1. Annihilation - trippy sci-fi horror, moderate squeamishness, not all loose ends tied up, great soundtrack. More on this.
2. Over the Garden Wall (ok this was a couple years ago but I just watched it this year and it blew me away) - delightful silly-but-serious animated adventure, like a Phantom Tollbooth but with characters you care about. Beautifully drawn, amazingly voice-acted. Some example clips.
3. Free Solo - unbelievable rock climbing videography (and well explained for those of us who don’t really know rock climbing) and a fascinating portrait of Alex Honnold, masterful but humble climbing legend. Like, I found him more relatable than most movie heroes.
1. Janelle Monae - Dirty Computer. A couple years ago, I thought Grimes was the defining pop star of our age. Nope, I was wrong, it’s Monae, who can collaborate with Prince, Brian Wilson, and Pharrell on the same album and outdo them all. Crazy Classic Life evoking the rosy-skied American dream while pointing out that these dreams don’t come true for everyone equally; guitar on Screwed; driving Django Jane; ethereal lyrics on Pynk; funky cool-down on Don’t Judge Me; cathartic So Afraid; Americans bringing the opening theme home.
Like, of the two frequent collaborators, Grimes is a technical hero and aesthetic visionary (and we can separate the artist from the art when it comes to dubious choice of romantic interests) but Monae is all that and she has a lot more to say. Anyway, the critics got it right: this is just a front-to-back brilliant album. There’s nothing to skip.
2. Gang Gang Dance - Kazuashita. Well, if you like Animal Collective and Bjork, then let’s hang out and talk about how great this is. If Dirty Computer makes me feel like a beautiful Californian summer, Kazuashita makes me feel like I’m still traipsing around the world, still brave and hardy enough to keep getting as confused as possible.
Yves Tumor - Safe in the Hands of Love (slightly experimental electronic)
Jon Hopkins - Singularity (grandiose electronic)
Young Fathers - Cocoa Sugar (pop/hip hop)
A.A.L. - 2012-2017 (house?)
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