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Harmony

Unison / Harmony 2015

By The Staff

Kamasi Washington

The Epic

(Brainfeeder)

How do you sing to the dead?

If you were young, black, and American in 2015, you might imagine that, with protest and anger and violence and narratives all coming to naught, you’ll face paralysis under the accumulating weight of dead bodies. You might, as trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire did on “Rollcall for those Absent,” simply add music to a long list of names of those needlessly murdered by police, without commentary. If you were pianist Robert Glasper, you might pick up the torch, sampling that same recording over the instrumental portion of Kendrick Lamar’s “Sing about Me, I’m Dying of Thirst,” a song itself pleading desperately for its own posthumous life. If you’re Lamar himself, in 2015, you might rally all these artists on To Pimp a Butterfly (and if you want to know how intimately intertwined all these West Coast hip-hop and jazz artists really are, here’s a good start and you’re welcome). You might insert yourself into an old interview with 2Pac. You might explain your whole concept of the caterpillar and the butterfly and their interdependence, and breaking free of the struggle, and then ask for his perspective. And then face the deafening silence.

How do you sing to the dead, when your musical forebears can never offer their approval? How do you channel that urgency if, as 2Pac said, a black man has only five years in which to channel that passion, energy, and anger before the world drains the fight out of you?

If you’re saxophonist Kamasi Washington, you might channel it into a triple-album’s worth of fight. But if TPAB is all struggle, conflict, and insularity, The Epic is laser-focused, external, bathing everything it touches in so much light and warmth in a way only something steeped in this much jazz history could. It not only sells the line “No matter what happens / I’m here,” but does so with ebullience to spare. Being released on Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder label, The Epic precludes its presumed status as a bridge between soul-jazz and fusion fans and hip-hop heads and throws it out the window. Too restlessly eclectic to please any one kind of jazz fan, and yet speaking in a language both venerable and ostensibly anachronistic, it doesn’t even make overtures towards engaging with contemporary music. And all for the better. Perhaps that’s what makes this record so startling—that the same crew that dipped their toes in hip-hop would show such an embrace for tradition. What The Epic’s looking back seems to signify is a closer affinity between two camps than could have been imagined. It’s a crossover album by virtue of context—not sound. By virtue of a shared history.

And for those who care to play games with alternate history, there’s an abundance of material. Like what if Coltrane had lived into the ‘70s and collaborated with ambitious, avant-garde-tinged, and heavily politicized big bands like Charlie Haden’s Liberation Orchestra or the Art Ensemble of Chicago? But that barely scratches the surface: along the way, Washington’s band sample vocal soul-jazz (“The Rhythm Changes”), a classical crossover piece (“Clair de Lune”), and a fury of hard bop worthy of memorializing in Whiplash 2 (“Miss Understanding”). It only takes a little imagination to cast “Henrietta Our Hero” as a blaxploitation theme or “The Magnificent 7” as the score to an ‘80s cartoon (no doubt Thundercat’s slap bass helps immensely here). And it takes no imagination at all to hear “Askim” as A Love Supreme (1964) with a chorus, layers of strings, and hand percussion. Or you might forget about all that, and just live in the interstitial spaces of the dueling trumpet/trombone on “Re Run Home” or in the winding soloing on “Leroy and Lanesha.”

What unites it all is a feeling of that most anachronistic of concepts: the jazz standard. Nebulous, irresponsibly tautological, undoubtedly impossible in 2015. But there it is. So infused with the DNA of jazz, The Epic feels like some kind of platonic ideal, something destined to be celebrated in the future. For those who might wonder how to place oneself in the lineage of heroes, Washington offers a refreshingly and achingly sincere tribute to Malcolm X: “Know more a man by the seed / Which will come forth again.” How do you sing to the dead? By letting them sing through you.


Joel Elliott

Girlpool

Before the World Was Big

(Wichita)

Girlpool’s Before the World was Big is the ultimate piece of bedroom pop: find two teenage girls with a guitar and a bass, find two strong voices singing in unison, find songs that try to make sense of growing up and leaving childhood behind and anything else that drifts into frame. Introverted and spare, their sound is reminiscent of ‘80s indie like that of Beat Happening, but singer-songwriters Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad add an element of arresting brashness and immediacy to their retro-adulation. Mostly it’s in those voices—not quite Kathleen Hanna-esque fuck-you shrill, but loud, assertive, and feminine enough that critics have said idiotic things like “It is like being cornered by a couple of characters from HBO’s Girls and made to listen to their boyfriend problems in excruciating detail.” (This casual misogyny brought to you by the fine folks of The Guardian.)

