Beach House - Once Twice Melody: Chapter One
Genre: Dream-pop, Indie
The eighth Beach House album is here! Sort of!? Once Twice Melody is being released in 4 parts, with four songs in each instalment. The first four songs of the album are here and work as a nice little EP in the meantime. If this strong set of four tracks, with particular standouts being Superstar and Through Me are anything to go by then it looks like this new project might just be one of their best. Beach House are really in their own lane when it comes to this sort of music. Can't wait to check back for the next set of four songs!
Aminé - TWOPOINTFIVE
Genre: Hip-hop, Pop
Aminé follows up his sophmore album from last year with another stop-gap project (following the format of 2018's ONEPOINTFIVE). I always liked the lower stakes more scrappy charm of ONEPOINTFIVE even if it doesn't have quite the same heights as Aminé's proper albums. This project actually feels unlike anything else he's done so far, it's very poppy, bouncy and dancey. Lots of cool electronic focused production. It's pretty fresh in the hip-hop landscape, even if at only 25 minutes or so it's fairly cursory.
Silk Sonic - An Evening With Silk Sonic
Genre: R&B, Soul
Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak join forces to make a sublime, sexy and irresistibly charming set of R&B tracks. This just exudes smoothness and both Bruno Mars & Anderson .Paak are overwhelmingly charming with great chemistry. It feels like each song could be a hit and the relatively short 30 minute runtime seems ideal for a record like this. It definitely doesn't get old and opens up opportunity for repeat listening not just for specific songs but the whole album, due to a great flow. I think this is one of the best mainstream pop records of the year so far and so knowingly tongue in cheek and fun, while still having some heart on sleeve moments.
Aries - BELIEVE IN ME, WHO BELIEVES IN YOU
Aries got his start making beat tutorials on YouTube and now he's making music that sounds ready for the radio. It's definitely a step up him and he's got a great sense for catchy melodies and has an assortment of fun production choices up his sleeve. It's a modern pop album which has a lot of character and feels like a distinct mix of contemporary and classic influences. Lots of comparisons to Post Malone could be made, but I feel like Aries has carved out his own distinct lane here. It's a really fun album that's got a lot of spins from me this month.
Also cool to see the album title being inspired by one of my favourite anime series; Gurren Lagann.
Sega Bodega - Romeo
A delightfully weird concept album about our protagonist Sega Bodega who charters his relationship with a mythical girlfriend who is made up of light. Leads to some offbeat love songs and never really settles on a particular style, though mostly being electronic / alternative pop songs. The production is really good and the emotional potency makes this a nice heady 'club' record. I particularly like the song All Of Your Friends Think I'm Too Young For You which has Sega Bodega and the girlfriend character trading verses aimed at each other. Definitely worth a go if you want something offbeat, but still with thoughtful song writing.
Jon Hopkins - Music for Psychedelic Therapy
Genre: Ambient, Electronic
Jon Hopkins has some of the absolute best electronic albums of the 2010's under his belt and certainly one of the very best songs in general in my opinion with Open Eye Signal. This album is a little more subdued and ambient, in fact the whole album is one continuous piece that flows together. The production and sound design are wonderful, it really feels like he's taking you on a sonic journey. With some good headphones and your full concentration this album is insane, you can sink into another world! Maybe that's a little melodramatic but this is definitely one of my favourite ambient electronic albums. While it doesn't have the glitchy show-stopper moments of his past two projects, this thrives in deceptively simple ambience.
Sewerslvt - we had good times together, don't forget that
Genre: Drum & Bass, Electronic
The second Sewerslvt album of the year and supposedly the final music project from this artist, as the album title and 17 minute long final track goodbye indicate. It's early to judge, but I think this might just be the most impressive album from Sewerslvt. The sound design on this album is fantastic, it's aggressive, emotional. abrasive but also sometimes dreamy and spacey. Touring through various electronic genres but sticking mostly to drum and bass, jungle and breakcore styles. It's very cathartic sounding music that over 90 minutes takes you on a really great journey. It sounds like a party at the end of the world, one that has a sense of melancholy despite how hard hitting a lot of the songs are. While this probably isn't the best entry point for Sewerslvt (check out 2020's Draining Love Story) as a fan, this feels excellent.
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu - Candy Racer
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's sugar sweet j-pop has proven to be influential in the burgeoning 'hyperpop' genre in the west. But returning with her fifth studio album, uniformly produced by the legendary Yasutaka Nakata, shows she's still a powerhouse in this offshoot of pop music. While Kyary might've initially coasted in the west via the novelty of how "wacky" Japanese pop music is, this album really shows the powerhouse of a duo that Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and producer Yasutaka Nakata make together. This stuff feels familiar to the singles they were putting out back ten years ago, but still so fresh in today's landscape. Just unashamedly odd and overwhelmingly positive and bouncy. Hard not to have a smile on your face listening to this!
Lancey Foux - LIVE.EVIL
I've been enjoying Lancey Foux's output since his 2018 album Pink II, which was an interesting UK hip-hop album in how it blended styles from Britain and America. This is his second project of 2021 following FIRST DEGREE which was pretty good. This is also pretty good! Lancey has a great ear for production choices and spits his verses assuredly, with great energy. He can do bangers and spacey stuff that don't stick out even if stuck next to each other on the track-list. Some tracks here have some of my favourite hip-hop production of the year so far for sure.
