Gucci Mane - Everybody Looking: “Gucci” got out of jail this summer, and his robot clone dropped Everybody Looking this past July— and it’s pretty safe to say, it’s a slap. Shit is chock full of choice trap joints from the father of the subgenre himself. Shit is tonally consistent, full of dark and wavy beats courtesy of Mike Will Made it and Zaytoven. Both are pretty big producers in their own right and owe a large part of their success to Gucci.
Gucci excels at the catchiest hooks in existence, and an ear for flows that are hypnotic and fun to listen to. Everybody Looking features features Ye, Thugger, and Drake. GUWOPPPPPP! JAISON
RIYL: Basically any trap artist
Recommended Tracks: 2,5,7,12
Keef Mountain - Keef Mountain: Keef Mountain is an independent stoner metal duo from Kansas City, featuring a guy named Jake Hayde on guitar and Dillon Bendetti on drums. Jake and Dillon sound like they would be super cool dudes to jam with, identifying their musical influences as “Riffs, Booze, Drugs & Demon Warlords.” Besides marijuana, they seem strongly influenced by the band Sleep. Their songwriting abilities are actually pretty impressive, considering the writing process was described as, “We jammed, wrote songs, Jake almost died, awoke from a coma, relearned the songs, and now here we are.” Keef Mountain contains a very satisfying mixture of up-tempo heavy rock n’ rolling, in addition to slow, sludgy, kushy power chords. I love the incorporation of instrumental technicality and skill to a genre that is sometimes a little too vibe oriented. Keef Mountain may not have a large following right now, but this record definitely has the potential to make music at least a profitable enterprise for Jake and Dillon. I'd say they shouldn't quit their day jobs, but something tells me the guys in Keef Mountain are living off the land. CHRISTIAN
RIYL: Sleep, Belzebong, The Sword
Recommended Tracks: 2, 3, 5
Machinedrum - Human Energy: If you’ve heard any advertisement directed at white millennials or if you’re someone who actually listens to EDM (for either genuine or masochistic pleasure), you’ll already be familiar with Machinedrum’s sound pallet in Human Energy. The first track, “Lapis”, would have you believe this album is poking fun at EDM and instead reaching for a glitzier, more over-produced a la PC Music style release. The chords climb higher and higher, seemingly never actually reaching the top while the beats get quicker and fast as they approach the huge beat drop, which never actually happens. That’s a technical term, by the way. It quickly becomes apparent, however, that this is an album that wants to have a serious dialogue with the likes of Kygo and Chainsmokers. This is most apparent in tracks like “Angel Speak” and “Dos Puertas”. To be fair, it isn’t always like that. There are tracks that approach alt-club electronica similar to Rytmeklubben and Activia Benz; tracks like “Spectrum Sequence”, “Isometrix”, and ”Colour Communicator” fill that niche. The one track that is a real shocker on the release is “Etheric Body Temple”. It just starts with an electric organ playing organ music. Its basically organ music with a beat underneath it and it winds up working really well actually.
Overall, I guess its like a 6 out 10. Its very palatable material that most listeners will find enjoyable, but anyone looking for something with a degree of intellectual stimulation should look elsewhere. CAMERON
RIYL: Rytmeklubben, PC Music, “Tropical House”
Recommended tRax: 1, 9, 12, 15
Donny McCaslin - Beyond Now: So Donny McCaslin’s group (feat. Jason Lindner, Tim Lefevbre, and Mark Guiliana) has been known for a while now as one of the forebears of modern jazz, particularly for their 2012 release Casting For Gravity, as well as 2015’s Fast Future. These records really caught my ear through their engaging energy and unique drum and synth textures, as well as the complex compositions that have become McCaslin and Guiliana’s trademark. This sound can still be found on Beyond Now, particularly on the track “FACEPLANT”. Yet despite McCaslin’s prominence in the jazz world, the group’s previous album really wasn’t jazz at all: David Bowie’s Blackstar. McCaslin has spoken at some length about how special it was to be a part of David Bowie’s final record, and how that influenced him as a person and a musician. The Bowie influence manifests itself in several ways on Beyond Now: directly, through Bowie covers (“A Small Plot of Land”, “Warszawa”), and indirectly, through the more song-based sound that the band employs over the whole record. To quote drummer Dave King, each piece really feels like a “celebration of a song”, particularly “Bright Abyss”, Deadmau5 cover “Coelacanth 1” and closing track “Remain”. Additionally, I feel like McCaslin’s saxophone playing finds a new level of lyricism and emotion, while his compositions feel as though they have matured beyond simply challenging the listener intellectually to truly reaching out to the listener on an emotional level. Meanwhile, Lefebvre and Lindner seem to recreate the ethereal atmosphere of Blackstar through their transcendent and textural playing, and Guiliana brings an almost Dave King-like feel to several of these songs (especially “Warszawa”), through powerful, rock-inspired playing, while also bringing his characteristic, slightly off-kilter sound. I think that Beyond Now is a truly fitting tribute to Bowie: building on the sounds and songs that he helped to create, but at the same time continuing to innovate, experiment, and bring new ideas into the mix; I’m super excited to see where McCaslin’s group goes from here. Having been a fan of his work for several years now, I can honestly say that this is my favorite Donny McCaslin record to date, and I would highly encourage everyone to check it out. JATIN
RIYL: David Bowie’s Blackstar
Recommended Tracks: 4, 5, 7, 8, 9
BOYO - Control: BOYO is the indie rock project of LA musician Robert Tilden. Control is his first album under the name BOYO (Tilden previously had a band called Bobby T. & the Slackers while he was in high school). BOYO combines catchy beats, deep lyrics, jangly guitars, keyboard synths, and just the right amount of fuzz. One thing I like about this album is that every song is a totally different creative idea; you don’t get ten songs that all sound the same like on some newer bands albums.
