2018 Readers Poll - The Results

Thanks again to everyone who contributed to this year's readers poll and has over the last two decades. All the best wishes for 2019!


Album of the Year


  1. https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a0366675901_16.jpgLow, "Double Negative" (Sub Pop)

    "Low never let me down but with Double Negative they managed to completely blindside me. This is a stunning album that simultaneously pushes their sound further than ever before while still sounding utterly like themselves. Pure witchcraft!" - John Kealy

    "Breathtakingly beautiful and bold, Double Negative seems to have caught nearly everybody off-guard, despite Low's occasional challenges of the conventional pop/rock structure. Considering the 2016 single "Not A Word," it shouldn't have been a complete shock where they were headed, but to do an entire album void of a "hit song" was unexpected. (Am I the only one who thinks some of this strikingly resembles Coil's Summer Solstice EP?) Experiencing the music live was a definite highlight of my year." - Jon Whitney

  2. Current 93, "The Light Is Leaving Us All" (The Spheres)

    "This is probably my favorite Current 93 album in roughly a decade.  "A Thousand Witches" is an absolutely heart-stoppingly beautiful piece of music." - Anthony D'Amico

    "I have to agree. I haven't really been grabbed by a lot of recent Current 93 but this one blew me away. The band are perfect for David Tibet's ambitious lyrics, somewhere between a meditation on death (as always) and a strange story that Robert Aickman would be proud to call his own." - John Kealy

  3. Tim Hecker, "Konoyo" (Kranky)

    "Hecker took some real gambles with the structure and tone of this comparatively difficult and darkly serpentine release.  It is heartening to see that our devoted readers appreciated such a departure from the expected territory." - Anthony D'Amico

  4. Chris Carter, "CCCL Volume One" (Mute)

    "I didn't learn much real chemistry listening to this but I did love listening. The classic Chris Carter rhythms and elegant, minimal structures sound as good as ever, and the development of the artificial voices first heard on some of Sleazy's post-Coil experiments sound really cool here." - John Kealy

  5. Sarah Davachi, "Let Night Come On Bells End The Day" (Recital Program)

    "I was increasingly questioning my sanity as I read one end-of-year list after another that heaped praise on Gave in Rest and completely ignored this significantly stronger release.  I like both, but this was Davachi's definitive 2018 statement as far as I am concerned." - Anthony D'Amico

    "I'm with Anthony here, both albums are great but this is a clear leader in the Great Davachi Race of 2018. The subtlety of the music and restrained power of the final two pieces floors me every time." - John Kealy

  6. Drew McDowall, "The Third Helix" (Daïs)

    "I really like all of McDowall's releases but they were starting to blur into one long piece for me. The Third Helix expanded his tonal palette well beyond his previous works, a haunting and engaging album that I have been returning to a lot on these long winter nights." - John Kealy

  7. Grouper, "Grid Of Points" (Kranky)

    "A curiously insubstantial and ghostly release that feels more like a flickering dream than an album.  Liz Harris's songwriting is in peak form though, as both "Driving" and "Parking Lot" rank among the most achingly gorgeous pieces that she's ever released." - Anthony D'Amico

    "Brief but perfect, Grid of Points commands an alarming amount of attention despite its deceptively delicate sound. I was extremely fortunate to attend the sold-out concert this year and was blown away. Liz Harris' evolution as a songwriter, composer, and performer is astonishing." - Jon Whitney

  8. Dedekind Cut, "Tahoe" (Kranky)

    "Fred Warmsley's second full-length release as Dedekind Cut may be free of beats, cuts, and vocals that characterize much of the music released under his Lee Bannon moniker but it is far from what I would consider ambient or background music. Tahoe is a fabulous multilayered adventure in eight distinct movements, which, as is cover sticker suggests, have numerous optimum listening locations. It sounds great on my home hi-fi, which wasn't listed." - Jon Whitney 

    "Solid contender for best cover art.  We should really add a category for that." -Anthony D'Amico

  9. Current 93, "The Stars On Their Horsies" (The Spheres)
  10. Sarah Davachi, "Gave In Rest" (Ba Da Bing!)

    "An excellent album that should really be ranking higher than it is but that's Davachi's fault for producing another exquisite record this year. And really, there is plenty of room for both this and Let Night... in my life." - John Kealy

  11. Dead Can Dance, "Dionysus" (Play It Again Sam)
  12. Ian William Craig, "Thresholder" (130701)

    "I am delighted that so many people shared my love of this album, as this is quite a comparatively hookless, experimental, and texture-centric affair.  I am also delighted that Craig is still perfectly happy to explore his genius for wobbly, scratchy, and flickering soundscapes despite evolving into such an excellent songwriter.  I have ample room in my heart for both sides of his artistry." - Anthony D'Amico

  13. Abul Mogard, "Above All Dreams" (Ecstatic)

    "I know the whole air of mystery about Mogard could be seen as a novelty but the music speaks for itself. It is so beautiful that perhaps it was necessary to create a persona that matched the otherworldly, romantic sensations evoked by the sounds on this album? In any case, it is a mesmerising release." - John Kealy

  14. Puce Mary, "The Drought" (Pan)

    "Heavy, seething with menace, and chiseled to glistening perfection.  Easily one of my favorite albums of the year." - Anthony D'Amico

  15. Christina Vantzou, "N°4" (Kranky)

    "She is such a fantastic composer that it baffles me how she isn't winning nominations for film scores at this point. Her mastery of composition for ensembles of strings, piano, synth, and vocals is indisputable." - Jon Whitney

  16. Edward Ka-Spel & Steven Stapleton / Colin Potter & Quentin Rollet, "The Man Who Floated Away / The Closer You Are To The Center, The Further You Are From The Edge" (Bisou)

    "Quite an illustrious cast, but the resulting album fell a bit short of my expectations.  Collaborations between iconic artists rarely work out the way I hope they will." -Anthony D'Amico

