10 Watchglass – “Eons Romance”
Sydney, Australia’s Watchglass channel a seriously tranquil vibe here for some summer folk-pop that will penetrate your world with ease.
9 Saloli – “Nighthawk”
Bandcamp lists Mary Sutton, a.k.a. Saloli, as a “pianist,” which is funny because I don’t hear a single analog sound on this whole album, let alone a piano. Throughout, we get textural, undulating ambient IDM, coming to a head on “Nighthawk” and its bulbous, multifarious bath of synths, all throaty and full-bodied to make for a gripping listen even without percussion.
8 Circles around the Sun – “Outer Boroughs”
Circles around the Sun churn out funky, psychedelic and eclectic jam-rock which is sort of narrowly saved from sounding like porno music by, along with a diverse, curious synth arsenal, which has a way of mimicking electric guitar in its warbly, ephemeral majesty.
7 SDH – “Cellular Sky”
SDH’s “Semiotics Department of Heteronyms” acronym certainly seems like some sort of “concept moniker,” to foil a “concept album,” but don’t worry. This stuff is anything but overly cerebral — heady electro-pop that kind of resembles Kylie Minogue if she went on some vindictive operative of dark, teeming, Spanish-infused electronica chords and rhythms.
6 Diviniti – “More Love”
There’s something so accommodating to bloggers about the unorthodox spelling of the Pennsylvania soul-diva’s stage name. And there she is looking so friendly, on her Spotify page, and best of all proviso of this Des’ree-tinged, expedited and ready-to-roll neo-soul that draws way more stylistic and semantic influence from Stevie Wonder’s “Happier Than the Morning Sun” than any earthly being would seem capable a priori.
5 Tchiss Lopes – “Go to the School”
Just in time for the Women’s World Cup, we’ve got Italy throwing its chips into the reggae pool. Rome’s Tchiss Lopes, who looks amusingly almost exactly like Bob Marley, weaves in an array of “dub” beats, giving the project a Mad Professor feel for a set of vocals which nonetheless come across with the intimacy of “Redemption Song” or an earnest Jimmy Cliff offering.
4 Orrin Evans – “Phoebe’s Stroll”
Is that two entries from the keystone state on this list? This Philly pianist, anyway, wields a seriously deep perspective on jazz for this light but full-bodied LP, with “Phoebe’s Stroll” caressing your neck in sound waves like a jazz take on Bela Fleck — always ornate and eclectic while also coming across adamantly American.
3 Amadeus360 – “Soon Start to Suffer” feat. Tek
If it seems like Kendrick Lamar might have been running out of things to say when he repeated “Sit down / Be humble” 37 times in a “hit single,” it would stand to reason that these “producer” albums, with one common beatmaker catering to a multiplicity of different emcees from track to track, would encompass the “wave of the future,” if you will. The MPC Jedi seems to embrace this phenomenon in hilariously nerdy resignation and also dole out copious classic moments with the likes of Ras Kass, Sticky Fingaz and Tek, who beats up this baroque beat with a rubber-tongued, indefatigable sneer.
2 Ricardo Dias Gomes – “Fllux”
Proving that the phrase “You are such a drone” is anything but an insult in the electronica world, Rio De Janeiro’s Ricardo Dias Gomes defiantly takes pride in the minimalistic, coming to a head on the glorious “Fllux,” which takes Sunn O))) or Fu** Buttons synth sound and gives it a full-page ad in the newspaper, so to speak, with unnerving, atonal burps of sliced percussion only making things eerier.
1 Jayda G – “Blue Lights”
Not so much avoiding convention but giving it a middle finger that has eight knuckles on it (in the true spirit of Dane Cook), Jayda G unleashes limp-wristed but crisp electro-pop here with a jungle energy and the cathartic vocals of soul. The hypnotic factor is saturated by the way G emits this sovereign, hypnotic mantra of “Gonna dance tonight / In the blue lights” with such human authenticity, all under this monsoon of electronic beats which threatens to annihilate the light vocals at any chance.
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