But Before the World was Big is emphatically not concerned with “boyfriend problems.” Its focus is squarely on that impatient, confused mentality of late teenage-hood, sometimes concerned with others but mostly wrapped up in who am I and why am I and what’s going to happen to me? kind of bullshit. It is present both in Tividad and Tucker’s words and in their sound, at times whispering but more often consciously projecting, fighting to be heard. “Do you feel restless when you realize you’re alive?”, they ask desperately in “Chinatown.” Likewise, in “I Like that You Can See It”: “My mind is almost 19 / And I still feel angry / I’m searching for the reason.”

Tividad and Tucker sing every song together, but the record nonetheless feels achingly lonely, like reaching out while totally afraid of being swallowed up. Like many works on adolescent confusion, Before the World was Big is fixated on loss: of childhood, of safety, of certainty. On the title track, they chant it like a mantra: “I just miss how it felt standing next to you / Wearing matching dresses before the world was big.” Girlpool incisively captures, in just ten short songs, that deep breath, that building up of courage, and that one last look back before charging out into the world.


Maura McAndrew

Denny Lile

Hear the Bang

(Big Legal Mess)

This year gave us two incredible buried-treasure country reissues: the first was Kenny Knight’s 1980 record Crossroads, given new life by Paradise of Bachelors, and the other is Denny Lile’s Hear the Bang, released in 1973 and completely unknown until Lile’s nephew, a custom amp builder, brought it to friends at Fat Possum. Lile and Knight share a lot of similarities—long-haired and mustachioed, they’re working-class fellas from mid-sized cities (Denver, Louisville) who struggled throughout their lives to get their music heard. But where Knight’s life rambled on through his musical disappointments (he is currently happily married and running a pet resort called Fuzzypups), Lile’s story ended up in heartbreakingly familiar territory. Talented but fragile, Lile never made it big, and wound up drinking himself to death at the age of 44.

While this tragic biography gives the record more impact, it can’t eclipse the music itself. Hear the Bang is a delicate collection of Americana in the vein of Neil Young (though Lile’s gentle tenor recalls Jim Croce or James Taylor), but more than that, it feels perfect and easy, like a collection conjured within a dream. Though recorded early in Lile’s career, Hear the Bang sounds unmistakably like a life’s work, a greatest hits, one well-loved and worn-in song after another. Lile’s only tangible career success is not featured here: that was a later song, “Fallin’ Out,” recorded and released by Waylon Jennings in 1987 (whose royalties Lile used to buy the van in which he lived out the final years of his life). This instead is the music that came before, when Lile thought he would be the one singing the story of his life for the world to hear. And that investment comes through in tracks like the title cut, “Once More with Feeling,” “Will You Hate Me When I’m Gone,” and “Love is on a Freight Train,” which all roll along trailing warm, beautiful melodies, a note or two just barely escaping full-fledged sorrow.

The documentary that accompanies the record paints a comprehensive portrait of Lile: his rocky childhood, his early musical ambition, his frequently missed connections with fame. It’s the story of a man who dedicated his everything to music, but for whom music couldn’t return the same dedication. Yet, what is unique about Lile is not this cinematic story of abject tragedy, but the unexpected nature of what went un-embraced for so long. As Justin Kinkel-Schuster of Fat Possum band Water Liars recalls in the documentary, upon first hearing Hear the Bang, he stopped his car and pulled over, floored. The story piques our interest, but the music has a way of holding it, singularly, until everything else falls away.


Maura McAndrew

Carly Rae Jepsen

E•MO•TION

(604/Schoolboy/Interscope)

I never had any hope for Carly Rae Jepsen. How very un-poptimistic of me, I know—though it wasn’t because she was a bright-shining part of the commercial cadre of bubble-gum’d singers, it was because I couldn’t stand “Call Me Maybe” or its adored bullshit of a video which reduced a poor hunky gardener’s sexual identity to a punchline about how relatable poor CRJ’s love life is to millions of young people who actually have to deal with serious self-esteem issues and no discernible, marketable talent. It was because she’s friends with Owl City, because the song they wrote together is intolerable, because why would anyone be friends with Owl City? Why would anyone feel OK about infantilizing two adults for the purpose of appealing to 12-year-olds? Why would someone who’s friends with Owl City and whose full understanding of non-cisgender identity amounts to being all grumpy-faced about the hot dude not liking the only person with a vagina in the room—why would such a person be anyone I’d have faith would be able to shake her head free from the maelstrom she’d gotten herself into with her dumb song and her dumb friendship with Owl City and prove she’s actually a deft manager of the many influences she’s necessarily—even unintentionally—accumulated over the 30 years she’s actually been alive?

I was wrong. On E•MO•TION, Jepsen seems to be in full control. Recorded in three countries, in over 15 studios, care of at least 16 producers (only counting the standard, non-bonus or -import edition), her third album is so much more than an obvious transcending of the earworming era of “Call Me Maybe,” it’s an endlessly listenable amalgamation of absolutely every big, blunt, blatant emotion with which pop music blesses us dumb humans and our dumb relationships. That’s why it’s called what is it, of course: It’s a whole-hearted attempt at emulating, and then owning, the many influences and desires she harbors as a full-grown, adult artist.

