My favorite and least favorite music of 2024 (so far)

22 blurbs on music I love, and [?] blurbs on music I never want to hear again.

My favorite and least favorite music of 2024 (so far)

The year's halfway over, and I've spent most of it listening to new music. Some of it I liked, most of it I felt indifferent towards, and some of it I either really liked or really disliked. I decided to write about albums/EPs/whatevers that fall into the latter two categories for this mid-year report.

The first section contains projects that I wholeheartedly endorse, and the second (shorter) section includes 2024 albums that I never care to hear again. You can read all of my positive thoughts below, and subscribe to Chasing Sundays at the $5/month tier to access most of my negative ones. Gotta keep the lights on somehow, you know?

Thanks to everyone who's subscribed to Chasing Sundays thus far. It means a lot, and your support has allowed me to spend time writing longer articles like this one, this one, this one, and this one. Much more to come.

My Favorite "Indie-Rock"

This Is Lorelei - Box for Buddy, Box for Star

This the kind of album that could make someone fall in love with songwriting all over again. If I heard this when I was 20, it might've changed my life in the way hearing Alex G's music did. I feel like I'm hearing music for the first time again when I listen to the sweeping, primordially satisfying "Where's Your Love Now" and the jaunty, Magnetic Fields-meets-Feelies (Magnetic Feelies? Sorry..) "I'm All Fucked Up Now." "An Extra Beat for You and Me" totally discombobulates me. A song that makes me instinctively pat my pocket to make sure I still have my wallet and ask a random person on the street what day of the week it is. Because what I'm hearing sounds like a celebrated classic from 30, 40, 50 years ago — so where the hell am I? Where the hell have I been?

Faye Webster - Underdressed at the Symphony

I was never huge into Faye Webster, but this album really swept me away. I love the lilting jam of "Thinking About You." The lazy-dazy "uh-huh's" of "Wanna Quit All the Time." The slacker silliness of "Feeling Good Today," which, in less than a minute-and-a-half, and without a single drum, remains one of the year's best "pop" songs. I love the achingly slow unwind of "Lifetime," where it sounds like she's getting distracted by something on her phone after every time she chirps "lifetime," but always manages to look up just in time to hit her mark. I like how this record's cozy and casual, but also smart and revealing. I just like it.

DIIV - Frog In Boiling Water

I've already written about the DIIV album here and here, and did a whole review segment on it for Endless Scroll. I genuinely don't think I have much else to say other than I think the album is good and that the song "Everyone Out" is fucking perfect. Longtime DIIV fan, newtime DIIV fan — don't matter. Give the album a listen. It's good!

Twikipedia - For the Rest of Your Life

This is another album I wrote pretty extensively about already, so I'll spare you the redundancy. Simply put, I think this is one of the most innovative and pretty shoegaze albums I've heard in a minute, and I think Twikipedia is doing something here that many of their peers are getting close to achieving, yet just falling short. Twikipedia gets over the finish line.

Young Jesus - The Fool

When we reviewed this on Endless Scroll, I said it reminds me of Mount Eerie's A Crow Looked at Me: A guttingly forthright, musically severe outpouring of deeply personal feelings that verge on the inappropriately voyeuristic. I'd say the same about The Fool. I don't know how often I'm going to return to this record because I don't think "replay value" is something The Fool is going for. Instead, I think this album attempts to make a lasting (scarring, even) impression on the listeners who approach it openly and thoughtfully. And after doing so myself, it's a record I'll be thinking about and nodding affirmatively to myself about for a long time. Brilliant but tough. Painful — painfully funny — and also beautiful.

Cindy Lee - Diamond Jubilee

Yeah, it's actually as good as people say it is. Feels like it's been written about to death already and I don't have anything to add. Extraordinarily pleasant music for when you're feeling lonesome or wistful, or when you're doing great but want to feel lonesome and wistful. ​​

My Favorite Metal

High On Fire - Cometh the Storm

High On Fire don't really make bad albums, but I was blown away by how blood-splatteringly badass this record is. Matt Pike sounds uglier than he ever has, but he and his bandmates aren't slacking at all in the musical department. The riffs are searing. The grooves are bludgeoning. It just sounds so huge and cinematic, but also like it might all crumble under the sheer weight of the songs. So heavy. So powerful. I'm truly shook by how great this is.

