Melalbums of 2014 (in no particular order)

Stephen Malkmus and the JicksWig Out at Jagbags


Sun Kil Moon Benji

St. VincentSt. Vincent

Wild Beasts Present Tense

BeckMorning Phase

Freddie Gibbs & MadlibPiñata


Cloud NothingsHere and Nowhere Else

Have a Nice LifeThe Unnatural World

A Silver Mt. ZionFuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything

The War on DrugsLost in the Dream

The Pains of Being Pure at HeartDays of Abandon

BraidNo Coast

The New PornographersBrill Bruisers

tUnE-yArDsNikki Nack

Against Me!Transgender Dysphoria Blues

SwansTo Be Kind

Sharon Van EttenAre We There

First Aid KitStay Gold

J. MascisTied to a Star

Thurston Moore The Best Day


Mimicking BirdsEons

Open Mike EagleDark Comedy

Busdriver Perfect Hair

milo a toothpaste suburb

Shabazz Palaces Lese Majesty

FKA Twigs LP1

Aphex Twin Syro

Princess NokiaMetallic Butterfly

Azealia BanksBroke With Expensive Taste

Iceage Plowing Into the Field of Love

Perfume GeniusToo Bright

Mick JenkinsThe Water[s]

Caribou Our Love

Flying Lotus You’re Dead!

Run the Jewels Run the Jewels 2

D’Angelo and the VanguardBlack Messiah

Top 10 Melalbums of 2013

10. Run the JewelsRun the Jewels

This duo is one of the best collaborations in the genre of hip hop I’ve heard in a very long time. El-P teams up with Killer Mike, and neither of the two outshine each other; they’re an unbeatable pair. El-P’s beats are phenomenal and really make this album stand out, and when they’re both spitting rhymes, they do so aggressively, back and forth like an intense game of ping-pong (only cooler and much more intricate). They each have their own distinct personalities that make their contributions a perfect combination since their styles tend to complement one another. Overall, this is frankly one hell of a banger and surely to get a lot of spins in my car.

9. The NationalTrouble Will Find Me


Whether it’s Matt Berninger‘s vocals that you find appealing, or the soft and driving force behind the sounds of the band itself, The National is a band that doesn’t go unnoticed. As far as I’m concerned, this band has released a pretty consisent discography, and this album is their best one yet. Several notable musicians make appearances on this thing, too: St. Vincent, Sufjan Stevens, Sharon Van Etten, and Richard Reed Parry (of Arcade Fire) to name a few. Matt’s lyrics are still depressing in a way that comes off as genuine and relatable. I connected with this album on many levels because of the human-like qualities it possesses, including the painful aftermath of a breakup and the longing for a past that cannot be made present.

8. My Bloody Valentinembv
The follow-up to their seminal shoegaze album Loveless sounds like it could easily fit into their 90’s catelogue, but simultaneously features new elements that demonstrate the expansion of their sound. The shimmery and heavy guitar riffs over dreamy vocals are still apparent; the fuzz and noise that sometimes drown out their two vocalists is still a distinct trait of their music (with the exception of their 80’s-reminiscent pop song, New You). Is this and Yes sounds like how you would imagine a slow alien abduction with its repetitive and eerie ambience. The last few tracks emphasize the change in sound that My Bloody Valentine has embraced: experimental dissonance, particularly the track with the airplane sounds sampled throughout. This is a new My Bloody Valentine, but not brand new. It’s certainly not a Loveless pt. 2, but it makes total sense to assume that this is the following album after 22 years of leaving everyone in suspense.

7. BathsObsidian

Will Wiesenfeld‘s music has always been colorful: a unique blend of glitch-hop and pop over electronic beats and samples. What made his debut album Cerulean so captivating was its array of glitch-y electronic instrumentals and often childlike samples. Some of the lyrics, however, dealt with more personal feelings, but the original blend of sounds definitely overpowered the lyrical content (the music itself was so refreshing that coming to terms with the lyrics took a while to unfold). On his new album, Obsidian, Will has taken the vibrant beats of his first release and made them more accessible, more exciting, and more equally balanced with his vocals/songwriting. In other words, it is much easier to connect with the stories behind each song because the singing flows smoothly along with his carefully calculated sounds. This allows for an album that expresses much more about Will’s personal life, a darker side of Baths, and the experience of listening to this is similar to that of reading a novel from front to back, though, you wish it wouldn’t end.

