1. Sampha – Process
There are few things as satisfying as seeing potential fulfilled and Sampha does this and more with his hotly anticipated debut album. Through the death of his parents and his general unease with his place in the industry Sampha delivers a set of tracks that hit devastatingly close to home. The upsetting subject matter is offset well with the excellent, piano-driven, production and Sampha’s own rich vocal performance that elevates this album into another realm of beauty and earnestness.
2. Sun Kil Moon – Common as Light and Love are Red Valleys of Blood
As with much of Mark Kozelek’s latest material, Common as Light is hardly easy-listening. With much of the album’s two hour run time being dedicated to Mark’s almost stream of conscious storytelling this isn’t something I can see myself returning to regularly. Despite this, Sun Kil Moon’s simple acoustic arrangements paired with Mark’s honest and scathing lyrics are a purely spiritual experience you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.
3. Xiu Xiu – FORGET
Xiu Xiu is a band that is impossible to nail down, ask for a general description of the band and you’ll usually be given a weary spiel about their eclecticism and shifting identity. I am confident in saying I thoroughly enjoy this incarnation of the band, confidently blending Post-Punk, Electronic and Pop tropes to create something enticing but unsettling like the witch’s candy house.
4. Disperse – Foreword
Technicality, for technicality’s sake, has become a bane on most forms of Progressive and Technical Metal. While Disperse were once lumped in with other “Djent” bands, Foreword has just as much in common with contemporary Indie-Pop as it does with Progressive Metal. It just snaps and soars in all the right places and while devout fans of both genres probably cringe at the thought of mixing the two, Disperse pull it off with ease.
5. The Menzingers – After the Party
It’s not surprising that The Menzingers have come through with yet another inspiring and earnest Punk-Rock album but it is undeniably encouraging to see them continue their successes. After the Party unsurprisingly picks up as the band enters mid-adulthood and is filled with equal parts anxiety for what’s to come and nostalgia for their reckless younger days.
Jidenna – The Chief
I feel as if my total disdain for this album is unwarranted but it’s been a long time since an artist has rubbed me the wrong way like Jidenna has with his obnoxious “classy” aesthetic. Musically this album is mostly just dull Pop-Rap with some occasional switch-ups to more traditional African musical stylings that were also boring.