by Dan Goldin (@post_trash_), Tim Crisp (@betteryetpod), David Anthony (@dbanthony), Allison Kridle, Nick McGuire (@nickemcguire), Max Freedman (@anitclimaxwell), Jackson Martel, Sean Deveney (@autonomousnloud), Quinn Myers (@rquinnmyers), Mike LeSuer (@zebraabraham), Abigail Miglorie (@abigailmiglorie), Jonathan Bannister (@j_utah), Jordan Reyes (@jpreyes90), Ggregg Stull
What a year its been, one of the more brutal in recent memory with political and social tensions at a feverish high. For now however, the world keeps spinning, and thankfully, bands and artists keep on releasing great new music. That's why we're here, new music. Perhaps you missed some of it. As major coverage seems to be shrinking to create *stars* and leaving behind the scrappy "indie" rock bands in the process, we feel it's our duty to deliver. It's time to catch up on the releases that went under the radar, the hidden gems, and the essential records from the underground. "The Year in Review" is a comprehensive guide to our favorite releases of the year without a pre-determined length. If we loved a record, we're including it... simple as that. The strength of DIY and independent labels continues to grow but it's impossible to listen to everything and there's a great chance a potential favorite slipped on by. What's of importance is that you remember it's never too late. Your next favorite band could be out there, it's just a matter of listening to something new. Together, we've profiled 100+ of the releases that make Post-Trash the site that it is, with countless others recommended as "further listening," a section for releases you might have missed, and we might not have spent enough time with. We're not saying these are the best albums, but rather our favorites.
Discover something new. Support the music you love. Thank you for reading Post-Trash and please help spread the word if you're into the site.
CATE LE BON | "Rock Pool"
Drag City Records
I was extremely late to the Cate Le Bon party, but as I've said in the past and I'm sure I'll say again in the future, better late than never. After seeing Crab Day on several intriguing year end lists, I decided it was time to see what I was missing and the infatuation hit me hard. That album is amazing and her previous albums are pretty damn great too. Le Bon's scrappy folk charms work perfectly with an expanding sound of locked in instruments and jagged pop. It's a free sound that captures her spirit in every song, every chord, every dark bit of exuberance. Less than a year later, Le Bon released Rock Pool, a new EP that picks up where Crab Day left off, with a bigger and more boisterous sound than her early efforts, retaining her magical sense of melody and innocence. Le Bon's music has the ability to drift from one reality into another, a place where twitchy punk and gentle folk collide in the most natural of ways. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp
ONCE & FUTURE BAND | "Once & Future Band"
Castle Face Records
Once & Future Band's self-titled debut makes me feel like a kid who just discovered the majesty of classic 70's prog rock and psych for the first time... all over again. Having listened to this record countless times since it was first sent my way (with an enormous grin or my jaw slightly dropped), I can say it only gets better with repeat listens. Once & Future Band have made one of the finest (if not the finest) progressive rock album since the 70's. There's a mastery in their musicianship, an intelligence in their songwriting, and a spark in the unflinching commitment to a genre that is about as un-hip as they come. I still remember the first time I heard albums like King Crimson's In The Court of the Crimson King and Pink Floyd's Meddle, captivated by their enormity and rigged focus, a feeling I can't escape when listening to Once & Future Band. This record is essential listening from start to finish from the sweeping bliss of "Hide & Seek" to the otherworldly brilliance of "Tell Me Those Are Tears Of Joy". - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
PRIESTS | "Nothing Feels Natural"
Sister Polygon Records
“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 || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
RICK RUDE | "Make Mine Tuesday"
Tiny Radars/Sophomore Lounge Records
Falling somewhere between the disheveled majesty of Archers Of Loaf and the guitar wizardry of Built To Spill, Rick Rude draw a direct line back to some of the most iconic ‘90s indie bands without getting mired in that history. While that isn’t a set of influences unique to Rick Rude, the band uses them as a jumping off point instead of the totality of their sound, transforming Make Mine Tuesday into something that is never too indebted to its influences. This set of songs is the band’s most confident work yet, as they congeal into one cohesive statement of intent. - David Anthony || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
STEF CHURA | "Messes"
Urinal Cake Records/Saddle Creek Records
I am inexcusably late to Stef Chura and her incredible Messes album. Released at the beginning of the year on Urinal Cake Records (the label responsible for introducing the world to Protomartyr), the album is set to be reissued by Saddle Creek, and if nothing else, I used this as a reminder that I’d been meaning to check out her music (because as we always say, it’s never too late). Her debut is a great mix of unconventional indie rock, full of Chura’s unique Americana charm and brilliantly vibrato yelp. Her songs feel like photographs, glimpses into personal moments captured through time. “Speeding Ticket” is a great example, a song that radiates a close intimacy, capturing Chura’s voice in delicate croons, mending fractured relationships and finding a peace in separation. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
TY SEGALL | "Ty Segall"
Drag City Records
There's not a great deal that can be said about Ty Segall at this point that hasn't already been said a million times, but as long as he keeps making stellar records, we're going to keep trying. His latest self-titled album (the second) is a culmination of everything Segall has spent the past five years or so perfecting, swirling his divergent paths together into a complete vision of garage rock nirvana. Blending together scuzzy noise, folk ballads, glam weirdness, and sun fried punk, Ty Segall is big, loud, and full of spirit that feels more complete than anything Segall and his band have conjured up yet. From the jangle of "Break A Guitar" to the sprawling voyage into "Warm Hands (Freedom Returned)" and the hazy folk of "Orange Color Queen," Segall is proving to be at his best when putting everything on display. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp
YUCKY DUSTER | "Duster's Lament"
Infinity Cat Records
"The Ropes" is the perfect center piece for Yucky Duster's latest EP, a syrupy pop song with inescapable melodies that border on perfection. Luca Balser's vocals are at their best as he sings tightly wound verses of bubblegum pop glory, while the band lean into a particularly brilliant blend of melodic psych pop and surfy post-punk. Channeling a wistful vibe somewhere between The Zombies and Weezer, there's a warm retro pulse in the song's harmonized chorus and jangly beauty, a song guaranteed to infiltrate your daydreams, auditory smooch and all. Yucky Duster played it loose on their debut, but they're not fooling anyone, this band is exceptionally tight and their song writing is at peak form throughout Duster's Lament. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
BOOSEGUMPS "On The Way To Meet You" | CHAVEZ "Cockfighters" | COMPLAINER "Floodplain" | DAVID BOWIE "No Plan" | DIRWIN MAGIC JANSEN "The Miscegenation of Dirwin Magic Jansen" | DOUBTING THOMAS CRUISE CONTROL "Bob Ross II" | HVAC "Mentality" | LIQUIDS "More Thana Friend" | OPEN CITY "Open City" | SHARK? "Abilene" | SLEATER-KINNEY "Live In Paris" | TOBIN SPROUT "The Universe And Me" | UNIFORM "Wake In Fright" | UROCHROMES "Night Bully"
BAKED | "Farnham"
Once again proving to be unpredictable, Baked have out done themselves with sophomore album Farnham, embracing dusty country, fuzzy slacker punk, distorted classic rock, and colossal shoegaze, swirling it altogether into their own nuanced guitar shredding bliss. The record is a masterwork of hazy ballads, blistering riffs, thick atmospheric haze, and slow burning rock 'n' roll that never stays in one place for long yet remains undeniably cohesive in its entirety. Take for example two of the album's deep cut stand-outs "Amy Rots" and "Two-Thousandths," the former a quick and detached dive into sludge and the latter a jangly country ballad to ease the soul. It's rock and roll at its most dynamic, swerving across the landscape as Baked prove anything is possible. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
BOOJI BOYS | "Booji Boys"
Drunken Sailor Records
With their Devo referencing name, one would expect Booji Boys to have a more dehumanized approach. But what’s found on Booji Boys is a set of songs that race with the kind of lo-fi, fuzzed-out hardcore that’s been popping up in disparate locals across the world. Here, the Nova Scotia band wastes little time dashing out 12 compact tracks that sound like the most visceral indie-rock LP played at 78rpm. If a pure rush of adrenaline is what you need, Booji Boys will serve you well. - David Anthony || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
HAND HABITS | "Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void)"
Meg Duffy, better know as Hand Habits' new record Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void) was one of our most anticipated albums of the winter, a warm blanket of gorgeous songwriting and gentle delivery. Dreamy and poetic, Duffy's slow yet breezy folk offers the perfect atmosphere to get lost inside. Like watching time pass or the snow fall, there's a undeniable beauty in her voice, a balance between love and caution, a longing for eternal love while knowing all things are fleeting. If you like swooning pop that you can melt into, look no further. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
MEAT WAVE | "The Incessant"
Side One Dummy Records
Meat Wave’s follow-up to their 2015 breakthrough Delusion Moon is as cold and grey as winter in their native Chicago. In navigating loss, Chris Sutter creates a harrowing landscape that rests somewhere between "Ice Cold Ice" and the end of a Samuel Beckett novel. Which isn’t to say The Incessant is only an existential nightmare—“Run You Out” and “Bad Man” are standalone bangers which act as a link between The Incessant and Delusion Moon—but its most powerful statement comes in its final suite. The desolate “Birdland” is a minimal fever dream, Sutter drawing out his syllables like a death march, followed by the shattering closer “Killing The Incessant.” The screaming feedback washes over in a cathartic roar. You’re left feeling cold but wanting more. - Tim Crisp || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
MEGA BOG | "Happy Together"
Mega Bog's radiant album Happy Together is gorgeous, disorienting, and often built around ominous saxophone leads that could come from any David Lynch movie. The record is a tight ball of undulating experimental pop that bounces around in its own space, unaware of where it heads but clear that all paths lead to certain enjoyment. The delicate boogie contrasts the saxophone's bleeding melodies but as Erin Birgy's incredible vocal performance fades, the two begin to tie together, uniting in a spaced out wonderland where anything is possible and nothing is certain. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
PISSED JEANS | "Why Love Now?"
