A constantly updated list of albums on my radar for 2015.
Dream A Garden
"Like post-punk, Dream a Garden is contextualized within the complications of resistance as it relates to the completely insane notion that you can protect yourself from the overwhelming force of capital through music. Jam City is dreaming a vision of escape associated with the artistic, schizoid act of adapting his masterful design process into a narrative that involves (questionable) ethics: his garden is creatively privatized, only accessible through loose sign exchange symbolizing universal love and protest." [some good stuff about punk/DIY ideology here as well]
"That clash of feeling, of being overwhelmed by everything at once while also wanting to zoom in on and live inside the tiniest detail, is the animating force of In Colour ... It’s the album as raucous party where the thrill of the moment never quite obliterates the wistful sadness that comes from knowing it will all end too soon."
"Jay Rock’s taken the message to heart on his sophomore album 90059, which dramatically shifts the focus of his studio work from making him look tough and cool to illuminating the human struggles beneath."
"[T]he Norwegian artist uses her fifth album to continue investigating themes of dominance, security, and vulnerability as subjective experiences within the confines of her abstract pop."
|5||Jerusalem in my Heart|
If He Dies, If If If If If If
"This new LP picks up largely where the last one, Mo7it Al-Mo7it, left off, pulling together and tearing apart bits and pieces of Arab musical culture and filtering it on down through Moumneh’s experience as a guy with roots in the Middle East living and working in Canada as producer for the likes of Matana Roberts, Eric Chenaux, and Suuns."
On Your Own Love Again
"Pratt's gorgeous Drag City debut quietly rejects tradition. For all its folk touchstones, Pratt is more an aesthete than a poet—she sings of bleeding watercolors, blue geraniums—and accordingly On Your Own Love Again plays like acoustic dream-pop."
"All of which is to say that Simple Songs is a subtle record that avoids extremes, which also makes it a record out of time. It’s a record that asks you to come to it. If O’Rourke ever felt the need to keep up with every development in music, that time has passed." [P4K] [good bits about shitty music production practices as well]
"Menace is a sensation endemic to footwork, the Chicago-borne genre of heart-racing house music that is predicated on going harder and better than anyone else on the floor. Dark Energy, the first album from Gary, Ind. producer Jlin, hints at this idea of combativeness, bending all matter of percussion, vocal clips and pre-existing ideas about footwork into submission." [P4K]
"By prioritizing rhythm over hooks, by turning away from looped vocal samples and toward a starker, more tensile vocabulary of snares and strings, Dark Energy immediately sounds like a benchmark, an outlier in terms of minimalist abstraction and intensity." [TMT] [good bits about footwork philosophy in this review as well]
Have You In My Wilderness
"For an artist who could sometimes seem forbidding or remote, Have You In My Wilderness feels humane, and with each new release, it seems like a bit more of the personal is teased out of Holter's stately, high-concept approach. Have You In My Wilderness embraces the specific, rather than the eternal, and in her narrowed focus you can sense a palpable self-confidence and a hard-won precision."
"House music was born out of a hacker mindset, and treating it with kid gloves, instead of finding a way to innovate on the old sounds, robs the music of one of its most vital elements."
" Knockin' Boots, could actually be the best LP-length statement to come out of house's reawakening."
To Pimp a Butterfly
"But so many reviews have heaped up recycled platitudes about the album’s somehow-surprising blackness, its supposedly-inscrutable complexity, and its take on the suddenly-topical string of police murders that have recently gained mainstream awareness (but have been going on for decades) that a complete reading of the album’s lyrical content hasn’t yet breached the press."
Murder For Hire
"In Gates’ rapping, there is the same strange dichotomy of intimacy and mysteriousness: Often, we get a window into an extremely specific and personal story without seeing its full arc. Gates refuses to hold our hand as he zigzags between talking points and styles, which is why we hang on his every word and gesture—we search for context, closure, and understanding, but it's constantly withheld."
"Kollwitz hail from the Norwegian port town of Bodø and if extreme conditions demand extreme responses, as a quartet of great men once said, then their extreme response is Dissonance."
|14||Kool & Kass|
"Kool AD is the best rapper, dead or alive"
"It's been three years since the release of Krallice's very good last album, the longest gap ever in their otherwise clockwork catalogue. It was time well spent, at least: Ygg Huur is more vivid, vexing, and meticulous than most of what the band's old peers still call black metal—a sentence Krallice no longer need to share."
