Best Albums of 2017

If you like genre-bending folk music or introspective dance/R&B, have I got a list for you:   12) St. Vincent, Masseduction – Annie Clark continues to solidify her reputation as one the premiere personas in music, but what makes the songs on Masseduction memorable are the ways in which they subvert pop music expectations. Songs like “Los Ageless” unfold in standard verse/chorus form, but each section adds something unique to make the song a journey. Essential listening: “Los Ageless”, “Masseduction”     11) SZA, CTRL – Although CTRL is full of mellow, slow-simmering R&B jams, the production is subtly diverse, as instrumental timbres are rarely repeated on multiple tracks. SZA also stands out for being boldly feminist, adopting a more aggressive sexual tone typically only commandeered by male artists. Essential listening: “Supermodel”, “Pretty Little Birds”     10) Dirty Projectors, Dirty Projectors – As full of catchy grooves as it is introspective sonic experimentations, Dirty Projectors’ self-titled eighth album is an intriguing rumination on aging in the digital age. Essential listening: “Up in Hudson”, “Keep Your Name”     9) Spoon, Hot Thoughts – Nine albums in, Spoon continue to craft well-constructed songs built around deconstructed guitar riffs and percussive more »

Best Albums of 2015

One thing I noticed as I reviewed my Best-of list for 2014 was that several of the albums were notably brief. My #1 album from last year (Sleepy Kitty’s Projection Room) clocked in at a tight 37 minutes. This year – not so much. My top 3 albums this year are all over an hour, and my favorite album of 2015 is, well, a bit longer than that. Long winded? Not when what you have to say is so compelling.   Honorable Mention: Jon Benjamin, Well, I Should Have…* – As in, “Well, I should have learned how to play piano.” Comedian and voice-over artist extraordinaire recorded a jazz album featuring himself on piano. No, he does not play piano. Instead, he created an absurd, Andy Kaufman-esque experiment with some legit studio guys lending support. It seems like the shtick would wear thin over a full album, but somehow it remains hilarious.   Essential Listening: “I Can’t Play Piano, Pt. 3”, “It Had to Be You”     17) Wilco, Star Wars – Though not as expansive or experimental as some of their recent output, Wilco returned this year with a surprise (and free!) album featuring A.M.-esque roots-rock. Contributions from more »