Following last year’s smash debut, Take Care sees Canadian actor turned rapper Drake confidently accepting his much-disputed place atop the hip hop charts. And he does so by playing to his strengths, which, according to detractors, are also his weaknesses: he’s soft, self-aware and vulnerable. The album’s content deals largely with estranged love, heartbreak, and post-fame emoting. For such a personal 80 minutes, it does open up to include a fair share of cameos — Rihanna, The Weeknd, Nicki Minaj, Jamie xx, Andre 3000, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, and some guy named Stevie Wonder. Grandiose productions, downtempo R&B, atmospheric pace-changes…love him or hate him, Drake’s bringing something interesting to the gold-plated table here.
No one does synthetic bliss better than the Swedes (see: The Tough Alliance, CEO, Air France), and Korellreven is further proof of that. Hard to believe this is the debut LP with what’s been more than a year of blog-hits and remixes in circulation, and the title (as does the actual album) quickly redirects the act as a full-listen rather than a hype machine topper (do note standouts “As Young As Yesterday” followed by Julianna Barwick featuring “Sa Sa Samoa”). This thing pulses with tropic positively and impossibly bright, balearic pop. What separates An Album from already passed trends is its intricate, luxurious approach— if bedroom chillwave was a digital point ‘n shoot or worse, the instagram, than Korallreven is a sparkling Hasselblad.
Brooklynites Pterodactyl arrived right at the height of last decade’s weird-rock explosion and have chugged along with moderate results ever since. Their third release finds them in familiar pysch-lite form, humming over dizzied, art-pop structures, with a newfound 60s-esq harmonic layer. Nothing life-changing but far from background music, Spills Out oozes with ramshackle ambition, and plenty of noises to explore.
How do you encapsulate 31 years of uncompromising, ever-influential, and characteristically album-centric material on two discs? You can’t, but Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982-2011 sure tries. The beloved legacy of R.E.M got a deserved boost in September with the news of their official disbanding. And while this release is obvious bate given the timing, it does sincerely curate a proper retrospective of a band who’s sound never stopped freely evolving—even at the peak of commercial success—which might be their single greatest achievement.
San Francisco sound-scaper Scott Hansen is known for his ability to cross the mediums of design and music. As a graphic artist working/blogging under the pseudonym ISO50, his trademark style is clean, geometric, and sepia-toned, which is a great indication as to where his music can take listeners. Everything on Dive, his second full length, is as scenic as it gets, constructed within but not limited to electronic realms. The primarily instrumental album comes heavily polished and at times prog-rockish with warm synth lines and guitars spiraling in open space, all navigated by drum-machine tempos seemingly custom made for high-focus headphone stretches, or a good run.
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