Music week in review: LCD Soundsystem, Frank Ocean, Yung Lean, & more
It wasn’t the most jam-packed week of music releases, but with a new album from one of the great American bands of our time, things are good.
The weather is getting a little chippy, so you already know you need something to carry you through the long weekend.
LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
Holy shit, this album.
LCD Soundsystem came back as a band over a year ago and have been touring, despite a grandstanding “last ever” concert at MSG in 2011 (which I attended).
Now, their first album since 2010 is easily one of the best albums of the year, if not recent memory. Headman James Murphy’s lyrics are as clever, funny, sad, sarcastic, morbid, and fun as ever as he chant-sings along to the driving instrumentation.
“oh baby,” the opening track of the album, employs plush synths that wash over the listener as Murphy sings along about a bad dream.
Then there’s “how do you sleep,” which runs for over nine minutes, the first three and a half of which have Murphy screaming in the distance until suddenly a wall of synthesizer goodness reigns down.
“Call the police” is an anthemic, more rocky number than some of the others on the album. It’s the sort of driving, fast-paced, head-bopping tune that makes LCD Soundsystem so amazing to see live.
This is the only band that can make you dance to lyrics like:
“This is nowhere
We all, we all, we all, we all know this is nowhere
There is no one
It’s pretty damn awesome to have these guys back.
Modwai – Every Country’s Sun
We got some more middle-aged rockers doing their thing this week with Mogwai’s 9th album as a band. The Scots have been around since the mid-90s, but their ambient post-rock vibes hold up as well as ever.
Mogwai is not always the most easy to listen to, and at times the album gets weighed down in some pretty dense and inaccessible concepts. But songs like “Party in the Dark” are as fun as any rock music out this year.
Cheers to all the rockers over 40 out there.
EARTHGANG – Rags
EARTHGANG have had a busy 24 hours. After the duo, consisting of rappers Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot, announced they were signing to J. Cole’s Dreamville Records last night, they dropped the five-track EP, Rags.
It’s an extremely impressive and intriguing project from EARTHGANG, who have been holding it down for the Atlanta underground for years now.
A lot of quick assumptions come to mind when Atlanta hip-hop is brought up, but EARTHGANG, with their soulful musicality and political and social commentary, are much closer to Outkast and Pharcyde than Future and Young Thug.
Now that they’re signed to Dreamville, hopefully EARTHGANG will have more of a platform for their brand of hip-hop, they deserve it.
Frank Ocean – “Provider”
Frank Ocean dropped his newest single on his Apple Music show “blonded RADIO” and it’s vintage Frank.
There’s multiple pitch changes, beat switches, Frank goes from singing in his technologically-altered falsetto to rapping about trying to find his zip (the other kind, not the part on clothing) in his Patagonia jacket.
Frank is as contemplative and poetic as ever. Hopefully this means there’s more music from the New Orleans native to come… but by now we know not to hold our collective breath while we wait for Frank.
Young Lean – “Red Bottom Sky”
Yung Lean has an album coming this year. It’s unclear exactly when, but it’s coming nonetheless!
The Sadboy originator has come a long way since the drug and stress-induced meltdown that landed him in psychiatric care. It’s clear in his music too. While “Red Bottom Sky” isn’t exactly a happy song, it’s pretty damn beautiful.
The floating flutes and synths are a far cry from the dark production on Lean’s earlier work.
We’ll be on the lookout for his full length project.
N.O.R.E. – “Uno Más” (ft. Pharrell)
So NYC legend N.O.R.E. has made a beachy little number for the club along with Pharrell. It’s not exactly the type of shit that Capone-N-Noreaga fans knew the Queens rappers for, but hey it’s 2017 and everyone’s gotta make some watered-down reggae.
In an Instagram post, N.O.R.E. called it his “favorite record I ever made in 20 years” and labeled Pharrell the GOAT producer.
This song sure is something.
Ty Dolla $ign – “So Am I” (ft. Damian Marley, Skrillex)
Speaking of watered-down reggae, Ty Dolla $ign, Skrillex, and Damian Marley have teamed up to make this song, “So Am I.”
There’s not really much to say about it other than it’s a decently fun listen and it seems like Skrillex has been taking notes from Diplo during their Jack U sessions on how to make diet reggae.
Playboi Carti – “New Choppa” (ft. A$AP Rocky) (video)
A$AP Rocky and protege Playboi Carti head to the gun range in the new visuals for the track off Playboi’s debut album.
It’s definitely worth a watch and surely was fun as fuck to shoot (no pun intended). Also, beautiful irony with the video starting with A$AP saying that “n****s with guns in they videos is corny anyway” and then proceeding to spend an entire video shooting guns.
A$AP Rocky also confirmed this week that a solo album is dropping in 2017 and his new clothing album AWGE is set to debut soon.