Of course, Justin Vernon’s elastic howl will always be the catalyst that transforms Bon Iver from just another experimental indie rock project to a quasi-religious cult of emotion, but on i,i, he sounds like he’s simply flowing through a slipstream, his load lightened. Each song is named after a creative titan of color (Betty Davis, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Frida Kahlo, etc. –Jeremy D. Larson, The solitary piano chords that launch Clairo’s debut album sum up the emotional tone of everything to come. These 13 tracks formed a taut, swaggering tone studded with moments of menace. Best bit: When Vernon declares “Well, it’s all fine and we’re all fine anyway” in closing song RABi. With its queasy synths, snatches of stray trumpet, and gas mask imagery, “Jelmore” conjures a landscape from a not-too-distant future that’s been left desolate by climate change. Are you hearing these songs, or spying on them? Best bit: The bold takedown of the patriarchy in ‘The Man’. Of course, they sound goofy at first. Posty will laugh all the way to the bank. With this well-crafted homage, the 24-year-old edged himself closer to his idols. These are what Hval calls her “loops of the mind,” scattered here among voices that search for communion in an atmosphere of crisis. And so she puts her faith in trees, the ocean, her friends, and, finally, herself. Georgia Evans, NME said: “Lana Del Rey is large – she contains multitudes, and the way she balances and embodies them on her fifth album is nothing short of stunning.”. “Sh’diah”—which Vernon began writing the morning after the 2016 election, with a title that stands for “shittiest day in American history”—fights the ugliness of modern politics with an understated call for rationality. Climate change, washed-out love, existentialism and nostalgia for simpler times were some of the record’s resounding themes. For kids raised under the threat of mass extinction, of course a dead-eyed 17-year-old whispering about night terrors, benzos, suicide, and the climate crisis over a post-genre stew of trap beats, dubstep drops, and twee-ish bedroom pop would be hailed as a savior. The bright “Sell Out” contemplates her growth as an artist, the things she’s lost to get there, and the strength she found in turning her “emotions to something y’all could sing to.” Anger Management bursts open with the fury of a hardcore record, but it also shows there’s much more to Rico than her temper. Take that. If you’ve arrived at the end of the 2010s curious about what the next decade holds, Billie Eilish’s, ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’, might be the blueprint. Kind of loveable, kind of disappointing, ultimately very endearing. Years ago, the idea of Tyler making music this intimate and reflective seemed like a stretch, but on IGOR, he gives in to the grown-up uncertainty that eventually comes for us all. Sure, Radiohead’s “Idioteque” kind of banged, and the singer has been known to flail around to syncopated rhythms from time to time. Post Malone had a lot of feelings and famous friends and tried to figure it all out over some expensive beats. Zelig Recordings released King Princess's debut album Cheap Queen on October 25, 2019. Best moment: The album’s final surging crescendo on ‘Back In My Body’, when a wall of Rogers’ vocals swells then swoops out. Best bit: When Chatten bellowed, “My childhood was small, but I’m gonna be big” on ‘Big’, it sounded like a gargantuan mission statement. –Julianne Escobedo Shepherd. After Igor’s release, he tweeted that he’d recorded nine different versions of the bridge for ‘I THINK’ (a song that sounds like it was plucked from the mind of 1980s Quincy Jones), an indication of his commitment to this project. To see each voter’s ballot, skip ahead to page 6 of this feature. An hour of envelope-smashing improvisations, the record tilts on Revis’ rowdy “Dance of the Evil Toys” and Calderazzo’s stately “Conversation Among the Ruins,” while Marsalis’ “Life Filtering from the Water Flowers” battles through nearly 10 minutes of nose-diving improvisations and refined instrumental ballistics. Filled with vengeful lyrics and complemented by visuals filled with snakes, it was a gutsy record that took musical revenge on those that had wronged her. With ‘Dogrel’ the band also proved that they’re not just a band of five punks who shout a lot. You can hear its selflessness in the myriad tones, instruments, voices, and happy accidents that come and go, subverting ego while sidestepping excess. But Spawn isn’t a computer simulation made to appear human, like other recent CGI novelties. Thomas Smith, NME said: “A memorable and game-changing debut record, with Billie’s disruptive streak front and centre. From drowsy hip-hop to pitch-perfect pop, albums of all genres felt more profound than ever. And he had a new album called ‘IGOR’ – and what an album. When frontman Grian Chatten yelled “Dublin in the rain is mine” to open the album on ‘Big’, you were immediately thrust headfirst into the soggy backstreets of a city that had found its voice again, Chatten wonderfully narrating its ups and downs and twists and turns. Naughty Denzel. We’ll no doubt see the mainstream scrabbling to replicate it.”