The adventure continues with part 2 of our taste-validating 3 part series. Click here to read part 1.
MOST LIKELY TO TURN YOUR NIGHT INTO A WEIRD MOVIE
I’ve been a longtime follower of Son Lux, who initially caught my attention for his shadowy orchestral songs with barely a lyric. He was more of a composer than a songwriter, and his work has always been highly cinematic. Comparing his debut At War With Walls and Mazes with his third and newest album Lanterns you’ll see a lot of growth: he’s become a better writer with more diversity in the atmospheres he creates. You almost wonder if a song like “No Crimes,” owes something to his recent collaboration with Sufjan Stevens. It’s flute-filled and pumped up with choir-like flourishes that make it sound like a twisted, rabbit hole version of something off Illinois. Whatever the influence, Son Lux is one of the most intriguing composers of the year and it’s enthralling to hear him let loose like this. – Justin Pansacola
Yeezus – Kanye West
Whenever someone of the artistic caliber of Kanye West puts out an album, we expect great music. With the success of his 5 previous studio albums and collaborations with mega artists, Yeezus was definitely intended to be THE album of Kanye’s prime.
Unfortunately, the sounds and lyricism heard throughout Yeezus fell short. Overproduced tracks with mediocre verse flow and an overall lackluster album is what we got. I get what Kanye was trying to do; show the world how his music is transitioning. His new sound is a replication of this seemingly ‘new’ Kanye we’ve seen lately.
Yeezus had a few decently good tracks, but other than those it was just wasn’t his best musical output. The production of this album seemed to take center stage over Kanye’s verse flow. People expected a certain kind of album, but what we got was Kanye West giving us an album of what seems like a reflection of his thoughts. Yeezus can’t be deemed a classic, but it does showcase who Kanye is becoming as an artist. You can see the transition from rapper to all around ‘creative genius,’ as he would say. – Arati Patel
My Name Is My Name – Pusha T
Pusha T’s My Name Is My Name is one of the best rap albums of the year that should’ve been released to a lot more fanfare were it not crowded out by Yeezus, Nothing Was The Same & a slew of others. Perhaps that’s just the risk of waiting so long to put out an album (Hey, Jay Electronica, remember when you released the tracklist to your album in like January?), but that doesn’t take away from the quality of the work here. It’s hard edged lyricism, physical organic beats and Pusha just being mean a lot of the time. King Push prioritizes the aura of authenticity in his work, and he knows how to pinpoint those raw centers.
One of the most interesting tracks is the Kelly Rowland featuring “Let Me Love You” where, suddenly, Pusha T turns up the Ma$e and raps entirely in not just his style but his voice. It’s an unexpected impression and tribute that is either a playful passer of time or Pusha T showing off that he can do more than yuck and snarl out cocaine raps. – Justin Pansacola
Inside Llewyn Davis – OST
The soundtrack to the newest masterpiece from The Coen Brothers is just as bold and vivid as the film itself. Chronicling the tumultuous path of fictional troubadour Llewyn Davis, the soundtrack features Oscar Issac sounds straight out of the Greenwich scene, with help from Marcus Mumford on the track “Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song)”, as well as tantalizing solo tracks. The soundtrack also contains selections from Dylan’s early catalog, as well as the sure-fire Academy Award nominee “Please Mr. Kennedy” featuring Justin Timberlake.
A Coen Brothers soundtrack helmed once again by the one-man brain trust T. Bone Burnett, the zeitgeist is captured so perfectly in the collection of 12 songs it’s almost inconceivable that Llewyn Davis is a product of this era and not a Bob Neuwirth contemporary. Once again, Burnett and the Coens narrative-music relationship proves brilliant. – Jake Tully
Unreal – Hebronix
I know it’s not a competition, and Yuck is still a solid band, but Daniel Blumberg totally won the 2013 band break up. He brings his 90s alt-rock sound to Hebronix, and but without any of the energetic overdrive guitar of Yuck. It might sound like a bad idea if you love Yuck, but he’s simply found a different path to hit the same spot. It’s not an album that will get you amped up, unless you’ve got the patience; most of the songs are really slow burns that accumulate and snowball into something gorgeous. Songs like “The Plan” and “Garden” won’t stick with you because you remember a guitar riff or a chorus, you’ll remember the simmering anxiety and the sprawling, expanding lethargy. – Justin Pansacola
My Mother’s Brisket – Rick Moranis
Having not appeared in a live-action feature film since 1997 – Moranis put acting on the backburner after his wife’s passing to raise his children – the comeback of this comedy fixture of the late 80’s and early 90’s was more than welcomed. With My Mother’s Brisket, Moranis reminded us of that his comedy chops hadn’t diminished, nor had his fervor for celebrating his Jewish heritage. Tracks such as “I’m Old Enough To Be Your Zaide” and “Belated Haftorah” are not only among the best on MMB, they showcase the earnest craft that only Moranis can encapsulate. Part comedy album, part genuine slice-of-life, part Yiddish lesson for the gentiles, My Mother’s Brisket is an all-around treat. – Jake Tully
Because The Internet – Childish Gambino
A late 2013 release, Gambino’s Because the Internet was easily the most artistic thing we’ve seen this year in rap music (sorry Kanye).
Gambino, most often recognized as Donald Glover and his role on NBC’s Community, has been a noted writer/producer/comedian for years, and his praise as rapper Childish Gambino has continued to grow. Obviously a multi-talented artist of sorts, ‘Because The Internet’ is the most creative project we’ve seen form Gambino.
It’s been compared to Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange, and rightfully so. Because The Internet showcases Gambino’s true artistry, which is often criticized as being overdone or ‘staged’ so to speak. I for one think that Gambino produced a flawless album with sounds and lyrics that represent his entire ‘hipster boy’ persona that people so often give him. A lot of people don’t like Glover as a rapper, and others only know of him as Childish Gambino, but he’s nevertheless executed a beautifully authentic album full of the wit and humor I expect him to give.
Alongside his album, Gambino also released a 72 page script that takes you from start to finish of the album, scene by scene, providing meaning to each track. Talk about creative. – Arati Patel