Stream of the Crop: 13 New Albums for Heavy Rotation

A surprise debut LP from Playboi Carti, an unsettling album from Arctic Monkeys, and a candid record from Tee Grizzley top this week's list of essential new projects.
May 11, 2018, 4:37pm
L-R: Steve Jennings / WireImage; Rick Kern / WireImage; Prince Williams / WireImage

Every week, the Noisey staff puts together a list of the best and most important albums, mixtapes, and EPs from the week just gone. Sometimes that 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.

Playboi Carti: Die Lit

The debut LP proper from this hypnotic Atlanta rapper came out of nowhere late last night. The 19-track project covers more ground than last year's eponymous mixtape, and there's a rash of high-profile features to draw in the uninitiated. Those guest spots are as much a statement of 21-year-old Carti's own confidence though—Travis Scott, Lil Uzi Vert, Nicki Minaj are all visiting Carti's world, not dragging it into their orbit. Alongside Young Thug on the fleet-footed "Choppa Won't Miss" and Chief Keef on "Mileage," Carti barely even forms coherent thoughts, so certain is he that energy alone will pull things through. And he's mostly right, even if Red Coldhearted and Skepta's more pointed lyricism comes as a well-timed break. Creating a sound and style is half the job though and Carti's got that down (hat-tip to Pi'erre Bourne for that). He can take it pretty much anywhere from here. — Alex Robert Ross


Arctic Monkeys: Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, the band’s sixth album and first in five years, moves away from stadium riffs and pop-adjacent hooks and into a space that’s weirder, more insular, and, sometimes, verging on inhospitable. The album largely takes its cues from 70s lounge and chamber pop, and it gives in to the aesthetic wholeheartedly; of every Arctic Monkeys record, Tranquility Base is by far the most committed to its own particular mood. The first time I listened to the album, the feeling was that of being somewhere too clean and too artificially bright, like a hospital or a pokies lounge. There’s an unsettling chill to nearly every song, that kind of astringent, unwavering coolness that comes from being just a bit too high. The Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino isn’t a palace but a dive, a debaucherous, windowless gallery of failed ambition and lost hope where Turner has set up shop. — Shaad D'Souza, Arctic Monkeys Are Done Being Rock Music’s Saviors

Tee Grizzley: Activated

On [debut mixtape My Moment], he ran through the struggles of having neither of his parents around (his mom incarcerated and his father deceased), the falling-outs he had with friends around his own time of incarceration, and his vow to provide for the people struggling around him. But he left plenty of space to detail how he began celebrating his newfound financial freedom. This week, the Detroit native is releasing his debut studio album in Activated. To him, it’s a more honest starting point than My Moment, as he says he wasn’t giving his full self, despite how open people may have perceived him to be. “On My Moment I really talked about our struggles and the stuff we go through. On Activated I talk about what I do on a daily basis,” he said. “The good and bad.” During a recent trip to NYC, I spoke with Tee about why he bares all in his music, the failures of My Moment, and considering online criticism. — Lawrence Burney, Tee Grizzley Is Ready to Tell You Everything


Junglepussy: JP3

Junglepussy, a New York rapper prone to gramming selflies with captions like “let them eat pussy,” turns a bit more internal on her third album, simply titled Jp3. She keeps things winningly lecherous, but all that energy is channeled into a larger project of fulfilment—self-love being ultimately more important, this record seems to argue, than whatever other people can offer. The sound of the record is appropriately in higher spirits, built around twittering soul samples, lilting strings, lens-flare dub echoes, and pointillist chorales. Junglepussy’s able to float somewhere above it, smiling down at the blissful world she’s created for herself. — Colin Joyce

Beach House: 7

This time around, Beach House eschewed old methods. First, they turned their practice space—a “grotty” 900 square foot warehouse with wooden floors and 14-foot rafter ceilings—into a home studio. The literal pieces of their career rest there: the organs that sit at the foundation of their sound, keyboards, pedals, old stage sets—the latter of which Victoria says they’ll probably burn at some point. Every Beach House record has featured songs they don’t play live (eg: Devotion’s “Home Again”), but they specifically decided not to limit themselves on 7 to writing for a live audience. The result: some songs don’t have a keyboard, others don’t have a guitar or are so layered they can’t be recreated outside a studio—where, this time, they were joined by former Spacemen 3 member Pete Kember, as well as touring drummer James Barone. And everything was written instinctively. Creative tools were picked up or immediately put down based on an almost unspeakable musical bond that’s lasted for over a decade. — Ryan Bassil, The Enduring Brilliance of Beach House


Mark Kozelek: Mark Kozelek

Because—for whatever reason—the man best known as Sun Kil Moon will never, ever stop going in on unflattering, unflinching psychic self-portraiture, Mark Kozelek’s latest record an auspicious title: Mark Kozelek. It almost feels like a joke to say—in the wake of several records of unfiltered, meandering folk songs that present a warts-and-all image of his descent into solipsism—that this is finally the real him. So what exactly is it that’s close enough to his heart that he gave it his own name?

