Reviews Series

Albums Of The Month: Our Must-Hear Picks From August 2017

We recap the ten best albums released this month, along with a can’t-miss track from each of our selections.

Painted RuinsGrizzly Bear

Painted Ruins, the 5th album from Grizzly Bear, proved itself to be well worth a five year wait. Returning to the rustic, orchestral beauty that defined their 2006 offering Yellow House, Painted Ruins is an audible masterpiece that’s flecked with kaleidoscopic ’70s psychedelia and rich strokes of folk-rock. Deeply emotional and inherently political, each song is a standout in it’s own right. However, “Neighbors” and “Glass Hillside” seem to be the most striking upon first listen—in the latter song, a crescendo towards crashing drums unravels into a perfectly harmonized lull that’s dichotomously stunning. – Staley
Essential Listening: “Glass Hillside” 

RainbowKesha

Following a stint in rehab and a nightmarish legal process with former producer and sexual predator Dr. Luke, Kesha returns to music through the triumphantly personal Rainbow. Showcasing an artistic vulnerability that’s fiercely powerful, Rainbow is the first album Kesha’s expressed full creative control over, and the songstress issues an anthemic battle cry in a range of ballads and danceable tunes. “Praying” is by far the most stirring moment of the album—the high note gives me full body chills each time I hear it. – Staley
Essential Listening: “Praying”

Positive NoiseSam O.B.

Positive Noise is an album full of heart. It’s a mature step forward for electronic music, and gives me hope that there’s still uncharted territory in this vastly oversaturated genre. – Staley
Essential Listening: “Midnight Blue”

SATURATION IIBrockhampton

BROCKHAMPTON pushes the envelope on traditional boy bands in its uniquely self-sufficient composition, with not only rappers and vocalists but also producers, visual artists, creative directors, and managers on board. The boy band is unapologetically diverse in its makeup, and its music is intentional in tackling critical issues such as masculinity, sexuality, and racism—to name a few. As creative director Kevin Abstract states, “We are what America actually is. We speak for people of color who have a hard time expressing themselves publicly.”Dawy
Essential Listening: “QUEER”

FreudianDaniel Caesar 

With his debut album Freudian, Daniel Caesar presents us an extended love letter in a series of ten alluring tracks. The album combines elements of R&B and soul from start to finish, complete with slow beats, smooth piano elements, sultry vocals, and features that take the already-romantic record to the next level. –Dawy
The Canadian R&B vocalist makes his independent debut with a stripped-down approach in soul music. Based on bluesy-funk influences, Daniel’s vocals and acoustic production results in a pleasant listen from start to finish. – Elisha
Essential Listening: “Get You (feat. Kali Uchis)”

VillainsQueens of the Stone Age 

I’ve had this album on repeat since it dropped. The layers and textures in every song are reinforced by grooves that keep your head bopping and lyrics that slowly reveal even more complexity. This might be album of the year. – Gerry
Essential Listening: “Villains of Circumstance”

Visceral Minds 2Fractal Fantasy 

As an audio compilation, Visceral Minds 2 is incredibly successful in conveying a vision of futuristic utopia, but when one delves into Fractal Fantasy’s website, it heightens the experience tenfold. Along with collaborators Cyberlight and Ezra Miller, Sinjin Hawke and Zora Jones imagine an intricate and specific virtual reality that feels so true not just to the world of audio production and DJing, but to the burgeoning new media art world as well. It hits all of the high conceptual notes, along with the deep, dark club ones. – Kay
Essential Listening: “Raw (feat. DJ Sliink)” and “Out The Kitchen (feat. THAST)

A Deeper UnderstandingThe War On Drugs

I don’t want to say too much about the magnificent A Deeper Understanding, as one should make their own assessment, but if I had to describe the emotion I felt upon first listen, it would be awe. – Staley 
Essential Listening: “Pain”

Foreign LightToddla T

Toddla T has created an album that is suitable for driving through the night alone as much as for the dance floor of your favourite club. Andrea Martin’s soft vocals harmonise so well with Toddla’s heavy and bassy yet articulate and danceable production that the album has barely left my speakers this month (which is why it is included in this list, although the album was technically released on July 28th). I you’ve not been upon Toddla T before, we promise you will be from now on. – emiliah
Essential Listening: “Magnet”

Cozy Tapes Vol. 2: Too CozyA$AP Mob

Almost all of rap’s biggest hitmakers appear on this compilation—features from Nyck Caution, Kirk Knight, Big Sean, Joey Bada$$, Frank Ocean, Gucci Mane, Playboi Carti, and more are sprinkled through the A$AP Mob’s star-studded follow-up to last year’s tape. – Staley 
Essential Listening: “Please Shut Up (feat. A$AP Rocky, KEY, and Gucci Mane)”

 

Honorable Mentions: 

OnismPhotay 
SCUMRat Boy
MysteriumHammock 
Luv Is Rage 2Lil Uzi Vert
StardiveAdanna Duru

 

 

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