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Denzel Curry's Energizing Raps and 11 More Albums for Heavy Rotation

Freaky pop music and existential despair fill out the rest of this week's essential listening.

by Noisey Staff
May 31 2019, 7:30pm

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.

Denzel Curry, ZUU

Denzel Curry’s ZUU is out today, just ten months after the release of Ta13oo. Sleeker and cleaner than the bloated pop-rap of Ta13oo, ZUU more closely captures the energy of Curry’s breakthrough record, 2016 Imperial. Denzel is rap’s Energizer bunny, a self-help guide for millennial angst and those fighting against a uniquely American inequality. Despite the deep-dive into occasional heavy subject matter, the Carol City emcee sounds free and easy on ZUU, giving this album a much more digestible batch of songs than Ta13oo. ZUU eloquently spells out over its 12 tracks that Denzel Curry is back. — Will Schube

Mozzy, Internal Affairs

Mozzy puts out a few tapes every year, but his records are always events. The Sacramento-born rapper’s music is imbued with an almost-intangible desperation that elevates his albums to the highest of stakes. With Internal Affairs, he’s made his best record since 2017’s 1 Up Top Ahk, still running from lingering trauma and a lifetime of stressors that come with being young and Black and American. Mozzy’s consistency on Internal Affairs is notable, but I’m partial to the Sada Baby-featuring “Just My Luck” with its g-funk bass and laser-sharp synth line. Mozzy’s certainly no stranger, but the whole neighborhood still glows every time he brings around a new record. — Will Schube

Katie Dey, Solipsisters

One of few songwriters adequately equipped to outline the particular anxieties of being alive in the internet era returns with more songs to that explore that effect. "Stuck" addresses explicitly the feeling of trappedness that embodiment can bring about. In a digital wheeze, she sings, "I'm a storm inside a rotting false construction / For the rest of my life I have to decide what to do with it." It's heavy stuff, but so's living.

The difference this time around is in the lushness of the arrangements. In an interview with The Fader, Dey said that she'd been listening to a lot of Kate Bush and that she spent a lot of time trying to evoke the digital grandeur in the latest Zelda game Breath of the Wild. You can hear a little of both of those inspirations throughout the record—which expands her glitch-ridden singer-songwriterisms into something bigger and more complex. That existential despair could be so beautiful is nothing short of inspiring. —Colin Joyce

100 Gecs, 1000 Gecs

On their own the producers Laura Les and Dylan Brady are two of pop’s most dedicated futurists, using crystalline vocal manipulation and a fuck-a-genre approach to create new forms out of familiar parts. If you’re the sort of person who might appreciate a pitch-fucked black medal interlude in the middle of a kaleidoscopic rap track with a pop-punk hook—they’re the people you’d turn to. The debut full-length from their cross-broadband collaboration 100 Gecs certainly has those sorts of formally head-spinning moments (like the way “800db cloud” morphs from tender love song, to club track, to doom metal croak).

But 100 Gecs also brings out the joy in both of them. Together they’re fun and funny, offering kiss-offs to “piss baby[s]” who ride around town in tiny trucks (on “money machine”), and cycling through goofy plasticine sounds, as if they’re just fooling around in the studio (on “I Need Help Immediately”). There’s all sorts of surreal wordplay and goofy compositional tricks, which only serves to magnify just how unpredictable their productions are. It’s everything I ever want out of pop music. Here’s hoping they can make the world around them a little weirder. — Colin Joyce

Coucou Chloe, Naughty Dog

The idea of cool is unquantifiable and ultimately unimportant, but a working definition these days might as well be "good enough for Rihanna." The Puma slide fits this Nice-born, London-based producer-vocalist, who landed a few songs in a Fenty show a few years ago. It's easy to see why. She raps and sings effortlessly in both French and English across these oozy, low-lit productions, her words occasionally obscured by tasteful vocal manipulation. It seems to have hidden depths—which is what cool really is, anyway: a mystery that you want to better understand. —Colin Joyce

Kishi Bashi, Omoiyari

Kishi Bashi has always thrived on making delicate and densely-orchestrated songs. Live, he endlessly loops his violin into knotty and grandiose arrangements, but for his latest album Omoiyari the simplicity of kindness, love, and loss takes the forefront. Inspired by one of the United States' many shames—the 120,000 Japanese-Americans sent to internment camps during World War II—the artist born Kaoru Ishibashi finds humanity and empathy in our history and perilous future. Lead single “Summer of ‘42” is particularly affecting. Though it’s arguably the album’s most maximalist offering, the emotional resonance comes not from the overwhelming beautiful strings but from Ishibashi’s unvarnished falsetto as he sings, “I am in love with you.” Though it powerfully deals with the dark side of American history, Omoiyari is his most accessible work to date, washed in the breezy Laurel Canyon arrangements (“F. Delano,” “A Song For You”) and occasional banjo folk-pop (closer “Annie, Heart Thief of the Sea”). — Josh Terry

