New music round ups are a monthly recap dedicated to covering the latest music in a series of short, descriptive reviews. This month’s edition includes new releases from Jack White, Lil Yachty, Mount Eerie and more.
David Byrne – American Utopia
Talking Heads frontman and art-rock virtuoso David Byrne pulls out all the stops on his latest solo effort. He reps indie rock rebel spirit (“I Dance Like This”), sings hymns about chicken brains and donkey dicks (“Everyday Is A Miracle”) and encourages self-confidence in the individual and the collective (“Here”). Musically, the grooves are there, the funk is prominent and the weirdness is on full display. On American Utopia, all the strange elements that have always fueled Byrne’s music culminate into a fun and frivolous project that is sneakily addicting. The goofiness of this album has an odd ear worm quality that you may find yourself questioning. Don’t resist it, just submit yourself to it and dance.
Jack White – Boarding House Reach
Insane and outlandish only begin to describe the sound of Jack White’s new album Boarding House Reach. On his most freakish release yet, White injects his traditional bluesy-garage rock with a bounty of absurdity, incorporating heavy distortion and electronics to create a lengthy, jam-inspired goliath of a record. The results are often mixed, but epic nonetheless. The digital funk of “Corporation” and the riveting, hard rock of “Over and Over and Over” are some of the many exciting highlights.
Lil Yachty – Lil Boat 2
In the trap era of hip-hop, where the biggest artists are releasing multiple projects per year to satisfy the shrinking attention spans of their fans, it’s interesting to see someone like Lil Yachty try to rebound from what many deemed a commercial failure with his debut album, Teenage Emotions. With that that said, Yachty’s new release is certainly more entertaining than anything his Quality Control labelmates, Migos, did on their recent album, Control II, earlier this year. Lil Boat 2 isn’t pushing any boundaries, nor is it bringing new ideas to the table for trap, but as far as moody and melodic rap records go, it’s commendable.
Logic – Bobby Tarantino II
Maryland rapper, Logic, continues to find significant commercial success with each new release, but his latest mixtape hardly offers any creative or interesting ideas. Bobby Tarantino II presents more of the same qualities that have both propelled and simultaneously held back his previous efforts from achieving serious acclaim: technically sound rapping, surface level bars and slightly enhanced, contemporary production. Logic’s music is far from bad, but continues to suffer from unoriginality. “44 More” is a nice banger though.
Mount Eerie – Now Only
The music of Washington-based singer-songwriter Phil Elverum as Mount Eerie is of a rare kind. Now Only is the follow up to one of 2017’s most depressing albums, A Crow Looked at Me, a record that details the story and the aftermath of Elverum’s wife’s fatal battle with cancer. The gut-wrenching memories he recounts on these records are best experienced by listening to both albums together. Few folk artists have created such moving bodies of work in recent memory.
Preoccupations – New Material
On their new record, Preoccupations take post-punk to a place that is distant and spacey. Their apocalyptic sound meets deep dance grooves on “Espionage” and reaches for indie rock euphoria on “Disarray.” The melodic nature of New Material almost camouflages the dark mission under which Preoccupations create. This album will serve as a solid entry point for new fans, without compromising the group’s quarrelsome nature.
PRhyme – PRhyme 2
Hip-hop heads rejoice. PHryme is back with a full-length follow up to their initial 2014 project. The duo, comprised of veterans Royce da 5’9″ and DJ Premier, recently released a new project that builds on the ‘90s nostalgia they established on their previous effort. I’ve always found Royce’s rapping too wordy for my own liking, but on PHryme 2, he still comes through with solid verses from time to time (“Sunflower Seeds”). This album is meant to be a celebratory listen for die hard fans more than it is meant to acquire new ones. Final verdict: well produced and performed but only mildly interesting.
Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar
Young Fathers is as eclectic of a group as you’ll find in modern music. The Scottish trio, well known for their chaotic soundscapes that involve numerous styles and genres, which include hip-hop, electronic and gospel, hone in on a focused, singular record with Cocoa Sugar. There are a handful of tracks that, while rich and vibrant, fall short in bringing something unique to the overall sound of the record. However, that doesn’t take away from the brightest moments: “Wow”, “Holy Ghost” and especially “In My View” are among the most exciting spots on the album. The repeated refrain “I wanna be king, until I am,” stands out as a profound statement on the latter.