“Sleep Cycle” by Deakin:
On his breakthrough solo album “Sleep Cycle,” Animal Collective member Deakin demonstrates that he’s more than just a silent collaborator. Deakin’s debut sounds much more focused and compact than anything Animal Collective has released in years. Sure, many of Animal Collective’s signature tricks — swirling synthesizers, tribal rhythms and frantic repetitions — are present on this record. But “Sleep Cycle” presents these sounds in a refreshing new way that makes you wonder why it took Deakin so long to step out of the shadows. The gentle, acoustic touches of “Golden Chords” and the explosive “Footy” prove that sometimes the quiet ones have the best things to say.
“Changes” by Charles Bradley:
Upon hearing such a vintage soul-driven record as “Changes” in 2016, it’s easy to dismiss Charles Bradley’s third album as simple revivalism. But a quick look at Bradley’s age dispels this notion entirely. A 67-year-old soul singer who recorded his first album in 2011, Bradley illuminates the rasp and wisdom of a seasoned veteran without the drawbacks inherent in being an “oldies act.” But don’t dismiss Bradley as an artifact.
Bradley’s reworking of Black Sabbath’s “Changes” shows that the man is so full of soul that he can take the lyrics of a metal song and make them entirely his own. “Changes” is a record that easily could have been a hit during soul’s golden age, but it sounds just as fresh today.
“Human Performance” by Parquet Courts:
Parquet Court’s third studio album “Human Performance” oozes all things New York. On frantic tracks such as “I Was Just Here” and “One Man No City,” the band lyrically and sonically channels urban confusion and isolation while still relishing their NYC-style influences. Traces of New York natives The Modern Lovers and The Velvet Underground can be heard all over this record, showing that the sonic manifestos started by these seminal groups are still being replicated with precision.