    "This was not my cup of tea. Which is surprising as Quentin Rollet has taken to playing with NWW live to great effect. It probably doesn't help that I'm not a Legendary Pink Dots/Edward Ka-Spel fan." - John Kealy

  17. Jóhann Jóhannsson, "Mandy (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)" (Invada)

    "Such a sad loss of an amazing composer in the prime of his career. Mandy, one of three of his film scores released in 2018, is certainly a departure from his orchestral works plus electronics but it fits the dark, disturbing, gruesome movie perfectly and can also stand on its own." - Jon Whitney

    "Probably my least favorite of his works. I'll cherish seeing him play in Knoxville in 2017 and the albums which came entirely from his own imagination." - Duncan Edwards

  18. Zu93, "Mirror Emperor" (House of Mythology)

    "This unexpectedly surpassed Myrninerest as my favorite of David Tibet's non-C93 channelings.  Zu proved to be quite a sympathetic foil to Tibet's apocalyptic vision, but it is the ambition and scope of that vision that makes this such vivid and deeply absorbing nightmare to get lost in." -Anthony D'Amico

  19. Meat Beat Manifesto, "Impossible Star" (Flexidisc)

    "A slow burner indeed, months after first hearing I found myself craving it more and more." - Jon Whitney

  20. Uruk, "Mysterium Coniunctionis" (Ici D'Ailleurs)

    "This was really great, even better than the first album (which I loved). It's very easy to lose yourself completely in this music." - John Kealy

  21. Mary Lattimore, "Hundreds Of Days" (Ghostly)

    "Lattimore is easily becoming one of the hardest working musicians with a seemingly endless tour schedule and a continuous flow of self-released songs. This is another amazing start-to-finish album from her and the music released since is evidence of her evolution both as a performer and composer." - Jon Whitney

    "I am not quite as rapturously in love with Hundreds of Days as I was with the last two Lattimore albums, but "Hello From The Edge of The Earth" is definitely one of the most tenderly beautiful pieces that she has ever recorded." -Anthony D'Amico

  22. Gas, "Rausch" (Kompakt)
  23. Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto, "Glass" (Noton)
  24. Anna Von Hausswolff, "Dead Magic" (City Slang)
  25. Heather Leigh, "Throne" (Editions Mego)
  26. Andrew Chalk & Daisuke Suzuki, "Yama To Nashi" (Siren)
  27. Kali Malone, "Cast of Mind" (Hallow Ground)
  28. The Necks, "Body" (ReR Megacorp)

    "We all know that The Necks are probably the most consistently brilliant band in the world, right? Yet they never really stray too far from their core settings of "Contemplative" and "Intense". Well, you should have seen my face when I first heard this Krautrock-esque monster of an album." - John Kealy

  29. Alexander Tucker, "Don’t Look Away" (Thrill Jockey)

    "Wonderful songs, catchy tunes, slightly indebted to the proto-pop of '70s Cale and Eno." - Jon Whitney

  30. William Basinski + Lawrence English, "Selva Oscura" (Temporary Residence)

    "I love Lawrence English and I love William Basinski, but this album felt like a dilution of both.  Alas." - Anthony D'Amico

  31. Marissa Nadler, "For My Crimes" (Sacred Bones)

    "She is easily becoming one of the most prolific and flawless singer-songwriters of our time and For My Crimes is added proof of this." - Jon Whitney

  32. Félicia Atkinson, "Coyotes" (Geographic North)
  33. Alva Noto, "Unieqav" (Noton)
  34. Ashley Paul, "Lost In Shadows" (Slip)

    "This was my personal favorite album of the year.  Paul strikes the perfect balance between intimacy, sensuousness, and queasily unsettling dissonance.  I've loved her last few albums as well, but this one definitely got under my skin more than anything else that she's done." -Anthony D'Amico

  35. Objekt, "Cocoon Crush" (Pan)
  36. The Caretaker, "Everywhere At The End Of Time - Stage 4" (History Always Favours the Winners)
  37. Organum, "Raven" (Siren)
  38. The Body, "I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer." (Thrill Jockey)
  39. A Place To Bury Strangers, "Pinned" (Dead Oceans)

    "Like everyone else, I got into APTBS for the pedal-stomping, blown-out guitar firestorms, but that aesthetic started to yield diminishing returns for me pretty quickly.  Consequently, I did not notice that this band had sneakily gotten so goddamn great at crafting taut and hooky post-punk gems.  In an alternate reality that is a pure meritocracy, "Was It Electric" was deservedly the college radio smash of the summer.  This album is wonderful." - Anthony D'Amico

    "More cerebral than visceral, Pinned was a departure from APTBS sound, however it was an exciting listen and an album I returned to numerous times over the year." - Jon Whitney

  40. Nurse With Wound, "Experimente II: Son of Trippin' Music" (United Dairies)
  41. The Stargazer's Assistant, "Resurgam I, Resurgam II" (House of Mythology)
  42. Bruce Gilbert, "Ex Nihilo" (Editions Mego)

    "I have always preferred Gibert's 1980s work, but this was a nice surprise after a long period of silence." - Creaig Dunton

  43. Sleep, "The Sciences" (Third Man)

    "I found this to be a real disappointment. Sleep's reformation was initially quite welcome as I finally got to hear them live but the releases have been so-so at best for me. Part of me resents Sleep for taking Al Cisneros away from Om, who appeared to be heading for the outer regions of musical experience when they were last sighted. Sleep seem content with plodding the same path." - John Kealy

    "Sleep always seemed far better in theory than in actuality to me, as their genius for sludgy, godlike riffs is rarely matched by their songwriting talents.  It is cool that they are back and getting to finally reap the rewards of their well-deserved legacy though.  That said, I heartily agree that Cisneros's true calling is Om." - Anthony D'Amico  

