1. Amen Dunes - Freedom
Tighter melodies than anything Damon McMcmahon has done yet. Moreover the grooves on Freedom were stuck in my head all year. Most listened to by a country mile.
2. Nils Frahm - All Melody
Frahm’s best album. I got so much work done while listening to this. The neoclassical/electronic artist has mastered the use of empty space to convey emotion. Unfolds like watching a documentary about the history of human experience.
3. Lonnie Holley - MITH
Aptly described as “the insider’s insider,” Holley is a master of improvisation. “I Snuck Off the Slave Ship” burns so brightly at 17 minutes. This sounds like people in the 19th century had a blueprint for jazz and psychedelic music and recorded an album.
4. Boerd - Static
One of the most true-to-form 90s ambient albums to come out this decade. Six tracks that all stick their landing whether channelling Aphex Twin, Brian Eno, or early Air.
5. Earl Sweatshirt - Some Rap Songs
Like all my favorite emcees, I’ll be piecing together Earl’s raps for the rest of my life. Takes the bleakness of I Don’t Like Shit and shoots it through a lo-fi Flying Lotus filter. Earl’s got more voices for the emotion “tired” than an old man. Hugh Masakela samples are always welcome.
6. Anna von Hausswolff - Dead Magic
Like taking a hot bath in a stew of darkwave creativity. Her voice is unparalleled.
7. Jpegmafia - Veteran
Most aggressive raps I’ve heard this side of Sleaford Mods and Death Grips, but more poignant and therapeutic than either. Peggy has a lot of problems with you people, and now you’re gonna hear about it.
8. Suuns - Felt
Comfort music for a guy whose favorite Liars album is WIXIW. When the blizzard hit in April, I could not put this thing down.
9. Low - Double Negative
Like traveling to a remote place to escape Trump land while honoring your emotions.
10. Szun Waves - New Hymn to Freedom
Jazz for when you need a spiritual awakening, and the best fusion of genres you’ll hear outside of Brainfeeder.
11. Jack White - Boarding House Reach
So happy to be enjoying Jack again. People have called him the WIlly Wonka of rock and roll, and this album has him earning that title. Rarely do industry juggernauts have this many amazing ideas.
12. KIDS SEE GHOSTS - KIDS SEE GHOSTS
So nice to hear Kanye talk about things other than himself for awhile. Sounds like a bad acid trip turning into a good one.
13. Ryley Walker - Deafman Glance
For the guitar-worshiping old man in all of us. Walker uses a bunch of jam band tropes without exploiting or pandering to them.
14. Straya - Sobereyed
Experimental metal for people with patient ears and open minds. Reaps rewards and rewards reapers.
15. Young Fathers - Cocoa Sugar
Another album on here strictly for its nosebleed creativity. Every song is a different post-rap idea. “Wow” is the perfect summation for what makes them musically tick.
16. Young Jesus - The Whole Thing Is Just There
Grateful Dead fans that read a lot and improvise even more. Also inject some golden age emo in there. They put out reading recommendations instead of press releases.
17. Foxwarren - Foxwarren
Like a regular Andy Shauf record but with fewer concepts and more guitar solos. Perfectly arranged.
18. The Body - I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer
Bone-breaking experimental metal, and the bands most inventive since I Shall Die Here. They know the limits of Chip Kings vocals, so they invited a whole host of collaborators.
19. Daughters - You Won’t Get What You Want
Nothing beats that first listen of “City Song.” Not for the faint of heart.
20. Deafheaven - Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
The band’s most complete album yet. The cover art is an inversion of Transilvanian Hunger.
21. Exploded View - Obey
The best lyrics you’ll ever get out of a modern electronic krautrock album.
22. Daniel Avery - Song for Alpha
Sounds like Boards of Canada’s Geogaddi part 2.
23. Advance Base - Animal Companionship
So stark and beautifully written, this is a record that’s about the stories told. I want a novel out of this guy.
24. Colter Wall - Songs of the Plains
Country music from Saskatchewan that’s authentic as hell. Makes you want to be a cowboy.
25. Roc Marciano - RR2: The Bitter Dose
The beats are turned down and the samples are turned up. For fans of Ka, GZA, and Madlib.