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01.07.19 2018: A Year In Review07.10.18 2018 1/2
12.25.17 2017: A Year in Review 12.19.16 2016: A Year in Review
12.15.16 2016 is...10.03.16 2016 3/4
03.31.16 Sputnik PSA PART II 12.16.15 2015: A Year in Review
05.16.15 Ed's top 100 albums part 203.15.15 Ed's top 100 albums part 1
12.25.14 2014 A Year In Review 12.14.13 2013 A Radical Year

2017: A Year in Review

Another Year, another List. 2017 has been a bit on the weaker site when it comes to music in my opinion, but there has still been a lot of great stuff as well, this list is dedicated to those albums. I wish you all a merry christmas and a good start into the new year. List is ranked, but not very strictily outside of the top 5. Best song is linked so you can check it out.
40Manchester Orchestra
A Black Mile to the Surface

Genre: Alt-Rock

After the abysmal Cope, Manchester Orchestra go back to being Manchester Orchestra and the results are… a bit mixed. Obviously, I liked it it’s on this list after all. Andy Hull is still the same amazing lyricist and vocalist after all. But I can’t help but feel that compared to Simple Math the deeper cuts on this album just don’t hold up. The singles are gorgeous but in the second half there are so many forgettable alt-rockers that I can’t get totally on board with the hype for this one. Still good tho.

Best Songs: The Maze, The Gold, The Alien,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71U_qjHLM58 (The Alien)
Miami Garden Club

Genre: Indie-Pop/R’n‘B

This girl is dancing on a pretty narrow tightrope. Like some of the stuff on this album is actively getting on my nerves. (2 Minutes, Mass Text Boody Call, Brush Me Off) But some of the stuff on here is straight up top 10 of the year material (Asari Love Song, Sugarwater, New Leaf). What to do with such a rollercoaster of an album? Since 2017 has been a bit of a weaker year at least in my opinion, it manages to secure a spot on the list. The strong songs are amazing, the production on this generally amazing and Kitty definitely has a lot of chops as a vocalist. I hope she manages to put together a more consistent LP next time.

Best Songs: Asari Love Song, Sugarwater, New Leaf, Miami Garden Club
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLtjxB0Ca-8 (Asari Love Song. Yes, it’s a Mass Effect song. It’s also better than your favorite Pop Song, deal with it.)
38Big Thief

Genre: Indie-Folk/Sadgurl

Mh. So this one. It’s kinda all over the place tbh. The highs are really high and among my top songs of the year. But then they also have some painfully boring, nondescript, whispery acoustic guitar ballads on this thing that just sound so… grey. The only saving grace of those songs are the sublime lyrics. Still, I can’t really recommend it that much as a whole album which almost kept me from including it on this list. But, again, there are these flashes of absolute brilliance and they are not that far and few in between. When suddenly take more of an indie-rock approach like on “Shark Smile” or “Mythological Beauty” it totally clicks. I just wish they would stick to that sound more.

Best Songs: Mary, Shark Smile, Mythological Beauty
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1QlOfYxykI (Shark Smile)
37Teen Daze
Themes for a New Earth

Genre: Dream-Pop/Ambient

Cute little album that makes the list because I listened to it so much and I can’t say that I regret any second of it. It’s not amazing or the most memorable but it’s just highly enjoyable. Read Sowings. Review

Best Song: Shibuya Again, Kilika, Prophets
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfrLVQ29-po (Prophets)
Saturation III

Genre: Hip-Hop/Pop

The cracks are starting to show just a little bit on this. Yes it’s still awesum. I guess I can’t complain at all if band lands 3 albums on my End of the year list, but it’s still probably the weakest of the bunch. The problem is just that some of their formulas become to apparent. (Yes Ameer, I’m talking about your flow, Yes Kevin I’m talking about your need to have a cheesy R’n’B ballad as the closer, Yes Dom I’m talking about the fact that all your verses are starting to sound samey) Still, Brockhampton have won 2017. And this has some great cuts again. (Also Matt has become the low-key MVP with these hooks)

Best Songs: Bleach, Boogie, Rental
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cucHc2vef4 (Boogie)

Genre: Hip/Pop

They are making this whole end of the year list thing a bit hard, because I dunno how to talk about these three albums separately. The first LP had the benefit of being a total surprise and I was not familiar with their formula at that point which colored the experience. Saturation I has probably the most Brockhampton song of all with “Gold”. I don’t think there is much difference in quality between this and the third LP and it just sneaks in a place higher, because it was a bit fresher at the time. Like all of their albums it has a few problems with filler material, but the highs are high.

