Albums that came out over the summer that do/don’t deserve to be talked about.
By Brian Kearney
Flume’s sophomore album, Skin is an attempt to reach beyond one’s grasp. His lofty aspirations of making an album by “creating sounds that sound like the fabric of the universe tearing” sadly result in numerous tracks being skipped over. Multiple guest appearances feature such talent as Little Dragon, Vince Staples, Vic Mensa, Beck, Raekwon, and Aluna George attempt to show Flume’s flexibility as a collaborator, and there are some nice outcomes; highlights include Smoke and Retribution featuring a hyped Vince Staples snapping our necks with some great verses and Tiny Cities showcasing Beck’s looped falsetto, a nice drop, and clean production. Yet the album as a whole tends to drag and get muddied up by its own over ambitious production.
Kaytranada first appeared on the scene when a soundcloud remix of Janet Jackson's If became viral resulting in a crazy amount of touring that kept Kay from his love of creating original music; a unique blend of hip-hop/neo-soul/future bass/discoish delight that he dubs as “uptempo RnB”. The music is extremely diverse, some songs even will switch styles midway yet maintain the overall groove as if Kay is serving as his own DJ. Guests such as Anderson .Paak (who crushes anything he touches, btw), Vic Mensa, Aluna George, and Little Dragon all have excellent collaborations here to help showcase his complexity and musical dexterity (pay attention Flume). This was the most refreshing and fun discovery of the summer.
The Avalanches, Wildflower
It has been 16 years since the Avalanches debuted with Since I Left You at a time when sampling in hip-hop and electronic music were elevated to mythic levels by artists as Prince Paul, DJ Shadow, Beck, and this Australian collective. If you are not familiar with them, their music is extremely eclectic featuring hundreds, if not thousands of samples accompanied with excellent turntabilism and live instrumentation. Wildflower is a massive album, one that takes several plays to digest and comprehend but also grows better with each listen. It creates a lush, orchestral, funky soundscape that is trippy and a pleasure to listen to. Also make sure to see their live show, it’s going to be a good one.
Schoolboy Q, Blank Face LP
Schoolboy Q is back with the strongest major-label hip hop release of the summer, despite it not being full of number one hits or a lack of anything Caribbean. He hits us with a gangster rap album that knocks hard and delivers some nasty lyrics with some great guest spots featuring the talents of Jadakiss, Kanye West, Anderson .Paak, and E-40. This is a rare rap album in the fact that all the songs are worthy of a listen and to make sure that nothing gets skipped over.