandma
  22. 17th Street Treatment Centre – John K. Samson

click image to download

I’ll be back tomorrow with some more thoughts on the Year In Music and my personal listening habits, and then we’ll get into the business of counting down. I’m not sure I’ll go in quite as deep as I typically do this time around (that aforementioned work stuff, again), but I’m not ruling it out either.

*one of whom will be showing up on my Top Ten in the coming weeks

**You can always find the complete collection of mixes which have appeared on Makeup For The Silence, as well as all the playlists I’ve contributed to elsewhere, right over here.

***I’ve archived my 2016 list and rolled my 2017 one right on top, so if you were subscribed, you should be following 2017 now. If not, follow along right here.

****…for now. Of course, tracks on Spotify come and go on the wind and the whim, so I still strongly recommending downloading. That said, you can stream it here.

Magic Hour



Lately, the grandest, goopiest, most deliciously unembarrassable impulses of seventies and eighties pop have been in resurgence. Disco glitter, big-haired bluster, Broadway theatrics—these things have become pop symbols of bravery and brashness, open-hearted vitality and emotional fearlessness. (How could they not, coming after years of kids’ using the word gay as an all-purpose insult, with these same qualities in mind?) And if they still sound tacky to you, well, that’s exactly the issue: Lately, calling anything tacky seems a bit old-fashioned and parochial.

From the Department of Hard-to-Pin-Down ideas: I wrote something for New York about the new Scissor Sisters album, and the newish Adam Lambert album, and Lady Gaga, and the way pop stars can use sounds once considered over-the-top to telegraph … liberty and fearlessness, or something very much like them.

A really great article (from Nitsuh Abebe, who has a habit of writing really great articles) on not just those new albums, but also the direction in which mainstream pop seems to be tacking more generally.  From an earlier paragraph, against which this new focus is contrasted:

For years, the party line seemed to be that the seventies and eighties were eras of goopy, glitzy dreck and lumbering, pompous rock, all in dire need of rescuing by punks with battered guitars. 

As someone who spends most of his time in the pop-punk (/hardcore/emo/indie pop/etc) world, I think it’s really interesting to note the ways in which punk seems to have responded to this cultural zig with a zag of its own.  As uber-serious indie rock became more mainstream in the latter part of the decade, the punk scene responded, darting away from ‘serious’ emo and headlong into in the neon explosion of 2007-2009 and its hypersweet, Disney-fueled melodic power-pop, an open embrace of dance beats and autotune, amplified blown-out swoop-cuts and raccoon tails, bright rubber wristbands and shoestring headbands and white hoodies.

But as pop culture has lurched towards the open embrace of big excess, punk seems to have responded in kind. Pete Wentz himself declared the Death Of Neon (via his Clandestine clothing line) in the winter of 2010, and it was so. Look at high fashion runways over the last year, or just check out what most mainstream-dressing people are wearing this summer, you’re going to see a LOT of bright colors, but go to any scene show and the fashion will overwhelmingly be grunge-inspired plaids, earth tones, scruffy anti-haircuts and beards, shirts covered in fonts inspired by 80s hardcore. Meanwhile, bands like The Wonder Years and The Story So Far and Transit, dudes who take shit seriously, bands who would trade ‘fun’ for ‘meaningfulness’ eight days a week, have all but pushed the Mayday Parades and Cash Cashes to the margins; adapt (generally by refocusing as a more ‘serious’ rock n roll band like The Maine or The Summer Set) or die (too many to count).

I’m really not sure whether there’s causation here or just correlation, but I do think it’s awful interesting to observe regardless.

(ps please note the use of scare quotes for ‘serious’ and ‘meaningfulness’; I’m not sure any of these things are actually what they claim to be, but it’s the claim itself that’s important for the analysis here)

I haven’t had a lot of time to write over here lately; I’ve been pinch-hitting in the editorial department for a bit over at PropertyOfZack, as well as writing a bunch of reviews myself, and that’s kept me pretty busy. (As always the Reviews page has my latest work linked, and there will another ten pieces or so coming in the next few weeks as we clear out some backlog.) But I thought this was interesting enough to bring over from my other blog, and if nothing else any chance to promote Nitsuh Abebe’s work is a good one.


