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04.02.20 20NEEK20: Q1 Albums 03.25.20 Neek's HORROR Binge
03.17.20 Machina I/II: REVAMPED03.14.20 TWENEEK19: FOTYs
02.08.20 Johnny v. Neek - ROUND 1: Sample Platte01.26.20 TWENEEK10s: AOTDs
01.19.20 Neek's January 2020 Mixtape01.13.20 TWENEEK10s: SOTDs
12.20.19 Neek's December 2019 Mixtape11.23.19 Neek's 1st Listen: Coldplay's "Everyday
11.13.19 Neek's November 2019 Mixtape10.02.19 Neek's 2019 Cram List
09.08.19 Mellon Collie: Revamped 07.20.19 Pitchfork Fest '19: Bands I Filmed
07.06.19 TWENEEK19: Q2 Albums07.01.19 TWENEEK19: Q2 Films
06.13.19 Neek's 2010s Cram List06.12.19 2019 Charts Up
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Neek's 2017 To-Cram List

List of albums I have to get done by the end of the year because idk year-end lists and such.
1Tyler, the Creator
Flower Boy

Initial reaction: 3.9/5
Right off the bat I was blown away by how lush yet dark this album sounded. There's a lot of depth and maturity to the soundscape here, and it's just a goddamn impressive hip-hop album. One problem I definitely had on first listen was its drop in quality after the first half, which was due to sticking to more traditional hip-hop concepts and sounds opposed to the dense uniqueness that started everything else. We'll see how it holds up on future listens.

Favorite Songs: "Where This Flower Blooms" "Who Dat Boy"
Least Favorite Song: "Droppin' Seeds"
2Elder (USA-MA)
Reflections of a Floating World

Initial reaction: 4.1/5
This is some great, great stuff. While the vocals are lacking compared to the mastery of the rest of the music, they seem to be aware of this and mostly stick to lush and constantly evolving soundscapes. It's hard to pin down good songs from bad ones due to the extended and drawn-out nature of most of the compositions (which is a much better word than songs), but a few clearly stand out such as the gorgeous "The Falling Veil" and the repetitious but ever-building climax of "Sonntag." Idk, this is just a massively enjoyable album and I recommend it to anyone out there. I have a feeling it's gonna just keep growing on me.

Favorite Compositions: "The Falling Veil" "Sonntag"
Least Favorite Composition: "Staving Off Truth"

Initial Reaction: 3.9/5
Melodrama is a far better and more mature effort than her overrated debut. There’s something absolutely captivating about this album, even while it may delve into some irritating pop cliches, it’s almost always made up for by a brilliant variety of soundscapes and a deep and heartfelt atmosphere throughout. This is what all pop music should sound like, gorgeous, inspirational, artful, and surprising in all the best ways. Still, I can’t help but feeling that there’s more to be found here. Let’s just say I can’t wait for whatever she cooks up next, cause I’ll be that it’s going to be even better.

Favorite Songs: “Sober II” “Hard Feelings/Loveless” “The Louvre”
Least Favorite Song: “Supercut” (even though the outro is incredible)

(For those interested Pure Heroine was like a 3.1)

Initial Reaction: 3.6/5
Alright, I'm so glad I decided to check this. Sure, it's not without it's pop cliches and an uninteresting song here and there, but overall it's an alternately gorgeous, touching, and even cute (I'm looking at you "Godzilla") album. I wish I was able to handle my pain with the grace of Kesha (not a sentence I thought I'd ever be saying) on this album, turning her anguish into uplifting greats like "Praying" and the beautiful country-tinged turned sci-fi "Spaceship." There's just something about this that's so completely likable compared to her past stuff, and I can't wait to see what she does next.

Favorite Songs: "Praying" "Spaeship" "Bastards"
Least Favorite Song: "Hymn"

Initial Reaction: 3.4/5
Yeah okay, I'll admit I was a little disappointed in this. The first half consisted of mostly uninterestingly minimal beats, over which the flow and lyrics of the rappers just wasn't enough to impress me without engaging music to back it. However, the second half gave way to far more lush atmospheres that blended extremely well with the themes of the songs, creating a captivating experience in the end. So yeah, I'm a bit mixed on this, but overall I'd say the pros definitely outweighed the cons.

Favorite Songs: "CASH" "MILK" "HEAT"
Least Favorite Song: "FAKE"
Saturation II

Initial Reaction: 3.8/5
Now that's more like it! With a higher emphasis on the music and atmosphere, Borckhampton provides insightful rapping over more interesting soundscapes, creating a win-win for everyone. A lot more of the tracks have a sense of individuality to them, making the album stand out more as a whole and the highlights stand out more. Plenty of cool loops and samples throughout, you can tell a lot of craft and talent was put into this one compared to the first. Definitely gonna take more time to fully digest it though.

Favorite Songs: "GUMMY" "FIGHT" "SWEET"
Least Favorite Song: "JELLO"

Initial Reaction: 3.7/5
Considering my questionable (check my ratings) experience with Jay-Z, I really didn't know what to expect from this other than a somewhat half-hearted apology for the "Lemonade" fiasco. And in a way, that's what I got. But honestly, and I know this isn't saying much, but this is the best thing I've heard from Jay-Z thus far, and I enjoyed it far more than I thought it was. It's an extremely consistent work of hip-hop (probably thanks to its easily digestible length) and the samples and music are almost always interesting, as are the things Jay-Z has to say. Sure sometimes it might dip into tedium, but overall this was an arresting, smooth, and enjoyable listen. And probably pretty darn important too.

Favorite Songs: "4:44" "Kill Jay-Z" "Legacy"
Least Favorite Song: "Smile"
8Manchester Orchestra
A Black Mile to the Surface

Initial Reaction: 4.2/5
Even if the opening track reminded me a bit too much of another Fleet Foxes track, the rest of the album blew me away with it's cinematic sense of scope and emotion, paving the road with adventurous sounds and styles that shouldn't have meshed together nearly as well as they did. It may get a little one-note at times, and the vocals are a little bit too indie-folk-styled for my liking, but everything works excellently well, and the song transitions and surprises scattered throughout really made this an engaging experience that I'm excited to delve deeper into in the future.

Favorite Song: "The Moth" (yeah it's just miles beyond anything else)
Least Favorite Song: "The Maze"
9Chelsea Wolfe
Hiss Spun

Initial Reaction: 3.9/5
Chelsea Wolfe masterfully builds an atmosphere combining the abrasive and the beautiful, and then stubbornly refuses to stray from it. Perhaps it's just because I wasn't listening intently enough to grasp all the intricacies of the album, but I did find it slightly frustrating in it's inability to deviate from the norm. The best and most lovely moments did exactly that, and the weakest did nothing to stand out from the pack, even if they were nearly bad in their own right. That being said, I do think that this is an album that I can unpack and discover more as I listen to it more often, so who knows what my final rating will be?

Favorite Songs: "Two Spirit" "Vex" "The Culling"
Least Favorite Song: "Offering"
10Gang of Youths
Go Farther in Lightness

Initial Reaction: 4.2/5
I'll be the first to admit that the first act of this album didn't do much to excite me. Sure it had some great straightforward rock energy and plenty of solid moments, but it wasn't until "Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane" came on that I was truly floored by what Gang of Youths had come to say. From that point on, I was hit by song after song of different but very cohesive rock epics built around strings, variety, and deep emotional impact (three things which always sit extremely well with me). The message behind this album is astounding and I can only imagine how great it's gonna feel to get back into this again and truly digest it. Man, this was killer.

Favorite Songs: "Let Me Down Easy" "Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane" "The Deepest Sighs, the Frankest Shadows"
Least Favorite Song: "What Can I Do If the Fire Goes Out?"
11Vince Staples
Big Fish Theory

Initial Reaction: 4.0/5
Anyone who's been following this list knows that if there's one thing that I enjoy in hip-hop music, it's a strong instrumental background, and boy does this one feature that. The thundering tribal beats are among the best I've ever heard, and the music changes from sweeping and mellow to crunchy and abrasive at a second's notice. The loops throughout are also really interesting, some excellent guitars and synths take Vince's raps and flow to another level, which were already quite enticing. So yeah, this might be the best hip-hop record I've heard all year, but I'll need a couple more listens for it to really sell me on it.

