1. “B-Flat Ontology” – Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog. This Tom Waits-ian rambler is a philosophical musing on “flat ontology”, where everyone (and everything, if you get really intense) is equal. Ribot’s response is a weary “isn’t it amazing / I’m just amazed” to everything; the satire is grim but very informed (Zizek makes an appearance!). This probably isn’t for everyone (there are some brutal, distasteful elements satirizing social media around 4:00), but I’m fascinated by the intersections of philosophy, internet, and art. This falls directly at that nexus.
2. “Skinny Legs” – Dana Sipos. An intimate, clear-eyed alt-folk cut that celebrates the life of a grandmother at the edge of death. Sipos’ expert command of her voice and of the atmosphere of a song are in full flower here–especially in the elegant, moving video that is rich with imagery (including flowers, feasts, pomegranate seeds, needlepoint, and more).
3. “Theme from Lonely Cinema” – HILOTRONS. Combines Spaghetti Western, surf punk, and even some classic sci-fi/horror soundtrack influences into a nostalgic, evocative instrumental.
4. “Cold as Weiss” – Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio. Hot off releasing one of my favorite records of the year so far, Delvon Lamarr’s trio is back with a leaned-back, in-the-pocket cut that will make fans of Khruangbin excited. This is still feel-good music (as is their modus operandi), but it’s got a lot more chill in the organ-driven funk.
5. “Printer” – Big Liquid. I am most enthused by people who take as many genres as possible and blend them into something new but also recognizable. This track is a mashup of drones, twee notes, subtle staccato beats, cascading funk bass, and other random sounds that come together into something that’s way more frenetic than ambient but not nearly straightforward enough for club music. And it’s gorgeous, on top of that. It’s just way out there, in the best way.
6. “Indentations” – Passepartout Duo. This unclassifiable synths/percussion composition sounds influenced by 8-bit RPG soundtracks, quirky post-rock, and insistent rhythms. This is a unique, clever, intriguing work that seems to be going several different places at once without clashing.
7. “Au Commencement” – Oppenheimer’s Elevators. I’m not the first person to point out that the post-rock which was supposed to rail against the formulaic nature of rock music became itself formulaic very quickly. However, this long, meandering, engaging post-rock piece from Oppenheimer’s Elevators pushes back against that stereotypical pattern; the dreamy, guitar-driven piece stretches out to great length without seeming to have any agenda or following any rules but its own. It’s always exciting to hear a piece that doesn’t do what I expect it to do, and that’s true here.
8. “Well Done” – Typical Sisters. This is song is essentially a very brightly-colored mechanical object full of glowy LEDs that is clearly doing something awesome and looking amazing while doing it. After the lovely intro, this is a bunch of performances going in all different directions, being held together by an acrobatic drum kit workout. I love it. Highly recommended.
9. “Real de 14” – Todd Clouser, Bram Weijters, Sebastien Boisseau, Teun Verbruggen. You want moving, beautiful, mellow jazz? Look no further for an exemplar of the style.
20. “Goa” – Zement. Combines motorik prog with droning new wave synths and glittery arpeggiator for a uniquely zen experience.