Beach House - Become
Genre: Dream Pop
While not strangers to prolificity, it is still a surprise to see Beach House drop a fairly substantial five track EP only a year on from their massive eighth album Once Twice Melody. These tracks embrace the bigger more synth-heavy but still dreamy aesthetic that Once Twice Melody often strived towards.
Beach House's quality is so consistent, so it's hard to tell if these are b-sides or not, even if they do sound pretty on brand with the sort of stuff on offer on Once Twice Melody. Regardless of its place in their overall discography, it's bound to end up one of the more exciting EP's of the year and was a great surprise to see released this month.
Larry June & The Alchemist - The Great Escape
This joint project between Bay Area rapper and LA based producer pairs airy beats with June's trademark laidback flow. It's a pleasant album filled with exciting production, well picked guest spots and Larry June commanding the atmosphere.
It's definitely a consistent release from the prolific rapper, with some of the best production yet as well as his typical style of storytelling and humble brag rapping about financial responsibility (among other things). A nice release that will for sure gain mileage as summer comes upon us.
Magdalena Bay - mini mix vol. 3
Genre: Synth Pop
Magdalena Bay evaded my radar until their amazing synth-pop LP Mercurial World ended up being one of my top, top records of 2021. They return this month with the third volume of their mini mix ep series, which features shorter but no less exciting synth-pop gems continuously mixed into one another.
It's a really fun format for an EP and the mixed format makes the EP hazily mix into itself in a fun singular experience, though individual songs here are excellent. The casual Laura Dern worship in Top Dog is the right mix of cheeky and charming. Generally the set of songs are great and leave me clamouring for the next Magdalena Bay offering!
Yaeji - With a Hammer
Yaeji's debut album follows some buzzworthy EP's and a charming mixtape, but this release sees her vision at its most grand and consistent. There aren't many artists like Yaeji who can blend genres and keep a consistent identity as a songwriter and producer simultaneously. Conceptually, the record sees Yaeji airing grievances and coming to terms with various topics, not afraid to come at them "with a hammer".
It's melodic, noisy and sometimes pushing boundaries to create very different style of electronic music. But it's in Yaeji's use of her voice and earnest songwriting which she switches between in Korean and English that make her one of the coolest producers in the scene right now and this record is a great statement that she's only going to get better.
nothing,nowhere. - VOID ETERNAL
After transitioning from emo rap (emphasis on emo) to pop-punk crossover, it's now with this collaboration heavy release that he moves into heavier music. Sometimes it feels like someone getting a make a wish experience to front a bunch of metalcore bands, but still strong personality and a penchant for big hooks keeps nothing,nowhere. in the game.
He still hasn't turned his back fully on his rapping roots as often this feels like another nu-metal revival album with the focus on it accompanied with heavier arrangements.
Rae Sremmurd - Sremm 4 Life
While one half of hip-hop duo Swae Lee pops up on features all the time, it's been quiet for the group since their impressive but poorly marketed album SR3MM. Within SR3MM there was an extremely solid 9 track Rae Sremmurd album, it's just that on streaming services it was paired with two solo albums for the brothers - leading to most perceiving what was actually a tight project, to be a 27 track bloated mess.
Sremm 4 Life comes along 5 years later and is their least consistent record since the first, but the album is varied and has high highs. The duo is still charming and work very together, production is often great and sometimes like on the album's best song Flaunt It/Cheap they are sounding like the cream of the crop.
It's a shame that too much of the album feels a bit generic, in 2023 trap is way past its sell by date and more of the same isn't that interesting. But the weirder moments or just straight up exciting ones here are worth a look for sure.
Waterparks - INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
Genre: Pop Punk
Waterparks are capital 'P' Pop and lower case 'p' punk to the extreme despite this release being maybe their most consistently edgy record. The band has definitely stepped up their game since their early records to have more character, even if that character is the often an obnoxiously bratty 20 something who flips between desperately in love and spitefully heartbroken between songs.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY is leaner than their previous two albums and heavier, but still without the false edgy lyrics it would feel almost dirty to even associate something so cleanly produced with the word punk. It is quite fun and breezy overall though, knowingly silly and melodramatic, I'm still down with these boys even if not much has changed since their smart switch-up of things with their 2019 record FANDOM.
Temples - Exotico
I hadn't looked much into Temples before earlier this year when I caught them live touring to warm up for this album's release, where they put on a great show. One of the most diversely aged crowds I've seen at a gig, people young and old rallying to dance to psych-rock. Their earliest work is a pretty direct '60s/'70s pastiche and then the two follow-ups predictably added more synths.
Though I think their fourth album Exotico might be the strongest yet, building off of the instrumental growth of the previous albums to have the largest sonic palette and the strongest melodies across an entire record.
It's a pleasant ride, even if unable to really make a claim to stand out above the crowd in terms of innovation in the psychedelic genre. I can see myself returning to this far more than a lot of their previous albums.
Matt OX & Surf Gang - OXygen
Genre: Cloud Rap
In an era of desperate ploys for virality, there is something admirably pure about Matt OX, the Philadelphia teenager who initially gained fame off of the novelty of an extremely regular looking white 12 year old making rap music that was "actually kind of good". But before he was 18 years old he landed a Chief Keef feature as well as an appearance on an XXXTentacion album. He's stayed committed to making rap music. Now 18, and releasing his latest effort, a short EP which is produced by the Surf Gang collective.
While the production on offer from Surf Gang is still novel, Matt OX has put out more interesting stuff recently, like the crazy UnorthodOX EP. Regardless it's a collab that shows promise and I'm always down for cloud rap and experimental leaning production.
Hippo Campus - Wasteland
Genre: Indie Pop
An EP from the indie pop band whose not very imaginatively titled third LP: LP3, released to quiet acclaim from me at least last year. Signs of maturing songwriting and stripped back instrumentals make this stand out compared to their recent output but I'm on the side of preferring the poppier, synth led stuff they do as well as the more out there singing performances from frontman Jake Luppen.