The decade comes to a close with another amazing year for music. Many artists impressed with their debuts (Billie Eilish, Crumb, YBN Cordae) and made me excited for future releases. At the same time, many veteran artists reaffirmed their place in the industry with releases demonstrating their craft (Freddie Gibbs, Flying Lotus, James Blake). For specific genres, I thought women in pop (Weyes Blood, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Lana Del Rey) and UK hip hop (slowthai, Little Simz, Dave, Loyle Carner) had some of their best works yet.
30. Bon Iver – i,i
29. Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride
28. Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising
27. Kishi Bashi – Omoiyari
26. EARTHGANG – Mirrorland
25. black midi – Schlagenheim
24. Loyle Carner – Not Swimming, But Drowning
23. Denzel Curry – ZUU
22. FKA twigs – MAGDALENE
21. Cage the Elephant – Social Cues
20. Danny Brown – uknowwhatimsayin?
19. Injury Reserve – Injury Reserve
18. Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
17. Durand Jones & The Indications – American Love Call
16. Rich Brian – The Sailor
15. Aldous Harding – Designer
14. Barrie – Happy to Be Here
13. Crumb – Jinx
12. Ariana Grande – thank u, next
11. JPEGMAFIA – All My Heroes Are Cornballs
10. Flying Lotus – Flamagra
9. Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell!
8. Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel
7. slowthai – Nothing Great About Britain
6. Tyler, the Creator – IGOR
5. Madeon – Good Faith
This album is pure ecstasy. The French producer has crafted ten flawless tracks that wrap the listener in a daydream right from the opening track. The synths and vox samples on this album are consistent but also diverse so the tracks hold their own individually.
4. James Blake – Assume Form
I’m a long time James Blake fan. Assume Form finds the British producer in new territory compared to his previous somber releases. James Blake is…in love. He explores these emotions in a diverse manner across this project while simultaneously demonstrating his production and vocal prowess.
3. Little Simz – GREY Area
“I’m Jay-Z on my bad days, Shakespeare on my worst” – this line pretty much sums up the UK rapper’s fourth album. Wavering on the line between arrogance and confidence, Simz crafts ten tracks packed with lyrical content ranging from racism to relationships, supported by some excellent orchestral instrumentals
2. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Bandana
The Gary, Indiana rapper teams up with the legendary Oxnard, CA producer for a veteran display of lyrical and technical craft. Freddie’s bars are intelligent, diverse, and ride the beat seamlessly. His drug-dealing alter ego is extremely entertaining and really takes shape in the music videos. Guest features on this project give it an additional edge past Pinata.
1. Men I Trust – Oncle Jazz
The Quebecois trio tops my year-end list with a delightful, understated project. Its 74 minute run time may appear daunting, but the tracks blend together to create a soundscape that feels like an invisible blanket for rainy days and quiet nights. From the title track, you are immediately drawn in by lead vocalist Emma Proulx’s voice whispering, “You are listening to…Oncle Jazz.”