Sub Pop Records
Pissed Jeans feel like a very strange choice to be a voice for feminism, but "the speed of evolution is getting slower" as they say. They understand the follies of man (literally men) as well as anyone, they've been pointing out those lesser qualities for years via a diorama of suburban malaise, workplace monotony, and insipid behavior. On Why Love Now they had their aim set and focused on the poor and despicable male gaze, through a series of observational narratives that set the bar as low as possible, and they absolutely rip while doing so. Album opener "Waiting On My Horrible Warning" pulls from the Melvins playbook, a slow crawling storm of sludge and demented howling vocals, it's a song about decadence and living a shitty life waiting for something terrible to force a change... proactivity at its finest. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
VAGABON | "Infinite Worlds"
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 || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
ALEXANDER F "Alexander F" | DARK MTNS "Dark Mtns II" | DEATH STUFF "Death Stuff" | DIMPLES "Whimpers" | JIM AND THE FRENCH VANILLA "Afraid of the House" | KING WOMAN "Created In The Image Of Suffering" | ODDISEE "The Iceberg" | PALBERTA "Bye Bye Berta" | THE PAPERHEAD "Chew" | PC WORSHIP "Buried Wish" | RETAIL SPACE “You Can Catch A Lobster With Eggs But Not Egg Salad” | SPEW "Only The Worst" | SUN ORGAN "Something Doesn't Feel Right"
BONNY DOON | "Bonny Doon"
Detroit's Bonny Doon have been tagged as a band of punk musicians (members of Tyvek, Growwing Pains, etc) who have strayed pretty damn far from anything remotely punk on their full length debut, a soft album overflowing with clever lyrics and impeccable melodies. Like a long lost Silver Jews record, Bonny Doon keep it casual even as their wry humor nudges into existential territory. It's twangy indie rock in nature, but it's heart and soul pumps pure Americana folk at every breezy turn. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
DAMAGED BUG | "Bunker Funk"
Castle Face Records
The expression “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” probably rings true to John Dwyer. In March he released Bunker Funk, the third Damaged Bug record In the past three years… which isn’t anything too crazy but he’s also the mastermind behind the indefatigable Thee Oh Sees (who have released five albums in those same three years). Productivity aside, Damaged Bug, his synth punk odyssey of a solo project just keeps getting better. Dwyer’s commitment to oozing psych weirdness and sci-fi post-punk structures is unwavering on Bunker Funk, an album that blends both natural sounds and digital manipulation together in disorienting landscapes of both horror and zany fun. It’s all a bit unnerving but as the title suggests, there’s an element of “funk” to be found as well, a balance that feels something like an infestation of skin crawlers… skin crawlers just looking to get weird and have a great time. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Soundcloud | Spotify
FERAL OHMS | "Feral Ohms"
Silver Current Records
Bay Area trio Feral Ohms create "caveman psych" (their words, not mine) an apt description if there ever was one. The sound of the band's upcoming self-titled debut is the perfect combination of primitive and corrosive. Led by Ethan Miller (Comets on Fire), the trio pound at maximum velocity, fuzz soaked blues, psych, and "acid rock" unfurls with reckless intensity like an avalanche hurtling down a mountain. The record is all brutal grit and cosmic soul, shredding with every last howling breath. It's rampant and untamed, a slab of dangerous rock 'n' roll from the mind of a modern psych legend. The thick grooves are balanced by blistering noise and a constant stampede on your senses. It just rips so damn hard, you really can't afford to miss this one. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
LAETITIA SADIER SOURCE ENSEMBLE | "Find Me Finding You"
Drag City Records
Ever since the final days of the legendary Stereolab, Laetitia Sadier has continued to release music under her own name and now together with her band, the Source Ensemble. Their debut effort Find Me Finding You is quintessential Sadier, it's gorgeous, retro-futuristic, and built with a positivity that is much needed in these dark times. Things are grim but she's still having a good time, The album slowly seeps it way into all the softest moments of your day; the day dreams, the calm before you drift to sleep, the slow moving morning spent in the sunshine. It's warm and radiant, capturing the elements of Stereolab that made the band so sonically pleasing while offering a subdued portrait of undying love. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp
NNAMDI OGBONNAYA | "Drool"
Father/Daughter Records/Sooper Records
I’ve been watching Nnamdi Ogbonnaya play music for the better part of a decade, and to see him craft something as streamlined as DROOL feels like a triumph for numerous reasons. Not only does it distill his varied pursuits into one release, it shows his knack for evolving his sound without ever removing his unique outlook from his creations. There’s really nothing Nnamdi can’t do well. If DROOLis any indication, the world at large is finally starting to pick up on that. - David Anthony || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
OPERATOR MUSIC BAND | "Puzzlephonics I & II"
New Professor Music
Operator Music Band make futuristic noise pop with a nod to the past. Built on surging synths, analog effects, swirling guitars and tightly locked in rhythms, Puzzlephonics I & II embraces elements of post-punk, krautrock, and psych pop without bending too far in any direction. It’s rock music for the space age, full of eerie electronics and mounting tension in way that would make Stereolab proud. Songs like “Koma” and the funk of "Creative Tube Bending" embraces the chaos of uncertainty, the perfect soundtrack to for a ride in an escape pod hurtling toward an unknown fate. Synths permeate your attention and cloud your thoughts, Dara Hirsch and Jared Hiller trade off dreamy vocals, complimenting each other at all times. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
PILE | "A Hairshirt of Purpose"
Pile’s Rick Maguire has always demonstrated a subtle knack for self-aware storytelling, and here it shines on songs like “Leaning On A Wheel” where he sings the album’s most self-interested lyric “we’re all giving ourselves head / each in our own way.” At once intimate and enormous, the album expands on Maguire’s melodic curiosities, such as the switch on “Dogs” from a string-backed march to hard rock cries on the chorus. As Maguire sings around existential futility, it’s eerie, it’s painful, and it shows why Pile continues to be the most interesting rock band around. - Nick McGuire || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
SNAKEHOLE | "Interludes of Insanity"
Wharf Cat Records
Snakehole’s sophomore LP sounds like it’s careening towards destruction. In most ways, Interludes of Insanity is a bigger, meaner follow up to the band’s debut self-titled record. Ben Greenberg stars as Captain Crunch, and at his helm, precise production kicks the band’s sinister drive to eleven, notwithstanding the intermittent respites from Autumn and KC’s piano-noise synthesis. One part mean. One part haunting. A rabid dog tracking down its mother’s collar. - Jordan Reyes || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE | "Pleasure Suck"
Tiny Engines Records
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 || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
THELMA | "Thelma"
Tiny Engines Records
Thelma's full length debut is on a new level of gorgeous mysticism. There's a haunting vibe that swirls throughout the album, but the ultra-personal reflections are far more captivating than creepy. "If You Let It" is the perfect example, a song that finds Thelma's Natasha Jacobs creating brilliantly claustrophobic pop that's as dark as it is undeniably radiant. Centered around slowly thudding keys and sweeping rhythms, the song's unflinching heart and wounded soul come from Jacobs' beautiful voice. Skipping between lilted verses and impenetrable hooks, Jacobs' control of her voice is stunning, setting the tone and shifting directions as the song swells and contracts at her whim. Thelma channels the darkness to create beauty and an engaging power of self. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
A DEER A HORSE "Backswimmer" | ARC FLASH "Carbon Copy" | BE YOU ME "Be You Me" | BILGE RAT "Bilge Rat" | BLONDE REDHEAD "3 O'Clock" | THE CAIRO GANG "Untouchable" | COLD SWEATS "Most High" | DATA "Divine Creature" | DRUG SWEAT "Six Song EP" | LEISURE WORLD "Paper-Thin Community" | MILK MUSIC "Mystic 100's" | MOPE GROOVES "Joy" | MOTHPUPPY "Cool & Pretty" | PARLOR WALLS "Opposites" | RAYS "Rays" | RAEKWON "The Wild" | SNEAKS "It's A Myth" | SPECTRES "Condition"
ANNA ALTMAN | "Freightliner"
Lucia Arias and Christian Billard team up to make intriguing music with genuine substance. Freightliner takes the listener on a journey that begins with great excitement and involves careful introspection, noteworthy observations, and even some important history. There are many songs on this album that stick in my head and refuse to leave. The sign of a great band does not simply consist of an ability to make their listeners’ heads bob up and down. A truly great band stows something meaningful and worthwhile away inside their heads to take with them to their final destination. - Sean Deveney || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
BLESSED | "II"
Kingfisher Bluez + Cointoss Records
Sounding a bit like Canada's bold answer to The Fall, Blessed pushed the scope of art rock and post-punk into their own carefully calculated contortions on their latest EP, II. The band’s razor sharp songwriting is brutally angular and incredibly focused, blending influences that include prog and krautrock into the mix to create a jarring listen that remains "pop" at its center. It's unflinchingly expansive, sprawling out in endless directions from the discordant prog of Red-era King Crimson to the sinisterly mechanical discipline of Neu, Blessed take their influences and run wild with them, bringing an art-punk perspective to rigid compositions and letting them explode with brute force and brilliant shifts, pulling out sections only to bring them back with greater force and impact. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
CADDYWHOMPUS | "Odd Hours"
After a decade of recognition on various corners of the internet, New Orleans’ Caddywhompus are still a phenomenon to behold and a nightmare to write about. The eclectic noise rock duo have been confounding music journalists with their rambunctious, shapeshifting spazmatics since the fuzzy revelation of EPs in 2009, eliciting coverage which resembles a shellshocked witness trying to piece together a crime scene (it was sort of like No Age trying to decide between doing a Hella or Cloud Nothings cover set mid-song with an amped-up Nathan Williams—no, an anxious Thom Yorke!—taking the mic). True to form, Odd Hours is as abrasive as it is evasive, Chris Rehm’s vengeful riffs and unflappable alto waltzing seamlessly with Sean Hart’s math rock drumming. In the glaring bipolarities of “Waiting Room” and “Appetite” Rehm and Hart most succinctly demonstrate their ability to channel all their disparate idols at once while remaining distinctly Caddywhompus. - Mike LeSuer || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
CHRISTIAN FITNESS | "Slap Bass Hunks"
Following a rapid succession of increasingly great singles, Christian Fitness, the one-man band that is Andrew Falkous aka Falco (Future of the Left/Mclusky), released Slap Bass Hunks, which isn't just a great title, it's an undeniably great album, and a contender for Falco's best work in recent memory. The title track has a sing-a-long melody that buzzes with raw agitation, offering a pop sheen and bouncing-ball-subtitled lyrics that deadpan into the hook of "they made all our money, so fuck you". The eternally pessimistic and scathing wit Falco spurns with each clever barb is in rare form throughout with tracks like "Other Men's Wives" and "Pea (Super)" changing the pace with less of a rhythmic onslaught and an attention to the melodic unease that brings a groove to Falco's sting. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp
KENDRICK LAMAR | "DAMN."
Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope Records
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 || LISTEN: Spotify
OLD MAYBE | "Piggity Pink"
Blending outsider pop and dissonant punk, bridging the gap between the two with a deranged brilliance and disregard for conventional structures, Old Maybe, the trio of Jazz Adam, Nina Ryser (Palberta) and Ricardo Balmaseda, play with the deconstructed, disoriented, and unpredictable nature of perception, contorting reality to its strangest form. Mixing elements of no-wave, twee, and post-punk grooves, Old Maybe offer the perfect balance between jittery and primal. Piggity Pink, the band's sophomore EP, is both strange and joyous, built around themes of "pigs, pink, purple, Scientology, self-hate, forced femininity, lethargy, and the sub/dom dynamics that appear in relationships". It's weird, and unique, but more than anything else, it's irresistibly charming. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
SHADY BUG | "TBH IDK"
There's something undeniably captivating about St. Louis' Shady Bug and Hannah Rainey's brilliantly elastic songwriting. The band's full length debut, tbh idk, is a collection of warped pop songs, blending together elements of punk, twee, and experimental folk with a warm embrace nearly impossible to escape. There's a tag on their Bandcamp that says "warm rippers" and it's a fitting description for the quartet - Tom Krenniing (guitar), Todd Anderson (bass), Aaron O'Neill (drums), and Rainey - and their lulling but twisted pop convulsions. Their music is infinitely repeatable, relatable, and tbh idk could be one of the year's best kept secrets; twenty five minutes heavy on swooning bliss. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
THANKS FOR COMING | "Sspplliitt"
Yellow K Records
Like a true bedroom pop auteur, Thanks For Coming is prolific. Rachel Brown's New York-via-Chicago project has over forty five releases in their Bandcamp catalog, ranging from sparse lo-fi solo EPs to fuzzy pop albums recorded with a rotating trio. With so much material it can be daunting just figuring out where to begin... until you hear Sspplliitt that is, an immediate pop masterpiece split (yup) between Thanks For Coming's New York line-up (featuring drummer Mike Kolb and bassist Charlie Dore-Young) and the band's Chicago line-up (Nate Amos on drums and Lindsey Sherman on bass), two exceptional rhythm sections that lends to Brown's jangly pop beauty. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
WALL | "Untitled"
Wharf Cat Records
They burned bright and fast, but New York City’s Wall left a mark. Their recorded output is one EP and one LP but they’ve left us with some impressive music. The leap from the EP to the full length was a big one. Short bursts of barely controlled fury, their brand of post-punk revivalism felt urgent, agitated, and ready to strike. The riffs were as angular as they come as they often say (whatever that actually means), the drums bombastic, the bass pulsing. One thing is for certain, the music was damn good and they will be missed. - Jonathan Bannister || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
WATER FROM YOUR EYES | "Long Days, No Dreams"
Water From Your Eyes work very quickly. This year the duo of Rachel Brown and Nate Amos released a full length album and two stunning EPs, and the have a new full length on the way for January. Each song offers a different side to the Water From Your Eyes puzzle, highlighting their creative spark and borderless exploration. The songs balance between slow drifting atmosphere of guitars and keys, a light fog filling the room with a warm glow, Rachel Brown's hauntingly beautiful voice, and nimble, hypnotic rhythms. Their post-punk qualities run wild with dance floor skronks with disorienting beeps and big distorted bass, painting a dangerous and sordid dystopia. Brown's voice is a stunning as ever, radiating against the backdrop with a fuzzy pop bliss, singing gently without a care as the ringing swirls, drops out, and swirls again around them. Water From Your Eyes are an undefinable project built on the mutual understanding of two great musicians, deeply in-tune, but willfully detached. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
AYE NAKO "Silver Haze" | BAD BREEDING "Divide" | BUILDINGS "You Are Not One Of Us" | C.H.E.W. "Strange New Universe" | COLD BEAT "Chaos By Invitation" | THE CRATERS "American English" | FAT SPIRIT "Nihilist Blues" | FEATURE "Banishing Ritual" | GOLDEN PELICANS "Disciples Of Blood" | GUIDED BY VOICES "August By Cake" | LASER BACKGROUND "Dark Nuclear Bogs" | LIQUIDS "26 Recordings" | LOOSE TOOTH "Big Day" | THE MAD DOCTORS "No Waves, Just Sharks" | MARK LANEGAN "Gargoyle" | ONEIDA "Live At Secret Project Robot" | PART CHIMP "IV" | SPOWDER "Health Palm" | WEED "Born Wrong Love" | XETAS "The Tower"
BIG FRENCH | "Stone Fish"
Wharf Cat Records
After a four year absence, Brooklyn's Big French have returned with their sophomore album, Stone Fish, a stunning new collection of the band's idiosyncratic lo-fi pop. The record pulls away from the chaos of Downtown Runnin' for a dreamier approach to their ramshackle psych pop, captured with the warmth of reel-to-reel tape. The band's combination of post-punk, bedroom pop, and discordant freak-folk swirls together with orchestrated clarity, a masterclass in nuance. The songs appear simple at first glance but are littered with ear-candy, piling on seemingly erratic sounds to gorgeous lo-fi songwriting and creating something undeniably interesting in the process. It's a record of increasingly valuable return, with each repeat listening offering a new understanding for the patient listener. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
BIG WALNUTS YONDER | "Big Walnuts Yonder"
Sargent House Records
Big Walnuts Yonder are here to give a big fuck you to the idea of the "supergroup". The term itself sets the stage for disappointment. Expectations to re-create the work of the members' individual project weighs heavy amid the forbidden tag, inviting a closed-mindedness when it comes to seeing just what a handful of exceptional musicians are capable of outside their better known bands. On Big Walnuts Yonder's long gestating debut album, the band shatter all preconceived notions, creating a magical collision of their individual contributions by functioning in experimental synchronicity. The renowned and impeccably diverse talents of Mike Watt (Minutemen), Nick Reinhardt (Tera Melos), Greg Saunier (Deerhoof), and Nels Cline (Wilco) work together to create something that is primarily unlike the work they're known for, blurring boundaries and pushing one another's creative impulses to create something loose, ill defined, and utterly astonishing. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
THE COATHANGERS | "Parasite"
Suicide Squeeze Records
When The Coathangers started a decade ago I'm not sure even they would have believed themselves to be one of this generation's best garage rock bands, but album after album and tour after non-stop tour they have pushed ever closer to that reality. Parasite, the LA via Atlanta band's latest EP may be brief, but it's another assuredly confident record that combines their penchant for garage scorn, fuzzy pop, and aggressively sweet melodies. The EP's five tracks highlight all that makes the band great from loose fuzzy soul to sneering punk with a charming and impeccable sense of humor while still addressing important social concerns. Oh, and "Captain's Dead" could have the most immediate hook you'll hear this year. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
GIRLPOOL | "Powerplant"
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 || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
GNARWHAL | "Crucial"
Gnarhwal are only two people, but you wouldn’t know that were it not for the photograph of a loving handshake/tummy pat donning the cover of 2015’s Shinerboy, the duo’s lovechild presumably baking in drummer Tyler Coburn’s oven at the time the photo was taken. This fact may become increasingly obvious over the course of the album’s thirty minutes of playful math rock, but the noisy din on Crucial suggests the pair may have multiplied in the interim. Coburn’s sticks sound like they’re hitting everywhere at once, while Chappy Hull’s guitar drowns out any trace of a potential bassist. Somewhere in the mix can be heard Hull’s vocals, a top-of-the-lungs plea to be heard over—and aptly matching—the arena-sized metal riffs sadistically confined to their garage aesthetic. Gnarwhal couldn’t fit anyone else in their band if they tried. - Mike LeSuer || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
GUERILLA TOSS | "GT Ultra"
Guerilla Toss returned with GT ULTRA, a brand new record that seems to come from the joys of lysergic acid, or so the album's artwork would have you believe. Trickling their way closer to their own manipulated disco sound, first single "The String Game" continued down the path started on Eraser Stargazer by staring directly into the pop void and remaining just strange enough to avoid any real contact. Guerilla Toss are a long way from their spastic experimental noise punk roots, but they haven't lost their knack for creating interesting music amid dynamic rhythms and thick unfiltered grooves. The band sound free in spirit and free of restrictions, moving in whatever freaky direction they please, proving their unpredictable sound offers just as much pop nuance as it does heady (and muscular) absurdist convulsions. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
OXBOW | "Thin Black Duke"
Hydra Head Records
Their first album in a decade, Oxbow offer up another strong set of hard, unclassifiable music. Confrontational in the way the album presents itself, this is music that could care less what you think. You’ll either engage with it or not. But for those who do, there is a lot to find worth the effort. Eugene S. Robinson uses his voice as a weapon, often forging it’s own path across the musical backing. Strings and brass make their way into the fray, guitarist Niko Wenner keeping the band just enough on course with their dense arrangements. An album that doesn’t come right out and state anything pointedly, (make what you will of the Bowie referencing title), it’s a band doing what they do very well leaving behind an album that is sure to keep those ensnared by it busy mining it’s depths till the next album, whenever it may arrive. - Jonathan Bannister || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
(SANDY) ALEX G | "Rocket"
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 || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
SHARKMUFFIN | "Tsuki"
Little Dickman Records
There were few releases in 2017 that were as unequivocally fun as Sharkmuffin's shout along punk bliss of a record, Tsuki. The Brooklyn trio's songs are short and immediate, free of pretension or posturing and built on good blistering rock 'n' roll. There's plenty of distortion, plenty of shouting, and plenty of deeply infectious hooks... oh, and shredding too. It's a powerhouse record that spits with a raw simplicity but sharp engaging songs. They are continuously getting better, one of Brooklyn's best up-and-coming rock bands. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
TAIWAN HOUSING PROJECT | "Veblen Death Mask"
Kill Rock Stars Records
Philadelphia's Taiwan Housing Project and their album Veblen Death Mask can instantly transform an otherwise shitty day into one of jittery excitement, an album primed on squalor and so vehemently raw it put a grin on my face. In the band's Ian Svenonious penned bio he says they began "as a experiment in perversity," an idea that may have been refined over the years but certainly doesn't wane. The band's intense love for no-wave, experimental noise punk, and caterwauling post-punk takes a familiar pop shape, but it's about as abrasive as "pop" gets. Taiwan Housing Project thrive at their filthiest, building atonal walls of brutal noise and punishing distortion, but they do it over a steady beat, a locked in groove, and generally common structures. This is experimental noise rock carrying the flag for the deranged upheaval of decency, but the band's focus remains rooted in songwriting, a truly damaged record of chaotic pop glory. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