  44. Jim O'Rourke, "Sleep Like It's Winter" (Newhere)
  45. Spiritualized, "And Nothing Hurt" (Bella Union)
  46. Félicia Atkinson and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, "Limpid as the Solitudes" (Shelter Press)
  47. Senyawa, "Sujud" (Sublime Frequencies)

    "This is one cool fucking record. I don't know what I was expecting from it but heavy doom throat singing wasn't top of the list. One of those incredible albums that completely confounds and delights you." - John Kealy

  48. Demdike Stare, "Passion" (Modern Love)
  49. Alessandro Cortini & Lawrence English, "Immediate Horizon" (Important)
  50. Dean McPhee, "Four Stones" (Hood Faire)
  51. Yo La Tengo, "There’s a Riot Going On" (Matador)

    "Every Yo La Tengo album has at least two great songs.  This one is no exception." - Anthony D'Amico

  52. Alvin Lucier, "Criss-Cross / Hanover" (Black Truffle)
  53. Gnod, "Chapel Perilous" (Rocket)

    "I am not sure how anything could've followed the brilliantly brutish Just Say No... album and not feel like a pale shadow of its predecessor, but Gnod are too restlesslessly creative to care.  I dug a few of the more experimental pieces here, but the more thrashing and heavy pieces felt like they hadn't quite been perfected yet." -Anthony D'Amico

  54. Demdike Stare + Il Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, "The Feed-Back Loop" (DDS)
  55. Aïsha Devi, "DNA Feelings" (Houndstooth)
  56. Thomas Ankersmit, "Homage to Dick Raaijmakers" (Shelter Press)

    "Another of my favorites of the year, though Ankersmit's unapologetically dissonant and harrowing aesthetic of triggering aural hallucinations does not exactly lend itself to heavy rotation." -Anthony D'Amico

  57. Roy Montgomery, "Suffuse" (Grapefruit)
  58. The Caretaker, "Everywhere At The End Of Time - Stage 5" (History Always Favours the Winners)
  59. Marisa Anderson, "Cloud Corner" (Thrill Jockey)

    "Her most challenging listen and release to date, it's certainly far more dissonant than her previous releases and less influenced by bluegrass and Americana, however it was still incredibly rewarding. I only wish she would include more background on the songs in the LP because the stories she tells live between songs enhance the listening and understanding of each piece." - Jon Whitney

  60. Scanner, "Mass Observation (Expanded)" (Room40)
  61. The Breeders, "All Nerve" (4AD)
  62. Eleh, "Home Age" (Important)
  63. Beast, "Ens" (Thrill Jockey)
  64. Glenn Jones, "The Giant Who Ate Himself and Other New Works For 6 & 12 String Guitar" (Thrill Jockey)

    "Brilliant as ever." - Jon Whitney

  65. Mogwai, "KIN soundtrack" (Temporary Residence)
  66. Mouse on Mars, "Dimensional People" (Thrill Jockey)
  67. Jon Hassell, "Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume One)" (Ndeya)
  68. Norman Westberg, "After Vacation" (Room40)
  69. Dylan Carlson, "Conquistador" (Sargent House)
  70. Andrew Chalk, "Baroque Steps" (Faraway Press)

    "I have a stack of woefully neglected Andrew Chalk and Elodie vinyl sitting on my stereo.  Several months from now, when I finally get around to listening to it, I am sure I will belatedly discover that I slept on a masterpiece or two.  I need an intern." -Anthony D'Amico

  71. Klara Lewis & Simon Fisher Turner, "Care" (Editions Mego)
  72. Jake Muir, "Lady's Mantle" (Sferic)

    "I am still not sure if I love this entire album, but "High Tide" is definitely one of the most hauntingly beautiful pieces that anyone released this year." - Anthony D'Amico

  73. Hawthonn, "Red Goddess (Of This Men Shall Know Nothing)" (Ba Da Bing!)
  74. Rudolf Eb.er, "Om Kult: The Ritual Practice of Conscious Dying Vol. I" (Schimpfluch Associates)

    "Gloriously disturbed and quite unlike anything else that I have heard." -Anthony D'Amico

  75. Beach House, "7" (Sub Pop)
  76. Lea Bertucci, "Metal Aether" (NNA Tapes)

    "This ticked off an improbable number of boxes on my personal "things I really like" list: free-jazz sax eruptions, menacing use of shifting harmonies, wonderfully textured and evocative use of field recordings in collages, etc.  In some ways, it felt like each song was by a different artist, but they all seemed like artists I would love." -Anthony D'Amico     

  77. Qluster, "Elemente" (Bureau B)

    "A near-perfect balance of rhythm and stillness. Still learning, still creating, still satisfying. I hope this is not the final album but if it is then critics will say the end was a high." - Duncan Edwards

    "I had no idea that these guys were still this good.  Damn." -Anthony D'Amico

  78. Eartheater, "Irisiri" (Pan)
  79. Eiko Ishibashi, "The Dream My Bones Dream" (Drag City)
  80. serpentwithfeet, "Soil" (Secretly Canadian)
  81. The Skull Defekts, "The Skull Defekts" (Thrill Jockey)

    "Certainly my favorite rock album of the year." - Jon Whitney

  82. Charalambides, "Charalambides: Tom and Christina Carter" (Drawing Room)
  83. Merzbow & Hexa, "Achromatic" (Dais)
  84. Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso UFO, "Hallelujah Mystic Garden Part One" (Important)
  85. Jemh Circs, "(untitled) Kingdom" (Cellule 75)
  86. Sandro Perri, "In Another Life" (Constellation)
  87. Lori Scacco, "Desire Loop" (Mysteries of the Deep)

    "Sometimes a bit too "synth album" for me, but the more lushly melodic pieces were quite a wonderful surprise.  "Red Then Blue" is an absolutely mesmerizing swirl of warmly shivering and undulating heaven." -Anthony D'Amico 