Best Songs: Gold, Milk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_ZRRlVDVa8 (Gold)
34John Moreland
Big Bad Luv

Genre: Country/Folk/Americana

Big Bad Luv is somewhat of a by the numbers Country/Americana album, complete with slightly cheesy instrumentation (that fucking little bar-piano on Love Is Not The Answer) and songs about God/Love/The South. But John Moreland has the songwriting-chops and charisma to sell the fairly played out formula for me. While he tackles no new ground, he’s managing to put his own spin on a classic sound on just enough songs to land on the lower end of this list.

Best Songs: Love Is Not The Answer, Ain’t We Gold, Salisaw Blue
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfkXnZ65jS8 (Salisaw Blue)
33Zola Jesus

Genre: Indie-Pop/Industrial-Pop

Zola Jesus once again brings her unique mix of pop sensibilities and industrial/goth instrumentals to the table and in my opinion, it’s her best album since her debut. While she doesn’t try anything really new for her, the record is just more consistent and enjoyable than any of her recent offerings and the instrumentation/production is just so hard hitting, larger than life sounding, it perfectly mixes with her powerful vocal delivery.

Best Songs: Soak, Witness, Siphon
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85mc1GiMexA (Soak)

Genre: Dream-Pop/Indie-Pop/Shoegaze

This album is great, but it has a slight problem, it’s too samey. Amelia Murray has a voice made for dream-pop and she also has the talent as an instrumentalist and vocalist to succeed. Pretty much every song on here is very good, she writes these glossy, airy little tunes that are just pleasant to listen to. Unlike many Dream-Pop acts Fazerdaze writes mostly upbeat tunes as well, which is a welcome bit of variety. But there is no getting around the fact, that almost all songs are very similar to the two most memorable moments, the shoegazy, hypnotic “Lucky Girl” and the dreamy “Jennifer”.

Best Songs: Lucky Girl, Jennifer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9H933ttaYo (Jennifer)
Keine Nacht für Niemand

Genre: Indie-Rock

Fair warning. This album is by a german-band, the lyrics are all in german, and the lyrics are pretty important to the experience because they are very tongue in cheek at times and fairly political and sharp at other times, so your mileage may vary if you don’t understand them. Still I enjoyed this too much to leave it off the list and I also think that you can get a lot out of it without understanding the lyrics. This features a lot high-energy indie rock that is just an enjoyable time to listen to. Their sound is comparable to bands band like The Raconteurs, The Hives and early Arctic Monkeys and is a lonely beacon of light in the honestly dismal german music scene. (if we’re talking about music that has any mainstream-appeal, germany has some cool underground stuff)

Best Songs: Chemie Chemie Ya, Band Mit dem K, Fenster, Sklave
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0lHjeEU3Fg (Chemie Chemie Ya)
Reflections of a Floating World

Genre: Black-Sabbath-Worship

Elder are stagnating, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Their brand of stoner-rock/prog/metal is a very well explored genre and I doubt that there are many revolutionary things on the horizon in that particular style of sound. And Elder are doing it better than anyone else who is active at this point. Everybody is amazing at his particular instrument, the songs are meaty enough to reward relisten after relisten and while they won’t win over any new fans with this Album, it’s playing to their strengths perfectly.
Best Song: Sanctuary

Genre: Singer-Songwriter/Psychedelic (?)

Ganja is not a very accessible or immediate album, with it’s weird tempo changes, oddball instrumentation, and loose song structures, the album isn’t tailor made for instant likeability. The first time opener “A Happening” transitioned from the low-key piano ballad into the psych jam session straight from GOAT album, I was pretty skeptical. But Ganja quickly won me around. Somehow KuT (Dimitris Papadatos) makes it all fit together. Don’t ask we how either. Just try the album, it’s pretty great and unlike any other album you will have heard this year.