Thou - Umbilical

I've never really been a Thou fan, to be honest. Always had a respect for the band but never really connected with them. Umbilical, though, knocked me on my ass. The brevity of the songs combined with the increased intensity of their attack make this album so much more immediately gratifying than their other ones, to me. Doom-metal isn't supposed to be immediately gratifying, so I get why their older stuff is slow on the come-up, but this isn't a doom album. It's sludge played by a band who sound like they have a plane to catch. It's all blue-flame heat until it burns itself out. Fucking scorching from front to back. I love it. My tinnitus, not so much.

Necrot - Lifeless Birth

I'm pretty picky when it comes to death metal. There doesn't really seem to be much rhyme or reason to the stuff I love, other than I typically like my death metal to be on the simpler, more neanderthalic side. Lately, though, I've been getting bored with that stuff, and while Necrot certainly aren't a tech or prog-death band, the riff craftsmanship on Lifeless Birth is what appeals so much to me. The leads have actual flavor and flair to them, and Necrot aren't trying to appeal to so many of the death metal fans my age and younger who want stuff they can mosh to. No, I like Necrot because their music is for fucking headbanging. Their solos rip. They're fast without being showy about it. And they actually have old-school production. None of the Matt Heafy-produced glossiness. This is the standard I need other bands to meet.

Upon Stone - Dead Mother Moon

I went through a melodeath phase earlier this winter, and this album hit me right smack in the middle of that. Is it a little cheesy in how reverent it is for music that was always, even at its best, made and enjoyed by total dorks? Yeah, definitely. But it's also cooler than it has any business being, and that song with the Shadows Fall guy rips wildly hard. If you don't let yourself get all mopey thinking about how it's a paint-by-numbers genre exercise and just let yourself do air-sword exercises in your living room while the riffs slice and dice, then you'll have a helluva time with this.

My Favorite Hardcore

What Counts - Hoosier Style

There's been a fuck-ton of hardcore I've really liked this year, but very little that I can say I'm head-over-heels in love with. I love this shit, though. Indiana straight-edge that calls back to the late-Nineties youth crew revival sound, but with just enough Lockin' Out-era snottiness. The Floorpunch cover rips. And the song "Flyover States," as I've written several times in 2024 already, makes me want to move like I'm 10 years younger.

Contention - Artillery From Heaven

To clarify what I said in the previous blurb: There's plenty of hardcore EP's I've enjoyed this year, but I can't point to a single full-length that feels destined for my AOTY list. Something that's close to feeling like a mortal lock is the Contention LP, which I've been slavering for for two years. Out of all the bands splitting the difference between late-Nineties metallic hardcore and early 2000s metalcore, I think Contention are the hardest. They've got a great sound and they know how to wield it. Warrior straight-edge music.

Resentment - Left Behind to Suffer

I'm very surprised by how much this has stuck with me. I figured this Tampa band doing Shattered Realm worship would keep me occupied for a weekend and then get tossed in the "oh yeah, forgot about that band!" pile where so much perfectly good hardcore ends up. But I just keep coming back to this fucker. Florida is producing the best metallic hardcore in the country right now, and I just love how nasty this shit sounds. The track "Unbroken" has a speaking-into-screaming pile-up part in the middle that's based around the line, "Your poison will never effect me/I will never be like you!" I guess I'm into judgey straight-edge this year. Sonically, it's just a little rougher around the edges, a little huskier, than some of their tighter, more professionalized contemporaries. We love a dangerous vibe over here at Chasing Sundays.

Xcelerate - All I See Is Hate

Yup, this is the third Florida band I'm including here (and I could've also dropped in Collateral, Jezter, Domain, or Statement of Pride). But something about the concision and packaging of this EP feels really fresh to me. Xcelerate are doing the kind of stompy, side-to-side-y hardcore that you'd usually hear presented with a crustier, moldier exterior (think the new Direct Threat EP, which I also love). I like that this actually sounds bright and punchy, and I think the Slapshot-y vocals sit really nicely in the mix. It sounds tough but not try-hard. I think the art is sick. And it's five minutes long. Just checks all the boxes for me.

If It Rains - Demo

If It Rains are a melodic hardcore band (complimentary) helmed by Evan Steiner and Nick Birtles of Anklebiter and Attrition Rate, among other bands. Anklebiter's 2022 and 2023 releases were some of my favorites of those years, but I actually think their split with Prevention (good band) from this spring is just OK. The If It Rains demo, on the other hand, is amazingly good at what it's going for. Which is sort of an early-mid 2000s melodic hardcore sound that still has mosh parts. It's catchy, it's bouncy, it's sincere, but it never veers anywhere near amazingcore. And yeah, it's a lot moshier than you might expect. Really looking forward to whatever's next from them.

