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Post-Trash's Best of 2017 | Staff Picks


While the main "Year in Review" feature was picked almost entirely by Post-Trash editors, we wanted to give all of our contributors a chance to pick their favorite releases, regardless if the records are covered on our site or not. Every contributor was able to pick their personal top 20 records of the year and points were assigned based on rank. An album picked at #1 was given 20 points while an album selected at #20 was awarded a single point and so on. Our contributors' tastes range a bit wider than that of our editors, but there's also a connection to this particular site's vision. With 25 of our writers submitting their votes, we had 295 different records nominated and only the top 5 records received a score of 100 or higher.

We're happy to present "Post-Trash's Best of 2017: Staff-Picks" as voted by the entire team (with individual contributor lists below). There were a ton of ties throughout, so editors provided the tie breakers. We hope you enjoy.

50.  SPACE CAMP | "Force Femmed" (Howling Frequency)

50. BOOSEGUMPS | "On The Way To Meet You" (Birdtapes)

50. KEEPING | "Ruin Value" (Community)

49. QUICKSAND | "Interiors" (Epitaph)

48. ODONIS ODONIS | "No Pop" (Felte)

47. LEXIE | "Record Time!" (Skeleton Realm)

46. SHOW ME THE BODY | "Corpus I" (Loma Vista)

45. FLEET FOXES | "Crack-Up" (Nonesuch)

44. BLOIS | "Lake" (Quinton's Fun)

43. RICHARD DAWSON | "Peasant" (Domino)

42. HAND HABITS | "Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void)" (Woodsist)

41. THELMA | "Thelma" (Tiny Engines)

40. YUCKY DUSTER | "Duster's Lament" (Infinity Cat)

39. ANNA ALTMAN | "Freightliner" (Exploding In Sound)

39. DAVID NANCE | "Negative Boogie" (Ba Da Bing)

38. TORRES | "Three Futures" (4AD)

37. CLIMAX LANDERS | "Climax Landers" (Intellectual Bird)

36. TWAIN | "Rare Feeling" (Keeled Scales)

35. RICK RUDE | "Make Mine Tuesday" (Sophomore Lounge/Tiny Radars)

34. VINCE STAPLES | "Big Fish Theory" (Def Jam)

33. RATBOYS | "GN" (Topshelf)

32. JAY SOM | "Everybody Works" (Polyvinyl)

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31. OH SEES | "Orc" (Castle Face)

In Lord of the Rings, orcs are evil spirits born from undead elves. Or something like that. Regardless, it’s an appropriate metaphor for John Dwyer, the shapeshifting composer behind (Thee) Oh Sees. He’s kind of like an orc that’s constantly being reborn -- birthed by aliens who got wrapped up in their local DIY scene and never went home. As an album, Orc is a creative peak in Dwyer’s slow but steady shift to a thicker, heavier sound. These songs are less dependent on solos and hooks (although, there’s no shortage of either) and more centered around a delicate energy and resplendent repetition. The best example of this is probably “Keys to the Castle,” an elusive eight minute string-filled meditation that gives the record some necessary, satisfying breathing room. It can be hard to keep up with Dwyer’s frantic output levels (he put out at least three records this year under various projects and monikers) but if you’re less familiar with his stuff or haven’t listened in a few years, Orc is a good place to pick back up. It’s the next classic in a seemingly endless string of effusive, vibrant records Dwyer has pulled into being from his un-human hands. - Quinn Myers


30. JLIN | "Black Origami" (Planet Mu)

Liking this record is way easier than explaining why you don't like it because fractured footwork is better than your explanation. And that's mostly because you can't make this record. It is born of a painful time but it expresses joy nonetheless. Really, isn't that the point of JLin thus far? Joy in the face of mind-numbing existential pain? And why are people even arguing that isn't for them? Joy and pain are universal. Let the drums get struck. Let the multiverse unfold. Dance around for awhile. Let it go because this album rules and it will outlast tiresome criticism. Deconstructed dance music will never die. You will die. - Jeff Laughlin

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29. SHILPA RAY | "Door Girl" (Northern Spy)

No album felt more 2017. Filled with the dread, uncertainty, revulsion, and the struggle of maintaining sanity in a US run by a petulant boss baby, Shilpa Ray gave voice to the struggle. Songs like “Revelations of a Stamp Monkey” with it’s confession of having to do drugs just to take the edge off, and working to find the balance of being up for the fight while not letting the social awareness completely destroy you. It’s also a record that feels completely lived in, a record that could only be made in New York City. A record that IS New York City. You may have never visited, but you feel like you’re as much a part of the scene as Shilpa is. She invites you into her world of morning terrors and nights of dread. Important work. - Jonathan Bannister


28. CHERRY GLAZERR | "Apocalipstick" (Secretly Canadian)

Perhaps the most underrated of the “indie musicians talented beyond their years” crowd is Cherry Glazerr’s Clementine Creevy. Criminally overlooked within the ever-expanding pack of Will Toledos and Alex Gs, 19-year-old Creevy makes a good case for critical darling status with Cherry Glazerr’s sophomore LP Apocalipstick. She begins by kicking her strikingly self-assured bedroom fuzz up a noticeable notch. Indeed, Creevy’s confident and dynamic vocal performance is really what makes Apocalipstick stand out from the crowd. She effortlessly coasts from an airy, content falsetto into expressive post-punk yelps and wails, channeling influences like Kathleen Hanna and Blondie’s Debbie Harry in the process. - Eli Shively

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27. ALVVAYS | "Antisocialites" (Polyvinyl)

Just like the person its song “Dreams Tonite” addresses, Alvvays is living its life on a merry-go-round. The Toronto band, a leading force in the indie pop realm thanks to its effusive, inescapable 2014 self-titled debut, is eternally having fun and spinning on by, pumping out songs that seem at once carefully considered and not too harshly pored over. This contrast lies at the heart of what elevates Alvvays from a standard indie pop band to one of the most purely enjoyable acts of recent years. More pretentious folks might dismiss them as simpletons, but they’re missing the winking threats that frontwoman Molly Rankin laces into “Saved by a Waif,” the way her cadence briefly and exhilaratingly outpaces the already frenetic joy of “Hey” as she restates her womanhood, and the depictions of her unrequited lover on “Your Type” as someone that maybe no one should be pursuing, not even her. For a band that some toss off as basic, Alvvays crafts incredibly realistic characters and doesn’t presume its narrators are perfect, even as the melodies and production consistently come close to that. - Max Freedman