From Sade to Springsteen, from George Michael to Michael Jackson to Joe Jackson to Joe Cocker, E•MO•TION cites at least three different decades of music, and into each one she leans with her full weight, knowing it’ll bend to fit her particular artistic brand. And even if that brand is only one of love found and lost, of broken hearts and “boy problems”—the stuff we’ve come to expect from her, the stuff we may have once held against her, the stuff she could probably talk to her dumb friend Owl City about without filter—Jepsen’s strength is her sincerity. This means that if she can wrangle Dev Hynes and Ariel Rechtshaid for one track, that track will be the best song she’s ever written. Which “All That” definitely is—an uncomplicated array of yearning writ in cool neon and geologic time—and a song that, despite all involved, feels completely and utterly Jepsen’s own. This means that if you have Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij clamoring to microwave your “Warm Blood,” you will witness your coy anthem still bubble with hot fire beneath the surface, radioactively charged and all the more dangerous for it. This means that if you want a song about being a slacker (“Let’s Get Lost”) to bear the same swagger as Hot Chocolate’s “Every1’s a Winner,” you stick a sax on that thing and let it go free. This means that if you have an obnoxious single about teenage crushing (“I Really Like You”), you stick Tom Hanks in the middle of the thing and trust it’ll work out. It will.

Though, admittedly, I’m not entirely on board with the person Jepsen appears to want to be here. It’s difficult to rationalize the quietly masterful curator with the painfully traditional girly roles she inhabits when she sings dumb crap like “Sometimes I wish that I could change, but not for me, for you, so that we could be together, forever, but I know that I won’t change for you, because where were you when I needed someone?” I have unpleasant flashbacks to the demure sweetiepie of “Call Me Maybe,” to the harmless flirtation with her dumb friend Owl City: She is always wishing, crushing, placating, waiting—forever between what she wants and what she wants to escape. Not that such desire is only left to the realm of young women, but what bugs me is that she often sounds like she refuses to take responsibility, to own her agency, for the messy lovey-doveyness that should be outside the purview of her position as genre-murdering pop star badass. Why does she put up with this shit? Why does she still talk to that Owl City asshole?

Or maybe this isn’t whom she wants to be; this is what she is; this is the contradictory lifeblood of poptimism—that you can enjoy Future and despise his lifestyle, while recognizing the severe anguish he’s endured; that you can be ashamed of thinking about what it would be to hate-fuck Justin Bieber; that you can wish Carly Rae Jepsen were stronger, can crush on her strength, can placate her neediness with accepting that she’s friends with that dipshit Owl City, can wait for her to be stronger. I have so much hope for you now, Carly Rae Jepsen—I have so much hope for all of us.


Dom Sinacola

Natasha Kmeto

Inevitable

(Dropping Gems)

That title—with it comes responsibility, comes predetermination, comes original sin. With Inevitable comes myth. There isn’t anything particularly complicated about her production—each track begins with a pupal notion that grows into purpose easily. She’s asking clear questions, demanding forward answers: “When you coming back?” or “Won’t you come and say that you won’t go?” She offers direction, and expects it to be followed, not because she’s demanding, just because she knows you know what’s right: “Then we can go oooh ooooh ooooh oooh oooh oooh yeah” or “Now you’re giving something” or “Tell me you want me.” She’s befriending Tunde Adebimpe, and he will sing his face off because he recognizes that “Grind” is the kind of song that only a person who knows something could make. And Natasha Kmeto won’t even ask him to do that. He repeats, “It’s so hard for me to know,” and it makes sense that whatever that something is that Kmeto knows, at least it could be anything. Rarely do any of us understand anything—it’s why we create myths, to give order to all the pandemonium around us. But Kmeto has that order ingrained in her, and Inevitable is proof. It is like Tron-R&B, like the two Daft Punk robots making out in a Bjork video, like Kate Bush counting all 50 words for snow with a digital abacaus. And by the end of it, Kmeto’s echoing herself, “I always wanted to be your girl,” over and over, but more wistfully than anything—she gets it, and she’s moving on. The more I listen to Inevitable, the more I realize it’s a record about seeking closure, and then actually finding it. It’s a soundtrack for getting one’s shit together. And, like myth, it’s something I really need.


