The best electronic albums of 2018

Psst—even if you don’t listen to electronic music, every record you’ve ever heard is electronic music. The truth of this sophism is deepening as electronic instruments and idioms overtake every genre. Euro-pop arpeggios twist through country radio. Modular drones whir through folk. Synth rock, once a subgenre, now…

The best country albums of 2018

From one angle, the country music narrative in 2018 was distinguished by consistency. Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line’s easygoing soul-twang confection “Meant To Be” spent a staggering, record-setting 50 weeks atop the Hot Country Songs chart, while the vast majority of award winners and chart-toppers are all…

Earl Sweatshirt locks in on the uncompromising Some Rap Songs

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Earl Sweatshirt’s 2015 album I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is one of the best rap albums of the decade, but it was a grower, claustrophobic and dissonant. Some Rap Songs aims higher and makes you work harder. That blurry cover and demurring title are no feint; he’s buried in the mix, his voice fighting against…

Black Monument Ensemble took Chicago on a cosmic civil-rights journey

Garfield Park Conservatory is an oasis on Chicago’s West Side, 68,000 square feet of “landscape art under glass” where meandering footpaths take visitors through various natural environments like the lush, ancient-seeming Fern Room and the dry warmth of the Desert Room. Much more than a greenhouse full of potted…

Here’s how you’re damaging your ears—and what you can do to protect them

One of the central storylines of A Star Is Born is Jackson Maine’s (Bradley Cooper) struggle with hearing loss and tinnitus, made worse by the fact that he’s a musician who performs live concerts and exposes himself to loud sounds on a daily basis. While most of us aren’t famous musicians playing shows every night,…

Fruit Bats sign to Merge, release surreal short film for “Getting In A Van Again”

Eric D. Johnson was stranded. When he called the The A.V. Club from a rental-car counter in Atlanta, the facility was fresh out of cars, bringing a sudden halt to a long day of travel for the singer-songwriter who’s been recording under the Fruit Bats moniker since 1997. Johnson was stranded, but not without support:…

Solange and Anderson Paak lead our 21 most-anticipated albums of November

Often the last big records of the year arrive in November, making it a fair bet that Solange’s “imminent,” highly anticipated fourth album will drop in the next few weeks. There are also promising new efforts on the horizon from Anderson Paak, Dead Can Dance, Cupcakke, Josephine Foster, and Jeff Tweedy, plus exciting…

Beyond “Monster Mash”: 60 minutes of killer tunes for your graveyard smash

Halloween is on a Wednesday this year, which means that all but the most dedicated creeps will be throwing their Halloween parties this weekend. And while it’s tempting to just put “Monster Mash” on repeat and wait for someone to call you out on it, you want your guests to stick around through the witching hour, right?

One of punk’s true originals, Germfree Adolescents is as fresh today as it was in 1978

On her 2007 album How To Win!, stand-up comedian Maria Bamford tells a joke about her mother telling her she looks “mentally ill” without makeup. “Now, when I go home, I’m certain to wear thick green eyeshadow and a line of lipstick around my lips,” Bamford says, before asking in a quivering voice, “Baby look pretty…

Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and the story of indie rock’s best new supergroup

Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus make records that seemingly flaunt their loneliness to make the listener feel less alone. Devastatingly honest, each singer-songwriter’s most recent record—Baker’s Turn Out The Lights, Bridgers’ Stranger In The Alps, and Dacus’ Historian, all out in the past year or…

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