26. CHAD VANGAALEN | "Light Information" (Sub Pop)

The difficulty in making music designed for re-listening cannot be measured quickly. Listening once to this record is like starting Lost in the middle. Or trying to command an old dog without knowing its name. The reward of Light Information comes when you realize a few listens in that this is his best and most complete record in a sea of brilliant releases. Finding CVG fans in the wild and discussing Light Information actually serves as record of the year, honestly. The record itself pales in comparison to realizing how good it really is. - Jeff Laughlin

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25. WASHER | "All Aboard" (Exploding In Sound)

When I listen to Washer’s “Your Guess Is As Bad As Mine” off All Aboard, it’s like I’m watching a good movie trailer -- bits and pieces of scenes and dialogue give hints, but no spoilers. There’s maybe some dramatic shifts in mood and tone: friend’s toast each other at a bar, a couple fights in a kitchen, a man sits by a body of water, brooding. A larger narrative is alluded to but never fully revealed. It’s slightly odd and extremely intoxicating. I’ve been a fan of the zooming-in-and-out quality of Washer’s music for a while, since I first heard a Shea Stadium recording of ‘Eyelids’ a few years ago. But their ability to transform and sustain a cinematic vision is especially successful on All Aboard, amplified as always by the band’s simple, scrappy sound. The songs on this record feel sincere, self-deprecating, alive. I wonder how they’re written -- as folk songs with pop punk choruses? In real-time, or plucked from old ideas and stale feelings? Maybe it doesn’t matter; they’re catchy and supremely satisfying. - Quinn Myers


24. DRAB MAJESTY | "The Demonstration" (Dais)

Deb Demure and Mona D are inter-dimensional muses releasing their specific sound that mixes the best of post-punk, darkwave, and shoegaze into highly addicting synth/guitar music that you’ll find yourself playing all the way through on your way to repeat. Released in January, The Demonstration stayed constantly on rotation throughout the year. One of those albums where the songs deeper on the album sound even better if you arrive at them in the order they’re sequenced. Great in headphones or blasting out your car speakers on a midnight drive. It’s beautiful, cold, melodic and haunting, with songs about topics like Heaven’s Gate. Drab Majesty is a duo fully committed to their aesthetic and ideals and to bringing some much needed mystique back to music. - Jonathan Bannister

23. TYLER, THE CREATOR | "Flower Boy" (Columbia)

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22. VAGABON "Infinite Worlds" (Father/Daughter)

Infinite Worlds is rather aptly named to complicate the predicament Vagabon’s Laetitia Tamko struggles against throughout the album: what is home and how does one find it? Consider that many lyrics on this album flip between French—from her native Cameroon—and English. Torn between two cultures, Vagabon has a chance to look at infinite worlds for residence. And while that can make one feel insignificant—on “The Embers” she calls herself a small fish—in her energetic style of indie rock, it’s hard to feel hindered at all. Maybe the questions on this record will never have answers, but maybe that’s the point of an album. - Nick McGuire


21. THUNDERCAT | "Drunk" (Brainfeeder)

Unafraid to let his freak-flag fly high and proud, Thundercat’s channeling of Zappa by way of Adult Swim astounded many listeners on Drunk with its flawlessly executed jazz fusion and weirdo R&B prog busting at the seams. Though his craftsmanship as a bassist is not understated in the least, the light aloof nature surrounding these compositions only helps boost the insouciant care-free trip Drunk most certainly is on the one hand. Pretension is thrown to the wind and a deeply confessional work rife with references to the past, the present and the future, from Mortal Kombat to police brutality; insight and goofiness being exchanged around every curvy bend. What transpires is a deeply personal album that uses dark humor to hint at an underlying sorrow while also delivering one of the most perky and vibrant records of 2017. However, while this contradiction of light and dark is never questioned, it is most certainly savored for all of the surreal playfulness that it emanates with a dazzling neon glow. - Myles Dunhill


20. ST. VINCENT | "Masseduction" (Loma Vista)

In the nearly four years since St. Vincent’s last release, Annie Clark was thrust into the spotlight, then retreated from it of her own volition. On her fifth album, MASSEDUCTION, Clark has returned, again, on her own terms. In its press release, Clark described the album as “pretty first person. You can’t fact-check it, but if you want to know about my life, listen to this record.” The album is the most traditional pop record she’s released thus far, both in its catchy hooks and slightly less abstract lyrics, but retains the fusion of classical composition and avant-garde futurism for which she’s become known. MASSEDUCTION toys with themes of sexuality more explicitly than on St. Vincent’s previous releases; the album is most significantly characterized by an ironic appropriation of female objectification. - Annie Fell


19. KING KRULE | "The Ooz" (True Panther)

Jazz, trip-hop, post-punk, rap, lounge lizards, all form the building blocks of The Ooz. Like stepping into a lounge that might also be a gateway to another plane of existence where time stands still and the weird is just another Saturday night. Songs bleed into each other, some feel like glancing out of the corner of your eye while others take a hard look. It is an immersive experience, an album that pays off repeated listening. The songs sound lived in, authentic no matter how strange. Archy Marshall is a barfly who’s seen it all and yet is somehow removed from it, wanting to be a part of the action but not fitting in much of anywhere. An album for outcasts and the disenfranchised who spend their nights alone, who feel they’re in the world but not of it. Put it on and zone out. - Jonathan Bannister


18. JAPANESE BREAKFAST | "Soft Sounds From Another Planet" (Dead Oceans)

Brimming with glam rock and atmospheric melodies, Michelle Zauner devotes herself to a style of indie rock that sounds as space age as the title suggests. In her stunning debut as Japanese Breakfast, last year’s Psychopomp, she was vulnerable in intricate yet tight songs with shimmering strings and synths. But here songs swirl in motifs that feel cosmic and her lyrics continue to look into the abyss. Look no further than the standout “Machinist,” which begins with a woman speaking—“Was it always this way, and I couldn’t see it?”—before exploding into a disco anthem that hightails into an epic sax solo. For anyone else, that sounds over the top. But in the wild expanse of Japanese Breakfast, there’s nothing more thrilling. - Nick McGuire

