After what feels like an eternity, the Berlin-based crooner is finally ready to drop his debut LP. I instantly fell in love with Bodan’s lithe, gracefully salacious sound on 2012′s bulletproof Aaron/DP 12″ single. Since then, he’s continued to crank out diverse, unclassifiable tunes that consistently challenge how pop music is supposed to sound and what pop singers are supposed to sing about. In his music, nothing is taboo. Whether it’s a lounge lizard sax solo, trancey synths, an earnest cover of a jazz standard, or a soliloquy about a particularly memorable blowjob, everything is in play. And that’s what makes Bodan such a fearless artist and one of the most fascinating musicians of 2014.
Fresh off the crushing (for me and presumably, them) dissolution of his relationship with Ciara, Future graces us with his second full-length release of the year. While his eyeroll-y recent collab with Wiz Khalifa, “Pussy Overrated,” gives me pause about this release, the presence of executive producer Metro Boomin and the 30 year-old’s stellar track record gets me back on board.
(10.28, Chop Squad)
Last week, I wrote about the Chicago producer’s impressive maturation over the last two and half years. After taking over the world with the ubiquitous “I Don’t Like,” Chop has steadfastly refused to be put in a box, and pre-release singles suggest that Still will serve as a culmination of 30 months of non-stop work and melodic experimentation. In interviews, Chop (né Tyree Pittman) comes off as a gregarious, genuine, super driven guy, and it’s great to see all of those traits keep paying off for him.
Liz Harris recorded much of her 10th LP, Ruins, all the way back in 2011, whilst on an artist’s residency program on the southwestern coast of Portugal. Evidently, the Oregon resident stumbled upon a new kind of alchemy while there, because she managed to bottle up the region’s impossible beauty and distill it into eight gorgeous songs. Armed with mostly just a piano and her intimate, disarming voice, Harris crafted an album to savor and one of her most human, direct statements ever. It’s another unique effort from one of the finest musicians working today.
(11.04, Hippos In Tanks)
I’ll be honest, I have no idea what to expect when it comes to Alejandro “Arca” Ghersi’s debut LP. The eclectic, Venezualen producer has lit up high profile collaborations with Kanye West and FKA Twigs, and last year’s beguiling, &&&&&,was one of best mixtapes of 2013. That said, Xen seems likely to be a different animal altogether, and its mesmeric lead single, “Thievery,” features unsettling, witch-housey (I know, I know) instrumentation and an intoxicating, shuffling backbeat. I have no clue what the record will sound like, but when it comes to Arca, that’s kinda the point.
(11.04, Rough Trade)
Speaking of “who the fuck knows,” the mercurial Londoner’s second solo release is also sure to confound and delight openminded listeners. After his split with Inga Copeland — who dropped the incredible Because I’m Worth It back in May — the ex-Hype Williams man has continued his prolific, mellon-twisting output as a solo artist. The Redeemer was one of the most divisive, peculiar records of last year, and the songs we’ve heard from Black Metal point to a slightly more streamlined, albeit still pretty fucking weird sound.
(11.04, 37 Adventures)
Life After Defo, the southeast London songwriter’s debut LP was one of the most underrated albums of 2012, and I actually don’t blame music critics for that Everything about Daniel Woolhouse is understated. His warm, restrained vocals. His spare, windswept arrangements. Hell, even his face in promos is mostly obscured, either by his sadboi poses or his barista-level beard. That said, if you spend some time with his music, you’ll likely find that it’ll open up to you and reveal its quietly majestic properties.
Alone for the First
(11.04, Last Gang)
If you’ve been following the Canadian DJ/producer’s career somewhat closely, you saw this one coming. Wiped out by the late nights, constant travel, loud music, and lonely hotel rooms of life as a touring DJ, Hemsworth’s second LP is the quietest, most reflective work of his career. The 7-song set is led by his lovely Dawn Golden-assisted, long distance relationship jam, “Snow in Newark.” Not much of a singer himself, Alone for the First Time enlists a talented guest-list, including Alex G, Lontalius, and lithe Swedish vocalist Little Cloud.
Like an NC-17 version of the XX, the shadowy duo’s darkly seductive jams will slink their way on to that “special” playlist we all have on our laptops. Built around the dual vocals of members Samia and Justin (who also serves as their main beatmaker), 18+ stews elements of hip-hop, goth, bedroom R&B, and downtempo electro into an intoxicating sonic elixir. While last year’s mixtape showed incredible potential, Trust boasts much improved production value that should take them to the next level.
Antony and the Johnsons
(11.11, Secretly Canadian)
While it’s not really a new album, Antony’s concert film/live album that chronicles the extraordinary stories of 13 women over the backdrop of the Mercury Prize winner’s exquisite chamber pop looks like a revelation. Besides being one of the finest live performers I’ve ever seen, Antony’s music and personal stories (and surely the ones featured in this documentary) are extremely inspiring and enlightening, and I personally can’t wait to sit down an enjoy Turning in full.
Faith in Strangers
(11.17, Modern Love)
Let’s be real, no matter what the pre-release singles sounded like, a fanboi like me was always going to fawn over any new Andy Stott record. That said, when they’re this fucking good, you can’t really blame me. The two songs in question — “Violence” and “Faith in Strangers” — highlight his mastery of managing sonic space and his originality as a producer and songwriter. The Mancunian producer’s last LP, Luxury Problems, made my Top 5 of 2012 list, and there’s no reason his next one can’t do one better this year.
It’s been a helluva year for the futurists in LA’s WeDidIt Collective. 2014 saw quality releases from core members Groundislava and Shlohmo, along with a stream of exquisite remixes and one-off singles. So it’s only fitting that (arguably) their biggest star, RL Grime (né Henry Steinway), is set to bookend their year with his debut LP. Akin to maximalist, hands-up producers like Hudson Mohawke, it’ll be fascinating to see how Steinway balances club bangers with more pop-focused tracks, like his swirling collaboration with How to Dress Well.