6. DisclosureSettle
The two UK brothers make an excellent electronic duo that surpassed my expectations because this is only their debut release. Much like Daft Punk’s exceptional new album, Random Access Memories (still on my loved list, but did not make my top 10), this new album Settle adds color and intelligence to the genre of dance music along with the well-rounded contributions from the many featured vocalists. It smoothly blends elements of R&B, pop, and electronic to make each track come alive in their brightness. What’s also refreshing is that the hooks are infectious, the beats are rich and sometimes unpredictable, and the experience of listening to this is similar to that of being at a fun party. Lots of dancing, flashing lights, and a just a good time in general.

5. Jon HopkinsImmunity

This electronic album, with techno and house tendencies, is constantly engaging with its pulsing bass lines and climatic beats. Some parts are repetitive, yes, but not in a dull or monotonous way. They drive the songs forward, building momentum, allowing the listener to wait in suspense for more. Some tracks are spacey and intricate, while others are beautiful and organic. With numerous listens, each layer is revealed more and unfolds some of the more subtle parts over time. What makes this album so fresh and interesting is its dance-like rhythms that are somehow atmospheric and mellow at times as much as they are upbeat. Immunity is definitely one of the electronic highlights of this year.

4. DessaParts of Speech
Dessa’s latest album offers a wide range of styles, from the hard-hitting bangers (like Call off Your Ghost, produced by Paper Tiger) to the beautiful orchestral pieces, this release has a lot to offer. What stood out immediately was Dessa’s focus on singing more than rapping. Though she raps in a few tracks, her voice really dominates this from front to back, but her songwriting remains witty and thought-provoking. The storytelling on Parts of Speech is absolutely breathtaking at times. You can tell that Dessa wrote about some personal experiences as well as others that may not have been her own, but still had a profound effect on her. Annabelle, for instance, was inspired by a French film she saw that dealt with a man and his lover having dinner. The woman, Annabelle, is suffering a great deal of emotional damage and there is a mask on her face to portray the chaos of feelings overwhelming her, and the man imitates this by putting spaghetti sauce on his face because he wants to suffer with her; he loves her and doesn’t want her to feel alone. The fact that she can write a song and pour so much feeling into it when it’s not even based on her own life is truly admirable. If you’re looking for a hip hop artist far from conventional, with a wide range of influences, clever lyrics, and beautiful vocals, Parts of Speech has it all.

3. Mark Kozelek & Jimmy LaVallePerils from the Sea

What I love about Mark Kozelek's contributions to music, both in his older slowcore outfit Red House Painters and folky Sun Kil Moon, is his honesty and storytelling. He has the power to move you through his words–not just with his own experiences either. Lately, his music has taken on a more stream-of-consciousness style that makes you feel like you're listening to his jumbled dark thoughts as he travels to different countries and nostalgicly thinks of old times and loved ones. His songwriting has emerged from powerful metaphors that are intricate and deep to a more straightforward style that is equally emotive. Jimmy LaValle (of The Album Leaf) creates atmospheric and diverse electronic instrumentals that help Mark's vocals to shine in a completely new way. Mark's music typically is accompained (at least on his more recent work) by his nylon-string guitar, which sounds like a great companion to his melancholic voice and somber lyrics. Jimmy's beats have allowed for Mark's words to pop out in a totally interesting way. It's essentially an unlikely duo that creates a combination of sounds that somehow work together unexpectedly, like salty and sweet foods consumed together.

2. MiloThings that Happen at Day / Things that Happen at Nightmilo-night
Both of these EPs felt like such a package together that I couldn’t separate them into two individual entities. Things that Happen at Day/Things that Happen at Night include everything I love about Milo’s music with even more depth, even more confidence. Rory Ferreira’s style as an emcee has clearly developed. Not only has he gained a better sense of his own direction musically, but he has put forth songs that encompass all of his quirky qualities with new additions to his philosophical and humble nature. Riley Lake’s production on Things that Happen at Day is what really floored me because there are remarkable instrumental pieces that sound brilliant with Rory’s songwriting. The album artwork, too, is stunning and makes these this double EP appear to be a unified concept. Milo’s newfound confidence soars high as he makes a list of things he shouldn’t do in his future (as a time capsule to remind himself of the person he does not wish to become), explores his philosophical awakenings, and even keeps his eccentric sense of humor with a track all about a pizza party with Open Mike Eagle and who to invite on their guest list (and NOT to invite, AKA Daniel Tosh). There are also some killer references and samples on this: a hook resembling “One Headlight” by the Wallflowers, a sample of the Warpaint song Billie Holiday, and a subtle shoutout to Talking Heads (“this is not my beautiful house, this is not my beautiful wife, how did I get here?”), the list goes on. It would be an understatement to say that Milo is a great hip hop artist—he has surpassed his previous releases by far and still has managed to release a couple more solid EPs after these two (Cavalcade and his new project Scallops Hotel: Poplar Grove or how to rap with a hammer). I’m stoked to see what else is in store for this nerdy Hellfyre Club member (If you’re interested in hearing more about this fantastic double EP, check out my review for it).

