Nicolas Jaar – Space is Only Noise

Style: Progressive Electronic, Ambient House, Collage Pop, Sound Sculpture

Moods: Cryptic, Surreal, Aquatic, Hypnotic, Nocturnal, Futuristic, Melancholy, Collage, Urban, Mellow, Meditative, Ethereal, Eclectic, Rainy, Romantic

Musical Qualities: Sampling, Electro-Acoustic, Field Recordings, Atmospheric, Melodic, Loops

Neil Young – On the Beach

Style: Singer/Songwriter, Ditch Americana, Country Rock, Folk Rock

Moods: Loner, Introspective, Melancholy, Alienation, Bittersweet, Apocalyptic, Depressive, Lonely, Sombre, Rebellious

Burial + Four Tet + Thom Yorke – Her Revolution / His Rope

Style: Trip-Hop, Ambient Pop, Electronic

Vibe: Nocturnal, Moody, Melancholy, Ethereal, Detached, Lonely, Cold, Heartfelt, Depressive

Musical Qualities: Sampling, Atmospheric, Slow, Mellow

Loren Connors – Blues: The “Dark Paintings” of Mark Rothko

Style: Ambient Blues, Solo Electric Guitar

Vibe: Longing, Soothing, Nocturnal, Impressionistic, Lonely, Meditative, Melancholy, Suspenseful,

Musical Qualities: Sparse, Improvisation (solo), Atmospheric, Instrumental, Lo-fi

Meg Baird – Don’t Weight Down the Light

Style: Psychedelic Folk, Singer/Songwriter

Vibe: Flowing, Dreamy, Nocturnal, Mellow, Soothing, Introspective, Haunting, Pastoral, Airy, Ethereal, Intimate Bittersweet, Melancholy, Contemplative, Loner, Peaceful, Soft

Musical Qualities: Vocal Harmonies, Acoustic, Lush, Melodic, Sparse, Reverb

Palace Brothers – There is No-One What Will Take Care of You

Style: Lo-Fi Folk, Slowcore Country, Singer/Songwriter

Vibe: Religious, Raw, Melancholy, Back-Porch, Lethargic, Stark, Intimate, Rustic

Lyrics: Christian, Alienation, Sexual

Musical Qualities: Acoustic, Sparse, Lo-Fi

Loma – Loma

Style: Art Pop, Ambient Pop

Influences: Chamber-Folk, Trip-Hop, Slowcore, Post-Rock

Vibe: Existential, Introspective, Brooding, Gossamer, Dreamy, Melancholy, Reflective, Moody, Eclectic

Musical Qualities: Lush, Atmospheric, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Lyrical

Mogwai – Rave Tapes

Style: Post-Rock, Space Rock, Electronic-Rock, Kosmische-Influenced

Vibe: Futuristic, Nocturnal, Mechanical, Focused, Cinematic, Restrained

Musical Qualities: Instrumental, Dynamic, Pulse, Studio-as-an-Instrument

Bonnie Prince Billy – Ask Forgiveness

Bonnie covers Björk, Mickey Newbury, Danzig, R. Kelly and others with help from Espers’ Meg Baird & Greg Weeks

Style: Folk, Slowcore, Singer/Songwriter

Vibe: Introspective, Morning, Melancholy, Existential, Bittersweet

Musical Qualities: Covers, Vocal Harmonies, Sparse, Soft, Acoustic

Papa M – Whatever, Mortal

Style: Singer/Songwriter, Slowcore, Americana

Vibe: Apathetic, Bittersweet, Breakup, Contemplative, Depressive, Humorous, Intimate, Lethargic, Loner, Love, Melancholy, Mellow, Moody, Personal, Rootsy

Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Sparse, Simple

Gastr Del Sol – Camofleur

Style: Post-Rock, Avant-Rock, Experimental Singer/Songwriter, Chamber-Folk

Vibe: Cryptic, Warm, Cerebral, Spring, Exploratory, Eclectic, Melancholy

Musical Attributes: Odd Time Signatures, Progressive Structures, Melodic

Esmerine – If Only a Sweet Surrender to the Nights to Come Be True

Style: Chamber Rock, Post-Rock

Vibe: Mournful, Lethargic, Contemplative, Exploratory, Melancholy, Moody

Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Atmospheric, Chamber, Instrumental, Slow, Murky

Instrumentation: Cello, Mallet Percussion, Drums, Violin, Harmonium, Upright Bass

Robert Wyatt – Old Rottenhat

Style: Experimental Singer-Songwriter, Art Pop, Canterbury Scene, Jazz-Rock

Vibe: Political (Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Imperialist), Satirical, Conscious, Melancholy, Hypnotic

