By: Sam Fatula | a&e editor
It can certainly be frustrating separating the good, the bad and the ugly with so many albums that come out so rapidly and in such high volume in today’s music scene. That being said, there has been a handful of music over the past few months that deserves not only recognition, but should hold a place in your iPod for the time being.
1. FKA Twigs- LP1
One of the most recent releases that has been critically acclaimed as a frontrunner for album of the year goes to UK-based artist Tahliah Barnett, who goes under the stage name FKA Twigs.
LP1 has not been readily available for a long period time, (released on August 6), but this debut album is easy to digest. The combination of dream pop production alongside the smooth falsetto of Barnett is simply soothing. This is best exemplified on the single “Two Weeks,” where Barnett experiments with her vocal range quite effectively, going from highs to lows with ease.
It’s difficult to trace another R&B/pop crossover that has an equally successful debut as Twigs, but if this is an indicator of better things to come the world best be prepared.
2. Swans- To be Kind
Name another album this year that includes tracks that last 17 minutes long and still manages to keep you entertained in its’ entirety.
Swans’ thirteenth studio album, To be Kind, just might be the band’s most ambitious attempt yet. The double album released back in May goes past the two-hour mark in duration, and the journey through it is a slow ride full of intense guitar riffs and production that is borderline industrial. Take for instance the opener track on the second half of the LP, “She Loves Us.” Lead vocalist Michael Gira refrains numerous chants repeatedly over a riff that would put fear into the biggest metal fan.
The definition of noise rock has never been replicated nor personified better in this album. It is rough around the edges in all the best ways.
3. tUnE-yArDs- Nikki Nack
Lead singer of tUnE-yArDs, Merrill Garbus has always had a natural ability to write an addictive chorus. The band’s third studio release, Nikki Nack is no exception, as it has some of the most addictive bubblegum pop hooks since its debut.
Nikki Nack is playfully fun from the beginning. tUnE-yArDs manages to travel through multiple genres with ease through the LP, ranging from general pop, to folk, to even reggae. The production is layered perfectly as Garbus’ harmonies are pleasing to the ear on nearly every song, especially second track “Water Fountain” and “Real Thing.”
4. clipping.- CLPPNG
With the departure of underground industrial outlet Death Grips, pretentious rap fans are looking for their next favorite hip-hop group that is on the rise. Los Angeles-based clipping. can certainly be that next haven, especially after listening to sophomore release, CLPPNG, which come out in early June.
CLPPNG makes Tyler, the Creator’s previous works sound like a track from One Direction. This album does not mince words, it is self-righteously aggressive and unapologetic. Take for instance track two, “Body and Blood.” The lyrics from Daveed Diggs, though not poetic, are accompanied by a flow that is undeniably likable. The beats are just as strong, if not the most successful factor of CLPPNG.
5. How to Dress Well- What is this Heart?
Mastermind of How to Dress Well Tom Krell has always been considered a pretty sad guy. His past releases have all been similar; very slow ballads that are relatively stripped down instrumentation-wise.
At first, What is this Heart? undergoes the same formula, but then transgresses to an ambitious electropop that is quick to impress. “Repeat Pleasure,” the fifth track on the 12-song release, is a side of Krell never seen before and it works. The echoing guitars and bouncy synths make it impossible not to tap your toe along to. What is this Heart? is everything you want in a summer LP. It is catchy, fun and of course radio-ready.