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17. LOMELDA | "Thx" (Double Double Whammy)

Lomelda is a project led by Hannah Read, a songwriter from Silsbee, Texas. Read’s music is somehow both intimate and spacious; acoustic guitar and melancholy vocals are adorned with sparse electric guitars echoing like bird calls in a canyon. Her songs generally move with an ambling pace, like a river in the summer. Read’s strong songwriting abilities were readily apparent on Lomelda’s first album, Forever (and her solo performances of the songs, captured on the live album 4E, are almost more powerful than the full-band versions). Lomelda’s second album, Thx, is an excellent follow-up, full of hauntingly beautiful songs that conjure images of endless highways and the spacious planes and swamps of southeast Texas. Highlights include ‘Interstate Vision,’ ‘Thx,’ and ‘Out There.’ - Ggregg Stull


16. LORDE | "Melodrama" (Universal)

The last thing we as a culture need right now is another blurb extolling Lorde's wisdom beyond her years, so I will keep this brief: her long-awaited second album, Melodrama, is one of the most emotionally mature, dynamic, and fully-formed pop records in recent years. The album is a document of a first major breakup, and it breathes and spurts blood and ultimately vindicates Lorde in her heartbreak. In the early stages of Melodrama's formation, Lorde tweeted: "hey, men - do me and yourselves a favour, and don't underestimate my skill." They probably still will, because if 2017 has taught us anything, it's that men are generally just as awful as we always suspected; however, Melodrama's success is evidence that Lorde never needed their praise anyway. - Annie Fell

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15. TWO INCH ASTRONAUT | "Can You Please Not Help" (Exploding In Sound)

In many ways, Two Inch Astronaut has always felt like the successor to Jawbox’s throne. Though, unfortunately for Two Inch, that means being a bit undervalued in your time. Hopefully, that will change with the release of Can You Please Not Help, the poppiest record the band’s made to date. As “Snitch Jacket” proves, all those trademark Two Inch sounds are there, as jagged guitar chords cut against a rhythm section that’s able to make off-time compositions feel like four-on-the-floor rock anthems. Fittingly, the record was produced by J. Robbins, the Jawbox member who has a knack for understanding a band’s sound and gussying it up without making it feel needlessly slick. “Snitch Jacket” is the kind of song that feels at home in the present day but could just as easily be found on Braid’s Frame And Canvas. Whether or not it gives Two Inch Astronaut the breakthrough it’s always deserved is anyone’s guess, but that opening riff certainly won’t make it easy for people to ignore. - David Anthony

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14. PROTOMARTYR | "Relatives In Descent" (Domino)

Protomartyr will insist that Relatives in Descent is no more political than any of its previous albums, which took a heavily philosophical, sometimes abstract bent to their conversations. The woman wearing a headdress on Relatives in Descent’s cover might beg to disagree. Donning one’s album art with an image of someone whom the current American president would ostensibly aim to ban from America is an inherently political act in this wretched year. “Up the Tower,” a demonic slashing of screeching guitars and Joe Casey’s dad-at-the-Tigers-game beckoning, describes a citizens’ revolt. There’s a song on which the band repeatedly shouts the titular phrase “male plague,” this during the year of finally holding predatory men accountable. And then, as usual, there’s the omnipresent, tipsy ranting of Casey, the man whose enjoyably irreconcilable style, demeanor, and character have birthed an entire Tumblr dedicated to critics' awkward descriptions of him. If Protomartyr remains a riddle, that’s because the topics it’s discussing aren’t easily digestible; musically, though, Relatives in Descent may be the closest it’s yet come to that descriptor. - Max Freedman

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13. PALM | "Shadow Expert" (Carpark)

Over the course of around five years, Palm have developed one of the most recognizable sounds in guitar-centered indie rock. As suggested by the title of their first LP, Trading Basics, their sound (to date) largely consists of simple yet highly coordinated call-and-response guitar parts from Eve Alpert and Kasra Kurt, buoyed by the syncopated, tense grooves of bassist Gerasimos Livitsanos and drummer Hugo StanleyShadow Expert is a refinement of the style on Trading Basics, expressed through six infectious songs, with several titles also alluding to the communicative style of the band (“Walkie Talkie,” “Sign to Signal”). The guitars are crisp, articulated, hypnotic, often jarring and dissonant. The drums create a mood of controlled chaos. The bass is sparse but key in accentuating rhythmic and melodic ideas in each song. The simple, slightly buried vocals of Alpert and especially Kurt are slightly reminiscent of the Beach Boys, creating an odd but pleasant contrast with the discordant guitars ping-ponging between your headphones. Palm started from humble beginnings—none of the members is formally trained on their current instrument. But their discipline, broad musical tastes, and closely collaborative approach to making music has resulted in one of the most unique and captivating sounds in indie rock, evident throughout Shadow Expert. - Ggregg Stull

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12. PRIESTS | "Nothing Feels Natural" (Sister Polygon)

“You want something you can write home about” is one of the first things that Katie Alice Greer sneers on Priests’ debut album, Nothing Feels Natural. Although the album is, technically, Priests’ debut, this title sells the band’s story short; these four DC punks have been belting out leftist anthems since at least 2012, mostly via their own label Sister Polygon Records (though 2014’s Bodies and Control and Money and Power EP was released on similarly-minded label Don Giovanni). Nothing Feels Natural is certainly monumental enough to deserve the celebration often heaped upon debut albums; Priests here transforms from a punk band into a genre-defying rock outfit with enough acidity and assertion to dissolve a corpse Breaking Bad style. “JJ” is a ripper, to be sure, but it’s built on a Dick Dale surf lick and doesn’t take long to throw in pianos that verge on cabaret; “Lelia 20” recasts strings as weapons of abject horror in its recounting of sleep-ridden anxiety; “Nothing Feels Natural” is roughly a shoegaze song until it explodes into a vigorous, chill-inducing array of drums and searing guitar notes. Whether via these punk innovations or more traditional (and just as compelling) takes such as “Pink White House” and “Puff,” Priests suggests radical changes to society all while taking radical looks at its members’ internal conflicts. You want something you can write home about? Here’s one of the bravest, most spine-tingling rock albums you’ll hear all decade. - Max Freedman

