Deerhunter – Cryptograms/Fluorescent Grey EP

Style: Noise Pop, Neo-Psychedelia, Shoegaze

Vibe: Cryptic, Surreal, Hypnotic, Ethereal, Nocturnal, Anxious, Washy

Musical Qualities: Noisy, Fuzzy, Catchy, Atmospheric, Lo-fi, Reverbed Production, Repetitive

Leonard Cohen – New Skin for the Old Ceremony

Style: Singer/Songwriter, Chamber Folk

Vibe: Poetic, Bittersweet, Conversational, Sexual, Dry Humor, Brooding, Melancholy, Longing, Tender, Introspective, Breakup

Musical Qualities: Lush, Lyrical, Groovy, Dynamic

Instrumentation: Electric Bass, Piano, Acoustic Guitar, Backup Vocalists, Trombone, Jaw Harp, Woodwinds, Strings, Banjo, Mandolin, Trumpet, Drums, Percussion, Keyboards

King Crimson – Lark’s Tongue in Aspic [Steven Wilson Mix]

Style: Prog, Chamber Rock

Vibe: Mercurial, Menacing, Bombastic, Cryptic, Muscular, Cerebral, Epic, Medieval, Aggressive, Bipolar, Heavy, Headphone Album

Musical Qualities: Dynamic, Complex, Progressive Structures, Uncommon Time Signatures, Percussive, Riffs,

Instrumentation: Electric Guitar, Violin, Mellotron, Electric Bass, Electric Keyboards, Percussion, Drums, Vocals

mewithoutYou – Brother, Sister

Style: Post-Hardcore, Art Rock, Folk-Influenced

Vibe: Spiritual, Poetic, Angsty, Introspective, Psychedelic, Energetic, Autumnal, Passionate, Sombre

Themes: Existential, Religious (Christian), Personal, Allegory, Symbolic, Philosophical

Musical Qualities: Spoken Word, Shouting, Groovy, Lush, Dense, Dynamic, Progressive

Eiko Ishibashi – Imitation of Life

Style: Chamber Pop, Prog-Pop, Jazz Pop, Singer-Songwriter

Vibe: Lush, Warm, Sunny, Sci-Fi, Playful, Philosophical, Surreal, Energetic, Imaginative

Musical Qualities: Progressive, Dense, Catchy, Complex, Melodic, Dense, Technical, Rhythmic

Instrumentation: Piano, Vibraphone, Drums, Flute, Rhodes, Electric & Acoustic Bass, Saxophone, Clarinet, Violin, Cello , Synthesizers, Steel Drum, French Horn

Akron/Family – Set Em Wild, Set Em Free

These guys are my favorite American Rock band. Every album they’ve released explores different sides of rock, folk, experimental and psychedelic music in such a natural, unforced way that my mind usually envisions them jamming by a campfire in the woods. What’s even better is I imagine I’m there with them singing along and worshipping the great creative spirit that inspires their music. There’s such an unpretentious, inclusive sense of community and spirituality in their music that I can’t help but feel welcomed and embraced into the family.

Irreversible Entanglements – Open the Gates

Style: Free Jazz, Future Jazz, Jazz Poetry, Liberation Music

Vibe: Ritualistic, Triumphant, Aquatic, Communal, Futuristic, Philosophical, Poetic, Anthemic, Cerebral, Confident, Conscious, Determined, Epic, Existential, Groovy, Healing, Heavy, Liberation, Political, Powerful, Rebellious, Evocative, Mystical, Intertwined

Musical Qualities: Thematic, Collective Improvisation, Acoustic Instrumentation, Spoken Word, Progressive Structures, Rhythmic, Polyphonic, Dynamic, Complex, Dub Fx

Gratien Midonet – A Cosmic Poet from Martinique 1979-1989

Style: Cosmic Folk, Caribbean Folk

Vibe: Mystical, Tropical, Poetic, Cosmic, Earthy, Ecletic, Intertwined, Groovy, Spiritual

Musical Qualities: Percussive, Polyrhythmic, Repetitive, Dense, Technical, Polished

Instrumentation: Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar, Percussion, Vocals, Electric Bass

Moor Mother – Black Encyclopedia of the Air

Style: Experimental Hip-Hop

Vibe: Futuristic, Mellow, Aquatic, Brooding, Cryptic, Haunting, Liberation, Philosophical, Poetic, Ritualistic, Spiritual, Sombre, Sci-Fi

Musical Qualities: Rap, Vocal Manipulations, Glitchy, Sampling, Digital, Spoken Word, Catchy, Suite, Percussive, Sound Collage

Media Jeweler – The Sublime Sculpture of Being Alive

Style: Post-Punk, Math Rock, Art Rock

Vibes/Moods: Alienation, Overstimulated, Anxious, Urban, Eccentric, Anthemic, Satirical, Dystopian, Angular, Chaotic, Colorful, Urban, Philosophical, Playful

