Mac Miller - The Divine Feminine: Ok I have to be real for a second… for the past few years, whenever I heard Mac Miller’s name, I had some straight up PTSD flashbacks. He put out one track last year with SYD and Thundercat I really fucked with, but I wasn’t proud to like it. Look, we all liked Mac Miller when we were fourteen and trying weed for the first time, but it feels like we all agreed to just repress any recollection of that…
The Divine Feminine, though, is a solid attempt at a drastic rebrand, as Miller experiments with soul music. “Dang!” featuring (more like starring) Anderson .Paak, was the first single to be released, and set the bar high. This track, along with “We,” featuring Cee Lo Green, had me embarrassed to say I was really excited for the new Mac Miller project. He’s going for a new sound, and honestly, I’m not mad at it.
If there’s one thing Miller gets right on this album, it’s the features. Other featured artists include Bilal, Kendrick Lamar, and Ty Dolla $ign. He got a diverse group into the studio, and the album is absolutely reflective of that. I will say, though, pretty much every thing I dig about this record has nothing to do with Mac Miller, himself. He’s not bad, but no one’s listening to “Dang!” to hear Mac Miller’s verse. The features steal the show, but again, I’m not mad at it! The production is gorgeous, the instrumentals are solid, and the record has a really good sound overall.
Can’t lie, though, some of the tracks on this really fall flat for me. “Soulmate” is pretty gnarly, and did anyone else hear this track he did with Ariana Grande? Not only are the lyrics brutal (and reminiscent of One Direction) but this shit reminded me of when ODB and Macy Gray did that duet together. Does anyone else remember when they covered “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” and Macy Gray sounded great, but ODB was just so out of his element, he sounded like a fucking clown trying to keep up? It’s kind of like that. (ODB is still a legend though, don’t get it twisted)
Overall, this album is funky, but it’s not groundbreaking. Mac Miller is not by any means my favorite rapper, but there are some really solid tracks on here. From the production to the beats to the features, Mac Miller’s doing something right. Maybe he should try his hand at producing? I don’t know. But, I do know that for someone that swore off Mac Miller for a solid 8 years, I’m interested to see where he’s going. ZOE
RIYL: Bilal, Anderson .Paak, Donnie Trumpet
Recommended Tracks: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 10
Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial: Teens of Denial represents the 12th studio album created by the multitalented musician Will Toledo. Car Seat Headrest represents the final form of Toledo’s artistic vision, a vision that he spent four years developing independently before his act became worthy of a permanent title and backing band. Online sources label the group as “lo-fi,” which might be based on older material that I haven’t heard. Lo fi is definitely present in doses on Teens of Denial, but the main genre of the record is Strokes-style indie rock. The resemblance to the Strokes is almost excessive at times - there are songs on here that could straight up be written by the other band. However, Toledo manages to make the sound just enough his own that the record feels once again groundbreaking, as opposed to something we’ve already heard. While the album contains heavier moments of noise and distorted guitar, for the most part it’s extremely easy to listen to. You could play these mellow, catchy guitar progressions in any situation! If you only listen to one song, try “Vincent,” which over the course of eight minutes takes one on an emotional and exciting indie odyssey. CHRISTIAN
RIYL: The Strokes, Courtney Barnett, Dinosaur Jr.
Recommended Tracks: Vincent (2), 1937 State Park (7), Fill in the Blank (1)
Qween Beat - Qweendom: KXSC electronica brings you our second ballroom add of the season. Qweendom is a compilation from the collective Qween Beat, a NYC-based group of DJ’s, producers, MC’s, dancers, etc. from the ballroom world. With heavy-weights MikeQ, Byrell the Great, and (my personal favorite) LSDXOXO on the release, the album is basically a guide to today’s best and most relevant ballroom producers.
The variety in the tracks is pretty broad. “Manko Backpack” from Koppi Mizrahi and Princess Precious is probably the fiercest, most ballroom-ish track on the release. It goes really hard. LSDXOXO also has a great one here; “Dope Dick Dealer” is of a similar vein toFuck Marry Kill (N1), but more mellow and melancholy. And as ballroom descended from house, MikeQ’s “Get Sum” rounds the album out in that direction. If anyone know’s the “Icy Lake” rerelease Fade to Mind & Night Slugs put out two years ago, “Get Sum” is of that world. This is probably the first add I’ve done that actually has something for everyone, so definitely give this one a listen. CAMERON
RIYL: LSDXOXO, Le1f, MikeQ, Kingdom, Total Freedom, Kevin Aviance, etc.