Favorite Songs: "Crabs in a Bucket" "BagBak"
Least Favorite Songs: "745"
Stay Golden

Initial Reaction: 3.9/5
My original paragraph got wiped but yeah dis good. Dis REAL good.
All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell

Initial Reaction: 4.2/5
Well this was surprising. Yknow, I thought I would enjoy this, but not quite THIS much. It's got a great combination of strong female pop-vocals yet funky rockin' guitars and structures. It all adds up to a consistently enjoyable and often unexpected collection of songs that all work together and yet stand apart as individuals. Anyone who's the slightest fan of pop or rock music will find something to like here, and although it may blend together a bit at times, there isn't a song on here that isn't great, and that's as good a compliment as I can give.
14The War on Drugs
A Deeper Understanding

Initial Reaction: 4.0/5
A serene collection of songs featuring gorgeous soundscapes paved in the wake of 80s hits the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Phil Collins sculpted, this time infusing them with their own blend of americana and alt rock. It's lovely and always captivating, but at its worst it wears its influences a little too much one its sleeve to match the heights of the two openers and the sprawling but beautiful "Thinking of a Place."

Favorite Tracks: "Up All Night" "Pain" "Thinking of a Place"
Least Favorite Track: "Knocked Down"
15Phoebe Bridgers
Stranger in the Alps

Initial Reaction: 4.1/5
A deep and haunted album filled with gorgeous melodies and yearning vocals. The atmosphere of yearning couple with promienent but subtle country influences reminded me a lot of country/folk singer Shawn Colvin's A Few Small Repairs (an album near and dear to my heart), so that definitely had some pull on me. Aside from a couple songs that didn't really stand out from the pack, I'm confident that they'll warm up to me eventually. Just a great, great folk album for this day and age.

Favorite Songs: "Scott Street" "Smoke Signals"
Least Favorite Song: "Chelsea"
16Fleet Foxes

Initial Reaction: 4.1/5
It's like they took all the most interesting and serene moments from their last two albums and threw them all together here. I honestly really enjoyed this one even though I had a hard time getting into the previous two's blend of old-timey folk and the atmospheric lush landscapes of modern folk, but I'm glad that this time they most just stuck to the latter. Even though the sound is quite different this time around, it still sounds very much like Fleet Foxes, which I'm sure is good for their fans. Still, the more different it sounded, the more I enjoyed it. The vocals still bothered me in parts and the second half wasn't quite as captivating, but what can you do?

Favorite Songs: "Third of May / Odaigahara" " Mearcstapa"
Least Favorite Song: "On Another Ocean (January/June)"
Relatives In Descent

Initial reaction: 4.0/5
This is one of those albums that starts off strong, then just ends up being peaks and valleys of quality throughout. But overall, this was a great first listen. The album seems strongly divided into two types of songs, ones that push the boundary of post-punk into more creative and rambunctious territory, and others that stick close to the basic formulas of the genre. You can guess which I preferred more.

Favorite Songs: "The Chuckler" "A Private Understanding"
Least Favorite Song: "Caitriona"
18Benjamin Clementine
I Tell A Fly

Initial Reaction: 3.7/5
Well, this certainly was an interesting one. A strange blend of genres from all over the map, I Tell a Fly was at its best when it was switching up audience expectations and distorting them into something aggressively listenable. However, there was a noticeable dip in quality in the second half that decreased steadily, with the closer ranking the lowest on the quality spectrum. Many of these songs simply toyed with a sound or two before becoming tired and restless, at their best, they were admittedly fascinating and fun. At their worst? Downright annoying. Overall though, it's hard to dislike such an enjoyable and unique treat (no pun intended).

Favorite Songs: "God Save the Jungle" "Phantom of Aleppoville"
Least Favorite Song: "Ave Dreamer"
19Chino Amobi

Initial Reaction: 2.9/5
This was an excruciatingly frustrating listen. While delivering loads of promise in strange and even beautiful hip-hop/world/industrial landscapes, Paradiso struggles with it's overblown runtime, and far too often wallows in noisy and utterly pointless tracks that do little for the overall atmosphere, and absolutely nothing for the listener. There's something very compelling about the experimentation here, but not when it's used to sacrifice engaging works of art for pretentious and clumsy sound collages and women screaming "WELCOME TO PARADISO" five times throughout the album with little rhyme or reason. Ugh. So much promise here, too.

Least Favorite Track: "POLIZEI"
20The Afghan Whigs
In Spades

Initial Reaction: 4.3/5
Wow. So, uh... Yeah. This was incredible. Just a beautiful and fully realized collection of alternative rock songs featuring a plethora of strings and horns and other little things that make me very happy. The vocals were excellent and the melodies were wondrous, idk, it's just everything that I like to hear in my music. The one thing I would say is that on first listen, I can't really recall the sound of any one song in particular apart from the style it used, and a few of the songs did repeat themselves in terms of musicality, but still that's more than most of these other recs did, Unique. ;)

Favorite Songs: "Into the Floor" "Arabian Heights" "Demon in Profile"
Least Favorite Song: "Birdland"
Happy Freedom

Initial Reaction: 4.1/5
A beautiful and eclectic mix of world, funk, and pop music, Woman create a deep and layered sound that's as unique as it is familiar. It's sways and moves along at an upbeat but sometimes mellow pace, embracing the listener with a warm sound that's wholly exciting. At it's best it's like nothing you've heard before, at it's worst it sounds like excellently-produced 80s pop (which is to say, it's still great). I'm writing this the morning after listening rather than right after so I'm a little fuzzy on the details, but yeah this was pretty stellar.

Favorite Songs: "Khung Bo (Terror)" "The End"
Least Favorite Song: "Conquer"
22The Murlocs
Old Locomotive

Initial Reaction: 3.5/5
Well, this was certainly an album of peaks and valleys, valleys of engaging vocal talents and limitless variation, and hills of grating guitar tones and repetitive song after repetitive songs. The goods clearly outweigh the bads however, thanks to the endearing lo-fi and retro qualities paired with refreshingly modern sensibilities. But yeah, this was definitely a mixed bag.

Favorite Songs: "Daily Agony" "Wondrous Star"
Least Favorite Song: "Shit Storm"
Dark Days + Canapés

Initial Reaction: 3.8/5
A gloomy exercise in post-punk with an experimental bent that nevertheless manages to create some lovely and moody sonic landscapes throughout. Sure, it might dabble in some repetitive sounds here but it never hurts the overall work due to the arresting overall atmosphere it helps create. Thanks to great vocals and eclectic yet unique instrumentation, this manages to stand above the pack as a dense but surprisingly listenable blend of genres.

Favorite Songs: "Immigrant Boogie" "Many Moods at Midnight" "(We’re) Dominoes"
Least Favorite Song: "Live>Leave"
24Snoop Dogg
Neva Left

Initial Reaction: 3.2/5
A genuinely solid release from Snoop Dogg, this album is way better than I expected it to be. Sure, the middle of it sags with some mid-tempo Drake-styled R'n'B cuts and it features Snoop's patented overlong and endlessly repetitive choruses, but the jams jam hard, and the worst tracks off of this aren't even half as bad as some of his other work. There's a surprising amount of variety to the instrumentation on here, and Snoop knows well enough when to rely on his voice versus that of others, making the hour-long album surprisingly brisk and enjoyable. I dare say I might even like this more as time goes on, but these always manage to grow off of me, so who knows. All I know is that on first listen, it's tight.

