JPEGMAFIA - LP!
JPEGMAFIA still has unmatched production and his rapping is only getting better. LP! follows two very good EP's and two brilliant albums that really put him on the map, 2018's VETERAN and 2019's All My Heroes Are Cornballs. At almost an hour, this manages to fly by due to quick pacing and engaging variety in beats and rapping styles. I thought compared to his previous projects this had less immediate highlights in the track listing, but as a whole was very convincing as a front to back album experience. Maybe I'm just used to JPEGMAFIA's style by now, but this is probably his most accessible project in a while, but that's not to say that this isn't hugely imaginative, creative and with plenty of experimental flourishes. It's a hugely gratifying project that encouraged a good few repeats from me already.
Lana Del Rey - Blue Banisters
Lana Del Rey's second album of 2021 following Chemtrails Over the Country Club released in March shows no signs of the quality of her song writing slowing down. It's a typically strong set of ballads and Lana's as sharp as ever with many astute and funny observations of the current world surrounding her. Aside from a bizarre trap instrumental interlude, there's not too many surprises in store for those familiar with Lana's musical output until this point, it's not quite as definitive as her best album: 2019's Norman Fucking Rockwell! but it's hard to find much to disagree with for this album, especially after already releasing a very good album earlier in the album. Lana Del Rey is certainly not running out of steam.
The War on Drugs - I Don't Live Here Anymore
The War on Drugs have quietly become a powerhouse contemporary rock band, tapping into a market that appeals as much to an older classic rock crowd as it does to younger indie music fans. This is their fifth album and the first since 2017, and it's a suitably sharp and bombastic return. This music is always exciting due to its blend of classic rock style with lightly psychedelic touches. Mix it in with genuinely uplifting and anthemic choruses and you've got a really fun record and what's sure to be a banger of an accompanying live music show.
Pond - 9
Genre: Psychedelic Rock / Pop
Australian psych outfit Pond's nine track ninth album 9, is the first since 2012 not to be produced by Tame Impala mastermind Kevin Parker, though it seems the band is doing just fine without his help this time around. This sounds excellent, it's very crisp and funky. The carefree, glam-rock inspired vocals from Nick Allbrook are really nice as well. With each new album Pond explores new ideas, here they lean into dance music with a great electronic focused track like Pink Lunettes. Overall a pretty joyful listening experience and it surely ranks among their best output, which nine albums in, is quite the feat!
Every Time I Die - RADICAL
The metalcore legends return with their first album since 2016's Low Teens. The band seems a bit fed up with the state of the world and its people and politics, and who can blame them? The anger at the heart of this record is often rousing and it also helps that this rocks really hard. It's a pretty solid set of songs, even if maybe this could've been trimmed a bit to make it pack more of a succinct punch.
James Blake - Friends That Break Your Heart
Genre: R&B, Electronic
James Blake has been putting out quality work for over a decade now, but it was his fourth album Assume Form released in 2019 that brought him to a new level of fame, a more overtly happy and romantic record than those before, featuring more topical collaborations for both vocal and production duties. Friends That Break Your Heart feels very much like the sequel and in such it feels as though a lot of the tracks on this one lack the surprises that usually inhabit Blake's work. There's standout tracks here, however despite the production being uniformly great, certain sets of songs sound alike. Though there's enough new quirky ideas on offer here to make me happy, and for those not already converted to the joys of James Blake's music, this is sure to be a decent starting point.
Magdalena Bay - Mercurial World
A great debut album for the indie-pop duo Magdalena Bay. Sugar-sweet but with a nice ambition and an overall fresh sound. While tapping into nostalgic elements, this generally sounds excellent and the low-key vocals evoke a dreamy feeling. I really like the flow of this record, lots of pop albums don't really mesh together well but this really gets a groove going, especially the three track run of Dawning of the Season, Secrets (Your Fire) and You Lose! For fans of the genre this is sure to be a delight.
Young Thug - Punk
Young Thug's new album feels like a mix of his big commercial trap album So Much Fun and the weirder, guitar beat focused Beautiful Thugger Girls. Lots of big name guest spots and somewhat inconsistent album pacing is hiding probably some of the most inward-looking Young Thug tracks. While there's a few party cuts and topical feature-driven songs, most of the highlights come from the more subdued Young Thug solo songs. It's interesting and shows that even after so many music projects, Young Thug is still trying new things and experimenting, while staying somewhat accessible. However this feels a bit too long and unfocused to rank among his best projects.
