New Music Roundup: October

New music roundups 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 Adrianne Lenker, Kurt Vile, Twenty One Pilots and more.

Adrianne Lenker – abysskiss

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Big Thief’s Capacity was one of the most endearing records of 2017. That same intimatacy is found on lead singer Adrianne Lenker’s sophomore LP abysskiss, a stripped back odyssey of tender folk tunes and personal stories from Lenker’s past. Though both Lenker’s solo and band work wade in the same style of genre, on abysskiss, absent are the rich textures and warm layers that would normally be provided by a backing band – even one as subtle as Big Thief. Here, Lenker employs little more than her guitar to guide her evocative balladry. “from” and “symbol” best capture the power of her quiet yearnings and painful recollections.  – Roberto Johnson

Brent Faiyaz – Lost

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The first thing we hear on Brent Faiyaz’s first release since his solo debut, Sonder Son, are sirens, as the opening lines croon “pardon me.” Breaking through the turmoil and anxiety that is caused by sirens in the psyche, Lost, the six song project, is the inhale and exhale. While most EPs are used as a prelude or used as a sampling portion of a forthcoming project, Faiyaz doesn’t do that. The project is reflecting the median portion of thought the singer is having in the middle of his life. The beats are dreamy yet hypnotic and let the listener get lost in Faiyaz’s thoughts. He lets you ponder on him. The hardest flow he uses for his vocals is on “Poundz” and the dream finally ends on “Target On My Chest.”  It isn’t a lot, but it’s a satisfying and seasoned project.  – Tyler Jones

Clarence Clarity – Think: Peace

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After taking a three year break to work with pop artists such as Rina Sawayana, Clarence Clarity returns with his long awaited sophomore LP, Think:Peace. His futuristic synth leads are found throughout his entire album, while also depicting impressive transitions and experimental themes. Clarence stays persistent with his well known glitch-pop techniques in songs such as “We Change” and “Next Big Thing,” which can be almost mistaken for a late 90’s Justin Timberlake single. Although his production on his album is impressive with stacked layers of synths and tightly mastered drums, Clarence ties all of his songs together with his signature R&B vocals. Shadi also makes an impressive featured appearance, rapping on Clarence’s first ever hip-hop incorporated song, “Fold ‘Em/Silver Lake Reservoir.” The passion heard throughout his album brings promise of revolutionizing the pop scene in future music to come.  – Matthew Sandoval

G Jones – The Ineffable Truth

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G Jones’ new LP The Ineffable Truth expresses more emotions compared to any one of his other projects. It always amazes me when I listen to an album and I can actually feel what the artist is trying to convey in his writings. Songs such as “Everything All at Once” and “Iridescent Leaves Floating Downstream” express tones of forgiveness, finding beauty in an aggressively themed album. Meanwhile, songs like “Arbiter’s Theme” and “Understanding the Possibility” still have the classic screams of layered synths that every G Jones fan knows and loves. The album’s highlight track, in which both soft tones and aggressive breakdowns compliment each other perfectly, is “Time.” With the song reaching an entire six minutes, G Jones is able to convey the idea of time being a concept that necessarily doesn’t exist in his eyes. The song features fast shifts in pace, with abrupt breakdowns and sudden bpm changes. G Jones amazed me with the act of expressing emotions through his album, while still maintaining his classic feel.  – MS

Ella Mai – Ella Mai

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The spotlight is on and it’s hot, and you can either back out or show up. Ella Mai attempts to do the latter on her self-titled debut. Each letter in her name describes herself through tales of love. She starts the project with “Emotion” and ends with “Inner.” She has stolen hearts and it might not be the best for them. When her heart is in the palms of others, she fights for control of herself and inadvertently might leave some hearts to add to her own collection. By the end, she realizes it isn’t a matter of who is in control, but whether or not if they can share each other. Through this, she finds herself in comfort and warmth.  – TJ

