I am choosing to engage in sharing instead of screaming in despair.
ALBUMS & MIXTAPES
10. "Cavalcade" by Milo - For anyone who points to this being a "weak year" for rap, I try to point them to the the three releases Milo has put out. The two EPs "things that happen at day" and "things that happen at night" are interesting companion pieces, but Cavalcade is just straight devestating and singular in a way closer to his debut album "I wish my brother rob was here."
9. "Void" by (the motherfucking) Destruction Unit - Yep. I still tend to just put this album on repeat for hours at a time, and let it fill the rest of my life.
8. "In Dark Denim" by Antwon - Antwon is your master of ceremonies sort of MC. "In Dark Denim" is enormous and colorful, celebrating the joy and frustrations of margin life with big beat after big beat. We'll get back to Antwon.
7. "The Stand-In" by Caitlin Rose - Probably the purest "album" on my list, in that "The Stand-In" feels like a dozen pages in a growing, impressive songbook, which is everything it aspires to be.
6. "Summer Knights" by Joey Bada$$ - Milo's the heady sort of rapper, Antwon is the big party rapper, and Joey's right in between there. The difference between this tape and 1999 (aside from his voice breaking) is that the lyricism is now on the same level with his heavy swerving flow.
5. "I See Seaweed" by The Drones - These next two records go out to anyone who's still only about rock music in 2013, because I haven't seen either posted here. The Drones move in this epic, self-destructive blues sound, with some truly ingenious composition mixed in with a desperate lyricist and singer. All you really need to do is just hear the title track, and you'll understand.
4. "Silence Yourself" by Savages - This record's gotten a pretty good amount of press attention, so it's paradoxically one of the most well-known albums on my top ten. For good fuckin' reason, tho: Savages are the wide-eyed badasses rock's been pretending to be for years, from such an exacting angle it feels like they've been a part of the canon forever. More valuably, they're a prominent and loud voice emerging right as conversations about sexism have re-ignited throughout culture.
3. "DRKLNG" by Zebra Katz - I am trying to think of a way to pitch this album other than "it's what yeezus wants to be."
So the other rap I've mentioned has been about flow and lyrical skill and things like this. Zebra Katz instead trades in establishing atmosphere and aesthetic. Minimal, dark, lurid club/runway bangers. The difference is that Zebra Katz, who's come from the NYC Ballroom scene, weaves his way around the fucking embarrassing "tough guy" shit rap obsesses over, making a mockery of it with grace and a smirk.
2. "The Terror" by The Flaming Lips - This is my favorite album of the year so far, but not the best album of the year so far. I've never done more with a Flaming Lips record than "respect from afar," because their sound and outlook is, well, from an older generation than me. I'm a little under half Wayne Coyne's age. On "The Terror," Flaming Lips finally bridge the gap between their island and my life, like this- I was raised christian, and I'm not anymore. This album sounds like my fight with the existence of god. It's powered with the same words and hollow hope, teary eyes watching over the impossible beauty of everything I will never see again. It even ends with a frenzied gulp and an honest attempt to say "okay" and have that word sit in place of the walls torn down by the introspection. I could go on about this record for hours.
1. "Innocence is Kinky" by Jenny Hval - As mentioned, I think this is the unrivaled album of the year. I don't listen to it as much as the others, because it commands attention to make sense and I don't always have time for that. HOWEVER. What it gives back in return for attention is an album unlike anything else being made. Here, I'll just linkdump and let her explain.
On touring 2011's "Viscera" (basically folk music singing a body horror movie script) and her first sound installation work of 2012
Her second sound installation of 2012, which establishes major thematic pieces of the album
Reflecting on her installations and talking directly about the record
The full album on youtube
10. "The Sound Of Law" by Daughn Gibson - This is kind of the perfect transition piece from All Hell to this current moment: "Me Moan" is all together bigger, and so the first song/single is this enormous machine.
9. "Kingston" by Mesita - Mesita has been putting out a lot of wild electronic music this year, and I think Kingston is the strongest song from those. It's kind of insane that the guy behind my favorite guitar pop music last year has totally shed all of that and is still utterly brilliant.
8. "Dream House" by Deafheaven - For all of the black metal stuff that gets thrown onto Deafheaven, this song feels more to me like the middle ground between the giant krautrock phase of Boredoms and Converge.
7. "Electric" by The Men - I am kind of a fan of The Men, and Electric is pretty close to being the thesis of everything they're doing.
6. "Y I DO" by Zebra Katz - Zebra Katz taking three minutes to slay every hook rapper.
5. "Retrograde" by James Blake - This song was stuck in my head from February to June. I still slip into singing it every now and then, just to see what it sounds like in the room I'm in.
4. "post hoc ergo procter hoc (for Schopenhauer)" by Milo - 1) This fucking beat 2) Milo striking a perfect balance between his nerdy and philosophical sides 3) THIS FUCKING BEAT
3. "I See Seaweed" by The Drones - Like I said above, just check out this song if you want to know what this record is.
2. "3rd World Grrl" by Antwon - In the days of some wack ass love raps, 3rd World Grrl is the light in my sky breaking through the stormclouds. 2:25 of joy.
1. "Hair Receding" by Xenia Rubinos - Overdriven hypergorgeous titanic balladry. I want to open my mouth and have songs like this come out.