Central Industrial – Flaring Blue in a Timeless Space (Samurai Music Group): Music for exploring an abandoned steampunk spaceship that may or may not be haunted but probably is haunted Clarke:Hartnoll – 2square (VeryRecords): Half of Erasure and half of Orbital do electro-house and tribute the moment when rave turned into trance Lone – Levitate (R&S): If rave music never died The Kills – Ash & Ice (Domino): They’re back! With hooks! Ocean Wisdom – Chaos (High Focus Records): Clever as hell Eminemy double-time raps over sludgy grime beats make this a hugely impressive debut) Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid (Rhymesayers): I always forget how much I love this dude. Nerdy woke personal stories, internal rhyme schemes, RTJ-y production. St Lucia – Matter (Columbia): Every year it seems like I have a shiny 80sy production-based pop record on my list. This is this years, from the producer of HAERTS which was on my list last year Luke Howard – Two Places (Lukktone): Sad Jazz plus loopy stuff = solid rainy day tunes) The Veils – Total Depravity (Nettwerk): Grimy dirty rock/boogie with a hint of electronics) Maxwell – blackSUMMERS’night (Columbia): Was never much of a fan of his, but this is gorgeous. Especially wonderful on vinyl. Plaid – The Digging Remedy (Warp): As usual, the first track on a Plaid album is the most interesting. The rest is up to their top quality of warm melodic playful IDM Shearwater – Jet Plane and Oxbow (Sub Pop): Shearwater’s albums (other than their covers one) are always on my top albums list. If you like them you will like this. This is why I am not a record reviewer by trade.
Singles and EPs Theremynt – Vampiros Discos (Neopren): Dd-elicious italo-electro-disco goodness El Perro Del Mar – dream baby dream (one of the most gorgeous covers of a Suicide song evar) Phaeleh – All That Remains (Self-released) (Burial-ish melancholic beats and post-rock sounds with nils frahm-ish piano)
Album I still can’t bring myself to listen to even though I’m sure it’s amazing: Bowie – Blackstar
Friends: self-care is important. This will require us to be strong and resilient (some of us sadly have more practice at this because of systemic oppression.) We will all need to support each other as best we can wherever we are at, in order to make the necessary changes.
I am here to listen as best I can and also to talk about other love and life-affirming things in order to keep our strength up.
I am scared. My friends and loved ones are scared. My fellow LGBTQ people are scared. My fellow Jews are scared. My fellow non-traditional-relationship people are scared. My fellow socialists are scared. My fellow feminists are scared. My fellow self employed people are scared. My fellow social justice advocates are scared, and fired the fuck up.
I have no platitudes, other than this: We are not alone. We are strong. And as DeRay Mckesson says: “We will win.”
AirLands – AirLands (Self-released): Dude formerly of Stars of Track and Field does Greys Anatomy pop, collaborating with Ben Weikel (Helio Sequence).
Young Wonder – Birth (Feel Good Lost): Irish electronic pop. Distinctly mid 2010s EDM sounds but more reverie and 6/8 than BROWWWWWWWWWWMMM-y
Matthew Perryman Jones – Cold Answer (Self-Released): My list always has a dude-with-guitar-Americana record and MPJ has been on the list several times. This one has banjo!
BT/Gregory Tripi – Dark Places (Original Score) (Milan Records): Dark, atmospheric, brooding, reverby. Featuring Belong and David Kristian
Vessels – Dilate (Bias): Dancey post-rock, reissued in 2016 with some new great remixes. RIYL Oneohtrix point never, Holly Herndon
Calexico – Edge of the Sun (Anti): Calexico goes synthy? With new collaborators including Sam Beam, Ben from Band of Horses and Neko Case, it works.
VV Brown – Glitch (self-released): Former Janelle-alike (in a good way) takes her craft in more Emika-meets-Robyn-like direction.
Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness (Domino): Avant-garde weird music auteur goes ever-so-slightly pop, spotlights her gift for lush and melody, Polly Jean fandom.
ASC – Imagine The Future (Samurai Music Group): Music with which to explore a barren unfamiliar-yet-somehow-super-mechanical underground city on a newly discovered planet while wearing a comfortable yet slightly restrictive space suit.
Bluebirds Of Paradise – In A Night (Project 4): Ari Hest and Caitlin Canty craft a light-as-cotton-candy confection straight out of a 70s French rom-com, flute solos and all.
Editors – In Dream (PIAS): Icy, in a Nick Cave and Depeche Mode (and side project Recoil)-esque way
Arovane & Hior Chronic – In-Between (A Strangely Isolated Place): Music for the end of Brazil, or if Blade Runner were a more contemplative meditation.
The Unthanks – Mount the Air (RabbleRouser Music): Steeped in melancholy in a profoundly British/Celtic way.
Conforce – Presentism (Delsin Records): Like a lesser Polygon Window album
Marriages – Salome (Sargent House): Like a lost Catherine Wheel album or a soundtrack from 1993. Featuring former members of Red Sparowes and Isis.
Findlay Brown – Slow Light (Dead People’s Choice): One of those albums with vocals drenched in echo and choir and close-mic acoustic guitar.
Single/EP honorable mention
Idjut Boys – One For Kenny (Smalltown Supersound): Hypnotizing multi-phasic slow nu-disco remix from Bjorn Torske of this 106bpm classic tribute to Kenny Hawkes, plus a Prins Thomas banger on the flip side.
16 Bit Lolitas – Not The Only One EP (Anjunadeep): When 16bL hit on a solid melody rather than random noodling, they are the kinds of deep proggy tech-house.
Mix honorable Mention:
Jon Hopkins – LateNightTales
I used to do these “What I’ve Learned” lists every year. I’m going to do them more.
Resistance is not a reason not to do things. It may be an invitation to explore further. It’s also not a reason to shut down and “power through” without feeling.
Having a structure to my day is one of the only ways I can stave off feeling like a useless burden on society. Writing just three things that I’d like to accomplish the night before and being able to cross them off is helpful (a framework I learned from Gina Trapani). When I don’t do this, it starts a spiral of self-judgment and shame around concepts like “wasting my life” and “not living up to my potential” that actually get me further mired, rather than leading to action.
My voice is not essential in conversations about politics, and the best way to use my privilege is to amplify the voices of those being primarily affected by oppression.
I am sad a lot. I have a habit of self-medicating/numbing out to avoid sadness. I’m trying to sit with it more. If I can sit with my emotional state for 30 seconds longer than I did yesterday and then numb out if I want to, then that is an accomplishment that I can feel proud of.
I have real challenges with internally-generated motivation. Motivating myself and feeling ‘positive’ (i.e. motivating) emotions like excitement and anger get quickly redirected into shame (as well-documented in The Change Triangle). This motivation -> shame cycle is often misdiagnosed as depression (though I have also historically struggled with depression, I’ve thankfully . I am addressing this. This shall be addressed.
The ongoing adventures of a NYC boy reinventing himself in Atlanta