Dom Sinacola

Dawn Richard

Blackheart

(Our Dawn Entertainment)

Blackheart is obtuse, diffuse, invigorating, exhausting. It confuses contradiction with thematic coherence, hypocrisy with helpful life advice, an “I can’t feel my face” brand of drug abuse with loose-limbed cool, Grammy-qualifying sex-appeal with Grammy-worthy expertise. It is thoroughly pleased with itself, reveling in its cleverness, condescending, constantly declaring how smart it is in dumb ways, how competent it is in unfettered flashes of brilliance. It’s quest-like in its breadth, breath-like in its pace, both totally overproduced and overly total in its sonic scope. It spends more time and effort aping genres than trying to understand them, which it probably knows it’s doing, but it also knows that you won’t know the difference. It looks down on you, a tower of ashes built from the remains of heartbreak and assholishness and shitty business and MTV reality and girl group venality, while you resent it for such but also intuitively know that it is better than you. Or richer than you, prettier than you, saucier than you, eager that you embrace these truths and still try to enjoy your life somehow. Let Dawn Richard help, the Morning Star, the Princess of Darkness, the Devil Who Wears Prada: there are times during Blackheart when I feel as if I am listening to the electro-R&B manifestation of Satan—so manipulative, licentious, indulgent this album sounds. It is indulgence. It is a Terrence Malick voice-over; it is showing your friends your lavish vacation photos; it is a Fred Durst sex tape; it is an episode of Serial; it is Robert Durst burping his way, despite everything he’s done, into our hearts. It is nearly impossible to describe without accepting all that it is, and tolerating all that it isn’t. It isn’t cohesive, or consistent, or orderly, or even all that comprehensible. Yet, my God it is something I want, all of it, desire coring down to the bone of me: It is everything we loved and everything we hated about pop music in 2015.


Dom Sinacola

Ian William Craig

Cradle for the Wanting

(Recital)

I know that this piece is true to Ian William Craig because I’ve deleted about ten incarnations of this opening paragraph—twice as many of this opening sentence—already. I’ve realised something listening to his music, that deleting your work is trusting in it: Put it through a vessel that isn’t alive enough to have bias about it, throw it in the recycling bin and then restore it, or wipe it out, backspace it, and then rewrite it. Get your tape decks and loop your way back into existence—I don’t know. Happy holidays: Welcome to another repetitive, incongruent season where everything feels the same but a little different.

Cradle for the Wanting, Craig’s second album—or umpteenth; researching his discography brings up disparate results, as if the actual amount of his work has been reassessed over and over—is mulled. I’ve been listening to it against windows of rain and up in the midst of heavy winds. It’s felt a lot like warmth, but only because it seems to need to survive its own freezing landscapes—and when it’s dark, Craig must see too, and so he offers us extra lighting. Last year’s A Turn of Breath was its own seasonal set piece; its many renewing melodies and fractures of noise suggest the growth of Spring followed by the fluttering, nimble deaths of Autumn. But this album, this one is constantly pushing the scornful aggressions of Winter on us. A distorted loop of IWC’s voice, for example, plays out like wind pushing against pedestrians on “Habit Worn and Wondering,” with his central operatic hum cut up and stuttering as if he’s holding his hands up against the torrent. As much as IWC is making the sounds above us, he’s also living under them with us.

And yet, IWC is our fucking guardian angel on this record. His voice flows towards us through crackles and the percussive breakage of tape, meandering in and out like he’s just contentedly existing, a lifetime of crucial moments passing by. Unlike A Turn of Breath and its accidental obsession with narrative bookends, proper songs, and even guitars, Cradle for the Wanting can go songs without Craig saying anything, his voice a mere rumination at times, ambient wallpaper at others. This record is his daydream, and he only occasionally wakes to try to talk about it. The lyric that finally weaves its way towards us on “Empty, Circle Tremble,” after a term of humming and trembling, is a mantra-less mantra so summative it speaks of all of Craig’s work up until that point: “It is half heard and fleeting.”

When I talked to the musician in January, he cited John Cage as a ruinous and unwelcome inspiration on his work: “Here’s this guy talking about, ‘Well no, actually, everything is just happening and art is everything and everything is art.’ He just ruined stuff.” For an artist working in an erudite genre, with an even more erudite musical instrument to hand (the operatic vocal), it’s important to remember that Craig’s maximalism comes from the back doors—from sparsity, economy, and, miraculously, from accidents. He’s creating these vast musical ecosystems and giving them a perfect sense of place, but on Cradle for the Wanting, he’s doing it with nothing more than his voice and decks. His music is a testament to potential, to hard work, to how big sound-worlds can grow, and to how much can come from close to nothing. I love Craig’s work, because that’s exactly what it is: work. If you do anything enough, you will eventually do it well. Have a nice winter. Have a few more.


Robin Smith

Frog Eyes

Pickpocket's Locket

(Paper Bag)

The Glow is finishing without a consensus on a fucking Frog Eyes album? My junior perspective is that the staff owes Carey Mercer at least some of our lives, whether he saved or shaped or just put them into motion. Though, as far as celebrating a man of splintering consequences and time-flows and waterfalls and interruptions, it also seems fitting that we wouldn’t all be saying goodbye the same way.

