Have You Heard This?

Hi #LifeWithOH Viewers,

It may come as no surprise to you (well, maybe it does) that Justin Yee and I like music. Everyone likes music, of course, but fully surrounding ourselves in the tunes of today is a pretty huge part of our livelihood. Heck, DJ Justin Yee zips across town to dig through crates and crates of vinyl at record stores. And I’ve only been trying to figure out a way to capitalize on my curated-playlist-making since I was 14.

So, when Team OH asked us to put together a blog post about the kinds of music that keeps us inspired and helps drive our creativity, we thought “HECK YES”. Then, we thought “OH SH*T”.

Truly, the thought of capturing what inspires us made our heads spin. Sending each other music inspiration has become the norm, but to showcase what we’ve been listening to feels a bit like airing out your dirty laundry with the hope that people still think you’re cool.

Not to mention, being surrounded by the folks at OH has us reeling with pride. Our daytime roommates are some of the most driven, talented, and inherently creative people we know. It isn’t hard to stay inspired at a place like this. However, we know better than anyone that creativity often comes from others and the various “things” that strike a chord. That “thing” for us is music.

As the year wraps up, we thought it was best to reflect on our favorite music to come out of 2017. Below are two lists, one from each of us, of the songs that kept us creatively inspired and hungry for more. Here is a selection of our favorite tracks for 2017.

You can listen to the full playlist on Spotify

We hope you enjoy! ‘Til next time.

MICHUUL./DUCKWRTH – I saw this music video before I listened to his music and was sold instantly. His dance moves are unparalleled and actually very similar to Justin Yee’s. This guy has his pulse on something good and I can’t wait to see what he creates next year.  -LF

FEEL//Kendrick Lamar – If there was any conflict about Kung Fu Kenny being the best rapper alive, 2017 cemented his status as king. He chose Phoenix as the first stop of his DAMN. tour, and for all of those in attendance (s/o Laspeezy!) it felt a lot like you were watching Michael Jordan in his prime. While choosing a favorite song off DAMN. is no easy task, I found myself continuously coming back to this one. It has that poetic flow that is uniquely Kendrick, and the way he switches up his vocal tones just amazes me.  -JY

Hard to Say Goodbye//Washed Out – I love these guys, and Mister Mellow is amazing from start to finish. Their visuals and live stage presence continue to blow me away.  -LF

Slide//Calvin Harris (feat. Frank Ocean, Migos) – When Calvin Harris broke the news that he recruited Frank Ocean & Migos for his first single off his 2017 album Funk Wave Bounces Vol. 1, I was skeptical. But, from the moment I heard this jam, I knew it was going to be everywhere. This is summertime vibes bottled up, from the groovy bass line, to Frank’s breezy hook, to Offset’s fire verse. I played this song a ton this year, but it was nowhere better enjoyed than poolside with a cold drink in hand.  -JY

Baby I’m Dyin’//Lolawolf – Remember Lenny Kravitz? This is his daughter. Their music is some sort of fusion of electro-R&B. Whatever they’re cooking up sounds really good.  -LF

Passionfruit//Drake – This infectious beat alone gets me grooving every time, but add on Champagne Papi’s trademark crooning and you have the recipe for one of my Songs of the Year. The sample at the beginning of the track where the DJ, Moodymann, tells everyone to get more drinks goin’ on, and he’ll sound a whole lot better is the advice I give anyone who comes out to see me attempt a DJ set. Much love to the peeps that stuck around my awkward Pizza Party debut at The Rebel Lounge and danced, hopefully next time I get to spend more time above the turntables rather than hiding underneath them.  -JY

YOU//Morgan Saint – Solo act Morgan Saint toured with BANKS this past year, and this song catches me off guard every time. At first slow and quiet, it quickly picks up and you catch yourself thinking “Oh, this is good”.  -LF

South of the River//Tom Misch – I have to give credit to my homie Adrian from Noise Pop for introducing me to this one. I only caught wind of this guy recently, but this 21 year old multi-instrumentalist has been making waves in London for his disco-infused soul. This song instantly picks up my mood with it’s funky bassline and Nile Rodgers-esque guitar riff. Definitely put this guy on your radar, he is slated to release his debut album in April 2018.  -JY

