1.) Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked at Me
“Barely music” was what Phil Elverum said in a Pitchfork interview of the material found on his newest album under the Mount Eerie name, A Crow Looked at Me. While Elverum is known for crafting very melancholic, layered folk music, his newest album is possibly his most morose to date. The record’s lyrics concern Elverum’s late wife Geneviève, and often address her directly. Calling this record “barely music” may seem like a rather harsh example of self-criticism, it is rather apparent why Elverum says this.
A Crow Looked at Me places most of it’s emphasis on its lyrical content, often eschewing traditional song structures. These lyrics seem to be written as if Elverum had no concern for what his audience may think about them, instead looking to reach some kind of catharsis from his work. If you’re looking to listen to one man’s attempt to share his greatest pain on record, this album should not be missed, and it is a clear high watermark in Phil Elverum’s discography. Listen
2.) Blanck Mass - World Eater
World Eater is the latest record from Benjamin Power, a.k.a. Blanck Mass. Power is most known for being one half of the experimental electronic music duo F*ck Buttons, though this isn’t Power’s first solo release.
Until World Eater, I hadn’t been much more than a casual fan of Power’s solo work, despite being a pretty avid fan of his group’s work. However, this new album has certainly won me over by crafting very interesting takes on popular electronic music through an experimental lens. Tracks like “Rhesus Negative” and “Hive Mind” are long, odyssey-like tracks incorporating faint hints of drum and bass and hip hop instrumentals respectively, which combine with the industrial instrumentation to create an incredibly intriguing sound.
Industrial music is certainly one of the last genres I’d expect to ever receive mass appeal, but Blanck Mass’s World Eater certainly shows potential for this odd potential crossover. Listen
3.) Idles - Brutalism
A vast majority of modern post-punk music doesn’t have the immediate, visceral effects on me that the classics in the genre do. A lot of these newer releases simply take the core elements of what makes the genre what it is, but fail to go anywhere the genre hasn’t gone before.
However, the debut album of the UK band known as Idles reminds me of exactly why the genre has been revered for such a long time. On Brutalism, Idles distill the typical post-punk formula down to its most basic fundamentals and hone them to an incredible degree. The group also incorporates elements of noise rock and hardcore into their sound rather seamlessly.
The vocals of the band’s frontman Joe Talbot are also delightfully snarky and cutting, and are delivered in an off-kilter, unhinged vibrato very reminiscent of post-punk’s forbearers. This record is easily the best punk release of the year thus far, and shouldn’t be passed on by any fans of the genre. Listen
4.) Remo Drive - Greatest Hits
The DIY indie rock release has been a time honored tradition in the genre since its inception, and bands like Remo Drive show perfectly that this tradition hasn’t fallen out of favor in the underground
On their debut album Greatest Hits, this independent Minnesota band come through with one of the most immediate and lasting emo/indie/hardcore albums I’ve heard in years, perfectly capturing the essence of the various neuroses encountered by people living in this day and age.
The record is very bare bones in terms of fundamentals, pulling together a simple mix of drums, guitar, bass, and vocals with a distinct lo-fi crunch and endearing attention to detail. Fans of groups like Fall Out Boy, Weezer, and American Football should absolutely take notice, this record is a love letter to this sound on all accounts. Listen
5.) Your Old Droog - Packs
Your Old Droog’s Packs was a record I was hotly anticipating before its release. Droog is one of the most exciting rappers in the east coast scene, making a name for himself with his conceptual releases like 2015’s Kinison.
On Packs, Droog releases a solid, concise east coast hip hop record worthy of his name. Drawing heavily on the work of legends like Nas and MF DOOM, Droog pens a grimy, hard-nosed record packed with fun bars and hard-hitting production. This album is definitely one for the backpacker types, and Droog delivers bar after bar, and like on tracks like “Rapman,” pulls together rather unique song concepts.
This album is also chock full of features from other underrated MCs like Heems, Danny Brown, and Wiki. If this sounds at all like something you’re interested in, I promise you will not be disappointed. Listen