Kanye West & Kid Cudi: Kids See Ghosts

He just turned 41, and Kanye West still craves nothing more than to make a big mess, plunge into it headfirst, and take us with him. This impulse unites him with his dragon-energy brother in the White House, who similarly revels in just saying it out loud to see how it feels. It must be…

The Band: The Band

The Band’s second album might have been called America. Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm were both partial to that grandiose moniker—years later, it was one of the only things they still agreed on. Harvest was also considered, as the record was conceived as a concept album about the South that begins with the promise of…

Brandon Wardell: An ASMR Album

For better and worse, social media is a spawning ground for people who thrive on getting laughs—and that certainly includes Brandon Wardell. The 25-year-old Los Angeles-based comedian is part of a micro-generational group of aspiring funnymakers who have essentially gotten famous through cracking wise online, even while pursuing more traditional routes such as stand-up and…

Big Freedia: 3rd Ward Bounce EP

Big Freedia is the gender non-conformist darling of New Orleans bounce music who has made waves in the crossover markets of cable television (as the star of the Fuse series “Big Freedia Bounces Back”), mainstream pop, and rap. Freedia’s star has risen since her bellowing timbre laced Beyoncé’s “Formation” and the 2018 Drake single “Nice…

The Get Up Kids: Kicker EP

In the second half of the 1990s, the Get Up Kids fostered a thriving DIY punk scene in a landlocked college town, knocked out their debut in a weekend with Bob Weston of Shellac, and turned down major-label offers. Put aside the love songs, and their classic Something to Write Home About can be read…

Snail Mail: Lush

Sincerity is Lindsey Jordan’s superpower. The moody guitar confessionals she creates as Snail Mail contend with suburban teenage ennui—the angst of feeling like you’re the only person who’s truly alive in a dulled world. But unlike so many other disillusioned 18-year-olds with a Fender and a microphone, Jordan does not whine or wallow; she transcends….

Jon Hassell: Listening to Pictures (Pentimento Volume One)

While it’s been nine years since his last full-length, 2009’s Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street, Jon Hassell has not been completely absent from record shelves or streaming playlists. Several of the Los Angeles trumpeter, composer, and ambient godfather’s canonical albums have been reissued during that stretch, including a fantastic…

Omar Apollo: Stereo EP

Omar Apollo taught himself to sing and play guitar the true millennial way: using YouTube videos as a guide. The Chicano singer-songwriter and producer grew up in Hobart, Indiana, and got his start at the end of 2016, when he was still a teenager, with a string of SoundCloud loosies: a brew of bedroom pop…

Jesse James Solomon: Strata EP

The strip of South East London called Elephant & Castle, home to the reclusive poet-rapper Jesse James Solomon, has completely transformed in recent years, and nothing better symbolizes the area’s gentrification than the Strata building. It is a looming figure, shaped like a beard trimmer, whose three eerily glowing, famously defunct wind turbines positioned at…

Mazzy Star: Still EP

For a band that moves at Mazzy Star’s glacial pace, progress must be measured in steps and inches rather than leaps and bounds. Still may be their first release in four years, but its four songs include an alternate version of the title track of their 1993 classic So Tonight That I Might See and…

Black Thought: Streams of Thought, Vol. 1

Black Thought’s still-titanic 10-minute Funkmaster Flex freestyle from last December was both astonishing and affirming. It showed that the 46-year-old rapper is somehow still improving decades after his peer’s primes, which in hip-hop sounds almost as crazy as a professional athlete doing the same. Black Thought may seem divorced from the sense of desperation that…

Ruler: Winning Star Champion

Power-pop isn’t necessarily the ideal medium for defeatism, but Matt Batey makes the unexpected combination of style and mood work. On Winning Star Champion, his debut LP as Ruler, the Seattle-based singer-songwriter reckons with anxiety and failure, in lyrics that act as perfect cloud cover for the sunshine his bright, infectious melodies constantly radiate. It’s…

Prefuse 73: Sacrifices

Prefuse 73 principal Guillermo Scott Herren never sits still. He first made his name as a trailblazer: Arriving just a few years after DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing… popularized the idea of instrumental hip-hop, Herren helped push the budding subgenre into the laptop age. For a moment, he stood at the nexus of crate-diggers and knob-twisters, crafting…

