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#1: ‘Stills’ by Gauntlet Hair

I was so disappointed with this album. Until a few weeks ago I’d only heard one song from ‘Stills’ (Bad Apple, which I absolutely love) and I had hopes that the rest of the album would live up to the high bar set by Bad Apple. But alas, the other songs were murky and boring at times, and none left any sort of good impression on me, which is a shame. And a bigger shame is that Gauntlet Hair broke up shortly after the album’s release, before they had a chance to redeem themselves.

#2: ‘Sleeper’ by Ty Segall

All hail the king of garage rock! Segall has a very impressive discography and an even more impressive musical prowess. His songwriting talent is spotlighted in ‘Sleeper’, where Segall puts his electric guitar and surface fuzz aside and goes acoustic. I was initially very surprised by this, but by the end of the album I found myself marveling, ‘Man, this guy really can’t put out a bad song.”

#3: ‘Paracosm’ by Washed Out

Honestly, I thought that chillwave was dead by now. I had completely forgotten about it until ‘Paracosm’ dropped out of nowhere. I can’t decide how I feel about it- maybe I’m influenced by its drop in relevance, but it feels  just a little forced. (Sorry, Ernest, but more synths are not always better.) Most of the songs are drowned in noise, which I’m usually happy with, but to me, “chill” and “noise” is not a winning combination. The album does have some songs I really like, notably ‘It All Feels Right’, and the bass especially is excellent. But, to put it tritely, the whole album sounds a little…..um….. washed out.

#4: ‘Major Arcana’ by Speedy Ortiz

I don’t have a clue how one would begin to categorize Speedy Ortiz- punk? indie? lo-fi rock? But no matter how you spin it, the album is fantastic. It’s unsettling and discomforting in a raw and blunt way, with off-kilter guitar and jarring lyrics about bullies, abandonment, and no-good creeps. But the most bizarre (and successful) part is that the music itself is upbeat and catchy, and in some cases even cheery, which makes it even more interesting. If you’re looking for an emotionally thought-provoking record, ‘Major Arcana’ is a safe bet.

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