Boards of Canada
Sounds like: The Scottish brothers' first since 2005's Campfire Headphase is a way darker, creepier and more ominous recording, but still classically, hypnotically them.
Free association: Thrilling to see pioneers of the genre continue to push its limits.
For fans of: Koushik/Knife x Burial/Brian Eno/Baths, Four Tet/Air, trippy glitch-pop.
Half of Where You Live
Sounds like: Outstanding electronica from the maturing DJ/producer; the Berlin-via-London mystery man's second full-length is a bunch of aural adventures.
Free association: Creativity's pulsing through electronica in 2013. The more, the merrier!
For fans of: DJ Shadow/Kraftwerk, CFCF + Hudson Mohawke, worldly electro rides.
Sounds like: Two guys from San Francisco's Rise of Caligula, their second (with three others) is a sick blend of death metal and post-rock pop beauty.
Free association: If there's one record to get anti-screamos into screaming, it's this.
For fans of: Swans x Slayer + Vaura/Whirr, You Will Know Us ..., dark metal beauty.
The Lonely Island
The Wack Album
Sounds like: Comedy hip-hop that'll catch you off-guard with some truly hilarious nonsense, these Beastie Boy-like jokesters have perfected their niche.
Free association: Not only did they snag real guests, the jokes are also pretty smart.
For fans of: Weird Al/SNL/The State x Ne-Yo/Kendrick Lamar/JT/Gaga, belly laughs.
Sounds like: The choir-trained R&B princess' fourth is a strong, soulful collection, highlighting her expressive vocals with production that aptly captures it.
Free association: One of the most unsung, humble talents in the R&B game.
For fans of: Ledisi x Marshia/Bilal, Fantasia + Musiq Soulchild, breakup soul.
Sounds like: A solid second from Katie Stelmanis and her creepy Canuck cronies who let icy, airy electronics amplify her haunting, operatic howl.
Free association: She's in complete control; maybe she could stand to lose some.
For fans of: Goldfrapp x Grimes + Kate Bush, Esben and the Witch, witchy new wave.
The Pack A.D. are built for the road
PW's Music Issue 2014