A Distant Fist Unclenching
"Above all else, A Distant Fist Unclenching is an album about embracing clarity in the face of constant, nagging doubt."
Assertion Of A Surrounding Presence
"This is an “assertion of a surrounding presence” on the publication scale, asserting that the art object is flexible within the capital discourse in order to exist with efficacy; yet the assertion is packaged alongside the beautiful, powerful, horrifying realization that critique itself is capitalistically valorized."
"It’s the tale of the vanquished villain returning as the triumphant hero. Whether or not you "hotly dispute" Whitehead’s conviction or call his accuser a liar, as many of his peers have, the scenario turned his music into a morass."
"Levon Vincent's self-titled record, which consists of 11 tracks spread across eight sides of vinyl, is a half-lit maze, an exploration of dance music at its most subterranean. But even as the record reinforces his reputation as one of techno's most determined purists, it also suggests that his talents are more varied than perhaps anyone has given him credit for."
|20||Lil Ugly Mane|
Third Side of Tape
"There are hints in the liner notes that THIRD SIDE OF TAPE could be the penultimate installment in the Ugly Mane legacy. If so, it’s fitting that it represents a discharge of those unspoken testimonies, as if it’s a necessity that they’re out in the open."
"Fantasy Empire is their first LP in five years; it's also the first recorded in a proper studio—Pawtucket's Machines with Magnets—and you can tell. The sound is bigger and more defined; they haven't cleaned things up, exactly, it's just easier to figure out what's leveling you."
"The more music Locrian create, the less sense the metallurgists seem to make: That is the implicit lesson of Infinite Dissolution, the most adventurous and accessible album the once-prohibitively esoteric band have ever made."
"Here, the provocation goes beyond the music and encourages the audience to relate to Lotic as a gay, black man. The only reason that may be deemed a provocation to begin with is because Morgan sees himself as marginalized and wishes to challenge preconceived notions of identity."
COIN COIN Chapter Three: river run thee
"'My lineage weaves throughout this entire project, it’s how I got interested in American history. Sometimes we are taught American history in such a way that you don’t see enough people who look like you in order to understand it.'" [Matana Roberts quote]
"Piteous Gate, the debut full-length from Berlin-based artist M.E.S.H., uses the cinematic and all of its tropic tendencies to arrive at a statement of personal vision often hard to find within the social continuum of future-minded electronica or quasi-club music."
"Segondè Saleco peaks as the series’s “final catharsis,” a statement that serves to bluntly describe the record’s slow-building, soaring tendencies. Here, they implement their signature sound more subtly than the opaque doom that their PAN release Som Sakrifis explored to incredible affect. The physiological impact of earth-shaking oscillations similarly support the raw materiality of their homemade instruments; however, Segondè Saleco seems focused on exploring the origin of the intensity they’ve been so intent on summoning."
" Distilled to their charitable moments within Elverum’s narrative, his output (as albums, experiments, and miscellany) suggests a movement toward self-reflection and mystical self-effacement, which is indicative of a truly engaged life." [TMT]
"Existence, for Elverum, is conditional, not to be trusted, something that might disappear the second you take it for granted. Mount Eerie releases feel like an act of philosophical tax-paying, Elverum’s way of reasserting that he still exists, at least for a moment or two longer." [P4K]
|28||Mumdance and Logos|
"Because it’s in the very essence of Proto — Logos and Mumdance’s debut album together — that one can see two individuals with not a passing intrigue or a misguided attempt at genre fusion, but a deep history with and affinity for the sounds of the UK’s electronic music history — bleep, hardcore, jungle, dubstep, and the endless zones these genres continue to explore to this day. The pair doesn’t approach this music from an internet-gleaned perspective, but from immersion: this isn’t a “grime” album any more than it is a jungle or hardcore album." [good bits about evolution of modern UK electronic music]
Aria of Vernal Tombs
"Greek gods battle with nervous mortals. Seasons shift, so that needles drop from tired tamarack branches. People weep as once-happy homes succumb to senescence. Jumping between black metal and doom, death metal and delicate interludes played on a medieval harp, the music animates all of these ideas, turning centuries of dark thoughts into 44 bright, momentous minutes."
"This human element of Noisem is appealing. These are not songs about horror films, they're songs about the personal horrors of life and living. Which may be another reason that, as brief and rabid as these songs are, they stick with you. At the end of this cacophony, it's easy to want to listen all over again." [these guys young as fuck but sound much older]