  88. Mount Eerie, "Now Only" (PW Elverum & Sun)
  89. Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore, "Ghost Forests" (Three Lobed)
  90. Caterina Barbieri, "Born Again in the Voltage" (Important)

    "This older release is not quite the bombshell that Patterns of Consciousness was, but "How To Decode an Illusion" is an absolutely rapturous bit of bittersweetly burbling synth bliss." -Anthony D'Amico

  91. Kyle Bobby Dunn / Wayne Robert Thomas, "The Searchers / Voyevoda" (Whited Sepulchre)

    "I am still somewhat awestruck by the sublime beauty of "The Searchers."  Dunn really outdid himself with this release."  -Anthony D'Amico

  92. Zola Jesus, "Okovi: Additions" (Sacred Bones)
  93. Andrew Chalk & Jean-Noël Rebilly, "L'état Intermédiaire" (Siren)
  94. Alex Zhang Hungtai, "Divine Weight" (Non Worldwide)
  95. Less Bells, "Solifuge" (Kranky)

    "It's a beautiful debut from violinist/cellist/composer Julie Carpenter and friends as Less Bells. While Carpenter has stated the album is influenced by the experience in the California desert, the sound—enhanced by an ensemble including Optigan, Buchla Music Box, Moog Modular, and vocals—is both chilling and magnificent." - Jon Whitney

  96. Yves Tumor, "Safe In The Hands Of Love" (Warp)

    "This album is a complete labor to listen to start to finish. I can't understand why it has placed so high elsewhere as it is so dull, drab, and unengaging." - Jon Whitney

  97. KTL, "The Pyre: Versions Distilled To Stereo" (Shelter Press)
  98. Essaie Pas, "New Path" (DFA)
  99. Randall Dunn, "Beloved" (Figureight)
  100. James Ginzburg, "Six Correlations" (Subtext)


Single of the Year

  1. https://brainwashed.com/brain/images/carla_dal_forno-top_of_the_pops.jpgCarla dal Forno, "Top of the Pops" (self-released)

    "This was supposed to just be a modest, tour-only covers EP and it wound up being one of the year's most beloved releases.  Top of the Pops seamlessly and ingeniously took everything I already loved about dal Forno's work and channeled it into an eclectic and unabashed celebration of infectious hooks and underappreciated pop obscurities." - Anthony D'Amico

  2. UUUU, "UUUU" (Editions Mego)

    "I was a little lukewarm on the UUUU album from last year but this 12" is incredible. The band feels like a solid unit here, the trepidation of the album completely gone. I look forward to seeing where they go from here." - John Kealy

  3. Aphex Twin, "Collapse EP" (Warp)

    "Man with good marketing team releases EP." - John Kealy

  4. Julee Cruise, "Three Demos" (Sacred Bones)

    "This was fine but could easily have been a bonus to the Falling reissue rather than a release in its own right." - John Kealy

    "Perhaps they could have added some of the remixes or the early version of Mysteries of Love to make a more complete listen, however I'm sure there were licensing issues to begin with." - Jon Whitney

  5. The Legendary Pink Dots, "The Legendary Pink Dots' Hallowe'en Special 2018" (self-released)
  6. Midwife, "Prayer Hands" (Antiquated Future)

    "Even better than last year's LP.  Three haunting, sensuous, and hiss-ravaged gems in a row." - Anthony D'Amico

    "Madeline Johnston wears her heart on her sleeve for this one, resulting in an incredibly powerful and personal statement." - Jon Whitney

  7. Drew McDowall & Hiro Kone, "The Ghost of Georges Bataille" (Bank)
  8. HTRK, "Drama" (self-released)

    "With this and the excellent other single, I'm eagerly anticipating the next full-length." - Jon Whitney

  9. The Legendary Pink Dots, "The Tunnel" (Noise Noise Noise)
  10. Kali Malone, "Organ Dirges 2016 - 2017" (Ascetic House)
  11. The Legendary Pink Dots, "8118" (self-released)
  12. Mary Lattimore, "It Feels Like Floating (Jónsi Healing Fields Remix)" (self-released)

    "Feels like more of a collaboration with Jónsi's voice and the spacious synths. Probably wouldn't be my first choice for collaborator but perhaps it may hint to future music of Lattimore's with vocals and other collaborators." - Jon Whitney

  13. Ben Frost, "All That You Love Will Be Eviscerated" (Mute)
  14. Laurie Spiegel & Don Christensen, "Donnie and Laurie" (Unseen Worlds)
  15. Antonin Artaud/Nurse With Wound, "Ti-git/To Another Awareness" (Lenka Lente)
  16. Mary Lattimore, "Glamorous Mom" (self-released)
  17. HTRK, "Dying of Jealousy" (self-released)
  18. Mazzy Star, "Still" (Rhymes of an Hour)

    "Yes, I can still fall in love with music, thanks for this release which completely melts me inside." - Jon Whitney

  19. Low, "Let's Stay Together" (Chairkickers' Music)
  20. Windy & Carl, "Water Song" (Blue Flea)
  21. Lee Chubby King, "Yo' Pusface!" (Artoffact)
  22. The Breeders, "Wait in the Car" (4AD)
  23. Jenny Hval, "The Long Sleep" (Sacred Bones)
  24. Biosphere, "The Hilvarenbeek Recordings" (Biophon)
  25. Belly, "Feel" (self-released)
  26. Jullia Kent & Jean D.L., "The Great Lake Swallows" (Gizeh)
  27. Ladytron, "The Island" (self-released)
  28. Lou Rebecca, "Lou Rebecca" (Holodeck)
  29. Amanda Palmer & Jasmine Power, "Mr. Weinstein Will See You Now" (8 Foot Records)
  30. Amy Douglas, "Never Saw It Coming" (DFA)

