#20. Whack World, Tierra Whack
15 minutes, 15 tracks. Who knew you could pack so much wonderful weirdness into a minute of music? Tierra offers colourful glimpses of her world, which looks a lot like ours, with all the confusion of coming of age in our times, and some quirky positivity added in to buoy our view. But this isn’t a gimmick album – Tierra’s inventiveness, in the breezy way she presents resonant themes, is one that’s sorely needed in a musical landscape that’s often accused of stagnant unoriginality. We’re all better off for it.
Watch/listen to the whole thing. It’s worth 15 minutes of your time.
#19. Delta, Mumford and Sons
Ah, the critic’s favourite punching bag – and one of my personal favourite bands. Mumford and Sons have been making earnest music for a while now, and I have found myself in several of their songs. Delta might not make it to the end-of-year lists, but it’s a gorgeously crafted collection of songs that elevate Marcus Mumford’s rousing vocals to their emotional zenith, with a soundscape that moves with glacial grace. Music only needs to reach the listener’s heart and stir something in it – nevermind Pitchfork’s diatribes.
Listen to: Woman, Rose of Sharon
#18. Freedom, Amen Dunes
#22. Wildheart – Miguel
Full disclosure: I don’t usually care much for RnB. Despite this, I count myself as a fan of Miguel for his ability to incorporate diverse influences, beyond tradtional RnB, into his music, while still being centered on his incredible, authentic vocals. The result of this artistic dabbling is one of the richest-sounding albums of the year. From the hip-hop swagger on N.W.A to Coffee’s vivid emotiveness, Wildheart is a bold statement on positive sexuality and pleasure, and marks a definitive moment in contemporary music.
Listen to: Coffee, face the sun
#21. Big Grams – Big Grams
The brainchild of Big Boi (one-half of the legendary OutKast) and electronic group Phantogram, Big Grams is quite simply one of my favourite collaborative efforts, and favourite musical surprises, of the year. The sensual, slow-burning electronica and Sarah Barthel vocals are a perfect foil to Big Boi’s cocky, self-assured mic presence on tracks like Run For Your Life and Fell In The Sun; while they veer towards braggodicious hip-hop powered by skittering beats on tracks such as Born To Shine. Golden as the cover art, Big Grams is one of the coolest albums of the year. My only real complaint with this project is that there isn’t more of it.
Listen To: Run For Your Life, Drum Machine
#20. Genesis Series EP – ZHU
ZHU, the person, may still be quite the enigma, but his music has a clear purpose: seduce the entire damn dance floor. Thanks to a much higher profile this year, ZHU accentuates this EP’s sound through an array of impeccably chosen collaborators, while ensuing his sound is not lost in the crowd. The signature synths and keys are guaranteed to get you grooving, while the featured vocals interplay with ZHU’s falsetto in exciting ways. Whether you’re an audiophile or a club regular, the Genesis Series EP will treat you ears to auditory sensuality.
Listen To: Hold Up Wait A Minute , Modern Conversation