Khalid – Suncity

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Nothing is sweeter than an ode to one’s city. And for Khalid, it’s his Suncity. A boy turned into a man over the past few years of success, Khalid chronicles where it all began for him. The seven song project sees the growing artist letting the listener in on how the sun nurtured the seeds he planted. The tales are relatable but unique to him in how he sings about the situationships he’s had. The tales he sings are sweet, tender, and painful, with him knowing they are now memories and will never be recaptured, because his star has far exceeded his city. But the love in his tune indicates that he will always have “Suncity” in his heart and hope it’s the thing that lights him on his journey.  – TJ

Kurt Vile – Bottle It In

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Kurt Vile has been at the indie rock game for over a decade and yet, he still carries a youthful exuberance in his songs that evokes a playful, carefree attitude. To many, it’s his most likable quality, and unsurprisingly, it seeps its way into the flooring of his latest effort Bottle It In. Vile’s brand of folk-rock harps back to the proletariat anthems of Neil Young and Tom Petty, but his songs possess a subtle psychedelic sheen that differentiates them from many of his contemporaries – past or present. Coupled with his slick stoner drawl, Vile’s compositions on Bottle It In are some of his best performed and most heartfelt tracks in years. “Hysteria” is a patient and philosophical contemplation on existentialism and “Cold Was The Wind” is a metaphorical portrayal of drug addiction over a mellow desert-grunge tune. “Loading Zones,” the album’s lead single, proves Vile’s ability to craft a textbook indie rock jam has hardly faded and reiterates just how well he knows his way around the guitar.  – RJ

Lay – NAMANANA

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Sexy is back in the form of China’s sheep and idol producer, Lay. A part of the Korean boy group, EXO, Lay has been doing solo music for three years, but this time he has America set on his sights. On the third album, Namanana, the composer, dancer, rapper, and singer releases a 22-track project. While that may seem like a lot, it is in fact genius. The album is divided between a Mandarin version and a English version respectively. The title track is a Michael Jackson-esque pop track with middle eastern influences that makes you want to get up and dance. The rest of the album sounds like if you got ‘80s MJ and early 2000s JT to team up on an album with modern R&B/pop production. While the flow of the lyrics stumbles a bit in the English version, they still make up for them in rhythm and give the most pleasant of experiences.  – TJ

Louis the Child – Kids At Play – EP

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Louis the Child’s most recent EP boasts a solid guest list of features including Elohim, Big Gigantic, and Wafia. Listening to this album brings you back to a time when love was the only thing you had to worry about. Vibrant synth plucks are used to represent a playful theme among the album, while still bringing the listener a classic Louis the Child reminiscence. Songs such as “Better Not” and “LOVE” show the first time experiences of what love looks like in a young child’s eyes, while “Ohhh Baby” and “Save Me From Myself” depict themes of life decisions and friendship. Overall, the Chicago natives produced an album full of fun and playful singles that are sure to entice the population of pop-electro listeners.  – MS

Mick Jenkins – Pieces of A Man

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Mick Jenkins releases a rap album of the year contender in Pieces of a Man. Jenkins lets himself shatter and allows us to watch him put it back together in song. Thoughts and feelings designed in rhymes to reflect the person who stares in the broken mirror. “Heron Flow” gives us spoken word flows in a crowded club as he intros the journey we take with him as he examines himself. And it’s hard not to grip onto every word he says. Jenkin’s voice is ear grabbing and demands attention. The true definition of poetry in motion, he doesn’t let a word fall on air and uses each bar and melody to give the listener his perspective. His voice is sometimes tired, weighed down by his knowledge and the realizations he’s making mid-song. He’s aware of the burden of knowledge. But instead of just letting it being doom and gloom, he uses his rhetoric as therapy. Working through it all instead of letting it fall to the waist side. By the time he’s done, we get to see the man he’s working in full view.  – TJ

