Nicki Minaj, “Queen”
In a summer where scores of hip-hop heavyweights failed to whittle their work into a concise artistic statement, the sins of “Queen” are hardly glaring or unforgivable.
Shooter Jennings, “Shooter”
Shooter Jennings has never let convention or the commonplace slow his roll or stand in the way of a great notion.
Mac Miller, “Swimming”
Mac Miller has been open about his struggles in the past, and “Swimming” is rooted in trying to find a way to stay afloat.
Spider Bags, “Someday Everything Will Be Fine”
No matter who Spider Bags sort of sound like, they always sound like themselves.
Ross from Friends, “Family Portrait”
Ross from Friends’ debut indulges in humor and the minutiae of legacy, handling the details with care.
Bass Drum of Death, “Just Business”
A 1-2-3-go punk-pop record in the Buzzcocks vein with a nice little bend in the tempo, as if you just got zapped by lightning.
Phantastic Ferniture, “Phantastic Ferniture”
A collection of unfussy, straightforward, mid-tempo rockers that revel in their uniformity.
The Internet, “Hive Mind”
“Hive Mind” solidifies The Internet’s sound as a newly formed molecule, sharing skills and attributes like electrons in a covalent bond.
The Ophelias, “Almost”
“Almost” is the sound of women comparing notes in the spotlight to create something unusual, beautiful, and wholly relatable.
Body/Head, “The Switch”
This is not music that wants to play on your emotions—rather, it wants you to leave the nuisance of them behind altogether.
Cowboy Junkies, “All That Reckoning”
Cowboy Junkies have never reckoned with the times as vividly or as pointedly as they do here.
Deafheaven, “Ordinary Corrupt Human Love”
“Ordinary Corrupt Human Love” is a plunderphonic expression of a convoluted, black-metal-sized subject: human love.
Cornelia Murr, “Lake Tear of the Clouds”
“Lake Tear of the Clouds” skims lazily over fields of grass, Murr’s voice aloft on the breeze.
Dirty Projectors, “Lamp Lit Prose”
“Lamp Lit Prose” finds David Longstreth elated, though his positivity doesn’t always result in musical vitality.
A two-man mixtape of psych, guitar pop, soul power, and good times.
Drake has brilliantly portrayed fatherhood from the perspective of an abandoned child—but now that he is the estranged father, his music feels cold, distant, and distracted.
Florence + the Machine, “High as Hope”
More than ever, Welch trusts her magnetic personality and her unerring gift for skyscraping pop hooks to do the emotional lifting.
Gang Gang Dance, “Kazuashita”
Once personifying the adventurous, fresh feel of Brooklyn’s 21st century rise, GGD’s latest takes into account the jadedness of the moment.