Favorite Songs: "Neva Left" "Let Us Begin"
Least Favorite Song: "Swivel"
25Ariel Pink
Dedicated to Bobby Jameson

Initial Reaction: 3.5/5
This was definitely a conflicting one for me. Unmistakably vintage in its sound, it's as if it were assembled out of different mashed-up pieces of the 80s, but nearly every song takes from a different genre or style from the past, which creates at once an incredibly versatile but scattershot record. Some moments accurately created a lovely sense of bliss like "Feels Like Heaven," or an abrasive and punky atmosphere on "Revenge of the Ice Man." However, a good number of tracks just didn't do enough to create a unique or clever sound that grabbed my attention, which ultimately ended-up being a very enjoyable mixed bag.

Favorite Songs: "Feels Like Heaven" "Revenge of the Ice Man" "Time to Live"
Least Favorite Song: "Time to Meet Your God"
26Everything Everything
A Fever Dream

Initial Reaction: 3.8/5
A surreal mash-up of cerebral art-rock and 80s influenced electronic pop, A Fever Dream features surprisingly affecting songs alongside dancey jams in a way that works way better than it should. While my rating may be a bit higher than what I normally would give it, I think it earns points for its memorability and likelihood that it'll grow on me in time. It's insane, but in a really beautiful way.

Favorite Songs: "Put Me Together" "A Fever Dream"
Least Favorite Song: "Can't Do"

Initial reaction: 3.9/5
A lovely slice of shoegaze and dream pop, this was simply just a pleasant listen. While at first it was little more than that, it eventually found its footing and delivered an exceptional 1-2-3 punch that added new textures and ideas to its already established formulas. The female vocals here were great too, adding a lot to what could've been formless and indistinguishable from other bands like the Silversun Pickups. But yes, just like any other album this was at its best when trying new things such as the hip-hop beat of "Half-Figured" or the electronic flavoring in "Jennifer." I hope to enjoy this one much more down the road.

Favorite Songs: "Jennifer" "Take it Slow" "Shoulders"
Least Favorite Song: "Lucky Girl"

Initial Reaction: 3.2/5
Maybe it's just the shit-ass mood I'm in right now, but I couldn't really get into this. There's definitely something alluring about the hazy atmosphere and sultry female vocals, but it just didn't all gel together into a memorable album for me. This definitely has room to grow for me, and I'm not giving up on it yet, it just didn't move me in all the ways I'd hoped it would.

Favorite Songs: "Buffalo" "Make You Pay"
Least Favorite Song: "Blooming"
29Hazel English
Just Give In / Never Going Home

The Budgester
Initial Reaction: 3.8/5
This was just a lovely, blissful sounding album, but it's greatest advantage is also it's greatest fault; it's slmost frustratingly consistent. Sure, every song here is very good, but the consistentcy bleeds over even to the sound of each song to the point where there are few things you can use to tell each song apart. It ends up that the highlights are only highlights because they manage to have a slightly unique sound compared to the rest, such as with the slight pop edge of "Never Going Home" or the subdued nature of the closer. Still, this also means there aren't really any weak tracks either, just those that leave no real impact whatsoever thanks to their amiable way of simply being pleasant and not much else. But really, can I complain that much about it?

Favorite Songs: "Never Going Home" "That Thing"
Least Favorite Song (I guess): "It's Not Real"

Initial Reaction: 3.7/5
SZA creates a dreamy and affectingly open-hearted album that's not only pleasant to listen to, but manages to hit some pretty important notes about relationships, self-worth, and feminism. Regardless, it isn't a perfect album, and as with many R&B works it repeats a lot of its sounds and thoughts too often, but while it might not be absolutely essential, I'd say I'm pretty damn glad I checked it out.

Favorite Songs: "Drew Barrymore" "Doves in the Wind" "Garden (Say it Like Dat)"
Least Favorite Song: "Love Galore"
As You Please

Initial Reaction: 4.2/5
Okay, so I really like this one. Like I REALLY liked it. There's something instantly warm and familiar about the sound here, and yet I can't pinpoint where I've heard it. It's catchy and thought-out without seeming copied and contrived, and it manages to at once be surprising and unpredictable yet smooth and pleasant to the ear. Idk man, maybe I'm thinking to hard about this, but all I know is that I enjoyed this the most out of anything so far, so good on you Deadly, and thanks for the rec!

Favorite Songs: "Discrete Routine" "Flowerchild"
Least Favorite Song: "World"
32Sorority Noise
You're Not As ____ As You Think

Initial Reaction: 4.0/5
Really really good album here, solid melodies with tracks that grew and changed throughout their relatively short runtimes. I really wish some of the songs lasted longer actually, it felt like some of them could use some breathing room and weren't used to their fullest extent; it's no coincidence the best song is also the longest here. Regardless though, this was a lovely sounding album that I can see myself jamming time and again thanks to it's easy, bright sound and digestible length. You're killing it so far Zombie ;)

Favorite Songs: "Leave the Fan On" "A Portrait Of" "A Better Sun"
Least Favorite Song: "Where Are You"
Sleep Machine

Initial Reaction: 3.4/5
Sleep Machine kicked off to a great start with a startling concoction of different genres and sounds. It all comes together very professionally, and I was surprised by the low amount of ratings these guys have. The short EP manages to still fit 10 tracks within, and they all blend cohesively and smoothly despite all the craziness going on. One major thing that bothered me (especially towards the end of the album) is the poppy, repetitious nature of some of the tracks like "We Can Sleep When We Die" and "Right Now." This actually reminded me of a bit more rock-influenced version of Dino's rec, so you two should definitely jam each other's recs.

Favorite Songs: "Lazarus" "Manic"
Least Favorite Song: "Right Now"
34death's dynamic shroud.wmv
Heavy Black Heart

Initial Reaction: 3.0/5
I'll admit that this was an extremely mixed experience for me, as I've rarely listened to vaporwave before, and especially none that was as unironic as this. I personally thought it was at its best when it settled into it's atmospheres and textures rather than endlessly and repetitiously sampling something or constantly cutting and jumping around in melodies, rendering them useless. I did find it interesting overall, especially how they were able to blend emotion into the music at times in unexpected ways. But yeah, not sure if this music is for me, or if I'm just not properly used to it.

Favorite Songs: "Life Should Be Easy" "Dream Argument"
Least Favorite Song: "You at Night"
35The Smith Street Band
More Scared of You Than You Are of Me

Initial Reaction: 3.7/5
There's little more disappointing than an album that starts promisingly, eventually reaches a climax of quality halfway, and then dips down into far weaker territory before puttering out. That being said, I'll admit to enjoying this far more than I thought I would when I saw the "folk-punk" genre tag, and I wouldn't be surprised if it grew on me with future listens. The vocals seemed a bit at-odds with the serene instrumentation at times, but more often than not the energy and variety here impressed rather than annoyed.

Favorite Songs: "Song for You" "Run into the World"
Least Favorite Song: "25"
36Harry Styles
Harry Styles

Initial Reaction: 3.7/5
Wow, so this is good. I mean, I expected it to like it, but there are really no weak track here. I mean, sure the last couple are a little underwhelming, but each track is good in its own way and the highlights are pretty jammable. I'm not going to pretend that this is like some unique sounding game-changer in rock music, but it isn't trying to be either. It's someone discovering their love for a genre and flexing their muscles in it best they can, seemingly gearing up to show the world what they can really do. And when that happens, well you bet I'm gonna be watching.

Favorite Tracks: "Sign of the Times" "Meet Me in the Hallway"
Least Favorite Track: "From the Dining Table"
37Black Malachite

Initial Reaction: 3.7/5
Alright, so coming into this I didn't know what to expect other than it would be better than Snide Remarks, and well, that was true! This was a subtle and meticulously crafted electronic work that was assured enough to focus on a sound and explore best it could. While this did make it seem a bit monochromatic at times, the second half picked up when trying out more guitar and piano-based instrumentals, which were just lovely. In fact, lovely is a good word for this project in general. It's nice, relaxing, and hopefully a strong indicator of growth for Black Malachite. I can only be excited for what's to come next!

