Eight amazing albums aside from “Blond”

As summer phases out, these albums should not slip through the cracks.


Photo Illustration by Maxwell Heilman

Maxwell Heilman , Writer

The months between last semester and this one have proved an industrious time for music, with many artists truly outdoing themselves. Though difficult to keep track of releases with so much going on, overwhelmed music lovers can look past Frank Ocean’s comeback and enjoy some of the year’s buried gems.

Broods – “Conscious”: Georgia and Caleb Nott develop the style of their debut. Striking a balance between infectious indie-pop influenced hooks, nuanced trip-hop beats and haunting ambience, “Conscious” stands in a strange part of the pop music spectrum. Broods’ willingness to embrace contrasting styles makes their sophomore outing one of this year’s most dynamic contributions to a genre overshadowed by awfulness.

Swans – “The Glowing Man:” Decades into their career of sonic exploration, the New York City-based madmen have yet to compromise in the least. Clocking in at over two hours, “The Glowing Man” provides an immersive journey through the outer reaches of improv-rock and experimental noise. Uninitiated listeners will have a hard time sitting through such a long runtime or finding the time to do so, but Swans transports those who do into dimensions of sound only they can navigate.

Katatonia – “The Falling of Hearts”: The Stockholm-based four-piece drives forward a glorious year for heavy metal by perfecting the style they explored decades earlier. Katatonia weaves progressive sensibilities with subdued melancholy, resulting in an album that flows as well as it dazzles. Churning riffs out as effortlessly as panoramic melodies, no other band can impart so much power while sounding so profoundly sad.

The I.L.Y.’s – “Scum With Boundaries”:

Two out of the three madmen behind Death Grips leave behind industrial hip-hop for a non-descript aberration of rock music. While undeniably weird in all respects, The I.L.Y.’s retain a certain charm in their oddity as it branches out from garage rock into lackadaisical experimentation. The most hardened veterans of underground rock will find something in “Scum With Boundaries” to hash out over an iced coffee.

JANK – “Versace Summer”: This album sums up summer. Taking influence from the filthiest and most soothing aspects of surf-punk, “Versace Summer” has as much flash as it does bash. Strikingly raw production contrasts with undeniable skill, craftsmanship and willingness to experiment. JANK knows how to balance hardcore punk savagery with meticulous songwriting, allowing them to become the soundtrack to a day at the beach or chaotic mosh pits.

Lou Rhodes – “Theyesandeye”: Whereas most folk musicians play meandering songs centered around a tired motif, Rhodes delivers power to match her electronic output, along with a charming foundation of her solo work. Each of these 11 tracks exude unique atmospheric and emotional quotients, and they present a startling array of instrumentation for a style so grounded in minimalism. Rhodes makes wonderful use of her musical backdrop with delicate melodies and powerfully vulnerable delivery, allowing her to capture the essence of her genre while expanding it.

ScHoolboy Q – “Blank Face LP”: The immense sociopolitical power of the latter’s output notwithstanding, Quincy Hanley and Kendrick Lamar share an undeniable affinity for pushing boundaries. “Blank Face LP” feels like the darker, nastier equivalent of “To Pimp a Butterfly.” Incorporating alien vocal affectations and oddball samples with the West Coast sound, Hanley launches the style he grew up loving into new dimensions of menacing catchiness.

Jeff Parker – “The New Breed”: Although known for his guitar work in the influential post-rock band Tortoise, Parker also gained traction with his solo project. This album brings accessibility and experimentation to the table, utilizing earthy groove, quirky impressionistic flourishes, and undeniable chops for a diverse palate of modern Jazz sublimity. Parker’s songs are grounded, but feature the lofty tendencies of “In a Silent Way” or “Jaco.” Anyone looking for a brazenly courageous dose of modern funky jazz to soak in, as well as dance to, need look no further.

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