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Stream of the Crop: 9 New Albums for Heavy Rotation

New albums from Kanye West, Father John Misty, and Oneohtrix Point Never top this week's list of essential new projects.
L: Burak Cingi/Redferns
R: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Live Nation

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

Kanye West: Ye

How do we process art that’s made by an artist so completely out of touch of the everyday existence of what it’s like to be alive in 2018? We listen, I suppose. And that’s what West wanted us to do—in the creative space he used to make it, even if that required flying a few hundred people halfway across the country. Maybe at its core, that was the point of this listening. West brought us all out into his world, and for a day, we lived like he lives every day. In those kind of moments, it is very easy to be blinded by the glitz and glamour of the fact that you’re standing within arm’s reach of Kanye West. And maybe I was! After all, I was brought to fucking Wyoming on a fucking private jet. “After all this,” one person said on my bus following the party, “we gonna have to say the album is fire.” The absurd extravagance of this experience is something to reckon with, but West’s goal, it seemed, was to provide a listening experience through the lens of how he made his art: staring at big mountains and breathing God’s air. What remains to be seen is if this tactic will be enough for fans and listeners to forget that less than two months ago West was donning a MAGA hat and cozying up to the alt-right. — Eric Sundermann, I Feel Like Kanye When I'm in Wyoming


Father John Misty: God's Favorite Customer

"I know my way around a tune / Won't be a single dry eye in a room," Josh Tillman boasts wryly on "Just Dumb Enough to Try," the first of the half-dozen or so ballads that spread across his fourth studio album as Father John Misty. "But you can take what I know about you / And maybe fill a small balloon." I don't care how many layers of apocalypse-rotted irony you peeled back from 2016's Pure Comedy—this sort of self-awareness was still infuriatingly absent.

Tillman (or Tillman-as-Misty, whatever) isn't diagnosing society's follies and humanity's missteps over seven-minute stretches anymore, because the hotel stays and Adderall abuses and self-destructive impulses piled up too high for him to see out. ("I'm in over my head / I'm in over my head / I'm in way over my head," he croaks on "The Palace.") So we get an album more emotionally resonant than anything he's touched in the past, a record that earns its endpoint, "We're Only People (And There's Not Much Anyone Can Do About That)." It's a note on mortality that sounds painfully like a sign-off in the most finite sense, and comes shot through with empathy and crisis: "You've been hurt / And I've been hurt / But what do we do now?" I'll take Tillman the terrified postmodern memoirist over Tillman the whiskey-drunk postgraduate social critic any day. Alex Robert Ross

Oneohtrix Point Never: Age Of

Mecha-medieval nightmare excursions prove the rule on the latest futurist fantasia from the New York compu-tinkerer turned big-C Composer Oneohtrix Point Never. There’s a big narrative dividing the cycles of humanity into four big epochs—Ecco, Harvest, Excess, Bondage—but you don’t really need to know that to sense that the pop songs here, a new addition, feel elegiac on both a personal and cosmic scale. Amidst the CGI bliss—he’s said that “Toys 2” is intended as a sort of demo reel to land him a gig on a Pixar Movie—there’s this looming darkness, an impending end, righteous fury for those who choose to put their faith in Babylon. Is there hope over this event horizon? Who knows. — Colin Joyce


American Pleasure Club: Tour Tape

Sam Ray creates and releases so much music under so many guises at such a frantic pace that even his most ardent fans might struggle to keep up. Since releasing American Pleasure Club's static-acoustic pseudo-debut i blew on a dandelion and the whole world disappeared at Christmas, he's put out a mini-masterpiece in APC's A Whole Fucking Lifetime of This, beautifully reworked the already-leaked Ricky Eat Acid ambient tape am i happy, singing_, and uploaded a gorgeous duet, "Mad Girl's Love Song," with his wife, Kitty. (There's more out there too, but we don't have the space.)

Tour Tape, a pay-what-you-can 12-track comprised mostly of songs that come in under the three-minute mark, snaps between black metal, gentle acoustics, trip-hop, screamo, and out-of-body samples; it clatters in the distance one moment and confronts you intimately the next. It coheres partly because it's sequenced with care—the incomprehensible, brutal "DOPE SICK AND SOBBING AT THE GATES OF HELL" makes a strange sense up next to the delicate tweaks of "I WANT TO FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU ONE MILLION TIMES." The links between Tour Tape and Lifetime come through after a few listens: "You made it hard to have grace," Ray sings on "SMOKING ROCK WITH MY ANGEL IN MILWAUKEE" while Kitty's voice swirls in the background on loop: "Come back to life / Before my telephone rings." But the real holdover is Ray's ability to turn small moments into lasting monuments even after the agony, as he does perfectly over laconic guitars on "TOGETHER IN THE BIG BLACK CAR." As a lyricist, Ray has a remarkable gift for rendering detail; as a musician, he has no interest in sitting still. Just try to absorb it all before he puts something else online. — Alex Robert Ross