Favorite Songs: "Glow, Pt. 2" "Goodbye" "Preparation"
Least favorite Song: "Mental Stasis"
The Assassination of Julius Caesar

Initial Reaction: 3.9/5
Yeah so this was really crazy considering my only experience with Ulver was that folk album they made in between their black metal albums, but once the shock factor wears off this is still an excellently made electronic based record. Sure, there aren't as many standouts as I would like and the entire thing kinda blends into one monochromatic sound at times, but it's deeply layered and intricately thought-out, and you can tell a lot of care was put into the thick atmosphere. It may not be as fun for someone aware of Ulver and their background, but it's a damn good release with a few cherries (like the devilish-voiced and jazz infused closer) on top.

Favorite Songs: "Coming Home" "1969" "Rolling Stone"
Least Favorite Song: "Southern Gothic"
39Tupper Ware Remix Party

Dino Jones
Initial Reaction: 3.3/5
While this didn't astound me on first listen, TWRP succeeded in provided a fun if not wholly original atmosphere of funky electronics and poppy vocals. Some songs succeeded more than others, but it ends on a surprisingly strong note and I'm glad they decided to keep this to an EP-length release as the M83's "Junk" meets SEGA Genesis-soundtrack vibe most definitely would've gotten old if it had lasted must longer. That being said, I could see this growing on me a lot, but just as easily could see it growing tired on repeated listens.

Favorite Songs: "Foor Bar" "Built 4 Love"
Least Favorite Song: "Body Image"

Initial Reaction: 3.4/5
While his live show sounded live an abhorrent rave from hell, this album is surprisingly layered and subdued I must say. While the music is always quiet and more mellow than anything, there's always a haunting quality present to it, a tension bubbling deep underneath the surface that lends a lot of depth to the record. Regardless, it's hard to not get frustrated with the lack of variety present. While some songs operate at a grand and theatrical level, others simply seem to exist for the novelty of creating a song out of annoying noise ("Castration") or worse, whimper quietly in the background with little to no reason for existing ("Miel").

Favorite Songs: "Piel" "Reverie"
Least Favorite Song: "Miel"
Para Quienes Aún Viven

Initial Reaction: 3.6/5
There's something deeply spiritual and moving to this album, and I can't quite seem to place it. Perhaps it's the twisting and meshing of cultures, or the deep and world-weary (almost to a fault) vocals. In the end however, I found it a little difficult to get into. It might've been that some of the compositions didn't quite deserve their length or that there really wasn't too much here I hadn't heard before. But in the end, the positive moments such as the interlude "Interrogatorio" or the haunted, aching climax of "El Grito del Padre" vastly outweigh the faults this album may have.

Favorite Songs: "Interrogatorio" "El Grito Del Padre"
Least Favorite Song: "Canción de E"
The Dusk in Us

Initial Reaction: 3.2/5
I warned you that I'd never listened to Metalcore before and didn't think I'd enjoy it, and here ya go. To be fair, I'll admit there was some stuff here that a really enjoyed, the powerful riffs, punk-like atmosphere, and so forth. But when my favorite moments are the ones that forgo that style for stuff more atmospheric and melodic such as the incredible title track, I can't really say that I liked the album much right? Everything else got really old after a while, even if it was fun from time to time. At its worst, it sounded like grind trying to sound artsy.

Favorite Songs: "The Dusk in Us" "Thousands of Miles Between Us"
Least Favorite Songs: "Under Duress" "I Can Tell You About Pain"
The Future in Whose Eyes?

Initial Reaction: 3.1/5
At first I found myself surprised by the utter insanity of the playful vocals and guitars, constantly prancing lightly between seriousness and being absolute bonkers. After the initial fun wore off however, I began to grow a bit tired of the mix of heavy and hard-hitting and what sounded like parts of 2000s pop-rock songs. Not much really happened worth noting after the first half, and those monologue-driven tracks were ridiculously unnecessary. But yeah, I had fun with this for what it's worth, and maybe all it needs is just some getting used to.

Favorite Songs: "Weavers of Woe" "Vivid" "The Aura"
Least Favorite Song: "The Moon's Been Gone for Hours"
44Taylor Swift

Initial Reaction: 2.9/5
When your piano-led emotion heavy closer is better than your entire album full of half-assed pop music any moderately talented could (and did already) make, then you might've picked a wrong stylistic direction. This album is filled with enjoyable but sickly sweet, unengaging, and unrelatable pop music that simply doesn't give the listener anything other than mixed feelings and frustration. While thankfully the truest misfires are mashed together at the beginning (like the trap-based single "...Ready for It?" and the ugly hip-hop parody "End Game"), there just isn't enough good to outweigh the bad. At all.

Favorite Songs: "New Year's Day" "Look What You Made Me Do"
Least Favorite Song: "End Game"
45Mount Eerie
A Crow Looked at Me

Initial Reaction: 4.2/5... I guess
I don't even know what to do with this. I feel dirty, somehow wrong for listening to it. It eleicits a deeply emotional response fromt he listener, and not necessarily a positive one. It's beautiful, dark, and blistering, and it doesn't pretend to have an answer. There is no exclamation of hope at the end like most albums that deal with death do, there's no reasons or lessons to hear. It's just deep pain. It's hard to not understand why some think this should never have been released to the public, because it's hard to imagine releasing something so personal myself. Maybe he just wanted people to understand, not to make something life-affirming. But thinking about it as a critic just doesn't feel right. I have to listen as a person.

Favorite Song: "Seaweed"
Least Favorite Song: "When I Take the Garbage Out at Night"
46Trisomie 21
Elegance Never Dies

Initial Reaction: 4.1/5
This is probably my first chillwave record (to me it simply sounded like classic post-punk infused with a blissful helping of electronic music), and I guess I can now say that I really like chillwave. The whole atmosphere of the record was extremely original, cool and yet not discomforting. The instrumentation was always varied and sometimes even exhilarating, almost to the point where the post-punk vocals held it back from its true heights (as evidenced by the pulse-pounding instrumental rendition of “Is Anybody Home? (Pt. 5)” that shows up it’s own original version.) It’s definitely something that I want to look into in the future, and something I’m sure Unique would be more than willing to rec me a million albums for.

Favorite Songs: “Is Anybody Home? (Pt. 5) - Instrumental” “Something Else” “Tender Now”
Least Favorite Song: “Our Trip”
Strange Peace

Initial Reaction: 3.7/5
A surprisingly varied and enjoyable album from Metz here. My main complaint about noise-rock and it's affiliated punk genres is the general repetition and lack of creativity that seems to ooze from even the more renowned offerings. But in general this managed to keep things interested with some change-ups in the instrumentation and tempos throughout. The second half definitely deflated with a couple inoffensive but annoying one-riff minute-long cuts and a general lack of new ideas. Regardless, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would going into it.

Favorite Songs: "Sink" "Caterpillar" "Mr. Plague"
Least Favorite Song: "Dig a Hole"

Initial Reaction: 4.2/5
Okay yeah, this was pretty damn great. Even though the final track left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth (since it had a strange childish/playful flavoring to it that made it sound like it belonged on some sort of sick post-rock Sesame Street and also happened to be the longest cut), this was a masterful and unexpected blend of adventurous folk music and post-rock, brimming with creativity and fun. It was a unique listen to say the least, and was well worth the length. Now if only that last song will warm up on me a bit...

Favorite Song: "orwellian"
Least Favorite Song: "petrichor"
49Upper Wilds
Guitar Module 2017

Initial Reaction: 3.5/5
When I first started this, the opener and album title led me to believe that what I would hear next would be a blistering sonic anarchy led by oppressive noisy guitars and distortion. And while also I got that, I also got some unexciting vocals and boring songwriting. Sure sure, it was enjoyable and everything, but it wasn't enough to make me want to come back. That is of course until it got its head out of its ass on the menacing and brutal "Chainsaw," followed by "Black Holes" which sounds like someone tried turning a Green Day song into grind though a remix the best way possible. So yeah, when the band is interesting, it's great, but when it isn't, well...

