Stream of the Crop: 9 New Albums for Heavy Rotation
New albums from Lil Uzi Vert, Action Bronson, and Queens of the Stone Age top our list after a busy week of releases.
Photo via Lil Uzi Vert on Instagram
Lil Uzi Vert: Luv Is Rage 2
The protracted, slightly messy rollout of rock-rap (not rap-rock) figurehead Lil Uzi Vert's first official LP, Luv Is Rage 2, would hamper any other artist. But Uzi has been blessed with a genuine hit single in "XO Tour Llif3," which takes some off the strain off. That song's obviously included here as the closing track (gotta get those streams up) but there is more to love within. Primarily, we have Uzi reinterpreting Oh Wonder's synthpop ballad "Landslide" as "The Way Life Goes." You will weep. There's also a heartfelt ode to Uzi's mom titled "Dark Queen," of all things. Pharrell and The Weeknd guest star, the production bangs, and Uzi compares himself to Leonardo DiCaprio at one point.
Action Bronson: Blue Chips 7000
The long-awaited conclusion to the Blue Chips trilogy was executive produced by Harry Fraud and features Rick Ross, Meyhem Lauren, Jah Tiger, and (of course) Big Body Bes. It comes as the VICELAND host and bon vivant prepares to release his first book, Fuck, That's Delicious: An Annotated Guide to Eating Well.
—Alex Robert Ross
Queens of the Stone Age: Villains
QOTSA's fifth studio album was produced by Mark Ronson and tracked at United Recording Studios in Los Angeles. It's the band's first full-length since 2013's ...Like Clockwork. The build-up to the record mostly involved absurd promo videos, with irony god Liam Lynch first subjecting QOTSA to a lie detector test and later interviewing the band's previous albums—voiced by frontman Josh Homme—about their successor. The album includes the already-released singles "The Way You Used to Do" and "The Evil Has Landed."
—Alex Robert Ross
TFCF [is] absolutely lovely. The first Liars album without co-founder Aaron Hempill, TFCF is glitched out and mournful collection of space-folk balladry (interspersed with a couple sunnily NIN-esque bangers to keep the listener on his/her/their toes). Relentlessly introspective throughout, the songs range from 60s baroque to pop-industrial dirge to shambolic beats-driven twee that wouldn't be out of place on the Kids soundtrack. Angus maintains the sense of exploration consistent with that band's catalog, but now the exploration seems like he's feeling out the corners of a dark room with zero gravity. It's a delicate and prettily claustrophobic work about a man in an obvious state of pained transition.
— Zachary Lipez, Liars Didn't Want Us to Use the Word "Vaporwave" in This Headline
Wiki: No Mountains in Manhattan
New York rapper and convincing mayoral candidate Wiki's debut solo album, No Mountains In Manhattan, slaps. The 16-track project features guest verses from Ghostface Killah, Lakutis, ACAB, Slicky Boy, Your Old Droog; there are production credits for Kaytranada, Earl Sweatshirt, Ratking's Sporting Life, and Wiki himself. Aside from previously-released singles "Mayor" and "Pretty Bull," highlights include the natural-sounding Ghostface collaboration on "Made for This," the grimey "Chinatown Swing," and closer "Leppy Coqui."
— Alex Robert Ross
The War on Drugs: A Deeper Understanding
You can hear traces of the band's older records on A Deeper Understanding, but Adam also found himself returning to the road songs that left their mark on Lost In The Dream. "Holding On," this album's second single, lifts the glockenspiels from Springsteen's "Born To Run." "Nothing To Find" shares an emotional connection to Jackson Browne's "Running On Empty." Granduciel happily acknowledges those influences. "Oh yeah, they're the sweetest," he says. "It's not a sound that's in those songs, it's a spirit that travels through those kind of songs that I think I'm really attracted to."
— Kevin EG Perry, Hey, Adam Granduciel, What's Your Secret?
On Reservoir, Sophie Payten has taken the integration of digital and analog a step further. She sounds more assured as a songwriter: the guitars are softer; her phrasing is slower; her melodies build and adapt to the songs around them; those digital interventions are integral to the songs, not separate ideas. On the five-minute "Heaven I Know," she whispers a hurried "one, two, three" as a beat and stretches a song out over it, with spare piano chords, elongated horn fanfares, and an Auto-Tuned vocal that builds to an almost-unrecognizable crescendo. "I'm Done," an acoustic duet with Bon Iver's S. Carey, has computerized half-vocals detail the background, like bird calls in a rainforest. The stunning "Aeon" is backed by an accordion, tracked so closely that you can hear the mechanism clanking back and forth.
— Alex Robert Ross, Gordi Is Your Next Favorite Folktronica Genius
Turnover: Good Nature
Though emotive pop-punk bands diving into dreamier and more atmospheric territory is nothing new (see: The Sidekicks, Title Fight), Good Nature proves Turnover have really gone for it. If the songs on Peripheral Vision could be described as "wistful" and "dreamy," these new tracks practically float in lush and breezy instrumentation. Recorded over six weeks last fall at Studio 4 in Conshohocken, PA with their longtime producer Will Yip, the songs reflect the band's broadened musical tastes. Throughout our interview, [frontman Austin] Getz mentions George Harrison, Pet Sounds, Bossa Nova, disco, and Toro Y Moi and talks about his extra-attention to the arrangements. "I wanted this record to be a little bit more dynamic and not just New Wave-inspired with driving basslines. We kind of wrote the basslines like guitar parts," he offers.
— Josh Terry, Turnover Return with 'Good Nature,' Their Best Album Yet
The third LP from former Bomba Estero guitarist Julian Salazar and percussionist Franklin Tejedor fuses jungle, techno, and electronica. Noisey Colombia described it as one of their favorites of the year, hailing it as "an evolution in both the sound and the way of working" for the duo.
— Alex Robert Ross
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- Action Bronson
- Queens of the Stone Age
- The War on Drugs
- Lil Uzi Vert
- Blue Chips 7000
- Luv Is Rage 2
- a deeper understanding