Best Songs: Spring Elevator, Hyacinth, Turque
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfLj249Tlw4 (Hyacinth)
28Aimee Mann
Mental Illness

Genre: Country/Folk

Goose Snow Cone. That opener. God damn. (“I just wanted a place, but it ended up gone”) The first three minutes of the album are the most hard-hitting and the most memorable. This is good on the one hand, because entering with a bang definitely makes you stand out. This also has a downside because Aimee doesn’t quiet manage to follow up on this standout with something equally impressive. But if you give the album a bit of time, you’ll learn to love the other songs on the LP as well. Aimee Man comes through with some of the most relatable, depressing and emotional lyrics of the year and it’s all wrapped up in this almost happy sounding, understated, folksy album. This contrast works well, even if doesn’t touch the opener in quality.

Best Song: Goose Snow Cone
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhThS-PJOFE (video is so hyper lame, it’s kinda adorable)
27Hundred Waters

Genre: Indie Pop/Art-Pop

The Voice of frontwoman Nicole Migis definitely has the potential to split listeners down the middle. I don’t think everyone will be able to enjoy this, but I acquired a taste for it. What kept my listening at first is the layered, detailed instrumentation that shines on almost every single track on here. The band is masterfully mixing organic and electronic sounds and develops these songs very patiently. It’s a Pop album that isn’t afraid to eschew big choruses or hooks and still ends up being very memorable and that in and of itself is pretty big feat.

Best Songs: Fingers, Blanket Me, Wave To Anchor
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usL_M7w1IEI (Blanket Me)
26The Black Angels
Death Song

Genre: Psychedelic/Rock

Another day in the office, another rock-solid album by the Black Angels. They have quietly amassed one of the most impressive discography’s in the scene in the last 11 years. You could criticize them for the fact that they don’t change up their sound by much (Indigo Meadow was a bit of departure, but this album is tilting more towards the earlier days again). But then again why fix something that just isn’t bb. The scene isn’t exactly flooded with psych/stoner rock acts of this caliber. The songs are once again filled to the brim with great hooks, memorable choruses, rebellious lyrics and fantastic instrumentation. I’m always baffled at the fact that they remain pretty obscure.

Best Songs: Currency, Half Believing, Death March
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YCxyLR6cv0 (Half Believing)

Photay – Onism

Genre: Electro/Dance/Footwork

New York producer Photay has been quietly carving out his own little niche for years now and Onism picks up exactly where his last record left of. Photay’s brand of dance music is an elaborate, kaleidoscopic collection of sounds, rhythms and loops, effortlessly woven together into songs that for the most part eschew “traditional” build ups and climaxes, but instead breeze by at their own pace. The albums best moments are the songs in which photay channels his inner Four Tet and manages to fuse tribal sounding percussion with subtle synthwork and just takes his time developing a sound, the lesser moments come when he tries his hand at slightly more traditional song structures (Inharmonious Slog, Outrè Lux).

Best Songs: Screens, Off-Piste, The Everyday Push
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpNjOgVzbc0 (Process)
Hot Thoughts

Spoon – Hot Thoughts
Genre: Indie-Rock

Spoon are Spoon are Spoon are Spoon. Oh. It’s 2017 and it’s time for another Spoon album. Is it another consistent, worthwhile album with just enough experimentation to avoid sounding stagnant? Yup. Will this win you over, if you didn’t like them before? Nah. It’s a bit more danceable and upbeat than “They wan’t my Soul” but I feel it’s also slightly less even in quality. Still great though. Other bands would be happy to reach this lvl of quality once in their career, Spoon are churning LPs like this out without even raising an eyebrow. WhisperI’llistentohearit is one of the best songs of the years btw.

Best Songs: WhisperI’llistentohearit, Do I Have To Talk You Into It?, Hot Thoughts
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUSdDIspy_A (WhisperI’llistentohearit)

Genre: Experimental/Electronic/Ambient

This is a fantastic little LP from german producer Marco Haas. Haas has been kind of a critical darling for year now and has released quiet an eclectic discography. Usually his stuff is a bit more on the danceable side and you can feel this on Heimat, even though Heimat is more focused on creating a coherent atmosphere and almost sounds like a drone/ambient album at times, there are all these little, grooves and rhythms into the songs. You’ll be definitely tapping your foot to this one and it has not received the amount of attention it deserves, so get to it.