Jamie Isaac: (04:30) Idler

For those who might not know, Isaac is a professionally trained pianist. He started playing aged seven, on a shitty piano at his nan’s house in Norwood, south London. A government grant presented him with the opportunity of formal education, which he took up – four years in classical, three in jazz[…] Then, around the age of 12, his aunt gave him a copy of Logic. “From then on I would try and recreate old R&B tracks like Bobby Valentino’s ‘Slow Down’”, he says, laughing. “I remember that so clearly because the only sound I really had on [Logic] was this harp sound.”

Following a string of EPs and mixtapes, in 2016 he released his debut album Couch Baby. At the time we described it as “the quintessential ‘sitting at home and smoking weed with your friends’ record.” It still is. But (04:30) Idler moves on from that world, slightly out the haze of a living room and onto the pavements. “My music will never be something you’ll put on at a party. It’s music you listen to when you have your headphones in and you’re by yourself,” explains Isaac. “With this record I wanted it to be a direct carry-on [from the scenario of the last]—to get up out your seat, move and travel a bit. I wanted it to suit really well for being on the bus, or in your Uber, or walking down the street.” — Ryan Bassil, Welcome to Jamie Isaac’s World

Joan of Arc: 1984

Thank god Forrest Gump quotes never went out of style. They are, as far as we know, still [Borat voice] very niiiiice! And that’s good because Joan of Arc’s immersive catalog truly is like a box of chocolates—you never know what you’re gonna get! (Classic film. Classic metaphor.) Tim Kinsella and company have taken the project in so many wild, unexpected directions over the last two decades that pressing play on a new Joan of Arc record might very well summon 60 minutes of dead air. And in true Kinsella fashion, the band’s kajillionth new album, 1984, kicks off with a head-scratcher as band member Melina Ausikaitis takes over on vocal duties, singing over the silence: “I pretend I’m a tiny baby that can’t keep its eyes open” with a front-porch drawl that puts a Midwestern twang on the line. It’s a bold way to kick things off, because it’s just strange and unexpected enough to force the listener to immediately decide whether they’re in or out. For those that opt in, they’re granted access to nine songs that take meandering paths through dense fields of vocal loopings, long and beautiful a capella stretches, and plenty of start-stop jerks. Which is all to say: It’s a Joan of Arc record, alright. — Dan Ozzi


Tierra Whack: Whack World

When everyone goes left, Tierra Whack goes right[…] She is quite obviously doing the opposite of her peers, and doing so effortlessly. At a time where Culture II clocks in at just under two hours, Tierra is giving you nearly as many tracks but does it in 15 minutes. On the heels of DAYTONA, PUSHA-T’s refreshing 20-minute release, Whack’s World feels incredibly innovative as she walks us through one minute treatments for each of its 15 tracks. Her presentation is nothing like we’ve been exposed to, essentially prepping us with bite-sized versions of her songs that do nothing but make us want more. By the time you settle into the rhythm, she whisks you away to the next song. — Kristin Corry, It'll Only Take Tierra Whack 15 Minutes to Freak You the Fuck Out

J Hus: Big Spang EP

Building on [J Hus and producer Jae5's] signature sound, [Big Spang] features banging brass instruments on "Dark Vader," veers into murky could-be-reality rap on "Scene," and ends with "Dancing Man"—a track that aims to have the listener doing what it says on the tin, albeit with a slow wine. Add to this the fact that the EP's come out in time for Hus' biggest string of festival dates yet. Musical, and seemingly featuring live instruments over ProTools (or at least sounding alive, rather than dead), the EP is a nice palette cleanser before Hus' upcoming sophomore album while also helping to cement the notion of Hus and Jae5 being one-of-a-kind. — Ryan Bassil, J Hus Holds Nothing Back on His New 'Big Spang' EP

Cœur De Pirate: en cas de tempête, ce jardin sera fermé

kriEn cas de tempete, ce jardin sera fermé is the result of someone who did an immense amount of work to pull out and examine their experiences and traumas. “I got myself into thinking, ‘why do I always repeat the same stuff over and over and over again?’ And I dug deeper. ‘Well, it’s true this happened to me, and this happened when I was a kid, and this happened in past relationships,’” she says. “All of this creates a comfort where you’re like, I need certain things to happen in my life in order to feel in control. Some of these things are not good. But they make me feel safe because I’m used to it.” — Sarah MacDonald, Coeur de Pirate’s Therapeutic Release from Her Ghosts

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