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11. PALEHOUND | "A Place I'll Always Go" (Polyvinyl)

I love the guitar playing on Palehound’s A Place I’ll Always Go. It’s sharp and snappy, built with these repetitive riffs that seem to perfectly mirror the blunted emotional intensity running through the album. I’m always struck by how reliably good Palehound’s songwriting is, how it creates and honors parallel channels of affection and dissatisfaction. Here, I’m thinking particularly of “If You Met Her,” a track both intimately revealing and enticingly mysterious. Palehound’s Ellen Kempner braces the song with striking, specific details -- a trip to Dunkin Donuts, a certain day in April -- but the outlines feel a little blurry, hard to pin down. In other words: relatable. The song and album are cathartic, hopeful, realistic --  similar feelings I get when listening to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. Like many great records, A Place I’ll Always Go turns in on itself, creating tension that only its songs can release. - Quinn Myers

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10. THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE | "Pleasure Suck" (Tiny Engines)

The Spirit of the Beehive’s songs are often constructed like collages. Fuzzy guitars, feedback, acoustic strumming, reverb-heavy vocals, warped keyboards, sampled music, and answering machine recordings are pasted together like a Kandinsky painting inspired by sedatives and psychedelics. But the seeming chaos of sounds is carefully orchestrated, and at the core of each song are ear-worm melodies, unearthed by repeated listens. Their music evokes a dark yet beautiful world, a miasma that draws you in like a siren. The Spirit of the Beehive conjure their non-boring version of Shoegaze in Philadelphia. A similar sound characterizes all three of their albums, none of which really have a dull moment. But their latest, Pleasure Suck, takes the hivegeist approach to new levels. The album contains too many songs I can’t listen to just once—e.g., ‘Future Looks Bright (It’s Blinding),’ ‘Becomes The Truth,’ ‘Big Brain,’ ‘Cops Come Looking’—impelling me digest the entire album a few times in a row before I can put it aside. - Ggregg Stull

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09. BAD HISTORY MONTH | "Dead and Loving It: An Introductory Exploration of Pessimysticism" (Exploding In Sound)

I like to think Sean Bean is feeling pretty OK these days. If you listen closely to Dead and Loving It, like...really closely, you might agree with me. Bean has called this album a “self-help” record, and the result is a purposeful extension of sympathy and communion that leads, hopefully, to an affirmation of self. I love the humor and wit in earlier Bad History Month releases, but here Bean’s lyrics have crossed over a new threshold, and, like the record’s production, into a new seriousness. “Trying to envision / the nonexistent distance / between my Self and Nonexistence / I hold my breath and listen,” on “The Nonexistent Distance” is a line that cuts immediately to something frank and revealing and discomforting. Bean layers complication upon complication, asking more from himself and pushing the listener to do the same. I can’t overstate how important the Bad History Month project has been to me, and Dead and Loving It is perhaps its crowning achievement. - Quinn Myers


08. SZA | "Ctrl" (Top Dawg Ent.)

SZA owned 2017 like few others could have and even fewer artists did. After the exhaustive turmoil and subsequent delays surrounding CTRL’s release subsided, listeners could hardly balk due to the sheer quality of the material, allowing for one of the most unique and certainly subtlest blockbusters of the year. An even greater feat than the album’s anticipated release was undoubtedly the persona SZA herself constructed through the album’s narrative. Simultaneously brash, sweet, sensitive, and resolute, she sang about heartbreak in the same breath as the value of “pussy” and openheartedly connected the interpersonal with the intrapersonal and never shirking off blame. However, despite the album’s title, the album is not about an obsession with or complete lack of control, rather it’s a perfect example of just how control can be the byproduct of taking ownership of all these faults, needs, and conflicts. This seemingly effortless confidence lies at the heart of the album, proving that whatever SZA (real name Salana Rowe) lacks in her own life is accounted for in the assured artistry and craftsmanship on display in songs like “Love Galore” and “Supermodel.” And serving to strengthen her persona and the songs themselves is a near complete absence of radio-baiting fuckery of any variety, allowing for one of the most unique and commanding voices in R&B and hip-hop to not only take control, but also begin reshaping what control will look like in the years ahead. - Dylan Pennell

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07. MELKBELLY | "Nothing Valley" (Wax Nine)

It’s within the first thirty seconds of Nothing Valley’s opening track “Off The Lot” that you’re hit with everything you need to know. Screeching feedback followed by a cantankerous wash of driving guitars and a spasmodic crash of cymbals and a popping snare drum, the roar fades just enough to bring in an eerie vocal intent to make you squirm. This is the sound of Melkbelly, the Chicago four piece who for the last four years have been building from an already strong foundation. The members’ collective experience in different realms of DIY—ranging from drone to jazz—bring a magnetism to their brand of post-grunge. Following a steady string of 7-inches and 2014’s Pennsylvania EP, their debut Nothing Valleymarks the first rousing statement of a band full of potential. From the pop hooks of “Kid Kreative” and “Middle Of” to the raucous final minute of “R.O.R.O.B.”, Melkbelly is invasive and commanding. - Tim Crisp

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06. GIRLPOOL | "Powerplant" (ANTI-)

Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad, the musicians behind the indie rock band Girlpool, are truly a dream team. The longtime friends proved this with their raw LP Before The World Was Big in 2015, but added even more ammunition to their instrumentals and lyricism with Powerplant this past year. Tucker and Tividad ease us back into the enchanting world of Girlpool with the track “123,” as we step through to a familiar low and soft guitar soon to be picked up and carried away by the grand reveal of drums and even a keyboard later on. The duo talk about taking action without notice or change in “Sleepless” as they sing breathily, “I live in a gallery that no one's ever seen/Sometimes all the golden fruit falls down on top of me/The room's beige, it's a mess/You dream to be sleepless.” In the song “It Gets More Blue,” they use witty and natural metaphors to describe putting effort into a relationship and getting nothing back besides nihilist comments and a burnt bridge. The brilliant and evocative album ends with the fuzz fueled “Static Somewhere,” where the clocklike drums and airy vocals lead to the last remaining moments of distortion. - Allison Kridle