Well, there’s marathon screeds about how Ariel Pink is underrated, sketchy stories about his interactions with fans, and one chorus that just goes “diarrhea, diarrhea, diarrhea” (all on one song called “The Mark Kozelek Museum”), basically the same sort of self-lacerating autobiography he’s already been pouring out for the last half-decade. There’s not much other guitar music as confrontationally uncommercial as this, which he seems to wear as a badge of honor—as charitable listeners might argue that he should. No one will blame you though, if you have no room in your life for the overconfident monologuing of a straight white man, but there remains something interesting in Koz’s insistence at repeatedly painting himself as a totally unsympathetic figure. It seems incredibly exhausting to be inside his brain, which is, if nothing else, a difficult thing to capture on a record. — Colin Joyce


Sarah Louise: Deeper Woods

The virtuosic North Carolina mystic behind some of the last few years finest solo acoustic guitar records branches out into more traditional songwriting on her Thrill Jockey debut Deeper Woods. Her interlocking guitar parts still often spiral off into every direction at once, sometimes to even gnarlier realms; raga-ish fingerpicking, splatter painted solos, and genteel rhythmic work often share space all at once. But the real news here is the inclusion of her voice in the mix, a towering, crackling sound amidst the rolling grasslands of her instrumentation. Even if her meanings, and even sometimes the words themselves, remain obscure it’s always good to have a figure in the frame, to add a little sense to the abstractions. — Colin Joyce

City Girls: Period

Last December, City Girls crept onto Quality Control’s Control The Streets compilation with “Fuck Dat Nigga,” an anti broke boy anthem, overhauling Khia’s “My Neck, My Back.” Their debut mixtape, Period, is a 16-track manifesto on how to level up, by any means necessary. On tracks like “Millionaire Dick” and “Where The Bag At,” they’re laying down the blueprint for the best way to clear out a bank account. The duo maps out commandments to securing the bag on “How to Pimp a Nigga.” “Make him think you love him, take his money, then you dip on niggas,” they rap. When they’re not creating Oceans 8-level heist songs, they’re revamping the songs of rap’s heyday. The two flip Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s “Crush On You” on “Fuck on U” and redo Salt-N-Pepa’s “I’ll Take Your Man,” showing just nothing is off limits for the Miami duo. Period is a declaration that the world is theirs for the taking. — Kristin Corry


Yours are the Only Ears: Knock Hard

It isn’t only softness that comes across the songs, but a deep and abiding understanding, a processing of memory and the way time changes us. “You and Bobby” specifically channels [Susannah] Cutler’s memories of living on a farm in rural Georgia—”I used to think I was going to become a farmer, but I was just depressed,” she says—and one of the people she met there. She won't go into the story specifically, out of respect for the person, but she says that the central theme revolves around suicide and the choice to continue living. — Colin Joyce, Yours Are the Only Ears' New Single Is an Empathetic Folk Ballad

rRoxymore: Thoughts of an Introvert Pt. 2

The Berlin producer and DJ rRoxymore’s new EP is the second installment of a series of club-minded tracks for the sort of person for whom “the club” can be a sorta emotionally fraught space. Consequently these tracks beamed from and too introverts are a little more spaced out and a little more surreal than your average techno track. There’s a lot of space in between the twirling synth melodies and skittering drum machine, which makes sense. In unfamiliar and uncomfortable realms, it’s good to have a little breathing room, even just a small pocket amidst the roiling bodies that you can call your own. — Colin Joyce

Boys: Rest in Peace

Nora Karlsson is a 22-year-old singer-songwriter/auteur from Stockholm, Sweden, and I'm baffled by the fact that this, her debut LP as Boys, hasn't been on every indie-pop fan's lips for months. Karlsson keeps things refreshingly simple here, letting her woozy melodies carry her coming-of-age short stories, experimenting with structure and sound when she feels the need. It's not revolutionary, but when you can write a song as bright and airy as "Rabbits," it doesn't really need to be. — Alex Robert Ross


LEYA: The Fool

It’s an eight-track collection of slow, drawn-out melodies, conjured from [Marilu] Donovan’s detuned harp, [Adam] Markiewicz's searching string parts, and droning voices, both their own and those of friends from around the New York underground like Eartheater, PC Worship, and Sunk Heaven. They occasionally indulge the celestial glissandos you might imagine, but more often they embrace a more complicated tonality and melancholic pace—the predominant moods seem to be confusion, uneasiness, on songs like the spare closer “Cats,” I hear emptiness and loss. — Colin Joyce, LEYA's Harp and Violin Duets Explore a Surreal, Unsettling Beauty

Dustin Wong + Takako Minekawa + Good Willsmith: Exit Future Heart

The beauty of making mostly improvised music is that you can always make the most of a moment. You fill in gaps, you push sounds in new directions, you cause chaos that the players around you have to scramble to respond to. There's some practical benefits to working in such malleable forms too, like, if some pals you've always been wanting to play with happen to rolling through town, you can make the most of a night, turn an impromptu hang into a collection of exploratory jams. This is exactly the situation that birthed Exit Future Heart, the new collaborative record by the Tokyo-based duo of Dustin Wong and Takako Minekawa and the Chicago trio Good Willsmith, recorded live at home in Chicago in one night while Wong and Minekawa were on tour. — Colin Joyce, Dustin Wong, Takako Minekawa, and Good Willsmith's New Album Is Pure Bliss

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