For a traditionally-quiet time of the year, January has been a surprisingly fantastic month for music. As 2018 trudges off to a slow start, I figured it would be helpful to collect all of the best projects from the past 31 days in one place.
Truth be told, this is just a writing exercise to get myself going on a particularly-sloggy Tuesday morning, but this roundup is as much for me (to help keep track of the ever-growing mountain of music I love), as it is for you to (hopefully) discover something new and refreshing.
Tiny Moving Parts - Swell
Within the space of two years, Tiny Moving Parts have cemented themselves as one of the most interesting, technical, and personable acts in modern emo. Featuring unpredictable math-rock time signatures, heartfelt lyrics, and shimmering production, Swell is the group’s most concerted effort to date.
Lil Wayne - Dedication 6: Reloaded
After a steady stream of qualitymixtapes beginning in 2015 Lil Wayne has been low-key killing it for years now. As he continues to grapple with ongoing public problems surrounding his forthcoming Tha Carter V, it’s becoming more evident with each passing day that fans may never get to hear that album. Luckily for us, while we wait for the vaporware LP Wayne is still free to drop impeccable rhymes over some of the hottest beats in recent years. From “Plain Jane” to “Gucci Gang,” D6: Reloaded is one of the best mixtapes of the rapper’s career. Interspersed with brief interview clips, each track offers a peek one step further into Wayne’s psyche until we’re deeper than we’ve ever seen before. The mixtape ends up being a 90-minute proving ground of chest-inflating punchlines, pussy-eating poetry, and effortless flows from one of the best in the game. A true return to form.
Ty Segall - Freedom’s Goblin
Packed with funky grooves, hip-swiveling rhythms, and lip-curling fuzz, Freedom’s Goblin is Ty Segall’s unabashedly-glammy double-album. Just as eclectic as fans have come to expect, Goblin dips into dozens of different psychedelic sounds over the course of its 1 hour 15-minute running time. After he borrows inspiration from them, all these disparate genres are then filtered down through one bizarre, unique, and unified multi-instrumental mind. This is a rock album of the highest order.
JPEGMAFIA - Veteran
One of my biggest surprises of the month, Veteran is the fourth mixtape from Los Angeles-based rapper and producer JPEGMAFIA. Taking cues from Clipping, Death Grips, Yung Jake, and Odd Future, Peggy offers up an utterly ballistic assault on the senses with this tape. Attacking everyone and everything in his sights, he uses a deft understanding of music, humor, and internet culture to create something that’s wholly his own.
Jay Some - Pirouette 7”
Following the critical acclaim of the blissed-out bedroom pop found on Everybody Works, Jay Som is back with two new tracks from the same session that didn’t make the initial cut. Equally dreamy, hazy, and intimate, both “Pirouette” and “O.K., Meet Me Underwater” flesh out Duterte’s musical persona and act as supporting evidence that the success of her breakthrough LP was no accident.
Migos - Culture II
With 24 tracks stretched over an exhausting 105 minutes, Culture II is a prime example of an artist doing their own thing. Following-up last year’s impactful sophomore effort, Culture II doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it doesn’t have to. From earworm choruses to infectious ad-libs, the Atlanta trio busts out trap anthem after trap anthem at an alarming pace until they tire themselves (and the listener) out. The group seems to have accepted and/or embraced their fate as musical popcorn: not exactly filling, but an undeniably fun snack.
No Age - Snares Like A Haircut
With bright, driving, summery rhythms, Snares Like A Haircut is a dream punk album in the style of Japandroids that’s designed for cruising the highway top-down on warm summer days. It’s an album-length injection of adrenaline into your veins that will keep you in motion, either willingly or by force.
Drake - Scary Hours EP
Unceremoniously released late on a Friday night, Drake’s two-song EP has already been streamed millions of times, shattered single-day streaming records, and then preceded to break them again. Both mid-tempo stream-of-consciousness updates on the 6 God’s life since More Life, these two tracks are merely supporting evidence that Drake is still at the top of the game.
August Burns Red - Messengers Remixed
Messengers, one of the most pivotal metalcore records of all time, enjoyed its tenth anniversary this past July. Supported by a worldwide tour celebrating the album’s enduring success (and hot on the heels of a Grammy nomination for 2017’s Phantom Anthem), the progressive metal pioneers also released a full remaster of their breakthrough LP. Just as hard-hitting as the day it came out, Messengers now sounds better than ever with crushing breakdowns, tight instrumentation, and a newly-balanced mix.
Jeff Rosenstock - POST-
On literally the first day of the year, power pop god Jeff Rosenstock made his mantra for 2018 clear when he unleashed POST- into the world. With optimistic tracks of self-affirmation, aimless aggression, and political defiance, POST- is both the cure for your New Year’s hangover and the solution to everyday lethargy.
Shame - Songs of Praise
Far and away my favorite album of the month, Songs of Praise is the debut record from London-based post-punk group Shame. It’s an aggressive, moody, and surprisingly poetic album that’s currently filling the IDLES-shaped hole in my heart. Cold and grey, angry and calculating, this is an unflinching and immaculate record that took me by surprise and still hasn’t let go.
…and the rest
This month we’ve also been lucky enough to get new singles from Camp Cope, Jack White, The Voidz, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Troye Sivan, Ought, Palm, Alesana, MGMT, Savages, Franz Ferdinand, Car Seat Headrest, and Yo La Tengo. Whew.
We’re off to a good start, now let’s keep it together.