Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - Bandana
After teaming up for ‘Pinata’, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib are back for their latest project Bandana. A project that features Madlib’s finest production made on an iPad, which in itself is bonkers considering how varied and awesome the production is on Bandana. That’s exactly what we expect from a legend like Madlib and with Gibbs spitting street tales of the highest level, there is no shortage of the vibes we expect from a top-tier hip hop album. A nek level though, is reached via Gibbs finding all the nooks and crannies in Madlib’s production, as well as the beat switches that test Gibbs’ rap ability and Gibbs hits the mark every time. Stand out tracks are ‘Situations’ and ‘Flat Tummy Tea’, while the guest appearances from Black Thought, Yasiin Bey, Killer Mike and Pusha T all add a layer to their respective tracks.
black midi – Schlagenheim
It’s always cool when you stumble across a band that is truly unique, doing something fresh. black midi are one of those bands, the young Englishfolk laying it down with some extremely jagged and industrial rock and roll. Not always easy to absorb, these tracks are more than a little abrasive, but that’s kinda the point. It’s deliberately glitch. It’s mathematical. That German title ain’t a coincidence. This is an album that refuses to pander to its audience from 953 to Ducter and if you get it then you get it.
Denzel Curry – ZUU
Denny’s been steadily pushing himself up into the top tier with project after project. TA13OO was one of the best hip hop albums of last year, now here’s ZUU with a brisk half hour of pure Miami sounds… and pure mean PURE – these beats are majestic. Named after the nickname of his home town, this record is Denzel throwing it up for the classics and doing it for the culture. RICKY and SPEEDBOAT are the standouts but the whole thing’s worth sizzling in, visualising palm trees and convertibles, admiring the gold as Denzel takes his talents back to South Beach (or, you know, close enough).
Car Seat Headrest – Commit Yourself Completely
Still waiting on new tunes from Will Toledo’s lot after Teen of Denial was one of the albums of 2016. Since then we’ve gotten a brilliantly recreated version of Twin Fantasy and a few spare singles/outtakes but that next landmark record… still waiting. So here’s a live one to tide us over. Not a progression but a confirmation. A coronation. From CSH’s origins as a bedroom DIY project to being a full on band churning out ferocious live sets… Commit Yourself Completely is Toledo’s way of emphasising that transformation. You’ve certainly never heard a CSH record where the drums thump this powerfully before. Nothing out of the ordinary, apart from a lovely cover of Frank Ocean’s Ivy, (and one of two songs are maybe a little too tight) but, you know, point taken. This lot can play.
Benny The Butcher - The Plugs I Met
Part of the Buffalo collective ‘Griselda Records’ Benny The Butcher has been simmering in the hip hop underground for a few years now and following up from ‘Tana Talk 3’ has Benny serving up more gritty drug talk. For Benny The Butcher fans, there isn’t a whole lot fresh vibes to this project and unlike the Gibbs/Madlib project that has beauty in the variety and switches, The Plugs I Met specializes in another steady dose of what Benny does best. Conveniently, it’s winter in Aotearoa and this is a perfect sidekick to your cold, gloomy days that transport you to a side of life you probably stay well clear of.
Jamila Woods - LEGACY! LEGACY!
This is the past, present, and future of Chicago creativity right here. Jamila Woods, known for her poetry and activism almost as much as her excellent tunes (and of course all three inform each other in wondrous ways), titles each track after an iconic black artist. We’ve got Baldwin, Muddy, Miles, Eartha, Zora, etc. Fittingly then this album is teeming with soul and dripping with inspiration, radiant and assured. It’s actually kinda incredible.
Black Mountain – Destroyer
What you see is what you get here, basically. A particularly large amplified speaker sitting in the middle of the water, surrounded by rocks and lashing waves. Black Mountain have been through plenty of line-up changes over the years and here they’ve settled on a formula that keeps it all close to the bone. Hard rock with a seventies influence – Zepp & Sabbath, mostly – stretching things out into a rather excellent driving zone. Nothing special, just serving up the formula to a solid level.
Bodega Bamz & Salaam Remi - Bodega’s Way
New Yorkers Bodega Bamz and Salaam Remi team up for a cheeky little EP, featuring one guest verse from Benny The Butcher’s Griselda comrade Conway The Machine. Bamz is part of the fresh NYC hip hop wave and Remi is a veteran producer who is now spreading his tentacles out to team up with numerous artists, making for an intriguing collab. While Bodega Bamz has been doing his thing for a few years, this serves as a lovely intro to Bamz for new listeners as Remi offers a simple canvas for Bamz to flex with his witty rhymes and rhymes that cut through with ease.
Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real - Turn Off The News (Build A Garden)
After his jam band beginnings, Lukas Nelson has flirted with the big time in recent years – most notably his role in the new A Star Is Born (on screen and on the soundtrack) – and it seems by the sounds of this latest record that he and the band are settling into The New Tom Petty territory. He’s even wearing a top hat these days. And you know what? That’s not a bad place to be. We need another Tom Petty now that we don’t have the old one anymore.
Daniel Caesar - Case Study 01
For those wanting to slow it down this winter, nestle up with your partner and/or blast some lazy Sunday tunes, Daniel Caesar’s Case Study 01 is a nice settling spot. Caesar is a youngster from Canada who burst on to the music scene with his project Freudian, which differs a fair bit from his latest release, which is completely to be expect given the growth and change that has taken place in that period. Smooth, somewhat deviant and better designed for easy listening background music, Caesar has now established himself as someone you should be singing along to.
Claire Cronin – Big Dread Moon
Sparse, dark, and vaguely gothic folkish rock tunes with horror imagery? Yes please. Claire Cronin’s also an acclaimed poet and the imagery in her lyrics is powerful and vivid as her wobbly voice and resonant guitar work their way through tunes of wolfmen, sentient nights, and innocent lambs. However it’s that voice that really sets this one apart, sounding like a jenga tower forever on the brink of collapse, offering an aura of unsettled and ominous tension to the whole thing.
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