You might recall we collectively had a thing for Carey’s Cold Spring, our favorite album of 2013, a hopelessly hopeful album. Or was it hopefully hopeless? Did we fall for its romanticism, for the motivational poster sprayed with “don’t give up your dreams,” or was it about time he completely obliterated us with the hurt of “don’t ever try to live out your dreams”? Whatever we were feeling in opposition to each other, it was together we felt it. If we were listening to him run in place on “Duration of Starts and Lines”—hearing him breathe the ticks and tocks of the clock, willing it to walk across the wall it was stuck to—or if we were watching him set fire to the trail behind every discarded note of “Your Holiday Treat” so he could never go anywhere but forward, or if we were with him balladeering through “Noni’s Got A Taste For The Bright Red Air Jordans” in some disfigured, unwound slow jam—I suppose we were reacting to Frog Eyes with contradictions, arguing in unison about how best to love it, believing that movement and stillness were just two sides of a waiting coin.

With Pickpocket’s Locket, things are different. Some of us like it and some of us don’t, some are indifferent and some undecided, while I think I might be the only one among us who ranks it somewhere close to perfect. Right now, I’m just asking you not to reject it on spec, even though an acoustic Frog Eyes album is a scornful combination by any metric that compares it to the pantomimic noise rock of The Folded Palm (2004) or the Bowie-meets-Walker-meets-Ono-meets-This Heat-meets-Richard Young’s scuzz punk of Tears of the Valedictorian (2007). The last time Mercer played an acoustic guitar this performatively he was doing so on Ego Scriptor (2004), a record of second takes that perhaps existed to explain the rites of the Frog Eyes sound: repulsive, messy, and discordant, often falling off a ledge but never fading. Mercer picks one up now in tribute to his late father, taking his hand-me-down acoustic and sketching out songs later filled out (complicated to fuck and disproportionate from any hope of humility) by Melanie Campbell’s cloud-clear drumming, Spencer Krug’s gorgeous string arrangements, and the odd, cheeky keyboard motif. So fuck it off, if you want, because it’s hard to listen to this band start making sense. I just want you to know that this is what every Frog Eyes album has ever been: chaos wrapped up safe and tight.

On Carey’s Cold Spring, Mercer seemed drawn to the prospect of evil, as if it had living qualities or even a body—it had “no plan,” but tellingly, he spoke to it in the second person. He alternated between shivering guitar tones and beaming melodies for communal listening; he sorta suggested there were sides to be taken, while also refusing to write a record about anything in particular. The more time I’ve spent enamored with these two records, the more Pickpocket’s Locket feels like Carey’s Cold Spring’s twin: in 2013, the path narrowed towards hate, but in 2015 Mercer’s writing tributes and love songs and even rallying cries—though the demons and borders remain. You know this is supposed to be his quiet record, right?

I once read a last.fm comment that compared Mercer to Meat Loaf, by the way. Best review I ever read. I shan’t belittle “Crystal Blip” as long as I live, but I’ll sure as hell compare it to “I’d Do Anything For Love.” Mercer goes way too far into its verses, rivaling ML with an endless “wait for it” pre-chorus, built to last with a dropdown menu of metaphors. I can’t get enough: I want him to rattle off a hundred more unrelated images. I want him to throw away some the way he always does, and then also stumble in on a whole tree of detail borne from an odd couplet. (“You’re a notch on the sword, you’re a nail on the board, you should never’ve been born, not with all those plans to abort.”) But like a really good Meat Loaf song, I also want to hear the chorus, which Mercer dots with his ferocious, repetitive signature: “When you run run run run run,” he splutters, until the words stand for nothing that resemble verbs, slurring into something else. “Because you’re wrong.”

Having “run” turn into “wrong” is just a little nudge at the multitudes that fill up Mercer’s music. Corey once talked to me about how good pop music sounds to him when it’s grotesque, and Frog Eyes albums are that: malady leeching into melody. It’s because of this that old songs like “Bushels” rattle over, past the point of coherence until they’re free form, and why new ones like “Rip Down The Fences” are afraid of resting on a cadence, instead reaching into an excessively proggy finale. Because prog is where more lives, right? It’s why the twisting keys and swells of “I Ain’t Around Much” sound internally devastating. This isn’t gut-wrenching music, but music having its gut wrenched.

