(in no particular order, check out last year here)
Father John Misty / Fear Fun
Hedonistic reinvention as former Northwest soft-a-phile turns into a dark canyon lord of Southern California. Incredible songs filled with smoke, lust and Babylon, it’s great to see an artist change it up while keeping the quality level high.
Owen Ashworth, (late of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone) also does a bit of re-invention this year, and turns in a quiet masterpiece. Incredibly human songs rendered in electro-baroque arrangements.
Trading the balls-out sonic overload of previous albums with rewarding and composed dynamics, Deacon’s concept album sounds like America to me. The America of Steve Reich, John Adams, etc.
One could make the argument that angular, dreamy, guitar rock is not that hard to do. If that’s true how come so few do it as well as this?
Or Let’s Go Eat the Factory, or the Bears for Lunch, or even Pollard’s Jack Sells the Cow, or Mouseman Cloud. The best part about the newly minted GBV is that it’s really just like the old one : they refuse to edit themselves, refuse to give everyone the perfectly perfunctory single record, and just stay weird, semi-sloshed and occasionally beautiful.
Two equally absorbing meditations recorded by Phil Elverum in an old church in Anacortes, WA. Dark, beguiling and more rewarding with each listen, these records are certainly the aural equivalent of the environment they were recorded in.
Yes, I’m serious! It’s poppy, foul and completely subversive.
Oh, don’t worry: they still sing unheard harmonies and sometimes play like the middle-part of your least-favorite Yes song, but in general, Dirty Projectors tighten up and make their best album to date.
The Will Oldham output is nothing short of vast, but this team-up with Trembling Bells (particularly the voice of Lavinia Blackwell) plays like classic Lee/Nancy duets. It’s a rare treat when the lyrics, instrumentation and performance are as strong and audacious as this. A complete triumph for all involved.
I’m vaguely familiar with the glitchy, soft-focus work of Nobukazu, but teamed up with the Stereolab-ish vocals of Noriko, they create their own white nest of musical pleasantness. A great reminder to myself to never stop taking chances when listening to music……….