Porches - All Day Gentle Hold !
Genre: Indie Rock / Pop
Porches remains an interesting indie act with a lot of genre experiments and a unique vocal performance that often feels like its floating over the instrumentation. Their last album from 2020 was interesting to me, but felt unfocused, whereas this new one is a lot more concise despite a shorter runtime. Songs are more fleshed out and have more direct lyrics. It feels like the next step in Porches artistic pathway. I really like the oddball charm of the tracks here, both in the vocal performance and the production. A very consistent and fun album.
Self Esteem - Prioritise Pleasure
Genre: Indie-pop, R&B
Very fresh sounding indie pop / R&B crossover from UK based artist Rebecca Taylor. Honest lyricism and beats ready for a particularly atmospheric club night. This is consistently very sharp and the production is consistently ear catching, as well as some wonderful melodies on show. Very intimate but still suitably bombastic, a really good album!
The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die - Illusory Walls
Genre: Emo, Rock
This emo band was initially powered by a contagious optimism, however their last album and this new one have signalled that perhaps they no longer fully agree with their verbose band name. The opening track of Illusory Walls is simply titled Afraid to Die, uh oh... Actually, it's not particularly cynical and leads up to an incredible cathartic two song finisher that's longer than most albums. I expected a 15 minute track followed by an almost 20 minute track to maybe contain some empty space but it's actually pretty much 35 minutes of good music! Very cool, and the rest of the album is pretty good too. Feels like a very punctuated bookend to the band's trajectory up until this point, so it will be interesting to see where they go next.
Geese - Projector
Genre: Post-punk, Rock
This is the debut record from a bunch of Brooklyn teenagers who are making some of the coolest post-punk available right now, especially considering their freshness to the scene. This is also probably some of the more accessible post-punk music to crowds that prefer more standard rock music, though that's not to count the creativity and strength of the song-writing on show. They've got a good groove going on this record and this shows potential for them to take their music in a big direction like say, Arctic Monkeys or The Killers did in the '00s.
Driveways - Skeptic
Solid mix of pop-punk and emo. Driveways have a constant Halloween aesthetic for their records though the music itself doesn't stray too far from the typical pop-punk / emo topics. There's some post-hardcore influence on show as well with some decent screaming. Generally at just over 20 minutes, this is what you'd want out of a record like this.
PinkPantheress - to hell with it
Genre: Electronic, R&B
PinkPantheress is a new artist to have gained hype via young fans on TikTok. With short songs that sound nostalgic for the '00s but are also forward-thinking in blending modern R&B, hip-hop and pop styles with UK garage samples and other electronic influences that aren't prevalent in the mainstream at all anymore. However, while this project shows obvious promise and fairly unique artistry, all the songs are very short and as a whole it runs at only 18 minutes. Regardless, it's obvious that PinkPatheress is bound for big things and this is only the intro for a promising artist.
Lone - Always Inside Your Head
Electronic producer Matt Cutler aka Lone returns with his first full-length LP since 2016. As usual it features a palette of familiar electronic, especially UK based genres and sounds and paints something new with them. This is quite a spacey release, surely one of Lone's strongest and best produced work. Really well made electronic music that sounds like candy for the ears.
Ross From Friends - Tread
Genre: House, Electronic
Last month saw a really good new album from sardonically named lo-fi house pioneer DJ Seinfeld, now his similarly sitcom inspired peer Ross from Friends is also back with an album. This is a more mature direction for the artist to take, exploring new sounds and generally sounding rich and understated for a dance record. While inheriting a lot of the style of his earlier work in the 'lo-fi house' sub-genre, this album sees a lot of inspiration from acts such as Burial or Boards of Canada, with detailed soundscapes and fresh experimentation. It shows that despite a jokey stage name, Ross from Friends is definitely not messing around with his music.
Soshi Takeda - Floating Mountains
A pleasant, groovy and earthy electronic record that sounds like a killer videogame soundtrack. It's fairly relaxing but also has enough bounce to soundtrack a casual gettogether. Lots of organic instrumentation over top of the electronic skeleton beats to make this a fun record, feels like it holds a lot of inspiration from vaporwave as well with its retro aesthetics. Well worth a listen!
Knocked Loose - A Tear in the Fabric of Life
A new 20 minute EP from the metalcore band comes attached to an experimentally minded animated film available on YouTube. Though the music works on its own as a set of solid metalcore tracks, similar to Knocked Loose's previous output but with a darker atmosphere and edge. A heavy set of songs that channels a real sense of anger, that is fitting given the recent dire situations going on in the world.
