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It's Album Time | Todd Terje 

As if we didn’t have enough instrumental records on this list. Terje’s masterwork of tight synths and discocentric beats makes any trip to the grocery store an acquisition of 10 lb. bags of cocaine—and they sell them in the ramen aisle! So slip on those headphones and become a badasss, whether you’re driving along a pacific roadway or drafting blueprints to rob Las Vegas’ most elegant casino.  

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TOO BRIGHT | PERFUME GENIUS

Google Mike Hadreas and there you have it. A dystopian soul trapped in a beautiful body. That image is the schema of Too Bright, a subtle and punishing record. Hadreas’ pipes are the protagonists of this stunning litany of songs. Pray you’re going through a breakup and/or identity crisis.
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Run the Jewels 2 | Run The Jewels

Well spank my ass and call me Whitey. RTJ have done it again. Killer Mike and El-P present their sequel, a blistering amalgam of beat and lyric. Simultaneously ‘music to just listen to’ and music that takes unpacking and deconstruction, RTJ2 is the last man standing in the rap battle between who stays and who goes. You are intended to stay.
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Inventions | Inventions

Ten years ago if someone would have told me in vague terms “there’s some kind of mash-up between Eluvium and Explosions In The Sky” I would have crapped my pants. Update: my pre-Inventions nickname “schieße hosen” has reached relevant magnitude. This is the most daunting, paralyzing post-rock-ambient record in years. A reason to own vinyl and a turntable.

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Are We There | Sharon Van Etten

Ms. van Etten has been putting out records for a while. She is arguably the most important singer/songwriter working today, sculpting steady instrumentation and words into self-criticizing, love-sick landscapes. If telling it like it is were a currency, Shan would be a thrillionaire. There’s a reason even the ballsiest lothario steers clear of Etten’s Grendel, a monster with a parable for every way love can steer sour.

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Love | Amen Dunes

The courtesans of outer-sound have approached the doorstep. “This is the album of the year!” they cry. They are undoubtedly correct. This is the seventh best album of the year. There are infinite images to put to this perfectly licked magnum opus, a steady composite of organic and analog that flickers on the mind like a lyrically drenched Stan Brakhage film. There are myriad avenues to access in describing Love—I’d rather you listen to it.

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Sylvan Esso | Sylvan Esso

NPR got their stranglehold on this little gem like a 40-foot python finding a baby calf with an asthma attack in the wilderness. Although I’ve been following this project since seeing Mountain Man at Newport in 2011 (personal zing!) they are not wrong. Opening for t-U-n-E-y-A-r-D-s in south Denver I saw Sylvan steal the show.  

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ATOMOS | A Winged Victory For The Sullen

Suddenly listening to these dudes on a Saturday night (given up all hope on the singles bar scene, am I right ladies???) and loving every second. Then learn it’s Dustin O’ Halloran and Adam Wiltzie, champions of everything I hold dear in music—how did I miss this? OK. Discover it scores interpretive dance choreography by Wayne McGregor. Jesus. Stick a fork, fellas. Sensual strings and exploratory spaces to the nth.
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Scraps Of Tape | Sjätte Vansinnety

The most pivotal driving prog-rock of our generation comes from… the Swedes. This latest unidentifiable blurred line between what is earnest and groundbreaking and what is guitars, time signatures, and trying vocals comes from Scraps Of Tape, a band that couldn’t stop playing while I was wandering videogame territory or washing the dishes. The perfect companion when there isn’t a love interest for a million miles and you want to rock.

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Foundations of Burden | Pallbearer

Behold, the sludge. Pallbearer’s sophomore ode to the heavier than ununseptium downtempo road that Black Sabbath paved brings more raucous than their first, as if that were possible. Suspiciously great after dab of the dispensary’s finest hasish oil, this joyous barrel-roll through gloaming smog is 2014’s keystone doom release.

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Lost In The Dream | The War On Drugs

Dad rock. Beer commercial music. These labels courtesy of Mark Kozelek, whos name has become synonymous with ‘the internet.’ Before that: there were jams. I particularly like these. Jerry Garcia would have approved.

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A U R O R A | Ben Frost 

During the bands leading up to Ben Frost at a major music festival I was asleep. Curled up like a little capybara in dreamland. The moment he took the stage I bolted awake, driven by his music to jettison my festival-mates, rush the stage and rip. This dense, choc-fulla-chaos and quietness work is a love letter to that moment and Frost’s burgeoning legacy.

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