One of most exciting bands making music has a fresh sonic treat for fans today. Following its live debut on Instagram yesterday, Braids have dropped an official visualizer for bombastic, vibey-as-fuck single, Slayer Moon. It’s a great blend of everyone I love about this group – dynamic song structure, phenomenal melodies, killer riffs, brilliant synth texturing and inventive, rock-solid drumming. Drink it in below.
Hamiltonian drone wizard, Anne Sulikowski (formerly Building Castles Out of Matchsticks) continues her steady output of cinematic tone sculptures and experimental trip-hop with There Is No One In Here. The brief collection makes a lasting impression with its ethereal moods (“Falling Behind”) and hooky grooves (“I Think You’re a Software Program”).
Toronto alt-folk heroes Beams extend their already broad boundaries into exciting new territory for the lead single from their upcoming LP, Ego Death. “Born to Win” plunges the group’s soaring and propulsive progressive folk rock roots into dense sonic bedrock for a spine-tingling choral metal refrain that finds Beams in genre pioneer territory. Watch/listen below and mark March 26th on your calendar; if the rest of Ego Death is half this good, we’ve got an early album of the year contender on our hands.
This is an unranked, but loosely ordered list of the music around the world that resonated with me in 2020.
Check out the Spotify playlist below for a taste of the musical genius flooding this big-ass list, and remember to buy albums via bandcamp when sufficiently inspired and financially capable.
Nnamdi – Brat (Alt Pop/Alt R&B/Alt Rock/Alt Rap/Alt Prog)
HAIM – Women In Music III (Instant classic rock/pop)
Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters (Alt folk/alt pop)
Deftones – Ohms (Alt Metal)
Clipping. – Visions of Bodies Being Burned (Experimental Rap/IDM)
CocoRosie – Put the Shine On (Experimental Pop)
Obuxum – Re-Birth (Electronic/R&B)
Backxwash – God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It (Industrial Alt Rap)
Moses Sumney – grae (Progressive R&B)
Sufjan Stevens – The Ascension (Prog Pop/Alt Folk)
William Ryan Fritch – Soldida (Contemporary Composition/Ambient)
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – Expanding Electricity (Experimental Electronic/Ambient)
Laura Marling – Songs For Our Daughter (Folk Rock)
Sevdaliza – Shebrang (Alt Pop/Trip Hop)
Witch Prophet – DNA Activation (Trip Hop)
Zilla With Her Eyes Shut – S/T (Alt/Experimental Pop)
TOBi – Elements Vol 1 (R&B)
Shabazz Palaces – The Don of Diamond Dreams (Psychedelic Rap)
Ora Cogan – Bells in the Ruins (Alt Folk Rock)
Gorillaz – Song Machine Reader (Alt Pop/Rap)
Pantayo – Pantayo (Experimental Folk Pop)
Jimmy Chamberlin Complex – Honor (alt prog jazz)
Thundercat – It Is What It Is (Smooth Wank)
John Frusciante – Maya (Aphex Twin tribute album)
Mac Miller – Circles (Pop/Rap)
Jonsi – Shiver (Icelandic Pop Magic)
Open Mike Eagle – Anime, Trauma and Divorce (Alt Rap)
Lianne La Havas (R&B/Groove Rock)
Nick Storing – My Magic Dreams Have Lost Their Spell (Contemporary Composition)
The Elwins – IV (Alt Pop/Rock)
Denzel Curry, Kenny Beats – UNLOCKED (Alt Rap)
Owen Pallet – Island (Experimental Folk/Composition)
Baths – Pop Music/False B-Sides II (Alt Pop/Electronic)
Zen Bamboo – Glu (Alt Rock)
Dirty Projects – 5EPs (Alt Folk/Pop)
Anachnid – Dreamweaver (Trip Hop)
Sarah Harmer – (Folk Rock)
Amon Tobin, Figurosa – The World As We Know It (Alt Folk/Electronic)
Laurel Halo – Possessed (Electronic Composition/Ambient/Experimental)
Deerhoof – Future Teenage Cave Artists (Jank Pop/Punk/Experimental)
Braids (Alt Pop/Electronic/Rock)
Loma – Don’t Shy Away (Alt Folk)
Mr. Gnome – The Day You Flew Away (Alt Rock)
Caribou – Suddenly (Electronic)
Leisure Palace (Experimental Alt Pop)
Vieo Abiungo – Balkanize (Experimental Folk)
Ilya – Other Ways to Vent (Pop/R&B)
Oh Sees – Metamorphosed (Psych Rock)
The Smashing Pumkins – CYR (New Wave)
Run the Jewels – 4 (Rap)
KRS-One – Between Da Protests (Rap)
Phantogram – Ceremony (Alt Pop)
Little Simz – Drop 6 (Rap)
Skeletons – If the Cat Come Back (Experimental Folk)
Plants and Animals – The Jungle (Rock)
Ian William Craig – Red Sun Through Smoke
Grimes – Miss Anthropocene
U.S. Girls (70s Pop/Rock)
Shmu – Pure Bliss (Psych/Alt Rock)
Metz – Atlas Vending (Rock)
Reptoid – Worship False Gods (Noise Rock/Math Punk)
The Flaming Lips – American Head
Formerly hailing from the Montreal rock scene, powerhouse vocalist and performer Geeta Pearson has been making a new name for herself overseas in the UK as Belle Scar. The dynamic songwriter’s continual transformation finds her exploring potent new ground in a live performance of “Mementos”, a song from an as-yet untitled Belle Scar LP scheduled for 2021. The piece’s haunting and dramatic orchestration, including a mini-choir and small string ensemble, creates an epic grandeur to match Pearson’s impassioned and utterly arresting voice.
Hymns57 has a wonderful new collection of ambient soundscapes available via the UK’s Rusted Tone Recordings. Fans of early, instrumental Broken Social Scene should love the warm, fuzzy hugs of sonic bliss Ontario composer Steven De Taeye has constructed here. The entire album is a thing of constantly shifting subtle moods – engaging and inspiring intense contemplation like the meteorological nuance of a breezy fall day – but the sheer soothing beauty of “Slow Dance At Low Tide” is going to make it a mainstay on every study, meditation and chill-out playlist I make for years to come.
Guelph Ontario’s Piers Oolvai’s first official single pairs a moody, mercurial, effects-laden clarinet journey with simple, smoldering visuals that effectively highlight the meditative, hazy drift of the texturally rich musical phrases this piece paints over it’s nine-plus minutes.
The Ottawa cellist extraordinaire recently dropped his first full length solo album and it’s an absolute must-listen for fans of classical European and global folk influences filtered through the skills and perspective of a composer quickly becoming a modern master of his craft. Relaxing and cinematic, it’s equally effective for background music as it is for deeply engaged listening.
Listen on Spotify (unless you pay a different behemoth), buy on Bandcamp.
Our human overlord here at Irregular Dreams is back with his delightfully demented experimental electronic act, Always A Bad Thing. Mark Anthony Brennan and his partner in sonic crimes, Nick Roland, may have their most accessible release yet with “Paramecium In Motion”, a meditative ambient piece that brings to mind early Broken Social Scene.
Wiggle your cilia along to the video below.