It’s wrong to call this “popular music,” because most of it isn’t that popular, but we certainly can’t call it rock and roll any more, can we?
First, here are the ones that everyone else recommends too:
Run the Jewels 3, not a let down.
Kendrick Lamar, Damn, a common pick for best of the year.
Tyler the Creator, the album has an obscene name, which I won’t reproduce, but I can list the name of the Creator.
King Krule, Ooz, “The world is a filthy, utterly debased place, his music suggests, but there are rewards of sorts for those determined to survive it. In this spirit, The OOZ drops at our feet like a piece of poisoned fruit, a masterpiece of jaundiced vision from one of the most compelling artists alive.”
Migos, Culture, rap from Atlanta.
Vince Staples, Big Fish Theory, but not theory as they do it as Northwestern.
Lorde, Melodrama, “the New Zealand century” is gaining on “the Norwegian century.”
Taylor Swift, Reputation. This one is kind of popular.
Perfume Genius, No Shape, “The body has become sturdier, less despotic.”
My summary remark is that I didn’t intend to listen to so much rap/hip-hop, but it remains the most vital genre.
Here are some more original selections:
Juana Molina, Halo. Argentina, avant-garde songstress, vivid vocal and instrumental textures, she has almost abolished lyrics.
The Secret Sisters, You Don’t Own Me Any More, folk for 2017, “They went from opening shows for Bob Dylan and Paul Simon to cleaning houses to make ends meet.”
Django Bates, Saluting Sgt. Pepper. A jazzy, big band, music hall take on the album, works surprisingly well, one of the freshest takes on the Beatles since Laibach.
Paul McCartney, Flowers in the Dirt, remastered, an underrated album to begin with, this release also includes the previously unavailable acoustic demo tapes with Elvis Costello.
Death Grips, Bottomless Pit. Has the information density and partial unpleasantness of the old Skinny Puppy recordings, “seesawing from grit to gloss to back again.”
Beach Boys, Wild Honey, titled 1967 — Sunshine Tomorrow. This remix brings out what was supposed to be just a “blues/soul/Brian cooling his heels” album as an acoustic masterpiece and proper successor to Pet Sounds and Smile.
Philip Glass, Piano Works, by Víkingur Ólafsson. One of the two or three best Glass recordings I know, here is an interview with the pianist.
Overall, if I had to push any of these on you it would be the last two. Soon I’ll cover jazz and world music.