King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Nonagon Infinity: The Australian psych rockers are back in action with another full length release in Nonagon Infinity. Looking back at the group's discography, one would be hard-pressed to call them just psychedelics. Each album changes and blends rock genres to create vastly different works. Their last full release Paper Mache Dream Balloon was full of acoustic guitar, folksy singing, and "feel good" vibes all around. Oddments before that tried so many different things it played out like an acid trip- jumping from one place to another. 2013's Float Along - Fill Your Lungs similarly refused to sit still, careening aimlessly from track to track. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have had 9 full length releases in the last 5 years; their output is sweltering, but Nonagon Infinity stands tall as their most refined and concise work.
For any of you who have seen Mad Max - Fury Road I want you to remember the moments in that film that did not have any dialogue; the moments where vehicles and humans were as fast and reckless as possible. Waves of flame and machine crashing against each other as human lives evaporated between the two. Now, don't get me wrong Junkie XL and George Miller chose great, great music for the film, but Nonagon Infinity would have fit right in at any of those moments without any change in tone or pace. Here, watch this adrenaline overdose of a scene from Mad Max (make sure to mute it) and play People-Vultures by King Gizzard as the audio track. Fuckin' sick, right?
Nonagon Infinity provides a solid 40 minutes of this madness, and unlike some previous Gizzard works, it is consistently maddening from start to finish. King Gizzard is making some noise, and they're doing it intentionally. A final note about the album: use the loop-feature when listening. The final track, Road Train, transitions seamlessly into the first to create an endless infinite loop (finally a reason to use that loop feature) that can go on for however long as you can withstand. RAMIRO
RIYL: Pond, Ty Segall, Black Lips
Recommended Tracks: 4, 6, 9
6LACK - FREE 6LACK: If you haven’t heard of 6LACK (pronounced “black”) before, you’re not alone. He released his FREE 6LACK project at the end of 2016, and it seemed to get lost in the mix of every other major release in November/December (seriously, 2016 was wack, but we can all agree it was a great time for music, if nothing else). Either way, this album is mad unique, and I wanted to make sure it got its spot on the R&B wall.
The whole project is smooth, but it comes from a really raw and personal place. If you’re into dark, slowed down beats, with alt-R&B/rap vocals, you’ll dig it. Themes range from growing up in Atlanta to love and loss, label issues, homelessness, mental health, self-doubt, and ultimately survival. Shit’s heavy, but it’s real.
“Free,” is my favorite track, but the project really is playable all the way through. I’ve had it on repeat for a minute, and 6LACK is definitely someone I’m keeping an eye on this year. Dude’s got something different. ZOE
RIYL: Russ, Smino, Frank Ocean, Bryson Tiller
Recommended tracks: 1, 3, 4, 11
Migos - Culture: Trios in hip-hop have been done before, but they're definitely not a very common dynamic in the rap game. Off the top of my head: De La Soul, The Beastie Boys, The Fugees. All are at least over 20 years old. So, Migos has been a fun group to keep up with since YRN. Probably the most prominent hip-hop trip in the game today. I honestly can't name another that's still current. Migos is ill 'cause they're so goddamn good at ad libs. Word to motha someone is making some kinda sound effect every other bar, and it works every time, which is why everyone is listening to "Bad and Boujee" and "T Shirt." Quavo, Takeoff, and Offset can bounce off each other's energy really well and create bangers so easily.
...But, past the hype, there isn't really much there for me to be interested in. They're not as melodic as Young Thug or as dark as Future or as flowy as Gucci ("Slippery" was a slap tho). Culture was fun as fuck to listen to for its singles, but the album isn't getting another full listen through. Also, extra negative points for the DJ Khaled intro. They played themselves for that one. JAISON
RIYL: Gucci Mane, Young Thug, Future
Recommended Tracks: 4, 6, 12
The Regrettes - Feel Your Feelings Fool!: The Regrettes are a four-piece pop group with doo-wop punk vibes that add some good old nostalgic teen angst that has existed since the beginning of time. The first thing I noticed about this band is that they give exactly zero fucks, and I mean that in the best, most punk way possible! This album has a feminist “fuck you, patriarchy” ethos to it, reminiscent of the feisty lyrics of LA favorites Cherry Glazerr and Girlpool. Feel Your Feelings Fool! is their first full-length record.
Singer/songwriter Lydia Night drops some feminist truths throughout the album via punchy, tongue-in-cheek lyrics about teen girlhood. On “A Living Human Girl,” The Regrettes address ideal beauty standards for women, singing about pimples, stretch marks, periods, and greasy hair. On the song “Seashore,” she comments on issues like catcalling that #YesAllWomen deal with, singing things like “no, I won’t give you a little twirl…you can just go fuck yourself.” The song “Ladylike/ WHATTA BITCH,” starts with lyrics about all the things women are supposed to do, like “learn to cook…be dumb, clean the floors and wash your pores, be insecure, be a wife, cater to a man for the rest of your life.”
The entire album is full of attitude-packed feminist teen angst. Definitely worth a listen! CHRISTINA
RIYL: Tacocat, Slutever, Bleached, Hunx & His Punx, Chastity Belt, Shannon & the Clams
Recommended Tracks: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 12, 14
Gabriel Garzon-Montano - Jardin: So, if you’ve ever heard the music of Gabriel Garzon-Montano, it was probably in a Chipotle, since apparently the track “Keep On Running” from his debut EP Bishoune: Alma Del Huila receives consistent airtime in their restaurants around the country. I was a big fan of Bishoune, and since I had heard that he was supposed to release a new album this year via the illustrious Stones Throw label, I had pretty high expectations for the new record.
Montano’s unique sense of rhythm and melody permeate every song on this album, conveyed through his tasteful arrangements. The loose drums, dynamic keyboards, and quiment string sections fill the sonic space while still leaving ample room for Montano’s vocal melodies, harmonies, and other miscellaneous vocal sounds, resulting in a layered and inviting sound. This style works especially well on “Sour Mango” and “Cantiga.” “Crawl” was probably my favorite song off this project, featuring an incredibly catchy hook, as well as an intriguing music video. “My Balloon” near the end of the record is another standout tune, with an infectious melody plus a deep and truculent groove.
Lyrically, Jardin includes discussion on love, searching for a home, and “fitting in,” perhaps with respect to the music industry or our culture as a whole. Montano’s voice is captivating, with a distinctive tone and sense of phrasing. There’s a lot of depth to this album, both musically and lyrically, so I’m sure I’ll be coming back to it in the coming months. JATIN
RIYL: D’Angelo, Jordan Rakei, Electric Wire Hustle
Recc: 2, 4, 6, 8, 9