Stream of the Crop: 9 New Albums for Heavy Rotation
New projects from Earl Sweatshirt, Meek Mill, and The 1975 top this week's list.
L: Stephen Taylor via Orienteer
R: Shareif Ziyadat/Getty Images
Every week (except for last week), the Noisey staff puts together a list of the best and most important new albums, mixtapes, and EPs. 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. This week, we've got a bumper edition with the few records we missed over Thanksgiving. The result is, as ever, neither comprehensive nor fair. We hope it helps.
Earl Sweatshirt: Some Rap Songs
Earl Sweatshirt has said he called his new album Some Rap Songs because he’s “obsessed with simplifying shit,” which is a noble goal in a complicated existence. Trouble is, the record itself isn’t so simple. From the surface, it looks to be just a few glitched and twisted loops interlocking together, with Earl cautiously chatting over top in a way that can often be described as agnostic to the existence of the beat. But these humble descriptions betray that this is a record of great complexity, of elegantly crafted lines detailing those hard to untangle thoughts about the stresses and satisfactions of being alive in a world so overwhelming as ours. The lines that keeps sticking in my head is on the first song “Shattered Dreams,” when he quietly mumbles “Why ain’t nobody tell me I was bleeding?” It captures so much about the long-term effects of getting scratched up by the world. You get numb. —Colin Joyce
Meek Mill: Championships
Championships opens with a Phil Collins sample. Is there much else that I need to say about this record? I guess the fact that it might be the best project that Meek Mill has ever released. The internet’s all caught up on that JAY-Z verse—which is one of the best Hov verses we’ve heard in quite some time—but the celebration should be Meek finally finding himself. Championships is the Philly rapper’s most nuanced and complete project; he sounds fuckin' great. The moral of the story is that life is long and if you ever lose a rap beef to a Canadian, just keep your head down, stay focused, and you'll rise up and be better than ever. —Eric Sundermann
The 1975: A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
The campaign for The 1975’s third album, out now, has spanned five months and as many advance singles. The songs presented to fans so far provided a vague roadmap of the LP’s major themes – modern life, love, addiction. As such, this is a big album in a way that little other mainstream music this year has been: its topics are intense and overarching, its experimentations with genre are extensive and its tracklist long. The album's towering ambition is startling, and through its boundless self-confidence, it offers its listeners something very unusual indeed: something to believe in. —Lauren O'Neill, The 1975's New Album Is a Hopeful Chronicle of Our Times
Jeff Tweedy: WARM
Tweedy is releasing this, the 18th album in a two-decade-long career, on the same day as his autobiography, Let's Go (So We Can Get Back). WARM clearly isn't supposed to be a companion piece in the truest sense—there's no direct, anecdotal autobiography on these sweet, pared-down, country-tinged songs—but it's enough to send me to a non-Amazon online retailer in search of the book. After all, maybe there's something more to this: "Once upon a time I was a Christian / I didn't know I didn't need to know / Now when the sky speaks I'm going to listen / And when it's pissing I'll just figure I'm alone." —Alex Robert Ross
umru: search result
Spare us your cynical dystopias. Yeah, yeah the computers are going to kill us. Of course they are. Until then though, consider all the amazing shit that’s come from them—all the new universes its allowed us to access, the ways they’ve rewired us for the better. The producer umru’s new EP for PC Music feels in line with this way of thinking about the digital world. It’s six songs aren’t utopian exactly—but they are full of color and life. They’re full of these intricate arpeggios and vibrant bits of sound design, all of which overlap and shine like thousands of gleaming pixels coming together to make one hi-res image. Even the one called “Heat Death,” which features a mutated vocal from Banoffee, doesn’t really sound like that much of downer. It relies on this lilting chorus that goes “keep the things you cherish close,” a reminder that the digital sphere can allow for connection and intimacy amid the chaos of the world around us. This probably shouldn’t be that surprising of a sentiment though, it’s coming from an artist who once played a music festival on a Minecraft server. —Colin Joyce
Clouds: Heavy the Eclipse
There’s some sort of post-apocalyptic Blade Runner text-adventure-looking website that goes along with Clouds’ Heavy the Eclipse, but you don’t need that ephemera to know it sounds like the end of the world. It’s unrelenting cyberpunk techno trash, all prickly grayscale ambience and blunt electronics, stabbed into cyborgian flesh. It’s heavy and harrowing, a vision of a future that feels ever closer by the day. This is what it sounds like when the corporations win. —Colin Joyce
Oneohtrix Point Never: Love in the Time of Lexapro
Daniel Lopatin takes a break from his mytho-theories about the cyclical nature of the universe for an EP of oddities, even by his standards. The title track’s a blunted Valley of the Sun revision. Ryuichi Sakamoto provides a rework of Age Of’s “Last Known Image of a Song” that’s subtly fragrant, like tossing a few drops of lemongrass oil in a dehumidifier. “Thank God I’m a Country Girl” is a jittery space western. But the real standout is the new version of “Babylon” with the songwriter Alex G, who isn’t the first character you’d expect to float through OPN’s alien universe. But it works. His take is blunt, small, and paranoid, confronting the end of days with a grimace in a quiet room. —Colin Joyce
Capital Punishment: This Is Capital Punishment
A recap, for those of you who missed it: Ben Stiller (that Ben Stiller) used to play in a post-punk band on the Lower East Side back when he was a teenager. Thirty-odd years on, every member of the band has something else going on—Kriss Roebling is a documentarian, Peter Swann is an Arizona Court of Appeals Judge, and Peter Zusi is a Professor of Slavic Studies at UCL. After re-releasing their obtuse debut, Roadkill, earlier this year, they decided to sketch out some new music, and this is the result. The re-recorded "Confusion," an oldie, still cuts some strange, Devo-drawn angles, but the rest of the record seems like the sort of step forward that you'd expect after, well, 30 years away in a new life. "Grey and Illuminate," in particular ("A little bit older now / A little bit bolder now") is wavy and goopy, but the real winner is "Shannon Rose," a glorious mess of a song that just wants to rush to the chorus and rock out in the most lip-curlingly, pleasingly middle-aged way possible. —Alex Robert Ross
Various Artists: A Thousand Tones Volume 2
This compilation—pulled together by Natasha Home, a Florida-based musician who makes shimmery synth pieces as Sunmoonstar—offers an absurd wealth of visionary, mystic music. The 42 different contributors—none of whom are men, for what it’s worth—offer all sorts of different takes on quietly ecstatic electronic music, each distinct from the last. Some highlights include: the prismatic low-key pop of Wizard Apprentice’s “Pass The Inside Of My Mouth,” the distant drones of Teasips “Even And Or The,” Home’s own colorful synth piece “Derecho,” and Sophiaaaahjkl;8901’s kaleidoscopic glitches. But it almost feels like an injustice to single out those songs—every single project represented here is full of joy and life. It’s a lot to listen to in one sitting, but treat it like a buffet. Fill your plate, then when you’re ready to have your mind blown again, come back for more. —Colin Joyce
Follow Noisey on Twitter.