D'Angelo - Black Messiah
Guys, this album. I've always been fond of D'angelo, but never like this. I've listened to it around twenty times since it came out and each time is a new experience. The rhythm section is outstanding and it might be the most well mixed album I've heard since... shit.. Thriller? It's great. It's amazing. It's outstanding. It maintains the sound of Voodoo while building with more experimental sounds and more meaningful lyrics. It's like listening to 'Are You Experienced' and 'Kind of Blue' all at once for the first time.
Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty
I was working construction this summer, 95-hour weeks. It was terrible and awful but you have to pay for university somehow, right? At the worst of it all, I'd sit in my car over lunch break and listen to this LP. I'd just go to space for a bit. The opening to Ishmael? Harem Aria? Solemn Swears? Shit kept me going.
Sun Kil Moon - Benji
The first time I listened to this album I thought it was hilarious and dismissed it as sadness-porn; a Nicholas Sparks novel without the romantic subplot. It wasn't until I came back, months later, and something about the opening chords of Carissa or the forced breeziness of Ben's My Friend or the frantic confusion of Richard Ramirez that I realized it wasn't about all the death, dying, sadness, it was about all the beauty that happened in between.
Cloud Nothings - Here And Nowhere Else
I don't have any sort of anecdote for this one. Against Me! stopped making interesting or good music after 2005, and I've been waiting a long time for someone to fill that void. Every song is borderline artisanal; give it a listen and just pay attention to the drum track-he's fantastic.
Alvvays - S/T
I haven't been this excited about a debut since James Blake dropped in 2011. At its best, this album sounds like that girl from my creative writing class singing over lost VU tracks. What's more, songs like Marry Me, Archie and Party Police show an admirable and abnormal understanding of how to craft a pop song and, if they continue down this road, we'll be talking about these kids for AOTY soon.
Real Estate - Atlas
This is the perfect album for waking up far too early, making a cup of coffee, and staring glumly outside, trying not to think about finals. It's equal parts despair and hope, without falling too much into either. It's something to listen to when you need to go away for a while, and it's something to listen to when you need to stay.
Grouper – Ruins
This is one of those albums that seems to exist outside of time; it doesn’t sound like the music of today or particularly anything that came before it. It doesn’t even sound like a girl playing a piano. So much of the sonics here are defined as an absence; there’s a reason that the microwave that drops a guest verse on this LP is one of the best features of the year. It’s an album that trades in beauty and sorrow, without losing sight of either.
This album could nearly sneak into the Top 10 on the strength of Palace alone, but that would do injustice to the rest of the LP. It’s one of those select few albums that develops more of a place than a collection of tracks and, thankfully, it’s a warm, safe place. Within the context, Palace isn’t just a killer track, it’s a statement of intent.
You guys know about this one. Fucking banger after banger.
It’s a much better album than her last LP but I can’t help feel that it’s a bit transitional. She hasn’t quite figured out how to structure and flow an album yet, but, she can still make some killer tracks. 3Jane, Dead Celebrity, When She Comes. Taken months later, it all reads a bit underwhelming, but it’s still a worthwhile LP and it still makes me crazy excited for what it comes next. Plus, hey, there are hundreds of albums that are worse than it.
HM: Broken Ankles – Freeway & Girl Talk, Everyday Robots – Damon Albarn, De Oro – Jason Feathers