Beach House, ‘Depression Cherry’: The Baltimore duo’s fifth album eschews the dramatic drums of their earlier efforts while retaining the theatricality of their sound. Victoria Legrand’s voice has never been stronger, and Alex Scally has been given some freedom to play with some aggression, a word rarely identified with Beach House. Everything is bolstered by the organ sounds that make this album so distinctive. Highlights: “Space Song,” “Sparks,” “Days of Candy.”

Kamasi Washington, ‘The Epic’: The man responsible for the tenor saxophone on Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” released his debut solo album this May, brazenly titled “The Epic.” The album lives up to its name—the expansive sonic scope and sometimes-cumbersome length combine to create something that pays homage to jazz of the past while also happening to be very accessible. Highlights: “Change of the Guard,” “Henrietta Our Hero,” “Re Run Home.”

Tame Impala, ‘Currents’:Tame Impala has always teetered on the edge of being really interesting. “Innerspeaker” and “Lonerism” are both good albums, but it’s on this new effort that Kevin Parker really brings it all together. It’s an album of contradictions, really. Is it rock? Is it EDM? How can it sound at once mechanical and also dream-like? This is the band Tame Impala has been working toward becoming. Highlights: “Let it Happen,” “Nangs,” “The Less I Know the Better.”

Jamie xx, ‘In Colour’: “Fun as hell” is the best way to describe Jamie xx’s debut album “In Colour.” Though his songs tend to follow a pretty similar pattern (tense beats build on another until the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts, and then it all peters out after that), the xx producer’s solo effort is a party album that you can listen to on your own. Highlights: “Gosh,” “Obvs,” “Sleep Sound.”

Vince Staples, ‘Summertime ‘06’: Of all the solo albums to come out of the Odd Future universe, this one may be the best. Staples’ lyrical dexterity is something to behold; he weaves a tale of fear and excitement over the nearly hour-long album to devastating effect. The 22 year old has a bright future. Highlights: “Norf Norf,” “Lift Me Up,” “Jump Off the Roof.”

Hop Along, ‘Painted Shut’: Lead singer Francis Quinlan’s voice is one of the more unique ones you’ll ever hear. Over ten songs, her throaty howl is as much of an instrument as anything you could play. Her lyrics betray a sincerity that’s tough to find in most modern rock, which is as refreshing as it is interesting. A truly powerful and affecting album. Highlights: “Horseshoe Crabs,” “Waitress,” “Happy to See Me.”

Thundercat, ‘The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam’: 16 minutes—that’s how long this album is. Stephen Bruner, also known as Thundercat, has popped up on a lot great albums the last few years (“To Pimp a Butterfly,” “You’re Dead!” and the aforementioned “The Epic”), but this is first solo effort that’s really broken through. It’s nostalgic, it’s heartbreaking, it’s hopeful, and again, it’s only 16 minutes. Highlights: “Them Changes,” “Lone Wolf and Cub.”

Donne Trumpet and the Social Experiment, ‘Surf’: “You mean the Chance album?” Not exactly. Though he features prominently on the album, make no mistake: this is a team effort. Donnie Trumpet, Busta Rhymes, Eryakh Badu, Big Sean, Nate Fox—everyone on this album is heard. “Surf” is an album that understands peaks and valleys, bringing the vibe from way up high back down to reflective and a little scared. And, yeah, Chance has a couple of real nice verses, too. Highlights: “Nothing Came to Me,” “Slip Slide,” “Sunday Candy.”

Titus Andronicus, ‘The Most Lamentable Tragedy’: If a 29-track, 93-minute rock opera about a man who runs into his doppelganger before going on a life-changing journey that also works as a metaphor for manic depression is your thing, then, yeah, this album is for you. Highlights: “Come On, Siobhán,” “A Pair of Brown Eyes,” “Stranded.”

 Destroyer, ‘Poison Season’: Ten albums into his “side-project,” Destroyer, also known as Dan Bejar, has perfected what exactly Destroyer can be. The poetry of his lyrics, his uniquely reedy voice and the dreaminess of the music combine to create a specific sound that’s explored and inverted with each new album. Though “Poison Season” isn’t the masterpiece that 2011’s “Kaputt” was, it’s another strong effort. Highlights: “Dream Lover,” “Bangkok,” “Midnight Meet the Rain.”

Bernstein is a member of the class of 2018.

 



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