Bet She Looks Like You//Nick Hakim – Arguably my favorite album of 2017. Nick Hakim’s voice gives me the goosies. His whimsical songs are quiet, but intense and full of force.  -LF

911 / Mr. Lonely//Tyler, The Creator (feat. Frank Ocean, Steve Lacy) – I can’t even lie, I think I officially became a fan of Tyler, The Creator when I heard this song. Well, that statement is partially true.  I’ve always liked him for the crazy/outspoken individual he is dating back to the Odd Future days, but his music never connected with me like the way Flower Boy has. This song is technically a two-parter, that features one of the smoothest hooks of the year sung by Steve Lacy and a verse from Frank Ocean that makes me wish I could have been a fly on the wall in the recording studio.  -JY

Scared Money//NxWorries –  Anderson Paak and producer Kxwledge released this studio album I think in 2016, but Spotify says 2017 so I’m throwing it in here. The two of them I imagine just hang out, create insane music, and rub elbows with the powerhouse rap stars of today.  -LF

Blue Train Lines//Mount Kimbie (feat. King Krule) – I could not put down Mount Kimbie’s record, Love What Survives, this year. The UK electronic duo reunite with one of my favorite artists out right now, King Krule, for a guest feature that feels more post-punk than anything they’ve released. The track is led by Krule’s unmistakeable raspy vocals that build up over a pounding beat and finishes with an epic climax that makes you feel like you got dragged out of a mosh pit. Don’t believe me? Just give it a spin and you will know what I’m talking about.  -JY

Drew Barrymore//SZA – As if the daytime roommates don’t spend enough time together, a few of us went to see SZA at The Marquee in September. Her charm and presence embodies what it means to be a badass at your craft and how to look good while doing it. I try to sing this whole song from start to finish when driving as much as possible.  -LF

Omaha//Toro y Moi – Chaz Bear (fka Bundick) has been putting out some of my favorite music over the last several years. Every release promises something completely different, whether he’s exploring Psych-Jazz with the Mattson 2 or R&B on his latest album release Boo Boo. Omaha was Toro y Moi’s contribution to the anti-Trump compilation, Our First 100 Days, which featured unreleased tracks from notable artists like Angel Olsen, Kevin Morby and Jay Som. This dreamy cut provided me with a much needed distraction from our crazy year in politics.  -JY

Loving is Easy//Rex Orange County – I won’t lie, I stole this artist discovery from Justin. But what is friendship if not for borrowing bangers to up your street cred? It seems the music industry is pretty pumped on this guy, and so am I. Also, he’s 19 years old.  -LF

Close But Not Quite//Everything Is Recorded (feat. Sampha) – This is the title track from producer/XL Recordings founder Richard Russell’s new collaborative EP for his Everything is Recorded project. If you don’t know who Richard Russell is, he is  best known for signing distinctive young artists like Adele, Radiohead, Vampire Weekend, and M.I.A. (just to name a few). This song features Sampha, another reflective soul singer, whose recent debut Process is one of my favorite albums of the year. The track features vocal samples from Curtis Mayfield’s “The Makings Of You,” when paired next to Sampha’s is a match made in heaven. This was love at first listen for me.  -JY

Maria También//Khruangbin – While this isn’t my favorite track of theirs, it feels wrong not to include this trio of sound makers. I stumbled upon them when I was in Austin and they were shredding guitar while their bassist banged a drumstick on a Topo Chico bottle. I’ve been hooked ever since. Check out the rest of their stuff.  -LF

Chanel//Frank Ocean – After a few elusive years of silence, Frank Ocean had a big return in 2016 releasing two albums: Endless & Blonde. He hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down either, making his first performance in the US since 2014 at FYF Fest and dropping 4 new singles. On the track “Chanel,” his talents are on full display as he sings and raps about topics of bisexuality and masculinity. It feels like a worldwide event every time Frank drops new music, and the latest rumors are he’s sitting on a new album. He’s arguably one of our most important artists of our generation (at least I think so), and we’ll happily take anything he gives us.  -JY