CENDE "#1 Hit Single" | CROWN LARKS "Population" | DOUG TUTTLE "Peace Potato" | DUST FROM 1000 YRS "Dust 2017" | GREAT DECEIVERS "Some" | HOODED FANG "Dynasty House" | THE I.L.Y'S "Bodyguard" | J. ZUNZ "Silente" | MOUNTAIN MOVERS "Mountain Movers" | NOPES "Fun Limbo" | PALLAS "Pallas" | SPENCER RADCLIFFE & EVERYONE ELSE "Enjoy The Great Outdoors" | THANKS FOR COMING "Thanks For Having Me"
BIG THIEF | "Capacity"
Saddle Creek Records
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 || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
COOL GHOULS | "Gord's Horse"
Empty Cellar Records
San Francisco's Cool Ghouls have set themselves apart from the pack over the years, a band that can seemingly do it all from organic rock 'n' roll to fuzzy psych, garage punk, Americana, folk, and distorted lo-fi pop. The difference between them and their peers lies in the songwriting. There are a lot of folks that can shred through blistering psych pop, but there are far less who can write Nuggets style hits as consistently as Cool Ghouls. The band has consistently evolved since their first release, pushing new grounds with each album. Gord's Horse, a new tour only cassette (now available online), is true dusty Americana brilliance. Led with twangy acoustic guitars, tambourine shakes, and plenty of country fried reverb, it's Cool Ghouls at their finest, a record of easy riding outlaw ballads layered to harmonious bliss. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp
THE CRADLE | "Little Missionaries"
The Cradle's albums work in captured moments, creating the framework for an idea to be explored to it's fullest potential, then it's on to the next record and with it, the next sound. There's the manipulated electronic chaos of Endless Room For Error, the sun soaked dream pop bliss of The Layers of Honey, and the atmospheric experimentation of Temperate Lands, and those only scratch the surface of his output. Little Missionaries is a diverse affair, pairing together collaged sound, gentle folk, atonal noise, Eastern modalities, and peaceful dreamscapes, blurring them together and contorting their intentions. "Pure Manipulator," the album's first single is The Cradle at its most brilliant. The song's warm melody sounds something like an Irish folk song that originated in the Far East, both gentle and warm while relatively abrasive. Strings warble against busy acoustic guitars and a dense programmed rhythm to the effect of world's colliding. It's busy and relatively noisy, but the song (and album as a whole) has a comforting glow, a true radiance. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp
CRUMB | "Locket"
Citrus City Records
Crumb's mix of jazzy rhythms and stunning grooves is bright, unpredictable, and well developed. Quickly becoming one of the East Coast's more exciting new bands, the quartet released Locket, their sophomore EP. First single "Plants" picks up where last year's self-titled debut left off, sweeping together soul, jazz, psych pop, R&B, funk, and a hint of post-hardcore dexterity into something that's free and breezy, unfeathered by any genre limitations. As Crumb gently twist and turn their way from one movement to another, Lila Ramani’s gorgeous vocals keep a dreamy cool, blending whimsical lyrics of (literally) baked metaphors and indie-jazz fusion of the most beautiful variety. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
DOVE LADY | "One"
DZ Tapes + Inflated Records
One is a difficult record to talk about without talking about all of it, a testament to it's many brilliant twists and turns. The cavalcade of sonic brilliance never ends and it never sits still, as radiant in syrupy fuzz detachment ("Uplifting Song") and warped prog-tinged funk ("Ferbalicious"), as it is with dreary noise pop freak-outs ("What's Wrong Roberta?"). By the time "Boar Switch" digs into it's hypnotic clamor, anything and everything is possible, and Dove Lady continue to dive further into the unknown, bouncing between spastic riffs and disjointed rhythms, embracing all that came before and all that is still to come. Want to feel excited about music? Listen to Dove Lady. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
MILKED | "Death On Mars"
What started as an outlet for Kelly Johnson’s writings after the demise of Geronimo!, Milked has since become a beast of its very own. Songs like “White Punks” show Johnson’s knack for being sardonic while crafting earworms, setting the tone for Death On Mars, an album that trades exclusively in fuzzy riffs and subtly undercutting lyrics. It’s a record that shows Johnson’s skill as a songwriter, able to take a classic punk framework and make it feel fresh without having to deviate from the genre’s hallmarks. - David Anthony || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
PALEHOUND | "A Place I'll Always Go"
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 || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
PALM | "Shadow Expert"
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 Stanley. Shadow 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 || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
THE PEACERS | "Introducing The Crimsmen"
Drag City Records
Mike Donovan's post-Sic Alps band The Peacers have returned (and with a new "The" in their name). The band released their sophomore album, Introducing The Crimsmen, via Drag City, and the lead single "Jurgen's Layout" quickly promised this might be Donovan's best work yet. Still lo-fi and full of psych rock headiness, "Jurgen's Layout" brought an element of progressive rock into the fold, with jazzy drums that shuffle and pull the band's brand of chilled out psych folk into unpredictable waters. The record is stunning throughout, blending foggy Guided By Voices inspired lo-fi with unassuming anthems and swirling pop weirdness. "Dinner was a happening time" from "Staying Home" could be my favorite hook of the year. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp
RATBOYS | "GN"
The post-country partnership of Julia Steiner and Dave Sagan have completed an evolution from quiet bedroom duo into a full-fledged rock powerhouse. The promise of Ratboys’ earliest material and first LP AOID was tangible, but GN exceeds even the most optimistic expectations. Steiner’s natural sense of narrative shines as she spins tails of family history and traveling stories while Sagan, always an adept accompanist, delivers a monumental performance on lead guitar. Ratboys hones in on their bread and butter, combining midwestern emo and alternative country influence, but also move into more expansive sonic territories. The explorations on GN show a band that’s confident wherever their sound takes them, and Steiner’s lyrics and knack for finding poignancy in the smallest things roots Ratboys firmly. - Tim Crisp || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
TWO INCH ASTRONAUT | "Can You Please Not Help?"
Much has been made of Can You Please Not Help? being the cleanest and catchiest Two Inch Astronaut record to date. And while that’s certainly true, it undervalues what the band has been working toward for so long. These songs are perfectly streamlined, recalling bits of Ted Leo, Braid, and Jawbox—fitting, given that J. Robbins was at the helm for the recording. That said, it’s still distinctly a Two Inch Astronaut record. While there may be obvious touchstones, the record ultimately shows the band is capable of smoothing the edges without losing its inherent charms. - David Anthony || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
ULRIKA SPACEK | "Modern English Decoration"
Tough Love Records
I didn't know much about Ulrika Spacek before Modern English Decoration, the band's sophomore album, was released and to be honest I still don't, but the music really speaks for itself. Built on ultra-colorful guitar work, fuzzy textures, and intricate songwriting that twists and turns with natural depth, the record is lush, layered, and infinitely repeatable. The record's production is every bit as important as the music itself, capturing their ideas with gorgeous clarity even at their busiest most collage prone. Similar to Deerhunter at their best, Ulrika Spacek make guitar music that's explorative and exciting, pulling together distortion from every corner of their sound into blankets of permeating sonic wonder that leaves something to discover with every listen. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
ALL BOY/ALL GIRL "Troubleshooting" | ART SCHOOL JOCKS "Art School Jocks" | B BOYS "Dada" | CLASP "Clasp" | CREATUROS "Creaturos" | CRUEL SUMMER "Ivy" | ELDER "Reflections of a Floating World" | GLAND "Is A Conspiracy" | GRACE SINGS SLUDGE "Life With Dick" | INSTITUTE "Subordination" | LEXIE "Record Time!" | MARK CONE "Now Showing" | MILK "Horsetown Threshold" | RIPS "Rips" | ROYA "Roya" | SKYDADDY "Three Little Stinkers" | SPIT "Ego In Drag" | STAFFERS “Torn Between Two Loves” | SUSPIRIANS “Ti Bon Ange” | TURNIP KING “Drive 2 Meet U” | USA NAILS “Shame Spiral” | WICCANS “Sailing A Crazy Ship”
BORIS | "Dear"
Sargent House Records
The narrative surrounding Dear is that it shouldn’t exist. After a tour that saw the now legendary Japanese band playing the entirety of Pink in full, it seemed as if Boris was ready to hang it up. It’s easy to understand that impulse, as Boris has covered an impressive amount of ground over the past 20 years. But that tour revitalized the band, and Dear proves it. While it’s overly-simplistic to describe any Boris record as operating in a single mode, Dear leans on the band’s doom and drone compositions, building tracks that are massive in both ambition and scope. A track like “The Power” perfectly encapsulates what Boris is so good at, as guitars tear forward like chainsaws, leaving piercing walls of feedback in their wake. Dear shares a title with the band’s debut, and for good reason. While this isn’t a new sound for Boris per se, it does feel like a rebirth. Or at least a renewed commitment to a band that the world is better off for having. - David Anthony || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
COUCH SLUT | "Contempt"
Couch Slut, a band that definitively hails spine-crunching noise rock dripping with beauty and angst, doesn’t fail to hold emotionally draining truths in their latest LP, Contempt. There are a lot of bands that thrive on noise. Not only does noise rock become the facet of what “loudness” truly means, but also it’s a provocative attempt to uncover perhaps shaded truths and inner turmoil, pervasively screaming into your soul. The Brooklyn natives offer a beautiful attempt at those angst-ridden moments, covered by an increased tempo that builds and builds as the album progresses, telling a narrative that rises and falls ... The music doesn’t just speak, it tells, meticulously revealing a part of the whole that unveils the general vileness the album spits while beautifully measuring intensity and subtleness. - Abigail Miglorie || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
DAVID NANCE | "Negative Boogie"
Ba Da Bing Records
Omaha's David Nance is one of the underground's best, a legend in the making. With a restless approach to songwriting, Nance has been steadily churning out records for the past decade or so, a veteran of the cassette scene whose blistering rock stands somewhere between the garage punk of Jay Reatard, the fiery fury of David Yow, and the heart of Merle Haggard. With Negative Boogie, Nance delivers a soulful garage punk that writhes with wild Americana abandon and big rock 'n' roll splendor, blown out at all the right moments and a welcome introduction to anyone just discovering his music. Scraping like rusty chainsaws, Nance gets loud and weird as his hypnotic charge builds and builds throughout with working man passion. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
FLAGLAND | "Two Brothers And A Ghost"
