- Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked at Me
“Death is real”, Phil Elverum repeats this phrase several times throughout A Crow Looked at Me and while it holds little significance without context, it resonates more and more deeply as the album progresses. This album follows Phil through the grieving process following the passing of his wife Geneviève, with Phil even citing the amount of time that’s passed since her death on many tracks. Critics of this album have gone as far as to say it’s not “music” due to how subdued and improvised the instrumentation and performances are, but there are still pleasant vocal and instrumental melodies here, they’re just shrouded by grief. A Crow Looked at Me is an utterly devastating album to get through, but inside there are such raw descriptions of loss and pain that it’s simply too important to ignore.
- Jay Som – Everybody Works
Dream-Pop is a genre that is often at its best when bands play up its otherworldly properties, taking the listeners mind to new and beautiful places. Jay Som’s debut album shifts this notion with its more human and grounded approach. Much of this is done through sole member Melina Duterte’s twee sensibilities as she is unafraid of seeming low-brow or corny through the album’s abundance of hooks and reliance on romantic clichés. Where this may hinder other songwriters, Everybody Works is so earnest and genuinely exuberant that instead of transporting you into foreign worlds like so many Dream-Pop albums do, it makes you feel more content with the one you’re in.
- Pallbearer – Heartless
Though it may irk Metal purists, I’ll have to admit that this was my first foray into Pallbearer’s groove-laden Doom Metal sound. I’m glad to report that it won’t be my last as Heartless is a truly brilliant slice of thick riffs and melodic passages. Their lively performances complemented wonderfully by the rich, organic production help elevate Pallbearer to the upper echelon of Modern Metal. Frontman Brett Daniel’s wails over the gorgeous layers of guitar on the final track “A Plea for Understanding” are simply irresistible.
- Remo Drive – Greatest Hits
Hey kids, do ya like Weezer? Well strap the fuck in.
In all seriousness though the surge of attention little known Minnesota Indie-Rock/Emo band Remo Drive gained through a shout out from Anthony Fantano couldn’t be better placed. Armed with actually memorable riffs and hooks the band takes Emo by the balls and drags it along for a ride through tongue in cheek angst and boundless charisma. The lead-off single “Yer Killin’ Me” is one of the best songs of the year with its hugely over the top lyrics and sudden transition into an instrumental jam session.
- Spoon – Hot Thoughts
One of the most consistent bands of the last two decades shows no sign of letting up on their ninth album. Hot Thoughts takes some of the Electronic experimentation hinted at on 2014’s They Want My Soul and turns it up to 11 with the prevalent use of wavy synths and drum machines. It’s an album that plays with the “expectation vs. reality” of hook up culture, with the first half of the album taking on a more seductive tone which gives way to uncomfortable sleaze as the album progresses. Throughout all of this Spoon are as tight as always, with slick guitar grooves and Britt Daniel’s raspy croons never missing a beat.
Pillow Talk – This is All Pretend
I feel bad for calling out this pretty unknown band for making a shit album but hey this was the worst thing I heard last month. I can see what they were shooting for, fuzzed out Dream-Pop/Shoegaze with that youthful Emo tinge but I don’t care if the singer started the damn band he has got to go. His nasally whine is painful to sit through and Pillow Talk most definitely know this as they slathered it in auto tune and hoped no one would notice. Yeah well I noticed, motherfuckers.