Top 5 Albums of October
October is the month of the ghastly, the grotesque, and the indulgence of fantasy – it’s the one month of the year where we freely celebrate what frightens us by memorializing our greatest fears. Our deepest and darkest nightmares that we stow away for the rest of the year manifest our culture en masse, where we find ourselves binging on what we would otherwise never touch- I myself will never ever watch The Haunting of Hill House, but I certainly researched it obsessively.
But fright shouldn’t belong to just the monsters. There were plenty of scares in the music world this month: Thom Yorke’s spellbinding score for Suspiria, Greta Van Fleet’s gruesome (yet hilarious) Pitchfork review, and of course, Ye’s Frankenstein-esque reanimation from his political lobotomy. If the month of October had an overture, it would certainly be written by John Carpenter.
Though I wouldn’t describe our favorite albums this month as scary, I would describe them as otherworldly. There’s an aura of vivid imagination in each of these albums that pulses with the delight of indulgence and experimentation; some breathe lightly and flow gracefully unhampered, while others dwindle in the dark, ruminating in the soft breeze of their maker’s ghosts. Indulge your inner spirit with our top 5 albums of October.
Julia Holter – Aviary
For fans of: Sigur Rós, Björk, Laurie Anderson
Los Angeles-based songwriter/composer Julia Holter is now bearing the torch of the art pop legends. Similar to the more cathartic work of Björk and Sigur Rós, Holter’s sprawling sixth commercial album Aviary is very long (89 minutes total), although never tiresome, and entirely inspired; it’s a musical narrative brimming with wonderful textures, not unlike a sort of ambient-ballet, ebbing and flowing with the rhythmic flaws of human nature. Though Aviary can occasionally present itself as a challenge, some challenges yield beautiful rewards.
Kero Kero Bonito – Time ‘n’ Place
For fans of: Charli XCX, Weezer’s Pinkerton, Grimes
Yes, I sandwiched Weezer’s beloved sophomore album Pinkerton between Charli and Grimes, and by the third track on the trio’s newest album Time ‘n’ Place, you’ll understand why. Not only did the British J-pop group evolve their electro-heavy twee into a brash and grungy rock sound that resounds a Pinkerton influence, but singer Sarah Midori Perry eerily fits the profile of the woman Rivers Cuomo covet’s on the album’s nerd anthem “El Scorcho”. Granted, KKB haven’t entirely gone full rock and roll, and fans of the group’s viral sensation “Flamingo” won’t be disappointed; there’s still plenty of hyper-pop charm sprinkled within.
Kurt Vile – Bottle It In
For fans of: The War on Drugs, Cass McCombs, Real Estate
Philly’s Kurt Vile may be indie rock’s Dad in Residence, but that isn’t holding him back from pushing his creative energy to new limits. Despite cultivating a mid-atlantic guitar sound all his own, Bottle It In is arguably his most madcap album to date, where we find Vile swirling in quirky lapses of lyrical and musical self-indulgence. For any other indie rock artist, such an inward draw could be a commercial death, but for the entirely affable (and talented) Vile, the vintage, tape-worn environment of Bottle It In is comfortable, and perhaps even cozy, much like your goofy dad’s man-cave.
Jerry Paper – Like a Baby
For fans of: Mac DeMarco, Connan Mockasin, Mild High Club
I saw Jerry Paper several years back in Brooklyn. He was clad in a purple silk kimono and jived various interpretive dances to some rather bizarre new age music. Needless to say, his weirdness stuck with me, and on his sixth full length album Like a Baby, the eccentricities are still on full blast. The difference here, compared to kimono-era Paper, is consumer accessibility, and even for the most basic music consumer, there’s something here for them. Woozy pocket grooves, lounge lizard earworms, warm blankets of synth bliss – it’s different, endearing, fashionable (even sans kimono), and undeniably clever.
Robyn – Honey
For fans of: Lykke Li, Tove Lo, Fever Ray
Robyn has earned the reputation of being pop’s rogue leader, persevering and thriving through a twenty-five year career full of jarring creative directions and major label pressure, leading to the eventual creation of her own label Konichiwa. Robyn’s tenacity and thoughtfulness are the driving factors behind Honey, the Swedish singer’s eighth studio album, arguably one of the most sensitive and contemplative pop records of the year. Within its succinct nine-track setlist, Robyn sets her pop chops in flux while contemplating the macabre, including the death of a friend and the demise of a relationship. Honey is dark and sensual, but oozes the saccharine syrup of a pop icon in her prime, forming itself into one of the strongest pieces of work from an artist of premium calibre.