Stream of the Crop: 4 New Albums for Heavy Rotation
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.
The Internet: Hive Mind
The most jittery song on The Internet's fourth LP is "La Di Da," in which frontwoman Syd, who is usually thinking about sex, decides to flex. "I'm draped in designer, wage with the lineup / Face it, I'm out of your league," she sings over Christopher Smith's snycopations. Maybe she just had to break up the easy narrative that we'd have got from the surrounding "Come Over" and "Stay The Night." Now established masters of muted, sexually-charged R&B, the five-piece seem even more coherent as a group after going away to work on their own projects over the past couple of years. So it's the little things that come through the sweetly delivered pillow-talk: the synth-trip interlude on "Next Time/Humble Pie," Patrick Paige II's stomping bass on "Look What U Started," the odd stumble that Smith's boom-bap-bap drums bring to "Bravo." But it's usually in service to stoned, entrancing melodies and lyrics that breeze right past innuendo without ever seeming corny. The notable exception is "It Gets Better (With Time)," a hazily heartbreaking ballad about overcoming. Syd could have handled that one Big Rube's guest spot, but Paige's rapped verse resonates. You can think about a lot of different things when you're lying in bed. —Alex Robert Ross
88Rising: Head In The Clouds
Apart, the artists who form 88rising’s art collective are singular in their approach, dominating their respective genres to the best of their ability. Together, they’re a little like the Power Rangers, assembling as one using their talents to build off one another. Their latest LP, Head in the Clouds, is an eclectic arrangement of nearly 20 songs, highlighting the best of Asia’s iteration on hip-hop and R&B. The project opens with "La Cienega," a duo between Joji and NIKI which sounds like a dream you don’t want to wake up from. Sprinkled throughout the tracklists are soft bops like “Midsummer Madness” and “Poolside Manor,” which feel airy, just as the LP’s title suggests. 88rising’s strength lies in their ability to adapt, while remaining completely themselves, and they do so seamlessly as they bob and weave through R&B, pop, and trap. Overall, the collectives feel like students of the game, as they take notes from Kanye’s production on “Red Rubies,” and capture the energy of Pharrell on “Let It Go.” But Rich Brian and Higher Brothers manage to drench their voice in rap’s Western melodies, even while accentuating their Indonesian and Chinese ancestry. With collaborations from 03 Greedo, BlocBoy JB, and Playboi Carti, Head in the Clouds has something for everyone. —Kristin Corry
Katie Ellen: Still Life
Katie Ellen’s debut album, 2017’s Cowgirl Blues, saw frontwoman Anika Pyle kicking against the traditions and norms that come with adulthood—namely, love, major life changes, cohabitation, and domesticity. She penned the anti-marriage anthem with "Sad Girls Club," a standout track that featured the defiant heartbreaker of a chorus: “Sad girls don’t make good wives.” On the Philly band’s new, five-song EP, Still Life, Pyle is still trying to wrap her head around these things[...] On opener "Lighthouse," Pyle reckons with warring thoughts—wanting to be brave enough to swim into life’s uncharted deep end, but feeling tied down by the anchor of fear and anxiety. Later, on the EP’s title track, she surrenders to the idea that love is more powerful and wild than our capacity to tame it: “You can’t make love stay / Do your best to hold it in place.” —Dan Ozzi, Hear Katie Ellen's Excellent New EP 'Still Life'
Bokeh Edwards / Jay Glass Dubs: Earth Two²
When there’s nothing left to burn, you must create a whole new world to set aflame. That’s the philosophy that Jay Glass Dubs and Bokeh Edwards—two DJs and multi-hyphenates with incredibly wide-ranging tastes—take on their new mixtape for the label Origin Peoples. There’s some legible forms and shapes (you’ll catch the vague gestures toward dubby structures and noise rock, among other genres), but the brilliance is that on each side of the tape—Bokeh on the A, Jay on the flip—they abstract familiar sounds into something different. They use, say, dreamy ambience and proggy pop songs and collide them with industrial rap beats and slow-moving electro-skittering that sounds like a cricket, copied and pasted and turned inside out. It’s world-building, plain and simple, taking things you know and placing them into new contexts. It’s a transmission from somewhere new, perhaps, as the title suggests, from Earth Two 2. —Colin Joyce
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