Through every one of his records, Mercer has inspired me to queasiness, instilling visions of a nightmare where I need to move more than anything but can do nothing but stay the same. Exalted resignations like “It’s a rich man’s world / And I’m a poor, poor man!” are traps dying for trapdoors to let victims in; every glorious success is matched with a Machiavellian attempt on its life. If Pickpocket’s Locket shows me anything true and perfect and traditional about what Frog Eyes means—and it’s something I could say about the tones Mercer’s guitar shakes with; the way one of those drum fills blushes; the snakily convoluted stories; or even that voice, the only voice in Music you can genuinely call a yelp—it’s just some “eye of the beholder” shit. And the Glow’s is a special beholder: one who must say goodbye, though most of us don’t have any idea how.


Robin Smith

Staff Lists 2015

()

Art: John Williams

Brent Ables

1. Viet Cong :: Viet Cong
2. Grimes :: Art Angels
3. Destroyer :: Poison Season
4. Drake :: If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
5. Julia Holter :: Have You In My Wilderness
6. Jenny Hval :: Apocalypse, Girl
7. Vince Staples :: Summertime ’06
8. Sufjan Stevens :: Carrie & Lowell
9. Dr. Dre :: Compton
10. Frog Eyes :: Pickpocket’s Locket


Christopher Alexander

1. Kendrick Lamar :: To Pimp a Butterfly
2. Grimes :: Art Angels
3. Miguel :: Wildheart
4. Viet Cong :: Viet Cong
5. Jason Isbell :: Something More Than Free
6. Sleater-Kinney :: No Cities to Love
7. Vince Staples :: Summertime ’06
8. Sufjan Stevens :: Carrie & Lowell
9. Zu :: Cortar Todo
10. Courtney Barnett: Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit


Alan Baban

1. Jim O’Rourke :: Simple Songs
2. Oneohtrix Point Never :: Garden of Delete
3. Helm :: Olympic Mess
4. Joanna Newsom :: Divers
5. Destroyer :: Poison Season
6. Hieroglyphic Being :: We Are Not the first
7. Jlin :: Dark Energy
8. Major Games :: Major Games
9. Viet Cong :: Viet Cong
10. Levantis :: Romantic Psychology


Corey Beasley

1. Christian Fitness :: Love Letters in the Age of Steam
2. Grimes :: Art Angels
3. Beach House :: Depression Cherry
4. Torres :: Sprinter
5. Vince Staples :: Summertime ’06
6. Viet Cong :: Viet Cong
7. Drake :: If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
8. Carly Rae Jepsen :: E*MO*TION
9. Jamie xx :: In Colour
10. MUNA :: Soundcloud Singles

11. Joanna Newsom :: Divers
12. MAS YSA :: Seraph
13. Kendrick Lamar :: To Pimp a Butterfly
14. HEALTH :: DEATH MAGIC
15. Jenny Hval :: Apocalypse, girl
16. Natalie Prass :: Natalie Prass
17. Dilly Dally :: Sore
18. Julia Holter :: Have You in My Wilderness
19. Hop Along :: Painted Shut
20. Empress Of :: Me

21. Julien Baker :: Sprained Ankle
22. Anthony Naples :: Body Pill
23. Bicep :: Just EP
24. Eskimeaux :: O.K.
25. Holly Herndon :: Platform
26. Dawn Richard :: Blackheart
27. Main Attrakionz :: 808s & Dark Grapes III
28. Beach House :: Thank Your Lucky Stars
29. Jason Isbell :: Something More Than Free
30. Waxahatchee :: Ivy Tripp


Chet Betz

1. Kendrick Lamar :: To Pimp a Butterfly
2. Vince Staples :: Summertime ’06
3. Julia Holter :: Have You In My Wilderness
4. Boogie :: The Reach
5. .L.W.H. :: Twelve Living Generations
6. Viet Cong :: Viet Cong
7. Main Attrakionz :: 808s and Dark Grapes III
8. Jenny Hval :: Apocalypse, girl
9. Jamie XX :: In Colour
10. Violent Mae :: Kid


Jordan Cronk

1. Prurient :: Frozen Niagara Falls
2. Jamie xx :: In Colour
3. Holly Herndon :: Platform
4. Viet Cong :: Viet Cong
5. Deafheaven :: New Bermuda
6. Torres :: Sprinter
7. Oneohtrix Point Never :: Garden of Delete
8. Arca :: Mutant
9. Jenny Hval :: Apocalypse, girl
10. Zs :: Xe

11. Majical Cloudz :: Are You Alone?
12. Björk :: Vulnicura
13. Fred Thomas :: All Are Saved
14. Deerhunter :: Fading Frontier
15. DJ Koze :: DJ-Kicks
16. HEALTH :: Death Magic
17. Ought :: Sun Coming Down
18. Jlin :: Dark Energy
19. Hop Along :: Painted Shut
20. Joanna Newsom :: Divers

