It’s 35°C here. Let’s fucking do this.
After the masterpiece of ambient electropop which was Shift, songwriting prodigy Henry Green is back with another batch of catchy and subversive pop anthems. Green paints intriguing soundscapes with layer and layer of great ideas and compelling lyrics, so you better not sleep on that.
I know I’m all over the place praising jazz in 2020, but damn. So. Much. Good. Stuff. One of the top tier albums is this beauty. Greg Foat is an extremely talented and versatile pianist from the UK. Symphonie Pacifique is extravagant, full of drive, psychedelic, and dreamy. A beauty.
‘Genre free’ is kind of a bold claim. Denai Moore doesn’t pretend to be above genres, her music is just free of strict categorization. Somewhere between art pop, neo soul and r’n’b, Modern Dread is a beacon of modern music, displaying a generation of artists which grew up enjoying a couple different musical styles and now incorporating this diversity in their songwriting.
Interloper is first and foremost a lot of fun. Intense neo-psychedelia soundscapes swirl through hazy air, dreamy synths drizzle from the sweat-soaked ceiling. Psychedelic music has many faces, and it’s always great if it’s as colorful and playful as with Holy Wave‘s beautiful new album.
Boris were always a mixed bag for me. The Japanese outfit always jumped around different genres and approaches, pumping out albums on a regular basis. While many praised them for their versatility and quantity, they always lacked a certain focus for me. On No, the band sounds more compact and on point than ever, delivering their best batch of songs in many, many years. Bravo!
Toronto-based math rock outfit Animatist are a much needed breath of fresh air, especially in those meltingly hot days. With Inverted, the band showcase their huge palette and plenty of great ideas, incorporating a good bunch of jazz in their sound. A great album in the genre and a must-listen for ever fan!
This is without a doubt A.A. Williams‘ best release. This London-based artist made a name for herself with her gloomy, folky tunes, but progressed into more post-metal territory on her first full-length release. A dense atmosphere is present throughout the record, led by hauntingly beautiful vocals. A very promising step forward.
Russian skramz was always a great source of bands and records, and damn, the magic is back. Bagdadski Vor mesh their screamo with post-rock, post-hardcore and math rock, and create a lovable and driving sound in the process. Skramz nostalgia is over 9000.
Julianna Barwick‘s previous album Will was one of my favorite records of 2016, and to see her being supported by such a legendary label as Ninja Tune is a really satisfying progress. Healing Is A Miracle brings her to the forefront of ambient with a thoughtful, compelling, and inspiring sound.
Dinner Party – Dinner Party
July 10 // Sounds of Crenshaw/Empire
Kamasi Washington. Terrace Martin. Robert Glasper. 9th Wonder. A very promising lineup, and a promising release. Instead of an over-the-top extravaganza, Dinner Party is surprisingly delicate and subtle, emphasizing smoothness and catchy songwriting. A supergroup with an effort smaller than the sum of its parts, but in that case, it’s a very good thing.
Bring that funk! Adeline‘s new EP Intérimes is a colorful neo-soul gem, groovy and funky. While the production lacks a bit of polish, the songs and especially Adeline herself are full of charm, pairing up smooth bass lines with catchy vocals. A sweet little EP with the right amount of diversion.
Catchiness overload. I usually don’t like synthwave these days, but The Midnight‘s Monsters is so damn catchy. It’s catchy! From the cheesy narrative to the smooth instrumentals, this band did everything right on their new record, and I’m sure they are making tons of new fans with this album!
This is very rough around the edges, but that gives it even more charm. There are so many lovable things about this album, starting with the ’90s emo/alt rock production, the beautiful vocals, the layer of early Midwest emo/math rock, I could go on and on and on. If you like ’90s emo and bands like Pinback or Duster, you have to check this out.
Tomotsuko Nakamura – Literature
July 13 // LAAPS
Oh yes. Japanese composer Tomotsuko Nakamura is your guide through isolation, somewhere between folk, ambient, and glitch. Literature is mesmerizingly sweet and comforting, rewarding for those you take enough focus to really delve into this album.
Gracie Abrams enters the stage with her debut EP, which is nothing too special, honestly. But more often than not, you just want a bunch of good songs, and that’s about it. This EP gives you what you need, with tunes about growing up and lyrics about love and life. Sometimes, that’s just all.
We don’t deserve Oddisee, but he’s a gift and we need to accept it and just enjoy his grace. Out of nowhere, one of the most interesting characters in hip hop drops a new album, which draws a picture of odd times, odd lives, and odd worlds we are living in. More personal as ever, Oddisee invites us into his life, and the world is better now.
Our team must be annoyed by now because I can’t shut up about how good this album is. Ever since a new Lianne La Havas record was announced, it quickly (or should I say, immediately) became my most highly anticipated record of the year, and this masterpiece of neo-soul didn’t disappoint. Quite the contrary, it shattered my enormous expectation. I never felt better with a record in 2020.
What a ride. Sarah Tudzin created an absolutely phenomenal project with illuminati hotties, super unique and fresh. Whatever you expect, FREE I.H: This Is Not The One You’ve Been Waiting For is different, sprinkles of garage rock and noise rock, combined with a similar drive you can find with Otoboke Beaver, makes this album one of the most interesting rock albums of the year.
This shouldn’t work so well. Australian (of course they are from Australia) alt/prog metal outfit Figures grooves somewhere between Karnivool and Deftones, with a bunch of ultra catchy choruses. While their use of synths can be a bit annoying, the great songwriting and overall fitting sound makes Operating in Unsafe Mode a really great addition in a genre without much good stuff these days.
That album wrecked me, in the best way possible. A collection of original songs and traditional folk tunes, every single one in a veil of sorrow and forlornness, cracked by a beautiful shimmering of hope. This is probably the best folk we’ll get in 2020, and it fits the year frustratingly perfectly.
The most beautiful thing about this album is that it sounds like a bunch of friends met up in their practice room, with a bunch of fantastic songs in the heads and hearts full of raw energy, and just hit record. I love this from start to finish, and I just wanna live in this feeling.
Listening to KIND is a truly magical experience. Canadian artist Thanya Iyer creates mesmerizing places with her symbiosis of jazz and folk, and invites you to be part of her intriguing and compelling journey. At every moment, the album is full of excitement and wonder, beautifully paced and elegantly executed.
Imperial Triumphant just went all over the place with this. Shit’s just wild – very wild. It took a lot of time until I got comfortable with this album, but it was oh so worth it. Forward-thinking and incredibly creative, Alphaville is a must-listen for every fan who wants to know how the metal of the future could sound.
Thanks for scrolling.