Girl Like You//Toro Y Moi – One of my favorite albums to come out of 2017. I first heard this song while I was waiting for my dumpling takeout at my favorite restaurant in NYC. So naturally, it’s sentimental.  -LF

Them Changes//Thundercat – It’s rare that a bass player gets any spotlight, but when you’re collaborating with the likes of Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar, Erykah Badu, George Clinton, Michael McDonald & Kenny Loggins, it’s not hard to see why Stephen Bruner has quickly established himself as the best bass player in the business. When Downtown Phoenix’s newest venue, The Van Buren, first announced their concert calendar, a small crew of us from OH jumped at the chance to see Thundercat perform there the opening week. His sheer wizardry on the bass had us all in awe, while the funky basslines had us groovin’ all night.  -JY

Tyrant//Kali Uchis & Jorja Smith – These two gentlewomen are making moves in the music industry, both separately and together. With Diplo, Tyler the Creator, and Kaytranada producing the two of them, I can’t wait to see what comes of these ladies.  -LF

Dark Red//Steve Lacy – At only 19 years old, Steve Lacy has accomplished more in that span than most people do in a lifetime. He already has a grammy nomination for co-producing The Internet’s Ego Death in 2015, has Production credits on my favorite album of 2018, Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. for the track “PRIDE.”, and is working with a running list of who’s who in R&B and Hip Hop. The most interesting thing about Lacy, is that he opts to record everything on his iPhone, deliberately avoiding fancy studio equipment because it just sounds better to him. Look at it this way, If Steve was a Bitcoin, I would be investing all my money in him right now and cashing out on retirement when he inevitably becomes a star.  -JY

See You Again//Tyler, The Creator – Truly, this is my favorite album to come out of the wild mind of Tyler Okonma. Plus, this song features Kali Uchis.  -LF

Bet She Looks Like You//Nick HakimGreen Twins from Nick Hakim was one of the first recommendations Lia sent me when we were both feeling like we were in a musical rut, and marked the beginning of many back and forth “Have you heard this? Check it out!” type exchanges. For those that know me, I’m a sucker for soul music and Hakim’s eclectic spin on it over hazy reverb and psychedelic guitar riffs made it a quick favorite and an album I kept returning to over and over again throughout the year.  -JY

That Easy//Yellow Days – MAJOR shoutout to James Bluemangroup for showing me this guy. He’s 18 years old, which is always inspiring to me. Mostly because when I 18, I was still teepeeing people houses and trying to wrangle a prom date. I can’t get over his booming voice and every track he releases becomes my favorite.  -LF

Call The Police//LCD Soundsystem – After what felt like an eternity (5 year hiatus), LCD Soundsystem reunited last year at Coachella to mixed emotions. On one hand, fans felt betrayed for shelling out heaps of money on their 2011 farewell tour. But on the other hand, people were just happy to see one of their favorite bands back together and playing music again. In 2017, they solidified their return with a new album, American Dream, which in my opinion was well worth the wait. Although it doesn’t take the place of Sound of SIlver or This is Happening (those albums hold a special place in my heart), LCD proves they are still capable of creating music like the band we’ve all grown to love.  -JY

Truly Julie’s Blues//Cut Worms – I only discovered solo act Max Clarke recently. He reminds me so much of the Everly Brothers, which is a nod to my parents showing me the tuneful art of the 50’s and 60’s.  -LF

Southern Nights//Whitney – The first time I saw these guys perform was at SXSW in 2016 to a crowd of 15-20 people. I didn’t know too much about them other than the fact that two of the members played in the band Smith Westerns and they had one song on Spotify called “No Woman” that I couldn’t get out of my head. Shortly after, they released their debut album, Light Upon The Lake, which quickly became one of my favorite albums of last year and still gets heavy rotation today. The band recently released this soulful cover of Allen Toussaint’s “Southern Nights” and it is devastatingly good.  -JY