(feat track. – The Gaslight Anthem – “Meet Me By The River’s Edge”)

Today concludes my reposting of past years’ Top Ten lists, with my Top 10 of 2008.  Starting tomorrow, I’ll begin posting my 2009 list, counting it down one album per day.

I went a lot more in depth on my 2008 list, first published in January 2009.  I think it’s a trend I’ll carry through to this year.

Looking back at the list, while I would (as always) make my tweaks and changes, I think it mostly still holds true.  Though of course there hasn’t been nearly as much time between this list and some of the others – maybe in a couple more years I’ll think otherwise. One thing I’m certain of, though, and that’s that my Top Album of 2008 was the right pick.  It’s easily one of my top 5 albums of the decade, and might challenge for the #1 spot.

Alright, time for my yearly top ten. I actually got it out a little sooner than I have in previous years. In part, I think that’s because I’ve simply resigned myself to the fact that there’s a lot of music from 2008 I’m just not going to get around to listening to anytime soon. Which isn’t to say I didn’t listen to much this year; if anything, I think I found myself listening to more, and a wider range of, albums on a regular basis than in the past few years. Like last year, this year was a great year for new music; I think that, as culture has splintered and pop culture (or even counterculture) has been replaced by an endless web of microcultures, the amount of great diverse music out there has grown and grown.

Last year there was a lot of very good music, but no real great standout for me. This year, my number one album stood quite clearly above the heap. Which isn’t to knock anything else on the list; its just that this years top album is probably my favorite record since the 4 or 5 truly stellar releases of 2005.

Before I get started, there are two albums I’ve excluded from my Top Ten list for non-musical reasons. One, Vampire Weekend’s “Vampire Weekend” is being excluded because I included their “Blue CDR” demo on last year’s top 10 list, and “Vampire Weekend” includes all the tracks of that demo. The Second is Thrice’s “The Alchemy Index: Vol. 3 and 4”. Vol. 1 and 2 were released last year, and while each half was released as a standalone disc, they’re meant to be listened to and evaluated as a whole (or perhaps in their four individual parts). So while neither are on my list, both are as good as anything released in 2008.

That said, without further ado, my Top Ten Albums of 2008:

10. Cash Cash – Take It To The Floor – As dance-emo-pop goes (I have no idea what to call this genre, if it’s got a name at all, but it’s definitely its own distinct genre – think Forever The Sickest Kids, HelloGoodbye, PlayRadioPlay!, (newer) The Higher, A Rocket To The Moon, Cobra Starship, etc.), this album is heads and shoulders above the rest. The songs are more fully formed, hookier, and just flat-out better. Predictions are a dodgy business, but I could definitely see these guys becoming the next Metro Station this year.

9.5 Matisyahu – Shattered EP – A stunning turn after his dismal previous release, Youth. Youth was limpid, unsteady, full of weakly formed songs and some of the most pale production I’ve suffered through in ages. Shattered, in contrast, hits hard and fast and strong, with some tremendous beats, solid hooks, and real emotion. Matis crawls through a weird, trippy long-dark-night-of-the-soul on this one, and it’s an epic journey back to relevance.

9. The Academy Is… – Fast Times At Barrington High – Another one that really caught me off guard. I was never a big fan of TAI’s middle-of-the-road emo-pop, but on Fast Times they’ve discovered pathos. There’s a minor-key darkness that runs through the album; not bitter, but sad; not angry, but longing. It’s not a mopey album. It just has real emotional heft that I hadn’t expected from what had previously been as straightforward a pop group as there is.

8. Airiel – The Battle of Sealand – I hesitate to lump Airiel into the nu-gaze scene, because this album stands on par with the best of the classic shoegaze scene like My Bloody Valentine and Ride. No mere aping of genre tropes, Sealand incorporates modern studio wizardry in the best of ways, bringing swirling beats and modern flair to Airiel’s blissed-out guitar and vocal drone. It might be an epic album; it certainly feels like one.