1. The Knife Shaking the Habitual

I’m amazed by how much I love double albums (double-disc CD and triple LP); you’d think there would be more room for mistakes, pretentiousness, and a length that is so daunting you never feel like you have time to commit to it. Fortunately, this is far from the case with this new Knife album. Everything I ever loved about The Knife, especially on Silent Shout, has been raised to an ambitious level that allows even more room for creativity. Shaking the Habitual incorporates a whole array of music genres, including but not limited to: electronic, industrial, ambient, house, pop, and much experimental output. There are obvious themes of gender expression, political ideologies, and questioning society in general. A few of their songs are also named after the Margaret Atwood novel Oryx and Crake and their song, A Tooth for an Eye, references Karen’s favorite Jeanette Winterson book. Though the lyrics are definitely thought-provoking and interesting, the sounds this band produces are captivating, unusual, and abrasive. Certainly an acquired taste, Karen Dreijer Andersson’s vocals are outrageous at times, but they keep everything sounding exciting. Sometimes she sounds as if she is performing as well as singing, and that adds to the experience of this album that lasts over 90 minutes. I can’t think of a better album released this year because this has exploding songs, dramatic shifts in sound that are somehow cohesive, and catchy hooks that get stuck in my head endlessly. An A+ album, undoubtedly.

Melalbums of 2013 (Loved List)

(in no particular order)

Milo Things that Happen at Day / Things that Happen at Night 

Yo La TengoFade

FoxygenWe are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic

My Bloody Valentine m b v

Buke and GaseGeneral Dome

The Flaming LipsThe Terror

IceageYou’re Nothing

Shlohmo Laid Out 

Anaïs Mitchell & Jefferson HamerChild Ballads

WaxahatcheeCerulean Salt

Beach FossilsClash The Truth

Youth LagoonWondrous Bughouse

The KnifeShaking The Habitual

Kurt Vile Wakin On a Pretty Daze


Baths Obsidian

TOKiMONSTAHalf Shadows

Bibio Silver Wilkinson

EluviumNightmare Ending

The NationalTrouble Will Find Me

Laura StevensonWheel

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Deerhunter – Monomania

Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle

Savages – Silence Yourself

Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest

clipping  – Midcity

Lapalux – Nostalchic

Dessa – Parts of Speech

Gold Panda – Half of Where You Live

Jon HopkinsImmunity

Sigur Rós – Kveikur

Deafheaven – Sunbather

Owen –  L’Ami du Peuple

Disclosure – Settle


Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels

Mark Kozelek & Jimmy LaVallePerils From the Sea

SuperchunkI Hate Music

Smith Westerns – Soft Will

Washed Out Paracosm

Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork

Bill Callahan – Dream River

CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe

YC the CynicGNK

Mark Kozelek & Desertshore – Mark Kozelek & Desertshore

Julia Holter – Loud City Song

Chance the RapperAcid Rap

Scallops HotelPoplar Grove (or how to rap with a hammer)

Touché Amoré Is Survived By


of MontrealLousy With Sylvianbriar

ShadFlying Colours

Arcade FireReflektor

Tim HeckerVirgins

Black Hearted BrotherThe Stars Are Our Home

Neko CaseThe Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

Okkervil RiverThe Silver Gymnasium

Cage the ElephantMelophobia

HaimDays are Gone

Death GripsGovernment Plates

BurialRival Dealer

MelaDees (Favorite tracks of 2013)

Here is a mix I made of some of my favorite tracks so far. I will be adding more songs to this as the year progresses.