Kanye West: ye

There is something about the crumbling of American civilization that makes you want to say “fuck it” and go full cowboy; cue Kanye West and friends cosplaying Wyoming as a concept, living out a dude-ranch fantasy beneath the Tetons. It was there, in Jackson Hole—the most economically imbalanced city in America—where Kanye threw together his…

Jenny Hval: The Long Sleep

If Jenny Hval’s 2016 album Blood Bitch was a closed fist, then her latest release, The Long Sleep, is an open palm. Unburdened by the rigorous editing an outstanding concept album like Blood Bitch requires, this new EP finds Hval enlisting a handful of jazz musicians to help her break free from the constraints she…

Hole: Live Through This

Try to imagine a famous woman who screams for a living today. Not alternative, punk-magazine famous, but American monoculture famous, platinum-selling-album famous, so famous her drug mishaps make headlines in Mexican newspapers, so famous rumors and conspiracies about her celebrity marriage hound her for decades. This woman doesn’t let out sing-screams or tinny emo yelps,…

Return of the Frog Queen

In the annals of rock music’s early flirtations with the internet, an incident from the career of Sunny Day Real Estate stands as prophetic of the echo chamber we know today. In December 1994, the band’s frontman, Jeremy Enigk, responded to rumors of an imminent breakup by posting an open letter. While SDRE were being…

Oneohtrix Point Never: Age Of

In children’s movies, the world is always ending. These worlds are smaller than our own, less complex and less fraught, but there is rarely an instance when they’re not in crisis. The kingdom is freezing over, or the human race has been doomed, or God is getting ready to go off to college. When they…

Jeremy Enigk: Return of the Frog Queen

In the annals of rock music’s early flirtations with the internet, an incident from the career of Sunny Day Real Estate stands as prophetic of the echo chamber we know today. In December 1994, the band’s frontman, Jeremy Enigk, responded to rumors of an imminent breakup by posting an open letter. While SDRE were being…

Dear Nora: Skulls Example

Katy Davidson retreats into the wilderness to find inspiration. But the Dear Nora songwriter and frontperson doesn’t seem to seek solace as much as perspective in nature. In their songs, physical distance from civilization becomes a way of discerning the absurdity of day-to-day life. On one such sojourn, in 2003, the band returned to a…

Cruel Practice

South East London singer and DJ Blane Muise recently explained that her Shygirl moniker had nothing to do with timidity. The alter ego Muise inhabits on her debut solo EP, Cruel Practice, isn’t afraid to approach others—she’s simply “not down for small talk.” In Shygirl’s world, “time is precious.” She hates when people waste hers,…

J Balvin: Vibras

On his first trips to America as a precocious teen, Colombia’s J Balvin didn’t necessarily understand all the words in the pop songs he fell in love with. But he knew how they made him feel, and he’s been trying to bottle that feeling with his music ever since. The reggaetónero’s global success has dovetailed…

Clario: Diary 001 EP

Claire Cottrill has been sharing her music online since she was 13. Beginning with acoustic covers of Maroon 5 and Frank Ocean, then evolving into thoughtful, probing guitar songs about the complexities of high school relationships, the 19-year-old musician’s creative coming-of-age took place entirely on the internet. But it wasn’t until 2017—when she uploaded the…

Chvrches: Love Is Dead

The onus on any band naming their album Love Is Dead is to either prove it or prove it wrong. Uncompromising statements have been Chvrches’ currency since the beginning: short, punchy phrases that alternately empower and eviscerate. The title of the Scottish trio’s third album refers to what singer Lauren Mayberry has called society’s “death…

Parliament: Medicaid Fraud Dogg

P-Funk bandleader George Clinton was raised at the center of the world’s pharmaceutical industry. His family moved to Plainfield, New Jersey only a few years after the Warner-Lambert pharmaceutical company settled in nearby Morris Plains, and in the decades since, 14 of the 20 largest pharmaceutical companies on Earth have called the state home. Naturally,…