In addition to the tracks and albums I wrote about for Pitchfork’s Best of the Decade So Far lists—including music by Beach House, Chromatics, The War on Drugs, Disclosure, and Jessie Ware—I made my own list of personal favorites and highlights from the past five years. I can’t say with any certainty that this is a definitive list, but more a snapshot of where I am with music right now, in relation to the songs and records that resonated with me the most since 2010. Even after doing this, I came to love quite a bit of Ariana Grande’s My Everything LP, but I’ll save those gushings for the year-end bonanza.
Surprising to me, this has become something of a divisive track among fans of SOPHIE and A.G. Cook, the head of au courant poly-pop label PC Music. I suppose that the squeaky, über-cute vocal in “Hey QT” is an acquired taste, but I think what these guys are doing with unreal pop ideas has a lot of potential we can’t yet imagine.
True to its name, “Hard” is the most pleasantly confounding and angular track to arrive from London producer SOPHIE, though it does have a few soft edges. I like the way he’s turning disparate Top 40 references into his own color palette from which to splatter paint.
The latest single to arrive from FKA twigs’ forthcoming LP1 for Young Turks, “Pendulum” is an excellent distillation of what made songs like “Water Me” and “Two Weeks” work so well. If you wade through the barely there melodies and soft rhythms the singer lays at your feet, she’ll reward you with lush harmonies and an utterly gratifying chorus.
Bearing my heart as much as my musical tastes, I attempted the impossible, and made a list of 30 essential emo songs from the ’90s and early 2000s. I’m not naive enough to think that I could please everyone with a genre/era as personal and divisive as this, but I had an absolute blast compiling, researching, and writing this for Stereogum. (Side note: I am more than willing to discuss the merits of my selections with anyone interested. Get @ me.)
As the intro to this feature states, “None of these releases received a Best New Music designation and not all were rated above an 8.0, but all are records worth revisiting.” Among those listed are Millie & Andrea’s brutally dark Drop the Vowels LP and the near-perfect Music for the Uninvited “mini-album” by Leon Vynehall—both of which I wrote about here. I’m also happy to see that the awesome records from Container, The Hotelier, and Madlib & Freddie Gibbs made the list.
London-based singer FKA twigs is perhaps the most exciting new vocalist I’ve encountered in recent memory. Between the adventurous producers she works with, her remarkable voice, and the artfully alien image she projects, FKA twigs is a throughly intriguing artist who offers an alternate version of the R&B/pop singer. Just as much is evident on her latest single, too, as “Two Weeks” sets the scene for a debut album that seems primed to take over 2014.