JPEGMAFIA & Danny Brown - SCARING THE HOES
Genre: Hip-hop, Electronic
After being teased for a while a madcap collaborative project between two oddball rappers on the fringe of the mainstream has arrived and it's actually quite excellent! Produced by JPEGMAFIA, it's a album that flexes his production muscles shamelessly - just absolutely insane beat after insane beat and Danny Brown's twisting flows pair well with JPEGMAFIA's confrontational rapping. It's often baffling, funny and almost always giving your ears something fresh to listen to. Creative samples, ridiculous song topics combine with at its core a catchy and fun series of experimental production exercises to produce one of the year's best records so far.
Lana Del Rey - Did you know there's a tunnel under Ocean Blvd
Genre: Alt Pop
Given the quality of Lana Del Rey's songwriting it really is a marvel that she's so prolific, with her ninth studio album coming so soon after she released both her seventh and eighth records in 2021. Focused on confessional, broad and ambitious songwriting, it's a lot to take in as usual. With a confrontational spoken word religious interlude, a silly Tommy Genesis sampling track and a final song that is actually a demo of her acclaimed 2019 track Venice Bitch it's a more oddball album than her previous stuff and more interesting because of it. That being said, if you're not already on the Lana Del Rey hype train that's been choo choo-ing for the best part of a decade now, this is certainly not going to get you to hop on.
Yves Tumor - Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds)
Yeah that Lana Del Rey album title doesn't seem so long now does it? Yves Tumor continues their convincing shift into a modern take on glam-rock with this album, while still flaunting experimental flourishes. The melodies are sublime and the songs are both catchy and technically impressive, with Tves Tumor themselves being as strong a personality as ever. It doesn't quite have the massive hits that the previous album had, but those tracks were so huge it's a wonder they can come back with another album that feels consistent and exciting while in the same style. I'd like to see a more daring blend of rock and electronic styles, but this is really great and not like much else in contemporary music.
slowthai - ugly
Genre: Rock, Hip-hop
slowthai's shift into rock music isn't as surprising or simmicky as a lot of hip-hop artists position similar moves. For me, his best song remains the genre blending on show with Doorman, so a full exploration of this sound is an exciting prospect. While his hip-hop roots are still felt, the punk direction is pretty committed which is actually exciting.
Lyrically slowthai always kept an edge, but here he's at his most revealing and self-conscious. Honesty to an uncomfortable degree regarding his mental health, drug use and relationships are laid bare. At times it feels as if his nonchalant attitude towards bleakness slightly edgy. While deliberate, back to back spelling hooks on tracks HAPPY and UGLY feel redundant and obvious. But otherwise as either a detour or new beginning for slowthai, musically this seems like a bold and exciting release and for me keeps him as one of the UK's most exciting young artists even years on.
100 Gecs - 10,000 Gecs
Genre: Electronic, Hyperpop
100 Gecs aim to shock and surprise with their nostalgia tinged, maximalist take on electropop. The hyperpop stars return after their previous record was memed into being one of the most talked about records on the internet in 2019. Crazily it's taken so long for them to follow up and this offers more of the same madcap atmosphere with pinpoint production. Silly and almost impressively committed to being 'uncool' with its influences being brostep, ska and nu metal among other things. To me it's something that I wonder if I'd have liked it more if it had come out when 100 Gecs were dominating the internet zeitgeist, because almost four years on this no longer feels like it's scratching the surface of something new and exciting, but it definitely still is a lot of fun.
Morgan Wallen - One Thing at a Time
Morgan Wallen is the world's most popular country star, in spite of controversy, or perhaps due to it. This new album is one of the most blatant attempts of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. While not a stranger to long albums, with his incredibly popular sophmore Dangerous: The Double Album clocking in almost 100 minutes. Though at least that album was formatted as two LP's, 15 songs each.
One Thing at a Time ironically throws a sequence of 36 songs at you. It's pretty nakedly a stream-bait album, not the first, certainly not the last, but possibly the most high profile. It's non-stop Morgan Wallen and this time there's not really many glimpses of his best attributes beyond being the ultimate pop-country poster boy. His lyrics are cliché and there's not much in the way of anything a little more substantial than the typical topics that Tennessee natives are writing about. There's good tracks here and some fun spirit, but I'd be concerned at anybody listening to the whole lot of this in one go.
Oliver Francis - Oliver's Revenge
Nothing but bars on this short but sweet mixtape from Oliver Francis, mostly dropping his more melodic style for more more rapid fire approaches to his usual topics. Catchy, self-produced and deceptively smooth beats keep Oliver as one of the most underrated rappers in the game right now. His cloud rap style is always inviting repeat listens from me and this is one of his most addicting projects he's ever released.
Tyler, The Creator - CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST: The Estate Sale
Eight new tracks working as b-sides as well as a bridge to the next Tyler album which according to his release patterns, might be soon on the horizon. They're sunny tracks filled with character that prove that Tyler is one of the best rappers around when his b-sides are clear of a lot of his contemporaries album cuts. The soundtrack to a sunset vibe of What a Day is a particular highlight while WHARF TALK is one of the better attempts that Tyler has pulled off at making a pop song.
FIDLAR - That's Life
Genre: Garage Rock
There's a certain volatility to FIDLAR's self-titled debut album from 2013 that keeps it in my rotation each year. Channeling the ennui of male early twenties up to the absolute deranged max. Songs about doing drugs, fucking up and going to the beach. It's a fun album that the band has since had a rocky road trying to follow-up. Their second album showed some signs of maturity while also playing up the bratty immaturity to create a polarising set of songs. Their third just ditched the scrappy garage rock style almost completely but also lyrically lost almost all the charm.
Just over ten years on, FIDLAR come closest to replicating their debut. But the throwback style with more polish sometimes does feel like a forced attempt at making "FIDLAR" songs. It's lyrically a bit predictable and could be considered cringey, when they're still as gleefully bratty as ten years ago. At an EP's runtime it's not a bad listen, but the question of what FIDLAR can do to make another great album remains just as cloudy and seemingly out of reach.