New Music 7/5/19

It’s week 27 of ’19. While the start of the summer put forth some great and major releases, this week is the second slow one in a row. Either way, I’m still downloading records on Tidal based on name recognition or album covers that intrigue me, only. Some artists I have a history with and some I’ve never heard of. This is how I discover as I trek through the new music landscape.

Song of the Week: Devin the Dude, “I’ll Say Anything”
  • Album: Machine Gun Kelly – Hotel Diablo
  • Previous knowledge: The recent battle tracks between him and Eminem and the fact that he was Tommy Lee in The Dirt.
  • Review: MGK is influenced by both rap and rock groups, so it’s no surprise that both of them are featured on his 4th album. He’s got trap songs like “Burning Memories” which features another white trap artist named Lil Skies, he’s got songs where he tells stories over mid-tempo beats (very much Eminem-like) such as “Glass House” and he’s got rock songs like “Hollywood Whore.” The latter track is kind of a tribute to both Nipsey Hustle and Chester Bennington and sounds exactly like Linkin Park’s “Numb” (so much so that I would have expected there to be a sample in there but there’s nothing credited as such). The closing track (“I Think I’m Okay”) is probably the best of the tracks on the record, more of a rock song featuring Yungblud singing and Travis Barker on drums, MGK’s rap is pretty subtle and almost sung as well. In reality, Machine Gun Kelly should probably focus on the rock edge of his music and skip the trap, as it would surely make him stand out a bit in 2019.
  • Rating: 7.5/10
Machine Gun Kelly, “Hollywood Whore”
  • Album: Jaden – ERYS
  • Previous knowledge: All his music
  • Review: As much as Jaden Smith would like to distance himself from his Fresh Prince of Bel Air dad, that’s completely the reason I started listening to him in the first place. I would have never given Will Smith’s son one moment in my ears without the lineage. But now, I listen because he’s a weird dude and you never really know what direction he’s going to next. Even just how his albums begin is kind of weird. His first album (SYRE), started out with four tracks “B” “L” “U” and “E” while EYRS (his middle name backwards) starts out with “P” “I” “N” and “K.” In both cases, all four tracks play like a suite of varying styles from trap, to rock to a dark alt-rap. He’s shown he’s pretty versatile as well as “Summertime In Paris” is a pop song with his sister Willow and the oddly named “i-drip-or-is” is a bass heavy trap tune. Jaden has stated that he likes to experiment with things and that’s always the most interesting thing about him. I don’t know that it’s ever going to lead him to success but at least we haven’t see “Wild Wild West 2” yet from him. So that’s something.
  • Rating: 7/10
Jaden, “Summertime in Paris”
  • Album: Dreamville presents Revenge of the Dreamers III
  • Previous knowledge: various guest spots by J. Cole.
  • Review: Dreamville is the label started by rapper J. Cole and his Manager that is home to a bunch of rappers that I’ve never heard of before like Bas, J.I.D., Cozz and singer Ari Lennox among others. The first two of these comps were more concise albums – 11 tracks on the first and 9 on the second – while this one is 18 long. The first two albums featured one or two of the artists on Dreamville on each track while this one features up to nine with guest rappers that aren’t on the label at all. It seems that more than 100 people were summoned to the studio during a 10-day period in which the clan recorded 120+ songs and narrowed it down to the best 18 for this comp. It would be interesting to hear the 100+ that didn’t make it to understand the quality of what hit the cutting room floor but these 18 are pretty solid across the board. Highlights of this comp include “Self Love” one of two songs led by the soulful singing voice of Ari Lennox and “Down Bad” one of the singles from the album featuring a half dozen of the artists on the label including J. Cole. Overall, it’s a decent mix of hip-hop and actually listenable trap.
  • Rating: 8/10
Dreamville, “Down Bad”
  • Album: Devin the Dude – Still Rollin’ Up: Somethin’ to Ride With
  • Previous knowledge: First three records from 1998-2004 and Suite 420 in 2010
  • Review: Devin the Dude is a chill motherfucker and has been his entire career. He’s varied between smooth southern rap and g-funk but he’s always had this laid back old school vibe to his style and that’s no different here on his 10th solo album. From the first beats of lead track “You,” to the last weed filled track, “The Doobie Drop” you can simply shut your eyes and enjoy this one. Now and then it takes an old school artist like Devin to keep me interested in rap. I’m not sure there’s much place in this climate for an album like this, especially with young kids but grown men that grew up listening to Devin, Too $hort, MC Breed, E-40 and others, should by all means still embrace this because quality records of this style of old school rap are few and far between right now.
  • Rating: 9/10
Devin the Dude, “Plates of Ramen Noodles”
  • Album: Abbath – Outstrider
  • Previous knowledge: The lone other Abbath album plus everything from Immortal (Tidal catalog #83)
  • Review: After a couple decades of working with his partner in crime Demonaz, creating grim, frostbitten black metal records with some ridiculously over-the-top cover art in the legendary Immortal, they split ways back in 2015. Abbath formed his own group which had released one pretty solid record back in 2016. So this is album number two and guess what it sounds like. Of course, it sounds like Immortal. If Abbath is going to continue to make black metal, then I’m not sure he’ll ever be able to shed that signature sound, no matter what band members he brings along, as long as he’s writing the tunes. And really, why would he want to? He spent decades building up the Immortal catalog and brand into a juggernaut, so it makes sense to continue the same sound into his “solo” career. And to that point, there’s nothing wrong with this album at all – it’s 100% what you’d expect.
  • Rating: 9/10
Abbath, “Harvest Pyre”

Albums ranked 10/10 so far in 2019 (ordered only by release date)

  1. Terror Jr. – Unfortunately, Terror Jr
  2. Emily King – Scenery
  3. Good Fuck – Good Fuck
  4. The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of Reality
  5. UB40 – For the Many
  6. Griz – Ride Waves
  7. Pup – Morbid Stuff
  8. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
  9. Howard Jones – Transform
  10. Mavis Staples – We Get By
  11. Prince – Originals
  12. Yeasayer – Erotic Returns
  13. Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real – Turn off the News (Build a Garden)
  14. Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Servants of the Sun
  15. The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger

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