At the end of every month, I will be ranking my favorite albums of the year. It will be a running list, so you may see some repeats from albums good enough in my book to withstand the onslaught of new releases every Friday and remain ranked. Here we go!
1. Fischerspooner: Sir
If you’ve been following the career trajectory of Fischerspooner over the last few decades, then Sir either comes as a total surprise in its very existence after nine years between albums or an expected direction in its content. I listened to this nonstop for an entire day when it first dropped, and when I wasn’t listening to it I was looking forward to the next time I could listen to it again. It’s sexy. It’s reflective. It’s fun. It’s being all music can be in 2018. Serving as a memoir of sorts for the electro-clash party monsters of Fischerspooner, its dark dissonant moodiness mixes with expert storytelling over deep, experienced synth paving the way for a lyrical confessional of the last 20 hedonistic years. Feels like a cleansing experience for the iconic duo and a peek behind the curtains for fans. If you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall in NYC’s music/fashion/art/party scene, Sir provides a glimpse into the toll it takes on its participants. Fun fact: when re-listening for my favorite standout track, I ended up listening to the whole damn album again. Feeling this. Feeling this so hard…
2. Evidence: Weather or Not
You’d be hard-pressed to find an album this year with as much gutsy introspection and smash-ya-shit-open production combining forces as Evidence’s Weather or Not. Precise rhymes over technically proficient beats straight outta the best place in the world, Venice Beach, California, Weather or Not is fifty-five minutes of hip hop perfection. It’s almost impossible to mention Evidence without evoking thoughts of his alma-mater Dilated Peoples, but he goes beyond simply separating his sound from the one they made famous in the 2000s; he carves hieroglyphics in the walls of modern hip hop supremacy. Even as a January release, I would be surprised if this falls out of my top 2 this year. I would not be surprised if it claimed the number one spot at some point.
3. MGMT: Little Dark Age
The title serves as an intelligent commentary on today’s overconsumption of and addiction to technology and, more specifically as stated on Daft Punky-reggae-infused Tslamp (Time Spent Looking at My Phone), our phones. The fact that they throw the word little in there to playfully downplay a Dark Age incorporates MGMT’s signature sarcasm and self-awareness. We don’t have to get into the band’s contractual obligations of the past or their lack of creative control from their record company on their previous album or the utter genius of their debut Oracular Spectacular or the polarizing among fans that resulted from 2010’s Congratulations. Let’s just bask in the psychedelic ‘80s glow of Little Dark Age and the intellectual awakening it should incite…
4. Black Panther The Album Music From and Inspired By
Kendrick Lamar has produced a collection of today’s hottest artists in music for an accompanying album to today’s hottest film but still manages to steal the show whenever he blesses the project with his own verses. No surprise when Kendrick is involved, but when you look at the lineup (SZA, Anderson .Paak, The Weeknd, Vince Staples, Future, Khalid, Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q, freakin’ 2 Chainz(!), Zacari, etc.), that’s some type of accomplishment. Picking a favorite track off this one is like picking a favorite child, but these are the three I’m feeling the most as I write this for y’all. Ab-Soul: “He’s trying to channel balance but never found the remote.” “It’s warfare. Is war fair? Nope.” Whoa. Seamlessly blending genres and seemingly bleeding the same blood cut from the film, the raw power of Black Panther: The Album is a celebration, a triumph, a timeless capsule from a golden age of victory.
5. Tune-Yards: i can feel you creep into my private life
Imagine Jamiroquai getting introduced to Nina Simone by Abbi and Ilana and them later that day creating liveliness and scathing sociopolitical commentary together. Coast to Coast bangs. The beat on ABC 123 deserves a stronger accompanying chorus, but I’m feeling Honesty. Strong lyrical content throughout this entire joint, and I can see this being a shitload of fun live. Everything about Colonizer is spot. the. fuck. on. Look at Your Hands bringing that freestyle flavor back with a little splash of Afrika Bambaata’s Planet Rock for the new century. Hell yea. Electro-art-pop goodness to the highest degree, Merrill Garbus and Co. do not hold anything back on i can feel you creep into my private life. Can we talk about how great that title is and how well it represents the times, by the way?
islandman: Rest in Space
N.E.R.D. No One Ever Really Dies
Nils Frahm: All Melody
Meet me here next month for another installment of my rankings to see who stays, who goes, and who knows? If I missed a bunch of rad shit, drop me a line and I’ll give it a listen, because there’s nothing I love more than sharing music…