EMA – Exile in the Outer Ring
Erika M. Anderson has a sound. Electronic grunge would be one way to describe it, her Past Life Martyred Saints album back in 2011 was one of the finest records of that year and if perhaps her second album didn’t live up to that then this third one is a damned ripper. Darkly atmospheric with all the drones and screeches, very deliberate it its pacing, melodic but heavy at the same time. The distorted guitars are a special treat.
Fashawn - Manna
With a tightly-packed project based largely on America's ills, Fashawn is back to flex his lyrical muscle. Not too many can hang with Fashawn technically and with such a hostile topic to explore, Fashawn dips into his artistic back of tricks to reflect on himself, his people and his country. Manna is rather complex and you'd be wise to jam this multiple times, maybe meditate to it and really dig deep into all the nooks, crannies and everything in-between. Most of all, it's a reminder of what Fashawn is capable of and that can't be slept on.
Guantanamo Baywatch – Desert Centre
First of all: brilliant band name. Those portmanteau names usually don’t work but this one is a beaut. So’s the album, to be fair. It’s ostensibly surf rock but with a sharp punk edge to it – mostly in the energy of the band. There’s twangy guitar lines but there are is also some ruthless drumming and the songs are tight as hell. Probably at their best during raucous instrumentals like Witch Stomp, Conquistador and Area 69 but they still bring it when the words come spitting out.
Action Bronson - Blue Chips 7000
Somewhere between recording shows for Viceland, writing a book and generally being Mr Wonderful, Action Bronson found the time to record a new album. Blue Chips 7000 could double as a comedy special with the skits and ad-libs on BC7000 forcing you to giggle, plus there's Bronson's rather freakish rapping ability. Bronson fans will love a slightly fresh perspective that amplifies his outlandish bars, as well as the even funkier production while this also doubles as a lovely entry point for newbies who need to acquaint themselves with Bronson.
Mermaidens – Perfect Body
Hypnotic and grooving, sometimes dark and sometimes shimmering… just like the rolling tides. Fittingly nautical for a band named Mermaidens. The Wellington trio have honed a real vision over the last couple years and all things being fair this album should catapult them out there. Like, it sounds fantastic. Production is just top notch and the songs are powerful – get on in there, mate. The water’s fine.
Oh Sees – Orc
Another album by Thee Oh Sees? Erm, not quite – they’ve dropped the ‘Thee’ from the ol’ moniker with the release of this one (and they’ve changed their name again since!) but, other than that, record #19 is more of the same. The same being head-banging, slimy garage rock and roll replete with double the drummers and twice the distortion. John Dwyer is a genius, the OG of the modern San Francisco psych scene, and when you craft tunes as naturally experimental as these they always find a way to keep it fresh with each new release. The Static God really tears it up, Keys to the Castle breaks it back down, Cadaver Dog does a bit of both… oh and Drowned Beast is a BELTER. Good tunes, man. Good tunes.
Wiki - No Mountains In Manhattan
Wiki has branched off from Ratking to go solo and No Mountains In Manhattan has Wiki putting on for his hometown New York. The growth in Wiki is crystal clear, although it takes some sifting through as Wiki outlines the good, bad, ugly and beautiful of his experiences over the past few years, all through a portrayal of what I consider to be the real NYC. Many artists can take me to New York with their musical abilities, none paint such a grizzly picture like Wiki does and the beauty comes via his poetry. Peep the very low key guest appearance by 'randomblackdude' aka Earl Sweatshirt.
The War of Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
So damn good, words don’t do it justice. Especially that bit in Strangest Thing when the big chord progression drops and… ahhhh! So damn good.
Sean Price - Imperius Rex
Posthumous releases have a habit of being let-downs, or not done in a fitting manner. Shout out to everyone at Duck Down Records then for the work they've done in releasing Imperius Rex after the passing of a hip hop legend. Sean Price was apparently working on a release before his death and Imperius Rex draws in a who's-who of veteran P collaborators to share the album, all laid on the foundation of P's typically brilliant word-play.
Girl Ray – Earl Grey
Bunch of flippin’ London teenagers, these chicks bring a jangly pop-rock sound to the party with some sweet-as harmonies and shuffling rhythms – plus plenty of twinkling guitar, of course. Kinda starts off with the radio hits before getting looser and more psychedelic as it progresses (particularly on the 13min title track). Plenty to enjoy here… an indie band that doesn’t take themselves too seriously is hardly original but that’s hardly a problem when the tracks get grooving.
Tyler Childers – Purgatory
This is country-folk music like the greats used to do it. Childers is Kentucky as hell and he’s got a twang in his voice to sell it. That ain’t everyone’s cup of tea but this dude probably prefers his moonshine anyway. Songs about sinning and singing, hey and Sturgill Simpson co-produced it too. The bloke’s got a gift for storytelling and he doesn’t shy away from the heavy stuff, plus he sure looks the part with his long, curly, ginger hair… kinda like the guitarist from The Commitments’ long-lost Appalachian cousin.
Brockhampton - Saturation II
It was only a couple months ago that Brockhampton dropped Saturation and as in keeping with the saturation vibe, they are back to re-up with Saturation II, thus saturating the market. For those who aren't familiar with Brockhampton, they are a hip hop collective who came together on a forum, based out of Dallas but currently based in South Central Los Angeles. They've got over 10 artists working together, led by Kevin Abstract (who's just 20yrs!) and it's borderline amazing how such a variety of rap styles, singing and production can come together in a cohesive sound. The variety is the beauty as they all combine for such a unique sound, blending old school elements with obscure samples and a modern twist. Saturation II is on par with Saturation, if not better, and if you're that dude/gal in your group of homies who is always on to the next wave, Brockhampton is perfect for you.
Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
The Bear is back out of hibernation, sounding a lot like they did before to be honest. Maybe a little wiser with the years or something. Wasted Acres has more of a hip hop influence while Three Rings goes some odd places too – and those are the opener and lead single. You expect tricky and intricate compositions from Grizzly Bear. You expect to have to listen several times before you really start unpacking it. Wouldn’t call it as good as Shields but it holds up and that’s worth it.
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