DJ Picks:

open mike eagle – brick body kids still daydream – mello music group

Mike’s new album is understated, contemplative, progressive, and beautiful. It manages to be comforting, while sounding like nothing you’ve heard before. It is an ode to housing projects, Chicago, childhood, the black American experience, and carrying on in the face of Trumpism. – GeorgeB

the charlatans – different days – bmg

Bouncy indie evoking some of their best work since creative high-point “Tellin’ Stories” (1997) interwoven with ambitious, thoroughly enjoyable, new stuff featuring the likes of Paul Weller, Johnny Marr, and even author Ian Rankin(!) – SteveB

dan salvato – doki doki literature club ost – s/r

A dating sim/visual novel soundtrack. Simple and sweet tunes. You hear a few primary musical themes with character-specific variations. The differences give a powerful emotional effect within the game, and the music stays evocative and memorable on its own. – GennadyG

japanese breakfast – soft sounds from another planet – dead oceans

Last year’s “Psychopomp” could have either gone down as the first, and perhaps the best, in a career of pretty good albums, or a showcase of potential which would later be fulfilled with with truly fantastic albums. Thank God it was the latter. “SSfAP” is weird and familiar in just the right ways, using great canvases of melody to seduce and entrance you while sudden bursts of emotion jump out. It works a great ebb and flow, highlighting especially energetic songs (“Machinist,” “12 Steps”) as well as the gradual buildup of slow-burn heart-breakers (“Boyish,” “This House”). The topics of relationships and empowerment it tackles are not so much solved or commented on as remembered with a hazy sadness and confusion, giving the album a great humanity which I felt stronger than in any other album this year. – GabrielT

yung lean – stranger – year0001

Yung Lean is an Swedish rapper who has been influential to the cloud rap genre. Stranger brings dark, ethereal, and melodic production with Leandoer’s autotune heavy vocals infused into the instrumentals. Leandoer’s hooks are catchy, and the spacey production is beautiful. I recommend listening to this album, not for the lyrics or the meaning, but to enjoy the rich sounds and its aesthetics. – ShotaroA

mashrou’ leila – ibn el leil (deluxe edition) – shoop! shoop! records

Ok, so technically this album came out in 2015, but I didn’t discover it until now, and this year’s deluxe re-issue has some stellar new content. Mashrou’ Leila are a Lebanese rock band who emerged out of post-war Beirut—a city marred by war but humming with intellectual vitality and a vibrant night life. On this album their sound evolves into dark synth textures, silky string arrangements, and infectious dance grooves. In both wispy falsetto and powerful roar, vocalist Hamed Sinno rails against corruption, gun violence, and restrictive gender norms. This year’s new single “Roman” is both a club banger and a feminist anthem. – BenJ

dollie barnes – caught in a phase – s/r

Backed by a cast of all-star Houston musicians, Haley Barnes delivers one of this year’s best local releases. -Tex

el lago – colors – miss champagne

I saw this Galveston band open for Laetitia Sadier, and they blew me away – they’re a classic-sounding shoegaze band, but fronted by a woman whose voice often brings to mind Kate Bush. What’s not to love? – MikeH

moses sumney – aromanticism – jagjaguwar

It is tempting to praise individual aspects of Aromanticism. After all, Moses Sumney can incite full-body shivers with his voice alone. But really, the Los Angeles musician’s nearly-perfect debut works as a comprehensive statement on the experience of lovelessness in a society that tells us that the highest form of meaning and purpose comes from romantic relationships, the experience of seeing through the bullshit but feeling the longing nonetheless. It’s an album that suspends you in emotional spaces that invite both introspection and social criticism. By the way, there are a ton of outstanding guests and collaborators here, including Thundercat, master arranger Rob Moose, and Son Lux drummer Ian Chang. – EthanH

sam turner and the cactus cats – wanna be your man – roofus & friends

Part country crooner, part 50s rock n’ roll, this local band’s debut album showcases young talent with an old-fashioned flair. Songs on “Wanna Be Your Man” are filled with the most vicious emotion of them all: unrequited love. – NicoleB

sampha – process – young turks

I really enjoyed listening to this album. It has so many emotions and surprises rolled in. If you haven’t listened I highly recommend you do! – ArlenS

sufjan stevens, nico muhly, bryce dessner, james mcalister – planetarium – 4ad

The most awesome thing since The Planets by Holst. – AndyM

ariel pink – dedicated to bobby jameson – mexican summer

Beautiful nostalgic pop from one of LA’s most prolific weirdos. -JacqueiC

ununinform – tricky – false idols

“Ununinform” is one of the most under appreciated albums of the year. Tricky dives deeper than ever in exploring what truly is important in life. Especially on tracks “Blood of My Blood” and “New Stole”. For those looking for reflection and introspection on this year and beyond, give this a spin. Nurse’s orders. – StevenP

neo wax bloom – iglooghost – brainfeeder

A very colorful and mind blowing electronic record that overstimulates the ears. Frenzied, kaleidoscopic, and very well detailed soundtrack to these unique worlds Iglooghost himself has created a backstory for. According to him, this album “follows the events surrounding two giant eyeballs crashing into the mysterious world of Mamu” and how it disrupts the lives of the creatures living in this realm. Purely insane shit. Check it out. – ArmandG

Top of the Charts

Here are the albums that led our weekly charts in 2017. Shout out to Shabazz Palaces, whose double LP topped our airways for nine straight weeks.

  1. shabazz palaces – quazarz vs the jealous machines – sub pop
  2. night drive – s/t – roll call
  3. slowdive – s/t – dead oceans
  4. king krule – the ooz – true panther
  5. kishi bashi – sonderlust – joyful noise
  6. saba – bucket list project – saba pivot, llc
  7. lady wray – queen alone – big crown
  8. bonobo – migration – ninja tune
  9. laurel canyon animal company – songs to make dogs happy – s/r
  10. a tribe called quest – we got it from here… thank you 4 your service – epic records
  11. sylvan esso – what now – loma vista
  12. grieves – running wild – rhymesayers
  13. warpaint – heads up – rough trade
  14. jambinai – hermitage – bella union
  15. the olympians – s/t – daptone
  16. jacuzzi boys – ping pong – mag mag
  17. thundercat – drunk – brainfeeder
  18. tuxedo – tuxedo ii – stones throw
  19. future islands – the far field – 4ad
  20. washington, kamasi – harmony of difference – young turks
  21. torres – three futures – 4ad