New Music Roundup: August

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 Leslie Stevens, Shura, Young Thug and more.

A$AP Ferg – Floor Seats

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After releasing the highly acclaimed Trap Lord in 2013, many suspected A$AP Ferg had taken the reigns from A$AP Rocky as the frontman for the A$AP collective. His two subsequent releases, Always Strive and Prosper and Still Striving, surprisingly fell under the radar commercially, though still containing quality music. On his newest release, Floor Seats, Ferg delivers a fresh sound. An energetic project from start to finish, it’s Ferg’s most complete and polished work since Trap LordFloor Seats is fast-paced and sonically unique. There’s hardly any room to breathe as you make your way through the project. All of a sudden you realize you’re on track nine listening to Brent Faiyaz’ smooth vocals over Salaam Remi production on the album’s closer. Ferg brings his own unique rhyme scheme and signature vocals, but what’s most impressive is the production and feature selection. Funky beats like “Butt Naked” and “Ride,” which feature the talented Rico Nasty and Ty Dolla $ign, shine. “Pups,” featuring Rocky, is the signature anthem always prevalent on Ferg albums. Floor Seats is pure fun for all fans of rap and is one of the favorite August releases in music.  – Mike Flores

Listen // Top tracks: WAM; Butt Naked; Dreams, Fairytales, Fantasies

Cousin Stizz – Trying To Find My Next Thrill

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There are a lot of reasons to have negative feelings about the quality of the current rap climate, but Cousin Stizz is somebody to be excited about.  It’s safe to say that the weird 24-month stretch of Gucci Gang raps over boring beats and the copy-paste phenomenon with internet kids is gradually coming to a close. Cousin Stizz represents the same generation, yet with musicianship. His sophomore effort, Trying To Find My Next Thrill, provides insight into what the future of rap looks like. The album starts heavy, with slow rhyming and fun 808’s and descends into soft tones, with boom-bap and rhyming that makes you forget he was making trap music with City Girls just six tracks earlier in the album. Stizz takes the listener through his perspective of what it’s like growing up in Boston. On “Off With Ya Head” and “Two Face,” he explores themes of street code and gives us a glimpse into his personal journey on the introspective track “Traumatized.” Stizz isn’t a quantity rapper, meaning he doesn’t rap for rapping’s sake. That’s something to note, because he says a lot with what he writes and you can feel the authenticity in every bar. Other notable tracks include album closer “The Message” and “Toast 2 That,” which features elite rhymer Freddie Gibbs.  – MF

Listen // Top tracks: STP; Beamin’; The Message

Leslie Stevens – Sinner

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After a three-year hiatus, Leslie Stevens’ highly anticipated follow up to 2016’s The Donkey and the Rose has arrived. Her new record, Sinner, boasts a solid balance of sweet cosmic country tunes and spacious singer-songwriter ballads that showcase Stevens for the dynamic talent she is. More than ever, her knack for penning compelling storylines works together with her nimble voice to pallet a West Coast country charm that’s both rough around the edges and tender on the inside. There are moments that hint at Stevens’ rock-friendly background, such as on the tumbling strum of “12 Steps” and the self-consuming swirl of “Depression, Descent.” It ends up being on the slower and quietly psychedelic-leaning tracks where one can hear the hand of producer Jonathan Wilson the most. Songs like the old-time love story “Teen Bride” and the powerful title track place Stevens’ voice, the most important part of the record, front and center, ready to be willfully embraced.  – Roberto Johnson

Listen // Top tracks: 12 Steps; Sinner; The Tillman Song

Shura – forevher

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Year in and year out, Secretly Canadian’s versatile roster continues to produce captivating sounds from artists that are unmistakably unique. One of the label’s most recent exports, British singer-songwriter Shura crafts a soft and sensual brand of synth pop that pulls from ’90s R&B and modern indietronica alike. Her sophomore full-length forevher revels in the feelings of life-altering love and succumbing to desire over luscious and stimulating soundscapes. Tracks such as “side effects” and “religion” bring forth irresistible pop melodies over rich, gleaming instrumentals, while “forever” slides by with a smooth drum break and icy keyboard lead on the chorus. Shura shows she’s capable of delivering her sexy synth tunes in the forms of slow jams too, most notably on the stripped back piano lament “tommy,” as well as on the climactic closer “skyline, be mine.” Her songs are neither shy nor force their way onto you. Instead, they slither over you in seductive fashion, gently gripping your body until intoxication is imminent.  – RJ

Listen // Top tracks: side effects; religion (u can lay your hands on me); forever

Tyler Childers – Country Squire

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Amid the slew of stellar country records released in the last month and a half, none stuck out quite like Tyler Childers’ new LP, Country Squire. Childers’ latest is a foreseeable progression from the smokey ballads of 2017’s Purgatory, presenting a fresh batch of inviting, humor-ridden country tunes that maintain the friendly back-porch feel of his previous record. In just nine songs, Childers makes an admirable nod to Clarence White on the fantastic and fiddle-heavy “Matthew,” pens an ode to masturbation on “Ever Lovin’ Hand” and sings a catchy, self-deprecating horoscope on “Gemini.” His band is exquisite, tight and finely tuned, never rushing to get in the way of his pressing, twangy voice. They work perfectly in conjunction with Childers’ swift and witty songwriting, amplifying his Kentucky boy story archetypes tenfold. Country Squire has the feel of a veteran roots record, which is perhaps in thanks to Childers’ supporting cast of skilled session musicians, engineer David Ferguson and producer Sturgill Simpson. The voice at the center, however, feels fresh, hungry and potent. Gut instinct says Childers will have more to say sooner than later.  – RJ

Listen // Top tracks: Country Squire; Gemini; All Your’n

Young Thug – So Much Fun

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Earning the adulation of both peers and critics with the last decade, Young Thug is back with his “debut” full length studio album, So Much Fun. The 19-track behemoth of a project entered the atmosphere on hype with the lead single “The London,” which features J. Cole (also Executive Producer) and Travis Scott. Historically, Thug’s releases are lengthy and inconsistent, but that is not the case on this album. This body of work is the most consistent and thoughtful effort Young Thug has put forth thus far, even when considering how much music he makes. In the opening track “Just How It Is,” Thug provides insight into his famous dress photo, which was used as the cover to his 2017 mixtape, Jeffrey. He glides over crisp Pi’erre Bourne production on “I’m Scared” and “Surf,” while “Sup Mate” and “Hot” are one hundred percent guaranteed to be played in locker rooms across the country this football season. Aside from his obvious evolution as a rapper, the beat selection and features also stand out compared to previous works, at the assumed advice of J. Cole. If you are a fan of Young Thug and rap music at large, you’ll find this album to be really fucking fun.  – MF

Listen // Top tracks: Sup Mate; Surf; I’m Scared

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