Top 10 for week ending in 9/11/21

10. black midi – Cavalcade (Rough Trade)

“…an album of carefully crafted mayhem, with the band forgoing the improvisation of their first record in favor of meticulously planned jazzy epics… Moving from quiet, enigmatic ambience to avant-garde walls of sound to complex riffs delivered at breakneck speed, black midi have managed to add a refreshing second volume to their repertoire that truly takes the experimental sound of their first record to the next level.”

– Trent D.

9. Crumb – Ice Melt (Crumb Records)

“The psychedelia that was present on Jinx is turned down about a notch here, and with added darkness… the jazzy and floaty drums of yore are replaced with louder simpler rhythms. Which is fine by me…that shift made way for bops like ‘Balloon’.”

– Louie A.

8. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Butterfly 3000 (KGATLW Records)

“…this record trades the band’s iconic rock-driven style for synths and MIDI sequences to create an uplifting record detailing the process of growth and metamorphosis using the symbol of — you guessed it — butterflies… this record is full of psychedelic lyrics and catchy rhythms that stay with you long after the first listen.”

– Casey C.

7. Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee (Dead Oceans)

Michelle Zauner defined this album as her singing about joy rather than the sadness steeped in her previous albums after the death of her mother in 2014… in tracks like “In Hell” and “Posing in Bondage” Zauner lapses into reflective sadness, but the melancholy is so beautifully executed one barely notices the sad nature of her lyrics.”

– Casey C.

6. Clairo – Sling (Republic/Fader)

“Radiating with near-total resignation and then quiet anger and then resignation again, Sling plays as if it exists more for Clairo than for her audience, making it clear from the outset that this record is intended to be 44 minutes of Clairo working through some stuff, but nevertheless welcoming us along for the ride.”

– Meg M.

5. Fleece – Stunning & Atrocious (self-released)

While Voyager was at times amateurish in its execution, the core of the record and its psychedelic roots were strong, and the songwriting showed great promise. Stunning & Atrocious is the full realization of this potential, with refined production, stunning instrumentation, and some of the band’s best songwriting to date.”

– Michael C.

4. Men I Trust – Untourable Album (self-released)

Dreamy and melancholy, this album explores nostalgia and isolation while simultaneously slowing down time for the listeners. Very relaxing and beautiful release so all tracks have something to offer.”

– Tawny H.

3. Naia Izumi – A Residency in the Los Angeles Area (Sony Music Masterworks)

“Inspired by jazz, blues, R&B, and a little bit of math rock, this album encompasses so much in so little time. Every one of these tracks is at the same time groovy, dynamic, and impressive… the elements of each track flow together so well that it all sounds like the result of pure musical genius.”

– Casey C.

2. King Woman – Celestial Blues (Relapse)

“[King Woman’s] second full-length record is borne from a delicate mix of doom metal, post-rock, with a bit of biblical imagery sprinkled in… Esfandiari’s breathy vocals take center stage here, surrounded by strong riffs and rudiments that back up her voice beautifully.”

– Casey C.

1. Spellling – The Turning Wheel (Sacred Bones)

“San Francisco Bay-area artist Tia Cabral a.k.a. Spellling (with 3 L’s) brings us what may be the best art pop record of the last decade… The instrumentation is lush and vibrant and draws the listener into the album’s world, Cabral’s vocal performances are nothing short of stunning, and the synth lead on ‘Boys at School’ is borderline transcendental.”

– Michael C.