    "We need more catchy tunes like this." - Jon Whitney

  31. The Stargazer Lilies, "Love To Hate" (self-released)
  32. Papa M, "Badtime Stories" (self-released)
  33. Soft Kill, "Let's Believe in Love" (self-released)
  34. Songs: Ohia, "Travels In Constants volume 14" (Temporary Residence)
  35. Fluxion, "Upsides & Sideways" (Echocord)

    "An absolutely perfect EP of classic Chain Reaction-style dub techno.  I dearly wish that the Ripple Effect LP had kept this party going, but Konstantinos Soublis had more cinematic alternate plans." -Anthony D'Amico

  36. Xin, "To Shock The Sky And Shake The Earth" (Subtext)
  37. Bonnie "Prince" Billy, "Blueberry Jam" (Drag City)

    "Everyone seems to hate this and the video but I think it is Will Oldham in fine form. Funny, satirical and bloody catchy!" - John Kealy

  38. Laurel Halo, "Raw Silk Uncut Wood" (Latency)
  39. Oneohtrix Point Never, "Love In The Time Of Lexapro" (Warp)
  40. The Stargazer Lilies, "Supernatural" (self-released)
  41. Nkisi, "The Dark Orchestra" (Arcola)
  42. Philip Jeck, "Arcade" (Touch)
  43. Teleplasmiste, "The wishing machine" (House of Mythology)
  44. LAPS, "Who Me?" (DFA)
  45. Papa M, "The Piano Sessions" (self-released)
  46. Soft Kill, "Just a Body" (self-released)
  47. Marcus Marr, "Familiar Five: Remixed" (DFA)
  48. JK Flesh, "Wasplike" (Inner Surface)
  49. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, "Distant Sky (Live in Copenhagen)" (Bad Seed Ltd.)

    "The live concert movie that this is taken from was an immersive experience in the cinema, members of the audience losing themselves in the moment and clapping at the end of songs (before self-consciously realising they were not actually at a gig). I would have loved a full home release of it but this EP is a nice stopgap. I'm surprised it hasn't ranked higher, it captures more than a little of the magic that Cave is bringing to his recent live shows." - John Kealy

  50. Ladytron, "The Animals" (self-released)

Vault/Reissue of the Year

  1. https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0397/1609/products/soundtracks_grande.jpg?v=1395543844Swans, "Soundtracks for the Blind" (Young God)

    "A massive release finally made available again, sounding better than ever." - Jon Whitney

  2. Nurse With Wound, "Homotopy To Marie" (Rotorelief)

    "While there is nothing new added here, this is a really nice edition of this classic album. Rotorelief seem to be picking up where Dirter have left off with their NWW reissue campaign." - John Kealy

  3. Current 93, "Soft Black Stars" (The Spheres)
  4. Tim Hecker, "Radio Amor" (Kranky)
  5. Black Light District, "A Thousand Lights in a Darkened Room" (Dais)

    "I picked up the CD of this as I already had the Eskaton 2LP and I wanted a copy to listen to in the car. Dais have done a great job here but the less said about the wonky Russian "reissue" that came out at the same time, the better." - John Kealy

  6. Tim Hecker, "Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again" (Kranky)
  7. Swans, "Die Tür Ist Zu" (Young God)
  8. Throbbing Gristle, "Journey Through a Body" (Industrial)
  9. The Legendary Pink Dots, "Any Day Now" (Metropolis)

    "My first significant plunge into the LPDs happened in the mid-90s and I somehow never got around to giving this classic my full attention until this year.  When I finally did, I was completely knocked sideways, as Any Day Now captures the Dots in singularly tight, lively, and hook-heavy form." -Anthony D'Amico

  10. Stereolab, "Aluminum Tunes" (Duophonic)

    "I'm in a couple worlds with this release: the Amorphous EP provides a strong opening but the randomly arranged songs and remixes included make for a more awkward second half. Good to have this available again, however. I haven't heard the remastering on the new version." - Jon Whitney

  11. Throbbing Gristle, "Mission Of Dead Souls" (Industrial)

    "I was disappointed this was left out of the first round of reissues, so a new remastering is appreciated.  Just too bad there was not a bonus disc with this one." - Creaig Dunton

  12. This Mortal Coil, "It'll End In Tears" (4AD)

    "Largely an emotional and sublime beautification of neglected heroes Tim Buckley, Alex Chiton, and Roy Harper." - Duncan Edwards

  13. This Mortal Coil, "Blood" (4AD)

    "I know reissues are killing music and the vinyl boom is basically performative consumerism, but I am still human and this reissue absolutely delighted me.  One of my favorite albums of all time by a landslide.  Now 4AD just needs to reissue ...Smile's OK and I can finally finish replacing all the cracked, dusty CDs in my Ivo Watts-Russell shrine with eye-catching new vinyl and die content." - Anthony D'Amico

    "These are beautifully repackaged, indeed, but the sounds is still superior on CD." - Jon Whitney

  14. This Mortal Coil, "Filigree & Shadow" (4AD)

    "Sprawling, indulgent, melancholy, uneven and great anyway.  I am still occasionally struck by sneakily sublime passages that I failed to fully appreciate over the last three decades." - Anthony D'Amico

  15. Stereolab, "Refried Ectoplasm" (Duophonic)

    "Arguably features the group at their most experimental. Definitely contains my favorite Stereolab track: 'John Cage Bubblegum.'" - Duncan Edwards

  16. Terry Riley, "Persian Surgery Dervishes" (Shanti)
  17. Julee Cruise, "The Voice of Love" (Sacred Bones)
  18. Stereolab, "Switched On" (Duophonic)
  19. Taj-Mahal Travellers, "Aug-74" (Aguirre)

    "Superb reissue of one of the most essential albums of the 70s. I'm deep into this." - John Kealy

  20. Ian William Craig, "A Turn of Breath" (Recital)

    "Nice to have this at a reasonable price. The bonus material is beautiful, complementary, and appropriately gets its own record." - Jon Whitney

