Stream of the Crop: 10 New Albums for Heavy Rotation
L: The Prince Estate/Allen Beaulieu
C: C Flanigan/WireImage
R: Nino Ellison via Toothpaste Records
Every week, the Noisey staff puts together a list of the best and most important albums, mixtapes, and EPs from the past seven days. Sometimes it 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.
Prince: Piano and a Microphone 1983
The raid on Prince's long-sealed vault officially begins today, with Piano and a Microphone 1983, a collection of songs recorded at the artist's Kiowa Trail home studio a year before Purple Rain. It is, inevitably, a slightly uncomfortable listen. Whether you're a casual listener or dedicated collector of Prince bootlegs, the nine raw, unadorned songs on Piano and a Microphone throw up a dicey ethical question: How should we listen to the intentionally unreleased demos of a now-departed musician who so painstakingly controlled his image when he was alive? — Alex Robert Ross, Eavesdropping on Prince
A choir of adolescents sing "I want more out of life than this," at the halfway point on "SAN MARCOS," a track named after the town where the original 15 members of BROCKHAMPTON settled in at the start of their career. The kids in the choir are pleading for a life without restrictions and, for them, BROCKHAMPTON is limitless. On iridescence, the now 14-member group is everything the album’s title suggests: they change according to how you view them. Their first major-label release is like a tour of cities that have inspired them. "NEW ORLEANS" draws from the influence of Lil’ Wayne’s "Fireman," while “J’Ouvert” is the group’s interpretation of the West Indian fete, sampling the Grenadian soca song "Doh Blame Me" over their usual dark, electronic production. Over the course of 15 tracks, the group pulls from short vignettes to move their story forward, as they do on "LOOPHOLE” with Cam’Ron’s familiar voice revealing how he risked his publishing for the sake of being popular. His message reverberates on "HONEY," an eclectic track that showcases everything BROCKHAMPTON is capable of. "HONEY" is reminiscent of a D-12 song, using a really electric bassline as its pulse. "A million ways to get rich my nigga / Fifty did it right," Kevin Abstract raps. Flipping Beyonce’s "Dance For You" on the songs bridge, you realize there are a million ways to see BROCKHAMPTON. — Kristin Corry
Tentenko's first solo release outside of Japan is one of the most inventive, replayable, and mercurial pop records I've heard so far this year. The self-titled LP[...] fizzles and spits and packs in a dozen choruses before throwing in glitchy synth sounds and off-time drums. I've spent the past week listening to it almost non-stop, and I still feel like I've eaten a handful of sugar packets every time the hypnotic Logic System collaboration "Hoshi No Densha" floats off into the neon-lit post-punk of "Hokago Sympathy." Tentenko, culled from the Japan-only releases of a 28-year-old, Hokkaido-born ex-"idol," is so good that I've found it confusing. — Alex Robert Ross, Tentenko Is Japanese Pop Music's Greatest Weirdo
Father: Awful Swim
Christine and the Queens: Chris
One of contemporary pop’s greatest chameleons opens up a whole new world with a simple strikethrough, becoming Chris and claiming unplumbed territories of grief, pain, existential angst, untamed desire, and otherworldly joy as all within the purview of her life and art. Should you doubt that she—dancer, thinker, singer-in-multiple-languages—contains multitudes, Chris puts them all on display in ways that some will find confrontational and others, just real. Life’s complicated, why can’t pop be too? — Colin Joyce
Young Dolph: Role Model
Foodman: Aru Otoko No Densetsu
Foodman is a Japanese producer who was once content to use the factory test sounds of his sampler/drum-machine as the conceptual basis for an internationally broadcast live set. Which means he’s not afraid, unlike most of electronic music’s avant-gardists, to get a little silly sometimes. That’s the mode he assumes on Aru Otoko No Densetsu, a record released on Sun Araw’s Sun Ark label that further abstracts him from the thriving Japanese footwork scene that he was once associated with. You almost get the sense, listening to all the change machine plinks, xylophonic stutters, and fractal-like hand-drum programming, that he was only ever toying with that style because the kick drums sounded like the sort of rhythms you might hit while doing double dutch. His is a music that’s strangely off-balance, gleefully distasteful, and totally ecstatic. It’s easy to imagine this record as the result of him sitting at a Target-brand toy keyboard, flitting through all the presets and giggling with delight at every single one. — Colin Joyce
Debit: Love Discipline
The duality contained in the title—love-as-learning-process vs. affection-for-punishment—mirrors the disposition on this ambient excursion from a key member of New York’s electronic scene. Abstracted dissonance and pillowy synths, pleasure and pain, swirl together in an anxious push-and-pull. Consequently it has this strange morphing emotional effect, like a magic eye poster. Look at it the right way, and its totally crushing, another and its full of peace—the rare ambient piece that is what you make of it. — Colin Joyce
Advance Base: Animal Companionship
Owen Ashworth—the songwriter who once recorded crushed-out grief songs as Casiotone for the Painfully Alone—has spent several records channeling his deft eye, for sorta sad-sorta-life-affirming storytelling through a higher fidelity lens as Advance Base. His new record under the moniker collects a few of some of his best songs about lost love, getting old in boring-shit towns, and the general heaviness of existence. It’s told often, as the title hints at, through his characters relationships with their quadruped companions, adding more layers of memory, ephemerality, and attachment to his loping songs. These are 10 short stories, told slowly, and thoughtfully, the details lingered over, like old photo books full of pictures of people you used to know. — Colin Joyce
Edge Slayer: Edge Slayer
Should you believe the cover, the stretched-out, doom-bounce tracks that make up the self-titled EP from this Lousiana-based multimedia artist come straight from the sort of hell that Xavier Renegade Angel might dream up, were he the member of the heavenly host to betray his place in the sky. Which, honestly, is a decent way of understanding these songs; they’re funny, surreal, heavy depictions of living in the world as a queer, trans person—of being locked into a situation you never chose. "No Safe Space," a haunting ballad about the tenuousness of existence in a marginalized body, uses a sample from Mortal Kombat as a an exclamation point that’s both goofy and terrifying: "Finish her! Finish her!" With desperation, Edge Slayer tweaks the exclamation slightly in her own voice: "Finish me." — Colin Joyce
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This article originally appeared on Noisey US.