Once again, I am WAY behind in listening to this year’s releases. My Spotify “listen later” playlist has 772 songs and would take 50 hours, 25 min to listen to all the way through. My downloads folder has over 3000 items, almost all folders of mp3s from the last few years. I know there’s gold in there. Anyway, here are my favorite albums that I heard this past year (in alphabetical order):
Oren Ambarchi / Johan Berthling / Andreas Werliin – Ghosted
Deep muted grooves that lay half-time bass/guitar riffs under polymetric pointillistic drumming that makes the most out of a minimal kit.
Coast Contra – Apt 505
After being thoroughly impressed by their YouTube “freestyles” I was eager to lay ears on their debut. Infectious energy and clever wordplay take me back to the days of Leaders of the New School, Fu-Schnickens, Lords of the Underground, and other hype acts of 90s Hip Hop.
Danger Mouse & Black Thought – Cheat Codes
DM coming a little less polished and poppy and Black Thought coming cool and deadly, sharp as ever. Killer combo.
Earl Sweatshirt – Sick!
Earl is still weird and smart and a smart-ass, which is very appealing to me.
Ghost Power – Ghost Power
Using the sonic vocabulary of space-age bachelor pad music, psychedelic pop, and vintage British television soundtracks, this album takes the listener on a wide-eyed journey through plucky organ grooves and surf guitar adventures. Reminds me a little bit of Dymaxion but less angular and weird.
Grid Ravage – Grid Ravage
Shuffling and skittering brushed drums under scraping dissonant instrumental textures.
Kendrick Lamar – Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers
This album is a brave achievement in the context of American masculinity, Hip-Hop culture, and Capitalism. It is honest and vulnerable and introspective and emotionally complex when most art/product produced by his contemporaries serves only to commodify Black suffering for a voyeuristic mainstream audience’s consumption.
SAULT – 11
Uplifting elastic grooves that incorporate a diverse range of styles while remaining cohesive. Hippie vibes meet gospel vibes meets reggae vibes with a dash of Afro Psych but everything feels related to The Brand New Heavies.
Young Gun Silver Fox – Ticket to Shangri La
This duo has a real gift for recreating the smooth, harmonically sophisticated pop rock of the 70s Yacht Rock era. From the production values to the melodic ideas, their instincts and execution are always flawless.