March Release Roundup
By Hadley Schaffer
Ordered from best to worst
Kiss My Super Bowl Ring – The Garden [Art Punk, Experimental Rock]
- Easily the most chaotic album of the year, The Garden absolutely killed it with this one. It’s such a beautiful blend of anxiety and aggression and sadness that all comes together so perfectly. The way the nasty, screamed vocals interact with the clean (although often shouted) vocals over such eclectic production makes for one of the most unpredictable and fun listens you’ll have all year.
Besides – CHANCE デラソウル [Future Funk]
- This album came out of nowhere and absolutely shocked me. It reminds me of The Avalanches in their prime and I cannot get enough. It’s just so incredibly HAPPY and BOUNCY and INFECTIOUS that it genuinely makes you want to dance. If you’re looking for half an hour of pure, uninterrupted bliss, this is it.
1988 – Knxwledge [Instrumental Hip Hop]
- I love this. Knxwledge is one of the best producers in hip hop right now, and these 22 songs do nothing but cement that. 37 minutes of the most soulful hip hop beats you will hear all year. Plus THERE IS A NEW NXWORRIES (Knxwledge & Anderson .Paak) SONG ON HERE!!!! This album is everything I wanted it to be and more. Please give it a listen.
Eternal Atake – Lil Uzi Vert [Trap, Pop Rap]
- He actually did it. The absolute madman. Over two years of hype and Uzi still managed to exceed expectations. This album is sick. It’s incredibly cohesive with a really fun space theme that (although arguably a bit played out at this point) really ties everything together. It’s not like he’s re-inventing himself here, but it feels like he really took all of his best qualities (fantastic production and unbelievably sticky hooks and flows) and made a full album out of it. A few tracks towards the middle do feel fairly formulaic for Uzi at this point, and personally I think re-using the “XO Tour Llif3” melody for “P2” was pretty lazy, but besides that I am in love with every part of this project. Good job Uzi. This is how to make great pop rap.
Common Sense – Viagra Boys [Post-Punk, Art Punk]
- Fantastic EP. 14 minutes of everything I love about Viagra Boys. Catchy hooks, entertaining lyrics, hilarious refrains (“we’re gonna lick it!”), and fantastic production. All around this is a huge step in the right direction for the Viagra Boys and I can’t wait to see what they come up with for their next full-length project.
After Hours – The Weeknd [Alternative R&B, Synthpop]
- I cannot stand The Weeknd. I hate his voice, I hate his songwriting, I hate pretty much everything about him. That being said, After Hours is a great album. It is very much a change of pace for his music, and I love it. Most tracks have genuinely great songwriting, and I am actually invested in what he’s saying (although there are exceptions, like that whole “stack a couple M’s like I was Shady” refrain). And his vocal performances on here are by far the best of his career. Not to mention the best tracks will be stuck in your head for WEEKS. I think this blend of pop, r&b and ‘80s throwback was exactly what The Weeknd needed to finally catch my attention, and I am so glad it did.
Purple Moonlight Pages – R.A.P. Ferreira [Jazz Rap, Abstract Hip Hop]
- Milo’s latest release is possibly his most straight-forward jazz rap album to date. It’s pretty cohesive and features a few great tracks, but as a whole I wouldn’t call it his best work or anything. Lyrically it’s pretty much your standard Milo: constantly right on the line between thought-provoking and pretentious, but generally I think he rides that line pretty well and never gets too deep in either way. Dope project; I’d just rather listen to So The Flies Don’t Come or Who Told You To Think??!!?!?!?!
Gremlin – Zelooperz [Abstract Hip Hop]
- Bruiser Brigade member Zelooperz has been making waves in the hip hop community for a few years now, and for good reason. Many would argue that his previous effort Dyn-O-Mite was one of the best hip hop albums of last year, and I wouldn’t disagree. This new one though… Well it is definitely weird. It fuses abstract hip hop with trap in a very cool way that isn’t really being done right now, but I was honestly expecting a bit more. There are a couple tracks on here that I love, but a lot of it honestly sounds like he’s trying a bit too hard to come off as abstract and different. Regardless, it is a fun listen; I just don’t see it sticking with me in the way his past couple projects did.
LUV vs. The World 2 – Lil Uzi Vert [Trap, Pop Rap]
- Released just a week after the long-awaited Eternal Atake, this project basically feels like an appeal to Uzi’s fans. It’s like, “oh you waited this long for my masterpiece, but it didn’t really have many ‘hits’ on it, so here’s another one with a ton of big-name features and more radio-friendly beats.” And you know, that’s cool, and I really enjoy a couple tracks, but as a whole it is just nowhere near as compelling as Eternal Atake in my opinion.
A Written Testimony – Jay Electronica [Hip Hop]
- I honestly do not have much to say about this. It feels dated and unnecessary. It’s not a bad album, but I just cannot think of a single good reason as to why it exists. Jay Electronica’s legacy was better off without an album.
3.15.20 – Childish Gambino [Neo-Soul, Contemporary R&B]
- I have been a huge Gambino fan for years, so I was more than excited to see what his next (and potentially last) project would sound like, especially after how phenomenal “Awaken, My love!” was. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this at all. It feels like he’s trying to accomplish so much, to the point where it comes off as incredibly unfocused and messy. There are a few tracks I thought were cool and a couple I absolutely hated, but most of it I am honestly just indifferent towards. Also I hate that there’s no album art or track titles; it makes it feel so insignificant, both within his discography and the scope of music as a whole. Hopefully this isn’t the last we hear from Gambino, but if it is, this is a pretty unmemorable way to exit the music industry.
ADHD – Joyner Lucas [Pop Rap]
- This album sounds almost as terrible as its cover looks. I honestly thought Joyner Lucas had potential a couple years ago. A few of his older tracks showed some pretty refreshing storytelling talent, but this new album is just bad. Universally terrible hooks. Laughably cringey lyrics crammed into every song. Not to mention some of the worst skits I’ve heard on any album ever. Some of the beats are ok, but most of it is just generic trap, which does not complement what he’s trying to do thematically at all. Dude just took all the worst elements of Eminem, Logic and Big Sean to make the most beautifully disastrous project possible. There’s no way any of these concepts should have been approved by whoever is on his team. The way he discusses ADHD is possibly the worst artistic portrayal of a mental illness I’ve ever heard. He’s just complaining and blaming all of his life’s problems on the world’s most common mental disorder instead of discussing ways to overcome and live with it. Easily the worst album I have heard all year. Joyner truly outdid himself with this one.