1. TNGHT – Acrylics

2. Milo – Folk-Metaphysics

3. The Knife – Without You My Life Would Be Boring

4. Foxygen – San Francisco

5. Baths – Ironworks

6. Shlohmo – Don’t Say No ft. How to Dress Well

7. Youth Lagoon – Dropla

8. Dessa – Warsaw

9. The Flaming Lips – Butterfly (How Long it Takes to Die)

10. Iceage – Coalition

11. My Bloody Valentine – Only Tomorrow

12. Yo La Tengo – Well You Better

13. Buke and Gase – Hard Times

14. Beach Fossils – Birthday

15. Waxahatchee – Swan Dive

Milo – Things that Happen at Day/Things that Happen at Night

I was stoked when I found out Milo was releasing his debut album, a double EP, that involves the theme of day versus night and other overarching messages that go along with that concept. He recently signed to HellFyre Club that Busdriver  and Open Mike Eagle are both signed to (how cool is that?!), so naturally I had high expectations for this new release. Personally, I really enjoyed Milo takes Baths, his last release, mainly because he rapped over the instrumental glitchy-electronic beats of the artist Baths, who I happen to enjoy quite a bit. Though I enjoyed this album, I felt slightly underwhelmed by it when compared to his previous release I Wish My Brother Rob was Here, which seemed more consistent in the sense that it was varied and flowed effortlessly. Milo takes Baths has some killer tracks on it, but was too short and lacking. Milo makes up for this on Things that Happen at Day/Things that Happen at Night by a long shot. I’m going to try and review this double EP without transforming too much into fangirl mode.

Things that Happen at Day dropped first and my initial reaction basically was love at first listen. The beats were right on point, the lyrics as cleverly written as ever, and Milo sounds more confident than before, like he is proud of his new sound and still maintains his “Modest Milo” swag while showing off how well his rapping skills have developed since his last mixtape. “Folk-Metaphysics” stood out to me immensely. Milo raps about a to-do list like, “I should eat more Fig Newtons and sign petitions for Women Right’s Movements.” I also love the hook on that track, “I won’t make promises I can’t keep, which is why I won’t make promises ever. And when I write letters to those ex-girlfriends, that’s going to be the header.” Also, did I mention how sick the beat is on this song? The guitar sounds mildly bluesy and the electronic part that jumps in makes the track really come alive. I love how Milo sings in reference to the song “One Headlight” by the Wallflowers. The strings on the song “Legends of the Hidden Temple” are absolutely beautiful. Overall, I was thoroughly impressed by this first EP because the beats, references, and messages were all so solid and it felt like I was listening to the same old Milo with a fresh new sound.

As for Things that Happen at Night, I immediately took notice of the references throughout the EP. Sailor Moon, Harry Potter, Gus Haynes (The Wire), and several others are spit out on the table along with other insightful ideas that Milo is known to spit about in his music. He samples the Warpaint song “Billie Holiday” on the track “Monologion” and that blew me away at first listen. I’ll admit that I wasn’t too hot on the beat used in the track “The Gus Haynes Cribbage League” because the generic high-hat beat seemed all too familiar and I was surprised to hear Milo using a beat that sounded so radio-friendly. However, the lyrics, of course, were so substantial and as soon as Busdriver spit out his rollercoaster-esque flow, I knew I was in for one hell of a ride. “Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc (for Schopenhauer)” is probably one of Milo’s best songs yet, in my opinion. He is as philosophical as ever and the Middle-Eastern vocals that are sampled add a transcendental feel to it. Finally, there is a hidden track at the very end of this song that closes the album. Milo is rapping along with Open Mike Eagle about a pizza party with all of their friends that somehow involves Gameboys, dancing to Notorious, and someone stealing the pesto spinach garlic pizza slices. It’s just a goofy track, but the beat is so uplifting and fun. A good way to end such a captivating EP.

I know this has been nothing but positive feedback about this new double EP, but as a critical music listener I must offer some elements of this release that I feel weren’t implemented as effectively as they could have been. Ultimately, I do enjoy how insightful Milo is with his philosophical constructs that lead him on a search to find objective truth, his political ideologies, his literary references, and the many geek culture references that he tends to tip his hat to. According to Milo, this double EP has an intended theme: “exploring duality and responsibility. it is unavoidably obtuse, overwhelmingly self-important and I am not sorry.” I’d agree with this, but I have to say that in terms of both EPs I’m not sure exactly how they are too different in the themes they portray. As a whole, I’m sold on every track and I love this thing to death. But when it comes to differentiating Things that Happen at Day and Things that Happen at Night, I’m at a loss because it seems difficult to decipher. I’m not trying to state that the mere concept of this release is too overwhleming or anything; I just feel as though there wasn’t a significant difference between the two EPs that would create such a lightness versus darkness concept of some sort. In other words, the EPs sound great as a whole, but I’m not sure how they’re intended to stand alone because separately, they do not seem to resonate as strongly because they aren’t too drastically different to me.

