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Weezer - Pinkerton: This album is, honestly, almost perfect. The fact that most online music publications seemingly spent less effort reviewing Weezer's last album (which came out almost a year ago) than they did hoping that it would sound even remotely like Pinkerton is proof enough of the album's importance and near-perfection. But beyond the critical regard for this album, Pinkerton is much more important for its unparalleled relatability. I am 99% sure that everyone can understand Rivers Cuomo's (practically crippling) sexual frustration that oozes out of every lyric on this album; I am less certain, however, that all can completely empathize with his feelings of inadequacy and melancholy that color even the "happier," more upbeat songs on the album. Well, I can; there have been days, weeks, months when I have been so depressed that the only album I could listen to without getting uncontrollably upset was Pinkerton. Because Rivers gets me. (Also because I am a little crazy -- I highly recommend seeking psychiatric help if all music that isn't from Pinkerton makes you cry hysterically, just saying.) In a way, I feel like this album helped me continue to love music even when I did not really feel capable of liking anything, and although this album -- or any album, for that matter -- may not ever mean so much to any of you, you never know. Give it a chance. ASHLEY

RIYL: Pixies, Nirvana, Nada Surf

Recommended Tracks: All except for Butterfly (10) -- that song is a little too misogynistic and weird for me

Drake & Future - What A Time To Be AliveDrake and Future have both had really good years. Already hugely commercially successful, Drake's If You're Reading This It's Too Late was a hit among the masses as well as a non-radio-friendly album that solidified Drizzy as a serious artist and force to be reckoned with. Meanwhile, Future turned his breakup from Ciara into a string of completely fire mix tapes that received rave reviews from hip-hop heads and Pitchfork-reading hipsters alike. Both of these guys are rap superstars who are churning out exceptional bangers on their own, so this pairing is really a match made in hip-hop heaven. The huge amount of hype and speculation as to whether this album was even real leading up to its release is a testament to the power these two have. You could get into the details of it and compare it to these two's solo work but at the end of the day, this album is undoubtedly fire. Tbh, the internet can tell it better than I can...CAROLINE

RIYL: A$AP Rocky, Gucci Mane

Recommended Tracks: Plastic Bag (6), Diamonds Dancing (4), Jersey (11), Digital Dash (1)

PWR BTTM - Ugly CherriesPWR BTTM’s Ugly Cherries is a pop-punk ride that ends too early. In typical punk fashion, most of the tracks are a little over two minutes long. The band has the garage feel of Weezer or The White Stripes, but is not as loose and more clean. The band has generally been described as singing about “queerness, gender, and adulthood”. This album very much so lives up to that expectation, and is full of empowerment in doing so. In the song I Wanna Boi the singer discusses his desires to have a boy, one that is completely different from him. On the first track, Short Lived Nightmare, they proudly state, “I’m queerer than the brightest day.” In House In Virginia track they use the term, “Gaymazing.” Ugly Cherries is really an album to show how proud the band is to be gay and be who they are and I am in full support. Their look also supports this message. The members usually sport lots of makeup and lipstick. It’s good to see all of the self-love that comes from this band. Overall, the album is great and I think everyone should listen to it. HARRY

RIYL: Weezer, The White Stripes

Recommended Tracks: I Wanna Boi (3), West Texas(7), 1994(8)

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Youth Lagoon - Savage Hills BallroomThe dreamy, whispy, droning music of Youth Lagoon comes back in a spectacular and interesting project in his new album Savage Hills Ballroom.  The first song begins as you would expect, an airy atmosphere that feels like it’s deconstructing around you, and Trevor Powers, the man behind the music, sings in his falsetto in a way that feels ernest yet unsure.  Then bam, the drum beat kicks in and you’re plunged into this optimistic and even naive sounding music.   I feel like much of his music is like that from this to his older work like “17” on his debut album.  Throughout the album, there are interludes featuring a lonely piano and atmospheric synths sandwiched between driving rock songs that can make your sixteen year old self feel less emo.   It’s less psychedelic than his previous album Wondrous Bughouse and more clear than The Year of Hibernation.  It seems as he really is finding himself. DYLAN

Recommended Tracks: Officer Telephone, Highway Patrol Stun Gun, Doll’s Estate, Rotten Human, Kerry


RIYL: More distorted and psychedelic Justin Vernon, maybe Beach House?, Neon Indian (but wayyyy more low-key) 