My Favorite Rap

Chief Keef - Almighty So 2

I've seen some people who are way more fluent in Chief Keef than me who're mixed on this, but I love it to death. It's nowhere near as abrasive and bonkers as the stuff he made when he was a drugged-out teenager, but the songcraft is undeniable. The beats are a spectacle in and of themselves, and there're enough outlandish bars and sticky hooks on here to rattle around my head for the entire summer. Dirty Nachos was a great appetizer, but this is a meal.

Sematary - Bloody Angel

I think I a qualify as a certain Type of Guy for naming Chief Keef, Sematary, and Bladee my three favorite rap albums of the year so far, but so be it. I'm owning it. This isn't as animated and energized as Butcher House, but it almost is, and the experiments (the post-punky "Wendigo," in particular) actually pay off. I went long on my love of Sematary last month, so I'll just leave it at this: "Riding 'round through Mordor/We got big swords like Bloodborne."

Bladee - Cold Visions

The week this came out I wondered aloud, prematurely, if it was the best Bladee album. I don't know if it's the best, but it's my favorite. Bladee is one of those artists who I say I'm a fan of, though I'm realistically rarely in the mood to listen to him. His voice is just too strange, his beats typically too wispy and esoteric, for me to want to throw him on while I'm driving or chilling. But the beats on Cold Visions fucking bump, and Bladee is rapping harder and "better" (conventionally) than he ever has. I actually want to throw this thing on and play it obnoxiously loud while I got get groceries. So by that metric, maybe it really is the best Bladee album.

My Favorite "Etc."

Noah Kesey - Holding Hands Around the World

I heard this album for the first time this week, and I'm awestruck by it. I've never heard anything like it. Noah Kesey is a pretty prolific Burlington, VT, musician who played on Greg Freeman's twangy, 'gazey, Wednesday-ish LP I Looked Out, one of my favorite debuts of 2022. On this solo & friends album, co-released on the epoch-defining Julia's War label, he passes the hackey sack between shoegaze, psych-pop, freak-folk, "world music" (quotes borrowed from his own Bandcamp description), and what I can only describe as lo-fi Screamadelica. I'm nowhere near to fully digesting it yet and I hope I never will be. Sounds like a cult classic that's only missing the cult. Get on it.

Alovesopure - You'll Be a Memory

Funnily enough, the only people I'm seeing talk about this Nineties Warp Records-era dream 'n' bass album are hardcore kids. That's because Alovesopure is the moniker of Tobby Davilmar, better known for his hardcore bands Collateral and Ephemeral, and You'll Be a Memory was served up by Sunday Drive Records, a DIY household best known for hardcore, emo, and grunge-gaze. Therefore, I don't think the "right" audience for Alovesopure are even privy to this project, and that's a damn shame. This is more than just "rock musician does something different." Davilmar is clearly a student of the Aphex Twin universe, and this album is a decade in the making for Alovesopure, whose older stuff is way more primitive and scrappy. You'll Be a Memory contains some of the most affecting music I've heard all year. The plush production is makes me feel like I'm dozing off on a beachside hammock, but the catchy writing is what's keeping me awake and tuned-in.

Ekko Astral - Pink Balloons

I have another piece of writing on this album coming out next week, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, I think this record is both a riot and an emotional wrecking ball. "i90" is one of the most powerful songs I'll hear all year, while "on brand" and "baetoven" are volume-cranking punk rippers with so many slyly silly lines that I find a new one to giggle on each go-around. Pink Balloons makes me laugh, makes me slap the dash, makes me ponder the state of the world, makes me get choked up. I can't imagine listening to this record and not feeling something, no matter who you are. A container of multitudes.

Nia Archives - Silence Is Loud

Extremely British pop music is not usually something I find myself going to bat for, but this Nia Archives album makes me want to get a union jack tattoo and start referring to a nice lunch I had as "mental." I'm not fluent enough in jungle to articulate how Silence Is Loud is boldly, and perhaps controversially, flipping the genre on its head in the way Pinkpantheress is doing to UK garage (I recommend Kieran Press-Reynolds' Pitchfork review for that, which is what convinced me to give this album a listen.) I'm just a Northeastern American who likes hard beats, quirky vocalists, and colorful melodies that are just slightly askew. So I basically like everything Nia Archives is doing here.

My Least Favorite Music of 2024 (so far)

Lip Critic - Hex Dealer

I hate this shit. This band are coming out of the same NYC scene that spawned Model/Actriz, who I also find viscerally repellant. This music is basically: What if Show Me the Body were worse, actually? People whose taste I respect like this but I think this is abominable. Try-hard, kooky horseshit. This emoji: 🤪 (derogatory).

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