21. Colleen :: Captain of None
22. FKA twigs :: M3LL155X EP
23. Julia Holter :: Have You In My Wilderness
24. GABI :: Sympathy
25. Sleater-Kinney :: No Cities to Love
26. Elysia Crampton :: American Drift
27. Colin Stetson / Sarah Neufeld :: Never were the way she was
28. Phaedra :: Blackwinged Night
29. Sufjan Stevens :: Carrie & Lowell
30. Kamasi Washington :: The Epic


Adam Downer

1. Carly Rae Jepsen :: Emotion
2. Future Stoa Ltd. :: post rock on~~~
3. Kamasi Washington :: The Epic
4. Mount Eerie :: Sauna
5. Kendrick Lamar :: To Pimp a Butterfly
6. Foxing :: Dealer
7. Ariadne :: Tsalal
8. Grimes :: Art Angels
9. Skylar Spence :: Prom King
10. Kreng :: The Summoner

11. The Necks :: Vertigo
12. Jeff Rosenstock :: We Cool?
13. Hecq :: Mare Nostrum
14. Katie Dey :: asdfasdf
15. Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment :: Surf
16. Hop Along :: Painted Shut
17. Ava Luna :: Infinite House
18. Tuxis Giant :: Tuxis Giant
19. Title Fight :: Hyperview
20. Viet Cong :: Viet Cong


Joel Elliott

1. Kamasi Washington :: The Epic
2. Julia Holter :: Have You in My Wilderness
3. Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld :: Never Were the Way She Was
4. Kendrick Lamar :: To Pimp a Butterfly
5. Sufjan Stevens :: Carrie & Lowell
6. Low :: Ones and Sixes
7. Viet Cong :: Viet Cong
8. Colleen :: Captain of None
9. Aphex Twin :: Computer-Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt. 2
10. Phaedra :: Blackwinged Night

11. Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment :: Surf
12. Holly Herndon :: Platform
13. Bjork :: Vulnicura
14. Deradoorian :: The Expanding Flower Planet
15. Leila Abdul-Rauf :: Insomnia
16. Jerusalem in My Heart :: If He Dies, If If If If If
17. Oneohtrix Point Never :: Garden of Delete
18. Rachel Grimes :: The Clearing
19. Destroyer :: Poison Season
20. Beach House :: Depression Cherry

21. Mount Eerie :: Sauna
22. Joan Shelley :: Over and Even
23. Ian William Craig :: Cradle for the Wanting
24. U.S. Girls :: Half Free
25. Levon Vincent :: Levon Vincent
26. Sharon Van Etten :: I Don’t Want to Let You Down EP
27. Botany :: Dimming Awe, the Light is Raw
28. Jenny Hval :: Apocalypse, Girl
29. Pole :: Wald
30. Zs :: Xe


David M. Goldstein

1. Viet Cong :: Viet Cong
2. Sleater-Kinney :: No Cities to Love
3. Jason Isbell :: Something More than Free
4. Torres :: Sprinter
5. Veruca Salt :: Ghost Notes
6. Alabama Shakes :: Sound and Color
7. Tame Impala :: Currents
8. Kendrick Lamar :: To Pimp a Butterfly
9. New Order :: Music Complete
10. My Morning Jacket :: The Waterfall

11. Chemical Brothers :: Born in the Echoes
12. Vince Staples :: Summertime ’06
13. Deerhunter :: Fading Frontier
14. Florence + The Machine :: How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
15. Foals :: What Went Down
16. Heartless Bastards :: Restless Ones
17. Ought :: Sun Coming Down
18. Royal Headache :: High
19. Vulfpeck :: Thrill of the Arts
20. Chris Stapleton :: Traveler


Maura McAndrew

1. Courtney Barnett :: Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
2. Girlpool :: Before the World Was Big
3. Jessica Pratt :: On Your Own Love Again
4. Kenny Knight :: Crossroads
5. Juan Wauters :: Who Me?
6. Built to Spill :: Untethered Moon
7. Denny Lile :: Hear the Bang
8. The Weather Station :: Loyalty
9. Joanna Newsom :: Divers
10. Sleater-Kinney :: No Cities to Love

11.Christian Fitness :: Love Letters in the Age of Steam
12. Mountain Goats :: Beat the Champ
13. Sufjan Stevens :: Carrie & Lowell
14. Waxahatchee :: Ivy Tripp
15. Le Butcherettes :: A Raw Youth


Colin McGowan

1. Earl Sweatshirt :: I Don’t Like Shit I Don’t Go Outside
2. Young Thug :: Barter 6
3. L.W.H. :: Twelve Living Generations
4. Viet Cong :: Viet Cong
5. Jamie xx :: In Colour
6. Ratking :: 700 Fill EP
7. Boogie :: The Reach
8. Destroyer :: Poison Season
9. Joanna Newsom :: Divers
10. Future :: Dirty Sprite 2


