Caroline Rose – Loner
“A sprightly, angsty pop burrito.”
It can take time living in the world for an artist to truly represent themselves in their music. Caroline Rose is proof of that. In 2014, she was pegged as an Americana folk-rock youngling with a debut album I Will Not Be Afraid, that was in thrall to past predecessors. Four years later, Rose has lived. Feeling disconnected from her own music and the modern world, the New York musician decided to embrace it. At 25, she joined Tinder, rented her first apartment, socialised more, wore red all the time and got a girlfriend. They travelled, then broke up. Rose discussed “politics, capitalism and Rihanna,n” and put herself out in the world.
The self-described “queer feminist” has put her real experience into her invigorating new album Loner. It’s bright and vibrant like the red clothes she now wears and she says, reflects her true personality and real life experiences from her circle of friends – an accidental pregnancy, financial stability and unfaithful lovers. “A sprightly, angsty pop burrito,” is how her label terms it. Loner is a dark-edged album of manic and millennial modern pop, drawing on indie-rock, surf music, synth hooks and bright production, which Rose herself, recognising the lack of gender diversity in the field, is keen to take credit for.
“I wanted to make sure everything was as me as it could possibly be,” she affirms. Rose represents herself absolutely.
Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
The sixth album from the Arctic Monkeys has been met with equal doses of praise and condemnation. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is certainly the group’s most ambitious studio release to date. Musically, the group have shifted away from the dirty guitar riffs of AM opting instead for a more psychedelic layered approach to the songwriting. The result is a much more nuanced sound, though perhaps not as immediately gratifying as the album’s predecessors. Lyrically Tranquility Base see’s Turner at his very best. Citing the influence of science fiction in the writing process, the lyrics on tracks like ‘Four Out Of Five’ and ‘Star Treatment’ are the perfect blend of cosmic surrealism and dry wit. – Luke Sharkey
Nils Frahm – All Melody
The composer’s expansive experimental neo-classical album.
A sprawling beauty of an album from composer and musician Nils Frahm. All Melody was recorded in his studio in his custom-built studio in Funkhaus in Berlin which took advantage of reverb chambers and the space of the old place along with contributions from other musicians gives the album an endlessly exploratory feel and at 75 minutes that’s what it needs. It moves between ambient, classical and electronic, and the lines are increasingly smudged of those archetypes. It’s Frahm embracing possibilities in his compositions while still maintaining his owwn sonic imprint.
Kojaque – Deli Daydreams
“Deli Daydreams is the unmistakable product of the city that spawned it.”
On Deli Daydreams, Dublin rapper Kojaque puts aside false bravado and instead offers a valuable insight into the psyche of the artist, as vulnerable as he is angry. The album skillfully avoids being overtly conceptual, being originally billed as the chronicle of the deli worker. Instead, Kojaque uses references to his working life in order to reflect how he and others view himself, most notably in ‘Love and Braggadocio’, “See I could love myself I’m just not there yet, they still make me rock a hairnet at the deli in fairness”. In many ways the underlying theme throughout the album seems to really be that of acceptance, both internal and external – Luke Sharkey
Pusha T – Daytona
The best rap album from Kanye’s Wyoming sessions.
Pusha T had taken a leave of absence from music over the past few years, opting instead to focus on his role as president of G.O.O.D. Music. Daytona is his first full length studio release since 2015’s King Push, a record which while promising in spots, failed to deliver on Pusha’s full potential as a solo artist.
On Daytona, Push pairs up with label partner Kanye West to prove he’s still one of the most vital creative forces in hip-hop. There’s genuine chemistry between Ye’s instrumentals and Pusha’s lyrics, something which lacked in his previous releases. Check out ‘Come Back Baby’ for the best example of this. There’s underlying energy to the record that’s palpable, Push delivers his lines like it’s do or die. Coming in at just over twenty minutes, Daytona compensates for its brevity with content that never stops reminding you why Push is one of the best to over pick up a mic.
Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar
The Scottish trio continue to find solace in sonics.
Scottish trio Young Fathers’ Cocoa Sugar via Ninja Tune is the alt-rap group’s third studio album. The previewed sound on the album from the first single releases of ‘In My View’ and ‘Lord’ suggested an increased softness and directness that wasn’t present on their first two records. That slight change in direction is present throughout the new album gives it a fresh soulful sound with feel-good gospel constructions to relish in.
Jon Hopkins – Singularity
While the English producer and composer’s breakthrough fourth release Immunity was largely viewed as a new lease on life for experimental dance music, many expected it’s follow up to fall somewhere closer to the dance side of affairs. Hopkins has delved deeper into experimental synth sounds and grainy textures with Singularity while also making some of the most gargantuan music of his career. The obvious dance floor fillers are still here but imbued with a dogged introspection. Hopkins has cited the influence of meditation and his interest in transcendentalism as a driving force behind the creation of this record. Singularity burns brightly and with a complex rolls of patterns over each track. While many of the sounds are epic and fitting for dancing (which Hopkins is well able to turn on live), there’s a pursuit of a sonic envelopment throughout that suggests Hopkins is seeking something deeper.
Black Panther OST
Kendrick Lamar’s curated album is a thrilling ride and one of the best soundtrack albums in eons
Curated artist soundtracks are a relatively new concept in the world of OST with Lorde the most notable high-profile artist to “curate” the third Hunger Games soundtrack. That release served as a nice tie-in in music marketing for a mainstream movie.
For Marvel’s Black Panther soundtrack though, the Marvel studio and the film’s director Ryan Coogler turned to Kendrick Lamar, the conscious rapper who blazes through the mainstream despite the tag. Lamar curates this 14-track album, along with Top Dawg CEO Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith. What ties the soundtrack together is Kendrick’s and lyrical sensibilities exploring the black identity. I can’t imagine more than a handful of these songs appearing in the film itself which would certainly make for an interesting superhero movie watch but there’s enough parallels between the film and Kendrick and his collaborators that this doesn’t feel like just a tie-in, more a considered cultural response, with nods to the film’s plot dotted among its lyrics. It feels less an artist marketing and movie tie-in and more a collection of art that uses Black Panther’s black superhero and African heritage themes as an inspirational starting point for a companion piece.