Tag Archives: a day at the racetrack

Best Album Covers of 2016



With the year coming to a close, it’s that time again to take a look back at some of the best that the music world had to offer in 2016. First up on the “Best of” docket is my annual “Best Album Covers” list. Throughout the year, I kept a list of album covers that I found strange, beautiful, and provocative.  This list is a compilation of my favorites from this yearlong collection.  Anyone who loves the album as an art form knows the importance of a powerful LP image, and the following 20 covers elevate their corresponding albums.

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Julian Lynch “Mare”

Julian Lynch
[Olde English Spelling Bee, 2010]

Rating: 8.5

Déjà vu is such a strange phenomenon. Is it just a series of circumstances that remind us of a past experience? Or is it a result of daily routines where it’s inevitable that events are bound to repeat themselves?  Or could it truly be that memories are timeless, that they float aimlessly through our mind, seeping in from the past, present, and future, creating a psychic horizon where there is no end or beginning?

Whatever the case, Julian Lynch’s 2010 release “Mare” is auditory déjà vu, bringing you back to memories that never existed.  Something about Julian’s ambient psych-jazz resembles music you’ve heard before (maybe as a child, maybe on the “Finding Forester” soundtrack”, or maybe in a dream).  Yet, it also sounds like something completely fresh and original, like nothing you’ve ever heard in your before.  As you can imagine, this contradiction can cause some disillusionment. The songs on “Mare” exist in some way within our psyche, a collection of vivid arrangements that whisk you from one memory to another, then vanishing just as you find yourself nuzzling up to the warm feelings that arise within Julian’s soundscapes.

Relax and let the title track overtake your soul:

Lynch’s sound reminds me of Panda Bear if Panda Bear grew up on Miles Davis rather than The Beach Boys. The breezy saxophone on songs like “A Day At the Racetrack” will needle into your brain like acupuncture, calming your soul and sending chills up and down your spine.  The sax solo near the end of “Ruth, My Sister” hoots and squawks the ancient organ procession to a close.

Even the video for “A Day At the Racetrack” is like déjà vu:

Don’t be confused though; this isn’t a jazz album.  On other songs you may hear a sitar, distorted guitars, or a choir of childlike voices.  Julian definitely has a focused sound, yet he understands how to mesh a plethora of tools to appease his listener’s pallette.  Nothing is used simply to be “weird” or “artistic”.  Every instrument, every reverbed vocal, adds to the final product.

You would swear that “Mare” is a used record store discovery from the 1970s because every song drips with a retro vibe. At the same time, I think you would be hard pressed to find an artist in the 70s accomplishing what Lynch does with this album, an atmosphere from another place, another time.  At the risk of sounding cliche – it’s otherworldly while still being grounded in everything you know (or knew in another life).

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