Clayton Purdom

1. Earl Sweatshirt :: I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside
2. Vince Staples :: Summertime ’06
3. Drake :: If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
4. Grimes :: Art Angels
5. Jamie xx :: In Colour
6. Main Attrakionz :: 808s & Dark Grapes III
7. Boogie :: The Reach
8. Ratking :: 700 Fill EP
9. Lucki Eck$ :: X
10. Julia Holter :: Have You in My Wilderness


Scott Reid

1. Holly Herndon :: Platform
2. Julia Holter :: Have You in My Wilderness
3. Viet Cong :: Viet Cong
4. Vince Staples :: Summertime 06
5. Grimes :: Art Angels
6. Dawn Richard :: Blackheart
7. Jenny Hval :: Apocalypse, girl
8. Oneohtrix Point Never :: Garden of Delete
9. Kendrick Lamar :: To Pimp a Butterfly
10. Ian William Craig :: Cradle for the Wanting

11. Main Attrakionz :: 808s & Dark Grapes III
12. Kamasi Washington :: The Epic
13. Frog Eyes :: Pickpocket’s Locket
14. Floating Points :: Elaenia
15. Jamie xx :: In Color
16. Nicolas Jaar :: Pomegranates / Nymphs EPs
17. Mount Eerie :: Sauna
18. Weather Station :: Loyalty
19. .L.W.H. :: 12 Living Generations
20. Faith Healer :: Cosmic Troubles

21. Boogie :: The Reach
22. Phaedra :: Blackwinged Night
23. Majical Cloudz :: Are You Alone?
24. Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld :: Never Were the Way She Was
25. Empress Of :: Me
26. Matana Roberts :: Coin Coin Chapter 3
27. Arca :: Mutant
28. Future Stoa :: post-rock on~~~
29. A Sunny Day in Glasgow :: Planning Weed Like It’s Acid / Life is Loss
30. Roommate :: Make Like


Dom Sinacola

1. Holly Herndon :: Platform
2. Vince Staples :: Summertime ’06
3. Carly Rae Jepsen :: E.mo.tion
4. Oneohtrix Point Never :: Garden of Delete
5. Majical Cloudz :: Are You Alone?
6. (Viet Cong) :: Viet Cong
7. Main Attrakionz :: 808s and Dark Grapes III
8. Dawn Richard :: Blackheart
9. Natasha Kmeto :: Inevitable
10. Boogie :: The Reach

11. Kendrick Lamar :: To Pimp a Butterfly
12. Phaedra :: Blackwinged Night
13. Kara-lis Coverdale :: Aftertouches
14. Roommate :: Make Like
15. HEALTH :: Death Magic
16. Skylar Spence :: Prom King
17. Nicolas Jaar :: Nymphs EPs
18. Freddie Gibbs :: Shadow of a Doubt
19. Future :: DS2
20. Jamie xx :: In Colour

21. Julia Holter :: Have You In My Wilderness
22. Deerhunter :: Fading Frontier
23. Frog Eyes :: Pickpocket’s Locket
24. Dr. Dre :: Compton
25. FIS :: The Blue Quicksand is Going Now
26. Jerusalem in My Heart :: If He Dies, If If If If If If
27. Floating Points :: Elaenia
28. Ian William Craig :: Cradle for the Wanting
29. Jim O’Rourke :: Simple Songs
30. Built to Spill :: Untethered Moon


Robin Smith

1. Ian William Craig :: Cradle for the Wanting
2. Eric Chenaux :: Skullsplitter
3. Beach House :: Depression Cherry
4. Strie :: Struktura
5. John Chantler :: Still light, Outside
6. Kara-Lis Coverdale & Lxv :: Sirens
7. Grimes :: Art Angels
8. Danny Clay :: Ganymede
9. Raica :: Dose
10. Jerusalem in my Heart :: If He Dies, if if if if if

11. Anna Caragnano and Donato Dozzy :: Sintetizzatrice
12. Matana Roberts :: Coin Coin Ch. 3
13. Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld :: Never were the way she was
14. Cloud Rat :: Qlilpoth
15. Anna von Hausswolff :: The Miraculous
16. Sufjan Stevens :: Carrie & Lowell
17. Nicolas Jaar :: Pomegranates
18. GLOSS :: GLOSS
19. Jme :: Integrity
20. Julia Holter :: Have You in My Wilderness

21. Jenny Hval :: Apocalypse, girl
22. Helen :: The Original Faces
23. Ava Luna :: Infinite House
24. Gordon Ashworth :: The One You Love and Cannot Trust
25. Tinashe :: Anthemyst
26. Stara Rzeka :: zamkenly sie oczy ziemni
27. Christina Vantzou :: No. 3
28. Spheruleus :: Peripheres
29. Steve Hauschildt :: Where All is Fled
30. Sarah Davachi :: Baron’s Court

The Staff