The Monday Rewind: New Album Releases 8-26-16

Every Monday, Ghettoblaster is looking back to new albums released the previous week.  Below you’ll find several albums released on Friday, August 26th that we believe are definitely worth a listen.

Vince Staples – Prima Donna EP (Def Jam Recordings)

Vince Staples and Kendrick Lamar are quite different talents, but in the same orbit and are probably the best two rappers currently making music. Last year Staples released Summertime ’06, his debut full length, which was only out shadowed by Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. This year, both Staples and Lamar have released EPs that seem to take the greatness of their previous releases and progresses their sound in fascinating ways.  Staples has always made music that is aggressively grimy and murky, yet never in an alienating way. He has somehow been able to keep his music incredibly accessible and challenging at the same time, which is quite a feat to accomplish, especially with hip hop music. Prima Donna somehow finds Staples pushing these conflicting aspects of his music to their limits, making this at times the most challenging and most accessible music he’s made to date. Although there are only six songs on the EP and it’s a short listen, Staples covers more sonic territory than most hip hop albums do in eighteen tracks. These beats are simply mind blowing from start to finish with some real artistic bangers going on. It’s an incredible EP from a real rising star in the hip hop world that simply can’t be missed.  words by Brian LaBenne

Red Pill – Instinctive Drowning (Mello Music Group)

Detroit rapper Red Pill’s sophomore MMG album is unlike anything we’ve heard from him in the past. While his first album Look What This World Did To Us was composed mostly of vintage samples referencing hip hop’s golden age, this record is more creative and daring. Producer Ill-poetic implemented a live band to give the record more physicality, jumping from rock to jazz to psychedelia, sometimes in the same song. In a way this is Pill’s magnum opus, his artistic breakthrough, and his most personal work to date. While his lyrics have always been comically dark, deprecating, and brutally honest dealing with issues of depression, alcoholism, and low self-esteem this record looks at them through a different lens. Reflecting on major life events such as the death of his mother due to substance abuse and wonders what that means for his future. He relates these issues to existentialism, and social and political topics, this record establishes Red Pill as a seriously deep thinker with big ideas. This is one of the most ambitious and interesting rap albums you’ll hear this year and maybe this century.

De La Soul – and the Anonymous Nobody (A.O.I. LLC)

The cover of De La Soul’s new album is awesome. There are two people on a stage in front of a mob of angry people. One of them says “What are you doing?  Nobody can stop them!” and the other person at the microphone responds with “I am nobody!” This cover is a great representation of what De La Soul’s music has always been: wittily empowering. and the Anonymous Nobody is a great hip hop album, even if it’s not totally a De La Soul album. Really it should be billed as “De La Soul and Friends” due to the sheer volume of guest features they have. The guests range from Jill Scott and Snoop Dogg to David Byrne and Damon Albarn, resulting in an album that makes you bob and scratch your head in equal measure. It’s an album that looks inward and outward, forward and backward all at the same time. It’s both inward and outward as De La Soul handled production on every track, yet recruited a diverse collection of artists to collaborate with. It looks both forward and backward as there are some really unique sounds to hip hop happening, yet it still has the old school heart of De La Soul. Overall, it’s just a joy to listen to, especially for old school hip hop fans yearning for new De La Soul material.  words by Brian LaBenne

Glass Animals – How To Be A Human Being (Caroline Records)

