New music round up: January

New music round ups are a monthly recap dedicated to covering some of the latest new music in a series of short, descriptive reviews. This edition includes a variety of hip-hop releases, including Evidence, Migos and Maxo Kream, the latest from California singer-songwriter Ty Segall, and the new record from folk-pop duo First Aid Kit.

Evidence – Weather or Not

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LA rap veteran Evidence is coming fresh off the release of his third solo LP Weather or Not, his first since 2011. When it comes to spitting tough rhymes over hard boom bap beats, Ev is one of the last few soldiers doing the old craft justice in today’s game. Aside from a few questionable hooks or mild instrumentals, this is a solid album. Ev can rap with the best of ’em out west, especially from a lyrical standpoint. The classic vibes on “Throw It All Away” and “Jim Dean” embody the cold cut grittiness of the cloth that he came from.

First Aid Kit – Ruins

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The first First Aid Kit record in four years isn’t strikingly creative or unique, but it’s still full of good contemporary folk-pop songs. The Swedish duo, comprised of sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, is widely recognized for their rich, folk inspired crooning and Ruins is no different (“Fireworks” is the standout). They even go a bit country on “Postcards”, echoing the Flying Burrito Brothers with a rhythmic and soothing piano tune. It won’t blow you away, but Ruins has plenty of sweet melodies and vocal arrangements that will make you come back around for a listen from time to time.

Maxo Kream – Punken

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Punken is the latest release from Houston rapper and trap music up and comer Maxo Kream. I’ve never been crazy about Maxo’s music, but I was expecting a lot more from this tape. It’s been marketed as a big breakthrough project, but I mostly found it underwhelming, both vocally and musically. Maxo’s bread and butter lies in his storytelling and vivid depictions of the trap lifestyle. He’s totally genuine – I believe every word the guy says, and his stories about hustling and fighting through struggles are admirable, just not that exciting. “Roaches” is one of the few exceptions, detailing the rescuing of Maxo’s family during Hurricane Harvey.

Migos – Culture II

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The new Migos album will surely end up as one of 2018’s most high profile releases. Unfortunately Culture II doesn’t live up to the hype. To reiterate the majority of the complaints with the project so far, this album is just bloated with loads of boring and repetitive beats and rapping. I don’t see any of the singles blowing up like “Bad and Boujee” or “Slippery” either. Even worse, it’s almost two hours in run time. If Culture was a commercial milestone for trap music, Culture II makes Migos the latest sell outs in modern hip-hop.

Scallops Hotel (Milo) – Sovereign Nose of Your Arrogant Face

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Milo has gradually turned into one of the more prolific MCs in the underground. His new release, a project out under his Scallops Hotel alias, builds off the momentum of 2017’s mellow and jazzy Who Told You to Think??!!?!?!?!. Sovereign Nose of Your Arrogant Face picks up where the last record left off; chill, nod-inducing beats play the canvas for Milo’s introspective word art, which teeters between deep self-examination and sarcastic observation of his peers. It’s fun to hear someone as scatter-brained as Milo brag in his raps, like on “Bought My Kid A High Chair”; his diction never fails to be unique. Though the production here isn’t as entertaining as past Milo or Scallops Hotel releases, it’s stripped back and allows you to focus on what he’s saying. Enjoy him while he’s at the top of his game.

SiR – November

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On November, Inglewood singer and producer SiR comes through with a short but smooth R&B LP. It’s a winter record with warm vibes and swooning production. SiR’s sound is looser and spacier than a lot of his contemporaries, which will help him grow an audience in the short term, but in terms of songwriting, he’s pretty ordinary. If he can take his pen game to the next level, he’ll be a force, because given TDE’s track record, the beats will be there to back him up. I anticipate a similar career path for him to that of SZA. November is a decent first release, but SiR’s next steps will tell whether he is an artist that is capable of making great R&B or just selling records and accumulating streams. Listen to “Dreaming of Me” and “Summer in November.”

Ty Segall – Freedom’s Goblin

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The new Ty Segall record, Freedom’s Goblin, is a noisy and vibrant collection of songs that stretch from borderline grunge to stereotypical 2010’s indie rock. I get some serious “Hey Joe” vibes on the opener “Fanny Dog” and the distorted grooves on “Despoiler Of Cadaver” are nearly irresistible. Ty opts for an acoustic approach on “My Lady’s On Fire”, which results in a jazzy sing-along and one of the dreamier tunes on the entire record. Freedom’s Goblin is a fun, adventurous listen from one of indie rock’s most colorful songwriters. Now Ty just needs to put his music on Spotify. For real man.

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2 thoughts on “New music round up: January

  1. Really digging the new Ty Segall. and First Aid Kit is always good. I’ll give some of these others a listen. My favorite this month was “The Thread That Keeps Us” by Calexico. Also, “The House” by Porches is good.

    Any particular ones you’re excited for in February? “Chime” by Dessa is definitely one I’m looking forward too.

    Liked by 1 person

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