Friday, 3 April 2015

2015: Favourites of Q1

Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
(Asthmatic Kitty)

Illinois-based Sufjan Stevens has always been a vivid storyteller, with each recognised album from 2003's chamber folk classic Michigan right through to the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy of the glitch pop world, The Age of Adz, in 2010 showcasing a different side to the singer-songwriter's alluring personality. However, despite seemingly lying low since his previous release in 2010, Stevens has reintroduced, if not reinvented, himself through Carrie & Lowell, which serves as a devastatingly heartbreaking insight into the trials and tribulations of Stevens' broken childhood by focusing more closely on his own repressed experiences rather than his views on the outside world and the ways in which his Christian upbringing have shaped these, as was the case on many of his earlier albums. Stevens sings "Fuck me, I'm falling apart" on the critically acclaimed 'No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross' which not only epitomises the despondent atmosphere of the album, but also highlights my exact feelings upon listening to 'Fourth of July', a track that tenderly addresses the death of Carrie, Sufjan's mother, before sombrely ending with the existential realisation that "we're all going to die"; Carrie & Lowell is a story of brutal honesty that wasn't curated with intent to portray a pretentious fantasy, nor to please the mind, and as Stevens said in an interview with Pitchfork"this is not my art project; this is my life." Joe Gilbey

Viet Cong – Viet Cong 

Mumdance & Logos – Proto

Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late 
(Cash Money)

Drake's cut the crap and reverted to the rapper he once was, the sole reason that he originally rose to fame; he's reinstated himself as a Young Money Cash Money Billionaire. If You're Reading This It's Too Late is a sterling example of how the rapper is fighting the public perception of the credibility of his music and contains nothing but minimalist "fuck everybody" production to drill home the point that he is still one of the biggest names in hip-hop, and with features from Lil Wayne and Travi$ Scott and a mention to the highly respected British grime artist Skepta in the mixtape's liner notes, it is clear to see that the Canadian is not alone in his push for supremacy. Drake has burnt Marvin's Room to the ground and has taken his sound to the streets, and has ultimately left everyone wondering what he and his 'woes' are able to achieve in the forthcoming months. Joe Gilbey

GFOTY – Cake Mix
(PC Music)

Matana Roberts – COIN COIN Chapter Three: river run thee

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

To Pimp a Butterfly is already a cultural juggernaut and critical monolith, and with good reason; if there's one album this year that has felt like a genuine event, it's K. Dot's. A complex, multi-faceted odyssey of black power and Hood Politics, Butterfly has already established itself as a cornerstone of 2015 which, rather appropriately, has got the whole world talking. Joe Sherwood

Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love 
(Sub Pop)

Mount Eerie – Sauna
(P.W. Eleverum & Sun)

Dawn Richard – Blackheart 
(Our Dawn)

Pinkshinyultrablast – Everything Else Matters 

Father – Who's Gonna Get Fucked First?

Jam City – Dream a Garden
(Night Slugs)

If Classical Curves jolted UK's dance continuum in a new direction, Jam City's follow up record bears witness to a complete stylistic about-turn. Caustic textures, drifting guitar and RnB-indebted vocals all propel Jack Latham's sound into newfound realms of song-centricity. While everyone else is still catching up to Jam City's first album, Dream a Garden elevates Latham to another plane entirely, and it's gonna be a while before we see anything else quite like it. Joe Sherwood

DJ Nigga Fox – Noite E Dia

OG Maco – 15
(Quality Control)

Teresa Winter – Oh Tina, No Tina

Teresa Winter's new tape for Reckno is a rough diamond if ever there was one, all crumbling samples and bedroom pop reverie. Oh Tina, No Tina floats with the best of 'em, a veritable fever dream of melting plastic and broken tape machines; H-pop hardly needed a revival, but Teresa Winter nonetheless gives it a refreshing boot up the jacksie. Joe Sherwood

Björk – Vulcinura 
(One Little Indian)

Rae Sremmurd – Sremmlife
(Ear Drummer)

Susanne Sundfør – Ten Love Songs 

Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside 
(Tan Cressida)

This quarter has been an absolute milestone for hip-hop with eagerly awaited releases not only dropping left, right and centre, but also delivering the hard-hitting, dynamic content that had been promised by artists varying from the Wu-Tang veteran Ghostface Killah as a result of his collaborative project alongside BADBADNOTGOOD to the hedonistic up-and-comers from the south, Rae Sremmurd. Earl Sweatshirt's latest album I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside is another that certainly doesn't disappoint, with Odd Future's protege taking a more mature approach to his lyricism on grown up tracks such as 'Grief' whilst maintaining the gritty darkness that distinguishes the promising 21 year old from the rest, and more than justifies his self-entitlement of being "a hard act to follow". Joe Gilbey

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