This year has been the worst for many reasons, but now we have one more statistic to add to the pile: this is the worst year for music since 1991. Before you hide your head under your pillow, stick around for uplifting music news. Someone found an unreleased Sufjan Stevens album in a dumpster, Missy Elliott is getting a star-studded tribute, Father John Misty covered the Squidbillies theme, Factory Floor dropped a heart-pumping new track, and Chance the Rapper guest stars on a moving number to lift your spirits.
Remember when SoundScan (now Nielsen Music) arrived on the scene in 1991? Turns out the 2016 music world is somehow doing just as poorly as that year. Album sales went down 16.9% in the first half of this year alone. It seems strange given how many huge albums have come out, including records from Beyonce, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Radiohead, and more. I mean, really, what other huge artists are out there that can make people buy or download LPs? And we’re not talking vinyl sales; those have gone up. CDs, digital albums, and new album releases all see sinking numbers. Track sales also dropped by over 100 million units. What does it mean? You may have guessed it: Streaming is to blame for a lull in album sales, especially song sales. And ladies and gentlemen, the streaming business will keep on booming. [Billboard]
From long song titles to sonic evolutions, Sufjan Stevens never underwhelms his fans. If anything, he overwhelms them. The folk prodigy and elctro-pop crooner is in his 17th year as a recrding artist. There’s been some sizable gaps between records. Turns out he was writing music then; he just didn’t think it was worth sharing. A redditor posted a story the other day about finding an unreleased Sufjan album in a dumpster outside his Brooklyn studio. “One day, while he was renovating the place, he threw a bunch of stuff into the building’s dumpster. I salvaged this…as far as I know, I don’t think it’s ever been released,” he writes. The pretty bland CD shows black and white artwork with a release date of 1998. His label is listed on the packaging, and they took the time to respond (surprisingly well) on that same Reddit page. “You have received a special gift. You’re hearing something only a few have ever heard,” they write. “Like any great musician Sufjan writes a ton of music. 99% of it is unreleased for whatever reason. Sometimes you just have to trust the smurfjam.” Curiosity killed the cat, and yet the asthmatic kitty seems the least curious of them all? [Consequence of Sound]
Adult Swim tends to outdo itself with the weird cartoons, yet some, like Squidbillies, are so absurd that they stick around for more seasons than most people would guess. Part of what makes the animated show so fun is their creativity. This season, Squidbillies recruited tons of stellar musicians to cover the show’s theme music. Sharon Van Etten and Kurt Vile have already had a go at it. The season premiere sees Father John Misty behind the board, offering up an alt-country take on the 30-second song. It’s fun, funny, and not too far off from something that would appear on a Father John Misty record, truth be told. Give it a listen above. [Stereogum]
At this year’s VH1 Hip-Hop Honors, Missy Elliott will see a live tribute take place in her honor. The event will air live from New York City’s Lincoln Center on July 11 is dedicating the evening to “the trailblazing ladies of hip-hop.” As such, Nelly Furtado, Keyshia Cole, Pharrell Williams, and Timbaland will all take part in the Missy tribute. [Rolling Stone]
UK electronic act Factory Floor is prepping to release their new album, 25 25, on August 19. They’re staples of LCD Soundsystem’s label, DFA Records, and know how to get crowds dancing as such. New single “Ya” is no exception. A deep, brooding voice repeats the titular phrase while the rhythm section has at it, pounding away like a heartbeat that’s sweating nonstop. It’s seven minutes of energy you may need to finish off whatever work is on your plate for today. Check it out above. [Stereogum]
Jamila Woods is one of Chicago’s best kept secrets in the music industry. She has a gorgeous voice with vocals that stay smooth, even when getting hitting the opposite ends of registers. Woods performed with Chance the Rapper for songs on his new mixtape as well as live TV performances. Now, the two team up on “LSD,” a song named after the windy city’s Lake Shore Drive. It’s a complicated love song not for a person, but a place. Give it a listen and catch the vibes above. [Consequence of Sound]
See you back here on Monday for another Music Dispatch!
Image: The Rumpus