I’m not allowed to list the records that almost but didn’t quite make my list. So I won’t. These are the ones that did.
Only a rapper with nothing left to prove would release a track like “L$D” as a single. It’s the antithesis of a club banger; most of the lyrics are delivered in a syrup-hazed croon, and it takes almost two full minutes for the beat to kick in. It’s kind of amazing, and the LP that spawned it is just as confoundingly impressive.
A Canadian, an American, a Brit, and a German walk into a recording studio…and walk out with an album that, against all odds, takes shoegazing rock in new and weird directions. No joke. And I’m sure all 15 people who showed up when Cheatahs played the Media Club last month will agree with me.
I Love You, Honeybear
Josh Tillman is as difficult to interview as his singing voice is easy to love. On his latest collection of songs, he explores both the monumentally fucked-up state of the world and his own newfound dedication to marital fidelity. That he sounds equally uneasy about both of those things makes for a fascinating peek into his psyche.
How much grinding industrial noise and pummelling rhythm can you add to something and still end up with a pop record? Health seems to be on a mission to find out.
Tobias Jesso Jr.
Now that he has a writing credit on Adele’s gazillion-selling 25—which puts him in the rarefied company of Max Martin and Bruno Mars—we probably won’t be seeing much of local boy Jesso around these parts anymore. At least we have this assured collection of impeccably wrought ’70s-throwback piano ballads to console us.
At this point, it’s practically a foregone conclusion that whenever Mew puts out a new record, it’s going to end up on my top-10 list. It doesn’t hurt that this is the best one the Danish prog-poppers have released in a decade, with the experimental side taking a back seat to solid riffs and indelible hooks.
If it’s true that Corin Roddick and Megan James’s waking-dream electro-trap sound seems more commercial than it did on Purity Ring’s 2012 debut album, Shrines, it’s also true that pop music has had three years to catch up now.
All We Need
Who’s Raury? Just a 19-year-old with his eyes wide-open to the problems of the world, and his ears open to folk, gospel, rock, R&B, and Dirty South hip-hop. It doesn’t always add up, but when it does it’s undeniably powerful.
Sun Kil Moon
Mark Kozelek continues down the same rabbit hole he leapt into with last year’s jaw-dropping Benji. Whether he’s bemoaning the plants that died while he was on tour (“Garden of Lavender”), sharing anecdotes about that time he played himself in a Paolo Sorrentino movie (“Birds of Flims”), or reminding whiny hipsters that some people have real problems (the scathing “Cry Me a River Williamsburg Sleeve Tattoo Blues”), Kozelek is by turns heartbreaking, horrifying, and hilarious.
Improbable as it sounds, Kevin Parker has left guitar-driven psychedelic rock behind to embrace synthesizer-washed pop and discotheque beats, and yet the best parts of Currents will have you tripping balls as hard as anything Tame Impala has ever done.