The reforging of US diplomatic relations with Cuba, the first observation of gravitational waves, the passing of Leonard Nimoy, Sir Terry Pratchett, Lemmy Kilmister, and Christopher Lee.
Carly Rae Jepsen – E·MO·TION
I’ll be the first to admit that I kneel at the altar of novelty, but if you’re going to revive a trend or sound, you need to do it the way Carly Rae Jepsen revived the 80’s in 2015: you need to make it your own, you need to say something fresh and vital with it. Jepsen is a genius and a workaholic, and this album sparkles with neon nostalgia and mid 10’s zeitgeist alike.
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
The Anthropocene Extinction not only lived up to the standard set by Monolith of Inhumanity, it’s also unmistakably its own beast, a beast with teeth and claws and mouths enough to condemn us all. Every actual metal track on this thing has a sing-along passage, or at least a scream-along breakdown; it’s a new level of experimentation, and it pays off. “Manufactured Extinct” is the strongest opening track of Cattle Decap’s career.
Clutch – Psychic Warfare
2013’s Earth Rocker was strong, but Psychic Warfare felt like a statement of intent from Clutch: the deep-fried bluesey hard rock thing was, is, and will always be their thing. I’m not much of a Bob Dylan fan, but when people talk about music as a vehicle for storytelling, I immediately think of Clutch; they’ve taken a bit to get here, but now the strength of their riffs is perfectly in line with the gleeful sci-fi mystique of their stories.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
This one kinda snuck up on me, probably because the channels through which we access new music have, in large part, become very segmented and delineated by genre. It’s a beautiful piece, though, and one that inspired me to go see GY!BE live twice this decade. A churning beacon of hope, and a meditation on the gyre of despair that threatens to swallow it.
The Mountain Goats – Beat The Champ
Confession: unlike many of my friends, I haven’t been a Mountain Goats fan since I was a sad teen, and I honestly got into this album because it’s about wrestling. Tangent: John Darnielle has excellent taste in metal (you can hear it in “Werewolf Gimmick”), and his recommendations have yielded some spectacular finds. Review: a gorgeous, mildly haunting collection of songs, sweet where you expect sharp, brutal as a DDT to the feelings when it wants to be.
Shahmen – All In The Circle
For all its woodsy darkness, this is music that brings the little things into sharp clarity, that showcases all the little patterns and ironies and cryptic shadows in our day-to-day. SNS’s beats swirl around Bless’s bassy voice like wraiths as Bless meditates on success, death, and the fickle hand of fate.
Windhand – Grief’s Infernal Flower
This one sits right at the intersection of Windhand’s classically doomy earlier work and their slightly more experimental, psychedelic, grunge-infused later stuff, and it’s the sweet spot for me personally. This is the type specimen comfy doom album, and the new paradigm is best illustrated on “Forest Clouds”: “I made your bed/I pull the covers down/I tuck you in/I put you in the ground.” It overpowers gently, not with violence, just with soft, inevitable weight.