Best Songs: Zum Mond, Stoli, Juli
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fa13GCHkHgI (Zum Mond)
22Carbon Based Lifeforms

Genre: Electronic/Ambient

Swedish Ambient Duo CBLF return with their signature slow moving, spacey, synth-laden brand of ambient and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable experience. While you could complain that they haven’t really developed their sound very much since the masterful World of Sleepers in 2006, I think it doesn’t really matter because their sound is almost totally unique and I’m down with coming back to it every few years and take another trip out to space with these two guys. (Nattväsen is a cringe inducing lowlight though, with that awkward sample of the girl talking about aliens and almost nothing happening over 6 minutes. I deleted it from my library to enjoy the album without it)

Best Songs: Equilibrium, Accede, Loss Aversion, Clouds
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5o_uF1L5l6o (Full album, First Song Accede is a highlight)
21Portico Quartet
Art in the Age of Automation

Genre: Jazz/Ambient

Utilizing a pretty obscure steeldrum-version called “hang” (look it up, looks like an UFO), as the backbone of their laid-back soundscapes, Portico Quartett conjure up a very unique sound on their newest LP. While it’s not flashy or too exciting at first listen, the richly layered songs form a very coherent album and the many instrumental details reward repeated listens richly. While the song titles and the album title are a bit reminiscent of those insufferable post-rock titles, the album is actually fairly easy to get into, so I recommend it even to people who usually wouldn’t touch 50 minute instrumental LPs.

Best Songs: Beyond Dialouge, Endless, Art in the Age of Automation
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGUwqzLNEaA (Full LP, first song is “Endless” and it’s among the best)
20The War on Drugs
A Deeper Understanding

Genre: Indie/Rock

The War on Drugs have never sounded less like a band. Adam Granduciel continues on his journey inward he set out on his last LP and the added budget definitely enabled him to add a lot of bells and whistles. The War on Drugs have never sounded this polished, Granduciel’s guitar has never been this glossy and soaring. But I can’t help and think that something slightly more interesting has been lost in the process. We’re a far cry away from the Shoegaze/Americana sound that made Slave Ambient so unique. A few songs sound like the are B-Sides or Remixes of Lost in the Dream. (Clean Living, Knocked Down) Still, there are a bunch of my favorite Rock songs of the year on here. Granduciels guitar work has never been this good either. (Nothing to Find, Strangest Thing)

Best Songs: Nothing To Find, Strangest Thing, Thinking Of A Place
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWDVFLDnv74 (Nothing To Find)
19Phoebe Bridgers
Stranger In The Alps

Genre: Folk

I’m generally pretty skeptic of the recent sadgurl indie-folk craze which seems to be a delayed response to the whole male Bon Iver wannabes who crowded out the market in the earlier years of the decade. But this album really struck a chord with me. The lyrics are a cut above your average Julien Baker song (no hate) and while Phoebe doesn’t have the most powerful voice, she doesn’t shy away from sounding very vulnerable and the songs feel very intimate. She also has an ear for subtle melodies and adds a lot of nice little instrumental touches, like that recurring little riff on “Smoke Signals” and the drums that set in on “Scott Street” when she sings about drumming.

Best Songs: Smoke Signals, Scott Street, Chelsea, Would You Rather
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAKg267JgBE (Smoke Signals)

Genre: Dream-Pop

Talk about coming back with a vengeance. I think nobody was waiting for a Slowdive album in 2017. The “Dream-Pop Years” are long gone and the MBV comeback was kinda so-so. But Slowdive prove, that a long hiatus doesn’t have to equal irrelevance. It’s not even that they’re doing anything phenomenal or different on this LP. They just come out with 8 great tracks that instantly recapture the magic of their best efforts. The Album is just very accessible and enjoyable.

Best Songs: Slomo, Star Roving, Sugar for the Pill
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogCih4OavoY (Star Roving)

Genre: Electronic/House

Bonobo comes through with another album that sounds pretty much exactly as we expect a Bonobo album to sound at this point. The british producer ones again proves that he has just an amazing ear for detail and delivers some of his most impressive and emotionally resonant (Kerala, Break Apart) tracks to date on this LP. If I had to criticize the album, I’d say that this album feels a little less coherent than North Borders or Black Sands and more like a compilitaion of cool songs that Bonobo has come up with over the last years. But hey, it’s still a collection of really good songs. (The reception has been a bit luke warm for some reason, but hey, I loved it and jammed it a lot this year)

