Stream of the Crop: 9 New Albums for Heavy Rotation
New albums from Lil Peep and Smino top this week's list.
L: Edward Berthelot /Getty Images
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.
Lil Peep: Come Over When You're Sober Pt. 2
The first posthumous collection of Gustav Åhr's music is, inevitably, eerie. The tragedy he embraced on every song before his death at the age of 21 now comes across as foreshadowing—"Break my bones but act as my spine / Wonder who you’ll fuck when I die," he sings on "16 Lines"—and it makes Come Over When You're Sober Pt. 2 a difficult listen that will, paradoxically, comfort his millions of fans. The tacked-on XXXTentacion "collaboration," "Falling Down," here as the penultimate song, is an uncomfortable fit on a record that's otherwise been so meticulously arranged by producer Smokeasac and Peep's mother, Liza Womack. But "Sunlight On Your Skin," a real collaboration with Peep's friend ILoveMakonnen, just about washes it away. More than any other song here, it proves that Åhr was destined for mainstream success—and he'd have done fascinating things with it. — Alex Robert Ross
Smooth, fun, and inventive, this Chicago sing-rapper's second album makes for one of the more rewarding hour-long rap releases of the year. The jazz and soul influences—mostly courtesy of frequent collaborator Monte Booker—give Smino a diverse palette to mess with, and he throws his voice around with abandon. Three days after its release (and, seriously, more artists should release albums midweek—it's a great way to stand out from the pack), I'm still replaying the Dreezy collaboration, "FENTY SEX," which somehow sounds romantic despite being horny as hell. Maybe it's the complete absence of misogyny on Smino's verse. Or maybe it's Dreezy hilariously checking herself when she raps: "It's just that I love the D / I mean, I love you, baby." — Alex Robert Ross
Charles Bradley: Black Velvet
Charles Bradley, the now-departed soul singer and one-time James Brown impersonator who only late in life gained the reputation his charisma deserved, would have turned 70 earlier this week. Black Velvet comprises ten previously unreleased songs recorded with his longtime producer, Tommy Brenneck. It's a wonder that the bright "Can't Fight the Feeling" and aching "I Feel a Change" never saw the light of day, but the real revelations come in the form of covers. His version of Nirvana's "Stay Away" is practically unrecognizable, but it stands on its own two broken feet. His version of Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" crackles more than enough to skirt sentimentality. All in all, a handsome tribute. — Alex Robert Ross
[Grapetooth is] a contender for one of the best Chicago releases of the year. Party anthems sit alongside doomy synth ballads about death—and that’s before you get to “Together,” a Kris Kristofferson-style drinkin’ anthem sung by Frankel and Bailoni in twangy unison and punctuated by wild whoops and yee-haws. And then there’s “Hangover Square,” a jangly New Romantic jam whose lyrics were inspired by a 17th century poem, penned by one Sir John Suckling, that Frankel found in the preface of a book in their apartment by the same title. “The poem completely fit the melody we already had in mind,” says Frankel. “It’s cool—it has words like ‘prithee.’” — Meghan Garvey, Grapetooth Are the Last Fun Band Standing
Devi McCallion and Katie Dey: Some New Form of Life
Devi McCallion loves God. That’s what her friend Katie Dey says. It’s a joke, I’m pretty sure, but it’s hard to tell entirely how I’m supposed to take it, based on the brief email exchange I’ve had with the two of them in the last couple of days as they ready the release of their collaborative album Some New Form of Life. They were explaining the background of one of the record’s standout tracks “No One’s in Control”—a sweet, swirling song that’s about the fear of living a life with no one at the wheel—which swiftly transitioned into McCallion articulating a sort of cosmic death wish. — Colin Joyce, Devi McCallion and Katie Dey’s Album Makes the End of the World Sound Fun
Jeff Goldblum: The Capitol Studios Sessions
Look, we can't all sit here and pretend that Jeff Goldblum, noted zaddy and seemingly very nice chap, has made one of the best jazz records of the year. Those in search of groundbreaking work in the genre should start with new projects from Makaya McCraven, Javier Santiago, Kandace Springs, Nyeusi, and Kamasi Washington. But The Capitol Studios Sessions, Goldblum's debut as a pianist at the age of 66, is a charming, hyper-competent, and very enjoyable piece of work. Imelda May and Haley Reinhart blend in nicely, the duet with Sarah Silverman on "Me and My Shadow" is, naturally, hilarious, and there's a good-heartedness running through the live recording that's hard to resist. Pretty much everyone you know would be stoked to receive this for Christmas. So buy it for them. Or buy it for me. — Alex Robert Ross
Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers: Bought to Rot
Though their differences are stark, [Deftones and Against Me!] do have some common ground. They’ve both staked out lengthy careers full of artistic risks and sonic reinvention. For Deftones' third album, 2000's White Pony, they looked to break free from the rap-rock palate they developed on their early efforts, 1995’s Adrenaline and the more experimental Around the Fur in 1997. Hailed as the band's masterpiece, White Pony showcased their diverse tastes, adding the Smiths, trip-hop, and Sade as their influences, and broke free from nu metal comparisons. Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace can respect that. Her band has subverted expectations at several turns, even at the risk of pissing off her most hardcore supporters. Her new album, Bought To Rot, is another new adventure in her catalog. Her first record as Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers, the eclectic and excellent LP takes more cues from Gainesville legend Tom Petty than any punk act she grew up with. — Josh Terry, Laura Jane Grace Listens to Deftones: “Are These Guys Actually Nu Metal?”
Félicia Atkinson and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma: Limpid as the Solitudes
In each of their solo works, this intercontinental duo knows the value of small gestures, making minimal melodic changes or mundane field recordings feel monumental. Together though, their work is a personal document of their long distance friendship; they call these pieces “postcards.” There are droning synths and stacked harmonies, but most of the sounds they use are less dramatic, the sort of stuff that’s woven into everyday life: a creaky door, the sounds of a busy street, wind distorting a cell phone microphone. A lot of ambient music can feel escapist or enveloping, something to overwhelm the chaos around you, but Limpid as the Solitudes has a slightly different feeling. It instead asks you to throw open the blinds, open your front door, and really listen—and then try to tell a friend what your world sounds like. — Colin Joyce
Jana Winderen: Spring Bloom in the Marginal Ice Zone
It is too late to save the arctic. This is a fact related with casual devastation by the ecological researcher Carlos Duarte in an interview that accompanies the new CD by field recordist and sound artist Jana Winderen. So consider these sounds a document of dawning dystopia. Spring Bloom in the Marginal Ice Zone is composed of the sounds of a spring algal bloom that forms the basis for the energy of all arctic life after long winters, as well as the sounds of the fauna that allowed to flourish as a result. There’s fluttering birdsongs, the brassy underwater calls of sea mammals, and the cracks and splashes reproducing fish, among all sorts of other rich sounds of life. It’s vibrant, but there’s something about it that feels ghostly, as if Winderen has arranged it in such a way to remind the listener that someday it’ll all go quiet. This is a battle that’s already lost, and we stand to lose so much more if we don’t take action now. — Colin Joyce
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