5 Best New Albums to Check Out This Week
This week has been a good one in the music world. Although you’ve probably heard a lot of buzz about the new Beiber and 1D albums, here are a few others that dropped this week that are, in my opinion, more-rewarding listens.
Le1f’s full-length debut has long been anticipated, especially with the infectious track “Wut” from last year’s EP Hey. The title of this record seems to be a nod to the feminist punk movement riot grrrl, and indeed Le1f has been an inspiration to the queer music scene, particularly within spheres of black artistry. In explaining the story of Riot Boi, he told The New York Times “You’re feeling cute about yourself, and so you go with your girls to the bar. There’s some guy hitting on you, but he’s kind of a chauvinistic racist — the average night out in New York. So you’re just over it and you try to leave, but cabs don’t stop for you.” It’s easy to turn the non-mainstream artist into a political statement, but Le1f raps from the heart of life experience and emotion, whether it’s dealing with men or consumerism. Gritty, and eccentric but honest, Le1f, if nothing else, stands out with his own image and sound. Highlights: “Koi,” “Cheap,” “Taxi.”
Like most rap/hip-hop visionaries, Logic’s muses are born out of struggle: a mixed-race boy growing up on Section 8 and welfare, mesmerized by the larger-than-life Frank Sinatra. But his dedication to his fans rings true: He invited them to submit a video about why they are his biggest supporters, the winners getting a personal home visit to listen to his latest album. His sophomore record The Incredible True Story takes on a thematic identity, beginning with the opening dialogue of two space travelers talking to one another, mentioning Logic’s music as some of the “oldies.” They say that this second LP was the one “that changed everything.” His lyrical genius is matched by gorgeous backing tracks, with groove and winding vocals. And with 18 songs running about an hour long, Logic doesn’t skimp when spitting his rhymes. As we hear the amusing banter of the travelers and their reflections on the fate of planet Earth, we also learn of Logic’s inner musings of hardship and success. Highlights: “Fade Away,” “Like Woah,” “Lord Willin’.”
Although led by the popular single “Here,” about that familiar feeling of being at a party that you can’t wait to escape from, there are more interesting and surprising gems from Alessia Cara’s debut record. At only 19 years old, her anthems try to navigate the move from teenhood to adulthood, and the trials and tribulations of fitting in and finding love. This is perhaps most obvious in “Seventeen,” where Cara sings about the advice of her parents and the anxieties of becoming older. Her blending of sound comes off as actually authentic, with rich vocal harmonies, straddling more upbeat swinging soul and piano-led ballads. She reminds us that there’s still a comfortable place for the youthful outcast, and that after all, society’s standards are overrated, especially for women. Look no further than “Scars to Your Beautiful,” reminding girls that they are lovely the way they are — in all of their authenticity. Highlights: “Outlaws,” “Four Pink Walls,” “Wild Things.”
Cool Uncle is the brainchild of producer Jack Splash, known for his work with greats like Kendrick Lamar and Jennifer Hudson, and the soulful singer Bobby Caldwell, the artist behind the 1978 hit “What You Won’t Do For Love.” The result is something aurally delectable, revisiting the sounds of 70s and 80s soul. With songs featuring prominent bass grooves, complex percussion, and jazzy instrumentation, the self-titled album resonates somewhere between nostalgia and timelessness. Splash and Caldwell tell us stories of love and of heartbreak with the help of artists like Cee-Lo Green and Deneice Williams. Highlights: “Game Over feat. Mayer Hawthorne,” “Breaking Up ft. Deneice Williams and Eric Biddines,” “Miami Nights.”
Mutemath returns with their first album since 2011, taking a more reductive approach to a blend of alternative and dance. Sexy is pretty much the only word to describe the beginning of Vitals, the introductory hook of “Joy Rides” sounding like a cross between INXS and electronic funk. Their self-produced fourth album masters both the energetic and laidback rhythm of synth-infused music, creating reflective and upbeat soundscapes. Mutemath’s latest record might be the perfect accompaniment for the electro-rock fan’s long car rides while pondering life, especially the title track “Vitals.” Highlights: “Joy Rides,” “Monuments,” “Best of Intentions.”
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