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Sounds of ’17: Top Albums of the Year



Anjou – "Epithymia"
Chicago's Kranky label has been on a roll this year, releasing must-have LPs by Gregg Kowalsky, Justin Walter, and this, the second album by Anjou, a collaboration between our very own Robert Donne and his bandmate in the much-missed Labradford, Mark Nelson, a former Richmonder currently in Chicago. "Epithymia" is rich with earthy, womblike drones and delicate melodies that, depending on one's state of mind, suggest either tranquility or impending dread. Either way, it's intoxicating, beautiful stuff.

75 Dollar Bill – "Wood/Metal/Plastic Pattern/Rhythm/Rock"
Previous albums found this duo of Che Chen and Rick Brown wringing everything they could from their minimal setup of electric guitar, percussion and reeds, but 2016's "Wood/Metal/Plastic Pattern/ Rhythm Rock" — reissued earlier this year on the German Tak:til label — sees the band expanding its trance-inducing, hypnotic cauldron of sound with saxophone, contrabass, trumpet and viola. The result is deep and exhilarating, like dance music made for winter couch lock.

Gal Costa – "India" (reissue)
As one of the architects of the much-celebrated Tropicalia movement, Gal Costa's résumé is beyond reproach. This idiosyncratic 1973 album, lovingly reissued in August by the London-based Mr. Bongo label, is a lush, delightfully schizophrenic suite of psychedelic samba and bossa nova tunes that are variously funky, melancholy, and deeply experimental. In a year literally brimming with crucial reissues, including Alice Coltrane, Popol Vuh, Lal and Mike Waterson, Pearls Before Swine, Harry Bertoia, and Metallica), "India" may be the year's most crucial.

Milk Music – "Mystic 100's"
If the acid-fried, pistol-toting juvenile delinquents in the film "Over the Edge" started a band, they'd probably sound a lot like Milk Music. There is a wild, nonmedia trained innocence about the young band's fierce, melodic power punk. Think Volcano Suns, Husker Du and early Dinosaur, which offers just enough protracted guitar jammage to remind us that a lot of the SST bands were closet Deadheads.

Funkadelic – "Reworked by Detroiters"
Compilations that seek to rework or contemporize canonized material usually fall flat, possessing a disorienting ersatz quality that only leaves you with a hankering to revisit the source material. Not so with this delightful compilation of Detroit musicians—from the Dirtbombs to Moodymann—tackling the esteemed corpus of the ever-singular Funkadelic. The result is an unusual alchemy of thick, twisted P-funk and Motor City motorik. Ectomorph's Brendan M. Gillen's dubbed-out version of "Maggot Brain," aka the greatest guitar solo ever recorded, is alone worth the price of admission.


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