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Stream of the Crop: 7 New Albums for Heavy Rotation

New records from Miguel, Ahnnu, and Chris Stapleton top this week's list,

by Noisey Staff
Dec 3 2017, 1:45pm

Photo via Miguel on Instagram

The end of the week means a glut of new music to dig into and, while that is Extremely Good, it can be difficult to know where to start. So every week, we at Noisey put together a list of our favorite new albums, mixtapes, and EPs from the past seven days. You can listen to them all on this page. It is neither comprehensive nor fair. We hope it helps.

Miguel: War & Leisure

The fourth album from the multi-talented Californian artist features collaborations with Rick Ross, fantastical soul singer Quiñ, rising superstar Kali Uchis, opinion-splitting rapper J. Cole, less-opinion-splitting rapper Travis Scott, and reggae-tinged producer Salaam Remi. So Miguel's kaleidoscopic approach to pop clearly hasn't faded since 2015's Wildheart. But, impressively, War & Leisure stays cohesive over its 12 tracks, always sunny and optimistic without being glib. That said, are plenty of worthwhile standouts here. Try the Marvin Gaye-indebted "Pineapple Skies" and the post-Prince funk of "Told You So" for starters. — Alex Robert Ross

Ahnnu: Special Forces

The Ahnnu portion of the story continues this week with the release of Special Forces on the esteemed experimental label NNA Tapes. Jackson says it’s been in the works for a couple of years and that he considers it a part of the same “lineage” as his last couple of releases under the moniker, World Music, Perception, and Battered Sphinx (which also came out on NNA back in 2013). Like those records, this new one is a stew of woozy synth patches and lumbering percussive elements, a slow-moving journey through watery ambience. But Special Forces also feels, well, special. Even more so than the last couple Ahnnu releases it feels unmoored from traditional electronic songwriting. There are repeating loops on occasion, but the way each of the parts interacts feels totally unpredictable. — Colin Joyce, Ahnnu’s ‘Special Forces’ Is an Ambient Transmission From Another World

Chris Stapleton: From a Room vol. 2

It's easy to believe the quiet man with a sorrow-filled voice that claps like thunder has all the answers. We yearn for that from the artists we trust with our deepest fears and most melancholy thoughts. But Stapleton is not here to help you, he's made that clear when he warns us not to go looking for reasons or asking Jesus to explain God's decisions. Stapleton knows what any human worth their weight in gold knows, that sometimes looking too hard is what gets us in the most trouble. —Annalise Domenighini, Chris Stapleton's Not Here to Save Country Music and That's Just Fine

Virginia Wing + XAM Duo: Tomorrow’s Gift

Recorded over two cold days in the industrial city of Bradford, England in January, 2017, this collaborative LP is built on instinct and improvisation. Xam Duo, better known as Matthew Benn of Hookworms and Christopher Duffin of Deadwall, have already created beautiful, ambient meditations—ranging from Eno-esque loops to plaintive piano movements—but playing that warmth off against Virginia Wing's spare, occasionally icy post-pop creates something fascinating. From the disorienting, 20-minute freeform concept of "Birch Polygon" to the distant, sax-led closer "A Tunnel," Tomorrow's Gift demands its listener's attention. You'll find yourself leaning into the speakers to pick out every softly delivered spoken word message. —Alex Robert Ross

Z-Ro: Codeine

Like his home state and city, Z-Ro inspires a ferocious pride and loyalty that leaves you convinced that in the year 2242, young Houston rappers will offer battle cries of "Remember the Mo City Don!" At one point in my time with him, I overheard a young Latina woman approaching him to say, "you're number one on my Spotify… every single song." He's in that rarefied pantheon alongside Scarface, 2Pac, and Killer Mike – a sanctified blend of preacher and artist – one prone to frequent bouts of depression, profound introspection, and profane outbursts. It's almost impossible to understand Z-Ro, but even more difficult not to appreciate him. — Jeff Weiss, Z-Ro Suffers No Fools

Chief Keef: Dedication

The Chicago rapper has had an impossibly prolific 2017. He made the first move of the year, dropping Two Zero One Seven on New Year's Day; in June, he released Thot Breaker, a forceful mixtape that Noisey's Kyle Kramer described as "one of the most progressive rap releases—if you can even call it that—of the year." Hell, it's only been three months since The W came out. But Dedication is a clear attempt to one-up all three of those. A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Lil Yachty, and Tadoe all join for features; production comes from D. Rich, StuntMan, Turbo, CBMix and K.E. on the Track. May Chief Keef stay in this groove forever. —Alex Robert Ross

Roy Wood$: Say Less

Getting signed to OVO Sound in 2015 catapulted Roy Woods to levels of hype that would be untenable for most people, but especially for a 19-year-old (at the time). Luckily, Woods approaches his music with the relaxed ease of youth rather than precocity. His devotion to Michael Jackson is evident in his brand of buoyant and earnest-sounding R&B, which can also be credited to the sunny music of his West Indian heritage. — Noisey's Essential Guide to West Toronto Rap

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