05. KENDRICK LAMAR | "DAMN." (Top Dawg Ent.)

How do you follow up an expansive masterpiece like To Pimp A Butterfly? Take a hard left. Kendrick Lamar trades in the Parlo-Funkadelic and Isley Brothers samples for straight-forward west coast beats that are hard hitting and spiked home by Lamar’s most emphatic deliveries to date. He is, unquestionably, still King, but DAMN. laments on the loneliness of being on top. Spitting heat at everyone who’s taken shots since his profile has risen—from Geraldo Rivera to any MC who wants to challenge—Kendrick’s anger is tangible. As is his introspection. The raw emotion of “PRIDE.” and “FEEL.” with the chorus line “Ain’t nobody prayin’ for me” cutting very thick. DAMN. is an exercise in economy. The beats are densely packed but stay close to their roots and Kendrick, true to form, says everything he needs to say. - Tim Crisp

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04. (SANDY) ALEX G | "Rocket" (Domino)

Alex Giannascoli has always had a flair for the weird. Rocket may be his most accessible album to date, but it’s still incredibly strange. Sure, the uneasy banjo plucking that opens the album on “Poison Root” isn’t as downright bizarre as some of the vocal experiments on 2015’s Beach Music or pretty much any of the early demos that built Giannascoli his devout Bandcamp following, but there’s definitely something off about it. This something can’t really be defined, as with many of the album’s oddities, emotions, and landscapes. Calling Rocket a country album doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head, because “Horse” is campfire music on severe acid, and “Brick” sounds more like Show Me the Body than Elliott Smith, to whom Giannascoli is usually compared (and still resembles on “Big Fish”). Even “Bobby,” which, against the music of DSU, sounds like goddamn “Jolene,” isn’t all that rootsy; the mingling of Emily Yacina’s voice with Giannascoli’s is far too slanted for that descriptor. The word people might be looking for is agreeable; on Rocket, (Sandy) Alex G achieves the miracle of exploring new styles and potential audiences without sacrificing the gawking idiosyncrasies that have grown him an intense cult following across the world. It has the capacity to please longtime followers, earn new listeners, and convert haters to ardent fans, this author included. - Max Freedman


03. MOUNT EERIE | "A Crow Looked At Me" (P.W. Elverum & Sun)

I can count on one hand the times I listened to A Crow Looked At Me this year, but I can also recall the details of each listen very distinctly. It’s in the details where we find Phil Elverum looking for meaning as he mourns the death of his wife Geneviève Castrée. A Crow Looked At Me focuses itself on the passage of time, Elverum is hyper-specific in recalling dates and the amount of time that’s passed as he works through his grief. He focuses on objects as well—the pieces of life left behind, attached now to death. It’s as individual as experience can possibly be but it’s the moments of even slight relation that have incomparable impact. - Tim Crisp

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02. PILE | "A Hairshirt of Purpose" (Exploding In Sound)

By now, it feels downright comical to have to extol the virtues of Pile. For a decade now the band has turned in rock music that defies that overly simplistic term. Pile’s music contains multitudes, be it downtrodden four-bar blues, the jarring push-and-pull of post-hardcore, the destructive power of a noise-rock band, and oodles of pop sensibilities. These things aren’t unique to Pile, but the way that the band makes them all feel united under this moniker is what makes each record a profoundly moving experience, and A Hairshirt Of Purpose is no exception. But what is worth noting is how damn beautiful it is. Songs like “Dogs” and “Rope’s Length” are masterclasses in subtlety. Every movement is deliberate, aching forward in a way that shows Rick Maguire’s songwriting is the as streamlined as it’s ever been, and the musicianship of those around him makes for a record that seeps into your soul, twisting it until all those things you keep locked inside get jarred loose. A single listen to Hairshirt makes these things feel plain as day but, until that’s actually true, there’s plenty of more hollering about Pile to be done. - David Anthony


01. BIG THIEF | "Capacity" (Saddle Creek)

Capacity, Brooklyn band Big Thief’s sophomore LP, follows its debut Masterpiece by just over a year. How’d they turn that one around so quick? It turns out they finished Capacity before releasing Masterpiece, but the music on each suggests vastly different worlds. Masterpiece’s somberness sprung from the page via quivering reflections including “Paul” and “Real Love,” not to mention rocking anthems such as “Masterpiece” and “Humans”; Capacity constrains itself achingly with cold, brittle arrangements and exaggerated fragility in frontwoman Adrienne Lenker’s featherlight voice. “Great White Shark” creeps around swaths of barely lit hums and plucks, “Capacity” wails with a wintry whisper, and “Shark Smile” embellishes its tensions with a rhythm as driving as it is insular. With these duskier monoliths come even more precise lyrics; although Masterpiece remains no slouch at painting vivid pictures of its characters, settings, and emotions, Capacity breathtakingly deals in excessively intense moments, such as car crashes (“Shark Smile”), head injuries (“Mythological Beauty”), and comas (the aptly-titled “Coma”). Despite the upped ante lyrically, the album sounds more restrained than Big Thief has previously been known for, though this has always been a band whose contrasts are its highlights. - Max Freedman

The Staff's Lists:

Alex Wexelman (@AlexWexelman)

01. Boosegumps - On My Way To Meet You
02. Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked At Me
03. Spencer Radcliffe & Everyone Else - Enjoy The Great Outdoors
04. Anna Altman - Freightliner
05. Big Thief - Capacity
06. (Sandy) Alex G - Rocket
07. Lorde - Melodrama
08. Alvvays - Antisocialites
09. Girlpool - Powerplant
10. Yucky Duster - Duster's Lament
11. Kendrick Lamar - Damn.
12. Emily Yacina - Heart Sky
13. Lomelda - Thx
14. Lexie - Record Time!
15. SZA - Ctrl
16. Thelma - Thelma
17. Julie Byrne - Not Even Happiness
18. Thundercat - Drunk
19. Florist - If Blue Could Be Happiness
20. Palm - Shadow Expert

ANNIE FELL (@zitremedies)

01. Palehound - A Place I'll Always Go
02. Torres - Three Futures
03. St. Vincent -MASSEDUCTION
04. Helium - Ends With And
05. Girlpool - Powerplant
06. Kesha - Rainbow
07. Who Is She - Seattle Gossip
08. Quay Dash - Transphobic
09. SZA - Ctrl
10. Lorde - Melodrama