Best Songs: Break Apart, Kerala, Outlier, Migration
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhhkk69CxXc (Break Apart)
16Sinjin Hawke
First Opus

Genre: Experimental/Electro/House

Canadian DJ Sinjin Hawke comes through with a very “out there” first LP, where he’s attempting to mix neo-classical influences (choirs, some very dramatic horns/violins) with hard hitting beats that would feel at home in a hip-hop track. The result is kind of a mess, but it’s definitely a glorious mess. At times it can feel like he’s just throwing in everything he can come up with no rhyme or reason, but most tracks on here are incredibly energetic and just represent a welcome breeze of fresh air. Easily earns its spot on the list because of the many fist-pumping highlights.

Best Songs: Onset, Don’t Loose Yourself To This, Dawn of Infinity, Cold Blood
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rw2tClr5ySE (Onset)

Genre: You know the drill

This is it, the best of the bunch. Structurally it’s the same as the others and has the same strengths and weaknesses, but hook-daddy Kevin just comes through with so many bangers on this album. It just has the highest saturation (heh) of strong songs and great verses (Kevin on Gummy, Matt on Junky and Sweet, Joba on Sweet, Dom on Swamp, Ameer on Queer and Junky etc.). I think if you took the best material of Saturation I-III you could have had a real classic, but oh-well. I think I complained a bit too much in these Brockhampton blurbs, just to be clear, this rocks.

Best Songs: Gummy, Junky, Sweet, Queer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AR7SenR2Hc (Junky)
14Los Campesinos!
Sick Scenes

Genre: Is it still 2008 daddy?

I love the british indie-rockers Los Campesinos! and I have enjoyed all of their albums (some more, some less), and Sick Scenes is no different. In fact, No Blues (their last LP) and Sick Scenes are probably my favorite Los Campesinos! Albums. When the horns set in on “A Slow, Slow Death” I reliably get goosebumps. The anthemic 5 Fluxloxacillin is one my most played songs of the year. I just want to acknowledge that they haven’t developed since 2008. Maybe that’s not quiet fair, they’ve gotten a little bit more laid back and less hyperactive, but the scene and the sound of indie-rock has left them behind a bit. Still, this album is a gem, and I’ll treasure it.

Best Songs: I Broke Up in Amarante, A Slow, Slow Death, 5 Flucloxacillin, Renato Dall’ara (2008)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZIjxMJeTrE (A Slow, Slow Death)
13Blood Cultures
Happy Birthday

Genre: Indietronic/Pop/Klappcore

This is a breath of fresh air. Listen to this. I really think it has the potential to be one of the sleeper hits of 2017. It’s got a lot of triumphant, warm synths, the vocalist sounds a lot like the guy from Youth Lagoon, the hooks will get stuck in your head immediately… Come to think of it Youth Lagoons “Year of Hibernation” is a fitting reference point, this LP has a similar DIY bedroom-pop feel to it, but it’s way more euphoric and happy. (Klapp’s review is a mandatory read as well, especially since he’s reviewing so few albums at this point!)

Best Songs: Indian Summer, Scenes from A Midnight Movie, All These Days/Smoke Signals, Coastal
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-SS3bjDPws (Indian Summer)
12Brand New
Science Fiction

Genre: Sputcore/Indie Rock

Do I have to say that Jesse Lacey is a piece of shit? Okay, I said it. So. This album is still very good, it’s easily their most mature effort (not a huge accomplishment) and in my opinion, it’s also by far their best record. There are a lot of great melodies in here (137, Could Never be Heaven) and while Brand New has always tried to be very ~ e m o t i o n a l ~ this is the first album where I’m feeling it on quiet a few songs. (In the Water, 137, Batter Up) It has some of the moments that made me cringe on earlier albums and they are not better here, but the positives are outweighing the negatives by far for the first time for me.

