Black Belt Eagle Scout, “Mother of My Children”

The kind of album that can both haunt and heal you—if you pay close enough attention. 

Low, “Double Negative”

For a band that’s so steady and sure-footed, Low are uniquely gifted at conveying a sense of unraveling.

Lenny Kravitz, “Raise Vibration”

None of this has anything to do with what’s currently clogging up the charts—but then, when did Lenny ever neatly fit the zeitgeist?

Wild Nothing, “Indigo”

Wild Nothing has shifted away from lo-fi dreaminess, aiming for something more polished and defined.

The Lemon Twigs, “Go to School”

A testament to unbridled creative freedom—a concept album such as this one could easily take a turn for the bizarre, yet The Lemon Twigs are able to keep it witty and lighthearted.

Nothing, “Dance on the Blacktop”

What initially feels like a watered-down sequel to a totally unique album reveals itself to be an impressive demonstration of dream-pop art brut.

Interpol, “Marauder”

Existential melancholy and staccato guitars have been Interpol’s signature for well over a decade, and they still carry it out with panache.

Animal Collective, “Tangerine Reef”

The intentions here are environmentally noble, but the songs collectively feel like a minor mood piece rather than the cohesive statement the band aspires to.

Ariana Grande, “Sweetener”

“Sweetener” is a pop remedy for anxiety, while also explicitly detailing its crippling nature.

Mitski, “Be the Cowboy”

Mitski is deepening her craft and heightening her emotional availability, but never dulling her edge.

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.

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