Bleached - Don't You Think You've Had Enough?
The new Bleached album is at its best when it’s absolutely churning it up, as on riffy rockers like Rebound City and Heartbeat Away which are honestly two of the most anthemic guitar tracks of the whole damn year. Not every track reaches those heights, though Somebody Call 911 and Real Life aren’t too far off, and it’s mostly when the Clavin sisters stray from that glam rock/power pop mindset and get to experimenting that the filler occurs. However with a healthy dose of introspection and some proper bangers along the way this is an album with plenty to love.
Dreamville - Revenge of the Dreamers III
As one of music’s premier labels alongside Top Dawg Entertainment, Dreamville dropped their third version of Revenge of the Dreamers. Given the ascending force that is Dreamville, RotD3 takes on a whole new angle to the previous tapes as the Dreamville roster has increased dramatically and having established Dreamville as a force, there are more relationships and connections to tap in to. This is a collection of songs that were made separately and that lack of cohesion, or trying to cram so much into a project vibe is present. However, putting so many talented artists in the same creatives space does work well for Dreamville and this is a fabulous showcase of the talent on offer.
Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains
David Berman is a funny old chap. A decade ago the Silver Jews maestro stepped back from the musical world and it’s only now that his self-imposed hiatus has ended. If you’re familiar with his brilliant earlier work then you know what to expect here, a selection of earnest and poetic tracks pondering the nature of life and of living. There’s grief and there’s pain in these tunes. There’s also beauty, as Berman’s voice crackles over his lovely melodies. It’s kind of incredible. Night That Won’t Happen is the kind of song that tears your chest open and rips your heart out. And as repeat listens only uncover subtle new details it has a chance to become a bit of a modern classic.
Westside Gunn - Flygood Is An Awesome God
Beasts of the underground Griselda Records continue to churn out gritty bangers, this time with Westside Gunn coming in hot. Westside Gunn follows on from Conway The Machine’s ‘Everybody Is Food’ and the output from Griselda, combined with their quality of work puts them in the mandatory listening bucket for hip hop fans. FGIAAG is again a nod to doing things differently as standard conventions of structure and style that modern ears are tuned to, do not apply at all and with production from heavyweights such as Madlib, Evidence, Alchemist, DJ Muggs and Griselda’s DJ Daringer; you’d be wise to enjoy the canvas that bars and stories are laid upon. Perfectly suited to Griselda fans as Gunn sticks to grimey street tales, while also a nice introductory project for those new listeners.
Maxo Kream - Brandon Banks
Hailing from Houston, Maxo Kream has steadily risen through the hip hop ranks to release his second album Brandon Banks. There is the heavy influence of Maxo’s father and such introspection on their relationship, as well as the ability to paint pictures which his rhymes make this an absorbing listen and this feels like one of those instances where the growth of an individual, aligns nicely with their musical evolution. Maxo has a unique sound and when coupled with such story-telling and world building, this is a low key immense project.
Mannequin Pussy – Patience
Like all good punk albums, this one trends on the side of brevity. Not even half an hour long with no room for filler… yet even in this rapid assault there’s time to shift gears a few times, as Mannequin Pussy (weird name, sure) embrace a bit of their more tender side on tunes like the closer In Love Again. But there are also a few classic screechers too. Patience is an album that doesn’t require a lot of patience, it’s an album that launches between vast emotions and dynamic sounds. And there you go.
CFM – Soundtrack to an Empty Room
CFM (note the initials) is what Charles Francis Mootheart gets up to when the Meatbuddies maestro isn’t jamming with those dudes or pounding the drums for Ty Segall’s Freedom Band. And he wrote this one while on tour with GØGGS so it’s heavier than his other CFM projects. Plus it sounds fantastic, the production is great. And whatever it is about those Californian psych rock dudes, Segall and his crew, who knows, but there’s this energy that you always catch from them which they seem to feed off with all their projects, a sheer love of the music and a relentless creativity that’s absolutely righteous, mate.
Strange Ranger – Remembering The Rockets
This one crept up a little out of nowhere to be one of the most delightful indie rock releases of the last couple years. With catchy upbeat melodies built around buoyant guitars but also a willingness to stretch things out around a minor key or two, this is a band that sounds like a 90s alternative playlist one song and the future of rock and roll the next. Even snuck in a few hazy synths near the end which suggest some late nights listening to Frank Ocean’s Blonde along the way (haven’t we all?). Understandably then it’s a contemplative record hollowed with doubts and confusion… but it’s through those themes that Strange Ranger resonate most deeply. And, as always, redemption lies in the joy and creativity of the music.
Big K.R.I.T. – K.R.I.T. IZ HERE
The thing with K.R.I.T. is that he’s reliable. He doesn’t make bad songs. And if you’re looking for that vaguely Kanye-esque gospel/soul sampling with a bit of them Mississippi vocal stylings (as well as a Texas influence so strong that there’s a song about it here) then you can’t go wrong with a new release from the King Remembered In Time. To be honest, the songs maybe aren’t on par with his very best – thinking Cadillactica for that one – and it’s definitely a couple tracks too long… but that production is a delight and almost a decade after his iconic mixtape K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, he’s come full circle in joyous celebration. Also that skit at the end is bloody hilarious.
Erin Durant – Islands
Songs so light it’s like sitting on a cloud. A heavy breeze might blow them away. You have to lean in, you have to catch these tunes like butterflies in a net. And when you do you’re rewarded with sweet and soothing modern folk whisperings. Durant’s ethereal voice is her greatest asset but just sneakily she’s a bit of a poet as well. Not a grand scale album by any means but it’ll go sweet on a sunny afternoon.
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