Posts by Sunset Fam

Best Songs of 2016

Best Songs of 2016

You could say that 2016 was a weird year, or a year of change. It was a year where 3-1 leads were no longer safe, Kermit The Frog ran the internet, Snapchat took over the world, dabbing continued to exist, an inebriated Bill Murray took you out to the ballgame, and much, much more. In music, it was the year of the “surprise” release. Long gone are the days where we’re told an album is due ahead of time. You wake up, brew your coffee, check Twitter, and there you find a live video feed of Frank Ocean taking on a DIY project, while simultaneously setting the world on fire to burn in speculation about what is happening.

Welcome to our best songs of 2016.  A list of 149 songs spanning the course of a completely reasonable 9.5 hours. We picked songs from 113 different artists, but there were a handful* of artists who seemed to win the year, landing the highest number of songs in our list. Most of these artists had songs chosen as a top song of 2016 by multiple members of our team.

Here are those winners, ranked with their number of song nominations in parenthesis:

  1. Frank Ocean (14)
  2. Francis and the Lights (7)
  3. Chance The Rapper (7)
  4. Drake (7)
  5. Kanye West (6)
  6. Bon Iver (6)
  7. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (5)
  8. Allan Kingdom (4)

*We listed the top 8 because there were many artists who tied for #9.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: life will throw you curve balls any chance it can. How you take that curve ball is one thing, but the music in your life will always be your constant among infinite variables. It will be there when you’re at your best and at your worst. Find your vibe, and spread the love. That’s the best part about blogging; being able to share and open other people’s eyes to different artists and genres. That is the point of this list. We are sharing what we loved about 2016. Despite all the weirdness that happened, whether for good or bad, 2016 was an incredible year for music, and it will only get better in 2017.

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NOTE: Original cover image by Samantha Friend.

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Best Songs of 2015

It’s been a helluva year for music. We had a legend return to us (D’Angelo), new indie darlings to worship (Oh Wonder), and a kid from Chicago show us the power of authentic, positive, and more importantly, independent music (Chance The Rapper). In the midst of a raging war between Spotify, Tidal, and SoundCloud for our bandwidth, we had more music to consume–and more ways to access it–than ever before. Yet in a year when streaming dominated more than ever, an English songstress broke record after record for units sold in consecutive weeks (Adele). We’ve had plenty of highs (Drake & Future teaming up) and we’ve had some lows too (*cough* Meghan Trainor), but it’s seldom a dull moment in the universe of music. With 2015 coming to an end, the #SunsetFam is sure as hell excited for 2016 and the jams that it has in store. But before we all move on to the new year, relive our favorites from this year below. Stream on SoundCloud, listen on Spotify, or download them for your collection. We got you covered! Until 2016 ya’ll.

Download Best Songs of 2015

Editors note: SoundCloud playlist has about 70% of our picks. Spotify has about 90% of our picks. The download links have all of them. Hit the jump for full tracklist.

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The 20 Best Albums of 2013

It’s hard to accuse 2013 of being boring. Kanye released the most adventurous album of his career, Miley Cyrus found an exciting new use for foam fingers, a previously unknown sixteen-year-old girl from New Zealand had one of the biggest songs of the year (read that sentence again), Jay-Z invented #newrules that made Samsung relevant for a couple minutes, streaming services like Spotify changed the way we listen to music, Chance The Rapper took a giant step in his inevitable journey to replace Kanye as the King of Chicago/The Universe when ‘Ye eventually quits rap for a career in medieval architecture and water bottle design, and just last week Beyoncé reminded everyone why she’s the queen by releasing a secret “visual album” without any nerdy bloggers like us finding out first. (Whew).

It wasn’t just about the story-lines, though. Not to get overly dramatic or anything, but this might’ve been the best year for pop music since my parents were getting stoned in their friend’s San Francisco basement listening to new Bob Dylan and Rolling Stones records. Seriously. This was the year we’ve been waiting for — the year your favorite blogger’s favorite artists actually broke out and saw mainstream exposure. Can you imagine rookies like Chance and Lorde seeing the success they saw in 2013 even just a few years ago? Independent artists like Macklemore have been waiting their entire careers for the industry to break open like it finally has. When you turned on your local pop radio station this year, you started to hear what was actually popular, not what fancy record label executives thought would sell. Those executives are outdated. People who keep up-to-date with music blogs and tell all their friends about talented new artists are who matter now. You get to decide what’s popular. Finally.