7. The Airborne Toxic Event – The Airborne Toxic Event – The Airborne Toxic Event marry a Strokes-y rawness to sad country-folk (think more “hungover” than “boozy”) without making it feel cobbled together. Add in rambling lyrics that constantly teeter on the edge of a train wreck but always seem to take just the right turn at the last minute and you’ve got one hell of a compelling debut.

6.5 Janelle Monae – Metropolis: The Chase Suite EP – Outkast style r&b, Rhianna-esque pop and the wacky Afro-Futurism of Afrika Bambaataa and George Clinton all run headlong into Janelle Monae’s soaring vocals on this concept EP. It’s weird and wonderful, beautiful and bangin’, affected and infectious.

6. Ludo – You’re Awful, I Love You – Ludo do the sort of off-beat, quirky humorous pop-rock that once ruled the radio during the heyday of Weezer, Harvey Danger and Nada Surf. And they do it just as well as any of those three, if not better.

5. Noah and the Whale – Peaceful. The World Lays Me Down – As twee indie-pop goes, Noah and the Whale have it nailed down. Cute/poignant lyrics, rinky-dink instrumentation, the whole thing has that wonderful tape-and-construction-pape r feel. But unlike a lot of their peers, these guys write songs. Good ones. Sometimes, great ones. Maybe my favorite twee-pop album since the first couple Belle & Sebastian discs.

4. Alkaline Trio – Agony & Irony – By now, we know what to expect from Alkaline Trio. So what to do when you can’t really do things differently? Simple – do them better! Agony & Irony take their dark, Burton-esque melodic pop/rock (not so much punk anymore) and hitch it to the best batch of songs they’re written in years. The Trio have always had a knack for great occasional tracks, but unlike the last few albums there’s no B-material on the B-side of this one. Plus they take what should by all rights be completely worn out tropes and still manage to make them clever.

3. Jack’s Mannequin – The Glass Passenger – Andrew McMahon is free of cancer and, apparently, free of any need to work within constraints any longer. The Glass Passenger is a sprawling piano-pop masterpiece.

2. Old 97’s – Blame It On Gravity – By now, we know what to expect from The Old 97’s. So what to do when you can’t really do things differently? Simple – do them better! (See what I did there? Clever, innit?) No really, this is just the most solid set of tracks they’ve done in years. The Easy Way, Here’s To The Halcyon, and Color Of A Lonely Heart Is Blue went instantly to the top of my “favorite Old 97’s” songs list. Their last album, while unfairly panned, felt a bit perfunctory – a number of the tracks were songs that didn’t make the cut for previous albums. This time out, they feel fully revitalized. Rhett is clearly channeling his best material into the 97s again instead of his solo jaunts, and it makes all the difference.

and this year’s #1 is…

1. The Gaslight Anthem – The ‘59 Sound – Like I said back at the beginning, this was far and away my favorite album of the year. In fact, I pretty much knew it was going to top my year-end list from the first listen I gave it back in June – I’ve been comparing everything I’ve heard since to it, and nothing’s come close. In terms of songwriting, production, instrumentation, track order/flow, thematic strength, it’s nothing short of perfect. It’s 12 tracks, any of which would have been one of my favorite singles of the year, and yet 90% of the time I listen to the whole thing together as an album because it’s so much more than the mere sum of it’s parts. I could run out a list of comparators – Against Me, Social Distortion, John Mellancamp, Springsteen – or of stuff they reference – Audrey Hepburn, Casablanca, sailor tattoos, Springsteen again – but the album is so rich with them all, so fully imbued with their essence, that it’s at once wholly of its antecedents and entirely singular. Just a spectacular triumph.

Honorable Mentions go to:

Parts and Labor – Receivers
Armor for Sleep – The Way Out Is Broken EP
Los Campesinos – Hold On Now, Youngster…
The Matches – A Band In Hope
Ghost Town Trio – Have You Heard EP
The Maine – Can’t Stop Won’t Stop

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