Musical Attributes/Instrumentation: Sparse, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Layered Vocals, Digital Keyboards, Drum Machines, Percussion, Synthesizers, Piano

Oneohtrix Point Never – Magic Oneohtrix Point Never

Style: Progressive Electronic, Hypnogogic Pop, Neo-Psychedelia

Vibe: Surreal, Nostalgia, Sentimental, Catchy, Futuristic, Longing, Melancholy, Woozy, Uplifting, Eclectic

Musical Attributes: Sampling, Sound Collage, Progressive

Anna & Elizabeth – The Invisible Comes to Us

The Invisible Comes to Us is a haunting, modern take on Appalachian and Irish folk songs. Beautiful close-harmonies, banjos and acoustic guitars are juxtaposed with droning atmospheres of woodwinds, Moog bass, pump organ, and euphonium. Guest musicians include Jim White on drums and Susan Alcorn on slide guitar.

Sixteen Horsepower – Folklore

Style: Gothic Country, Americana, Chamber Folk
Vibe: Rustic, Sombre, Murky, Rootsy, Ominous, Loner, Western, Melancholy, Moody, Dark
Musical Attributes: Acoustic Instrumentation (Banjo, Upright Bass, Cello, Acoustic Guitar, Accordion, Piano), Atmospheric, Droney, Slow, Lyrical
Lyrical Themes: Alienation, Religious, Christian, Storytelling

Mogwai – Mr. Beast

Style: Post-Rock, Shoegaze, Slowcore

Vibe: Cinematic, Moody, Contemplative, Focused, Fuzzy, Melancholy, Sombre, Cathartic

Musical Attributes: Dynamic, Melodic, Noisy, Repetitive, Slow, Atmospheric, Polyphonic

Mike and Lal Waterson – Bright Phoebus

Style: British Folk, Country-Influenced
Vibe: Contemplative, Earthy, Introspective, Melancholy, Rootsy, Rural, Storytelling
Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Vocal Harmonies, Lyrical, Melodic, Simple, Sparse

Magnolia Electric Co. – What Comes After the Blues

“Human hearts and pain should never be separate, then they wouldn’t tear themselves apart both trying to fit”. The first album under the Magnolia Electric Co. name touches on the loneliness and depression of much of Jason Molina’s work, but it also contains a fair amount of the hope, light, and perseverance one needs in times of struggle. The musicians here were recorded live in a room by the great Steve Albini, featuring slide guitar, fiddle, and beautiful vocal harmonies from Molina’s band members. With its mix of melancholy Americana, country-tinged rock, and stripped back folk, What Comes After the Blues feels like a continuation of Neil Young’s great ditch trilogy.

Dirty Three – Horse Stories

The third album from the Melbourne (Au) violin/guitar/drum trio consists of loose, drifting instrumentals that conjure images of vast, open plains. Though the music here is often melancholic and lethargic, it is occasionally swept up with bursts of passionate energy and possessed by cathartic longing (especially the pleading and utterly beautiful violin solo on “Warren’s Lament”). All three instrumentalists have very individual styles that complement and dialogue with each other in refreshingly unique ways.

Ryley Walker – Deafman Glance

Acoustic-shredder/singer-songwriter ventures out of the jazz-inflected folk-rock territory explored by his last few albums to create something that feels fully himself. Deafman Glance is full of angular left turns, complex structures, airy flutes, jazz detours, and psychedelic atmospheres. A balance of great songwriting, jazz musicianship, and experimental/art-rock tendencies. Recommended to fans of Tortoise’s Standards, Tim Buckley’s Starsailor, and King Crimson’s Red. (Click for full review).

Tim Buckley – Blue Afternoon

Blue Afternoon continues the flowing jazz-folk of Tim’s previous release (Happy Sad) while starting to detour into the avant-garde atmospheres that would manifest more fully on his next two albums, Lorca and Starsailor. The songs and lyrics refuse to be boxed into one category as “joyful” or “lonely” or “sad” and instead reflect the intangible multi-dimensionality of feeling.

Songs: Ohia – The Magnolia Electric Co

“Sometimes it’s hard doing anything”. Somehow Jason Molina knows how to perfectly express what depression feels like without ever succumbing to hopelessness. His music has been a friend and a voice of encouragement when I need it most, reminding me to persist and not beat myself up when I feel unproductive or lazy or unmotivated. “The real truth about it is no one gets it right. The real truth about it is we’re all supposed to try”