  21. The Legendary Pink Dots, "Shadow Weaver" (Metropolis)

    "Sounds fantastic, art looks great, but I can't agree with the font change." - Jon Whitney

  22. Coil, "Astral Disaster sessions un/finished musics" (Lion Productions)

    "The unreleased piece is really interesting and I am enjoying the alternative takes of the familiar tracks, however they really should have put together a nice deluxe package of this and the main Astral Disaster album(s)." - John Kealy

  23. Nurse With Wound, "Sinister Whimsy To the Wretched" (Dirter)
  24. ELpH vs. Coil, "Worship the Glitch" (Dais)

    "I gave away my 2x10" to a friend so this filled the hole in my collection. I don't know why they did it as a 12" instead of a 10" but that's a small criticism to have." - John Kealy

  25. Eliane Radigue, "Geelriandre / Arthesis" (Important)

    "Yeah this is great and all but what about that 14CD box set from INA/GRM?" - John Kealy

  26. Faust, "The Faust Tapes" (Superior Viaduct)

    "I bought the original album when it came out on Virgin during the economic crisis of 1974 at the "crisis price" of 44 pence (around 50 cents). It made the charts although many people probably never made it to Side Two. This was when Virgin was basically just a record shop. The label also promoted brilliant shows with Gong and Hatfield & The North co-headlining for a similar giveaway price. Faust have always seemed to exist in a dreamlike state midway between laziness and inspiration. Essential listening." - Duncan Edwards

  27. Alice Coltrane, "Lord of Lords" (Superior Viaduct)

    "If you only own one record from Alice Coltrane, fix that." - Jon Whitney

  28. Oren Ambarchi, "Grapes From The Estate" (Black Truffle)
  29. Eliane Radigue, "Jouet Electronique" (Alga Marghen)
  30. David Sylvian & Holger Czukay, "Plight & Premonition Flux & Mutability" (Grönland)
  31. Belong, "October Language" (Spectrum Spools)

    "Such a simple, yet brilliant concept: make a great shoegaze album, but get rid of everything besides roiling, warm oceans of warped guitar.  And the flickering, darkly hallucinatory "David Lynch" vibe makes it even better still.  I can't believe I didn't hear this album until this year.  I really need to get some cooler friends." - Anthony D'Amico

    "Resonating with a fragmented washed-away atmosphere, this classic (which I count as coming from the less known underground of New Orleans) has embedded itself in my false memory as a comment on the post flooded disaster of the city. If I were in power Belong (not that bloated third-rate big-mouthed, bunch of Irish bandwagon jumpers) would have played the half-time Superdome show when the Saints returned." - Duncan Edwards

  32. Hula, "Murmur" (Klanggalerie)
  33. Elodie, "Le Manteau D'Étoiles" (Faraway Press)
  34. Spacemen 3, "Dreamweapon" (Superior Viaduct)

    "This is the kind of thing that makes me roll my eyes at the "has to be on vinyl" trend.  What was an intentionally lengthy, hypnotic performance is now interrupted half way through for a record flip.  I will just stick with my CD." - Creaig Dunton

  35. Nurse With Wound / Aranos, "Acts / Bicycle" (United Jnana)
  36. Elodie, "La Passion D'Elodie" (La Scie Dorée)
  37. Sun Ra, "The Cymbals / Symbols Sessions: New York City 1973" (Modern Harmonic)
  38. The Fall, "I Am Kurious Oranj" (Beggars Banquet)

    "A favorite Fall album from the period when the brittle grit was toned down a little and I saw them live at Sadlers Wells ballet performing with the Michael Clark "asses-out-of trousers" dance company." - Ducan Edwards

  39. Sun Ra, "Disco 3000" (Art Yard)
  40. Muslimgauze, "Mullah Said" (Staalplaat)

    "Bryn Jones hit almost self-parodying heights of self-cannibalization with this album, but it does not matter because he somehow managed to stretch just a few motifs into an exotic and darkly hallucinatory outsider dub epic." -Anthony D'Amico

  41. Wolf Eyes, "Dread" (Lower Floors)
  42. Irr. App. (Ext.) / Nurse With Wound, "4 Orphans" (Errata In Excelsis)

    "Hard to expect this to rank higher given the small edition but this expanded version of the 4 Orphans EP is gorgeous. You can feel the love Matthew Waldron has put into each copy." - John Kealy

  43. Thought Gang, "Thought Gang" (Sacred Bones)

    "Honestly, I was so excited for this but it turned out to be a bit of disappointment. The best tracks on it are the ones on the Fire Walk With Me soundtrack." - John Kealy

  44. High Rise, "II" (Black Editions)

    "Fuck. Yeah." - John Kealy

    "I pounced on this reissue immediately, but it has not aged quite as well as some other classic Japanese in-the-red freak-outs.  There really are not any great songs here.  Nevertheless, High Rise were certainly visionaries at delivering half-baked garage rock with a bracingly unhinged level of messy intensity." - Anthony D'Amico

  45. Sun Ra, "Astro Black" (Modern Harmonic)

    "There are lot of underwhelming Sun Ra albums out there, but this is certainly not one of them.  In hindsight, it is astonishing that someone was skillfully combining wild electronic noise with great free-jazz all the way back in 1973.  Saturn had quite an advanced music scene, apparently.  I wonder what they're up to these days.  It'd be nice if some enterprising label dug into that milieu a bit more." - Anthony D'Amico

  46. Nurse With Wound, "Experimente" (United Dairies)

    "This was a challenging listen, especially as I first put it on in the car. Not one I'll be returning to much but it certainly left an impression." - John Kealy

  47. The Residents, "The Warner Bros. Album" (New Ralph Too)

    "Never thought this would happen but I'm so glad it did. Well worth waiting in an RSD line." - Jon Whitney