Angel Haze - Back to the Woods: I did not expect this album to be nearly as fantastic as it is. Haze bricked it on their major label debut, Dirty Gold, but this is the album that I have been waiting for since their mixtapes. Angel Haze has been one of the best rising lyricists since their breakout tracks “New York” and “Werkin Girls” in 2012. On Back to the Woods the most obvious successors to those two tracks are “The Wolves” and “Babe Ruthless”, on which Haze draws parallels between themself and the persecution of Jesus. Not only does Haze showcase their fierce side, but also shows vulnerability on standouts “Moonrise Kingdom” and “The Eulogy”. Overall this album highlights every part of what makes Haze such an interesting figure in music often combining moments of complete darkness with glimmers of strength that make you want to cheer for them to win against their demons. KEN

RIYL: Nicki Minaj, Earl Sweatshirt, Tink, Eve

Recommended Tracks: “Impossible” (2), “On Fire” (3), “The Wolves” (4), “Moonrise Kingdom” (5), “The Eulogy” (8), “Babe Ruthless” (10), “The Woods” (13) 

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Lana Del Rey - Honeymoon: “We both know that it’s not fashionable to love me” – croons Lana over a cavernous silence accompanied only by the distant sounds of fingers sliding up the neck of an electric guitar. A violin joins in along with occasional cello and keys creating an eerily stripped down pop song where the silence plays as much of a role as the instrumentation. Whether or not LDR is the mastermind behind her music is largely irrelevant because, as most people fail to realize, LDR is not a real person, but rather a persona constructed by cultural mastermind Elizabeth Grant. Grant herself is something of a cultural prophet, as perceptive as J Tillman, but arguably more self-aware. With those opening lines of Honeymoon, we are hearing a rare cameo by Lizzy Grant herself, mocking the haters who still just don’t get it. The fact is that LDR’s albums are plush aural landscapes that appeal to our most base, pathetic tendencies. We’re all just self-loathing losers wallowing in our own self-pity and anxieties. Grant’s downtempo baroque pop odysseys are a forum for you to embrace your narcissistic reality and live out your pathetic fantasies. Yes Lana, I do want to “move to California and be a freak like [you] too”. I already tried it once. This is the SoCal gothic, the critique of the hipster era, the LA hipster in particular. The point is that YOU are Lana Del Rey. Just look at her lyrical references to decades past - “ground control to major tom”, “put on that hotel California”, “leather black and eyes of blue… like an easy rider”. One can only assume that she has an extensive collection of 70’s vinyl and a quirky taste in counter culture movies of the 60’s. Isn’t that just so unique and interesting? Like she is just so art deco, amirite?? I mean between that and her casual existential insights – “you are what you are” and “there’s only 24 hours in a day”, LDR is pretty much a musical version of your Instagram account. The last lyrical highlight comes from the track “Salvatore”: “Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah cacciatore. La-da-da-da-da limousines. Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah ciao amore. La-da-da-da-da soft ice cream”. This instant classic is reminiscent of the seemingly nonsensical references to obscure foods employed by lyrical genius Serj Tankien in such classics as “Vicinity of Obscenity” and “I-E-A-I-A-I-O”. Most of these tracks are just waiting for their dubstep/psytrance remix, but unfortunately Simon Postford is really sleeping on this shit. The last track is, in all honesty, an excellent rendition of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, the track originally performed by Nina Simone and made even more famous by The Animals. In closing, I encourage you all to ironically give this album a listen so that you too can be the quirky outlier who actually likes LDR. It will do wonders for your obscurity level.

Snoochie boochies from a bus somewhere in Slovakia. You can catch all the action at #instagram and snapchat.com.<3 <3 <3 SAM

AC/DC - Back In BlackThe music department had to drop a classic on you this week. AC/DC’s Back In Black is the second best-selling album ever in the world, kneeling only to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. When I think about what music might define piano as an instrument, I’d probably think about Mozart or Beethoven. But if I had five seconds to pick a record to show aliens what an electric guitar is, I know I would be putting on Back In Black. This is the Holy Bible of Power Chords. This record represents electric guitar in its purest form. It’s a quintessential masterpiece of heavily distorted riffs and raw vocals, supported by a foundation of simple but punchy drums and flawless bass work. I’m bummed AC/DC is Australian because I truly wish America could claim these hard rockers as part of our cultural heritage. CHRISTIAN

RIYL: Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Guns n’ Roses

Recommended Tracks: Hells Bells (1), Back in Black (6), Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution (10)