01. Big Thief - Capacity
02. Lomelda - Thx
03. Pile - A Hairshirt of Purpose
04. Bad History Month - Dead And Loving It
05. (Sandy) Alex G - Rocket
06. Twain - Rare Feeling
07. Palehound - A Place I’ll Always Go
08. Rick Rude - Make Mine Tuesday
09. Bill Orcutt - Bill Orcutt
10. Kamasi Washington - Harmony of Difference
11. Fleet Foxes - Crack-Up
12. Girlpool - Powerplant
13. Hand Habits - Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void) 
14. Kevin Morby - City Music
15. Jen Cloher - Jen Cloher
16. Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked At Me
17. Dark Mtns - Up Above This Cloud
18. Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile - Lotta Sea Lice
19. Will Henriksen - Blue House
20. Tall Friend - Safely Nobody’s 

DAN GOLDIN (@post_trash_) *

01. Melkbelly - Nothing Valley
02. Oh Sees - Orc
03. Once & Future Band - Once & Future Band
04. Rick Rude - Make Mine Tuesday
05. David Nance - Negative Boogie
06. Shilpa Ray - Door Girl
07. Girlpool - Powerplant
08. Palehound - A Place I'll Always Go
09. Christian Fitness - Slap Bass Hunks
10. Birthing Hips - Urge To Merge
11. Flagland - Two Brothers & A Ghost
12. Dove Lady - One
13. Night Idea - Riverless
14. Protomartyr - Relatives In Descent
15. Nnamdi Ogbonnaya - DROOL
16. Damaged Bug - Bunker Funk
17. Old Iron - Lupus Metallorum
18. Converge - The Dusk In Us
19. Tera Melos - Trash Generator
20. Water From Your Eyes - Long Days, No Dreams


01. Tennis - Yours Conditionally
02. Mac Demarco - This Old Dog
03. Melkbelly - Nothing Valley
04. (Sandy) Alex G - Rocket
05. SZA - Control
06. Weezer - Pacific Daydream
07. Jens Lekman - Life Will See You Now
08. Toro Y Moi - Boo Boo
09. Vince Staples - Big Fish Theory
10. The xx - I See you
11. Sampha - Process
12. Alvvays - Antisocialites
13. American Football (LP2)
14. Ryan Adams - Prisoner
15. Twin Ponies - Self Titled
16. Dan Auerbach - Waiting on a Song
17. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
18. Charlotte Gainsbourg - Rest
19. Father John Misty - Pure Comedy
20. Real Estate - In Mind


01. Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked at Me
02. Protomartyr - Relatives in Descent
03. Richard Dawson - Peasant
04. Lingua Ignota - All Bitches Die
05. Who Loves You - Green & Tangerine
06. Remo Drive - Greatest Hits
07. Fleet Foxes - Crack-Up
08. Show Me the Body - CORPUS I
09. Creepers - The Lost Transmissions
10. The National - Sleep Well Beast
11. Tyler, the Creator - Flower Boy
12. Big Thief - Capacity
13. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
14. Slowdive - Slowdive
15. Lomelda - Thx
16. Pile - A Hairshirt of Purpose
17. Washer - All Aboard
18. American Poetry Club - Glad to Be Here, Etcetera
19. Space Mountain - Supermundane
20. Space Camp - Force Femmed

Ggregg Stull

01. Bad History Month - Dead and Loving it
02. Pile - Hairshirt of Purpose
03. Palm - Shadow Expert
04. The Spirit of the Beehive - Pleasure Suck
05. Big Thief - Capacity
06. Edmonson - Strange Durations
07. Sweet Baby Jesus - Lyres of Ur
08. Anthony Fremont's Garden Solutions - Anthology
09. Climax Landers - S/T
10. Two Inch Astronaut - Can You Please Not Help
11. Big Heet - On A Wire
12. Melkbelly - Nothing Valley
13. The Cradle - Little Missionaries
14. Christina Schneider - Violence Etcetera
15. Lomelda - Thx
16. Big French - Stone Fish
17. Rick Rude - Make Mine Tuesday
18. Spit - Ego in Drag
19. Converge - The Dusk in Us
20. Bonny Doon - S/T


01. Girlpool — Powerplant
02. Kendrick Lamar —DAMN.
03. Palm — Shadow Expert
04. Japanese Breakfast — Soft Sounds from Another Planet
05. Tyler, the Creator — Flower Boy
06. (Sandy) Alex G — Rocket
07. Thelma — Thelma
09. Angel Olsen — Phases
10. Palberta/No One and the Somebodies split — Chips for Dinner
11. Vagabon — Infinite Worlds
12. Mathew Lee Cothran — judas hung himself in america
13. Darto — Human Giving
14. Kalbells — Ten Flowers
15. Nnamdi Ogbonnaya — Drool
16. Mayhem Lauren — Gems from the Equinox
17. Sleater-Kinney — Live from Paris
18. Guerilla Toss — GT Ultra
19. Slowdive — Slowdive
20. Furnsss — Furnsss

JEFF LAUGHLIN (@beardsinc)

01. Chad Vangaalen - Light Information
02. 1970s Film Stock - Birds
03. JLin - Black Origami
04. sir Was - Digging A Tunnel
05. Thundercat - Drunk
06. Tara Jane O'Neil - Tara Jane O'Neil
07. Big Thief - Capacity
08. Wand - Plum
09. Sontag Shogun - Patterns for Resonant Space
10. Irreversible Entanglements - Irreversible Entanglements
11. Courtney Marie Andrews - Honest Life
12. Katie Von Schleicher - Shitty Hits
13. Ulsect - Ulsect
14. Upper Wilds - Guitar Module 2017
15. Shilpa Ray - Door Girl
16. Lojii/Swarvy - Due Rent
17. Jonwayne - Rap Album 2
18. Dustin Wong and Takako Minekawa - Are Euphoria
19. Amenra - Mass V
20. Wooden Wand - Clipper Ship