  48. Franco Battiato, "Clic" (Superior Viaduct)
  49. Sun Ra, "Crystal Spears" (Modern Harmonic)
  50. Sun Ra and His Solar Arkestra, "On Jupiter" (Art Yard)

Various Artist Compilation of the Year

  1. "The Black Book" (iDEAL)

    "I thought I was fairly familiar with Joachim Nordwall's iDEAL label, but this 20-year retrospective made me feel like a chump several times over for sleeping on some truly excellent albums over the years." - Anthony D'Amico 

  2. "Don't Look Now: Aural Apparitions from the Geographic North" (Geographic North)

    "A Halloween theme is definitely fertile ground for a collection of contemporary sound artists, but there are a handful of exclusive gems here that transcend any seasonal theme.  Jefre Cantu-Ledesma's lushly elegiac organ piece was an especially wonderful surprise." -Anthony D'Amico 

  3. "In Death's Dream Kingdom" (Houndstooth)

    "This quadruple LP was quite an unexpected bombshell, assembling an improbable murderers' row of underground dance and experimental luminaries that are generally associated with other labels.  I guess that makes perfect sense given the label's association with Fabric, but it is still quite a singular feat of curatorial ambition." -Anthony D'Amico

  4. "Pop Ambient 2019" (Kompakt)
  5. "Calendar Customs" (Folklore Tapes)

    "Folklore Tapes' seasonal collections are wonderfully arcane, eclectic, and lovingly assembled artifacts.  And, of course, scarce as hell as well.  Finally getting to hear the ones that eluded me in years past was one of 2018's most exquisite cultural delights."  -Anthony D'Amico

  6. "Listen All Around: The Golden Age Of Central And East African Music" (Dust-to-Digital)
  7. "Sowas Von Egal: German Synth Wave Underground 1980-1985" (Bureau B)
  8. "Holodeck Vision One" (Holodeck)

    "I am not a big fan of digital only releases, but this sprawling collection of almost everyone involved with the Holodeck label makes the most sense given its breadth.  A great snapshot of what the prolific, synth heavy Austin label has been up to in recent years." - Creaig Dunton

  9. "Paris To Calcutta: Men And Music On The Desert Road" (Sublime Frequencies)

    "Sublime Frequencies has gotten a lot of flak over the years for their freewheeling and informal approach to global compilations, but this massive collection celebrating the field recordings of Deben Bhattacharya is an unimpeachable feat of ethnomusicology.  I've admittedly enjoyed some other SF compilations more, but Bhattacharya's previously unpublished travel diaries are quite a fascinating read." -Anthony D'Amico 

  10. "Technicolor Paradise: Rhum Rhapsodies & Other Exotic Delights" (Numero Group)
  11. "Golpea Tu Cerebro: Spanish Underground Cassette Culture, 1980-1988" (Insane Muzak)
  12. "The Art Of Magic: Aid To Practice" (Folklore Tapes)
  13. "Music of Northern Laos" (Akuphone)
  14. "Music of Southern Laos" (Akuphone)
  15. "African Scream Contest 2" (Analog Africa)
  16. "Disques Debs International Volume 1 (An Island Story: Biguine, Afro Latin & Musique Antillaise 1960-1972)" (Strut)
  17. "Two Niles To Sing A Melody: The Violins & Synths Of Sudan" (Ostinato)
  18. "Voices Of Mississippi: Artists And Musicians Documented By William Ferris" (Dust-to-Digital)
  19. "Sichten 1" (Raster)
  20. "Total 18" (Kompakt)

Boxed Set of the Year

  1. https://www.dust-digital.com/icn/voices-of-mississippi-cover_700.jpg"Voices Of Mississippi: Artists And Musicians Documented By William Ferris" (Dust-to-Digital)

    "Raw and touching. No sign of quality control slipping at Dust to Digital. I try to hear everything they curate and issue. The past may be a foreign country but I'm keeping my passport up to date." - Duncan Edwards

  2. Wire, "154" (Pink Flag)

    "Of the three Wire reissues this year, this one was easily my favorite.  It does not hurt that 154 is my favorite of their entire catalog and quite possibly my favorite record of all time, but the demos are excellent as well.  The material that was left off of Behind the Curtain was just as good as what was included, like the early version of "I Should Have Known Better" ("Ignorance No Plea").  One of those rare reissue cases where the bonus material is not just interesting, but enjoyable." - Creaig Dunton

  3. Wire, "Pink Flag" (Pink Flag)

    "Not to be a contrarian, but I have ranked Pink Flag as third of their first three ever since hearing it.  Which is by no means an insult, but it is a bit less diverse than what followed.  I feel the same about the reissue, with the added material giving some new insight into the early days, but not adding as much." - Creaig Dunton

  4. Autechre, "NTS Sessions" (Warp)

    "There's maybe one decent CD buried in this but really, Autechre have become so boring that I'm not sure what there is to take home from this bloated release beyond the feeling that they need an editor." - John Kealy

  5. Wire, "Chairs Missing" (Pink Flag)

    "I'll keep this one brief:  lots of good stuff here, but the early version of "Used To" was a disappointment." - Creaig Dunton

  6. Eliane Radigue, "Œuvres Électroniques" (INA-GRM)

    "This should be number one in all categories. A monolith of sound." - John Kealy

    "Agreed." - Jon Whitney

    "A 14-CD brick of pure drone mastery.  Radigue has an almost supernatural gift for creating slow-burning longform epics from the most elegantly simple components." - Anthony D'Amico

  7. Wire, "Nine Sevens" (Pink Flag)

    "A very nice set, very well assembled, artwork is fantastic. Some people have complained about the sound but I was pleased." - Jon Whitney

