As one of our most exciting times of year (which we refer to as the Season of Lists), the Nextbop staff relishes the end of the year to declare our favorite releases from the last twelve months, noting a moment in time and reminding folks (out there reading and amongst ourselves in the staff) of what great music was out there and maybe to catch up on what you may have missed, taking special appreciation for congruence as well as dissent, and realizing all of this means there’s just so much music out there to enjoy (and seemingly more and more of it every year).
7) Pulgas – Open to Most Things & More Like Us EPs (Astro Nautico)
As talented as Zane Shields and Simon Martinez are as musicians and as purveyors of taste, their duo project Pulgas does take some getting used to. The music is varied, scattered, hard to nail down, but when given the opportunity is also extremely infectious and very groove based for spells. It’ll stick with you and they’re only continuing to grow.
6) Phosphorescent – C’Est La Vie (Dead Oceans)
Matthew Houck is back with his haunting Americana and I couldn’t be happier to finally have a successor to 2013’s Muchacho, something a little less winsome and equally as beautiful.
5) Son Lux – Brighter Wounds (City Slang)
Ryan Lott, Rafiq Bhatia, and Ian Chang continue to click as the trio who move with the boldness of glass shattering into cement, relishing in the beauty of the crash of something so delicate. Lott writes music that soars and has the vocals to make that happen, but it’s Bhatia’s guitar that acts as the rudder and Chang’s beastliness on the kit that throws in the afterburners. They’ve found a rhythm for some time now and Brighter Wounds is the continued establishing of that buoyancy through the clouds.
4) Parquet Courts – Wide Awaaaaake! (Rough Trade Records)
The Brothers Savage and Co. are back again finding new corners of post-punk to jam in and seemingly lambast at times while still sounding absolutely brilliant. It’s always fun listening to this quartet and they continue to delight in their rambunctiousness and constantly find new ways to sound so.
3) Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer (Sub Pop)
I Love You, Honeybear was just three years and narcissist who uses every part of his buffalo-sized ego Josh Tillman was seemingly doing fine with his new marriage up until he, literally inexplicably, torpedoed it (hopefully temporarily). Yet in the process of him sequestering himself off in a New York hotel for weeks, he worked out his issues by making this collection of raw yet still snarky songs full of the bombast and puckish wit that continually wins his listeners over time and again.
2) Jerry Paper – Like A Baby (Stones Throw)
The smooth sadness of Jerry Paper’s music is hard to let go. These are woozy songs that want to live in rotation, like they’re perfect only because they’re already projected into a warped world. Of course, he made this alongside BADBADNOTGOOD’s Matty Tavares as a co-producer, so that refinement of that perfectly approachable sound was a foregone conclusion. The album just works.
1) Melody’s Echo Chamber – Bon Voyage (Fat Possum Records)
Melody Prochet’s sophomore album is fuzzy, incomprehensible if you don’t speak French, and enveloping. The brevity of the album just makes each song like a dessert you can’t help but gorge yourself on, like macarons. The drums are crisp, sharp, and piercing. The guitars are psychedelic and bending. Yes, the remnants of the influence of Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker are still here in the sound from her previous album, but Prochet has moved beyond this to make a work distinctly her own that’s just as fun as she emerges as a woman with things to say, even if you may not always speak her language.
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.