Favorite Songs: "Chainsaw" "Black Holes"
Least Favorite Song: "Let's Build a Moon"

Initial Reaction: 3.7/5
Despite only having the relatively short length of an EP, Alter is successful in building a heavy and throbbing atmosphere of thick distortion and repetitive riffs. This becomes the most entrancing yet harmful element to the effort's greatness, as while it's uniquely rock-hard for the genre, it refuses to deviate from the course set by the first track. That isn't to say that there aren't a few highlights thanks to the anguished and echoing vocals and clever musicianship, but it does make for a somewhat frustrating listen that something so short can still seem so monotonous at times.

Favorite Songs: "False Mirror" "The Storm"
Least Favorite Song: "Pendulum"
51Secret Shine
There Is Only Now

Initial Reaction: 3.7/5
Another solid rec from Aberf! This was was really good, even though in some places it seemed to not really standout from the pack of other shoegaze I've heard (which isn't really that much in all honesty). The wall of fuzz created in this album didn't so much create an apprehensive as it did one of warmth, which was a nice touch. The female vocals were far more interesting than the male's, and guided the melody for most of the best cuts. Even as I'm writing this I'm losing the words to describe it as I'm forgetting what it sounded like exactly... which is definitely another problem.

Favorite Songs: "All in Your Head" "To the Well" "Things I Said"
Least Favorite Song: "Make Me You"
Molten Young Lovers

Initial Reaction: 3.6/5
An often engaging shoegaze album that entertains a massive and spacey scope while also playing around with other influences such as electronic music. The main problem with these shoegaze recs is that as lovely and fun they can be to listen to, a lot of the sounds presented in them tend to overlap and blur together over an entire album length. For instance, this one is over an hour long, and yet could easily have been shortened a large amount. It doesn't change the fact that everything is pleasant, but it just means that it either could be a bit more adventurous, or a hell of a lot shorter.

Favorite Songs: "Your Lips, My Mouth" "Song of You"
Least Favorite Song: "Sharon Apple"
Burial Songs

Initial Reaction: 4.3/5
Holy shit this was good. A gut-punch to the head and to the heart, Burial Songs features long, drawn-out, and endlessly evolving compositions that not only please the ear but manage to play with the audience emotions as well thanks to balanced vocals that don't take away from he experience like some other post-rock recs on here, but actually add to it. Each composition was unique and steadily moving, not a single one was much weaker than the other and the length never was a problem, surprisingly. It's hard to say exactly what drew me to this album so much, but I'm excited to see where it'll take me from now on, and I can definitely say it's one of the best albums of the year I've heard so far.

Favorite Song: "Sundowning"
Least Favorite Song: "Into the Abyss"
More Life

Initial Reaction: 2.8/5
Despite a very rough start in "Free Smoke," I daresay I enjoyed the majority of this. The tracks feature swampy beats and an assured direction even if he can't execute them as far as his ambitions might hope. Also, the album is helplessly redundant and in both the sound of the songs and just in terms of the sheer amount of tracks present. It's sad to think how much better this album would be with 12 or 15 tracks instead of 22. Overall I would say this is at least an improvement over Views due to its consistency, but it fails to capture my attention much otherwise.

Favorite Songs: "Passionfruit" "KMT"
Least Favorite Song: "Free Smoke"
55Big K.R.I.T.
4eva Is a Mighty Long Time

Initial Reaction: 3.9/5
Well, it might have taken a while to get through but I'm definitely glad I added this. Brimming with energy and creativity, Big K.R.I.T. came out of nowhere (for me at least) to release one of the coolest hip-hop releases I've heard this year. Still, there's one major and weird flaw that keeps me from going head-over-heels for it; the second disc is so much better than the first. This would at least be a 4.1 if it were just the second disc, and it's due simply to my tastes in hip-hop and the directional difference in the two sides; the first is more poppy and straightforward, the second is more gospel influenced and sonically adventurous. And that's just way better, sorry.

Favorite Songs: "Keep the Devil Off" "Miss Georgia Fornia"
Least Favorite Song: "Ride Wit Me"
56The Menzingers
After the Party

Initial Reaction: 3.5/5
This was a pretty enjoyable album I'll admit, even if it didn't really live up to the hype broadcasted by this site. I definitely enjoyed the moments that blended country and punk music together in an unexpected but really fun way, but was turned off by the similarity of a lot of the tracks. A few later cuts especially thinned out into repetition and even started to take on some pop-punk qualities that, while agreeable, were ultimately a bit mundane and generic. Ah, well, I'm not a huge fan of punk obviously so what else can you expect?

Favorite Songs: "Black Mass" "Lookers" "Livin' Ain't Easy"
Least Favorite Song: "House on Fire"
57Blood Cultures
Happy Birthday

Initial Reaction: 3.9/5
Well, based off of my reaction to dino's rec I shouldn't have liked this but I really really did, so I don't know what to tell you. Yeah, I'm supposed to explain my thoughts and feelings here (that's the point of me doing this anyway), but I really can't explain why I like this. It just makes me feel warm and happy, and the music doesn't sound canned or cheesy in its electronic musings, it almost always feels genuine. I guess the main fault is that it goes on for s bit too long and couple tracks could've been cut, but whatever it's great.

Favorite Songs: "Moon" "Scenes from a Midnight Movie"
Least Favorite Song: "Inside" (and it's not even much worse than the rest)
Pacific Daydream

Initial Reaction: 3.0/5
Yeah it's pleasant, enjoyable, yada yada yada, but it's entirely empty affair. I'm not sure if they're purposely trying to imbue their music with a sense of pointlessness, but that's exactly what it sounded like. 40-year-olds singing like they're 20 and pretending like nothing matters but the beach is not exactly what I look for in music, no matter how inoffensively enjoyable it might be.

Favorite Songs: "Feels Like Summer" "Any Friend of Diane's"
Least Favorite Songs: "QB Blitz" "La Mancha Screwjob"
59The National
Sleep Well Beast

Initial Reaction: 4.1/5
Well this was pretty damn lovely. The indie-rock meets post-punk vibe swoons and sways very naturally through various hints of instrumentation, all while keeping to a slightly monochromatic and extremely consistent vibe throughout. This consistently bleeds also into the quality of the tracks, while none of them are below "very good" by my standards. The weakest simply don't add much to the rest of the album, while the best twist and turn the vibe into something more feeling and emotional, such as the beautiful but dark opener. Could definitely see this growing on me int he future when I'm less sleepy.

Favorite Songs: "Nobody Else Will Be There" "Guilty Party"
Least Favorite Song: "I'll Still Destroy You"
60Aimee Mann
Mental Illness

Initial Reaction: 3.8/5
While I wasn't blown away by Mental Illness (it doesn't really add much to the "sadgirl indie folk genre" (in Con's words (even though he wasn't talking about this album))), I did slowly begin to get wrapped up in the bitter-sweet overlap of strings and guitar. The lyrics didn't pop out at me on first listen, but the emotional vocals certainly did, and while it's hard to bring up much due to the lack of a unique sound, I did fall in love to an extent with this record. Idk man, maybe I'm just a sucker for these kinds of albums.

Favorite Songs: "Good For Me" "Simple Fix" "Poor Judge"
Least Favorite Song: "Rollercoasters"
61Cigarettes After Sex
Cigarettes After Sex

Initial Reaction: 3.7/5
Well, ain't nothing wrong with a one-trick pony as long as the trick is good I suppose. Regradless, while it's nice to hear a band completely nail a sound (in this case, ambient, slow dream pop), it's frustrating to hear them absolutely refuse to deviate form it in any way shape or form. You could play me any song form the album right now and I wouldn't be able to name a single one of them or pick one out from the crowd. My literal favorite and least favorite tracks listed are just the first and last tracks since it all boils down to how sick of the sound I was. This is all sounding negative, but it really is a good album. There's something they've got that a lot of others don't have, and I just wish they'd apply it better and more artfully. Well, here's to next time I guess.

Favorite Song: "K."
Least Favorite Song: "Young & Dumb"

Initial Reaction: 3.9/5
At first I was unimpressed with Slowdive's monochromatic wall of sound, but it wasn't long before the quiet intricacies of the musicianship seeped in. A slight but gorgeous guitar riff, the aching piano outro of the closer, the longer the album went the more intrigued I was by this bands' ability to combine shoegaze with less abrasive and more emotional elements, which allow it to easily stand out against many other similar releases this year. I look forward to getting to know this album (and the band) better in the near future.

