June 2020 Album Round Up!

What’s up guys! Another month, another Album Round Up. Below is a quick run-through of all the records I checked out this month:

Gone West – Canyons: This is one of the most spectacular pieces of crap I have heard all year. You thought actual Pop-Country was bad? Wait until you hear a bunch of non-Country singers (Colbie Caillat, Justin Young, Jason Reeves) give it a whirl. Yikes! NOT RECOMMENDED.

Lamb of God – Lamb of God: Half a decade after VII: Sturm und Drang, the second best record in their whole catalogue, Lamb of God came trotting back with pure mediocrity. Nothing on this record is offensively bad or poorly written, and you could give it a solid spin during a work out, but instrumentally it feels like a collection of uninspired b-sides, with recycled riffs and half-assed ideas that drag down virtually every song. The one shining element here is frontman Randy Blythe’s rage-fueled political lyrics, which are on surprisingly equal footing with the dark and introspective themes of Sturm und Drang. Here is a full review. NOT RECOMMENDED.

Metrik – Ex Machina: I’m no Electronic music connoisseur by any means, but I’ve been really digging this record! To me it sounds a lot like the Drum ‘N Bass groups like Pendulum that I used to listen to non-stop in the early 2010s. That being said, Ex Machina does feel like a time machine back to that brief mainstream moment in the sun that occurred a decade ago for harder, more masculine-sounding forms of EDM. It FEELS stuck in the early 2010s, and that may be a significant drawback for many listeners, but I’ve been enjoying the hell out of the hard-hitting percussion, the buzzsaw synth riffs, and Tom Mundell’s song-centric approach. RECOMMENDED.

New Found Glory – Forever x Ever x Infinity: These Pop-Punk veterans played it a bit too safe for me on Round 10. The reason I loved 2017’s Make Me Sick so much was that it expanded the band’s sound into risky and unforeseen territory. Here we have by-the-numbers, juvenile songs about sitting on the same side of the booth at the diner (no really, that’s what the song “Same Side Sitters” is about), punctuated by the same old power chords and grooves. And then one randomly heavy song called “Himalaya” that feels like A Day To Remember-lite. NOT RECOMMENDED.

Phoebe Bridgers – Punishers: Wow, what a gorgeous voice Phoebe has! She’s been a prominent figure in the Alt-Singer/Songwriter scene for nearly half a decade, but this is my first experience with her music.  I can’t tell you how many late nights I’ve sat up listening to “Moon Song”, “Savior Complex”, and “Halloween”, letting her silky voice take me away from whatever challenges that day presented. I enjoy her cheeky brand of lyricism too, which is full of non-sequiturs about everything from Good Will to the cost of payphones to how overrated “Tears in Heaven” is. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Protest the Hero – Palimpsest: This is a truly remarkable Prog Metal record! Impeccably produced and performed, loudly flamboyant and off-the-wall, it’s everything (most) Protest the Hero fans fell in love with on 2008’s Fortress. I feel like I’ve been overlooking much of this talented band’s recent material (though it’s been seven years since a proper studio release) and I’m thrilled to have been brought back into the fold with Palimpsest. I loved it so much that I had to make a last minute spot for it in my Mid-Year Metal list! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Run the Jewels – RTJ4: The legendary Killer Mike and the criminally underrated El-P team up once again to rage against the machine, this time with an even more tense and fractured political climate than usual in which to voice their frustrations. Oh, and they got some help from Rage Against the Machine frontman Zach de la Rocha himself on a track too. This might be my favorite LP of theirs to date, with such an electrifying combination of content, bars, and the aggressive beats to match. If the following Killer Mike bars from “The Ground Below” don’t convince you to give this a listen, I’m not sure what will: “Not a holy man but I’m moral in my pervertedness/So I support the sex workers unionizing their services”. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Wale – The Imperfect Storm EP: Along with Charli XCX’s lockdown-themed How I’m Feeling Now, Wale’s politically-charged EP is a perfect example of the immediacy of the modern music landscape. Many of the industry’s middlemen have been rendered irrelevant by the ability of artists to simply press record on their laptop and upload songs directly to streaming services. Not saying this was Wale’s exact process for The Imperfect Storm, but the fact that he released this project – which bluntly address police brutality throughout –  just 24 days after the tragic death of George Floyd does prove my point. And it’s that instant, reactionary nature that makes The Imperfect Storm such a compelling listen. Plus, Wale’s sharp rhymes, nimble flow, and great production choices don’t hurt either. RECOMMENDED.

Enjoyed

Flatbush Zombies – Now More Than Ever EP (Hip-Hop)

The Ghost Inside – The Ghost Inside (Metal)

Teyana Taylor – The Album (R & B)

Ulthar – Providence (Metal)

Didn’t Enjoy

Eric Bellinger – Hors D’oeuvres (R & B)

Iann Dior – I’m Gone EP (Hip-hop)

Mushroomhead – A Wonderful Life (Metal)

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