“Love kid. Lost until you give it some kick. You’re too young to leave it. Too young to keep it. Love’s the breath a Life still lifts when Life is finally over with.” -MZD
Click on Noises to hear some of my music. -Billy.G.O
I was ready for this album to be big and explosive. And it is, about three times for 30ish seconds each time (total) during two songs. This album is surprisingly thin at times, but it’s thin in the same way that the air is in space. This is a headphone record, only because I doubt there is a system out there that could give you the same weightless feeling in a real space. The cosmic aesthetic of her videos and infamously progressive apps isn’t just a sales technique. This is music without a top or bottom. The sounds seem to go on into infinity. And without getting to long with this… the moments of release on this record after the ‘cosmic drifting’ are some of the most emotionally affecting moments ever recorded. (did I use affecting correctly?) My favorite record this year. I haven’t ever even seen what the apps look like, but I sure am looking forward to it.
La Dispute - Wildlife
Six months ago, I wouldn’t have expected La Dispute to be on a list like this. I liked them a lot for pushing boundaries, but only listened to a couple of songs and not very often. After listening to this album on headphones, doing nothing else- I was floored. I finally understood the friends of mine who find themselves obsessed, and reminded me why I found them exciting in the first place- giving me a whole new appreciation for their first LP as well. There’s no way I can fully explain my new found affection here. The vocals are probably unlistenable for some, but compared to the other loud band on this list, Jordan Dreyer’s vocals and lyrics are constantly audible. Even more importantly, they convey the emotion they need to. Tidal waves of the stuff. Surprisingly groovy-yet-melodic post-hardcore fuzzes and shimmers into a backdrop for story telling that is undeniable and vivid. These are stories in the truest sense. The climaxes of some of these songs manage to “shake the earth to the core”. This is something special.
Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver
There’s really nothing to say about this that hasn’t been said by every other music publication. This album is proof that For Emma, Forever Ago wasn’t a fluke, or just the result of some spirit of nature or snow or cabin speaking through a guy with a beard. It’s just a guy with a beard- but he clearly understand what music is. He plays with everything here, instrumentation, space, color (SOMUCHCOLOR). For Emma was a beautiful once in a lifetime record, but this sophomore triumph is a masterpiece of a different kind. And Colin Stetson is on it, so like… fuck-yeah.
James Blake - James Blake
When my friend Luca sent me a link to this guy’s tunes… I didn’t realize what I was getting into. I remember listening to a couple of track out of my (terrible) computer speakers. I’m obsessed with his style. All of his work. This is album is terrifying in how expertly it uses space and tension/release.
O’Brother - Garden Window
This only just came out, but it’s gorgeous. Grungy, bright, pulsing. Many of the song march, pound, and pump… but throughout there is also a tragic sort of melody, ringing with lyrics seemingly out of an ancient fairy tale
Colin Stetson- New History Warfare Vol. 2
The technical feat of the year. Airy and deep. This will destroy whatever predispositions you have to the word Saxophone. For perspective, these were one-take songs. The percussion you hear is actually the mechanisms of the saxophone pounding. Giant, but intimate.
Moving Mountains- Waves
Nils Frahm- Felt
Probably my second favorite piano album ever. Nils laid actual FELT on his keys, cranked the gain on his microphone. He created the most intimate album, ever. I’m pretty sure of it.
Olafur Arnalds- Living Room Songs
For a second time, Oli spend 7 days recording one song a day. The result is beautiful. Simple, elegant. This time he even filmed it.
Psychic Babble- My Brother’s Ears/ My Sister’s Eyes
The smoothest record ever. Colin from Circa Survive, making amazing soundscapes that flow and flow and flow. These songs always get stuck in my head when I haven’t even heard them in a while. Catchy, groovy, and even danceable. You won’t find a more honest-sounding record anywhere.
Other notable records:
Jeniferever - Silesia
Pianos Become the Teeth-
Radiohead- King of Limbs
Nicholas Szczepanik- Please Stop Loving me
Fleet Foxes- Helplessness Blues
If there’s something missing you really loved this year, I may not have listened to it! WHAT IS IT? nothing I absolutely loved in hip-hop this year