01. Big Thief- Capacity
02. Lomelda- Thx
03. Mega Bog- Happy Together
04. Hand Habits- Wildly Idle
05. Little Star- Little Star
06. Real Life Buildings- Significant Weather
07. Doubting Thomas Cruise Control- Bob Ross II
08. Gun Outfit- Out of Range
09. Blois- Lake
10. Shelf Life- Christian Coated Ethical Arena
11. Tomber Lever- Furniture Pedagogue
12. Priests- Nothing Feels Natural
13. Calgrove- Wind Vane
14. Dude York- Sincerely
15. Nana Grizol- Ursa Minor
16. Dylan Earl- New Country To Be
17. Tyler Childers- Purgatory
18. Becca Mancari- Good Woman
19. Twain- Rare Feeling
20. Stef Chura- Messes

Jonathan Bannister (@j_utah)

01. Drab Majesty - The Demonstration
02. Shilpa Ray - Door Girl
03. Protomartyr - Relatives in Descent
04. Priests - Nothing Feels Natural
05. Pile - Hairshirt of Purpose
06. King Krule - The Ooz
07. H. Grimace - Self Architect
08. Second Still - Second Still
09. Skeleton Hands - Wake
10. Two Inch Astronaut - Can You Please Not Help
11. Glaare - To Deaf and Day
12. Honeyrude - The Color Blue
13. Desperate Journalist - Grow Up
14. Kindling - Hush
15. Washer - All Aboard
16. Death of Lovers - The Acrobat
17. Car Crash Sisters - Sundance Sea
18. Grave Pleasures - Motherblood
19. Bethlehem Steel - Party Naked Forever
20. Bad History Month - Dead and Loving It

JOSHUA ROBBINS (@latebloomernc)

01. Quicksand - Interiors
02. Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires - Youth Detention
03. Incendiary - Thousand Mile Stare
04. Mt. Mountain - Dust
05. Elder - Reflections of a Floating World
06. Pissed Jeans - Why Love Now?
07. Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked At Me
08. Racquet Club - S/T
09. Dylan Earl - New Country to Be
10. Kindling - Hush
11. Cloud Nothings - Life Without Sound
12. Two Inch Astronaut - Can You Please Not Help
13. Able Baker Fox - Visions
14. Open City - S/T
15. Cayetana - New Kind of Normal
16. Bash & Pop - Anything Could Happen
17. Firewalker - S/T
18. Ryan Adams - Prisoner
19. Sinai Vessel - Brokenlegged
20. Junior Astronomers - Body Language

Julie K. Smitka (@julieksmitka)

01. Blanck Mass - World Eater
02. Drab Majesty - The Demonstration
03. Bodykit - NO-NRG
04. Laurel Halo - Dust
05. Zola Jesus - Okovi
06. Jlin - Black Origami
07. Earthly - Heart
08. Chelsea Wolfe - Hiss Spun
09. Sneaks - It's a Myth
10. Destroyer - ken
11. Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked at Me
12. Vince Staples - Big Fish Theory
13. John Carpenter - Anthology
14. Big Thief - Capacity
15. Thundercat - Drunk
16. Bjork - Utopia
17. Reduction Plan - Somewhere
18. Moon Duo - Occult Architecture Vol. 2
19. Odonis Odonis - No Pop
20. Priests - Nothing Feels Natural

kat harding (@iwearaviators)

01. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN
02. Bully - Losing
03. SZA - CTRL
04. Fazerdaze - Morningside
05. Feature - Banishing Ritual
06. Priests - Nothing Feels Natural
07. Steelism - ism
08. Lorde - Melodrama
09. Joan Shelly - s/t
10. House and Land - s/t


01. cooking - cooking (with gas)
02. Bilge Rat - Bilge Rat
03. The Spirit of the Beehive  - Pleasure Suck
04. Pardoner - Uncontrollable Salvation
05. narra - narra
06. Homeshake - Fresh Air
07. Tyler, The Creator - Scum Fuck Flower Boy
08. WEED - Born Wrong Love
09. Cherry Glazerr - Apockalipstick
10. no friends - no friends
11. The Human Fly - Gruesome
12. Strange Ranger - Daymoon
13. (Sandy) Alex G - Rocket
14. Big Thief - Capacity
15. Radiator Hospital - Play the Song You Like
16. Ty Segall - Ty Segall
17. Art School Jocks - Art School Jocks
18. infinite bisous - w/ love
19. Hoops - Routines
20. Slowdive - Slowdive

KENNY RAMOS (@kennyramoslife)

01. Miguel - War & Leisure
02. Japanese Breakfast - Soft Sounds From Another Planet
03. (Sandy) Alex G - Rocket
04. David Nance - Negative Boogie
05. Migos - Culture
06. Palehound - A Place I’ll Always Go
07. Cousin Stizz - One Night Only
08. Cherry Glazerr - Apocalipstick
09. Kendrick Lamar - Damn
10. Girlpool - Powerplant

MARY KATE CROWE (@memkaycrowe)

01. Lorde - Melodrama
02. Princess Nokia - 1992 Deluxe
03. Big Thief - Capacity
04. St. Vincent - MASSEDUCTION
05. The Glaciers - Quarry's Light
06. Lexie - Record Time!
07. Jay Som - Everybody Works
08. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN
09. SZA - CTRL
10. Japanese Breakfast - Soft Sounds from Another Planet
11. Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked at Me
12. Vagabon - Infinite Worlds
13. Girlpool - Powerplant
14. Radiator Hospital - Play the Songs You Like
15. Daddy Issues - Deep Dream
16. Waxahatchee - Out in the Storm
17. Lana Del Rey - Love Lust For Life
18. Weaves - Wide Open
19. Conor Oberst - Salutations
20. Feist - Pleasure


01. Priests - Nothing Feels Natural
02. St. Vincent - MASSEDUCTION
03. Jay Som - Everybody Works
04. (Sandy) Alex G - Rocket
05. Fufanu - Sports
06. Moses Sumney - Aromanticism
07. Alvvays - Antisocialites
08. Kelly Lee Owens - Kelly Lee Owens
09. Zuli - on human freakout mountain
10. Perfume Genius - No Shape
11. Vince Staples - Big Fish Theory
12. TORRES - Three Futures
13. ammút - Kinder Versions
14. Run the Jewels - RTJ3
15. abriel Garzón-Montano - Jardín
16. Julien Baker - Turn Out the Lights
17. Kelela - Take Me Apar
18. Yaeji - yaeji EP/EP2
19. Lorde - Melodrama
20. LCD Soundsystem - american dream

