Okay, I know it’s been three months but I swear I’ve been discovering good new music, just not as frequently. But here’s a chonky list of 12 of the albums and EPs that I’ve been enjoying. There’s one more volume on the way before I close out these roundups for the year and move on to my year-end lists.
Ty Segall – Harmonizer
The riffage in this album sound so thicc, crunchy and even hypnotizing, and strangely seductive at points – the album has some of my favorite heavy-psych cuts of the year. The vocals kind of get monotone throughout the tracklist but I think the instrumentals more than make up for it. My biggest gripe with the album is that it doesn’t sound very complete on the whole.
Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine – A Beginner’s Mind
It’s fall and something about the season gets me in the mood to listen to some beautiful indie-folk. Last year, it was Adrienne Lenker’s songs and everything from Elliott Smith’s discography. This year, it’s this gorgeous collection of tracks. Speaking of Elliott Smith, there are vocal layering and instrumental choices that make the songs sound like spiritual successors of Elliott’s brand of sound. The production and vocal work on this album are consistently beautiful and blissful… I almost cry at some points in the LP. The lyrics cutely reference movies that they have watched but at the same time, there’s this timeless feeling of nostalgia that almost all the songs carry. Listening to this album feels like I’m back at my grandma’s place again from a decade ago, watching the shadows of leaves dance on the ground.
Remi Wolf – Juno
There’s rarely a dull moment in the album with Remi delivering a one-two punch of one colorful pop tune after another. Sometimes her vocals get kind of cloying but her sense of melody rarely failed to hook me in. She also gets creative with her vocal layering in the production and her instrumental palette resembles the color scheme of her music videos, with shots of red, blue, pink, green… all the brightest neon colors collaged together to make some of the most colorful pop songs this year.
Boldy James & The Alchemist – Bo Jackson
Out of the projects The Alchemist has been involved in within the last couple of years, Bo Jackson has my favorite beats from him. There are so many flavors in Alchemist’s mixes; his use of samples is super tasteful and gives a cinematic edge to the album. Boldy James’ flows mesh really well with the airy, almost wispy atmosphere of the production. I love how he switches up with the beat brings a whole different energy to the song. The features are great, I particularly love the track with Earl Sweatshirt and Roc Marciano. I’m glad that I’ve been finding so many good hip-hop albums this year, at least a lot more than last year.
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu – Candy Racer
This was a pleasant surprise, I never thought KPP would go in a house direction on this album. It’s great to see Yasutaka Nakata switching things up and playing with more patient song structures. There’s still his signature cyber-bubblegum sweetness but it’s mixed in with wilder elements that work off Kyary’s vocals really well. This is my favorite batch of tracks KPP has put out in at least a decade
Zack Fox – shut the fuck up talking to me
Even with under 20 mins of runtime, Zack Fox makes his comedic rap sound simultaneously witty as a razor and effortlessly crass as a bag of chicken bones. I wish there was more material to make this release feel more complete and some of the beats sounded a bit too rigid and underworked on, but I’m happy with what Mr. Fox has to offer in this short album.
JPEGMAFIA – LP!
This album has featured some of my favorite vocal performances from him – whether it be his ferocious energy in his rapping or his warm and intimate singing, Peggy has found that sweet spot that he seemed to have been looking for in his previous album. I love the amount of left-field creativity that’s on the production, it’s incredible how many influences he can incorporate in his production while making them sound like it’s a JPEGMAFIA song. This feels like the most complete-feeling release he has put out so far in his career.
James Blake – Friends that Break Your Heart
James Blake’s new album, for the most part, sounds like an extension of his brand of flowery alt-R&B. On my favorite tracks, I think his vocals and songwriting are a step compared to them on Assume Form, and his production sounds a lot more refined. But I found the whole album to be a whole lot more inconsistent with the compositions going a bit stale in the middle of the tracklist. This isn’t really all that replayable but I still come back to this from time to time to listen to my favorite tracks.
satomoka – WOOLLY
Over the last couple of months, this album has grown on me a lot. This is the album where Sato Moka’s sweet ice-cream brand of pop evolves and incorporates elements of pop-rock, wonky electronic, and even some bossa nova. It’s just a wonderful collection of tracks, with each song adding something new that I haven’t quite seen her do in previous albums.
Injury Reserve – By the Time I Get to Phoenix
What Injury Reserve has done with this album is really hard to describe with words and honestly, I’m still having a tough time wrapping my head around it. It’s overwhelming to the point where I don’t find myself in the headspace to go back and give it more listens. There’s also some stiltedness in the pacing of the album that doesn’t help with it, either. But holy crap – the disorientating production, and the creatively haunting songwriting are some aspects of the LP that I admire a lot. In the end, I think the sum of the parts feels slightly less impactful than the individual songs themselves do. Still, Injury Reserve has some of their best material to date on this album, and that’s saying something.
aespa – Savage
This has to be one of my favorite K-pop mini-albums of the year. I knew aespa had the potential to release something really good after Next Level but this is sooner than expected. Their vocal chemistry is at 110% on this project, and the production seems to take inspiration from hyperpop and club but the way they get incorporated with the rap sections and melodies makes the tracks so catchy. I hope they continue with this streak next year, too.
Clarence Clarity – Vanishing Act Part 1: No Nouns
I’ve had trouble getting into Clarity’s solo material during the last couple of years, but this felt like a more cohesive and evolved form of his psychedelic synthpop sound since THINK:PEACE. There isn’t a single track that seems “off” or not great to some degree – the production quality is consistent and the pacing in the tracks is tight. Clarence Clarity is on another level in this, man.
That’s all I have for now and I’ll see y’all soon with one more GOOD Music volume for this year.