1. Doomtree All Hands
My favorite rap collection brings another great album together akin to their No Kings release. 10 years into their run as a eight-person posse, the group plays to their strengths with heavy synth beats that avoid common verse-chorus-repeat structure and with great verses delivered from the roster of eloquent and reference-heavy rappers: Sims, P.O.S., Dessa, Cecil Otter, and Mitch Mictlan (who had a great release from 2014, HELLA FRREAL).
Standout Track: “Grey Duck”
2. Sleater-Kinney No Cities to Love
Like many people my age, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Portlandia star Carrie Brownstein was actually in a 90’s all-female punk band. It makes all of their commentary eight times funnier in retrospection. The new album, and their first output in ten years, is powerful and punk to its core. The band feels fresh and the angst comes in a time where feminism has taken a front seat in our social psyche.
Standout Track: “Price Tag”
3. Panda Bear Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper
I think the reason I was pulled into Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion was because of Panda Bear’s vocal performance more than the group’s instrumentation. The synths are still present in the songs, but Panda Bear uses more straight forward and accessible means of musical communication, a far cry from the confusing Centipede HZ from a few years back.
Standout Track: “Boys Latin”
4. Siskiyou Nervous
Creepy music is usually far from my top favorite lists, but the way Siskiyou weaves the foreboding themes and tones into folky tunes is fun and memorable.
Standout Track “Bank Accounts and Dollar Bills”
5. Dawn Richard Blackheart
Dawn Richard’s Goldenheart record was on a handful of “Best of 2013” lists, but I never bothered to listen to what she was producing. Cut to 2015 and the sequel (I suppose) is out and carries lots of weight and sets her R&B sound apart from the more commercial, middle-of-the-road records in the same wheelhouse.
Standout Track: “Adderall/Solid (Outro)”
Music Video of the Month