Stream of the Crop: 7 New Albums for Heavy Rotation 6/17
New albums from Young Thug, 2 Chainz, Lorde, and Kevin Morby top this week's list of essential albums.
Young Thug via Instagram
Young Thug: Beautiful Thugger Girls
The follow-up to last year's brilliant JEFFERY appeared on Apple Music by surprise late Thursday night. The 14-track tape includes contributions from Future on "Relationship," Snoop Dogg and Lil Durk on "Get High," and British singer Millie Go Lightly on both "Family Don't Matter" and "She Wanna Party." Originally called Easy Breezy Beautiful Thugger Girls (or E.B.B.T.G.), Young Thug sparked interest in the project seven weeks ago with a tweet about a "singing album."
2 Chainz: Pretty Girls Like Trap Music
But it should be obvious, by this point, that the artist formerly known as Tity Boi is one of the genre's most colorful writers. This has been the case for more than ten years now, since he was eating spaghetti on the celly with Pirelli on the tires, counting fetti in the telly watching Belly or The Wire. (If you need some money, Magic City's hiring.) You no doubt remember Playaz Circle, the duo comprised of 2 Chainz and his longtime friend Dolla Boy, for "Duffle Bag Boy," the comically incredible single that's best known for Wayne's hook, but also has plenty of vintage Tity verve.
Kevin Morby: City Music
Morby quickly realized he was writing two different records. The autobiographical Singing Saw is most directly connected to this time in LA, a triumphant, introspective album laden with Aesopic takes on love, disillusionment, and American identity, often all at once. City Music is both its thematic inverse and counterpart, a kind of spiritual return to New York that captures the kinetic anticipation and solitude of walking around a big city alone. "It is a mix tape, a fever dream, a love letter dedicated to those cities that I cannot get rid of, to those cities that are all inside of me," Morby says. Inspired by the eclectic themed tapes he and his friends would make each other in high school, Morby traded the studio musicians and polished orchestration of Singing Saw for his touring band's road-honed sound and callbacks to his punk roots.
—Andrea Domanick, The Existential Free Fall of Kevin Morby
It's easy to forget just how young Lorde is, given her wise-beyond-her-years approach to songwriting. But the New Zealand singer's already long list of accomplishments—including two Grammys, a triple-platinum album, and a massive and devoted following—are enough to make just about anyone feel ancient by comparison. Even other notably young pop stars have time on her. At 20, she's three years younger than Harry Styles and Justin Bieber, four years younger than Miley Cyrus, and seven years younger than Taylor Swift. Yet, of all of her peers, Lorde is the most aware of the passing of time.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: The Nashville Sound
The Americana pigeonhole sets up rootsy expectations Isbell has too keen a mind for. And though he obviously isn't the only Nashville guy ever to placate his demons with Jack and coke or the only folkie ever beset by night thoughts, neither "country" or "singer-songwriter" suits him either—he's too intellectual for one, too downhome for the other. So 15 years after the Drive-Bys brought in a tenor who could write, 10 years after he quit them while his first wife stayed on, five years after he got sober, and two years after there was a baby on the way, here are some of the words his tenor lets fly. Over the tolling guitars of "White Man's World": "There's no such thing as someone else's war / Your creature comforts aren't the only things worth fighting for." Over the female counterpoint of "If We Were Vampires": "Maybe we'll get 40 years together / But one day I'll be gone, one day you'll be gone." Over the "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" boom of "Anxiety": "Anxiety / How do you always get the best of me? / I'm out here living in a fantasy / I can't enjoy a goddamn thing."
—Robert Christgau, Expert Witness
Fleet Foxes: Crack-Up
Crack-Up is undoubtedly the darkest-sounding and most complex Fleet Foxes record to date. While the album shares some thematic bent with the existential musings and naked self-examination that marked 2011's Helplessness Blues, it's light years away from where Pecknold started out. The pairing of 2008's Sun Giant EP and the following year's self-titled full-length represented one of the most confident debuts from a band in recent memory, chock full of bold, bright harmonies and straightforward songwriting that was easy to fall in love with. So much was that the case that, as Fleet Foxes rapidly ascended to the upper echelons of the indie stratosphere—think Grizzly Bear, Bon Iver, Dirty Projectors, and Animal Collective—their rise anticipated a brief surge of mainstream interest in folk-leaning sounds, from Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers to American Idol winner Phillip Phillips.
—Larry Fitzmaurice, The Return of Fleet Foxes in Indie's Brave New World
Big Boi: Boomiverse
The Atlanta rapper's first project since 2012's Vicious Lies features collaborations with Jeezy, Killer Mike, Snoop Dogg, Pimp C, and Gucci Mane.
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