Phoenix - Alpha Zulu
Genre: Indie Pop
French indie pop rock heroes Phoenix return with their seventh album over twenty years of being band. They were top of the class when indie went mainstream in the late '00s and are still carrying that torch with a appealing mix of indie rock and pop. Alpha Zulu is a set of very pleasant Phoenix tracks, catchy and a nice mix of synths and guitars. There's still a lot of the magic that's made Phoenix so listenable and mass-appeal, but still without becoming redundant or boring. Really the only new idea on this album is a duet with Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig, which is pulled off well. It's just a set of extremely charming and casually danceable tracks. No complaints from me.
BROCKHAMPTON - The Family
An interesting album from the hip-hop group BROCKHAMPTON, which broke up earlier this year but announced a final album would still be released. But, it's actually not really a BROCKHAMPTON album as it only consists of the group's founder Kevin Abstract (and production from member Bearface). Made up of chopped samples and honest lyrics, it's a sort of rumination on the group's legacy and mistakes made along the way.
It's a cool scrapbook of memories, both good and bad that Kevin Abstract immortalises for himself and fans. It feels like he's making the most out of an unfortunate situation and the hopeful inclination of the project implies that maybe members of the group's best stuff is yet to come.
BROCKHAMPTON - TM
Oh there's another "final" BROCKHAMPTON album that was released less than 24 hours after The Family. If The Family was the shot, talking about the groups disbandment frankly and only featuring Kevin Abstract, then TM is the chaser. Made up of later era shelved recordings mostly from last year featuring the whole group, which have been polished up by Matt Champion. It recalls the scrappy variety of their earlier SATURATION era work. Though it definitely feels a bit unfocused and more like a compilation than an actual album. Still, it's nice to have this bookend the group and I'll be looking for what the members do next.
Drake & 21 Savage - Her Loss
Drake continued his seemingly everlasting market saturation this year with a album of him crooning over house music, though that album's big hit with the track Jimmy Crooks which was a more traditional hip-hop track with Atlanta rapper 21 Savage. Now Drake returns again seemingly focused on capturing the energy that made that track a hit with a joint project with 21 Savage.
It's apparent while listening that this is a Drake album with a lot of 21 Savage features rather than a true joint album. Four tracks feature no 21 Savage at all and numerous others have him in a limited role. Its best tracks are the ones that showcase the duo's chemistry, but it's not displayed often enough. A lot of it just feels like more Drake music, and surely we've all had enough by now. He's still rapping about the same stuff as 10 years ago.
Fleshwater - We're Not Here to Be Loved
Genre: Alternative Metal
Fleshwater is made up of members of the hardcore band Vein.fm, who also released an album this year. But this is a pretty different style of music from the agressive hardcore of that album and instead provides some alternative metal. It's a big record in a scene that seems to be embracing '90s and '00s style of alternative rock and metal. It's relatively brief but a blast front to back. Switching between two vocalists as well makes this ripe for replay value and a highlight for the genre.
Thaiboy Digital - Feel It All Around
Drain Gang's Thaiboy Digital released his second album this month. With bright synths and more openly sincere and straightforward lyrics, his music now stands out from Bladee or Ecco2k's. With three appearances from Bladee and two from frequent collaborator Yung Lean, things are kept buoyant even when the production feels like it blends together a little bit at times. Though for those converted to the church of Drain Gang, this will hit the spot. It's playing the hits, nothing particularly pushing the envelope here, but still pretty enjoyable.
Soul Blind - Feel It All Around
Genre: Alternative Rock
Soul Blind caught my ear with a debut EP last year which saw them taking a blissed out approach to alternative rock, which is expanded upon here. It's the exact sort of debut album I wanted from them, shoegaze inspired with big hooks. Sure to fly under the radar but well worth a look.
Turnover - Myself in the Way
Genre: Indie Pop
Turnover aren't afraid of changing their genre up, going from pop-punk to dream pop, and now pivoting to indie pop. I really enjoy their emo take on dream pop shown in their 2015 album Peripheral Vision and the following more sunny sounding Good Nature was also a great listen. Since then the band has been putting out solid indie pop, but the lyrics and use of various vocal effects have caused the band to lose a lot of their character in my opinion. It's solid stuff, but at times it feels a bit too much like indie pop wallpaper. It's music for coffee shops or H&M, pleasant but too often in one ear and out the other.