Mike LeSuer (@zebraabraham)

01. Keeping - Ruin Value
02. Space Camp - Force Femmed
03. Surf Curse - Nothing Yet
04. Caddywhompus - Odd Hours
05. Uniform - Wake in Fright
06. Oh Sees - Orc
07. Converge - The Dusk in Us
08. Melkbelly - Nothing Valley
09. Big Thief - Capacity
10. Show Me the Body - CORPUS I
11. Billy Woods - Known Unknowns
12. Downtown Boys - Cost of Living
13. White Suns - Psychic Drift
14. Jim and the French Vanilla - Afraid of the House
15. King Woman - Created in the Image of Suffering
16. Pope - True Talent Champion
17. Witch Coast - Devil Vision
18. Gnarwhal - Crucial
19. Bee Bee Sea - Sonic Boomerang
20. Big Walnuts Yonder - s/t

MYLES DUNHILL (@MylesDunhill)

01. Thundercat - Drunk
02. Iglooghost - Neo Wax Bloom
03. Sun Araw - The Saddle of the Increate
04. Nmesh - Pharma
05. Yaeji - s/t EP 1 + EP 2
06. King Krule - The OOZ
07. Eric Copeland - Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect
08. doon kanda - heart
09. V/A - Mono No Aware [PAN Records]
10. Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked At Me
11, Grandaddy - Last Place
12. Washed Out - Mister Mellow
13. Giant Claw - Soft Channel
14. Peaking Lights - The Fifth State of Consciousness
15. X.Y.R. - Labryinth
16. Perfume Genius - No Shape
17. Felicia Atkinson - Hand in Hand
18. Laurel Halo - Dust
19. Slowdive - s/t
20. Flat Worms - s/t


01. the spirit of the beehive – Pleasure Suck
02. Palm – Shadow Expert
03. Beverly Tender – What Did You Do to My Water?
04. Climax Landers – S/T
05. Crumb – Locket
06. Yucky Duster – Duster’s Lament
07. Club Night – Rally
08. Blois - Lake
09. Ada Babar and Kasra Kurt – Nino Tomorrow
10. Shady Bug – tbh idk
11. Gas – Narkopop
12. Dove Lady – One
13. Hoops – Routines
14. Thelma – S/T


01. Palm — Shadow Expert
02. Ratboys — GN
03. Stef Chura — Messes
04. Cherry Glazerr — Apocalipstick
05. Charly Bliss — Guppy
06. Pile — Hairshirt of Purpose
07. Bethlehem Steel — Party Naked Forever
08. Club Night — Rally
09. Radiator Hospital — Play The Songs You Like
10. Tall Friend — Safely Nobody's
11. Girlpool — Powerplant
12. Two Inch Astronaut — Can You Please Not Help
13. Palehound — A Place I’ll Always Go
14. Bad History Month — Dead and Loving It: An Introductory Exploration of Pessimysticism
15. Spirit of the Beehive -- pleasure suck
16. Chastity Belt — I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone
17. Beverly Tender — What Have You Done To My Water
18. thanks for coming — Sspplliitt EP
19. Jay Som — Everybody Works
20. SHEER MAG — Need To Feel Your Love


01. Protomartyr - Relatives in Descent
02. King Krule - The Ooz
03. Posse - Horse Blanket
04. Chad VanGaalen - Light Information
05. Omni - Multi-task
06. Palehound - A Place I'll Always Go
07. Bad History Month - Dead and Loving It
08. Twain - Rare Feeling
09. Washer - All Aboard
10. A. Savage - Thawing Dawn
11. Japanese Breakfast - Soft Sounds From Another Planet
12. Neil Young - Hitchhiker
13. Julie Byrne - Not Even Happiness
14. Richard Dawson - Peasant
15. Priests - Nothing Feels Natural
16. Girlpool - Power Plant
17. Pile - A Hairshirt of Purpose
18. Chain & The Gang - Experimental Music
19. Big Thief - Capacity
20. Fleet Foxes - The Crack Up

TIM CRISP (@betteryetpod)

01. Ratboys - GN
02. Vagabon - Infinite Worlds
03. Melkbelly - Nothing Valley
04. Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked At Me
05. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
06. Pile - A Hairshirt Of Purpose
07. Meat Wave - The Incessant
08. Big Thief - Capacity
09. Tall Friend - Safely Nobody’s
10. SZA - Ctrl
11. Adult Mom - Soft Spots
12. Hard Girls - Floating Now
13. Florist - If Blue Could Be Happiness
14. Wild Pink - S/T
15. His Electro Blue Voice - Mental Hoop
16. Walter, Etc. - Gloom Cruise
17. Sincere Engineer - Rhombithian
18. Aye Nako - Silver Haze
19. Worriers - Survival Pop
20. Rozwell Kid - Precious Art

TORREY PROTO (@torreysbrewin)

01. Odonis Odonis - No Pop
02. Liars - TFCF
03. Phew - Light Sleep
04. The Spirit of the Beehive - Pleasure Suck
05. Open Mike Eagle - Brick Body Kids Still Daydream
06. Tera Melos - Trash Generator
07. Oxbow - The Thin Black Duke
08. Two Inch Astronaut - Can You Please Not Help
09. milo - who told you to think??!!?!?!? 
10. Cornelius - Mellow Waves
11. Algiers - The Underside of Power
12. Pile - A Hairshirt of Purpose
13. Alexander F - Alexander F
14. Wiki - No Mountains in Manhattan
15. Vagabon - Infinite Worlds
16. King Krule - The Ooz
17. Protomartyr - Relatives in Descent
18. Idles - Brutalism
19. Pierre Kwenders - MAKANDA at the End of Space, the Beginning of Time
20. White Suns - Psychic Drift

* both Niccolo Dante Porcello (Sad Cactus Records) and Dan Goldin (Exploding In Sound Records) submitted Top 20 lists that were taken into consideration for the staff pick total that included bands from their respective labels. In the interest of not publicly ranking their own bands, the lists submitted here are their favorite albums without inclusion of any Sad Cactus or EIS artists.