Recommended tracks: 2, 4, 6 (<- LSDXOXO), 7, 9
Angel Olson - My Woman: This is probably the cheesiest thing I’ll ever write, but it’s true: Angel Olsen has the voice of an angel. Her voice is her sound: lo-fi indie rock. If you’re a fan of ethereal vocals with a ton of vibrato and a hint of nostalgia, then look no further than this album. It’s filled with moody songs about love, being alone, happiness, pain, and growing up. This album starts off a bit differently than her last one, Burn Your Fire For No Witness in that she uses more synth sounds, like on the song “Intern.” My favorite song on the album is “Shut Up Kiss Me,” and it’s been stuck in my head all week (in a good way!). The music video features Angel Olsen in a silver wig skating around a roller rink. The second half of the album features longer songs that are more tender and ballad-like. Get ready for all the #sadgirls to learn “Pops” on piano. I gave up piano in the 6th grade but tbh this song makes me want to re-learn and play it in the campus center at night and cry.
Go see her on Valentine’s Day at the Wiltern with your special someone (or go by yourself and cry about being alone)! CHRISTINA
RIYL: Karen O, Courtney Barnett, Sharon Van Etten, St. Vincent, Fleetwood Mac
Recommended tracks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10
He Dahe - Bulletin Board: Over my many years of music listening, I've developed a sense of taxonomy with regards to how people get music. I've seen it fall into two categories: active and passive. Active listeners "actively" seek out music and musical experiences, while passive listeners are content to let music find its way into their lives. There is almost assuredly variance in between, and you can be both, but generally it's easier to taxonomize this way. I regard myself as an active listener, but sometimes great music just falls into my lap, which is how this record came into my possession.
The artist behind He Dahe, himself a USC student, came in and quietly dropped his record off with our station. Very rarely do people even find our station (as we are quite off the beaten path), so I made an effort to listen to it as soon as possible. Turns out it's some of the best folk music I've listened to in recent memory.
From Wuhan, China, He Dahe is the folksy solo project of a Business Administration student. Most information on him is written in Mandarin and therefore difficult to interpret for non-Mandarin speakers. The inaccessible persona that it inevitably generates fits his music to a T: it's unapologetically Chinese. During our brief talks, he mentioned to me that he uses specifically Chinese chord progressions for that reason in his music. I suppose that's part of the reason why I'm so drawn to it: the keys and melodies that he uses are entirely alien to me.
This music is the equivalent of sitting outside on a balmy fall evening with a cup of something hot and just watching the leaves fall from the trees. When I initially heard this, those were my first impressions. They were not far off the mark, either: He Dahe concerns his songs largely about natural themes, which were brought to his mind about both his time in China and abroad. Exceptional playing ability, combined with his very personal vocals really make the album shine in many places. There are a few accompaniments, but they really make the songs sound fleshed out. SEAN
RIYL: Nick Drake, Jeff Buckley, fog, being wrapped in a warm blanket, skywatching, feeling pleasant
Recommended tracks: 1, 2, 4
De La Sol - And the Anonymous Nobody: It’s been 14 years since the last De La album, Grind Date, and 27 years since their debut album — certified banger and hip-hop classic, 3 Feet High and Rising. Back in the day, 3 Feet High was a trip. The whole album carried a bohemian, playful, type of sound that didn’t really mesh with the rest of the hip-hop landscape at the time, full of gangsta rap from the West, or hardcore East Coast type of joints. De La, on the other hand, was over here sampling Hall and Oates, or Johnny Cash. They also essentially pioneered the “hip-hop skit” and often had funny little sketches for interludes between songs. This was some real hippie type shit namsayin?
Comparitively, ...And the Anonymous Nobody doesn’t sound so fun and dance-y. It’s a little depressing actually. Don’t mean it’s bad tho. De La Soul has been around for almost 30 years. Compared to the carefree nature of 3 Feet High, De La seems to have had a lot of shit on their mind the past few years. This shit comes off introspective, reflective, and, well... fuckin’ grown. Like a bunch of old dudes sitting on their lawn reminiscing about how tight it was back in the day.
Anonymous Nobody is chock full of soulful type boom-bap joints. It’s not the shit you can really dance to anymore. They flow is no longer so enthusiastic— but morose and jaded. Of course, some of their old selves shine through from time to time. Peep “Snoopies” feat. Talking Heads’ David Byrne, or “Trainwreck”. The album got features from old heads like Pete Rock, to new heads like 2 Chainz, and non hip-hop acts like Little Dragon. Damon Albarn kills it on here too.
Shit’s tight. I promise. Just makes me a little sad, feel me?
I choke the blood outta felt tips. Heavyweights up to the front if the belt fits. JAISON
RIYL: A Tribe Called Quest, Gorillaz, Common
Recommended Tracks: 1, 2, 5, 12, 14, 16, 17