Molly Burch – First Flower

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Austin singer-songwriter Molly Burch is a fine vocalist with a penchant for writing low key, yet earwormy love songs. On her second LP, First Flower, Burch and her band lean towards easy-going jangle pop, allowing the spotlight to fall on the impressive vocal performances. Burch’s skill set boasts exceptional voice control. One moment she’s hovering in a low, heavy whisper (“First Flower”), and the next she’s reaching into a higher, breezy register (“Good Behavior”). Her singing is indeed the main attraction, but when her band matches the energy she brings to the mic with more vibrant instrumentation, the results are undeniable. “To the Boys” – a romantic and sassy ode to ex-boyfriends – showcases Burch’s tasteful vocal style over groovy summer jam sesh vibes.  – RJ

RM – Mono

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Walk under the moonlight with light raining, flowing. Stop and look at the puddle under your feet and what do you see? That is the experience RM tries to paint on his “playlist” Mono. The leader, rapper, and composer of the international group, BTS, has never been afraid to pour his soul into rhythmic poetry. In fact, it is his bread and butter. On the seven track project, he tries to understand himself and the sadness and loneliness he feels. While he is exposing himself to the world during every tour and song, he’s afraid he still hiding his true self and feelings from not only to strangers but to his closest friends and even himself. Trying to navigate his own feelings seem like a foreign concept but he powers through it. “Seoul” is the wonderful play of so, soul and Seoul itself on how much he is in conflict with the listener, city, and heart. It’s a beautifully sad and cathartic experience to listen to.  – TJ

Sheck Wes – MUDBOY

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Riding off the viral success of “Mo Bamba,” Harlem native Sheck Wes looks like he could be one of rap’s next big stars. His debut album MUDBOY follows suit in the dark, moody and explosive vein of his mega-single, accompanied by diverse, melodic flows from Wes. His mold of menacing trap music has a notable comedic element to it, much in thanks to his eccentric personality. Basic braggadocio fuels most of Wes’ raps – he’s confident, charismatic, and not afraid to let you know he thinks his shit slaps like Whitney Houston (“Chippi Chippi”). His long term viability is still very much in the air, but with co-signs from Kanye West and Travis Scott, on top of Wes seeming pretty self-aware (in spite of his trite lyrics), he’s got the potential to be significantly relevant for the foreseeable future. At the least, he deserves credit for shouldering the weight of a solid contemporary trap album.  – RJ

T.I. – DIME TRAP

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On his tenth studio album, Dime Trap, trap veteran T.I. tries to figure out what aging rap really means. Narrated by Dave Chappelle, an elder statesmen himself, the duo try to cope with the fact that times have changed in the trap. The trap music he helped craft the sound and content of has changed. A trap rapper doesn’t mean what it used to mean. The landscape is different but that doesn’t mean he can’t play with the best of them. “Laugh At Em” has the jump and flare in production and the vet himself doesn’t waste a bar. While the album tries to tackle a lot, T.I. makes of the blockbuster moments to truly let the project shine. And while it doesn’t answer all the questions, it does give the listener the idea of where T.I. is heading in his career.  – TJ

Twenty One Pilots – Trench

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After years of building a dedicated, underground alt-rock fan base, Twenty One Pilots have essentially become mainstream stars, largely in thanks to the success of 2015’s Blurryface. Three years later, with more eyes on them than ever before, the Columbus, Ohio based duo has delivered their most magnetic release yet with Trench, another collection of richly produced electronic music. The duo’s sound is still deeply rooted in the attitudes and sentiments of alternative rock, but again incorporates elements of hip-hop, reggae and commercial pop. Where Trench elevates itself from past Twenty One Pilots releases, is the quality of production and boldness of its songs. “Jumpsuit” is an electric kick-off to the record, annihilating everything in its path with blistering hard rock, a stark contrast to the synth-laden chill-hop on “Morph.” As expected, many of the songs on Trench lean on touchy topics, such as mental health and toxic relationships, to make their point – “Smithereens” is a mellow yet captivating example.  – RJ

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