City Music//Kevin Morby – Justin and I scooted to Valley Bar one day after work to see Morby play his newest album. He wore a bedazzled jacket and played with such soulful passion; the guitar had us smiling all night.  -LF

Truth//Kamasi Washington – Buckle up for this one. This is 13 minutes and 30 seconds of pure jazz bliss. While you may not be familiar with Washington, chances are you may still have heard him. He’s worked with greats ranging from Herbie Hancock to Lauryn Hill  to Snoop Dogg and most notably contributed his saxophone playing/arrangements on Kendrick Lamar’s classic To Pimp a Butterfly.  This guy is at the helm of the jazz resurgence movement that is being embraced by millennials and jazz purists alike and I’m all in.  -JY

Forget Me//Born Ruffians – I’ve been following these cats since college, and this new track was just released this month. They are produced by one of my other favorite artists Richard Swift (think, The Shins). They always have a consistent sound, drawing inspiration from so many music giants before them.  -LF 

Apricot Princess//Rex Orange County – Being the music nerd I am, I like to dig through the production credits and features of albums to see who that artist is working with. This often leads to me going down an internet wormhole looking at mindless stuff (Lia is the lucky beneficiary of hearing all about those), but I did come across Rex Orange County that way through Tyler, The Creator’s album. Apricot Princess is the title track off his debut album released back in April, and it’s a straight-up feel-good jam about falling in love with his girl. He just announced his first 4 U.S. shows in February 2018 that sold out instantly and are currently going for $100 a pop on StubHub. Start getting familiar with this 19 year old out of London, you’ll be hearing a lot about him in the years to come.  -JY

You Say I’m In Love//Banes World – I really don’t know a whole lot about these guys, but their sound is so uniquely drowsy and wonderful. This song was on repeat for a good 2 months.  -LF

Total Entertainment Forever//Father John Misty – Former drummer for the Fleet Foxes, Joshua Tillman, has built a career around his smart use of satire and irony in his lyrics that spotlight all things wrong with our society and pop culture.  Take the hilarious and highly controversial opening line from “Total Entertainment Forever” as an example, “Bedding Taylor Swift every night inside the Oculus Rift / After mister and the missus finish dinner and the dishes.”  FJM is the ultimate internet troll, and is worthy of a follow on any of his social media channels. His stage banter alone is worth the price of admission, and in a world where you feel like you’re constantly walking on eggshells, he’s the hero we needed totally unapologetic to say what we are all thinking, but are too afraid to say.  -JY

Gonna Make Time//The Frightnrs – When I first heard these Daptone guys, I was certain they were from the early 70s. I love their Jamaican rocksteady beats.  -LF

High//Little Dragon – The Swedish quartet has been one of the most consistent groups in electronic music over the last decade, and they backed that up when they dropped this sensual track “High” on Valentine’s Day. Yukimi Nagano’s airy vocals float across a beautifully mellow beat, creating a meditative atmosphere that made it a go-to song for me during any quiet moment.  -JY

My Old Man//Mac Demarco –  Mac Demarco’s album completely blew me away this year, and his jangly pop tunes have a special place in my heart.  -LF

The Past Tense//infinite bisous – I don’t know too much about this guy, other than he’s based out of Paris, and he’s played in the backing bands for Mac DeMarco and Connan Mockasin. Apparently, this song was recorded back in 2013, but I chose to include it because it was on the tracklist of his 2017 album release W/ Love. Whenever I hear this, my mind can only help but wander. There’s an effortless beauty to it that makes me feel like I’m daydreaming and suddenly everything in the world is just peachy.  -JY

Carl Sagan//Night Moves – I shamelessly Shazammed this song at a bar in Austin. With my mezcal drink in hand, I held up my phone to the speaker. They have such a cool sound, and are visiting The Van Buren in January. Can’t wait to see them live.  -LF

Lil Thing//Knox Fortune – Chicago native and Grammy winner, Knox Fortune, is best known for popping up on Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book track “All Night,” but he’s also risen through the ranks for his beat making and collaborations with other Chicago MC’s Vic Mensa and Joey Purp. This track has all the elements of a classic summertime jam that makes you want to roll down all the windows of your car and just cruise around bumping this hoping someone notices and thinks “whoa, that guy is cool.”  -JY