Favorite Song: "No Long Making Time" "Falling Ashes"
Least Favorite Song: "Slomo"

Initial Reaction: 4.1/5
I'm gonna be honest here, I enjoyed every second of this thing. There wasn't a dull moment on here (a huge rarity for me in this genre), and I've gotta say this is probably my favorite hip-hop album of the year. It's drenched in variety and creativity, more so than either of it's predecessors. It's got a more unique spirit and it's constantly sonically adventurous and yet aggressive at the same time. It's essentially everything I love about hip-hop music, and for all I know it might grow on me even more.

Least Favorite Songs: "HOTTIE"
64Neil Cavanagh
City of the Sun, Valley of the Moon

Initial Reaction: 3.7/5
While nothing hugely substantial, Neil Cavanagh displays a warm and friendly tone throughout the album that definitely brightened up my morning with its summery vibe. There's plenty of variety here, such as the guitar-and-electro crunch of "The Empire Strikes Back," the mellow acoustic closer, or the somewhat uninspired piano on the opener, and while it may not be as cohesive as it could be, none of it detracts from that underlying theme, which is perhaps what makes it work so goshdarn agreeably.

Favorite Songs: "The Empire Strikes Back" "Abused"
Least Favorite Song: "Valley of the Moon"
65Los Campesinos!
Sick Scenes

Initial Reaction: 3.6/5
A punchy and exuberant work from Los Campesinos!, it nevertheless suffers from a slightly amateurish vibe and a lack of earnestness, both of which might stem from the vocal delivery. The instrumentation may not stand out much, but it's suitably fun and varied, giving (most) tracks enough flavor to stand out while still fitting in with the established pop-rock sound. I'm going to be honest, I had a good time with this, but if it were up to me I'd probably never listen to it again once I rated it.

Favorite Songs: "Renato Dall’Ara (2008)" "A Litany/Heart Swells"
Least Favorite Songs: "I Broke Up in Amarante"
Black Chapel Sun

Initial Reaction: 3.2/5
Yeah, I guess this stuff isn't for me. On paper, atmospheric and chill electronic music sounds like a good time, and I suppose it is -- but when it runs on for 40 minutes without changing much except a little tempo here, some movie dialogue there, maybe an actually really good female vocalist or two, it's just fine. I'm sure it's nice to jam some nights but honestly I can think of stuff I definitely prefer more than can pull of the same mood just fine. Also, I suppose we'll see how further listens treat it.

Favorite Songs: "Self Aware" "This City of Flames"
Least Favorite Song: "U C4n R3st"
The World Is A Loud Place

Initial Reaction: 3.7/5
This was one of the strongest growers I've heard so far from just a first listen. After the first few I thought I'd be throwing this a 3.3 or 3.4, but as it went on and relied more and more on its sonic and instrumental genre-bending fluidity and less on the quirky but monotone vocals present in every track. Needless to say the music here is just plain great, instantly catchy and melodious but still vastly complex.

Favorite Songs: "The World Is a Loud Place" "Rest in Place" "Haymaker"
Least Favorite Songs: "Electric Abdomen" "Hard to Spell"
68Weyes Blood
A Certain Kind of Everybody

Initial Reaction: 3.9/5
Well, technically this is a single but I guess it doesn't matter because it's pretty great. Just lovely vocals paired with some understated but unique instrumentation that genuinely made me interested in checking out her other work. Even if I'm not sure that this sound could have worked for an entire album, I gotta give her props for recognizing that and going with it anyway. The first track was definitely more interesting than the second.

Favorite Song: "A Certain Kind"
Least Favorite Song: "Everybody's Talking"
The Rolling, Driftless North

Initial Reaction: 3.9/5
This was just a fascinating listen. It's so familiar and yet so different at once, it almost sounds like a blend of folk, indie pop, shoegaze, and idk labeling it doesn't even make sense half the time. I just know that I really liked the sound it portrayed, and that it managed to make every song featured consistently great. Keep these atmospheric recs up budgie! That ambient opener was absolutely gorgeous too.

Favorite Songs: "Driftless" "Four Portraits"
Least Favorite Song: "Pale Blue"
Savage Sinusoid

Initial Reaction: 4.2/5
This was a BIG fuckin' score for me, so so glad that Zombie rec'ed this because this was the most fun I've had listening to an album since Corey Feldman's atrocity against music (but obv this is a bit better). It's absolutely insane is the best and funniest way possible. One fault I will say is that after half an album of completely unexpected surprises one after another, the second half does little to top this and eventually settles into a more standardly listenable experience, which isn't bad, but doesn't quite live up the memorability preceding it. Regardless, I'll be quite interested to see where this ends up on my year-end list after a few more listens, as this is something that could grow on or off of me dramatically.

Favorite Songs: "ieuD" "Houmous"
Least Favorite Songs: "Apopathodiaphulatophobie"
71Rina Sawayama

Initial Reaction: 3.8/5
At first I was unconvinced, but I quickly hopped abroad for Rina's unique style of guitar driven, honey-dripping melodies. This is a fine example of just how great pop music can be, and should be a standard for which others strive to get to. I hope for a great future for Rina, as she already seems to be gaining some steam, and can only hope that a full-length release from her captures the energy and creativity present on this "mini-album."

Favorite Songs: "Through the Wire (Interlude)" "Alterlife" "10-20-40"
Least Favorite Song: "Ordinary Superstar"
72Remo Drive
Greatest Hits

Initial Reaction: 3.6/5
A pretty fun and straightforward emo/punk rock effort that was enjoyable if not super memorable for me. Sure, there were some really cool cuts like "Yer Killin' Me" which blended some unexpected acoustic elements into the sound of the more redundant tracks thus far, but mostly it was a pretty predictable affair. And don't get me wrong, there's certainly a place in my heart for music like this at times, but once I've heard one of these albums, the next has got to do something incredible for me to have thought it worthwhile.

Favorite Songs: "Yer Killin' Me" "I'm My Own Doctor"
Least Favorite Song: "Strawberita"
73The Dear Hunter
All Is As All Should Be

Initial Reaction: 3.8/5
I'm just gonna start this by admitting that this is my first Dear Hunter record. With the knowledge of what they're known as in the world of rock, I have to say I was a bit surprised by the direction this took. It's like a polished and straightforward perfection of pop-rock the likes of which Panic! at the Disco set out to make many years ago. It's very good, but I honestly don't get what all the hype is about. Perhaps this just isn't a good indicator of what the rest of their sound is like, but this was just kinda unexpected to me. It's really solid, but it doesn't make me wanna go out and check the rest of their stuff.

Favorite Songs: "Blame Paradise" "All Is as All Should Be"
Least Favorite Song: "Shake Me (Awake)"
Our Season Draws Near

Initial Reaction: 4.1/5
A pretty damn gorgeous blend of folk and post-punk, 1476 creates a lovely atmosphere that does its album cover justice. The mix of genres works extremely well to an admirable point, but I can't help but say that I enjoyed the folk angle a lot more (that might just come down to personal taste however.) It always seemed a bit more fresh and inventive than the post-punk/metal stuff they were trying, but nevertheless the two worked better together than apart. A consistently great listen, and I can't wait to dig deeper into it.

Favorite Songs: "Solitude (Exterior)" "Our Ice Age"
Least Favorite Song: "Winter of Winds"
75The Magnetic Fields
50 Song Memoir

Initial Reaction: 3.2/5
Yknow, if I'm being honest, there were a lot of good, even great songs on this. The individual discs on their own are bite-sized enough to be enjoyable and brief enough to make up for their faults. If this were a fourth of its length, I could see my self truly enjoying it and coming back to it. But when you make a two-and-a-half hour long album full of repeating themes and sounds, you have to fight hard to make it not seem like a slog. And I guess Stephen Merritt just didn't fight hard enough.