. But Remind Me Tomorrow cracks her style open like a geode: The roadhouse soul of “You Shadow” is halfway between Motown and Massive Attack; “Seventeen” arrives decades too late for the John Hughes closing credits it deserves; “Jupiter 4,” titled after a vintage Roland synthesizer, sounds like a gothic take on slowcore. Published since 1970, JazzTimes—“America’s Jazz Magazine”—provides comprehensive and in-depth coverage of the jazz scene. She is silly and silky and occasionally swaggering, not in spite of her tumultuous recent past but because of it. Grimes-featuring techno-pop (‘nihilist blues’) and mellow ambient (‘fresh bruises’) share the tracklist with a moving orchestral ballad (‘i don’t know what to say’) and gothic rock (the Danii Filth-assisted ‘Wonderful Life’). A queer singing cowboy who obscures his identity with a fringed leather face mask, it’d be easy to write Canadian singer-songwriter Peck off as a novelty were his music not so utterly sublime and delivered with such sincerity. In a nutshell: A break-up and its fallout, via the medium of wispy pop, It’s been a revelation watching Amber Bain step into the spotlight. The ever-restless pianist collaborates with bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade on a double-disc sequel to their 2013 triple-disc release. Even more than calling Her Majesty the C-word, slowthai’s mangling of the Queen’s English is his true feat of treason. JB, In a nutshell: Jim finds love in a hopeless place. As a whole, Utility is an expression of what techno can be when the most obvious percussive elements go away. It’s a moment representative of this warm, humble, and remarkably graceful album: a celebration of the act of creation that reaches its peak when there’s nothing left to say. Yet it was the perfect ‘Ladbroke Grove’, on which he paid homage to the garage sound he loved as a teenager, that proved AJ Tracey is legendary full-stop. Bucking the trend for metal bands of a certain vintage to “go pop”, soften or – heaven forbid – mature, Vampire Weekend, ‘Father of the Bride’ (Columbia), After a six-year hiatus – and now Ezra Koenig’s own ship to steer – New York ensemble. Best bit: When he steps away from the horror-core stylings of ‘Horror Flick’ to assure us that he’s a “cool guy” who’s “lovely with parents”. JazzTimes' critics choose the top 40 new albums and top 10 historical releases of the year. Big. HM, In a nutshell: Reactions to a fast life that arrived in real time. Every song on her brief, understated third album – which combined 1990s rave, ambient sounds and rattling post-punk – could thrive alone, but it was in context that they really flourished. Heavy-hitting themes such as male suicide, the plight of children in Gaza and the pressures of small-town frustration were all addressed on a debut that marked out Fender as one of the most distinctive songwriters of his generation. Her layers of guitars, synths, saxes, and more make Reward feel lavish but never overstuffed. Branford Marsalis Quartet The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul (OKeh) That some will talk … It was easy to sneer at Ye’s latest endeavour – a gospel-only collection renouncing his previous misgivings and reaffirming his commitment to his faith – but the much-delayed project was a surprisingly humbling listen. Warmed by humming amps and the presence of four bodies pressed in close, the album unspools as effortlessly as a campfire session—stray counterpoints, offhand vocal harmonies, tiny details dancing like shadows on the treeline. –Jillian Mapes, The magic of Christian Fennesz’s work comes in the way he turns the minimal into the maximal, expanding tiny moments into huge sonic environments. On the Bajan-British MC’s debut album, Nothing Great About Britain, he even tosses in a sample from an ancient doc about glue-sniffing—that proud, crusty pastime. CA, In a nutshell: The soundtrack to your 2019 pub brawl. The young New York City artist’s delivery is somewhere between talking and rapping, and the album’s production, composed of short loops of various dirgelike sounds, matches that intermediary state. Emily Alone is the kind of delicate album that doesn’t compete for your attention so much as it waits patiently for you to return to it. Apple Records made £50,244,899 over a year in 2019. –Evan Minsker, PUNK, the second album from Nagoya, Japan’s Chai, is as anthemic and glossy as it is insurgent. Often controversial, always entertaining, JazzTimes is a favorite of musicians and fans alike. JB, In a nutshell: The ultimate pop icon taps into the Latin pop zeitgeist. In a nutshell: Prodigious talent delivers game-changing debut. Brown knows what works and honors it here. Yet there was strength in her vulnerability, heightened by Jack Antonoff’s minimalist production and the fact that tracks such ‘hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but i have it’ featured only piano and her exposed vocals. Key track: ‘Can’t Believe the Way We Flow’, Best Moment: “Let’s go home and talk shit about everyone,” he suggests ‘Power On’. –Amy Phillips, © 2020 Condé Nast. Her most dramatic release yet, All Mirrors telegraphs to us in Andrew Lloyd Webber-sized gestures: When Olsen's voice ascends an octave on “Lark,” the accompanying drum resounds like a cannon aimed at a fortress, and the dive-bombing glissandos from the orchestra mimic debris streaming around her. Key track: ‘Lesley’, a twisting, turning, 11-minute opus that sees Dave encounter a pregnant woman trapped in an abusive relationship. –Anna Gaca, Following their mosh-worthy 2018 collaboration “Smack a Bitch,” Maryland rapper Rico Nasty and producer Kenny Beats doubled down on their reckless chemistry with Anger Management. Where his folky 2012 debut ‘Home Again’ often erred on side of caution, with more emphasis on pleasant tunes than weighty subject matter, this one was jammed with heavy stuff treated with a lightness of touch. Singing his sorrow so nakedly, with so little reserve, Cave asks the world to bear witness to the love he’s shared and his cavernous, neverending loss. Even the title i,i nods to the Rastafarian idea of “I and I,” of oneness. When did you last hear a genuinely new sound?! A number of lines and song titles—“The dead know what they are doing when they leave this world behind,” from “Nights That Won’t Happen,” or “No way to last out here like this for long” from “All My Happiness Is Gone”—seem to point at what was to come, and to hear them in a certain mood is to be emotionally overwhelmed. RD, In a nutshell: Young buck treads in the footsteps of Florida forebears. A stunning achievement from the inventive pianist whose daring projects keep us guessing. She’s still calling out irritating shit, but with a cool-headed poise.
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