Paint Me Silver//Pond – This is kind of the original psyche-rock band that birthed Tame Impala. Kevin Parker was their drummer for a while, and Nick Allbrook used to play keys with Tame Impala. I’ve heard their live shows are out of this world. Pond is coming to Valley Bar in January, and you bet I’ll boogie.  -LF

Blood Under My Belt//The Drums – The Drums were one of the bands I was looking forward to most at VIVA PHX back in March and they were everything I could have hoped for and more. I was fortunate enough to be photographing the show up close from the pit, and when they debuted this track live for the first time, I probably annoyed every single photographer that was there as I tried to copy all of lead singer Jonny Pierce’s hypnotic dance moves, but I couldn’t help it. The sunny jangly guitar chords have stuck with me every since, so that now everytime I hear this song it gives me that instant mood boost that I seek out to escape from the everyday stresses of life.  -JY

Thinking of a Place//The War on Drugs – One time, I fell asleep at a War on Drugs show. Full-on REM sleep. In my defense, it was outside with good weather, and I had been festivaling for 3-days. After hearing what a great show it was, I looked them up. This band has been a staple in my listening ever since.  -LF

On The Level//Mac Demarco – According to Spotify’s complex algorithms, I listened to Mac Demarco more than any artist this year. TBH I was a little surprised when I first saw that, but the more I thought about it, whenever I was handed an aux cord and asked to play anything on the spot (panic mode engaged), Mac was my go to because his music fits in so nicely for almost any mood or occasion. Considered to be the poster boy for “slacker rock,” his influence on up and coming artists is so obvious that it makes me a little worried we’ll see over-saturation in this subgenre.  But, as long as Mac is out there guiding the ship, I’m on board for the ride and I know it’s more than likely going to be something I really enjoy.  -JY

California//The Growlers – I have such a love for The Growlers. Simply put, I think they’re easy listening that never disappoints. Their lead singer is such a nut, and his voice is unparalleled.  -LF

That Easy//Yellow Days – Here’s another teenage artist garnering serious hype out of the U.K., but is something completely unique. George Van De Broek, who records under the moniker Yellow Days, has a one-of-a-kind voice that oozes over his fuzzy guitar play that sounds like a melting pot of jazz, indie and soul. He sings about heartbreak as if he was a weathered old man, and it’s that pain in his voice that immediately grabbed me. His debut album, Is Everything Okay in Your World?, released in October and I can’t recommend it enough.  -JY 

Fish on the Sand//Allah-Las – When one of my favorite bands released this George Harrison cover, I about bawled my eyes out. The Allah-Las create some incredible psychedelic surf rock beats that will continuously catch my attention.  -LF

City Music//Kevin Morby – Lia and I caught Kevin Morby at Valley Bar a few months back and the moment he opened up with this song we both knew we were in for a treat. This guy can shred on guitar and is constantly drawing comparisons to Bob Dylan due to his singing/songwriting, which is an apparent influence. I love throwing on this song and walking around the city taking pictures and getting lost in my own world.  -JY

Downhearted//Molly Burch – If I could sing and play guitar, my hope is that I would be just like Molly Burch. She has beautiful lyrics and a mesmerizingly foggy voice.  -LF

Snakes//El Michels Affair (feat. Lee Fields) – Leon Michels is responsible for inspiring so much of the music I listen to today. You probably won’t recognize his name for any individual things that he’s done, but rather his behind the scenes contributions he’s made writing, producing, and performing behind some of the biggest vintage soul revival artists. That list includes Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Charles Bradley & The Menahan Street Band, Lee Fields & The Expressions and many more. This obscure cut off the 2017 Wu-Tang Clan inspired album, Return to the 37th Chamber, is essentially a cover of Joe Tex’s “I’ll Never Do You Wrong”, but it packs so much raw emotion into the 2 minutes that if you don’t feel something, you should seriously consider going to the doctor to get that checked out.  -JY

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