Because yesterday was the first day Mercury went into retrograde, my Internet was down for literally all of yesterday. So! You get two best of roundups for today.
Now, for my favorite round up: music. I did this for a few years, in a few places, and it’s back after guilt over the post I didn’t write for 2014, which is still locked in my head. Hopefully this listing can unlock some new sounds for you because a lot of this music I like a lot, a lot, a lot.
Best Call And Response: Saffron‘s Petra I and Petra II
This was maybe the best tag team release of the year, the first EP a very strong light house and jazz reflection and the sequel a quieter reaction to it. This was a great tag team release that came out weeks apart.
Biggest Trend: Great Singles, Bad Albums
This pained me because so many legitimate artists with long awaited releases—Holly Herndon, Oneohtrix Point Never, Autre Ne Veut—got people pumped with legit singles, expansive songs that got your all riled up for an album. Then? The singles—which there were many of—were the only redeeming value of these albums that were occupied with boring, intellectually trite filler. Funny enough, even hyper mainstream artists like Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift subscribed to offering lots and lots and lots of singles for very OK albums.
Genre Of The Year: Pop
Related to the above: from PC Music’s sellout to alt artists imitating the radio friendly, it was clear that pop music rules the world still. Everyone just wants to get them Likes, I guess.
Best Mainstream Pop Song: “Sorry” by Justin Bieber
If you hate this song, you are just filled with nothing but stinky air. Get with it.
Best Mainstream Pop Album: E•MO•TION by Carly Rae Jepsen
A sort-of flop that was beloved by lots of alt publications and men who wanted to seem sensitive and aware, Carly’s album was an experiment with retro-now pop music full of—Duh.—emotion. It was fun and long and not everything worked but, everything that did, hit very hard.
Best Song From That Album: “Runaway With Me”
If you didn’t listen to that song, guys: get to it. It’s the first song on that album and easily the best. It is just so fucking likable and about getting a person’s love stank all up on you.
Best Follow Up: Acute Feast by OOFJ
This LA duo are like a very young Goldfrapp and, while their debut was fun, the follow up was a wonderfully itchy combination of classical music, glitch, and dark late night “dance.”
Best Live Act: Laura Jane Grace
Yes, I am obsessed with her: I know. I saw her do a very intimate show at Hollywood Forever over the Summer and it was the best live performance I saw last year. I do not see a lot of live shows (I hate concerts and groups of people.) but this was very, very worth the trip.
Worst Hollywood Act: Ansolo
Don’t get me started.
Worst Hollywood Act, Runner Up: Scarlett Johanson + Haim
Don’t get me started: the sequel.
It Clicked: Julianna Barwick
My year was defined by good ambiance and Barwick’s vibrational Nepenthe was very important to me. It was emotional and serious and somber yet quite uplifting. It was a breakthrough that, yes, was years in the making, after people had been telling me for years to listen. She finally clicked.
Favorite Thing From 2013: Jessy Lanza
Pull that hair back, girl. Give us something newer than a maxi-single, too.
Best Case For The Return Of Minimal: “Object” by Linkwood
Minimalism needs to make a comeback, people—and this prickly, patient, nine minutes of woozy building and bending will help you realize that.
I Didn’t Hate This!, I: Skärgård by The Persuader
This album is lost from the 2005 minimal wave of music and is very dated and not great but—You know what.—it was fulfilling in it’s own way.
I Didn’t Hate This!, II: Hauntologists by Hauntologists
From the title, to the artwork, to the name of the band, everything about this was great. I don’t understand why this album wasn’t bigger.
Don’t Make Me Cry: Vulnicara by Bjork
The first great album of 2015, this was also 100000% the saddest album of the year. It gets me all tears-in-the-eyes with every listen.
Worst Return: Ten Walls
This Should Have Been Better: Age Of Transparency by Autre Ne Veut
Of all the slumpy follow ups and sell outs and “Good singles, bad album” releases, Autre’s fell flattest. Why? The singles were so good and so moody. He’s so talented and, yet, this release was smoke and mirrors. Bummmmmer.
This Should Have Been Worse: Ten Love Songs by Susanne Sundfør
This could—and should—have been boring and chamber oriented but Sundfør made an epic with this album. There is no song without a boom.
Best Trilogy: The Music Videos For Hairless Toys
This album was a favorite and the self-directed three videos from the album are an exploration of aesthetics that really complete the album visually. Please watch them.
The Victory Of The Beach House Battle: Thank Your Lucky Stars
This was the better album. The other one was so boring, despite that lead single being great.
Best Free Mix: Andy Butler on Beats In Space
Not only is Andy a fucking dreamboat but he made a gay ass, amazing dance mix for B.I.S.
Best Debut Song: “Stars” by Connie Constance
Such a vulnerable, emotionally charged jam. It’s just so perfect.
Best Debut: Me by Empress Of
Runner Up, Best E.P.: Stop Suffering by Tropic Of Cancer
Runner Up For Music Video Of The Year: “Hotline Bling” by Drake
This is more like the “Best Mainstream Video.”