Favorite Songs: "'90 Dreaming in Tetris" "'96 I'm Sad!" "'91 The Day I Finally..."
Least Favorite Song: "’12 You Can Never Go Back to New York"
The Iceberg

Initial Reaction: 3.5/5
This was a bit of a frustrating listen as it took me from really enjoying the social thoughts and free-flowing jazz and funk influences permeating the first half, to being bored by the bland and straightforward second half rife with pop blegh and never-ending choruses which weren't that great in the first place. I think this guy has some great talent both lyrically and with his flow, but the music just wasn't tantalizing enough to draw me into them and make me care. Who knows, maybe it'll sink in on repeat listens but as it is, it's just good. Nothing more, nothing less.

Favorite Songs: "Things" "Digging Deep"
Least Favorite Song: "Like Really"
77The New Pornographers
Whiteout Conditions

Initial Reaction: 3.8/5
This is another one of those albums that starts out with an absoltuely killer opener (it's just so sweet, man) but then slowly but surely runs out of steam by the end. It's not that any of these tracks are bad by any means, they just don't quite hit the nail on the head the same way and what's left is a run of enjoyable poppy yet generic songs that breeze by inoffensively, still with an excellent tune here and there.

Favorite Songs: "Play Money" "This Is the World of the Theater"
Least Favorite Songs: "Colosseums"
78Devilish Dear
These Sunny Days

Initial Reaction: 3.8/5
My rating is a bit higher than one would expect from looking at my indiviual song ratings, but I must say I was simply blown away by the sound of this. Even if the tracks themselves weren't anything to write home about, the overall sound weaved together by them was a gobsmacking blend of shoegaze and trip-hop, sweetly aggressive, like a merciless smile, thanks to the blend of female-fronted vocals and thick, punishing guitars. I think that was enough one adjectives for one sentence.

Favorite Songs: "Face Without Eyes" "Time to Live a Little" "I Wanna Do It"
Least Favorite Songs: "Pointless Status"
79The Mountain Goats

Initial Reaction: 4.0/5
This is just a darn good album. With original lyrics and creative instrumentation -- I didn't even realize that this album featured no guitars until it was over, that's just how well it was done -- I have to say that I really enjoyed this album. Still, it's a little frustrating when the first song on the album is well above every other one, and it's a bit of a let down when nothing afterwards lives up to it. Regardless, this was an excellent album that I'm glad I checked, and it managed to easily warm me up on this cold winter day.

Favorite Songs: "Rain in Soho" "Andrew Eldritch Is Moving Back to Leeds" "For the Portuguese Black Metal Bands"
Least Favorite Songs: "Stench of the Unburied" "Wear Black"

Initial Reaction: 3.2/5
Bear with me.
I kinda like this thing.
There's a fair amount of promise here, and I really appreicate the amount of variety that went into the songwriting and music on this. In fact, the music in places is downright great ("Save Me"), and while it clearly needs some work, I can see this guy's future work being pretty cool. However, there are some seriously flaws. The fact that he tried to pass this off as an "album" is laughable given its length, and the two-minute long song thing really weakens his ability to create captivating songs. There are a few moments that come close to greatness, but they're cut dreadfully short. Oh, and I hear this guy is an asshole but I don't know the deets. And the lyrics were pretty pathetic at times.

Favorite Songs: "Jocelyn Flores" "Save Me"
Least Favorite Song: "Carry On"
Bad Week

Initial Reaction: 3.5/5
Yeah, this was definitely good, but I can't really explain why I like it. I suppose I'm just a sucker for atmospheric female-led rock-based efforts, and this definitely hits that mark for me. But still, it really doesn't seem like there's much that makes it seem unique or stand out from the crowd. When it was done, I said "That was it?" But in a casually surprised way than in a way that implied I was thirsting for more. This seems like the kind of thing Unique would loathe.

Favorite Song: "Last Week"
Least Favorite Song: "I Saw You"
82Elvis Perkins
The Blackcoat's Daughter

Initial Reaction: 3.2/5
Well, this was... something. I mean, it's hard to really give this a rating since it's essentially a string of interludes (even ambient music is longer and more drawn out enough to allow you to really get a feel for the compositions) that were about a minute long each. Sure, a lot farther in we got some stronger and more musical works that were genuinely interesting, but not after a half-hour of strung together glorified background music. Idk man, I kinda dug this, but at the same time it's just not arresting to me in the slightest.

Favorite "Songs": "Roseblud" "Trail of Blood - Hail - Open the Door Lucifer - Benzed"
Least Favorite "Song": "In the Garden"
The Beautiful & Damned

Initial Reaction: 2.8/5
I listened to this at the recommendation of my older cousin who likes this guy a lot and said this was his best album, but… yeah this just isn’t my kind of thing. There are some really solid songs and some of the samples/loops were killer, but the beats were pretty generic and I got no semblance of a unique personality from G-Eazy himself. In the end, there were a few solid bangers interlaced with loads of filler on what should’ve been a half-hour album.

Favorite Songs: “Leviathan” “Him & I”
Least Favorite Song: “Legend”
84Novo Amor and Ed Tullett

Initial Reaction: 3.6/5
Heiress, for all of its glimmering guitars and sweet atmosphere that dawns on the listener like a sad smile, is really quite disappointing. Compared to Novo Amor’s recent solo EP “Bathing Beach,” this album feels suddenly slight and unambitious. Everything feels frail and uninvolved, like everyone involved was holding back just a bit. It still makes for good atmospherically driven folk music, but we can’t help but feel a little cheated that this combination weakened rather than strengthened what talent was already there.

Favorite Songs: “Anatome” “Ontario”
Least Favorite Song: “Vantablack”
85King Krule

Initial Reaction: 3.4/5
"Look at me, look at me guys, look how moody I am!" they seem to be screaming (I'm sorry, murmuring) throughout the entire thing. That being said, there is certainly some interest to be had in it's smooth blend of jazzy post-punk, it's just that it never strays from it's one sound. It's unbearably monochromatic, making it feel ridiculously overlong. While some albums could use a 10, 15-minute trim, I wouldn't miss anything if they chopped half an hour off this thing. There's some really cool things going on, but not enough to excite me about the prospect of listening to this again.

Favorite Songs: "Buscuit Town" "Slush Puppy" "Half Man Half Shark"
Least Favorite Songs: "La Lune" "The Ooz"
86Stevens / Dessner / Muhly / McAlister

Initial Reaction: 4.1/5
It's not a secret that I'm not the biggest fan of Sufjan Stevens. Especially considering my adoration for indie folk, it's rare that an artist like Stevens won't really capture my attention. The main times when I'm captivated by his work is when he shoots far off the mark and aims incredibly high, such as the All Delighted People EP or the entrancingly alien Age of Adz. Same thing here; this is an ambitious project with a sound not rooted really in folk, but a gorgeous blend of electronica, ambient, and orchestral work. And yes, it does getting a little cumbersome and self-indulgent, but Stevens' vocals might be at their best here, and combined with the musical muscle behind him, it might be his best work yet. We'll just have to see how it grows on me.

Favorite Songs: "Jupiter" "Mars"
Least Favorite Songs: "Earth"
87Neil Cicierega
Mouth Moods

Initial Reaction: 3.9/5
It's hard to rate an album like this, so much so that I completely gave up on my usual song ratings for this. It's dastardly, horribly, ear-splitting, frustrating, and an abomination against the art of music itself. And yet, it's amazing for each and every one of those things. Sometimes it's just annoying and unfunny, but 90% of the times it's doing something so stupid or brilliant that you can't help but just give in to it's perfection and admit that there most certainly is an art to it after all.

Favorite Songs: "T.I.M.E." "Annoyed Grunt" "Shit"
Least Favorite Song: "The Starting Line"
88Father John Misty
Pure Comedy

Initial Reaction: 4.2/5
Everyone I talked to on here warned me about this album. They acted as if it was some monolothic, harrowing experience that I had to be truly prepared for in order to appreciate it. I must listen to his previous album to truly ready myself for it. What I got was a really beautiful and thoughtful folk album, certainly one that was down in the dumps, but not so emotionally devastating as half of the other folk albums that came out this year. In many ways the music keeps a shimmery brightness that contrasts the motives nicely, and saves the album from becoming a depressing dirge. The only faults were a couple repetitive instances where an idea or sound seemed to come across more than once, but in some ways I found this to be even more musically stimulating than his last album, especially in the beauty final two tracks. This kinda ruled, I'm happy to say.

