In a year when getting lost in sound was a good thing, this album was the most colorful tapestry of minimalist krautrock that I found myself infinitely lost in. I can’t imagine a world where this leaves my musical rotation at any point going forward.
#2. Freddie Gibbs and Madlib – Bandana
Madlib made these beats on an Ipad, the same tool your kid uses to watch Paw Patrol. We aren’t worthy.
#3. Blanck Mass – Animated Violence Mild
Anger. Pure unbridled anger. In the most beautiful way. While we all would love a new Fuck Buttons record, having a mesmerizing, white-knuckle, wall-of-sound rage from half of the legendary ambient duo.
#4. Dave – Pyschodrama
A UK rapper who feels like he is wise beyond his years, with this concept album moving forward a whole genre and diving into stories that show he is wise beyond his years.
#5. Niyhek – After its own death…..
The latest haunting opus from Liz Harris. Put on a candle and get lost in sound.
#6. Mdou Moctar – Ilana: The Creator
The guitar hero we need.
#7. Altin Gun – Gece
Turkish expats exploring the rich musical history of their country. A rich blend of pysch, pop and funk that has sound tracked much of the year.
#8. V/A – Pure Sounds of Michigan
Ambient sounds mixed with field recordings across Michigan. One of the most peaceful, relaxing albuims of the year.
#9. Tom of England – Sex Monk Blues
A collection of wonked-out, twitchy post-punk that would make PiL proud.
#10. Madison McFerrin – You + I
A beautiful collection of pop and soul from an artist who has expanded beyond her (amazing) acapella work towards a more full, lush sound.
#11. Sunwatchers – Illegal Moves
Hold on tight because this is a wild trip. A Technicolor blend of jazz and rock that feels perpetually like it will fall off the rails, but somehow always lands.
#12. William Tyler – Goes West
Listened to this on a road trip out west, and the dusty instrumentals captured the expansive, wide-open spirit of our national parks in a beautiful way. Tyler is a maestro of maximalist primitive Americana.
Songs (not on top albums)
#1. Jon Hopkins and Kelly Lee Ownes – Luminous Spaces
I worry there may be some recency bias, but I’m pretty confident thagt isn’t the case and this is actually the best song of the year by a mile.
#2. Caribou – Home
When Caribou catches the wave of warm electronic pop, there is no one better. On this track from his 2020 LP he catches a major wave.
#3. Noname – Song 32
Noname drops another gem between book club posts. Hoping to have another LP soon.
#4. Helado Negro – Running
There is a classic, timeless feeling to this song (and most of the this whole album). He’s been reaching towards this over his last few releases, and really hits it here.
#5. Daphni “Sizzling” feat Paradise
As we head into the brutal months of winter, keep this jam close at hand when you want to get sweaty.