It’s really cool to see one band combine so many different genres into one cohesive catchy album. For example, “Moombah” is more of a psych rock song, but the beginning of “Control” sounds more like folk rock. Tilden’s lyrics are powerful and chilling, especially on the dreamy album opener “See You When I Die.” He often mentions himself as a ghost, like on the song “Bones” where he sings, “my ghost won’t step on your toes so just let me go.” He talks a lot about going and leaving, which makes me ask what it is he’s trying to get away from. It’s probably the same thing a lot of us are trying to get away from: anxiety, depression, societal expectations, bad relationships, and people who don’t treat you well.
Tilden plays a lot with vocal effects, sounding fuzzy on “Won’t Shake,” and ghostly & falsetto on “See You When I Die” and at the end of “Alright”. I love every single song on this album! It’s pretty weird that the songs can be so catchy and fun but talk about serious topics like death, mental health, heartache, and breakups. “Bones” talks about being heartbroken, but at the end of the song Tilden tells himself what I think a lot of us tell ourselves whether we believe it or not: “but I’ll be just fine”. The music video for “Bones” which premiered on EarMilk.com shows a cartoon car driving off of a cliff as this lyric is being sung. CHRISTINA
RIYL: Mac Demarco, Winter, Tame Impala, Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Recommended Tracks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10
Jenny Hval - Blood Bitch: The XX are touring again, although the destinations are not the ones most U.S. fans may be excited for, Zagreb, Vilnius, Prague, Tokyo. . . While reading I noticed that the Eastern European tour dates would be joined by Jenny Hval as the headliner, and decided to look into her work. It’s always exciting hitting play on something entirely new and foreign, like playing the lottery, one that seems to be more forgiving than most others.
It’s odd how we find music, or how music finds us. At times we find it in reviews like these, recommendations from people who spend too much time searching for music, hoping to find a new gem we can share to the world. Receiving music from friends is also a joy, although for me gifting it upon others is what really gets me going. Finding music on ones one I think is the most splendid, it's an organic experience, being at the right place at the right time. I’m not entirely sure why this specific album evoked these thoughts, perhaps it’s because of how foreign and enjoyable it is, and how excited I was that someone somewhere might enjoy it too. I wonder if The XX feels the same way, the same joy of getting to elevate an artist in such a beautifully human way.
Jenny Hval hails from Oslo, and her music often evokes images of bleak nordic winter landscapes. Within the same vein that cold is contrasted by a special sort of warmth, like a cottage with a log fire that shields one from a blizzard. Blood Bitch is a sort of experimental folk that ties modern themes of societal isolation and confusions regarding one’s own subjectivity with the calming presence of a village hearth. The album’s abstract and poetic statements are transmitted with cinematic and brooding arrangements, her yearning vocals trickling like blood throughout the tracklist.
Conceptual Romance contains the majority of the central themes to the album, the pains of “abstract romanticism” as she puts it. Hval herself is a romantic, and acknowledges how shattered her life is as a result of it. Modern day romances tend to follow this oscillating path of pain and pleasure. The work also contains a very interesting commentary on the theoretical relationship between a female vampire and her menstrual cycle, I am admittedly not sure what to make of it. The tracks Female Vampire, Period Piece, and Untamed Region have a plethora of notable quotes that would take this twenty year old male a few more decades before really being comfortable formulating and sharing my thoughts on this aspect of the album.
Hval’s work will help keep you warm on these now colder L.A. nights. It will be strange, perhaps unsettling, but at it’s core, as warm as blood. RAMIRO
RIYL: Grimes, St. Vincent