The time has finally arrived. Flagland’s long awaited prog punk masterpiece Two Brothers and a Ghost was released this summer via the tragically defunct band’s own Bandcamp, a conceptual album that truly must be heard in full. Enormous in scope and unbelievable in visionary calamity, the album snakes around in every direction, jerking hard in opposite directions, blending warbly indie punk with grandiose prog and making it seem natural in a way that only Flagland could... freaked out and unsettled every step of the way. Album opener “The River” sets the tone early, pairing unpredictable shifts, propulsive rhythms, and virtuosic madness as Kerry Kallberg’s cautionary tale unfolds in the wake of the multi-movement storm. Hearing is believing and this one needs is worth all the time their swansong needs, so get those wallets out, you’ll be glad you did. Long live Flagland. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
HELVETIA | "Sun Chasers"
One of the greatest and most perpetually overlooked bands of our generation, Portland's Helvetia released Sun Chasers, their new beach towel accompanying EP. Forever led by the brilliant Jason Albertini (Duster/Built To Spill), his understanding of guitar tones, melody, and divergent structures are among the best there is. Sun Chasers is loose ramshackle pop, pulling infectious melodies from layers of passing sound: splashes of distorted guitar noise, handclaps to deride the rhythm, squiggly fuzz, and mellow psych that shines in the dimmest of lights. Helvetia punctuate their faded colors with warped production and mesmerizing pop values, reconfigured in the thick summer heat for the fever dream of a lifetime. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
JAPANESE BREAKFAST | "Soft Sounds From Another Planet"
Dead Oceans Records
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 || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
MELVINS | "A Walk With Love And Death"
Part of the joy that comes with being a Melvins fan is the idea that you never know what might come next. Following the announcement of A Walk With Love & Death, the band's first double album (including a complete film score) and guest appearances from members of the Pixies and That Dog, it would seem this album could be a more gentle Melvins affair, and given current bassist Steven McDonald's (Red Kross, OFF!) continued involvement and glam punk influences, the record is most certainly made in the name of "rock 'n' roll." It's an enormous record that brings the Melvins charm to a menacing classic rock territory, fusing their influences together with the sludgy riffs they've built their careers on. Buzz Osborne howls over a slinky rhythms, commanding the band's circus of heavy riffs and demented blues. It's a mixed affair with each of the members lending their hand at songwriting, but as always, it's the Melvins doing exactly what they want. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
NINE INCH NAILS | "Add Violence"
The Null Corporation
Nine Inch Nails continue to play with the format of how albums are released. Instead of releasing one full album, Add Violence is the second of 3 planned EPs, the album released in small, artisan, studio to earphone batches. Recalling all that has come before it, Add Violence ramps up the “what does it all mean” trickery that they’re known for. Add Violence is a moodier affair than Not the Actual Events. Still obsessed with the odd music makers that take up space in his studio, Trent Reznor looks in more than he has of late, the songs seem a little more autobiographical than they have since With Teeth. It’s an EP that pulses with ache, longing, and goodbye, ending in complete breakdown and decay. Apply that as you will. - Jonathan Bannister || LISTEN: Spotify
SABA LOU | "Planet Enigma"
Khannibalism Records/Ernest Jenning Record Co.
Saba Lou is a high school student who has been recording music since she was six years old. She also happens to be the daughter of garage soul legend King Khan, but don't let that distract you from her new record Planet Enigma, a gorgeous bedroom pop album with the finest of songwriting. Built on Lou's soulful yet somber harmonies, gentle acoustic guitars, and warm organs, it's simple and effective, a record as inviting as a lullaby with swirls of floating nuance and layers of vocal beauty and twee perfection. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
WEEPING ICON | "Eyeball Under"
Fire Talk/Kanine Records
Boasting one of the best band set-ups of 2017 - guitar, drums, vocals, bass, noise section - Weeping Icon drip melodic abrasion. This is psychedelic noise rock at its sonic best, and compounded with the group’s biting lyrics, Eyeball Under shows a band doing something new and saying something needed. The members of this band are outspoken on any number of social justice issues, and it carries into their music. Eyeball Under is not just an entertaining listen, but a prescient one, and perhaps the perfect soundtrack for flipping off any of Donald Trump’s real estate properties. - Jordan Reyes || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
BATPISS "Rest In Piss" | BUCK GOOTER "100 Bells" | THE COWBOY "The Cowboy Album" | DASHER "Sodium" | DOG "Trash Temple" | FLOWERS OF EVIL "City of Fear" | GRIM STREAKER "Girl Minority" | IMPALERS "Cellar Dweller" | SPODEE BOY "Red State" | TUNDRASTOMPER "O" | TUNIC "Boss" | TY SEGALL "Fried Shallots"
AMY O | "Elastic"
In a perfect world, Amy O's "Lavender Night" would be a smash hit. The type of song you can't escape. It has that kind of songwriting quality, from the melody to the unshakeable charm of just how direct it is. The hook is so immediate it's almost alarming. There's a thick syrupy harmony, a quick and simple beat, and a bridge that disorients everything for a brief moment... and it's all delivered in under two minutes with sweet sweet perfection. It's the type of song you just want to be friends with. We know a smash hit when we hear one, and the rest of the record is nearly as great, a well rounded pop album from start to finish. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
FUTURE OF THE LEFT | "Live At Highbury Garage"
For those of us living in United States, we don't get a lot of opportunities to see Future of the Left live anymore since the band's highly-productive independent era began, but their new live album, Live at Highbury Garage, is the next best thing. Capturing all the fury, sardonic charm, and piss and vinegar the band has built their reputation on, they blast through a career spanning setlist, including Travels With Myself And Another highlight "Arming Eritrea". The instantly explosive song opens with the corrosive guitar introduction before tearing itself apart at Falco's agitated howl, "C'mon Rick!" The band sounds tight and focused, diving into the blistering rhythmic stampedes, leaving room for Falco to go a bit nuts, the way we can only hope he might. From their the band rip into a sordidly charming set that further cements Falco and co. among the best. It's not easy to make a great live album, but this is a great live album. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp
ICE BALLOONS | "Fiesta"
Ice Balloons, the experimental noise rock project of TV on The Radio's Kyp Malone, members of Surfbort, Midnight Masses, and Samiam, released their freaked-out debut album Fiesta earlier this summer, an appropriately freaked-out good time. A brilliant blast of scuzz and sonic depravity, it's gloriously sleazy in its use of fuzz, electronic manipulation, and menacing howls, but it's still within the "pop" realm in structures, a band unafraid to push destruction to its breaking point but still punk in spirit. It's time to get weird and this is the soundtrack. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
OH SEES | "Orc"
Castle Face Records
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 || LISTEN: Spotify
OLD IRON | "Lupus Metallorum"
Good To Die Records
If you name your record Lupus Metallorum, it better be pretty damn menacing. Old Iron get that and they more than live up to their end of the deal on an album that lurches with doom and primal post-metal catastrophe. The Seattle trio drags their way through colossal sludge and apocalyptic grind as bellowing vocals and rusty guitars slowly blanket their sound in a fine filth. Welcoming the end of days with throat lacerating urgency and a crawling attack, Old Iron shift the tempo into a tornado of toppling drums and Sabbath doom, only to tread back into the molasses thick dissonance, like a good slow kick in the teeth. Quite possibly the year's best metal album. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE | "Villains"
Joshua Homme and company lean in all the way on being the last of a dying breed. They are one of the few remaining all times are good times, party till your dead, rock n roll bands. This time, the production is glossier but the riffs are still there, the twists and turns that make a song a Queens song is still there. It almost feels like a denial of the last album’s inward looking as the band just wants to soundtrack the best party you’ve ever attended. But, you can still feel the rot lurking underneath the sheen. Any party can quickly reach a point where it’s overstayed its welcome and as recent events have shown, the excess always gets to be too much and sooner or later it’s all gonna come crashing down. - Jonathan Bannister || LISTEN: Spotify
SPACE MOUNTAIN | "Supermundane"
Space Mountain's brand of fuzzy, pastoral indie folk projects the little things we do each day and the way we interact with the people we love onto flowers, trees, stars, or whatever is outside Cole Kinsler’s bedroom window. Much like those on his last album, the incredible Big Sky, the songs on the Supermundane have a naturalistic sense of space to them that complements Kinsler’s tender and personal lyrics. The result is music that is distinctly comforting and homey – it’s easy to get wrapped in the fleece blanket of Kinsler’s near-drawl and the well-worn lower three strings of his acoustic guitar. - Ethan Jaynes || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
TALL FRIEND | "Safely Nobody's"
A lot of life transpires in the 16 minutes that make up Tall Friend’s Safely Nobody’s. Charlie Pfaff’s compositions are frank processings of the traumatic relationships of their childhood, accompanied by economical arrangements from Pfaff and the masterfully resourceful Cale Cuellar and Jesse Paller. Tall Friend’s greatest strength may be their ability to create so much with so little. The songs on Safely Nobody’s have very little in the way of overdubs and Pfaff’s eye for detail allows them to communicate everything that needs to be said with a simple phrase. “My dad watches storms like he’s looking in the mirror” they say on “KB.” Everything you need to know is in that image. While Safely Nobody’s comes from the darkest of places, light shines into closing track “Small Space” where Pfaff sings “photosynthesize: take the harsh light and turn it into energy.” - Tim Crisp || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
TERA MELOS | "Trash Generator"
Sargent House Records
For a band that’s never truly fit in with any one scene, Trash Generator might be the most freewheeling work in Tera Melos’ discography. Here, the trio is not content to simplify its approach, instead opting to create songs that dart across genre lines with seemingly no regard for such things. The album’s title track, as well as “Warpless Run,” are basically the band’s mathy take on hardcore, whereas “Don’t Say I Know” borders on a crossover pop-rock anthem. It’s a thrilling listen, one that shows that Tera Melos is constantly pushing the bar a little higher simply by chasing whatever inspiration floats their way. - David Anthony || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
WIDOWSPEAK | "Expect The Best"
Captured Tracks Records
The always beautiful, always haunting, and perpetually wonderful Widowspeak are back with a new record called, Expect The Best, so naturally we're our expectations were high. The first single "Dog" is everything we know and love from the duo, blending together atmospheric haze, twangy acoustics, and most importantly Molly Hamilton's undeniably beautiful voice. Adding in texture as the song unfolds, it's quintessential Widowspeak, drifting in all the right directions with layered nuance and gorgeous affect. "When I Tried" however, is a busy song for the band, having spent most of their three albums with breezy atmospheres and minimal recordings. They sound enormous on "When I Tried," washing in psychedelic textures with Hamilton's stunning vocals. Effortlessly dreamy yet shimmering with swirling guitar effects, the song is the perfect contusion of anxious nerves and thick, distorted, abandon. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
