One Month Challenge: 31 new albums in a month with reviews

Vapaa-aika
Reading time: 12 min

 

I listened to one new album every day in December.
Here is a short review of each in the following format.

***
I. Artist – Album (year) [genre]

II. Album’s emotions in three words.

III. When would I listen to it.

IV. Short description of sounds.

V. Recommended teaser song.

VI. Will I listen to it again?
***

You can click on the album cover to go the Spotify page of said album.

Let’s begin!

Click me to listen to me on Spotify!

1. Sigur Rós – Ágætis byrjun (1999) [Post-rock]

Eerie. Touching. Slow.

Perfect album for a late-night chill after a night out on the city.

The soft drums and stretched guitar melodies create an incredibly soothing atmosphere. At times melodramatic, at times comforting, even uplifting.

For a taste, start with:
“Svefn-g-englar”

Will I listen to it again?
Absolutely.


2. Meat Beat Manifesto – Actual Sounds + Voices (1998) [Breakbeat]

Industrial. Violent. Explosive.

Action scene soundtrack for high-speed car chase. No wonder track number two (Prime Audio Soup) was featured in the cult classic movie The Matrix.

Breakbeat drums, industrial synth sounds and jazz influences make this album an energy-packed experience. The jumpy ride cymbal in Prime Audio Soup is the perfect sound to keep you engaged and your feet pumping. Be prepared for weird, yet creative sound design.

For a taste start with:
“Prime Audio Soup”

Will I listen to it again?
Maybe.


3. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind (2019) [Nu metal]

Aggressive. Sad. Resentful.

Music for running alone with a fast heartbeat.

Double bass on the drums and screechy guitar melodies give this a classic Slipknot & metal sound. Having been a fan of them for a long time, I feel like this is more of the same rather than something new. Some like this, some don’t. At least it doesn’t disappoint and delivers on what I look for in this genre.

For a taste start with:
“Unsainted”

Will I listen to it again?
Probably not.


4. 2814 · 恢复 (2015) [Vaporwave, ambient]

Atmospheric. Metallic. Frozen.

Music for listening while waiting for the sun to rise in on an urban rooftop.

Ambient music with non-existent bass is the perfect counterbalance to EDM beats while maintaining that electronic sound design. The atmosphere created is bound to take you to somewhere foreign, curious, but yet welcoming.

For a taste start with:
“ふわっと”

Will I listen to it again?
Maybe.


5. Tinlicker – This is not our Universe (2019) [house, trance]

Ambiance. Hope. Joy.

Perfect soundtrack for sunbathing and the transition from relaxing to dancing.

The progressive and looping melodies give the music an ideal mix between being suitable for background music yet intriguing enough to be enjoyed as a standalone experience.

For a taste start with:
“Need you”

Will I listen to it again?
Absolutely.


6. Max Cooper – One Hundred Billion Sparks (2018) [IDM, ambient]

Glitchy. Bouncy. Buzz.

Listen to when you want to experience new music with a person dear to you. Best listened to as a standalone experience.

Intelligent dance music, basically EDM with more instruments than usually. Clearly, a lot of effort was put into the glitchy sound design, which delivers a foreign, even alien musical experience.

For a taste start with:
“Platonic”

Will I listen to it again?
Probably not.


7. Poldoore – Street Bangerz Volume 6: Playhouse (2012) [R&B, soul]

Yellow. Sunshine. Lemonade.

Perfect soundtrack for conversating while cooking casual dinner with a group of friends on a weekday evening.

Funky synthesizer beats keep the melodies fresh. Soul singer samples bring the songs to life. Pretty sure a blunt or two was smoked during the production of this record.

For a taste start with:
“But I Do”

Will I listen to it again?
Absolutely.


8. Outkast – Stankonia (2000) [hip hop]

Funky. Hood. Blazing.

For when you feel disappointed and a little angry with the world and want to sit back on a coach with your homies and listen to an album which echoes “Yeah I feel you, bro.”

Funky blunt beats with lyrics about bitches and the hardships of life. Great for Friday night vibing.

For a taste start with:
“We Luv Deez Hoez”

Will I listen to it again?
Probably not.


9. Haken – The Mountain (2013) [progressive metal]

Grand. Steel. Chorus.

Soundtrack for climbing snowy mountaintops while facing the everpresent danger of falling off a cliff while at it.

Album has both epic metal double-bass beatdown sounds, accompanied by melodic choir chants. It gives you a ton of energy to take the next step on a run or do one more rep at the gym.

For a taste start with:
“Falling Back to Earth”

Will I listen to it again?
Probably not.


10. Tyler, The Creator – IGOR (2019) [hip hop]

Whiny. Small. Vibes.

Listen to when you are contemplating whether to send that risky text to your crush, but you’re really afraid of what might happen.

For sad boi vibes that aren’t that sad but still sad. 808 bass gives that classic hip hop sound, coupled with distinctive yet sparingly used claps. Whiny lyrics keep you in the mood for more.