Eluvium, Pianoworks

As Eluvium, Matthew Cooper has expertly woven ambient compositions into cinematic and expansive heights but some of his most powerful moments have come from minimalism. In 2004, he released An Accidental Memory in the Case of Death a mournful and gorgeous piano piece that evoked Erik Satie and was recorded in one continuous take. Cooper’s latest Pianoworks is a return to that headspace. Also exclusively recorded via piano, Cooper’s compositions are yearningly nostalgic and hauntingly familiar. Single and album opener “Recital” is simultaneously wistful and elegiac and according to a press release is meant to recall the near-universal experience of children’s piano lessons. Elsewhere, the chiming “Underwater Dream” feels particularly cathartic while the short-and-sweet “Myriad Days” feels bright and sunny. These are beautiful and carefully-composed songs that evoke the ghosts and daydreams of the past. —Josh Terry

Rose Hotel, I Will Only Come When It’s a Yes

Atlanta songwriter Jordan Reynolds steps up on her full-length debut as Rose Hotel, ditching the twangy folk of some of her EPs for a distinct and fully-formed vision that’s rarely bare bones. It’s a wonderfully collaborative LP, with Reynolds’ enlisting almost a dozen local musicians to flesh out the songs. The dreamy opener “10K” showcases her sonic leap, boasting a pogoing bassline, ethereal harmonies, and woozy guitars. Here she sings, “I can just go off my / Age and experience / I don’t know the future” and the comfort in her voice belies the existential angst in the lyrics. Her songwriting shines as she navigates the gray areas in love and life, like on “If It Ain’t Hard,” when she muses over a stomping rhythm, “If it ain’t hard, then it’s not love / And if it’s hard, then it’s not love.” —Josh Terry

Kevin Richard Martin, Sirens

Sirens is the third iteration of a composition originally written for live performance while his son was critically ill. In November and December 2018, Martin set to work transforming the live performances into an album fit for home listening. Rather than presenting an unedited facsimile of the live work, Martin decided to treat the record like a soundtrack. In spite of the difficult source material, the result is rich with drama. Indeed, the structure enabled Martin to channel a long-beloved but unlikely source of inspiration: the scores of Alfred Hitchcock’s frequent composer, Bernard Herrmann. Like Vertigo’s swirling, unnerving soundtrack , a recurring melodic theme surfaces throughout Sirens’ foggy soundscapes, a “naive, childlike, almost nursery rhyme motif” according to Martin. It’s one of the few surviving elements from the original performance piece, a direct connection back to that life-changing period. —Lewis Gordon, “Kevin Richard Martin's New Album Explores His Son's Traumatic Early Life”

Christelle Bofale, Swim Team

Christelle Bofale’s songs move like water. The San Antonio-born, Austin-based songwriter doesn’t have much released music to her name yet, but what has come out is extraordinary. It flows unpredictably, swirling delicately like the puddles that form along the shoreline, or rushing dangerously from melody to melody like a riptide. Verses and choruses exist, but the boundaries are blurry, and she seems more keen on the swells and emotional moments that come in between established structures. She said this feeling is intentional; drawing in part on the Congolese music she heard growing up, she is making music that is consciously boundless. —Colin Joyce, “Christelle Bofale's Watery Rock Songs Are What Forever Sounds Like”

Raveena, Lucid

New York-based singer Raveena's debut album, Lucid, finds the 25-year-old singer using R&B and soul to parse through the trauma she repressed as a teenager. On the record, the singer examines the relationships that compromised her mental health ("Stronger") and her physical space ("Salt Water"). Together, Raveena and producer Everett Orr's greatest strength is translating intense lyrics about abuse ("I froze in a hot shower / I scrub away his sins") across dreamy, synthy productions. "Mama," the album's turning point, finds the singer looking inward at the women who raised her, before preparing to love again. Her 74-year-old grandmother even makes a cameo on "Nani's Interlude," giving maternal words of wisdom. "We should be thankful for every moment. [...] You will love this life more." Lucid is Raveena and Orr's offering of a world that exists beyond pain. —Kristin Corry

This article originally appeared on VICE US.