Jaimeo Brown Transcendence - Work Songs [Motema Music]
Released in the midst of Black History Month and centered around modern reworkings of archival recordings as a commentary on the industrialized incarceration of black men, this would be an important record regardless of quality. But it's also a great listen.
Jay Arner - Jay II [Mint Records]
Unsurprisingly this is Arner's second record. The Vancouver B.C. artist doesn't venture too far from his Mint Records debut, but there's more synths and it's a brisk and breezy effort.
LAL - Find Safety [Coax]
I had the good fortune to talk to Nicholas Murray (one half of LAL) for my show when the group released Find Safety, and the misfortune to miss their appearance at The Good Will when they played Pride. Would have loved to pick up a physical copy of this record.
Rick Parker and Li Daiguo - Free World Music [eleven2eleven]
America's Parker and China's Li describe their collaboration as "An avante garde psychoacoustic project dedicated to facilitating the
recovery of individuals suffering (from anything) through the use of
exposure to representations of the Infinite which come in the form of
flowing rivers of the illest lusciousness."
Jenny Gillespie - Cure for Dreaming [Narooma]
It's not necessarily at the level of Joni Mitchell's The Hissing of Summer Lawns, but that's the record that comes to mind when listening to Gillespie's effort.
Olof Melander - The Path [Project Mooncircle]
Berlin's Project Mooncircle just marked its 15th anniversary and while I came to the label through Flako, Melander's full-length was an early discovery (January) that stayed with me throughout the year.
Photo Ops - Vacation [Bad Friend Records]
"Memories That Glow" totally took me back to the New Radicals. And I mean that as a compliment. While the rest of the record doesn't quite achieve that pop bliss, it's still front-to-back a great listen.
The Painters - Specks of Dust [Egg Paper Factory]
If you're a fan of indie / lo-fi and oddball music and you're not keeping tabs on Egg Paper Factory then you're missing out, not just on The Painters, but also Telstar Drugs and Un Blonde.
Tindersticks - The Waiting Room [City Slang]
Tindersticks go back over two-and-a-half decades at this point and Stuart Staples isn't necessarily any happier now than he was in 1991, but if you dig his melancholic music, you'll enjoy The Waiting Room.
Manuel Volpe and Rhabdomantic Orchestra - Albore [Agogo Records]
Not the last time you'll see Agogo Records on this list. This is at the mellower end of material the Hanover-based label released in 2016, with Italian Volpe incorporating Middle Eastern percussion and spiritual jazz.
Saroos - Tardis [Alien Transistor]
Drawing membership from Lali Puna, The Notwist and Driftmachine, German trio Saroos crafted a trippy, space-y batch of beats and electronic soundscapes.
Venetian Snares - Traditional Synthesizer Music [Planet Mu / Timesig]
Not as punishing an aural assault as he's employed in the past, Traditional Synthesizer Music is still as crisp and precisely structured as anything Funk has done in the past.
Submotion Orchestra - Colour Theory [Counter]
Leeds, UK electronic outfit Submotion Orchestra craft a blissful soundscape on Colour Theory.
Andrew Bird - Are You Serious [Wegawam / Loma Vista]
Yet another 30 second preview only set-up so you'll only get a taste of Are You Serious at the link above, but if you're a fan of Bird's prior efforts (Noble Beast anyone?) then it stands to reason you'll enjoy the latest.
Frank Ocean - blond / blonde [Boys Don't Cry]
I can't embed any tracks from Ocean's website, but if you've got Apple Music you can check out the stream. His Soundcloud page only has previews from two tracks on channel Orange so Ocean's divestment from his label and move to go out on his own seems to be fully executed.