Yes, I am a few weeks late. Technically a lot of companies give out their dividends after they have taken a chance to reflect, look back on the last quarter, and really give it a thorough review. I did that since the sheer number of surprises made me sort of spend time to really evaluate what captured my attention.
To start with the quote “classics” that would be two of the longest dormant projects in the list, specifically Gas and Slowdive. Gas has been dormant for quite a while, with Wolfgang Voigt devoting his time to a plethora of other activities and projects. Yet though those side projects have their obvious benefits, none of them truly capture the nearly palpable dreamscapes that populate his work as Gas. “Narkopop” is perhaps of the darkest entries in that fine line of releases, and there is something so luxurious about how it unfurls. Opting for a sunnier disposition is the similarly surreal work with Slowdive’s warm shoegaze. Though nowhere as sleepy as the other two groups, Fleet Foxes finally presented one of their wildest and most active albums with the playful “Crack Up”.
A lot of this list surprised me, hence the duration of time I spent reviewing it. Usually I listen to very mellow happy songs. Yet in this current climate, it seems that a lot of the bands opt for a particularly harsh approach. Out of all of them, Uniform come across as the most unrelentingly brutal, basically embracing that wall of sound approach. Easily my favorite titled album of the year has to be Gnod’s “Just Say No To The Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine”, with their song “Real Man” basically tearing apart the optimism of Television’s giddy tension of “Marquee Moon” and showing its ugly underbelly. Keeping with the extreme emphasis on rhythm is the blast of Cat Tatt’s hyper energetic “Litter”.
The darkness is not simply confined to bludgeoning the listener into submission. Aldous Harding’s masterful, haunting “Party” immediately grabbed my attention with its unassuming nature. One of my favorites of the year is the intimate “Capacity” which simply rules, full of life and documented to extreme perfection. Continuing with the storytelling ability, the rise and fall, is the tender “Goth” where Mountain Goats gives up the guitar for a fuller, richer (almost luxurious sound). It feels surprising considering my first introduction to his work was “All Hail West Texas”. He has come a long way while remaining undeniably heartfelt. Kendrick Lamar also belongs to this proud tradition, creating some of his most revealing pieces with “DAMN.” which may be the most fitting title he could’ve possibly given it.
I tend to be a pretty sunny person. Anybody who has met me can attest to this, which is why I have saved probably the few happy albums for the finale. Mac DeMarco continues his chill persona with a gradual shift to maturity with “This Old Dog”. Out of seemingly nowhere is the weird throwback to my childhood filled with late-night techno IMYRMIND’s “Uniwersum Luxus”. Charming in a strange mixture of retro electronics mixed with Penguin Café Orchestra’s otherworldliness is the gentle “Subtle Vertigo” which may be in the running for kindest thing I have heard all year. Finally, there is the rare example of an artist moving towards gentler pastures, at least rare for 2017: the increasingly more beautiful than noise of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s “On the Echoing Green”.
Of course, as this is only my list, I am sure there is a bunch of stuff I have missed. Also, some of these may not have been released in the last three months, but it does take me time to get to everything. I always finish things, just when is the main question.
- Gas – Narkopop
- Mac DeMarco – This Old Dog
- Cat Tatt – Litter
- Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
- Fleet Foxes – Crack Up
- Aldous Harding – Party
- Mountain Goats – Goth
- Big Thief – Capacity
- Scott Gilmore – Subtle Vertigo
- Uniform – Wake in Fright
- Slowdive – Slowdive
- Gnod – Just Say No To The Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine
- IMYRMIND – Uniwersum Luxus
- Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – On the Echoing Green