Best Songs: In the Water, Waste, 137, Batter Up
11Tom Rogerson with Brian Eno
Finding Shore

Genre: Neo-Classical/Experimental

I’m not really a huge Fan of Brian Eno and have never liked anything by Tom Rogerson, but this album is something totally different for Rogerson and the experimental approach brings a completely different side. The album is kind of hard to describe tbh, every song feels like its own little experiment and most of them work really well. You can feel Eno’s guiding hand in quiet a few spots, but Rogerson is the main attraction. It’s very abstract and won’t appeal to everyone, but I enjoyed it a lot. (Also read Fripp’s review, is gud)

Best Songs: Motion in Field, Red Slip, Eastern Stack
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SroYdHuv9z8 (Motion in Field)
10Broken Social Scene
Hug of Thunder

Genre: Indie-Rock

Is there any Canadian musician that isn’t in this band? Or is this just some rite of passage? Like, even Brockhampton looks like duo compared to this band. Hug of Thunder is a great album btw. Like Spoon, BBS has such a great track record, that anything but a great album would have been a pretty big shock though. The songwriting is varied and sharp as always, I feel like they really have come through with their most polished and enjoyable LP since 2002 and I have nothing but respect for them. Also shout out to Leslie Feist for being the only member of the band who is so incredibly good on this, that she outshines everyone else. Title Track is prolly the song of the year, her vocal performance on that song is just insane.

Best Songs: Hug of Thunder, Halfway Home, Protest Song, Mouth Guards of The Apocalypse, Stay Happy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9ujF9s48Z8 (Hug of Thunder)

Genre: Pop

Lorde is a phenomenon, already a household name at the age of 20 (and with no Disney-backing and no celebrity parents pushing her career… YES Jayden Smith I AM talking about YOU.), Melodrama manifests her as one of the defining mainstream artists of this century. Melodrama has all the trappings of a pop album that will enter the collective consciousness as “one of the greats”, one that will be talked about in years. It has the larger than life emotions (Green Light, Supercut) but also the quiet moments (Liability I and II), it has the irresistible hooks (Homemade Dynamite), the mega successful single (Perfect Places) but it also delivers on the deeper cuts. Lorde is taking a lot of inspiration from other artists, but she has already forged her own sound and she’ll be at the forefront for years if she can keep this up.

Best Songs: Supercut, Green Light, Hard Feelings, Liability (Reprise), Homemade Dynamite
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDzfWzORry8 (Supercut)
8Fleet Foxes

Genre: Progressive-Folk(?)

Let me be honest, I was never really down with the whole Fleet Foxes thing. Yes, Mykonos is good little song. Okay, Helplessness Blues may be decent if played in a Starbucks while the bearded hipster brings you you’re 2nd chai latte, but otherwise? God damn their first two albums are vanilla, and boring. So, let’s talk about how good Crack Up is. The Fleet Foxes came through with an experimental and out-there album this year, the first minute alone is sure to ward of some mainstream audience with frontman Pecknold slurring the lyrics and the song moving so slow, it almost comes to a stop. Crack Up continues to move at it’s very own pace, with a lot of sudden tempo-changes and a totally “free-wheeling” feel and it ends up being the first Fleet Foxes I can get behind 100%.

Best Songs: Third of May, I’m All that I Need, Crack Up, If You Need To Keep Time On Me
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GqgNebPm50 (Third of May)
7James Holden and The Animal Spirits
The Animal Spirits

Genre: Folk/Inedietronic/Krautsomething/Trance/genresarestupid

Be advised, this is definitely a weird one. British producer James Holden has been around in the scene for over fifteen years, he always seemed very suspicious of “trendy” music and has put out several great oddball projects. On here he teamed up with several of new and old collaborators and produced his weirdest, most grandiose but also most coherent and accomplished LP to date. Holden’s minimal synth’s and beats provide the framework for both organic instruments and further electronic antics to shine and the result is a truly entrancing collection of songs.

Best Songs: Pass Through Fire, Each Moment Like The First, Go Gladly Into The Earth
https://pitchfork.com/reviews/tracks/james-holden-and-the-animal-spirits-pass-through-the-fire/ (YT-Germany blocked me, but this works.)
6Joey Badass

Genre: Hip-Hop

Joey has been one the most promising rappers for a few years and I feel that he’s building on his great debut on this LP. Some have criticized him for his move towards a more mainstream/poppy sound and granted the single “Devasted” went probably two steps too far in that direction, but overall, I think this sound suits him very well. The jazzy-laid back production mixes very well with his crisp flow and he hasn’t lost his eye for sharp lyrics either. Also, shoutout for Schoolboy Q who has one of the best guest appearances of the year. (Still waiting for a halfway convincing album from you tho)

