If you're looking for a theme here, you probably should stop. It's an eclectic mix and while four of the albums here are strokes of ambient genius, the rest are albums that defied pop music trends and gave me something to listen to more than once. Hope you enjoy!
- High Plains: Cinderland. Masterful, moving and economical classical musicianship by Scott Moran (loscil) and Mark Bridges, whose plaintive and haunting cello is at turns beautiful and ominous. Recorded in the mountains of Wyoming and inspired by Schubert, the work here is so evocative of a landscape (listen to "White Truck" to be scared), that one feels one has been to Wyoming even if one has not.
- Phoenix: Ti Amo. Danceable 80s retro band with French influences. Catchy and unashamed danceable pop music (think Pet Shop Boys without the annoying voice or lyrics).
- Jay Som: Everybody Works. Jangly guitars, a full sound, catchy melodies and mostly fun sing-out loud melodies
- Japanese Breakfast: Soft Sounds from Another Planet More shoegaze 80s sensibilities, from the Cocteau Twins/Shelleyan Orphan mold.
- Loscil: Monument Builders. The less actively you listen to this ambient master, the more profound it sounds. I know that seems ridiculous, but try it.
- Penguin Cafe: The Imperfect Sea. Classical, jazz and pop touches from the son of longtime Penguin Cafe Orchestra leader Simon Jeffes. There are many moments in this album where the work exceeds even the best of PCO. Each song begins rather simply, but subtle layers are added to the repetition of musical phrases and before long you are massively engaged in the music.
- Weaves. Wide Open. Noisy, ambitious, raucous pop with the original voice of Jasmyn Burke fronting. At times they exhibit the energy and metallic sound of early U2.
Sylvan Esso: What Now? Quirky minimalist electronic pop duo akin to Psapp that people will either love or hate. As the exception to my own rule, I like this idiosyncratic album very much. Thanks, Andrew Smith.
- Library Tapes. komorebi. Unhurried atmospheric ambient music. Cinematic and lulling.
Cindy Wilson: Change. Pop music from the former B-52s cofounder that shows a serious side she revealed only once or twice, when brother Ricky died in the 80s. Yes, you can take a B-52 alum seriously.