On that note, we’ve put together a list of our 20 favorite albums of 2013. The list is a compilation of each of our writers’ individual rankings (using some crazy sophisticated mad-scientist metric that Lydia came up with), which should give a pretty balanced perspective of the year’s best releases. Cheers!

Click through to continue reading about our Best Albums of 2013
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Sunset + #hpjoy – Enter to Win a Free HP Chromebook

The reason I started this blog was because I was inspired by cool people doing cool things. It has focused almost 100% on music, but here and there I’ve shared some art and technology with you guys. Recently, I was invited to participate in a cool event hosted by HP where I was able to test out the latest and greatest HP technology. Being somebody who’s inspired by technology and forward-thinkers, this was a really cool experience for me.

For other tech junkies out there: the technology showcased at the #hpjoy event was forward-thinking. I was especially impressed the the LeapMotion system now in place in the ENVY laptop series. It allows a new level of control to the user by allowing gestures made in the air to be understood by the machine. This seems like a gimmick at first, but the opportunities are plentiful. For example, being able to quickly rotate and zoom in on 3D projections are quite impractical with a touchpad. One level geekier, having a new gesture-based means to control the screen gives developers a lot more potential to be creative with UI design. This could be the future, yall. After playing with the system, it became apparent to me that what the LeapMotion platform brings is the next logical step to the current age of multi-touch trackpads.

So after being able to geek out with the technology, I was given another gift from HP. I have received two HP Chromebooks for my review and comments. I’m giving away one of these two Chromebooks so you guys can have the opportunity to test out this new cool technology as well. Sign up with your information using the form below. The contest will run until December 14th, 2013, and then once a winner is chosen, he or she will be contacted via email and the Chromebook will be shipped to them. Also, be sure to spread the word with your friends! Once you’ve entered your information below, you’ll be given opportunities to share with your friends – for each friend you invite who then enters to win, you will be rewarded an extra entry.

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Songs of the Week: August 5 – August 11

1. The Head and The Heart – Shake (Posted by Lydia)

I have seen The Head and The Heart twice now, and each time, they have completely blown me away. The first time was in Chicago’s Millennium Park when they opened for Iron & Wine, and the second time was in Houston earlier this summer. They’re one of those bands who truly put a spell over their audience; their music is so gripping, emotive, and, to put it simply, damn good. This one is a little less folky and a little more rock n’ roll, but certainly has the signature H&H sound to it. The Head and the Heart’s new album, Let’s Be Still, will be released on 10/15/13.

Even if it was a mistake, I won’t forget your face

2. Dillon Francis ft. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – Without You (Posted by Alicia)

So when this track came out, people had said that Dillon Francis was crying at the end of his set as he dropped this song for the first time, which caught my attention. Rarely is electronic music able to instill emotion in such a powerful way. In his own words: “This song is very meaningful to me because as TEED and I were working on the song, I was having relationship problems of my own. He ended up writing the song about the whole situation I was going through.” This is certainly a break of pace for Francis, and one he has said he wants to continue in. I think he should…what he has created here is as moving as it is catchy. While indie kids are going to listen to Bon Iver when they break up, EDM kids are going to listen to this.

If only you could see the future, it’s all yours now

3. Jon Waltz – Somewhere Else (Posted by Arjun)

Jon Waltz is clearly heavily influenced by ASAP Rocky, as his style sounds pretty much directly derived from the ASAP movement. That being said, he does it well. The trippy, trap production he raps over in Somewhere Else compliments his flow, and Waltz goes hard throughout. He gained a new fan in me with this song, even though what he’s putting out does not seem to have a particularly unique sound at this point. It will be interesting to seem him evolve going forward.

4. SomeKindaWonderful – Reverse (Oliver Nelson Remix) (Posted by Arjun)

SomeKindaWonderful‘s debut track “Reverse” was an absolute jam in its own right, and got me really excited for them to release new music. Oliver Nelson‘s remix really just brings the track to a whole other level, though, and gives it an awesome disco-dance vibe. Tough to not bob my head to this and do a little chair dance as I sit down to type this. Definitely a track I will throw on at a party, this one has huge mainstream potential.

5. Denitia and Sene – It’s Your Fault (Posted by Alicia)

I’m not really sure how it happened, but this genre really snuck up on me and now I can’t stop listening to it. Each week, I seem to be including more and more glitzed out, laid back electronic music, a genre I really never listened to very much until recently. Now I seem to not be able to get enough. I think Disclosure was what got me into it in the first place, but now it seems to almost be an obsession. It just puts me in a different place, and I’m digging it.

