Blackheart takes it down a peg from the mythology of Goldenheart into a more introspective, earthy realm—that it's wrapped up in inventive production that feels about five years ahead of mainstream radio is just icing on the cake.
On Ratchet, an honest, earnest pop record, Shamir elaborates on the gutsy melodies of those early demos and singles and makes good on the hype.
Jesso has a knack for writing songs that you feel like you’ve heard before, even if you can’t quite pin down a precise antecedent. Which is another way of saying he writes songs that sound "classic" in the best sense of the word.
O’Rourke is always clever and funny, but the driving force in his music is the art of the arrangement. Many of the greatest pleasures on Simple Songs come from how certain instruments are layered together, how the chords are voiced and the harmonic progressions unfold.
Sullivan, better than singers and songwriters in almost any genre, creates worlds where relationships take on more complex dynamics, but are immediate in their effect.
He has never made, and will probably never make, a bad album—he's far too accomplished, intuitive, and literate for that. But on Poison Season, you can occasionally detect the dismaying sound of indie rock's greatest intellect second-guessing itself.
Late Nights, in its subtle seduction, feels all the more special in an era that increasingly rewards artists who shout the loudest. Jeremih makes you shut everything else out so that you can hear him whisper in your ear. It was worth the wait.
Throw it onto the list of recent albums, like Heems’ Eat Pray Thug and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, that take personal, political and temporal stock of our lives and refuse to be one-dimensional in chronicling these experiences.
Despite the wide scope of her project, Herndon’s ambitious efforts are appealingly multifaceted and personal, and Platform may turn out to be the most thought-provoking experimental electronic music release of the year.
Mutant is an album of contrasts, and Ghersi has an uncanny ability to let extremes interact with each other to create something new.
What makes the first proper album from Empress Of so impressive is that it's not just Rodriguez's most outwardly pop-focused work to date, but also her most restlessly experimental and ... lyrically raw.
Unbreakable is a synthesis of ideas Jackson’s collected and tested throughout her career.
The production values are higher, and there’s even more of Palomo's queasy pitch-shifting, 16-bit synths, and disembodied samples—more of everything. Palomo might have seemed like someone stumbling onto a recipe with Psychic Chasms, but now it's clear that this is Palomo’s foundational music, his blues or funk.
For all its ironclad hooks and studio precision, Jepsen's third album, like her second, lacks the personality of the most memorable pop records.
His sound is more three-dimensional, a series of shrouded corners and murmured conversations. This is wandering, grey-skies music, finding pleasure and even sensuality in solitude.
On his previous classics he showed us that new things were possible, a magic that's available only so many times in one life. Compton doesn't have the same breathtaking power, but it's excellent nonetheless, and more complicated and jarring than we could have known to hope for.
Her new EP, Hallucinogen, uses the gristle and guts of feeling as a thematic base for exploring new textures in music.
While Deerhunter's created a number of indelible songs over their career, Fading Frontier may have their first that could conceivably blend into real-deal classic rock radio.
Though a few songs stretch out an interesting idea too far, SremmLife is a showcase of an electric new talent paired with all the trappings of a bigtime major label debut.
Catchy as all-clashing hell, it's Sleater-Kinney's most front-to-back accessible album, amping their omnipresent love of new wave pop with aerodynamic choruses that reel and reel, enormously shouted and gasped and sung with a dead-cool drawl.
At a moment when guitar-centric music feels less central to the conversation, and great indie-rock bands have retreated into hardy local scenes, Deafheaven play like a beautiful, abstracted dream of guitar music's transportive power.
With nothing to prove and no longer an upstart, Earl sounds, more than ever, simply like himself.
More streamlined than Person Pitch and more rhythmically robust than Tomboy, Grim Reaper is Panda Bear’s toughest, grimiest, and funkiest album to date.
It's a new sound built on lots of older ones—indie, hip-hop, funk, rock, gospel, various strains of R&B, The Lion King soundtrack—and despite bringing on a large cast and letting each person play their part, the guests all exist on the Social Experiment's terrain.
For an artist who could sometimes seem forbidding or remote, Have You In My Wilderness feels humane, and with each new release, it seems like a bit more of the personal is teased out of Holter's stately, high-concept approach.
On If You’re Reading This, all of this chest beating is delivered over the most darkly hypnotic beats Drake’s graced since So Far Gone.
It’s simultaneously her most mature feat of arranging and almost psychosomatically affecting.
More than anything, Barter 6 feels like a 50-minute performance of what rap, as a form, can do: rap that need not transcend itself, towards High Art on one hand or commercial art on the other, in order to succeed in 2015.
Fans of the Beatles and Sufjan Stevens will find that songs from Honeybear sit comfortably in their Spotify "Mountain Drive" playlists; fans of stand-up comedy will find the album as thorough, sad and bitterly cathartic as any good hour-long special.
What The Epic does come to sound like, over the course of its significant running time, is a generational intervention—an educational tool that widens the definition of styles that fall under "jazz classicism."
On Wildheart, Miguel makes good on all of his cross-genre dabbling of the past five years, but unlike the track-based experiments that dotted his two prior LPs and five mixtapes, he extrapolates the heavy funk across an entire album.
Black Messiah is a dictionary of soul, but D'Angelo is the rare classicist able to filter the attributes of the greats in the canon into a sound distinctly his own.
This record is a return to the spare folk of Seven Swans, but with a decade's worth of honing and exploration packed into it. It already feels like his most classic and pure effort.
Nearly every proper song on Currents is a revelatory statement of Parker’s range and increasing expertise as a producer, arranger, songwriter, and vocalist while maintaining the essence of Tame Impala: Parker is just as irreverent working in soul and R&B as he is with psych-rock.
Summertime '06 is breathtakingly focused, a marathon that feels like a sprint. The production bangs and clanks throughout with a septic, rusted, retooled-buggy persistence, which Staples matches.
Underneath the tragedy and adversity, To Pimp a Butterfly is a celebration of the audacity to wake up each morning to try to be better, knowing it could all end in a second, for no reason at all.