This one has been a difficult grower on me. Upon first listen, it sounded like a meandering sprawl of beauty in need of some more structure to really gel. I’m still not as sold on it as I am other Animal Collective records, but moments like “Also Frightened” are some of the most beautiful twisted psych-pop this year.
24. Moderat - Moderat (BPitch Control)
The collaboration between Apparat and Modeselektor has fantastic potential, and almost always delivers greatly. It’s interesting to hear Sasha Ring’s glitchy ambience tempered with the fat basses of Modeselektor. “Beatswaysick,” featuring California MC Busdriver, is a clear highlight.
23. Tyondai Braxton - Central Market (Warp)
I’m still getting used to this one, and boy is it something different from Ty Braxton. While previous solo efforts have found Braxton in an insular mode, focusing on the layered structures of his vocals and guitar, the upcoming Central Market sounds like Stravinsky collaborating with Braxton’s post-rock group, Battles. A fully-orchestrated affair, Market still maintains Braxton’s quirks - notice the omnipresent kazoos and whistling.
22. Benjy Ferree - Come Back To The Five And Dime, Bobby Dee, Bobby Dee (Domino)
A concept album about child stardom - wait, did Cory Feldman actually get a record deal? Naw, this is just an intriguingly dramatic little tale of the life of Bobby Driscoll, one-time number-one Disney kid actor (he was the voice of Peter Pan in the animated classic), who ended up dead at 31 to an overdose, long forgotten by the shady cast of characters who had supported his pre-pubescent rise to the top. “Fear” and “Pisstopher Chrisstopher” excellently capture the mix of anger, sadness, and crippling paranoia at play.
21. Kyle Bobby Dunn - Fervency (Moodgadget)
It’s been a good year for ambient so far, to say the least. Still a young composer, Kyle Bobby Dunn’s rapid, genre-bending development pauses here to focus on lushly resonant drones. This is music for deep thought and indescribable emotion, icily shiny yet warmly embracing at the same time.