Space never feels like a showcase for Nicolas Jaar; it's just a modest and well-decorated gathering place for some things he loves, a place for them to interact.
Krell is informed by genre but driven by expression; in his mind, pop music is anything that aspires for the most immediate and impactful connection, even if it risks embarrassment in the process. As a result, his transcendent third LP "What Is This Heart?" is a pop album of the highest caliber.
The notion of music as a cheapened, battered object, touches nearly every aspect of Ravedeath, 1972, a dark and often claustrophobic record that is arguably Hecker's finest work to date.
Spacious, boldly orchestrated, and emotionally rich, Khan's latest is another step forward for the multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, and one of the year's most beguiling albums.
It’s that blazingly honest, hyper-personal quality that places Cerulean Salt in the tradition of Elliott Smith, early Cat Power, or Liz Phair's free-flowing Girlysound tapes-- the work of a songwriter skilled enough to make introspection seem not self-centered, but generous.
Describing Emeralds' music feels a little like capping that underwater oil spill must: how do you get your hands around this stuff? The Cleveland trio may favor methodical cadences in their music, but their releases come fast and furious. According to Discogs.com, they've put out around 40 releases in just four years, most of them CDRs and cassettes. There are variations of mood and intensity, and each major release has its own particular signature, owing in part to changes in gear and technique, and in part to being a band that improvises and records non-stop. Any given album feels like a snapshot of the band in time.
They've given us something in the present tense that, these days, feels depressingly unfashionable: An Event—an album that dares to be great, and remarkably succeeds.
Quiet as it may be, this is a huge album, a monumental debut. On a formal level, it takes the kinds of risks that few pop artists, and few "experimental" artists, for that matter, are willing to take these days.
They’ve made the first record of their career that feels like it might teach you something over time. It is rare, and special, for a band to be this effortlessly and completely themselves.
To Be Kind adheres to a policy of transcendence by any means necessary, even if it means repeatedly bashing you in the face with a mallet until you’re seeing stars and colors.
If anything LIVELOVEA$AP is a triumph of immaculate taste.
Innerspeaker demonstrates a subtle yet encompassing sense of control, never obstructing the grander motifs while still offering a variety of odd details that guide you back to the album's hooks.
Finally Rich benefits from some professional tweaks in the mix, but otherwise leaves Keef's sound untouched.
Mature Themes is as vital as anything he's ever recorded
He's still not entirely upfront, but he has a knack for building songs where the realness of his subject matter lies just below the surface.
Though Psychic is the kind of immense and immersive experience typically described as “monolithic”, Jaar and Harrington ensure it’s more like the bubble gracing its cover—translucent and dense, electrified and organic, holding a form while constantly being prodded into new shapes.
Section.80 still stands as a powerful document of a tremendously promising young guy figuring out his voice.
Devotion ... marries her natural gift with throbbing instrumentation that breathes life into every single turn of phrase or sensitive vocal embellishment.
After drawing from IDM, krautrock, and sunshine pop, Dan Snaith's project sets its sights on dark and intricate dance music, with dazzling results.
Attack on Memory is too visceral to feel like escapism, too vital to feel like cheap revival.
In his berserk originality, writerly flair, emotional impact, and old-fashioned craft, Danny Brown belongs in any conversation about the best rappers working, and he's at the top of his game here.
Their music pilfers from the past without shame but also manages to sound like no one else.
Limiting himself to one producer, legends-only guest spots, and a real sense that he'd better make this one count, Killer Mike rises to the occasion.
With Cupid Deluxe, he channels those vagabond emotions into something universal and inviting—an album that tenderly details various heartaches through the language of longing.
The group's penchant for druggy atmospherics is mirrored in their lyrical content, which is overtly sexual, narcotics-focused, and occasionally downright frightening.
For as much ground as he covers on It's Album Time, the music feels effortless, gliding from Henry Mancini-esque detective jazz to bouncy, Stevie Wonder funk like breeze blowing through the waffle weave of a leisure suit.
When you hear about the influences and consider just how slick the record can be, you might imagine Haim coming over as faceless. But the band's most unusual quality on Days Are Gone is their ability to absorb inputs and continue to sound distinct.
Driven by dance-inspired beats and ghostly sampled voices, the new Four Tet album is the most focused in Kieran Hebden's catalog, and also among his best.
Shaking the Habitual is, inarguably, an achievement. It is the Knife's most political, ambitious, accomplished album, but in a strange way it also feels like its most personal
Swing Lo Magellan is a confident step into the spotlight that neither depends upon public expectations nor shies away from them.
Even considering all of the horror on display, this is her most straightforward and easy to embrace album in a decade.
Emerging unscathed from middling mainstream performance, Kaleidoscope Dream sounds, at its utmost, natural and easy, an artist set free to do what he wants and proving himself every bit the unique voice his debut seemed to deny.
The music benefits from the increased professionalism, but Garbus has not abandoned her lo-fi aesthetic.
Chance’s Acid Rap is a triumph of meditative moments, open-ended quests, and brass flares. The hooks are more jabs than uppercuts. None will probably bang in a club, but most will make sense live, as chanted back by a thousand fans.
Luxury Problems is more internally focused, an evocative and immersive soundtrack for a sustained look within. It's the headphones album of the year from a producer with a long history who has come into his own.
"Bloom" is also what these 10 songs do, each one starting with the sizzle of a lit fuse and at some fine moment exploding like a firework in slow motion.
Horgeous, indelible tunes that are as generous in content as they are restrained in delivery.
It’s both a relief and a bit of a shock that Night Time, My Time is not only here, but that it’s one of the most pleasing pieces of pop-rock to come along this year.