AMANDA X "Giant" | CLUB NIGHT "Hell Ya" | COVE SAUCE "Cove Sauce" | DALE CROVER "The Fickle Finger of Fate" | DOWNTOWN BOYS "Cost of Living" | ELLEN & THE DEGENERATES "Herb Alert" | GUIDED BY VOICES "How Do You Spell Heaven?" | KEEPER "Salting" | LIARS "TFCF" | MACULA DOG "Natural Dog" | MATT ROBIDOUX "Cracker Cuts" | PLAX "Clean Feeling" | RYAN WONG "More Milk" | THANKS FOR COMING "Missing Out" | WOOLEN MEN "Lucky Box"
ALVVAYS | "Antisocialites"
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 || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
DEERHOOF | "Mountain Moves"
Deerhoof and the collaborators on Mountain Moves (including Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier, Juana Molina, and Jenn Wasner) are a match made in experimental pop heaven. Full of funk, dreamy electronics, art-rock, and indie charm at its most groove indebted, the pioneers of expansive pop come together to give that turd in the White House a piece of their minds. Blending the best of both their worlds (Deerhoof's frantic post-punk and their collaborator's warm retro-futuristic pop), the songs calls out the cowardice of politicians and our troubling times. It's a blissful record thats both fun and thought provoking, the fusion of exceptional forces in the most natural of lights. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
DUDS | "Of A Nature Or Degree"
Castle Face Records
Duds' full-length debut, Of A Nature Or Degree, is jittery and expansive, a welcome sign of the jagged chaos they embrace. The Manchester quartet play post-punk in the vein of Wire and The Fire Engines, the type where every noise is intentional, and the whole thing is as biting as a shark attack. Of A Nature Or Degree is focused and sharpened, diving forward with sneering punk melodies built on a general disregard, galloping rhythms and caterwauling guitars; cutting between saxophone outbursts and dense skronks of distortion that materialize without warning. It sputters and darts in every direction, a release as "angular" as they come. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
FAITH HEALER | "Try ;-)"
Every moment on this record is accordingly effortless, breezily guided by a celestial pilot. It carries you through a romp of laid back grooves and loose guitar solos, pretty and playful melodic tapestries that once pulled back, reveal simple, unassailable rock and roll. Cool and casual street walks that lead to moments of angelic communion. Oscillating between sixties rock nostalgia and dream pop, Try ;-) shows the band breaking out from the boundaries of psych pop that it found itself in on previous efforts ... This is an album of emotional and conceptual extremes. There’s the pedestrian and the celestial, the new and the nostalgic, and the electronic and the analog. There’s detachment and sincerity, laughing and crying. - Jackson Martel || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
IDYLLS | "The Barn"
Holy Roar Records
There was no noise album more relentless and deranged this year than IDYLLS' pummeling third full-length, The Barn. Following 2014's thrashing metalcore perfection on Prayer For Terrene, the Brisbane natives took time to redefine their sound, coming back seemingly possessed by David Yow with a thudding and demented lust for dense noise. This record is mean, it's gnashing its teeth while foaming at the mouth, an abrasive plunge into the depths of punk at it's heaviest and sludgiest. There are distorted saxophones, crushing low end, and enough venom in the vocal performance to leave you physically shaken, and it's glorious. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
LINA TULLGREN | "Won"
Captured Tracks Records
After last year’s debut EP, Wishlist, with its lo-fi basement treatment of songs, it’s expected that a full LP would show musical and production change. Captured Tracks historically finds some of the best indie artists, and Won deserves to be in that crowd. It has the rhythmic savvy of each song using similar instruments yet sounding so different. The instrumentation is sparse, consisting of heavy synths, drums, guitar, with a few extras here and there. And yet, its scant resources are what causes re-listening. Instead of overdoing it musically, Lina Tullgren crafts imaginative rifts and melodies on a few instruments. As she said in an interview with Atwood Magazine, “The full band intention was always there from the minute I started the project.” She knows her limits and crafts beautiful songs within them. - Nick McGuire || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
LOMELDA | "Thx"
Double Double Whammy Records
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 || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
MANEKA | "Is You Is"
The excitement of hearing something genuinely original is one of the things that keeps me interested in music. Not knowing anything about a band before giving them a listen is a tiny adventure, but when it pays off it does so in a big way. I knew Maneka was the project of Devin McKnight from Grass is Green and Speedy Ortiz, but I had no idea what to expect. I’m kind of glad too because it made it even more mind-blowing. “Soft Serve (feat. Katie Capri),” the first track off Is You Is, starts very quickly and aggressively and then briefly shifts in tone and then shifts again as the guitar comes in more powerfully. What is immediately noticeable is the vocal approach. McKnight’s vocals vary between speaking (similar to a hip-hop approach) and melodic singing. This creates a truly unique first track and should certainly make a lot of people want to check out the rest of the album. - Sean Deveney || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
PARDONER | "Uncontrollable Salvation"
As far as Post-Trash is concerned, Pardoner are one of the Bay Area's, hell... the West Coast's best new bands. After a string of exceptional EPs, including last year's Gravedigger on Smoking Room Tapes, the band joined the venerable Father/Daughter Records for their full length debut, Uncontrollable Salvation. Built on influences that range from Polvo and Sonic Youth to The Wipers and Unwound, Pardoner hit all the sweet spots of corrosive slacker punk, noise splattered indie rock, and twitchy post-punk with a disengaged approach to their brilliant squalor. "Blue Hell" is a perfect introduction, a song that sounds both cavernous and unraveled, burying dense melodies in sludge and the sweetest of feedback. Pardoner could just be your new favorite band if you let them. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
PROTOMARTYR | "Relatives In Decent"
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 || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
SHILPA RAY | "Door Girl"
Northern Spy Records
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 || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
SHIMMER | "Shimmer"
Drop Medium Recording Technologies
Shimmer is the "supergroup" the world has been waiting for. Comprised of Ani Ivry-Block and Nina Ryser (Palberta), Paco Cathcart (The Cradle), and Simon Hanes (Tredici Bacci), the band's sludgy post-punk is both unique and refreshing. One of the most exciting live bands I've seen in recent memory, Shimmer released their self-titled album via Drop Medium Records, a vicious record of systematically ugly noise rock blended with sharp, jagged post-punk in the most perfectly abrasive ways. Lead single "High Gloss" is a fitting introduction with it's rough darting rhythm swinging for the fences, a punchy song wrapped around their rough and heavy sludge. The detached pummel is balanced by Ivry-Block's hoarsely croaked melodies and wild yelps. Sounding something like the Melvins meets Kleenex, it's just about perfect. Shout-a-long everyone, Shimmer are your new favorite band. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp
STRANGE RELATIONS | "Editorial You"
Tiny Engines Records
The duo of Casey Sowa (drums/vocals) and Maro Helgeson (bass/synth), better known as Strange Relations' sophomore album is as infectious as they come. Blending simple post-punk structures with glistening pop and a mechanical sort of psych-tinged indie. It's minimal, but the duo are able to work together into a frenzy, blending polyrhythmic drums with single note bleeps and whirring chords. Sowa's vocal melodies are sweet as candy, but her lyrics are pointed and often vulnerable, adding a beating heart to their cold grooves and tightly wound constructs. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
WASHER | "All Aboard"
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 || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
BIG FRED "Oh Hi Hello" | CHAIN & THE GANG "Experimental Music" | C.H.E.W. "Split 7" with Rash" | DARTO "Human Giving" | DEAD RIDER "Crew Licks" | THE EFFECTS "Eyes To The Light" | FLORIST "If Blue Could Be Happiness" | L.A. WITCH "L.A. Witch" | MASTA KILLA "Loyalty Is Royalty" | METZ "Strange Peace" | OMNI "Multi-Task" | PRIMUS "The Desaturating Seven" | SLEEPIES "Melt To You" | SODIUM BEAST "Night Club Tonite" | STANLEY "Stanley" | TOADIES "The Lower Side Of Uptown" | UPPER WILDS "Guitar Module 2017" | YOUNG JESUS "Young Jesus"
ALL PIGS MUST DIE | "Hostage Animal"
Hostage Animal, All Pigs Must Die’s third LP, is probably one of the most pummeling albums of year. And this is no surprise, given the staggering line up of the band, which includes members of Bloodhorse (Matt Woods on bass, Adam Wentworth on guitar), Converge (Ben Koller on drums), and Hope Conspiracy (Kevin Backer on vocals). This album also marks the first appearance of guitarist Brian Izzi (Trap Them). An unrelenting intensity characterizes most of Hostage Animal, with frantic, crushing riffs and explosive drumming. But several songs offer a slight reprieve—e.g., ‘Slave Morality’ starts with a long, dark atmospheric intro, and the second half of ‘End Without End’ abruptly shifts to reverb-laden clean guitar, building to melodic yet heavy brooding guitar leads. The world is full of pain, anger, and violence, and this unfortunate reality is channeled through the brutal intensity of Hostage Animal—which should be played very, very loudly. - Ggregg Stull || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
ANTHONY FREMONT'S GARDEN SOLUTIONS | "Anthology"
Anthony Fremont’s Garden Solutions’ double-EP Anthology is one of the most exciting releases of the year in the realm of off-kilter, spazzy guitar rock. Those of us patiently waiting for another Grass is Green album will be momentarily appeased by the Anthology’s frantic dissonance, explosive dynamic shifts, and fleeting moments of melodic beauty. The band is a Chicago-based project lead by Marcus Drake (guitar/vocals), backed-up by several other vets of the Windy City music scene: Nnamdi Ogbonnaya (drums), Nate Amos (bass), and Seth Engel (guitar). The Anthology’s EPs (Anthony Fremont's Good Life and Anthony Fremont's American Dream) are both quasi-concept albums centered on the character Anthony Fremont, a six-year-old with supernatural abilities who uses Marcus Drake as a vehicle to create this strange, haunting collection of songs about the dark side of American culture. The Anthology’s artwork and packaging (two cassettes in a clamshell case) capture the nostalgia of an old Disney VHS while hinting at the nightmarish qualities of Anthony Fremont’s world. This is one of multiple excellent 2017 releases from Sooper Records, which has quickly become one of the best new labels for underground music, showcasing especially the many talents now active in the Chicago music scene. - Ggregg Stull || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
BIG HEET | "On A Wire"
Some bands can make agitated post-punk that darts around in a deranged brilliance. Some bands can make tangled post-hardcore that uses dynamics to build tension. Get you a band that can do both... Tallahassee's Big Heet. While the band's first single, "Flint" showed the band at embracing their more chaotic art-punk side, "Failure at Work" is equally effective as a slow burner, a raged dead-end job anthem that opens with a soft trickle of jazzy shuffles and dissonance before eventually shifting its way into a tightly wound groove of thick low-end and shimmering guitars. The band play it cool and casual as David Settle laments workplace woes, "could have been nothing, should have been nothing" and "the thought of dying here is ever present." The pent up anxiety comes to a head and the band's hardcore roots come exploding into glorious focus, eventually sliding right back into the tangled hypnosis. "Sometimes you're better off not even trying" and sometimes you are. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