For a taste start with:
“Earfquake”

Will I listen to it again?
Probably not.


11. Pat Metheny Group – Still Life (Talking) (1987) [jazz fusion]

Warm. Soulful. Rapid.

Play this when as a young adult you invite your parents over for the first time to have dinner and want to prove that you are now mature.

Spacious piano melodies, eccentric guitars and a bunch of percussive elements. Guaranteed to entertain you.

For a taste start with:
“Third Wind”

Will I listen to it again?
Absolutely.


12. Above & Beyond ft. Oceanlab – Sirens of the Sea (2008) [progressive trance]

Uplifting. Joyful. Inviting.

Listen to immediately upon waking up on a Sunday morning while still in your bed and ready to take your time to get up, stretch and enjoy sun shining outside.

The definition of uplifting trance.

For a taste start with:
“On a Good Day”

Will I listen to it again?
Maybe.


13. KOAN Sound – Intervals Above (2019) [glitch hop, experimental]

Jumpy. Choppy. Glitches.

Listen when you need a fresh perspective on your life and want experimental music to give it to you.

Experimental electronic music with both warm and cold synth sounds. Melody-driven, dreamy beats that fuel your imagination and creative side.

For a taste start with:
“Vibrant”

Will I listen to it again?
Probably not.


14. Prodigy – Fat of the Land (1997) [breakbeat]

Provocation. Speed. Fire.

Listen to when you need an extra boost for running thru the rain on a dark weekday night.

Primitive, acidic synth sounds. Both natural and electronic drums jumping to breakbeat rhythms. Inspiration found from all over the world. Melodies guaranteed to give you energy – to keep you on the hunt.

For a taste start with:
“Firestarter”

Will I listen to it again?
Maybe.


15. Nas – Illmatic (1994) [hip-hop]

Lanky. Straight. Posture.

Blast this from your car stereo when out and about with our homies, rolling around Grove street in a low-rider American automobile on a sunny weekday afternoon.

A marvelous mix of drum machine beats and rhymes with an incredible flow. Even a non-hip hop head can easily appreciate the beauty of this album.

For a taste start with:
“The World Is Yours”

Will I listen to it again?
Absolutely.


16. Solar Fields – Mirror’s Edge OST (2009) [psybient]

Digital. Automatic. Noise.

Play while parkouring in Chernobyl with a Geiger counter crunching on your back.

Effortlessly surfing the line between trance and ambient, this psychedelic and industrial soundscape is excitement in audio form.

For a taste start with:
“Edge Flight”

Will I listen to it again?
Maybe.


17. The Avalanches – Since I Left You (2000) [plunderphonics, sampledelia]

Psychedelic. Groovy. Entertainment.

Something I’d want to play while entertaining guests at my apartment during a standup cocktail party on a spring Friday evening.

For a taste start with:
“Frontier psychiatrist”

Will I listen to it again?
Absolutely.


18. Tre-Funk III – Planeetta Funk (2016) [rap, funk]

Airy. Composed. Smooth.

Put this record on the moment you come home from the bar and don’t feel like going to bed quite yet.

Flowy rap. Funky beats. Soothing melodies. The perfect chillout soundtrack with surprisingly fascinating Finnish rap lyrics.

For a taste start with:
“Planeetta Funk”

Will I listen to it again?
Absolutely.


19. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (1971) [soul]

Peace. Love. Affection.

Play when trying out the Bob Ross painting technique with your friend and need some inspiration in audio form.

Soothing, loving male vocals. Chill-ass melodies. And the message of “make love, not war.” Perfect reminder for the fact that love truly is the answer.

For a taste start with:
“What’s going on”

Will I listen to it again?
Absolutely.


20. Risto – Aurinko Aurinko Plaa Plaa Plaa (2006) [pop rock]

Neurotic. Screaming. Avoidance.

Listen when you feel like you need a break from regular music.

While easily recognized to have pretentious, artistic elements has quite the message from someone with a history of mental health struggles, which are evident in the lyrics of the album. From rape fantasies to God delusions, it’s bound to make you second-guess – what’s going on here and what does it all mean?

For a taste start with:
“Minä oon nähnyt Jumalan kasvot”

Will I listen to it again?
Maybe.


21. Keith Carnal – RETROFIT (2019) [techno]

Striking. Deep. Urban.

Listen when you want to dance to techno beats.

Have you ever heard of techno parties that start at 6 am and last until 3 pm on New Year’s Day (not eve)? This is what I imagine being played there. Something very techno, but not too techno.

For a taste start with:
“Moving Molecules”

Will I listen to it again?
Maybe.


22. Haelos – Full Circle (2016) [trip hop]

Melancholic. Vulnerable. Wounds.

Listen to when you want to bring your awareness to the sadness in your life. Not because you’re afraid of it, but because you know the whole spectrum of emotions is a part of life.

Trippy melodies. Back and forth drumming. Vocals that seem to have lived through tough times and survived only to tell their tales of voe. Bound to make you get a little melancholic even while bobbing your head and swaying your hips.

