In the interest of catching up on this year’s best releases in a timely fashion, its time for a list!
Big Wild – Invincible EP
Recommend if you like: Kodak to Graph, Giraffage, ODESZA
The debut project from Family Foreign Collective signee Big Wild, this EP delivers a tight 16-minute, 5-track sampler of an incredibly promising young producer’s potential. Whether he’s delivering the slick grooves of “When I Get There”, wrestling chiptune melodies into future bass sonic palettes on “I Just Wanna”, or setting the stage for the huge, soulful vocals of “Invincible”, there is one common element to Big Wild’s sound: his music feels BIG. Every track rises and falls with colossal weight, but smart sound design and masterful mixing keep every moment refreshing rather than overbearing. A must listen for fans of modern electronic.
Denzel Curry – 13
Recommend if you like: Run the Jewels, Yeezus, Lil Ugly Mane
Following up his excellent 2016 project Imperial, Denzel returns with a glimpse into his artistic evolution mid-transition. 13 is a brief collection of hard-as-nails hip hop tracks that show a clear progression from the already intense sound of Imperial. Despite this, Denzel claims these tracks are only the early steps towards his next sound. For now, what we’ve got is 13 minutes of floor-shaking bass, vicious triplet flows, and occasional experimentation anywhere that there’s room.
disclaimer: turns out this next one came out last year and only made its debut on major streaming services this year
In Love With a Ghost – Let’s Go
Recommend if you like: Mura Masa, dné, Nils Frahm
The stronger of two EP’s released by the internet producer this year, and Ghost’s strongest project to date. Delicate pianos lead the way over crisp, bass heavy drum beats, with Ghost’s incredibly unique vocal manipulations composing soothing melodies on every track. A clever collection of ambient sounds introduced into the rhythm push the project into the realm of musique concrete, and the all too brief 12-minute track list leaves the listener desperate for more. Its understated music, drenched in melancholy, but the incredible emotional potency coupled with vividly unique sound design creates one of the most memorable projects so far this year.
Blonde Redhead – 3 O’clock
Recommend if you like: Koop, Arcade Fire, Julia Holter
On their lastest EP, Blonde Redhead deliver smooth, melodic chamber pop that melds indie pop sensibilities with the more robust instrumentation of baroque rock. Some songs drag a bit, but all deliver engaging composition and smooth, pleasant melodies which make the project worth a listen.
David Bowie – No Plan EP
Recommend if you like: Radiohead, Muse, Tool
A companion EP to Bowie’s final album, No Plan is one final glimpse of the devastatingly emotional art rock Bowie composed in his final days. Featuring the album highlight “Lazarus” and 3 other songs originally written for Bowie’s Broadway musical of the same name, this EP is dense, dark, and absolutely riveting, combining Bowie’s dramatic flair with fearless musical experimentation at every turn. I typically consider posthumous releases to be distasteful, but the quality of the music on this EP absolutely necessitates its existence.
Maggie Rogers – Now That the Light Is Fading
Recommend if you like: Anna Wise, Lorde, Florence + the Machine
The major-label debut from folk-singer-turned-alt-R&B-prodigy Maggie Rogers, best known for the time her breakthrough song ‘Alaska’ had Pharrell Williams visibly struggling to contain his emotions. The EP is a concise 5 tracks, including ‘Alaska’ as well as Rogers’s standout single ‘On + Off’, with each track (save the a capella opener) presenting another approach to melding warm, folksy melodies with the swirling synths and booming drum sounds of electronic music and almost miraculously producing laid back, thoroughly enjoyable pop.
Shallou – All Becomes Okay
Recommend if you like: sitting on the beach when the water is too cold to get in
If you like the album art, you’ll like the EP. Its simple, pretty, and extremely relaxed yet somber. Shallou’s music takes strongly after house, but with a distinctive indie twist to the songs, especially visible in the relatively concise song structure. A fantastic choice for gentle background music that is still engaging when you listen closely.
Swet Shop Boys – Sufi La
Recommend if you like: The Cool Kids, Shabazz Palaces, Danny Brown
WOOOOOO those first two tracks go. The second EP from tri-national hip hop group Swet Shop Boys, coming in the wake of their 2016 debut LP, Cashmere, shows Heems and Riz MC going off in characteristic fashion over Redhino’s typically wonky, wild beats. The hooks still leave something to be desired, but this is a must listen for any fan of experimental hip hop.
Steve Lacy – Steve Lacy’s Demo
Recommend if you like: The Internet, Mac DeMarco, Thundercat
Best known for his work with Grammy-nominated R&B group The Internet (which also includes Odd Future alums Syd and Matt Martians), Steve Lacy has gained mounting attention in past months for his debut solo project, a song series recorded almost entirely onto his iPhone microphone. The result is far less rough sounding than one would expect, as Lacy conceals this through cleverly layered instruments and relaxed, clean tones that perfectly suit the somewhat lo-fi aesthetic. The project also shows a surprising degree of diversity in only 13 minutes, showing great promise for Lacy’s potential as he appears to take on a steadily growing role in The Internet’s song writing.
Palm – Shadow Expert
Recommend if you like: The Minutemen, Cornelius, Animal Collective
The latest project from rising math rock outfit Palm, showcasing the band’s chill, dreamy approach to very precise compositions centered on off-kilter timings. This is my favorite project from them yet, as they continue to carve themselves a distinct niche in indie rock, and at 17 minutes the EP is well worth checking out for any fan of somewhat experimental rock.