Not that anyone ever asks, but here are my best albums of the year. As always, an unusual bunch.

Zeal & Ardor – Stranger Fruit

Well, of course. You all saw this coming down main, didn’t you? The weird gospel/death metal group Zeal & Ardor threw this musical grenade at us this year, a story of slavery, racism, and revenge, which really shouldn’t have held a frightening relevance, but of course it did. And, if you’d prefer to ignore the gut punching lyrics, you can, and just enjoy getting your eardrums kicked in. But frankly, the whole package is dynamite, and Zeal & Ardor should soundtrack the end of the world. Oh wait, they are.

Tim Hecker – Konoyo

Who requested eerie ambient music? Well, Hecker serves it up as he always does. The undesputed master of vaguely unsettling music that you would think would be easy to make, but really isn’t. If you need an all instrumental soundtrack to the end of the world, here it is.

Muncie Girls – Fixed Ideas

Unreasonably cheerful punk pop, about a lot of serious things. But it’s so fun to listen to, how can you resist it? You can’t. And the more you try, the more it sucks you in. Certainly a nice counterbalance to the previous albums on this list.

Save Face – Merci

A screamo album? Really? Believe it or not, yes. A more or less concept album about an all consuming love affair that goes horribly wrong, it benefits from being very straightforward – it’s not pretending to be anything it isn’t; it wears its heart on its sleeve – and being gay. And I mean gay as in not straight, not any other connotation of the word.

Kilo Kish – mothe

Is it cheating because this is an EP? Maybe. But guys, I really like Kilo Kish. And this EP experiments with beats and her angelic voice in great ways, and I’m happy to listen to it. So on the list it goes.

Jeff Rosenstock – Post

Some DIY punk that immediately addressed the alienation and hopelessness of waking up in a post Trump world, and suggests some ways to move forward. Considering its early release date, it may have been forgotten by some, but it’s still a great album. Things have been shitty before. We’ll get through this. Hopefully. Cross your fingers.

Shadow Age – Shadow Age

Glossy shoegaze with hints of goth and alternative, this album is kind of a palate cleanser after listening to so much crushing music. Sure it’s depressing, but it goes down so smoothly, you may not even notice.

Honorable Mentions –

Idles – Joy as an Act of Resistance

Wrong – Feel Great

rook – parasite

Puce Mary – Fragments of a Lily

Color TV – Color TV

Miserable – Loverboy/Dog Days

Nothing – Dance On The Blacktop

Left At London – Heart

The National Pool – Relaxation Tape For Solo Space Travel

coherence – of alternate spaces

Irkallian Oracle – Grave Ekstasis

Various Artists – In Death’s Dream Kingdom

A couple of singles worthy of note

Health has released a few sings this year that were collaborations with other people. My favorite was their collaboration with electronic act Perturbator, Body/Prison.
Really looking forward to the new Health album next year.

Speaking of singles, Babymetal also released a couple, and my favorite is the sublimely ridiculous Distortion. And understand I’m not using ridiculous as an insult. It’s a compliment! We need more deliberately ridiculous things that aren’t politicians or public policy, and here’s a good place to start.

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