UK-based Indie-pop band Glass Animals first album, Zaba, is best described by it’s lead single “Gooey,” with dark, sexy grooves and Dave Bayley’s breathy vocals they seemed to be an Alt-J imitation. However, with their sophomore release they’ve breathed new life into the sound they toyed with on Zaba, and brought it to a whole new level.  Produced by the band under the guidance of veteran Paul Epworth (Grammy winning producer for Adele’ s “Rolling in the Deep) every song has exciting new sounds and elements backed by their signature primitive percussion. They reference many genres “The Other Side of Paradise” is reminiscent of Genuwine’s “Pony,” and “Poplar St.” has Red Hot Chili Peppers-esque guitar, songs are ornamented with samples and synthetic sounds adding subtle yet noticeable production value. Bayley tells vivid stories inspired by the myriad of people they encountered during their two years of touring, injecting his own experience and emotion into them. These songs examine relationships, whether it’s the absentee mother speaking to her abandoned son on “Youth,” the young man being seduced and torn apart by an older woman on “Poplar St.,” the dissapointed lover on “Pork Soda,” or the disgusted lover on, “Season 2 Episode 3,” this album really does ponder How To Be A Human Being. These stories play out like Tarantino Movies (probably intentionally as one of their past songs is called “Black Mambo”), they may not have happy endings (or beginnings or middles) yet the songs are surprisingly bright and insanely catchy. This album got me hooked on a band I didn’t really care about before, Zaba showed glimpses of what this band could be and How To Be A Human Being stares it in the face.
Motion Graphics – Motion Graphics (Domino Records) 

This year we’ve seen a lot of artists mixing digital and analog sounds to make their music dynamic. However, Joe Williams’ debut album as Motion Graphics sounds like a mixtape from a robotic dimension, the album art confirms this, bearing the image of a mechanical creature examining it’s own hand. The only sound on this album that isn’t made up of 1s and 0s is Williams’ voice, and even thought is often heavily effects laden. This album captures what the future might sound like and is intended to mimic the chaos of our tech-obsessed society. Often the compositions sound like a strange sort of machinery rising and falling, sometimes overpowering Williams’ vocals. Even the song titles sound like terms from a foreign, such as “Houzzfunction,” “Vistabrick,” and “Mezzotint Gliss.”  Not only is this album unlike any electronic music you’ve heard before, but is an almost prophetic caricature of the digital age.

Space Mountain – Big Sky (Dust Etc.)

Cole Kinsler is the deep, drawling voice behind the act Space Mountain.  For the past three or so years he’s been putting out solid folk-ish music and his most recent album, Big Sky, is probably his best.  Musically this is classic indie folk meets rock, which feels like it could have been recorded in the 90s.  It has a definite Pavement vibe going for it, but also has its own voice as well.  As good as the music is, Kinsler’s vocal performance is the main draw here.  It is deep and rich and at times registers so low its astounding that the human ear can hear it.  There are similarities between Kinsler’s voice and Stuart Berman from Silver Jews, or to a lesser degree Stephin Meritt from The Magnetic Fields.  Vocals and music combine in a glorious whole, resulting in a really solid indie-folk-rock album from a very good and criminally under-known artist you should really listen to.  words by Brian LaBenne

Banks & Steelz – Anything But Words (Warner Bros. Records)

Some of my favorite rap albums from the past few decades have some songs where the MC is killing it, the beat is fantastic, and then when we reach the chorus that standard song structure requires, and some singer (or sometimes the rapper themselves) spits out a mediocre chorus with sloppy rhymes. That is sometimes the case on this record, unfortunately that singer is indie-rock legend and Interpol frontman Paul Banks. However, this is not the case with every song, on tracks like “Gonna Make It” Banks’ vocals and songwriting shine. And just like the choruses on the albums from back in the day, they do grow on you and with each successive listen you come to love them for what they are. Now the other member of this group, Wu Tang’s RZA is at the top of his game. This album shows us a new side of both members, and it is especially apparent with RZA. While there is still some classic Wu-Tang fury, we see a more pensive and mature side to ol’ Bobby Steelz, with many songs about love and his family. On “Wild Season” he talks about how the birth of his daughter brought him back from a dark bout of substance abuse. Though the instrumentation is somewhat all over the place it works well with the new quirky style of these two, RZA himself said this is the strangest project he’s worked on (strange in a cool way). The guest list on this album includes Wu-Tang Clanmates Ghostface Killah, Masta Killa, and Method Man; Florence + The Machine’s Florence Welch; and rap legend Kool Keith. Despite it’s flaws this album is fierce, funny, and sometimes extremely insightful and powerful, from one of the most unique and entertaining rap-rock supergroups we’ve ever seen.