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20 Must-Have Summer Songs of 2013, Part 1

We’re about one month into summer so it’s only right for the Sunset Fam to give you a dose of our favorite songs of the season so far.  We’ve compiled a list that’ll make you want to cruise to the beach with your windows down, with no worries in the world.  Here’s our top 20 must-have tracks to get you going for the rest of this lovely season.


1. Netherfriends – Uptown Boys

There’s not much I can say other than this jam by Netherfriends is one of the coolest songs I’ve ever heard. If I could only transport back to college and just drive around campus blasting this song with my windows rolled down. Fuck it, though, I’m just going to put my headphones on, play this song on repeat, and strut around living like it’s a summer day every day. It’s easy to dream when you’re always high. Lydia


2. La Plage – Rendez Vous

La Plage gives us that light, fun indie summer track we all need in our lives.  It’s dreamy and sweet like a summer treat. (Yes, I just said that with no shame.)  Alicia


3. Sol – Jump In

To be honest, I go back and forth on Sol. Sometimes I think his content is lacking substance. But when it comes to a summer tune, sometimes the last thing you want is heavy content. That’s part of what makes this song so perfect. It’s light, airy, and catchy as ever. music is my baby, she drive me crazy – Lydia


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17 Best Kanye West Faces


1. A joke about jungle fever.



2. But why?

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 1.49.02 PM


3. Hi, my name is Kanye.


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Artists of the Month – April 2013

Last month, I predicted that April’s Best Artists of the Month would include a female. Alas, still no females. We seem to be a pretty sexist bunch over here at Sunset, huh? Joke’s on me, the only consistent female writer on the site, I suppose. At any rate, we’ve come together again to pull our picks for Best Artists of the Month thus far in April. These are the guys we can’t stop listening to; the guys who are still singing into our ears as we’re falling asleep every night; the guys we just can’t help but to wish to be in our next lives. They are…the coolest. Head on over to the list, and click on each artist to read more about them and hear more of their music.

View April’s Best Artists of the Month

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The 10 Best Kid Cudi Songs

Kid Cudi was one of the first artists I really latched onto when I started this music blog back in 2008. I immediately heard something different in his music that I wasn’t hearing in most music: honesty, introspection, and a version of hip hop that was accessible to people not looking for the typical ramblings of a gangster making music. I admired the dark nature of Cudi’s words more than I ever thought I was. Perhaps it made me think I was lonelier than I was in reality, but I felt them. A Kid Named Cudi was the first project I heard from the young rapper/singer, and I’ve been listening ever since. Though I’ve felt a steady decline in the quality and appeal in Kid Cudi’s music since that fateful day in 2008, there have been songs that have forever changed my life between then and now. While I sit here and hope that Incidud catapults Cudder back into the ranks of the best musicians I’ve ever heard, I have worked with the Sunset Fam to put together a list of the 10 best Kid Cudi songs of all time. – Lydia Simmons

Start reading: 10 Best Kid Cudi Songs

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Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience [IRL Review]

Okay, this is cool. The Sunset fam is proud to announce the very first IRL Review via Google Hangout on Justin Timberlake‘s The 20/20 Experience. Stream it LIVE below.

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Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist [Album Review]

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis The Heist Album Artwork

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis just released The Heist yesterday, October 9th, and we’re here to leave our thoughts on it. Similar to our Frank Ocean Channel Orange review, the team of Sunset writers are all going to leave our thoughts on The Heist. If you need a bit of backup leading up to this release, check out a couple different previews:

Hit the jump to read all writers’ reviews, but before you get there…I’d highly recommend buying this album. Support the artists! (And I have to apologize for taking up so many words, but I couldn’t contain myself. Macklemore might be my favorite rapper of all time, so I really wanted to take the chance to say what I felt needed to be said. -Lydia)

The Heist - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

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[Review] Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

Frank Ocean released Channel Orange this Tuesday. We’re here to leave our thoughts on it.

To give a bit of a back story, last August SITR writers got together and did a group review of one of the top albums of 2011, Watch The Throne. We chose to do a group review because what’s better than one writer’s opinion from your favorite blog? Multiple writers’ opinions from your favorite blog!

Your friendly neighborhood bloggers are back at it again. So this time, we’re tackling arguably one of the biggest and most-hyped releases of 2012 in Frank Ocean‘s Channel Orange.

Before you read our reviews, only if you have the attention span to do so, I want you to read this from our guy Confusion over at P&P.

**If you read the P&P article, continue to #1. If you didn’t read the P&P article, continue to #2.

  1. Thank you. Proceed to SITR’s reviews.
  2. You suck. Proceed to SITR’s reviews.
Hit the jump to see our writers reviews!
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