Spring has sprung and just as flowers blossom, excellent albums are popping up from barren spaces and brilliantly blooming into the ears of their listeners. The past month has been an especially good one for hip hop, seeing three major releases from some of the most touted indie darlings of rap, but it’s Heems’ latest that deserves an extra listen. The changing season has also brought about strong follow-ups from two well-known ambient electronica producers, Toro y Moi and Shlohmo. In case you missed any of these drops, you can recap them now and download to soundtrack your sunny days.
1) Heems // Eat Pray Thug
His first studio album release following a string of critically acclaimed mixtapes, Heems’ Eat Pray Thug is an engaging political and personal work, exploring intensely emotional confessions of life, love, racism, and addiction. The Das Racist alum transfers his style of highbrow references in lowbrow humor to a more nuanced place within his lyrics, twisting his inward turmoils into witty one-liners and visceral metaphors through thoughtful language that’s made more intriguing through his uniquely effortless delivery. The production on the album insightfully suits Heems’ verses in a way that’s rare, most notably on the powerful “Flag Shopping,” pairing complex, ominous piano riffs with a gritty set of rhymes. As a artist, Heems continues to one-up himself with his projects, and to the listener, it’s clear that Eat Pray Thug is just a taste of the talent from this creative visionary.
2) Toro y Moi // What For?
After a 2014 release under his electronic moniker Les Sins, Chaz Bundwick resumes his chilled-out duties as Toro y Moi in his 5th studio album, What For?. The scuzzy, sun-faded surf rock vibes of his breakout Underneath The Pine are prevalent, sounding as if The Beach Boys decided to share a spliff on the beach one hazy summer night. The chillwave sound popularized by Bundick is more apparent in the recent single “Buffalo,” but it’s in “Spell It Out” that the producer really shines. Subtle foot-stomping rhythms and 80s pop-hooks cradle a persistent guitar lick for an infectious piece of ear candy. Better yet, you can pair Toro y Moi’s album with his latest endeavor: a specially developed wine from Frequency’s artist series, described as a “syrah sourced from the sandy hillside of Vernas Vineyard blended with 15 percent Grenache from the warm climate of the Santa Ynez Valley, combines savory notes of saline, spicy white pepper and deep blueberry with supple texture and fresh acidity.”
3) Shlohmo // Dark Red
Dark, ghostly synths permeate smoky soundscapes and molten percussion in Shlohmo’s second full-length, Dark Red. The WeDidIt founding member builds a haunting, multi-layered world of sound through lo-fi vibrations and echoing, slow-burn melodies, creating an elegantly moody atmosphere. Elements of rock and metal cut through on tracks such as “Buried,” with longing guitars reminiscent of Nirvana’s “Lake of Fire,” while “Slow Descent” meshes rapid-fire DnB drum patterns and eerily detached synths. Dark Red feels like a better-executed extension of the witch-house movement in 2010, nailing the gloomy sound without sacrificing the musicianship – in fact, tracks like “Apathy” showcase the stunning ability Shlohmo has to craft lush electronica compositions that transcend outside of the genre. Catch Shlohmo on his US live tour from now till May 7th – dates can be found here.