Merry Christmas! Let's talk about music.

Great year for music! In my humble opinion.

Let’s start off with the mild disappointment of the year: Purity Ring, Another Eternity. Merely a great pop album. Lost a lot of Shrines’s weird Grimm charm.

Top N Albums that didn’t come out this year but I just first listened to them now:

5. Qualité Motel, Motel Califorña: Silly fun electro pop from Montreal. Lots of guest stars including Mrs. Paintbrush on the excellent Grandfarceur.

4. Nicolas Jaar, Space is Only Noise: great for traveling and feeling out of place.
3. Flying Lotus, You’re Dead!: Progressive jazz hip-hop psychedelic techno. I don’t know. It feels a little like a bad drug trip probably feels.

2. OM, Advaitic Songs: my favorite doomy/meditative metal I’ve heard yet. Also dug Sunn O))) and would like to hear more like this.

1. Bleachers, Strange Desire: if all emo-pop were this slick, polished, and unembarrassing, I would have listened to a lot of different stuff in the late 90s.

Top N Albums that did come out this year:

7. David Bowie, Blackstar
Ok, it’s not actually out, but watch this video and tell me you don’t want to see the sci-fi full-length movie this must have been based on. If The Next Day was his return to form but not groundbreaking, I feel like Blackstar will be the one that is groundbreaking. We can all hope.
6. Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
This is the next Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, in that it’s sprawlingly epic and catchy enough that it deserves a place on everyone’s list. By King Kunta I was sold enough to listen to the rest of it deeper, and it makes me think.

5. Jlin, Dark Energy
This is a late addition and I’m not sure how it’ll hold up, but it’s a pretty consistent techno-nightmare that I’m really digging. After Guantanamo, you’ll know if you’re drawn in or just not into it.

4. FKA Twigs, M3LL155X EP
On her first album I didn’t get her. But that’s because she didn’t fit naturally into any of my boxes. She’s doing the Knife-ish creepy spectacle better than anyone else I’ve seen today. “Now hold that pose for me” is as weirdly spine-tingling as anything I’ve heard. Oh, and that video.

3. MADE IN HEIGHTS, Without My Enemy What Would I Do
The fact that this isn’t my #1 pop album speaks to how great this year’s music was. They pull off the sort of charming-silly bedroom pop, but it’s minimalist, crystal clear and finely crafted. Start at the beginning; if you like DEATH then strap in and enjoy the dreamy, catchy ride.

2. CHVRCHES, Every Open Eye
This too: if all emo-pop were this slick, polished, and unembarrassing, I would have listened to a lot of different stuff in the late 90s. It’s as earnest as anything, down to letting the dude sing a couple songs even though he’s way outmatched, and as a result has a few duds, but especially tracks 1, 2, 3, and 5 are The Best to sing while biking downhill.

1. Grimes, Art Angels
This is where she proves that she is the pop star of our age. Over the first 6 tracks you go from epic symphonic overture to top-40 to aggressive Taiwanese hip-hop back to top-40 to… whatever Kill v. Maim is. Like, I want to say something about gender stereotypes, and how she’s this baby-voiced girl, totally unassuming, expert at all parts of songwriting and production, and I would not want to mess with her.

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