BLACKLISTERS | "Dart"
Too Pure Singles Club
For those unfamiliar, Blacklisters are a rare mythological creature possessing the body of Converge and the head of an exasperated Mark E. Smith. Dart is the figurative calm before the literal storm the hybrid creature’s promised to deliver in 2018, though the clamorous quality of the three live studio recordings contained on the EP prove anything but serene. Continually building upon the momentum of their 2012 debut, the Leeds foursome has since led a renaissance in post-hardcore thought in their native UK to rival the chilly angst brewing in the Great White North, Dart’s raucous compositions solidifying their status as leaders of the pack. Bracing for every dissonant twang of the guitar and fretting the steady tectonic convulsion of percussion undoubtedly account for nine of 2017’s most blistering minutes. - Mike LeSuer || LISTEN: Bandcamp
DATE STUFF | "Date Stuff"
Formed while (you guessed it) dating and spending time together in the practice space, the pair have created a sound built on feeling and unpredictability; a budding blend of math rock shifts and dissonant twee pop. It's stunning and heartfelt but raw and technical. Date Stuff's self-titled EP is as radiant a debut as they come. Opening with the tangled swoon of "Crumb Kitchen" and "Salmon," Bernasconi and Black's chemistry is immediately apparent, connecting in circuitous patterns that only get more complex as they evolve. Bernasconi's gorgeous vocal melodies are the perfect balance to the plucky angles of their music, reigning in their mathy progressions with memorable hooks. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
FLAT WORMS | "Flat Worms"
Castle Face Records
Short, fast and loud has been done to death at this point but leave it to L.A.’s Flat Worms to inject their own infectious brand of manic psych-punk into the tried and true template. Burning through their ten-track debut at speeds deemed too unsafe by many, they laid down some of the best fuzzy scuzz-rock in recent years. Their music embodies the same fast-paced intensity of our rapidly changing society, yet they somehow exist outside of it all, creating their own world where energy is never depleted only repurposed and utilized for their own walloping sonic punk sorcery. Flat Worms are rock and roll renegades setting out to reinvent the formula and blast it to smithereens simultaneously all in roughly the span of a half hour. - Myles Dunhill || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
LONGFACE | "Hillbilly Wit"
Longface's music works on parallels. Hillbilly Wit, the Chicago quartet's full-length debut is the perfect title for a record with one foot in twangy post-hardcore and the other in brilliantly calculated noise pop. Every earnest hint of folk inspiration is matched with a jagged eruption of blistering force. This is one for the headphones, a masterclass in oddball dynamics and a character study of a complex mind. Longface have created a fearless record that has the intelligence of art-rock paired with a primal nature, a dissonant soul, and a jittery sense of aggression like the acid induced cowboy of it's cover art. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
MAUNO | "Tuning"
Idee Fixe Records
Tuning, the newest album from Nova Scotia’s Mauno, can be summed up in one word: dynamic. It’s full of wonderfully complex tunes that capture the feel of gray days in the north — it’s soft and mellow, but colored with life. Like their previous work, their songs have the light-hearted melodiousness of pop, but the edge and dissonance of an indie dreamscape that explores a full range of harmonies. Tuning is an interesting and exceptionally well-crafted album. It keeps me on my toes and explores an expansive range of sounds and harmonies. The riffs are simple and linger, the vocals are clean and crisp, the overdubs are intriguing but subtle. It’s like calling out at an empty lake and waiting for the echo to reverberate back to you — familiar and comfortable, but curious and ever-expanding. - Jasmine Bourgeois || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
MELKBELLY | "Nothing Valley"
Wax Nine Records
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 Valley marks 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 || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
NIGHT IDEA | "Riverless"
Gigantic Noise/Citrus City
From start to finish, Riverless, is a gorgeous record, captivating in its songwriting and delivery; a modern progressive rock classic. While some may cringe at the thought of "prog" in 2017, you'd be wrong, and Night Idea's latest album is all the proof needed, a record that is radiant with technical skill and complex structures, but is built on accessibility and pop nuance. Blending together psych, post-punk, art-pop, jazz, and elements of krautrock, it's the essence of progressive, a record that eschews common thought for something expansive and daring, contorting all we know into something unique. From the glowing polyrhythms of "Canopy" to the dizzying assault of "Arc" and the grand detachment of "Villainous," every element of Night Idea's brilliant record is perfectly crafted. One of the year's best kept secrets, Riverless is essential listening for all. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
TREADLES | "Bees Are Thieves Too"
New Orleans' Treadles make music for those gorgeous half conscious hours, the times when your mind wanders and the world feels temporarily at peace. What started as the solo project of Kara Stafford aka KC has evolved into a dynamic quartet, pushing ground between fragile bedroom pop bliss and explosive tangled post-hardcore. The band's "official" debut EP, Bees Are Thieves Too, is down right stunning, a display of pure emotion backed with tension and gracious release. The band's bio reads "no longer just a lump of coal" and they're not kidding, the full band orchestrations are warm and nuanced, layered and infectious. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
TWAIN | "Rare Feeling"
Keeled Scales Records
I came to Twain’s Rare Feeling late in the year, after hearing about them but not doing much about it. It was better this way: the band’s melodies and swinging vocals have populated my fall as a perfect antidote to waning vitamin D levels and the onset of seasonal dread. And, phew, I’m such a fan of the songwriting on this record. The opening track “Solar Pilgrim” is so good that I find myself using it as a motivational tool. “Finish this and then you can put it on,” are thoughts I have with some frequency. The song is a wide-eyed ode to an energy that resembles warm winter light. It’s a tone that flows through the record, and acts as a sustaining link the band leans on as they shift through the minutiae of genre and style. For Twain, the emotions behind this music are rampant, if at times bottled up. The stakes are high. A standout line from the album’s title track goes, “Take me whole or leave me alone; there’s no in between”, and it’s an appropriate ultimatum from which to approach a band yet to receive its proper due. Rare Feeling is a time capsule, a small pill containing the entire feeling world. - Quinn Myers || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
WEED HOUNDS | "Double Life"
Don Giovanni Records
The reclusive Weed Hounds remain one of this decade's best shoegaze bands (their full-length is a certified genre masterpiece), a Brooklyn based collective that roars back to life on Double Life, an all-too-brief EP, that captures the essence of pop under a blanket of distortion and layered guitar bliss. The always bright and stunning vocal melodies are able to glide just above the band's caterwauling swarm, bludgeoning listeners with perfectly executed guitar pedal destruction and sweetened pop hooks... the way only shoegaze at its finest can provide. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
ZULA | "6 Passes"
Forged Artifacts/Inflated Records
27 minutes is pretty long for an EP, but Zula’s never been one for short songs. 6 Passes—named this because it’s a six-song collection—follows the Brooklyn psychedelic groove band’s explorative sophomore LP Grasshopper, an immersive set of eight songs averaging five minutes in length but also including some seven-to-eight minute odysseys. Fans will be excited to learn that the EP continues where Grasshopper left off; listeners won’t be left wanting for songs that envelop the ears with string-thin guitar lines, the alternating murmur and clatter of drums, synths that roll like washing machines and drift like dandelions in the wind, pianos that bounce without slamming, and nasal vocals that Dave Longstreth might occasionally mistake for his own. Unchanged is that nagging amazement at how this band, vastly underrated in the broad scheme of recent years’ rock bands, can make a lengthy study feel like a brief scan; new is how grounded these songs feel. - Max Freedman || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
A. SAVAGE "Thawing Dawn" | ANNA MCCLELLAN "Bifocal" | BIG K.R.I.T. "4eva Is A Mighty Long Time" | BIRDS OF AVALON "Operator's Midnight" | CALGROVE "Wind Vane" | CCFX "CCFX" | COLD SWEATS "Real Low" | COURTNEY BARNETT & KURT VILE "Lotta Sea Lice" | DANIELE LUPPI & PARQUET COURTS "Milano" | DARK MTNS "Up Above This Cloud" | EXHALANTS "Democore" | FLIGHT HABIT "Glorified Hill Myna" | FLORAL PRINT "Mirror Stages" | HEADROOM "Head In The Clouds" | KRALLICE WITH DAVE EDWARDSON "Loüm" | LUGGAGE "Three" | LOW ESTATE "Convert Cult of Death" | MEYHEM LAUREN & DJ MUGGS "Gems From The Equinox" | NIXON MASK "BBQ Downer" | PRIMITIVE MAN "Caustic" | ROZ & THE RICE CAKES "Devotion" | SUN ORGAN "Your Doomed" | TWIN PONIES "Twin Ponies" | U-NIX "8 Songs" | VARIOUS ARTISTS "EIS: Live At Shea Stadium" | VINCENT VOCODER VOICE "I, Too, Was Wrought With Love" | WHELPWISHER "Notice To Airmen" | THE WORLD "First World Record" | WU-TANG CLAN "The Saga Continues"
NOVEMBER + DECEMBER:
BAD HISTORY MONTH | "Dead And Loving It: An Introductory Exploration of Pessimysticism"
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 || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
BEE BEE SEA | "Sonic Boomerang"
Dirty Water Records
It would be easy to mistake Italian fuzz punk trio Bee Bee Sea as a band from California. They share more than a few resemblances to the Castle Face Records roster, from Thee Oh Sees and White Fence to recent additions DUDS and Flat Worms, which is to say that Bee Bee Sea rip at pretty much all times. From a small town in the North of Italy, the trio are burning through vivid krautrock and psych punk at its finest. Shredding over dense motorik rhythms, Sonic Boomerang, is hypnotic and anxious, pulling you into its web with pop charm and dropping out into the wild. It's blisteringly odd and jarringly catchy, a blended puree of Devo, Can, and Oh Sees influence. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
BETHLEHEM STEEL | "Party Naked Forever"
Building on the promise of two strong showings in 2013 and 2015 with EP’s Grow Up and Docking, Brooklyn’s Bethlehem Steel deliver a rock-solid debut LP with Party Naked Forever. The record finds Rebecca Ryzkalczyk fully embracing her pop senses with ear candy jams like album opener “Alt Shells” and “Finger It Out,” though there is something deeply sinister underneath the hooks. “Are you prepared for all of the terrible things that will happen in your life?” she asks in between magnetic guitar lines. Party Naked Forever draws listeners in with its loud hooks, but it’s at its most powerful in the quiet moments. “Deep Back” is a gutting solo performance by Ryzkalczyk and on “Untitled Entitlement” she speaks directly and plainly on a lifetime of intimidation she’s felt as a woman. It’s an emphatic statement. Decades of rage overflowing and commanding attention. - Tim Crisp || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
BEVERLY TENDER | "What Have You Done To My Water?"
