2015 has been a landmark year for great releases so far, with no sign of stopping soon. Here are five albums that I love and might have slipped under your radar – give them a listen!
Live from the Dentist Office is effortless, jazzy, and infectiously groovy from start to finish. The Arizona-based Hip-Hop trio oozes confidence at every corner and there’s hardly a wasted moment across all 46 minutes. The production is crisp and clear and the lyrics are clever and entertaining – all the hallmarks of a top-notch Hip-Hop album are here. With this release, Injury Reserve have really put themselves on the map. Check it out.
At only 18 minutes long, February 15 is a slim offering. Even so – the six tracks on this EP are chock-full of groovy and forward-thinking R&B goodness. Nao comes off like the perfect middle ground between D’Angelo and FKA twigs (who, in my review of the new Miguel album, I claimed are the acts to beat in R&B right now), managing to retain the history of an R&B sound while creating something that truly sounds contemporary and unique.
Post-punk and gospel never sounded so good. Actually, I don’t know if post-Punk and Gospel have ever sounded good together, assuming they’ve ever been put together before. Often, contemporary “Black music” is relegated to being either Hip-Hop or R&B – Algiers is neither, working undoubtedly in the wake of Punk and post-Punk (which, it should be said, are historically not the easiest for People of Color to break into), and yet sounding so essentially Black and so essentially American. Algiers should be considered in line with Black Messiah and To Pimp A Butterfly as another musical counterpart to the Black Lives Matter movement; not only that, but it’s really good anyway.
Open Mike Eagle – A Special Episode Of (EP)
Full disclosure – Open Mike Eagle is my favorite rapper right now, so I might be a bit biased. A Special Episode Of comes as an epilogue of sorts to Mike’s 2014 masterpiece, Dark Comedy – the opening track, “Dark Comedy Late Show,” is a re-imagining of Dark Comedy’s opener (“Dark Comedy Morning Show”), and all of the tracks on Special Episode could have probably fit on Dark Comedy. Mike is an emotional and outstandingly clever rapper and lyricist with masterful flow and consistently has the best production you could imagine. Special Episode is short at hardly 20 minutes long, but is so consistently good that it’s hard to critique otherwise. If you’re into slightly off-kilter Hip-Hop, or even just good Hip-Hop, Mike is the man to see. Check out his performance with Flying Lotus and Thundercat here (it’s awesome) or check the track below.
No Now has twenty songs and is over an hour long and, somehow, manages to sound almost like a completely different album every ten minutes. It’s all undoubtedly Clarence Clarity, funky and danceable – but only if you’re slightly deranged, with bizarre song names like “Bloodbarf,” “Porn Mountain,” and “1-800-Worship,” but is absolutely hypnotic. Clarence proves himself to be a masterful producer and ingenious songwriter, coming off as authentic and emotional but just insane enough to be interesting. This is one of the best electronic albums to come out this year, and deserves your attention.
What are some killer albums from this year that we might not have heard of?