  8. Chris Carter, "Miscellany" (Mute)
  9. Harold Budd, "Budd Box" (All Saints)
  10. Holger Czukay, "Cinema" (Grönland)
  11. Songs: Ohia, "Love & Work: The Lionness Sessions" (Secretly Canadian)
  12. Peter Murphy, "5 Albums" (Beggars Banquet)
  13. The Durutti Column, "Without Mercy" (Factory Benelux)
  14. Tangerine Dream, "The Pink Years Albums 1970-1973" (Esoteric)
  15. "Calendar Customs" (Folklore Tapes)
  16. Suicide, "Live 1977-1978" (Blast First Petite)
  17. Omit, "Enclosures 2011-2016" (Pica Disk)

    "This was an excellent deep dive into a less than well known artist, but one who is easily deserving of the attention.  A multitude of odd, hermetic electronics that I quite enjoyed." - Creaig Dunton

    "Clinton Williams is a bit overly fond of unnecessarily extreme song lengths and dark ambient gloom, but this is otherwise quite an impressive collection of simmering and stark industrial atmospheres.  Almost like a shadowy dub version of classic Throbbing Gristle, but a bit more sophisticated and understated than that.  There is at least one killer album lurking amidst all of this." -Anthony D'Amico

  18. Images In Vogue, "Incipience 1981-1983" (Artoffact)
  19. Stephan Mathieu, "Radiance" (Schwebung)
  20. Tim Blake, "Lighthouse - An Anthology 1973-2012" (Esoteric Recordings)
  21. Vainqueur, "Reductions 1995-1997" (Scion)
  22. "Paris To Calcutta: Men And Music On The Desert Road" (Sublime Frequencies)
  23. Roland Kayn, "Simultan" (Die Schachtel)
  24. Controlled Bleeding, "Blistered Bags of Fodder Swaying" (Artifact)

    "Controlled Bleeding have always been difficult to pin down stylistically, but this beautifully presented set compiles a substantial portion of the band's early, noisier work as well as a few modern classical excursions." - Creaig Dunton

  25. "Technicolor Paradise: Rhum Rhapsodies & Other Exotic Delights" (Numero Group)


Artist of the Year

  1. Current 93
  2. Sarah Davachi
  3. Tim Hecker
  4. Nurse With Wound
  5. The Legendary Pink Dots
  6. Ian William Craig
  7. Drew McDowall
  8. Mary Lattimore
  9. Autechre
  10. Andrew Chalk


Label of the Year

  1. https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/lyricwiki/images/0/07/Kranky_logo.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20170114133843&format=originalKranky
  2. Superior Viaduct
  3. Pink Flag
  4. Thrill Jockey
  5. Dais
  6. 4AD
  7. The Spheres
  8. Sacred Bones
  9. Warp
  10. Duophonic


New Artist of the Year

Less Bells

Less Bells

"Texan-born multi-instrumentalist Julie Carpenter is based in Joshua Tree, California. Over the years she has toured as a violinist with Eels, Spiritualized, and Love, and is credited on releases from Transona Five, The Autumns, Lavender Diamond, and many more. Her gorgeous debut as Less Bells, Solifuge, is unlike any of the above and showcases her talents as a composer unifying the organic with the electronic, and easily one of my favorites of the year." - Jon Whitney


Lifetime Achievement Recognition


"I first got into Low around the time of Trust and they blew me away then. Working back through their catalogue at the time was a joy and each album since was a gift. They consistently performed some of the best live shows I've witnessed (including a cathartic and much needed Christmas concert in Dublin's Christchurch Cathedral a couple of years ago). They also appear to be really, really nice people. What more could you ask for in a band?" - John Kealy

"Low appeared at a perfect time for me, releasing I Could Live in Hope at the height of my obsession with slow-motion melancholia, but they were different enough to stick with me long after that phase had passed.  At some point, however, I started to take them for granted and stopped buying their albums.  I never stopped viewing them as a beacon of integrity, soul, sincerity, and excellent songwriting in a sea of forgettable bands, forgettable trends, and general shallowness, but my tastes had changed and their body of work had started to blur together for me (though the trickle of truly great songs never ceased).  This year's Double Negative was a wonderful reminder that bands contain actual people and that those people can evolve and change too.  It was a striking late-career creative breakthrough, but it still maintains the sublime essence that makes (and made) Low so vital in the first place."  -Anthony D'Amico   

"A quarter century into their career and they continue to defy expectations. I have been in love with their songs for over two decades and they continue to astound me both on record and in concert. They have gone from the band that sounds like they're playing in your kitchen, to the band in the Gap ad, to the band that makes you uneasy enough to not want to share with anyone else, to the band that makes something so abstract that listening results in more questions than answers. In these tumultuous times where cruelty is so painfully ubiquitous, Low reacted with a statement that made us all stop in our tracks and listen. Now that's power. " - Jon Whitney

Worst Album of the Year


  1. Soccer Mommy, "Clean" (Fat Possum)

    "This honestly isn't that bad. Readers are just hating because of the name." - Jon Whitney

  2. Newaxeyes, "Black Fax" (Important)
  3. Okkyung Lee, "Cheol-Kkot-Sae" (Tzadik)

    "Tzadik has an uncanny knack for releasing albums that sound right up my alley, yet go inexplicably awry somehow.  This is the most recent example of that phenomenon." - Anthony D'Amico

  4. Stine Janvin, "Fake Synthetic Music" (Pan)
  5. Idles, "Joy as an Act of Resistance" (Partisan)
  6. Deafheaven, "Ordinary Corrupt Human Love" (Anti-)
  7. Panopticon, "The Scars Of Man On The Once Nameless Wilderness" (Nordvis)
  8. Parquet Courts, "Wide Awake!" (Rough Trade)
  9. Proc Fiskal, "Insula" (Hyperdub)
  10. Interpol, "Maurauder" (Matador)

    "You know what, I don't care.  I liked this album.  Not the best of the year, and not even their best overall, but I still enjoyed it." - Creaig Dunton