For a taste start with:
“Pray”

Will I listen to it again?
Absolutely.


23. Mac Lethal – Congratulations (2016) [gantsa rap]

Disappointment. Resentment. Stamina.

Listen to when you want to hate on the American Dream.

Catchy beats and melodies with lyrics displaying a mismatch between the world the rapper is in and their understanding of it. The album pulls you into the same world and makes you sympathize with the struggles displayed.

For a taste start with:
“Weed & Coffee”

Will I listen to it again?
Maybe.


24. The Digital Blonde – Neon (2018) [trance, synth]

Retro. Future. Dreams.

Listen while on a coastal night drive in a DeLorean driving towards the future.

The perfect mix of progressive trance and synthwave, fusing the futuristic and retro sounds in a small melting pot called “Neon”. Minimalistic melodies, which are interesting but not too busy, let your imagination start building worlds unknown which you can explore while listening to this album.

For a taste start with:
“Serento”

Will I listen to it again?
Maybe.


25. Kaytranada – Bubba (2019) [R&B, future beats]

Bounce. Afro. Snag.

Play it at a house party when the night has yet to truly begin, right before the masses hit the dance floor.

Perfect mix between lounge & dance music. Suitable for chilling out while building the tension that you can only break up by breaking it down on the dance floor. My new go-to jam for house parties.

For a taste start with:
“10%”

Will I listen to it again?
Absolutely.


26. Death Hawks – Sun Future Moon (2015) [psychedelic rock]

Intrigue. Flux. Curiosity.

Listen to when you want to play your hardcore metalhead friends something a bit more light to chill along to on a Sunday night, without losing that metal sound.

Classic metal sound accompanied by plenty of small details: a variety of drums and percussive elements. Frequent appearances of polyphonic singing complete the unique sound. The soundscape being never too busy, but always remaining interesting.

For a taste start with:
“Behind Thyme”

Will I listen to it again?
Absolutely.


27. Jinsang – Solitude. (2016) [lo-fi hip hop]

Fruity. Orange. Jam.

Listen to either immediately after waking up on a weekend morning when you ain’t in no hurry.

Though not as clean as an album since it’s more of a beat tape, it still delivers a clear message of chillaxing. With a satisfying selection of piano and trumpet melodies sampled, it is guaranteed to get you in the mood for some good times.

For a taste start with:
“Morning”

Will I listen to it again?
Absolutely.


28. Carbon Based Lifeforms – Interloper (2010) [ambient, psybient]

Weird. Calm. Green.

Listen to when you’ve already been having a weird day and want something to amplify it further. Preferably alone.

Psychedelic ambiance. The sounds are at the same time industrial and natural, almost sensual. The rhythm swaying from ambient to dub.

For a taste start with:
“Interloper”

Will I listen to it again?
Maybe.


29. Amorphis – Queen of Time (2018) [melodic death metal, progressive metal]

Mad. Epic. Power.

Ideally, I would play this while sailing through a difficult storm across the Baltic sea to give strength to weather the conditions.

Very Finnish and powerful melodic death metal with progressive elements. Not quite as dark as In Flames, but as strong. Melodic breakdowns are satisfying and inspiring.

For a taste start with:
“The Bee”

Will I listen to it again?
Probably not.


30. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (1977) [pop rock]

Empowering. Acoustic. Love.

I’d play this while getting over a breakup where I’m feeling more angry than sad. At least that’s what I’m hoping to feel.

Empathetic sounds and vocals surround you in feelings of loneliness and love, somehow simultaneously. Telling you, it’s okay to experience difficulty in your relationships.

For a taste start with:
“Dreams”

Will I listen to it again?
Absolutely.


31. Anderson.paak – Ventura (2019) [R&B]

Heart. Warmth. Sway.

Yet another start of the night at the house party kind of soundtrack.

Bouncy beats keep you engaged, the catchy vocals feel like singing and playing an additional instrument simultaneously. Feel good vibes guaranteed.

For a taste start with:
“Tints”

Will I listen to it again?
Absolutely.

 


These albums came as suggestions from my Facebook friends. Upon asking them for recommendations for my challenge, I received more than 100 potential albums.
You can view the full list here. I’d like to thank everyone who gave me their suggestions. This challenge has made the end of 2019 especially memorable, for which I’m grateful.

Here’s a TL;DR:

The three albums I’ll most likely to go back to for guaranteed good times:

  1. Pat Metheny Group – Still Life (talking),
  2. Haelos – Full Circle
  3. Kaytranada – Bubba

Three most unique albums I recommend for fresh listening:

  1. Risto – Aurinko Aurinko Plaa Plaa Plaa
  2. 2814 · 恢复
  3. Sigur Rós – Ágætis byrjun

Hope you enjoyed my writing and will continue to enjoy yourself immersed in the wonderful world of music.

PS: Let me know what you thought of this review format and if you’d like to read more of these? I have plenty of albums to go through still!

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