Jordana & TV Girl - Summer's Over
This collaborative project from indie-folk artist Jordana and indie-pop band TV Girl is a very nice serenade for the end of summer. TV Girl provides the production while Jordana is singing. It's a nice switch-up for both artists, sure to please fans of both. I really like TV Girl's chopped samples and bright instrumentation. Adding in Jordana's silky voice and sincere lyrics, if still a little tongue in cheek, make for a short, fun record. Ending with a duet as well, it's a very ideal and focused collab record.
Oliver Francis - Oli FM
This EP collects the recent singles Oliver Francis has been releasing into one package, sewn together through a FM radio station through line. Pretty simple, but this is what Oliver Francis does best. Melodic focused hip-hop with cloudy beats and catchy hooks. I think this contains some of his strongest work yet like FRIENDS, All I Know and PMW. Only MOB hadn't been released as a single previously, but it's another really cool track. Good to have all these singles herded into one release, it's a great, carefree little collection.
New Mitski Single
Considering the acclaim and mainstream attention Mitski got off of the back of her last album, this is a pretty bold comeback single. The pieces were all in place for her to distil her music down, but lyrically this macabre and instrumentally it immediately grabs me as a new great Mitski track with elements that we haven't heard on her previous album. If her new music continues in this direction it's sure to be a highlight whenever it comes out.
New brakence Single
brakence's album punk2 was a surprise favourite of mine from the year 2020 and so new music from him was eagerly awaited. This new track features glitchy production that's on another level, really feels like the next step of the style employed on punk2. What's most apparent on this track though is the uncomfortably direct and dark lyrics. Hope brakence is doing better than this song's lyrics imply, because he's for sure one of the most talented and interesting young artists out there right now.
New Jon Hopkins Album Excerpt
Some of the best electronic albums of the last decade have come from Jon Hopkins, and following 2018's Singularity comes a new album next month titled Music for Psychedelic Therapy. This isn't a single but an excerpt combining parts of the album, and it sounds incredibly promising. Sure to be a highlight of next month, if not the entire year.
New nothing,nowhere Single
2000's era pop punk is back courtesy of nothing,nowhere. Building off the back of his Trauma Factory album from earlier this year, it's another accessible song that aside from some modern production blemishes feels like it could fit inside the era it's aping. Unusually optimistic and romantic for a nothing,nowhere. track, it's a pleasant single.
New Spoon Single
Spoon have had some pretty great longevity to them and this track doesn't really see them slowing down approaching a new album this coming February. Shades of Queens of the Stone Age can be felt withy this but with the typical swagger that Spoon occupy being present. It's a good track and I'm sure the album will be a nice treat next year!
New Hippo Campus Single
We just got a really nice little EP from Hippo Campus last month, but now there's a third LP from the band coming next February of which this is the lead single for. Since their 2018 album Bambi they've been making some of the best indie-pop on the market and this track is only furthering that claim.
New A$AP Rocky Track
Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Rocky's debut mixtape LIVE.LOVE.A$AP comes a new track that blends classic cloud rap production from MVP producer Clams Casino with Rocky's new flows and clever wordplay. It feels like a nice bookend to the 2011 project while also offering something fresh for us in 2021.
New Health x Poppy Single
DEAD FLOWERS continues HEALTH's streak of collaborative singles, this one is the second since compiling many of them into their project DISCO4. Poppy's voice works well with HEALTH's industrial production, it's not a totally unfamiliar sound for her to approach and so it's a good track. Has some good screaming from Poppy as well, this is a more experimental leaning track than anything on her last project.
New Limp Bizkit Single
Villains of nu-metal Limp Bizkit return and in that you might question how does a novelty band like Limp Bizkit survive twenty years past their peak? Well it's by embracing a new joke as frontman Fred Durst assumes a knowingly dorky, over the top "dad" persona since he dresses like this now:
While this single isn't particularly exciting, or even that funny, the general concept of Limp Bizkit returning as "dad-rockers" while still peddling nu-metal is amusing at its core.
New Mac Miller Track
Applied as a new bonus track for the streaming release of arguably the late Mac Miller's 2014 magnum opus: Faces. Fitting in with that mixtape's themes of mortality, this track is really nice. It sounds a bit like if Mac Miller was chosen to make a Bond theme, also a bit of a preview of his late-career move into more a indie style than hip-hop. Well worth a look, and the full Faces project is essential if you haven't already heard it.