Musical Qualities: Catchy, Dissonant, Riffs, Dynamic, Dense, Melodic, Rhythmic

Swans – The Glowing Man

Style: Experimental Rock, Post Rock

Vibe: Cathartic, Visceral, Spiritual, Brooding, Shadowy, Apocalyptic, Ritualistic, Suspenseful, Climactic, Dark, Powerful, Heavy, Cryptic, Philosophical, Surreal, Epic, Hypnotic, Sombre, Meditative, Mysterious, Monolithic, Longing, Existential, Disorienting

Musical Qualities: Dynamic, Repetitive, Dense, Crescendo, Rhythmic, Droney

Moor Mother & billy woods – Brass

Style: Hip-Hop (Hardcore, Boom-Bap, Experimental, East Coast)

Vibe: Gritty, Ritualistic, Ominous, Dystopian, Philosophical, Futuristic, Apocalyptic, Cold, Cryptic, Dark, Philosophical, Political, Surreal, Woozy, Conscious

Musical Qualities: Sampling, Beats, Percussive, Noisy, Lyrical, Spoken Word, Rhythmic

King Crimson – Three of a Perfect Pair

Style: Art Rock, Prog, Experimental Rock, Progressive Pop

Vibe: Anxious, Angular, Cerebral, Mechanical, Catchy, Ominous, Philosophical, Suspenseful, Dystopian, Urban, Confident

Musical Attributes: Complex, Uncommon Time Signatures, Polyrhythmic, Polished, Progressive, Technical

Brainticket – Celestial Ocean

Style: Kosmische Musik, Prog, Space Rock, Progressive Electronic

Vibe: Cosmic, Ethereal, Aquatic, Groovy, Exploratory, Hypnotic, Meditative, Hallucinogenic, Spiritual, Futuristic

Musical Qualities: Progressive, Suite, Raga, Headphone Album, Raga, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Dense

Lyrics: Conceptual, Egyptian Book of the Dead, Spiritual, Philosophical

Ryley Walker – Course in Fable

Style: Progressive Songwriter, Jazz-Rock, Prog-Folk, Post-Rock

Vibe: Spring, Introspective, Warm, Intertwoven, Bright, Colorful, Carefree, Reflective, Personal

Musical Qualities: Lush, Progressive, Odd Time Signatures, Intricate, Dynamic, Polished, Improvisation, Lyrical, Riffs, Orchestral Arrangements

Swamp Dogg – Rat On!

Style: Country-Soul, Funk

Vibe: Anthemic, Bittersweet, Triumphant, Political, Satirical, Playful, Groovy, Sunny, Conscious, Heartfelt, Warm, Sentimental, Rebellious, Philosophical

Musical Qualities: Lush, Rhythmic, Polished, Melodic, Lyrical

Mount Eerie – Sauna

Style: Experimental Singer/Songwriter, Avant-Folk, Drone

Vibe: Winter, Existential, Imaginative, Introspective, Contemplative, Epic, Philosophical, Poetic, Ethereal, Loner, Meditative, Eclectic

Musical Attributes: Atmospheric, Droney, Lo-Fi, Lyrical, Progressive

Holy Sons – Raw & Disfigured

Style: Loner Folk, Psych Rock, Singer/Songwriter

Vibe: Introspective, Loner, Dark, Nocturnal, Psychedelic

Lyrical Themes: Philosophical, Existential, Death, Personal

Musical Attributes: Lush, Melodic, Lyrical

The Incredible String Band – U

Style: Psychedelic Folk, Brit-Folk

Vibe: Theatric, Colorful, Eccentric, Eclectic, Imaginative, Messy, Mystical, Playful, Surreal, Warm

Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Lyrical, Conceptual, Indian-Influenced

Lyrics: Storytelling, Philosophical, Fantasy, Humorous, Poetic

Erykah Badu – New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War)

Style: Psychedelic Funk, Conscious Hip-Hop, Soul

Vibe: Conscious, Groovy, Retro-Futuristic, Passionate, Philosophical, Political, Psychedelic, Uplifting, Urban, Eclectic

Musical Attributes: Groovy, Rhythmic, Lush, Melodic, Complex, Sampling, Lyrical

The Microphones – The Glow Pt. 2

Style: Lo-Fi, Experimental Singer/Songwriter, Loner Folk
Vibe: Heartfelt, Imaginative, Introspective, Nature, Intimate, Loner, Bittersweet, Depressive, Psychedelic, Raw, Lonely
Lyrical Themes: Existential, Alienation, Breakup, Philosophical, Poetic, Personal, Death
Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Noisy, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Analogue Recording, lo-fi, Distorted

