Radiohead – The King of Limbs
Every time Radiohead releases a new album, everyone gets caught up in the rush to “review” it or at least form some kind of opinion about where it “ranks” in the band’s catalog. It’s always best to resist the temptation to join in this madness, since it’s pretty much the worst way possible to listen to any kind of music. So it’s been more than a year since this album came out, and I’m glad to report to you now that it’s a great record, one that didn’t need any singles or a sequel (remember this?). Just sit back and enjoy it for what it is and you’ll find that it’s a beautiful record of compelling simplicity. One of the biggest bands in the world, Radiohead seem to be one of the last bands for listeners of “challenging” music to rally around and have a shared social experience. The King of Limbs, on the other hand, might be best enjoyed in private times and on a personal level that’s out of step with our ever-public, shared lives.

Addison Groove – Transistor Rhythm
Ostensibly this should be everything that I’d love: filthy footwork rhythms and high-class production. But this bores me to death and leaves me feeling… nothing at all. Was hoping for more great tracks like “Footcrab” but there’s just nothing here that delivers quite like it at all. Guess I should have gotten into him two years ago, then.

Actress – R.I.P
Countless electronic albums over the past few years have dabbled in dark psychedelia and nostalgia for the age of rave. Here’s one that really delivers on those themes, somehow sounding totally of our time but also unlike much of anything else I’ve heard these days either. Definitely the weirdest Actress album, although it might not be his best. That says more about how good Hazyville and Splazsh are than anything else. Highlights: “Marble Plexus” and “Jardin.”

Bruno Pronsanto – Lovers Do
If you want to hear a long album that doesn’t really go anywhere, check this one out. Doesn’t do much to build on Why Can’t We Be Like Us and just feels unnecessary and frustrating.

Placebo – Battle for the Sun
Most Placebo albums are pretty frontloaded and run out of gas towards the end. This one starts off with about five really bad tracks and saves the good stuff for the very end (er, the bitter end, lol). Problem is, none of it’s quite good enough to redeem the whole album, which is probably their worst disc overall. What a mess this album is. Lyrics get really cheesy here; no wonder they have so many fans in non-English speaking countries. Don’t worry, I still like them, for better or worse.

James Blake – James Blake
I really don’t like this album. And I used to be a big James Blake fan! One of the best dubstep (mk. I) artists of the 00’s, it’s like he doesn’t seem interested in carrying the crown anymore and instead wants to be the male Feist or something. Take every dismissive utterance of “dinner party music” from any review you’ve ever read and lob them at this album, because it’s never been more appropriate (not that I don’t enjoy a good dinner party). Look, I don’t want to begrudge him the freedom to do what he wants, because it’s not like he’s literally “selling out” and it could actually be argued that sticking to what he was familiar with would have been a way of playing it safe. Why not take a risk and trust in your audience to give you a chance? So that’s what he did and a lot of people seem to like it. I certainly don’t. That’s all it comes down to and we’ll see where he goes from here.

Sinitus Tempo – Soul Eater
I don’t watch anime dubs so the samples on this are kind of lost on me. I recognize them for what they are but being a big fan of this series, I still I don’t have much of an emotional connection to them so the concept of this doesn’t hit home for me as well as it probably should. Still, this is a fun and chilled out album from a talented and ridiculously prolific producer who’s working in the spirit of both Nujabes and maybe even Dilla. He’s made a lot more records since this and worth checking out if you like instrumental hip-hop or want to hear how your favorite series might have inspired a record/mixtape (assuming your favorite series is Soul Eater, Honey and Clover, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo or Spice & Wolf).

Tiger & Woods – Through the Green
Are “disco edits” still in? I love this album. So fun. Always puts me in a good mood. This would make most “EDM” fans’ heads explode. Where’s the drop? Seriously fun stuff.

Seefeel – Seefeel
Seefeel are one of my favorite bands. Ever. So I was thrilled to see that they were returning, and the Faults EP was good enough to give me high hopes for this album (“Crowded” is as good as anything they’ve ever made, IMHO). And yet… oh my God this album bores me so. I’ve nothing original to say about it, just the same complaints as everyone else. The songs don’t really go anywhere. There’s none of the beautiful ambient sounds of “Meol,” nothing pounding like “Succor,” no proto-Field jams like “Industrious” or anything measuring up to the ethereal beauty of Quique at all. Everything here feels like it’s living on some middle ground and there’s no tension or groove. What’s going on here? Nice drumming I guess but that’s not what I signed up for. BTW please come back to America, thx.

Molice – Neugravity
Wonderfully angular J-rock that cuts deep. So rare that I find any Japanese music I like that isn’t psychedelic metal or featured in some anime’s credits so I’m trying to spread the word about this band, who’ve definitely got the goods.

Digitalism – I Love You Dude
Throw another disc on the pile of massive disappointments that I seem to be including here. I loved Idealistic, which wasn’t a masterpiece but at least all the songs were pretty good (sometimes it sounds like the best 3-star album in the world). This album is 15 minutes shorter and only has about 3 good songs on it (“Stratosphere,” “2 Hearts” and “Blitz” ), after which you’re in for the entire second half of the album, which sucks. I never want to hear “Forrest Gump” or “Reeperbahn” ever again. Another casualty of the electro wars? I wasn’t expecting anything amazing out of this album but I definitely never envisioned that they’d deliver something as half-finished and tepid as this.

Surgeon – Breaking the Frame
This might be one of the best pure techno albums I’ve ever heard. Is that a sign that I haven’t heard enough, or is this record just that good? So many great moments, this really helped me get through the winter and last semester. Listen to this track to see what I mean. Amazing album.

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