Clams Casino - Winter Flower
Genre: Electronic, Instrumental hip-hop
Legendary cloud rap producer Clams Casino is back with a fairly brief 15 minute instrumental project. I'm an absolute sucker for this brand of hazy hip-hop with ethereal vocal samples so once again I am quite enamoured by this work. It's calming, dense with detail but with that core hip-hop bounce to itself. Would love to see more from Clams in the near future as this scratches a very particular itch for me and I'm always after more! Also the cover art is very aesthetically pleasing to me despite its simplicity, looks like how the music sounds.
Corbin - Ghost With Skin
Genre: R&B, Emo
Released on Halloween night, this is a very good collection of emo R&B. Corbin's singing voice is an acquired taste, but there's nobody else who really sounds like him and as a result, it's immediately ear catching. The spacey, downtempo production is uniformly good and while topically this is mostly wallowing in sadness, it combined with his heart on sleeve vocals makes for a very earnest feeling album.
Kaytranada - Intimidated
Three new collaborative songs from Kaytranada. His first project since his 2019 album Bubba. It's obviously very cursory at only three songs, but quite worthwhile as it's a set of three very good songs. The collaboration with Thundercat feels so natural it seems crazy it hadn't already happened until now.
Radiohead - KID A MNESIA
This is a re-issue to Radiohead's two fantastic albums Kid A and Amnesiac, also including a bunch of bonus tracks and outtakes as a celebration of the 20th anniversary of duo of albums. Of course the core albums themselves are essential and I've listened to both countless times, so I'm focusing on the bonus content here, which is all good! There's a few previously unheard deep cuts that are nice to have and cool alternate versions of tracks from Kid A and Amnesiac. Never a bad time to revisit these albums and this anniversary release gives you an excuse to do just that.
New Kanye West Deluxe Album
Did you think that Kanye West's almost two hour long album wasn't quite long enough? Well lucky you because the deluxe edition of Donda brings in five new songs and ups the runtime to over two hours, as well as shuffling the track list about. Most notably is Life of the Party featuring André 3000, which on the album has ridiculous censoring, but a fantastic heartfelt verse from André. There's luckily a single version that's uncensored and doesn't ruin the verse with bleeping. The other highlight is Never Abandon Your Family which darkly samples Kanye's mother saying "to never abandon your family", while Kanye laments that he's doing just that. Featuring a really emotional performance from Kanye and sombre guitar focused beat, ending with the repeated sample of Donda speaking to Kanye.
In general with some time to digest Donda, it's a very exciting album and it's cool to see Kanye be so open with his creative process, putting everything out there. This deluxe album doesn't particularly improve things much, but it's always nice to have more Kanye West.
New Charli XCX Single
Charli XCX continues to follow her string of more experimentally produced records withy her second single for next March's Crash album. This is a really solid pop song, not blowing my socks off like a lot of Charli's weirder efforts have but it's got a great beat and a trio of compelling vocalists at the helm. I might skip on further singles to keep things fresh for the album, since it's a long wait until March, but things definitely seem promising so far.
New Slipknot Single
Slipknot often get underrated as a result of being so popular, it's often easy to forget that they really have some great albums and singles. While they arguably ran out of steam following their third album, I felt like their 2019 album We Are Not Your Kind was not just a return to form but also pushed the band in new directions that showed great potential. As nu-metal is being re-assessed and revived recently, it's great top hear Slipknot coming back sounding so confident. It's a great single, Corey Taylor's vocals are fantastic and I really like that they're bringing the record scratches from their early stuff. If this is the first taste of a new album, then it couldn't be a cooler first taste.
New Post Malone & The Weeknd Collaboration
Both Post Malone and The Weeknd are pretty near the top of the pop music world right now, however neither of their last singles particularly caught on in any massive way as, say, Blinding Lights or Circles. Now they have a seemingly offhand collaborative single and it sounds exactly like you'd expect, but also just a bit too safe and bland. Maybe it'll catch on, it's certainly a show-stopper combination of pop stars and it's hard to call the song bad, but maybe like Post Malone's Motley Crew or The Weeknd's Take My Breath it'll only achieve mild chart success.
New Foals Single
It's not ground-breaking, but I've always often enjoyed the more funky Foals tracks and this is certainly one of them, fit for casual parties. Even after releasing a double album last year it is great to see the band is still not running out of creative juices. I could easily see this being a mild radio hit in the UK.
New Ocean Grove Single
Ocean Grove's previous album was somewhat of a guilty pleasure for me, a very unashamedly silly nu-metal revival album that had some incredibly anthemic songs on it, as well as some Oasis worship. Good to see this new song is continuing the trend, it's a lot of fun and great to bob your head along to.
New Drug Church Singles
Two singles off of Drug Church's upcoming album Hygiene which doesn't arrive until March. I discovered this band this year off of a great EP they released, Tawny and it seems like these new singles are continuing the quality set by that EP. Excited for their album in March!