The Books – Lost and Safe

Style: Collage-Pop, Glitch-Folk, Plunderphonics

Vibe: Surreal, Psychedelic, Peaceful, Cerebral, Meditative,  Philosophical, Spiritual, Uplifting, Warm, Playful, Hallucinogenic

Musical Attributes: Sampling, Electro-Acoustic, Melodic, Sound Collage, Vocal Manipulation

Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson – Bridges

Style: Soul, Jazz-Funk, Singer-Songwriter

Vibe: Conscious, Groovy, Lush, Lyrical, Passionate, Philosophical, Political, Sunny, Triumphant, Uplifting, Urban, Accessible, Bittersweet, Catchy, Confident

Mos Def – Black on Both Sides

Style: East Coast Hip-Hop, Boom Bap, Jazz Rap

Vibe: Conscious, Uplifting, Groovy, Confident, Urban

Lyrics/Themes: Philosophical, Political, Black Pride, Racism, Spiritual, Islam

Musical Attributes: Lyrical, Sampling, Beats, Turntables, Live Instrumentation (Rhodes, Electric Bass)

Stereolab – Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night

Style: Progressive Pop, Space Age Pop

Influences: Kosmische Musik, Bossa Nova, French Pop, Lounge

Vibe: Spacey, Lush, Retro-Futuristic, Catchy, Groovy, Motorik, Nocturnal, Uplifting

Musical Attributes: Melodic, Headphone Album, Odd Time Signatures, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Progressive, Lyrical

Lyrics: Philosophical, Political, Communist, Bi-Lingual (English and French)

Instrumentation: Synthesizers, Vibraphone, Drums, Electric Bass, Electric Guitar, Vocals, Brass, Strings, Keys (Organ, Clavinet, Harpsichord, Wurlitzer)

The Books – The Way Out

The Books’ music is simultaneously funny, innovative, catchy and enlightening. They use found sound and spoken word mixed with innovative recording techniques and acoustic instruments to create beautiful sound-collages that somehow create unity between all these disparate sources, as if they were all meant to be together. Everything these guys do, solo or together, is absolute genius.

David Grubbs – The Thicket

On experimental musician David Grubb’s first dedicated songwriter outing, he synthesizes technical bluegrass banjo and fingerstyle acoustic guitar playing with imaginative arrangements, abrupt stylistic shifts, philosophical questioning lyrics, improvisation, and drones. Featured musicians include drummer John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea and Cake), bassist Josh Abrams (Natural Information Society), and drone violinist Tony Conrad.

Holy Sons – In the Garden

After 20+ years of using his introspective songwriting as a playground for psychedelic lo-fi experimentation, underdog hero Emil Amos hands the production reins to John Angello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr.) for his most polished album yet, capturing the best aspects of 70’s rock classics without ever feeling cliché. The hi-fi analogue production brings a newfound clarity and depth that allows Amos’ songwriting and instrumental performances to bloom; the choruses are anthemic, the atmospheres are darkly psychedelic, and his lyrics are just as philosophical and contemplative as ever.

Young Jesus – The Whole Thing is Just There

The Whole Thing is Just There is another beautiful and life-affirming release from Young Jesus, the second with the current L.A. iteration of the band. Their inter-band chemistry seems stronger than ever, with telepathic improvisations, symbiotic catharses, and a mutual love for each other that is easily felt from a listener’s perspective. The lyrics deal with self-exploration and one’s relationship with the world around them, finding solace in spirituality, existentialism, literature, and the ethos of free jazz. Stylistically the music seems rooted in late-90’s indie rock and emo, with seamless but adventurous detours into post-rock, noisy post-hardcore, and free improvisation. Excited to see where these guys go next.

King Crimson – Discipline

Discpline marks the first in a trilogy of complex prog-meets-new-wave masterpieces that have been relished by anxious overthinkers for decades…featuring polyrhythmic riffs, innovative guitar textures, overwrought sing-talking, and a strong inter-band chemistry.

Jim O’Rourke – Insignificance

After a prolific career as a noise/improvisational/experimental guitarist and a few forays into folk and chamber pop, Jim O’Rourke surprised his audience with an album closer to straightforward rock than his audience could have ever expected of him. Yet underneath it’s catchy, cheery, and polished exterior, his lyrics are full of humorously bitter resentment. Like his debut singer/songwriter album Eureka, Insignificance is full of the meticulous and lush arrangements that Jim would become known for.

Holy Sons – The Fact Facer [Review]

I highly recommend this album to any nocturnal recluses looking for a shadowy singer-songwriter to listen to during their next existential crisis. Emil’s experimental blend of hi- and lo-fi recording methods and tasteful use of psychedelic atmospheres allow his strong songwriting to take precedent, while simultaneously offering plenty of new textures to discover with each subsequent listen. Diverse range of influences include Indian classical, psychedelic rock, drone, folk, dub…the list goes on.