1) Nas - King’s Disease III - Nov 11, 2022
At the start of the decade, Nas & Hit-Boy began their ongoing series with King’s Disease. The 2020 album was a refresher for many as Nas proved that he’s not just another washed rapper from the golden age of hip hop. The following year the dynamic duo dropped not one, but two albums that were considerably better than their first collaboration: King’s Disease II and Magic. With both of these albums displaying pristine storytelling and lyricism from Nas, and stellar production from Hit-Boy, the anticipation for their next project has been through the roof. King’s Disease III is without a doubt spectacular and will very likely round out to be towards the top of the Brooklyn MC’s discography. The entire project runs a little over fifty minutes and only features Hit-Boy’s production and Nas’s raw lyricism. There are no features, no other production credits, it’s just the two artists going head and head to deliver an amazing listen. One thing that King’s Disease III does very well is that it’s not boring or lackluster in any shape or form, and it does this by combining multiple styles of hip hop such as jazz rap, boom bap, and drill. This is best exemplified through Hit-Boy’s beats as they tinker and change constantly so many times compared to regular rap production. It doesn’t matter if a song starts off a bit rocky, by the end, it ends up being great. Additionally, Nas engages the listener through his flow, delivery, and especially his lyrics. So many subjects were brought up in this record; it didn’t matter if it was poverty, childhood, confidence, gun violence, or other rappers because he basically gave his two cents on everything. To have an album span seventeen tracks, have a runtime of fifty-one minutes, have Nas rap about virtually everything, and not contain one average verse constitutes what only some consider to be a future classic. However, what I think this album does the best is truly highlight Nas’s longevity. The man is less than a year away from turning fifty and he’s making music as good as his 90’s classics. He’s casually experiencing the 4th prime in his career like it’s nothing, a feat which virtually no other artist can brag about at the moment. I have no problem with saying that King’s Disease III might be his best since It Was Written. It’s a modern masterpiece created by a legendary hip hop pioneer, who has no intention of slowing down any time soon.
Favorite tracks: “Thun” ; “Michael & Quincy” ; “Once a Man, Twice a Child” ; “Don’t Shoot”
- Gerrit Notch
2) Heather Trost – Desert Flowers – Nov 12, 2022
Heather Trost is an American violinist who has built up quite the body of work over her past 20 some odd years as a musician. This past Monday, she released her 4th solo project titled Desert Flowers which sees Trost merging elements of psychpop, folk, slacker rock, and various forms of drone and electronic music into a warm and touching masterpiece. She recorded the album at her and her husband Jeremy Barnes’ (of Neutral Milk Hotel) house in New Mexico, but the DIY production takes nothing away from the experience of this record. For a woman who has worked with many great acts over the years, spanning from her role in the folk band Hawk And A Hacksaw to studio recording with Swans in 2019, the album will certainly go down as one of her artistic highpoints. Desert Flowers possesses the exact qualities that the name would suggest: beautiful and lush; a sign of life in the middle of a dry, barren wasteland of contemporary pop and folk. I have seen few albums, if any released this year, exude elements from as many genres as this one. “Black is the Night” is a soft, skeletal piano ballad, and it’s followed by the hypnotic dream-pop of “You Always Gave Me Succor.” Each song on this record, from the powerful opening electronic instrumental to the closing lo-fi slow jam, has a life of its own, and could thrive independently from the others. This album is far form disjointed, however, as the simple elegance and beauty in Trost’s voice tie each track together gracefully. Not to mention her experience on a myriad of stringed instruments giving each track the tangible element it needs to break up the synthetic soundscapes. Simply a great record that has something to offer for every setting.
Favorite tracks: “The Devil Never Sleeps” ; “You Always Gave Me Succor” ; “Your Favorite Color”
- Will Lewis
3) Sault – 11 – Nov 11, 2022
Sault’s 11 is a swan song to neo-soul. To me, 11 sounds like Sault’s most well-written album. It is a tight, well-produced album that doesn't take any chances. Since 11 does not take those creative leaps, it should execute its main identity as a neo-soul record flawlessly. I think that 11 does this to a tee. From the fun and catchy rhythms on “Together” to the mellow beat and heartfelt lines from Cleo Sol on “Fight for Love”, 11's songs feel connected by a central identity: unity. Another track to look out for is “River” where Cleo’s delivery takes you down a river of rhythm. 11 is on the short side, with a runtime of 44 minutes: not wasting your time, giving you all killer, no filler. Although 11 isn't Saults' most creative or unique album to date, I think that it's still worth the listen as the style of neo-soul they produce is razor-sharp and a pleasure to listen to.
Favorite Tracks – “Together” ; “Fight for Love” ; “River”
4) Drowse – Wane into It – Nov 11, 2022
Drowse is a musical endeavor started in 2013 by Kyle Bates out of the pacific northwest, and this past Friday he released his fourth full length studio LP titled Wane into It. This is a record that is comically sad at times, with whispered lyrics and spacey, shoegaze sounds that could be likened to the saddest Phil Elverum lines over the cult classic Deathconciousness. Despite the fact that it seems like Kyle is trying a little too hard to make a sad record, he pretty much nailed it in all facets. The instrumentation is lush at times, sparce at others, with some skeletal folky tracks like “Mystery Pt. 2” followed by more traditional shoegaze/slowcore sounds on songs like the title track. Bates mixes in a lot of synthetic sounds as well on songs like “Ashes over the Pacific Northwest,” which really helps nail the arctic ambiance that it seems he was trying to create. This album is cold, but far from lifeless. The emotion in Bates’ voice isn’t always apparent due to the nature of his singing, but the lyrics are certainly heartfelt. A modern tragedy, but well worth a listen.
Favorite tracks: “Mystery Pt. 2” ; “Wane into It” ; “Gabapentin”
- Will Lewis
Phoebe Bridgers - So Much Wine (Single) - Nov 17, 2022
Well, it’s that time of year again! Phoebe Bridgers has graced us with yet another one of her renditions of an atypical Christmas song. So Much Wine, originally performed by The Handsome Family, encapsulates exactly what Bridgers is all about: sad lyrics, beautiful harmonies and raw instrumentals. When you hit play, you can expect to hear Bridgers’s iconic melancholic vocals, accompanied by a soft violin with a steady drum and a distant whistling. The new single joins a handful of holiday songs that Bridgers has previously covered, all benefiting a respective charity. This time around, the proceeds will go to benefit the Los Angeles LGBT Center. After hearing this cover, and inevitably shedding a tear, it’s confirmed that the heart melting duo of Bridgers’s goodwill and her arrangement of the Handsome Family classic make So Much Wine a must listen this holiday season.
- Haley Mautz