I’m not so presumptuous as to present my opinions as facts, but some interesting albums came out this year that others may enjoy just as much as I have.
So here they are, in no particular order.
Grails: Anches En Maat
If you’re interested in psych synth-wave doomjazz post-rock, as you should be, you might enjoy this album. I can’t say it’s my favorite Grails album (that would probably be Black Tar Prophecies 4 5 & 6), but it’s just nice to have them back after a 6-year absence.
††† (Crosses): Goodnight, God Bless, I Love U, Delete.
With all of Chino Moreno’s output, including Deftones, ††† (Crosses), Palms, and Team Sleep, I find myself skipping over most tracks but then landing on certain songs that I consider masterpieces, and these songs end up in my permanent rotation. This album continues that trend.
This is a good opportunity to point people to a masterpiece they may not know about since the album was never officially released:
Hella: Hold Your Horse Is (Deluxe Reissue)
This album is originally from 2002, but the poor production value always made it a little hard to listen to. There’s such brilliant musicianship on this album, but the sound was too muddy to make it all out sometimes. That has now been corrected.
But if you’re new to Hella, it might be best to check out a live performance so you understand the godlike powers you’re experiencing:
Aesop Rock: Integrated Tech Solutions
Aesop keeps getting better. I can listen to this entire album on repeat.
Does mystical world afrobeat psychedelia sound interesting? That was rhetorical. Of course, it does. If you don’t know of Goat, you should get hip.
Here they are performing live recently:
John Zorn: Nothing Is As Real As Nothing
I’m a Zorn fan from way back. This year, he released the entire Tzadik collection of albums on streaming, which must have been quite an undertaking, and he released a few new albums in the process.
This one has Bill Frisell, Gyan Riley, and Julian Lage on guitar. Does that sound like one hell of a trio? You’re goddamn right it is.
I couldn’t find any good videos for this album, but here’s a live performance of Zorn with Julian Lage from November of 2022:
The Mars Volta: Que Dios Te Maldiga Mi Corazon
When The Mars Volta dropped their self-titled album in 2022, my initial feelings were mixed, but it grew on me the more I listened to it. It’s their mellowest album, and Cedric Bixler-Zavala has a gift for interesting vocal melodies that create atmosphere; this is some of his best.
Que Dios Te Maldiga Mi Corazon is an all-acoustic version of the same album, and the songs work even better acoustically.
Spotlights: The Alchemist
This album is a joy for me to listen to. Layered guitars and beautiful, haunting melodies weave through heavy and soft moments. This album has spent a lot of time in my rotation since it was released.
I listen whenever Justin Broaderick releases a new album because it’s always mind-blowing. Godflesh shifted my understanding of what heavy music could be when I heard Streetcleaner (1989) in the early 90s. They’re one of those bands who had a major influence on the music scene of the 90s that continues until today, but they never quite got the fame or recognition they deserved.
While we’re at it, I recommend checking out Justin’s 2022 Jesu album, Pity/Piety, and if you haven’t already, listen to the rest of their discography.
Check out the guitar solo in Last Word at 2:49. I’m not generally interested in guitar pyrotechnics, but this is a hell of a solo, and I’ve never heard a guitar tone quite like it.
This album is about as close to pop music as I tend to get, but what can I say? It’s infectious.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation
This band can be hit-or-miss for me, but that’s inevitable when you release 25 studio albums in 11 years.
This one hit.
Some of it feels a little goofy, but I like that. The older I get, the more often I just want to listen to something fun, and that’s what this is. It’s a thrash metal concept album, and when I tried to find out what it was about, I came across this quote from Stu MacKenzie: “It’s about humankind, and it’s about planet Earth, but it’s also about witches and dragons and shit.” That works for me.
The musicianship is incredible, but don’t take it too seriously.