Best Songs: Rockabye, For My People, Land Of The Free, Temptation
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoU8gXbEI0I (For My People)
Black Chapel Sun

Genre: Dubstep/Electronic

6 *fucking* years. That’s way to long for an obscure dubstep outfit my boys. At least the album is another bomb. After the instant-classic Old Raves End, Swarms put out some fairly mediocre EPs and not much else. So, my hopes for Black Chapel Sun weren’t exactly high. But the London Dub-Wubers have delivered another great LP. It’s a little less heavy on the beats, tilts a bit more towards the ambient side of things and it feels a bit warmer than Old Raves End (the whole album is in the vein of “Sky Below Sea” from their first LP, which is great), but it’s just as atmospheric. The album represents a welcome evolution of their sound and I just hope they don’t take 6 years again to come up with a follow up.

Best Songs: Red Sun, This City Of Flames, Raw Messiahs, The Grid
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KuQAG6zgI4 (This City Of Flames)
4Susanne Sundfor
Music For People In Trouble

Genre: Folk/Art-Pop/Experimental

Sundfor is just one of the most impressive vocalists active right now. I mean this woman just has earth shattering vocal abilities. She could easily go the Sia route and become a superstar, but instead she releases her weirdest album yet. In between spoken word intros, ambient outros and a John Grant feature, Sundfors pristine singing is the only constant on this surprisingly trippy album. Be at a soaring climax (Undercover, Mountaineers) or an intimate whisper (Mantra, Bedtime Story) Sundfor is always stunning. If Hug of Thunder isn’t the song the year, it’s only because Mountaineers might just be that little bit more impressive. Check this thing out if you haven’t.

Best Songs: Undercover, Reincarnation, Mountaineers, No One Believes In Love Anymore, Mantra
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7D3_TDB4zzA (Mountaineers)

Genre: Indie-Pop/Hipstergarbage

After the slight letdown that was Poison Season, Destroyer manages to bounce back immediately and deliver the successor to the cult-classic Kaputt, we all clamored for. Ken is a record that is so Dan Bejar it almost hurts, with his reference to Oliver Twist, Shakespeare and choruses sung in French it can become a bit overbearing at times, but he always manages to pull it together at the last moment. Right after the Oliver Twist line, opener Sky’s Grey dissolves in that beautiful guitar outro, the line about “reading Shakespeare in the bars” line is obnoxious but “Cover from the Sun” is the most punchy and enjoyable Destroyer song in years. La Regle du Jeu sports a memorable groove and a fantastic guitar solo to close out the album, so you forgive the weird language switch up mid song.

Best Songs: Cover From The Sun, Tinseltown Swimming in Blood, Saw You At the Hospital, A Light Travels Down the Catwalk
2Kendrick Lamar

Genre: KUNG FU KENNY/Hip-Hop

Kendrick is stepping back from the TPAB sound and makes a conscious move towards the mainstream on DAMN. While this has cost him credit with some critics, I’m grateful for this. In hindsight TPAB in my opinion is not a towering masterpiece but a pretty uneven LP that has a bit more ambition than skill. DAMN on the other hand is pack in Kendricks comfort zone. And he’s killing it on these tracks. While one could rightfully complain that the overarching narrative from the last 2 albums is not really on this one, I think DAMN has a lot of Kendricks strongest material to date and almost no weak tracks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaPbJzPNNo4 (Fear)
1The National
Sleep Well Beast

Genre: Post-Punk/Indie-Rock

I talked about consistency on this list. I talked about Spoon, about Broken Social Scene, both bands with incredibly solid backcatalogues. Nobody compares to The National. Since 2003 (!) they have released 6 incredible albums and Sleep Well Beast is the sixth in that proud line. Is it their best album? Probably not. It has a weird dip in quality in the middle. But it’s the most intriguing since Boxer for sure. The National finally moved a bit out of their comfort zone on this one, which was honestly necessary and only hinted at ever so slightly on their last LP. By incorporating more electronic elements and throwing really lively and gritty guitar solos (sic!) into the mix they didn’t really reinvent themselves, but they managed to find enough new ideas to sound as fresh as they have sounded in at least 10 years.

Best Songs: Carin at the Liquor Store, Guilty Party, The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness, I’ll Still Destroy You, Nobody Else Will Be There
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