Favorite Song: "So I’m Growing Old on Magic Mountain"
Least Favorite Song: "The Memo"
89Sun Kil Moon
Common As Light and Love Are Red Valleys of Blood

Initial Reaction: 3.6/5
On one hand, I really truly loved the blend of folk rock and long-winded, slowly evolving storytelling that was at once both maddeningly repetitive but quite captivating, and on the other end it was basically just a better version of that Magnetic Fields album. Both are far too overlong, could easily shave off at least half their album length, and feature unique, quirky, and sometimes boring storytelling elements. But idk, this one is just better. There are some excellent highlights I could see myself coming back to int he future, while most of the second disc fell flat on its face.

Favorite Songs: "Lone Star" "The Highway Song"
Least Favorite Song: "Butch Lullaby"
90Kirin J. Callinan

Initial Rating: 4.2/5
The kind of ridiculous album that you hate yourself for enjoying so much, and one that gets better the more bombastic and more insane it gets. Aside from the classic meme "Big Enough" (which is an excellent meme in its own right), there are plenty of great songs throughout with solid humor that never really misses the mark. There isn't one dull moment here, and while some might get lost in the mix, it's never for a lack of trying.

Favorite Songs: "Big Enough" "Down 2 Hang"
Least Favorite Song: "S. A. D."
Los Angeles

Initial Rating: 3.3/5
Maybe it's the language barrier, maybe it's just not the kind of music I'm used to, but I found it really difficult to get into this album. Her voice is lovely, but combined with instrumentation that was only engaging half the time it wasn't enough to save this listening experience. I certainly admired this, even liked it to an extent, but it's just not something I could see myself enjoying or coming back to anytime soon. And sometimes, it's a simple as that.

Favorite Songs: "De Plata" "Si Tú Supieras Compañero"
Least Favorite Song: "La Hija De Juan Simón"
The Underside of Power

theneedledrop/Unique Universe
Initial Rating: 4.2/5
Yeah, this one was fuckin' awesome. The brilliant mix of soul, post-punk, alt-rock, and who knows what paid off extremely well on this record. There were a few moments that felt a bit repetitious (a major flaw with all post-punk albums), but overall it did a great job of staying fascinating and versatile, such as with the piano-led "Mme Rieux" and the ambient "Bury Me Standing." The majority of tracks here are just excellent, and while I'm wary of some moments growing tiresome, I can bet that the highlights will only get more interesting the more I listen.

Favorite Songs: "Walk Like a Panther" "Mme Rieux" "Plague Years"
Least Favorite Song: "A Murmur. A Sign."
93Perfume Genius
No Shape

Initial Rating: 3.8/5
At first I was unconvinced by it's offbeat style of art-pop (aside from the stunning opener of course), but by the time it got to the second half it mellowed out into a run of contemplative and moody tunes that hit me in just the right way this Valentine's Night. It's good, really good, and hopefully the great stuff will grow on me, and the weaker stuff doesn't get any worse.

Favorite Songs: "Otherside" "Choir" "Run Me Through"
Least Favorite Songs: "Go Ahead" "Valley"
94Billy Woods
Known Unknowns

Initial Rating: 3.6/5
This was a really cool album, and probably too cool for me to really appreciate it. Maybe it's just my relative inexperience with the genre, but it's really hard for me to enjoy these dense, dark, deceptively complex records without any specific hooks or melody to draw me in. And I know that's not what raps about but I don't know. I really enjoyed the jazzy influences, and overall I thought it was a good album thanks to the shifting sounds and textures, it just felt a bit overlong and repetitive at times.

Favorite Songs: "Snake Oil" "Strawman"
Least Favorite Songs: "Groundhogs Day" "Police Came to My Show"
Neo Wax Bloom

Initial Rating: 3.6/5
Yeah this was pretty cool and I'm glad I decided to give it a whirl, but it's also very much not my kind of thing. I've heard of chipmunk-vocals, but chipmunk-rap? Everything seems like it was played at 3x speed which creates a dizzying if intriguing atmosphere throughout. Idk, I don't have too much to say about this but yeah not really something I'm excited about coming back to even if it was neat.

Favorite Songs: "Bug Thief" "Pale Eyes"
Least Favorite Song: "White Gum"
A Hairshirt of Purpose

Initial Rating: 3.9/5
I might be a little fuzzy on the details because I listened to this in two separate sittings, but the first thing I'll say is that I was surprised by this one. That post-hardcore tag really threw me off, and when I heard this strange blend of mellower, more folk-based sounds, well I was intrigued. It's a sound that the band pulls off very well, balancing their (I'm assuming) heavier roots with more restrained and moving pieces like "Dogs" and "Making Eyes." That isn't to say that they don't know how to get loud as well, especially if "Texas" has anything to say. This is definitely something I'm excited to digest a little more in the future.

Favorite Songs: "Milkshake" "Dogs"
Least Favorite Song: "Hissing for Peace"
97Total Control
Laughing At The System

Initial Reaction: 3.7/5
This was a surprisingly enjoyable bite-sized slice of post-punk. A lot of what made it so good other than it's short length (I'm not sure if this sound could've carried out an entire album-length release), was the eclectic instrumentation that changed on each track, and an overall sense of dangerous fun that pervaded throughout. So yeah, I guess post-punk is still pretty a-okay with me.

Favorite Songs: "Laughing at the System Pt. 1" "Future Creme"
Least Favorite Song: "Vanity"

Initial Reaction: 3.8/5

Favorite Songs: "Slow Savage" "Divide & Conquer"
Least Favorite Song: "Kendall Syndrome"
99J. Roddy Walston and The Business
Destroyers of the Soft Life

Initial Reaction: 3.5/5
There are some days that I'm greatly pleased by Uni's way of finding obscure but "unique" recs that find their own subtle ways of standing out from the crowd, and others when I'm perplexed by his adoration for generic and unexciting albums while at the same time trashing albums with far more variety and spirit. This is one of those latter days. Sure, it's nice and fun, there's some really good songs here and there and while there's no BAD ones, there are more than a few that are unrelentingly unsensational ("Bad Habits") and weirdly produced in a way that flattens all the poppy spirit they may otherwise contain ("Bleed Out"). So yeah, this may be pretty good, but in the end it's a sad way to round out Uni's recs for this list.

Favorite Songs: "I Called You" "Burn Black"
Least Favorite Songs: (see above)

Initial Reaction: 4.2/5
Yeah there's no doubt about it, this is just hte kind of stuff I like to listen to. Folk and alt-rock based sonically adventurous music that keeps it moving even in the slower moments. There was always a hint of surprise throughout, and also a sense of warmth and ease that made it pleasant just as it was astounding you with something new. Clearly not everyone's heard it this way, but I'll tell you; it's one hell of a thing, and you should definitely give it a listen.

Favorite Songs: "3WW" "In Cold Blood"
Least Favorite Songs: "Deadcrush" "Last Year"
Portals Into Futility

Initial Reaction: 3.6/5
I went into this expecting to enjoy it, and enjoy it I did! The majority of this featured well-crafted and varied pieces that flowed naturally and subtly rather than feeling sculpted from marble, a feeling that only added to its uniqueness as a whole. One problem I did have is that while the first two tracks were incredibly diverse in their sounds displayed, the latter tracks seemed to do little else than *crunchcrunch...SCREAM* and repeat. This definitely changed a bit on the final cut, but it was still present more than I like. Maybe that's just something that comes with the genre, but a little less of it could've been nice.

Favorite Songs: "Eidolons and the Increate" "Lathe of Heaven"
Least Favorite Song: "Pyrrhic Victory"
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