Part of the beauty of this little record is that it’s very short, and gives you a nice little overview of this interesting sound - she’s another of my picks for breakouts next year, along with one of the producer, Arca, who I’ve already covered earlier in this listening. It’s dark, but melodic and soulful, and a little unsettling. twigs’ voice is a fragile thing, but cutting, like a thin knife. Another very interesting artist that I’d love to hear more from.
Sky Ferreira, from what you’d read, is basically like a baby Courtney Love. She even sort of looks like her, that strung-out, dead-eyed blond look. But I think the media have built her up and tore her down over and over, and for better or worse, that’s affected her music. This record in particular is something special. Many lists have had this as top ten material, and while I’m not sure I’d agree with that, I do find this a very satisfying listen, and a few of the songs are absolute jams. Keep it together and keep pumping out stuff like this, Sky.
Arca is a producer who has worked with a couple of big name artists this year, namely Kanye West on Yeezus, and this was a free, independently released, 25-minute mix he released. It’s not an album, so it’s a little weird showing up here, but it’s so great. It’s trippy, spooky, and accomplished. There is nothing out there that sounds like Arca right now, and if this is just a taste, it’s mouth-watering to think about what he’s capable of.
41. The Luca Brasi Story/Stranger Than Fiction | Kevin Gates
I put both of these records on here because I feel they sort of work as companion pieces, and they’re both about the same level of quality. Overlong, of course, as most free mixtapes tend to be, but they feature one of the most exciting voices in rap. Gates sounds like he’s swallowed a few handfuls of gravel, and smoked about 4 packs of cigarettes in the last hour. It’s unlike anything else in rap, and his harrowing stories are incredible and unlike so much in the free mixtape world, surprisingly moving.
A great summer album. If I had a boat, and if I lived on a lake, I would have listened to this every day and cruised around. It’s sunny, bright, cheerful, and a party in a can. Put this on, and you’ll have everyone going in no time.
Now, here is a record that has so much potential that it doesn’t quite live up to, but still manages to be a good record. Pusha T hasn’t released anything I’ve loved since he was a member of Clipse, but I thought this was going to be it. And parts of it were. “King Push” is as regal and punishing as it sounds, and “Nosetalgia” is one of my favorite songs of the year. But there are quite a few missteps on the album that keep it from being great as a whole. Chalk it up as one of those albums that could be great, but only achieves it occasionally.
This is a good record. But I think every other time Deerhunter has released an album, it’s been easily in my top ten. This is “lesser” Deerhunter, like Trouble Will Find Me is “lesser” National, to be discussed later in this list. But unlike the National, it’s not because they’re comfortably in their niche - it’s that this specific style is less suiting than their other records. And, of course, I’m not sure if this is a “lesser” record or if it’s just me not appreciating it as much because I’m so used to it. But either way, it’s disappointing, but only because it’s Deerhunter. Still a record that is worth listening to and thinking about.
When Hemsworth releases anything, I’m there. From his free EP earlier this year, to every single time he’s a guest on a radio show, I put everything on hold and listen. And while he’s a better mix-maker than an original composer, there is still a lot to dig into here. It’s dark and sleepy, like most of his remixes and original material, but there’s a thread running through this one that connects it, much like his mixes. This is the closest he’s come to marrying the underwater qualities of his earlier songs with the blissful beats of his mixes.
I’ve been getting into the Massachusetts rock scene lately, and while I’m sure I’ll retroactively add a lot of records to this list once I listen to more, for now, this is the one representative I have on my list (other than the relatively giant Speedy Ortiz). It’s messy and a little undercooked, but that works in its favor. It sounds like a house show band, which is what they are, but their songwriting blows most local scenes away, as is what the case is with so many of these bands. They’re smart, Pavement-y, and a ton of fun to listen to.
I haven’t totally warmed to this album yet, but there are a couple of songs I’m really excited about. I haven’t cared about this band at all since 2007, and I thought The Suburbs was one of the worst and most shockingly overrated albums of the year when it was released. This is still shockingly un-self-aware and self-indulgent, but at least this time, it has the songs to back it up. “Here Comes the Night Time,” “Oh Eurydice” and “Afterlife” are all fantastic, as is the lightning rod “Reflektor.” And it doesn’t hurt that it’s produced by one of my favorite humans of all time, James Murphy. But it is incredibly overlong, and some of the songs are absolutely stinkers. And that’s not even counting the unmitigated disaster of Win Butler’s lyrics. You have to look past a lot of trash to like this albums, but the bright spots are on par with the band’s best moments.