Best new music 2017

Julie Byrne / Not Even Happiness

These songs contain the perfect combination of elements to slowly floor me every single time I hear them.  This music sounds woody, aged and resonant.  Probably the album I listened to the most this year…


The Magnetic Fields / 50 Song Memoir

As you can imagine, the range of humor, honesty and song quality vary greatly here, but the sum is soooo much more than the parts.  A couple stone-cold Merritt classics here as well: Cold Blooded Man, Killin’ Children Over There, or the staggering; I Wish I Had Pictures.  (Can’t wait for say….75 Song Memoir?)


Jane Weaver / Modern Kosmology

Vintage synth sound with hints of the kosmiche, this is her best of a rather incredible output over the last few years.  Space-age-bachelorette-pad-music.


Kendrick Lamar / Damn

Succinct and ever-so-timely, Kendrick has a chill (both in style and voice) that comes across as effortless.  Solid from top to bottom (except the turrrible song with U2, that, at least proves he’s nice to old people.)


Slowdive / Slowdive

Reunion albums can be such a mixed bag, but Slowdive prove that if the basic elements are still fully functioning, things just continue as beautifully as before.  Nothing very elaborate but as subtly sonically overwhelming as ever.


Rat Columns / Candle Power

Low-fi pop perfection from Down Under.  The range of instrumentation and lovely musical reserve make this an exploration of texture as well as economy.  This makes the list simply because, for me, it captures the same kind of magic as the first few Pixies albums.


Protomartyr / Relatives in Descent

I never thought I’d need to look up so many words for an album.  Vernacular wordsmith devastation over the most interesting of not-quite-hardcore arrangements.  Math rock with semiotic lyrics.


Ryuichi Sakamoto / async

A whiff of vocals here, a glitch of electronic color here, this record is particularly difficult to describe.  Coming off a throat cancer scare, Ryuichi keeps it simple with meditative mini-blasts and semi-symphonic pieces.  Minimal but powerful.


sza / cntrl

I understand that I’m not the target demographic for this album, but sza has a confessional freshness here that sounds so alive and current, a more humane R&B perhaps.  Also the best song about lady anatomy I’ve heard…


Peaking Lights / The Fifth State of Consciousness

Dub-pop is the closest adjective I can find for this kind of music.  I just pretend that these swirling, bottomless electro songs of the heart are the real top 40, and the music I hear on the radio doesn’t really exist…

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