Expectations for their follow up were high, and well... Beverly Tender have came out swinging. What Have You Done To My Water? is something like "love at first listen." The band's warm and textured songs are tangled, bent, and contorted; pushed to their breaking point and then peeling just ever so slightly back, remaining grounded all the while. The band's honest thoughts and feelings are backed with pure emotional muscle and it's stunning in every regard. Lead single "Theme From Beverly Blender" is a glorious introduction, a track that bleeds together the band's noise pop, art-rock, and twee senses into an unpredictable swirl. The framework of the song erupts and sputters, expands and decays, but the hypnotic guitar line never falters; a nervous core for the duo to explore. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
BIRTHING HIPS | "Urge To Merge"
It's hard to believe this is the end for Birthing Hips. Urge To Merge is one of the best albums we've heard all year, a demented and depraved record of experimental post-punk and noise pop perfection. While last year's No Sorry was an exceptional debut, Urge To Merge's unpredictable blend of avant-garde and brilliantly damaged art-pop is stunning in execution. Unique and highly capable musicians, their sophomore record is manic and free, both more spastic and polished than it's predecessor. A timeless statement of structural freedom, incredible musicianship, and omnipresent personality. A grandiose collision of brilliantly freaked out pop and unadorned noise, they do it all simultaneously in a way all their own. Just as quickly as they teeter into radio friendly territory, they jerk right back out into a loose jazz break, spritely yelps, and some whistling... and things continue to devolve further from there. Shrieking groans, sinister carnival nightmare melodies, and wildly complex rhythms crash and fade, and somehow... just somehow... it all feels natural and maybe even accessible in the weirdest of ways. Birthing Hips forever. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
CONVERGE | "The Dusk In Us"
At this point, it’s genuinely difficult to fathom what a subpar Converge album might sound like. The poster-men for a quality New England metalcore thrashing, the four piece has been telling us about pain since before nu metal and rap rock made audiences wary of any deviation from uncontaminated, trve metal. The Dusk In Us provides the gut-punch melodies we’ve come to expect as heard in the jarring opener “A Single Tear” and the severe anxiety attack the group unleashed to announce the record, “I Can Tell You About Pain.” On the other end of the spectrum, the sludgy epic of a title track is a dramatic change of pace, vocalist Jacob Bannon gloomily selling youngsters on the idea of a better tomorrow (“so they say”). In a year full of albums concerning the dusk without us, Converge have given us a plank-from-your-own-eye take on the collective apocalyptic vision permeating the zeitgeist, a refreshing—though undeniably claustrophobic—interpretation of a false sense of innocence, and, most importantly, something incredibly decent to shout along to. - Mike LeSuer || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
EXPLODED VIEW | "Summer Came Early"
Sacred Bones Records
When Exploded View shared Summer Came Early's title track back in October we mentioned their debut, calling it "a darkened contusion of krautrock, no-wave, post-punk, and industrial, that sounded evolutionary, a skronky mix of impassioned howls and clamoring electronics". Upon our first taste of the new EP we said it "picks up from the band's experimental debut while shifting into a brighter, more digestible, direction" and that remains true throughout. Sounding like a detached and tripped out Cate Le Bon, Annika Henderson and co. sound incredible as they blend avant-garde compositions with deviant post-punk and a blanket of warm psychedelic atmosphere. An exceptionally full EP, Exploded View have once again created experimental magic that's infinitely listenable. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
FITS | "All Beliefs Are Paradise"
Fits' Nicholas Cummins can make a melody feel elastic. Their short bursts of power-pop are always expanding in new directions, far beyond initial impressions, just as one hook seems to be the focal point, another creeps in, eschewing common structures to present ideas in quick succession, void of repetition but complex and engaging while fully rooted in pop accessibility. "Hot Topic" is a prime example, a song that worms through shifting dynamics, with a melody that unfolds in a variety of ways, Cummins' guitar work threading it together with the greatest of ease. The entire record sucks you into their sugary sludge pop, ripping through a quick barrage of anthemic hook after hook. Album cut "Superdead" has been in my head since the release, and I hope it never leaves. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
GLASSJAW | "Material Control"
Glassjaw have returned. It's been fifteen years since the band released their last full length, Worship & Tribute, and it was beginning to seem as though we may never get another one. Following a few EPs and stand-alone singles over the past decade, the Long Island post-hardcore luminaries released Material Control, and the band sound as brutal and vibrant as ever. Sounding like classic Glassjaw (with a hint of Deftones influence), the songs dig in, grinding through detached distortion and a crushing low end churn, led by Daryl Palumbo's ever acrobatic vocals. It's a welcome and heavy return with the band in fine form. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Spotify
GUN OUTFIT | "Out Of Range"
Paradise of Bachelors
Welcome back to the dusty world of Gun Outfit with their lazy country-fried indie tales of life lived at a slower pace. They've done it again, and it's possible they've never sounded better. "Strange Insistence" moves at a quick tempo but with a relaxed drawl, it's an urgent song that still feels part of the greater drift. There's plenty of tension in Dylan Sharp's vocals, but Gun Outfit balance any harshness with twangy beauty, a rich tapestry of Western expanse and weary contemplative lyricism. Then there's "Sally Rose," a song that grooves with a motorik rhythm and a space-age sprawl. Just underneath the inescapable bass line, skin tight beat, and Carrie Keith's ultra-cool vocal melody lies a wavering guitar line that essentially solos from start to finish, using the steady rhythm to fly off the rails, dimmed just enough to never upset the song's hypnotic charms. Five albums in and Gun Outfit are still showing us new tricks and still making albums that feel instantly classic. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
LITTLEFOOT | "Lavender"
Littlefoot's upcoming Lavender EP is two divergent sounds fused together: the breezy charm of reverberating surf pop, and the floating atmospherics of dream pop. The flawless pairing of the two is light and fluid, blending tropical rhythms and plucked guitars with thick waves of echoed chords and Erica Sutherland's comforting vocal melodies. There's an Eastern influence to the surfy guitar progressions, eventually fading into swarms of uplifting synths, pairing together to remind you that the darkness won't last an eternity, things will get better. Lets hope so. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp
LUMPY & THE DUMPERS | "Those Pickled Fuckers"
Lumpy Records/La Vida Es Un Mus Discos
Yeah, Lumpy & The Dumpers have another great record - that’s obvious. It’s like wondering if the next line in a Dr. Seuss book is going to rhyme. Those Pickled Fuckers is a seven-song blast of the world's snottiest, least anatomically-constrained band. There’s a song called “Hair on the Inside,” and somehow, it’s even better than you might imagine. The record also features some great synthesizer parts, which fleshes out the Dumpers’ sounds and songs quite substantially. Banger. - Jordan Reyes || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
OPERATOR MUSIC BAND | "Coördination"
New Professor Music
The always dazzling Operator Music Band returned with a new EP, Coördination, their second release of 2017 (following Puzzlephonics I & II). Spoiler alert, they're still one of the best bands, continually pushing the boundaries of art-pop experimentation, dreamy psych and krautrock grooves. An upbeat motorik rhythm sets the pulse on lead single and album stand-out "Realistic Saturation," a crisp backbone that allows the band's synths and guitars freedom to explore, coming and going, layering and twisting together Dara Hirsch's vocal melodies, constantly shifting but tethered to the relentless beat. The EP finds the band testing their furthest reaches, opting further into funk and art-rock excess while keeping it steely and minimal. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
QUICKSAND | "Interiors"
New York post-hardcore legends Quicksand reunited a few years back and have been steadily playing shows with the promise of new music to come. This year it happened, the band released Interiors, their first new album in twenty two years. Not many bands can take an absence of that length and come back with something worthwhile, but not many bands are Quicksand. While it may at times sound closer to Walter Schreifels' other projects (namely Rival Schools), Interiors is a great listen, brute and intelligent, twisting with the same anguished progressions the band built their empire on. - Dan Goldin || LISTEN: Bandcamp | Spotify
ANGEL OLSEN "Phases" | ANTIPHONS "Fine" | BJÖRK "Utopia" | BLUSH "Blush" | COMPLAINER "Pure Vanilla" | THE COWBOYS "3rd LP" | DAMA SCOUT "Dama Scout EP" | DOVE LADY "E" | ELECTRIC WIZARD "Wizard Bloody Wizard" | HIGH PONY "Seen A Change" | KRALLICE "Go Be Forgotten" | PILE "Live At Third Man Records" | POPE "True Talent Champion" | POSSE "Horse Blanket" | PRETTIEST EYES "Pools" | SHYA "Big Car" | SHAMIR "Revelations" | TELEPATHIC "Self Checkout" | URANIUM CLUB "Live At Arci Taun" | VV TORSO "LPVV"