NoParticularOrder: 25 Albums to Check Out – 2015 mid-year

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Crosss – LO

Epic, metal infused, psychedelic laden grunge. Crosss hails from Toronto, so much for the overly nice Canadians but seriously….. Cross embraces the more intricate realms of a mostly meat-heady genre that typically either sways too far grunge or towards the speed oriented technical side – they make it palatable and keep it interesting with solid song writing and understandable vocals.

Notables: “Interlocutor,” “My Body,” and “Mind”

Tobias Jesso - Goon
Tobias Jesso Jr. – Goon

Ballad heavy piano tracks mostly about love – highly derivative Randy Newman, but not in a negative way. Goon  is an insanely mature album for someone this early in their career.

Notables: “How Could You Babe?,” “Without You,” “Crocodile Tears,” and “Can We Still Be Friends?”

Villages - Procession Acts
Villages – Procession Acts

Procession Acts offers continual rewards upon repeat listens and the album easily invites returning to it. This is not difficult ambient music, and truly shines because of its accessible nature. With Procession Acts, Villages show how a talented musician with a clear vision can create beautiful, engaging ambient music. This is the kind of album that gets listeners interested in ambient music.

Notables: The whole shebang

Ava Luna - Infinite House
Ava Luna – Infinite House

Ava Luna’s newest long player, Infinite House, is a diverse and densely packed affair. The opening track, “Company”, is a knuckleball of a song. After starting with a groove that could be right at home on any Stereolab record, it suddenly switches into a noise rock rave-up with weird harmonies circling around a strained refrain of, “Do you appreciate my company?!”

Notables: “Steve Polyester,” “Roses and Cherries,” and “Billz”

Speedy Ortiz - Foil Deer
Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer

 

As a follow up to Major Arcana, Speedy doesn’t necessarily advance as they improved on previous ideas. Foil Deer is pleasantly all-over-the-place and hard to pin down. As they continue to bridge the gap between their punk-like roots and the harder edge of early 2000’s alternative Speedy Ortiz shows us that diversity is fun.

Notables: “Raising the Skate” and “Puffer”

Title Fight - Hyperview
Title Fight – Hyperview

Notables: “Chlorine” and “Rose of Sharon”

Sharon Van Etten - I Dont Want To Let You Down
Sharon Van Etten – I Don’t Want to Let You Down

Notables: “I Don’t Want to Let You Down” and “Pay My Debts”

 

Mainstream Releases:

 

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

Rarely does conscious theme, creativity, and relevance come in such an accessible package but that’s the hallmark of a great album.Butterfly’s delivery incorporates 90’s hip/hop production, beat poetry, and deliberate forms of funk, especially on the Sounwave produced “King Kunta,” with the west coast feel being rounded out on “These Walls.” The immaculate production is curated by notable acts Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Pharrell, Sounwave, and there is even a sample appearance by indie-folkster Sufjan Stevens.

Notables: “King Kunta,” “Institutionalized,” “Wesley’s Theory,” and “These Walls”

Albama Shakes - Sound _ Color
Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color

Alabama Shakes have heavily transcended their past works by piecing America’s love for nostalgic Rock n Roll with modern themes.

Notables: “Sound and Color,” “I Don’t Wanna Fight,” “Dunes,” and “Gimme All Your Love.”

Sufjan Stevens - Carrie _ Lowell
Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

The album isn’t necessarily anything new, but then again, it is. However, if you’re expecting Sufjan Stevens to make a jump, to take that leap, across the chasm, to the other side of what he isn’t, you’ll be disappointed. But if you’re not one of these people, prepare yourself for wonder.

Notables: “Should’ve Known Better” and “Drawn to Blood”

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