Stream of the Crop: 7 New Albums for Heavy Rotation

New project from Vic Mensa and Charlotte Gainsbourg top this week's list.

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Dec 15 2018, 11:08am

Every week, the Noisey staff puts together a list of the best and most important albums, mixtapes, and EPs from the past seven days. Sometimes it includes projects we’ve written about on the site already; sometimes it's just made up of great records that we want everyone to hear, but never got the chance to write about. The result is neither comprehensive nor fair. We hope it helps.

Vic Mensa: Hooligans

Vic Mensa is absolutely menacing on Hooligans. The production on the eight-song project lurks ominously, taunting you to join in on the world Vic has created. Vic is strangely obsessed with Hollywood’s 27 Club, as he notes his choice of drink is absinthe—not Heineken—on "Dark Things." "25, running out of time again / 27 club, how can I get in?" The Chicago rapper takes a break from the truly sinister energy of Hooligans on "The 1 That Got Away/No Shoes," featuring Charlie Wilson. "I do confess, I broke your heart Like a sledgehammer through the chest / Tryna be known in this music mess / I left the one that knew me best," he raps. Vic Mensa is all over the place, but it’s not hard to follow along. —Kristin Corry

Charlotte Gainsbourg: Take 2

Continuing the grayscale cinematics of her (incredible) 2017 album Rest, this short EP finds the French actor and musician again working in widescreen—taking dancefloor tropes and turning them into grand emotive gestures. With the producer SebastiAn again acting as a second set of hands (perhaps a DP?), Gainsbourg turns in three new lush, dramatic, artfully rendered originals that prize symmetric mise-en-scene and mood lighting. There’s also a swooning version of Kanye’s “Runaway,” a gritty remake that’s better than it has any right to be. —Colin Joyce

Kodak Black: Dying to Live

Kodak Black has been through some shit. His sophomore album, Dying to Live, gives a panoramic view of the events leading up to the seven months he spent incarcerated earlier this year. "You know death around the corner and prison my next-door neighbor,: he raps on "Close to the Grave." It could sound hyperbolic but the biographical nature of songs like "Testimony" and "Transgression" suggest it's not. For each plea that insists he’s ready to change his life, there’s more bars of the temptation to stay the same. "Fresh outta jail, but don’t think I’m scared to go back," he says on "Identity Theft," a Miami-bass song dedicated to how good he is at fraud. One of Dying to Live’s most interesting moments comes when he eulogizes XXXTentacion on "Malcolm X.X.X, giving him the likeness of the civil rights activist. The song, which weaves speeches from Malcolm X, explores how problematic rappers can never truly escape their past. "You tryna change your life, but they won't let you," he raps. Dying to Live is Kodak’s attempt at fighting for his life. —Kristin Corry

Silent Servant: Shadows of Death and Desire

Silent Servant has made his name as a purveyor of darkness, but his work’s never been solely about gloom. For nearing on a decade, or more if you count the work he did as Sandwell District, Juan Mendez has proven himself one of the more ecstatic operators in the world of downcast electronic music—tracing luminous arpeggios across the pitch-black electro-scrapings and thunderous beats that make up most of his work. His new one— Shadows of Death and Desire—pushes even further in that direction. It’s raw, dry, and heavy, but there’s this sense of jittery joy that runs through even the most creeping moments. Sometimes you gotta turn the evil into energy. —Colin Joyce

Five Star Hotel: Open Wound

Five Star Hotel makes volatile music. Per Five Star herself, this record of distorted, digitalist noise-punk is about the trickiness of embodiment, the intertwined tendrils of joy and terror and love and hate that comes with having to be a person and inhabit physical space. She screams at a few different points some things that illustrate this—like on “Cock,” when she yelps something about tearing her skin apart, or on “Hexagoness Rising” when she punctuates a mostly indiscernible chorus with “I don’t know what the fuck is happening to me!” It is tough stuff, it’s not universally crushing. There are also moments like on “Hell Girlz Reunited” where she chants about wanting to persist over squirrelly arpeggiations and distorted kick drums. These are powerful emotions splashing and spilling into one another, and the results are explosive. —Colin Joyce, 31 Essential Records You Might Have Missed This Year

Gay Cum Daddies: Metal Beach

If you aren’t on board with the fact that a Denton, Texas, band of freaked-out noiseniks calls themselves Gay Cum Daddies, this probably isn’t music made for you. Their new record Metal Beach is a uniformly anxious collection of clattering, rambling, and moans coaxed from humble means. Guitars, bass, drums, a synth, and a sax or two make up the entirety of the credits here, but the sounds they wring from them is uniquely paranoid and overwhelming, a pummeling and scabrous force akin to playing three or four old AmRep records simultaneously. Even the bass and drums, the usual centers of gravity in the tried and true rock band format, are splatter-painted across the tracks here, making everything feel seasick and upsetting. Trust the tin, this one’s not for normies. —Colin Joyce, 31 Essential Records You Might Have Missed This Year

Zayn: Icarus Falls

Here we have an extra-long album from former One Directioner and steamily underdressed young man Zayn Malik. First line: "Sweet baby, our sex has meaning." Next song, in glass-shattering falsetto: "It feels so natural, natural / When we come together." If you can voluntarily make it through the 25 tracks that follow, let alone imagine yourself ever having sex again after hearing those words, you're a stronger person than me. —Alex Robert Ross

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