Albums and an EP Released Last Week:
Allan Kingdom - Lines I loved Allan Kingdom's Northern Lights project that he released at the start of 2016 so naturally I was expecting big things from his proper debut album. Overall, it's pretty much a disappointment. Kingdom seems to have dumbed down his material lyrically and his unique vocals and rapping style is far less apparent throughout. We do get a bit of this on opener 'Perfection' but unfortunately it doesn't last. There's really nothing endearing about this record and given Allan Kingdom's potential, it's a real shame. 4/14 tracks added to library.
Bishop Briggs - Bishop Briggs I've never really listened to Bishop Briggs before but it's fairly rapidly apparent that although the music she does is not something I like, she's very good at what she does. She bridges between indie singer/songwriter and alternative pop star which makes for quite an interesting bunch of songs. 'The Way I Do' and earlier single 'Wild Horses' are the standouts for me. If Bishop Briggs is pushed in the right places to the right audiences she could very well be huge. 2/6 tracks added to library.
Blood Youth - Beyond Repair Blood Youth were one of my tips for this year, I think in essence they're one of the best new heavy bands the UK has to offer... but this album is exactly what I didn't want from them. Firstly, I'm quite stumped on the production quality throughout the record because their EPs (at the time at least) sounded really polished, but this sounds like the quartet have reverted back to square one, which is really confusing. I mean, that snare sound from the word go in opener 'Making Waves' is pretty offensive. Whilst this album has received rave reviews from some rock publications, it just does metal "alright" and definitely does not re-invent the wheel. 2/10 tracks added to library.
Cold War Kids - LA DIVINE Cold War Kids are one of those bands I've been low key into for the last ten years but I've never really properly invested in. Well, that's changed upon the lead up to their sixth studio (?!) album. Although at times the tracklisting seems a little peculiar - 'Can We Hang On?' as the second track? - I really enjoyed this album. It's exciting to hear a band this far into their career still able to create a body of work that is this inventive and well-paced. I would very much be up for seeing this band live at some point in the near future. 7/14 tracks added to library.
Joey Bada$$ - All Amerikkkan Bada$$ - Joey Badass is one of those rappers who I know is good but so often he does hip hop in such a straight up 90s inspired manner that I find it hard to connect with. I'm a fan of the more pop tinged tracks on this album like 'TEMPTATION' and 'For My People'. Joey Badas$$ takes a very political standpoint for much of this record but it's done in a really digestable manner whereby it doesn't feel as though he's preaching the changes he desires on you, the listener. By way of that, a lot of the lyrics in these tracks stand out, for example, "Still got the last names of our slave owners" on 'LAND OF THE FREE', and "No I'm not a chicken, I never listen to FOX News" on 'SUPER PREDATOR'. Although it's not "for me", this is my second favourite hip hop album of the fortnight. 4/12 tracks added to library.
John Mayer - The Search For Everything I'm still quite taken aback that I've found John Mayer material that I like, but that hasn't stopped me from being highly confused about the state of The Search For Everything's release strategy. The first eight tracks were released across two four-track EPs and then the final four were plonked on the end of the album's release. I'll let it slide this time but if everybody could refrain from this in the future, that would be desirable. The acoustic slow croony songs on here are terrible, but the more upbeat pop songs are very good. 4/12 tracks added to library.
Kendrick Lamar - DAMN. I don't deal particularly well with Kendrick Lamar's music. I also don't deal particularly well with concept albums of hidden themes and clever shit like that, so going in to DAMN. I knew I wasn't going to feel the same about it at a lot of other people instantly did. In fact, the first third of the album I dismissed entirely on first listen. In a similar vein to Joey Bada$$, Kendrick does a lot of music that has very little pop sensibility to it and I find that quite tough to connect with. Honestly I'm just not the least bit fussed about ever having to hear any of these songs again, although I guess I enjoyed 'LOVE.'. No tracks added to library.
The Maine - Lovely Little Lonely The new and sixth studio album from The Maine is a peculiar affair for a myriad of reasons, most notably is that it isn't bad at all. I guess The Maine were kind of like the LANY of 2008, and in that respect, it's quite impressive that they've matured just the right amount to make a decent pop rock album almost ten years later. In addition to that, this record absolutely flies by, and 34 minutes feels more like 3-4 minutes. I can't imagine many people will pay attention to the existence of this release, but you have nothing to lose in doing so. 5/12 tracks added to library.
Spit Syndicate - One Good Shirt Had Us All Fly 2017: The year I fell in love with Sydney based hip hop projects. This is Spit Syndicate's fourth album (kind of... not including their mixtapes or One Day (their crew) projects). The thing about this kind of hip hop coming out of Australia is that these artists know exactly how to balance fun tracks like 'Inhibitions' with songs that have a genuine political stance like 'Not In My Name'. This is undoubtedly my favourite album of the month, I'd say. 9/12 tracks added to library.
Tinie Tempah - Youth Sure, we may not have had a proper album from Tinie Tempah for four years, but was anybody really asking for a 17 track record from the guy? Pretty sure we weren't, but it's what we've received. Tinie Tempah is just not an album artist, is he? There are also points, 'Holy Moly' in particular, where I'm like "... does Tinie Tempah reckon he's a credible rapper?" but then there are tracks like 'Girls Like' and 'Not Letting Go' which are undeniably huge pop songs. It's almost impressive how hit or miss the tracks are on Youth because there's pretty much no in between. I don't think I'm even mad about nigh on every song having at least one featured artist, that seems to make sense for an artist like Tinie Tempah but it's emphasised more by the unnecessary length of the album as a whole. 4/17 tracks added to library.