These Songs Were Good
“WTF” by Missy Elliot
“Hotline Bling” by Drake
“World War Pt. 2” by Autre Ne Veut
“Feel You” by Julia Holter
“Mitshetsho We Zindaba” by Nozinja
“If Sylvia Built A House” by Lnrdcroy
“Decide” by Crystal Castles
“Rewind” by Kelela
“Kitty Kat” by Empress Of
“Unhappy” by Jam City
“Damn That Valley” & “Woman’s Work” by U.S. Girls
“Accelerate” by Susanne Sundfør
“Just Like We Never Said Goodbye” by Sophie
“Mutant Standard” by Oneohtrix Point Never
“Ugly Girl (Slow 33 Rpm Edit)” by Molly Nilsson
“Flesh Without Blood” by Grimes
“Howl” by Hauntologists
“You’re Always Good” by Oofj
“Pantalón” by Kornél Kovács
“Face A” by Beatrice Dillon
“Erotic Heat” by Jlin
Political Song Of The Year: “4 Degrees” by ANOHNI
2015 was a big year politically and the late debut of ANOHNI’s collaboration with Hudson Mohawke and 0PN was so emotionally charged. We gotta fix this fucking planet and ANOHNI is about that—and discussing these issues through trap music.
Runner Up Song Of The Year & Music Video Of The Year: “Ugly Girl” by Molly Nillson
This song is not only a feminist anthem but it’s a terribly funny. The video is super simple—and so effective.
Song Of The Year: “XTC” by DJ Koze
I have never done ecstasy but this song certainly makes me want to stay off the drug and explore the mind. This song is a return to Koze’s roots and an incredible near ten minute daze. This song is perfect.
These Releases Were Good
Rave Cave EP by Andrew Hung
The Colours of Life by CFCF
Much Less Normal by Lnrdcroy
Me by Empress Of
Zenith & Sex EP by Molly Nilsson
Hunch Music by Hunee
Discreet Desires by Helena Hauff
Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper by Panda Bear
Mutant by Arca
Rein by Blondes
Clouds by Damon Eliza Palermo
Dream A Garden by Jam City
Ten Love Songs by Susanne Sundfør
Runner Up Album Of The Year: City Lake by Bing & Ruth
All the albums that came out in November seemed so hyped up by the idea of being poppy and this release from ambient/classic masher Bing & Ruth was a nice release from the tension of pop.
Album Of The Year: Half Free by U.S. Girls
This album blew me away. U.S. Girls (Meg Remy) created an album that was so politically charged—she covers the Iraq war, feminism, sexual abuse, gender rights—in such a fun, serious, yet playful way where you forget that you are listening to an album wound up in hoping to point out the flaws in the systems of America. “Damn That Valley” is such an important song while breaks like “Telephone Play No. 1” gives you straightforward insight into her experience and, duh, a song like “Woman’s Work” plays like a death march, repeating that to be a woman is to be locked into a world where you are forced to be on call. In a year of exciting feminist action, U.S. Girls brought it. She also did things right with her single releases by letting out a strong single (“Damn That Valley”) in April, leaving listeners awaiting a full release until September. Fuck: do it, girl.
Label Of The Year: 1080P Collection
1080P has been on their shit for two years in a row, consistently releasing music in small batches both on and offline. They seem to be always working and pumping out interesting music from artists who want to try something new. Please keep it up. 1080. (Not that I doubt you won’t.)
Artist Of The Year: Legowelt
This dude is just always fucking working—and I fucking love it. Here’s what he released this year as himself—
…and this was only under his name! He worked under five fucking pseudonyms (“pseudonyms”), which were all full albums. Those were—
• Avond Slumier by Nomad Ninja
• Swan Song Of The Skunkape OST by Danny Wolfers (which, by the way, is Legowelt’s real name)
• El Saber Del Arpavor by Calimex Mental Implant Corp.
• Electronic Music From The Faroe Islands 1993 by Saab Knutson
• Oberheim Space by Rising Sun Systems
No, none of these were the top albums of the year but they were all very, very good. They were all so interesting and unique and different but still felt like some part of Legowelt. Maybe, years later, we’ll find out that Wolfers has many personalities and—if that means over ten releases in a year—so be it. There is no other artist like him. He is so singular and so wonderful. He is the artist of the year.
Items Of Note In 2016
• Can’t wait to hear Lafawndah‘s Warp debut. It’ll be fun.
• 0PN’s score of the movie Partisan. The movie might be “out” but I don’t think the score has surfaced. Please come out!
• I thought I read somewhere that John Maus was returning in 2016. I couldn’t find proof of this but I did find people who agreed. Come back, John! I love you.
• Aerea Negrot. Come back, baby.
• Junior Boys have a new album!! Maybe Jessy Lanza will come back, too? Work with Jeremy Greenspan? Please?
Looking Forward To Most In 2016: ANOHNI‘s New Album
Homegirl is returning to dance and working with Hudson Mohawke and 0PN and I cannot fucking wait. She is our hope for an emotional, excellent, fun album that is fused with activism. She is our hope for great music in 2016. I have faith that she is going to bring it!!