I’ve been thinking about the releases of the year for the past few weeks and made some (naturally very similar) lists for various places, so I thought I’d begin my countdown of releases of the year (as usual, in no order) here with some worthy things that I somehow overlooked/forgot about when compiling my other lists. So just to start…
Quinta – The Quick Of The Heart (Peeler Records)
Released back in July, The Quick Of The Heart is a beautiful and magical album that took a while to grow on me, but that has stayed with me through the many ups and downs of a year that was often not much fun. Quinta is a multi-instrumentalist and member of the experimental string quartet Collectress (whose superb 2014 album Mondegreen was my release of the year back then) and this album ranges from minimalistic piano pieces to lushly arranged songs, all with their own unique, delicate atmosphere. The album is more song-oriented than I expected, and the fresh, breezily unorthodox tunes are both accessible and unusual. The Quick Of The Heart is one of those albums that creates its own discrete sound world, quite unlike anything else I can think of; a lovely, refreshing record.
Recommended track: A Tutorial For Little Karen
This great album was released back in February, far back enough, in fact that I thought it was out last year. While I like some psych/spacerock/krautrock type stuff, the problem with the genre (if you can call it that) for me is that it can be completely immersive and thrilling or, if not feeling it, extremely boring. Italian band Julie’s Haircut are not immune to the latter kind of non-hypnotic meandering, but when they are good they’re great and there is far more good stuff on this album than filler.
Recommended track: Zukunft
Again, released at the beginning of the year and so escaping my lists until now, Jesca Hoop’s latest album is a superbly focussed set of songs grounded in folk, Americana and experimental pop. Any way of describing it makes it sound more complicated than it is, and the most obvious points of comparison (she occasionally sounds a bit like Kate Bush) are a bit misleading; but it’s a really good album.
Recommended track – Unsaid
Zeal & Ardor – The Devil Is Fine (self-release)
Z&A’s black metal-infused blues or whatever you want to call it is one of the strangest-sounding (as a description), but at the same time most accessible (as music) melanges of styles I’ve come across; unholy gospel music that gets better and stranger every time I hear it.
Recommended track: Blood In The River
I didn’t really realise I liked this album a lot until songs from it kept popping into my head at random times after I’d given it a few listens. Over the last few weeks though, the slightly queasy mix of experimental synth pop, honking sax, Blade Runner-atmospherics and alternately fragile and vocoder-heavy vocals has proved extremely addictive; I like it a lot.
Recommended track: Sun luona taas
and more later…