Needless to say, this double EP was everything I could ask for from Milo and more. I graduated with a philosophy degree which is why I appreciate all of the philosophical ideas that he throws at the listeners, but I think that anyone could relate to Milo regardless, because of how open he is and how much he references our current society. If you like underground hip hop or clever lyrics, this dude is your man. I would highly recommend this to anyone.


Melalbums: Top 50 Albums of 2012

50. Why?Mumps, etc.

49. Cat Power Sun

48. Twin ShadowConfess

47. P. O. SWe Don’t Even Live Here

46. Sharon van EttenTramp

45. Port St. WillowHoliday

44. PinbackInformation Retrieved

43. Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet On Sky

42. MiloMilo Takes Baths

41. Torche Harmonicraft

40. Mount EerieClear Moon

39. Andrew BirdBreak It Yourself

38. Fang IslandMajor

37. Japandroids – Celebration Rock

36. Purity Ring Shrines

35. Mac DeMarco – 2

34. Liars – WIXIW

33. ConvergeAll We Love We Leave Behind

32. Sun Kil MoonAmong The Leaves

31. Beach HouseBloom

30. Open Mike Eagle 4NML HSPTL

29. BurialKindred EP

28. Kendrick Lamar –  good kid, m.A.A.d city

27. WaxahatcheeAmerican Weekend

26. The Mountain GoatsTranscendental Youth

25. Aesop RockSkelethon

24. Shearwater Animal Joy

23. Grizzly Bear Shields

22. Flying LotusUntil the Quiet Comes

21. LazerbeakLava Bangers

20. Lone Galaxy Garden

19. Wild NothingNocturne


17. The EvensThe Odds

16.  Death GripsThe Money Store

15. The Tallest Man On EarthThere’s No Leaving Now

14. Frank Oceanchannel ORANGE

13. Spiritualized Sweet Heart Sweet Light

12. Tame ImpalaLonerism

11. Perfume Genius Put Your Back N 2 It

10. Dark Time SunshineANX

9. Alt-JAn Awesome Wave

8. Matthew DearBeams

7. Jens Lekman I Know What Love Isn’t

6. DeerhoofBreakup Song

5. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel is Wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords will Serve You More than Ropes Will Ever Do

4. Cloud Nothings Attack On Memory

3. Anaïs MitchellYoung Man in America

2. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – ’Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

1. SwansThe Seer

Honorable mentions: Joie De VivreWe’re All Better Than This, GrimesVisions, Joyce Manor – Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired, A Place to Bury Strangers – Worship, Screaming FemalesUgly, SerengetiC.A.R., The Sea and Cake Runner, StarsThe North, MoonfaceHeartbreaking Bravery

***For some reason or another, I found these albums to be enjoyable but inconsistent in some way. They each had some incredible songs, but as a whole they didn’t resonate with me as strongly as the 50 albums I chose above.

What are YOUR favorite albums of 2012? I’m sure I missed out on a ton of albums, so please let me know any ones you think are worth checking out that didn’t make it onto my list.

Melalbums of 2012 list (in no particular order)

Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory

Flying Lotus – Until The Quiet Comes

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

Swans – The Seer

Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel is Wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords will Serve You More than Ropes Will Ever Do

Perfume Genius- Put Your Back N 2 It

Anaïs Mitchell – Young Man in America

Jens Lekman – I Know What Love Isn’t


Dark Time Sunshine – ANX

Mount Eerie – Clear Moon

Open Mike Eagle – 4NML HSPTL

Burial – Kindred EP

Why? – Mumps, Etc.

Cat Power – Sun

Deerhoof – Breakup Song

Waxahatchee – American Weekend

Milo – Milo Takes Baths

Lazerbeak – Lava Bangers

Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city

Sun Kil Moon – Among the Leaves

Alt-J – An Awesome Wave

Grizzly Bear – Shields

Lone – Galaxy Garden

Death Grips – The Money Store

Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself

Japandroids – Celebration Rock

Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE

Beach House – Bloom

Aesop Rock – Skelethon

The Tallest Man on Earth – There’s No Leaving Now

The Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth

Wild Nothing  – Nocturne

Screaming Females – Ugly

Fang Island – Major

The Men – Open Your Heart

Liars – WIXIW

Matthew Dear – Beams

Joie De Vivre – We’re All Better Than This

Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet On Sky

Pinback – Information Retrieved

Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind

Torche – Harmonicraft

Shearwater – Animal Joy

Mission of Burma – Unsound

Port St. Willow – Holiday

Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

P.O.S – We Don’t Even Live Here

…to be continued…