Noah Van Hooser

“Bottomless Pit” – Death Grips

On ‘“Bottomless Pit”, the industrial hip-hop trio Death Grips extends what is already a phenomenal discography. Following the experimental instrumental album “Fashion Week” and double LP “The Powers That B” of 2015, the group pulls together their most accessible ear candy to date. In fact, the group has identified the record as a “very shallow listening” experience. Shallow or not, the group refuses to compromise their abrasive nature for the 13 tracks presented here. The elements of experimental hip-hop and noise rock coupled with unsettling lyrics make for an intriguing 39 minutes, for newcomers and enthusiasts alike.


“Atrocity Exhibition” – Danny Brown

There isn’t quite another character in hip-hop like Danny Brown, and there isn’t quite another album like “Atrocity Exhibition. From the looping percussion and glockenspiels of the track “Really Doe,” to the eerie sampling of “Lost,” Danny employs his nasal delivery on instrumentals that other artists wouldn’t touch. The title of the opening track, “Downward Spiral,” perfectly embodies the theme of the album, as Brown explores the grim topics of addiction and mental illness. Despite these moments of distressing lyricism, Brown has an obvious knack for applying sarcasm and black comedy to somewhat liven the mood. One of the more intriguing songs in the track listing, “Dance In The Water,” features a musical sample nearly impossible to pin down, complemented by a post-punk feeling baseline and tribal percussion. “XXX” was a raw and emotional LP that put Brown on the map, “Old” was an LP riddled with commercial appeal, and “Atrocity Exhibition” is Brown’s way of splurging while sticking to his roots, with the versatile use of instrumentation and $70,000 worth in samples. Ultimately, it is Brown’s magnum opus, and simply one of the best experimental/hardcore hip-hop albums of the decade.


“Nonagon Infinity” – King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

Garage rock/psych rock artists like Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall are typically known to be prolific with their releases. The hilariously-named Australian group King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are no exception to that rule, as this marks their eighth record in the six years they’ve been assembled. King Gizzard has typically delivered enthralling garage rock, garage punk, and psychedelic rock albums since their inception, although they took an artistic detour with 2015’s “Paper Mache Dream Balloon,” a completely acoustic record. They’ve revisited their roots with “Nonagon Infinity,” and have done so in a compelling way with an “infinite loop.” The songs flow together really well and the final track syncs together with the beginning track, making the title of the album quite fitting.


“Scum With Boundaries” – The ILYs:

Both drummer Zach Hill and producer Andy Morin (Flatlander) have established themselves as noise rock and experimental hip hop maestros with their input as a part of Death Grips, a band also featured on my list. Even without the sweat-soaked vocals of MC Ride, these two have pulled together an underrated experimental rock/garage rock record spanning about 38 minutes in length. A track like “Doing Things That Artists Do” wields incredibly simple writing that manages to be hypnotic and intriguing. The abrasive and, at times, silly aspects of the album are incredibly familiar, reminding fans of what makes Death Grips a formidable force in hip hop.   


“Sleep Cycle” – Deakin:

For 13 years, passionate fans of the psychedelic pop/freak folk outfit Animal Collective have been patiently awaiting a solo project from band member Josh Dibbs, better known as his moniker Deakin. Although “Sleep Cycle ends a bit abruptly, with a mere six songs on the track listing, the material presented here is more than satisfactory. Dabbling in psychedelic folk, Deakin creates imaginative instrumentals and utilizes the same hypnotic and dreamy repetition found consistently in Animal Collective’s discography. Although he lacks the distinctive vocal performances of his fellow band members Dave Portner (Avey Tare) and Noah Lennox (Panda Bear), Josh Dibbs’ charismatic melodies are more than enough to carry this record through 33 minutes. “Sleep Cycle” fits in quite nicely with other ingenious solo albums in this collective, such as “Person Pitch” by Panda Bear, as well as “Down There” by Avey Tare.