Katie Gately - Color LP/CD (Tri Angle Records)

Katie Gately is an LA-based producer and sound designer by trade, and her fascination with strange noises, sourced both from her surroundings and the malleability of her own voice, has been documented in a string of low-key releases over the last few years. On some tracks, she would meditate on and structure a song around set of sounds from a certain environment, like the bouncing basketballs and squeaky shoes of “Dead Referee.” On others, such as “Pivot,” she would string hook after vocal hook together with no attempt at approximating a pop song structure, organically transforming the track’s mood as she showcased her seemingly infinite library of musical turns of phrase over the course of 14 minutes; “Pipes” accomplished the same feat using only manipulations of her voice to create the backdrop to her melodies.

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Will Orman
NxWorries - Yes Lawd! LP/CD (Stones Throw)

The past year has been a whirlwind for Anderson .Paak. After appearing on Dr. Dre's 2015 Compton album, it seems things have not slowed down. Joining up with west coast producer Knxwledge, he released a short EP at the end of last year called Link up & Suede under the moniker NxWorries. This was outstanding news for those of us who also happened to be following Knxwledge's constant flow of beats. Check out his Bandcamp if you need a reference. There's enough there to keep busy with for days.

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Raad Shubaily