July 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:

Chevy Woods – Since Birth: After nearly two decades in the game, Taylor Gang’s Chevy Woods FINALLY drops his debut album. I’ll forgive the whole “baby on the cover” cliche here, because this project is excellent. Pop-Rap tracks like “Heartbroken” find Woods nimbly adapting to the newer generation of Drake-indebted artists, whereas cuts like “No Drama” come straight out of the early-2010s Datpiff era of which he was always a part, albeit on the periphery. Since Birth proves that he’s deserved centerstage all along. RECOMMENDED.

Defeated Sanity – The Sanguinary Impetus: A truly revolting mixture of Slam, Grindcore, and traditional Death Metal, Defeated Sanity’s sixth LP is perfect for Metalheads who view the genre with an inverse relationship between quality and listenability. This corner of the Extreme Metal world is where I usually lose interest, and this record is no exception, but I can’t deny that it’s intricate, well-executed, and downright disgusting at times. NOT RECOMMENDED.

Ellie Goulding – Brightest Blue: I’ve always loved Ellie’s voice, but it’s been a long time (fact check: 10 years) since that voice was paired up with a set of (mostly) good tunes. This will likely be one of my favorite LPs of 2020 to come out of the Blockbuster Pop world. Goulding’s lyrics feel personal and authentic, especially when she tackles themes of self-love (“New Heights”, “Ode to Myself”) and identity (“Woman”), and I also enjoyed the range of production influences on here, from the Hip-Hop infused (“How Deep Is Too Deep”) to the EDM genre (“Tides”). RECOMMENDED.

Ensiferum – Thalassic: Though I’ve been a voracious Ensiferum listener in the past – 2009’s From Afar is particularly close to my heart – I found Thalassic to be about as generic as Folk Metal gets. I also struggle to take the band seriously on tracks like “Rum, Women, Victory”, which water down their sound with cartoony lyrics and a cheeseball Power Metal influence that overruns their otherwise aggressive sound. NOT RECOMMENDED.

Juice WRLD – Legends Never Die: Thankfully, this posthumous collection from the late Juice WLRD (a.k.a. Jarad Higgins) comes across much more like a celebration of his life and logical extension of his discography than a cash-in. Higgins’ penchant for Emo Rap bangers is on full display here, and while I’ll never pretend to have been a voracious listener while he was alive, Legends Never Die is a fitting exclamation point for a guy who made a remarkably big impact on Hip-Hop in such a short time. RECOMMENDED.

Logic – No Pressure: After one of the worst five-year runs in Hip-Hop history, Logic comes through with a truly enjoyable “retirement album” here, against all odds (no seriously, he’s apparently retiring after this). You see, despite obvious trolling by the likes Lupe Fiasco, I’ve never considered Logic to be in the “lyricist” conversation. I’m pretty sure even Sugarhill Gang would agree that rhyming “God damn, I’m the man, do it ’cause I can” is an instant disqualifier. That being said, Logic has always been a likable guy, and when you get him on top-notch production (which is what happens here), great things can happen. I’m especially impressed by his entertaining and flippant dismissals of his old priorities on the song “Dadbod”, as well as his sincerity and honesty on “Amen”. RECOMMENDED.

My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall II: Kentucky Alt-Rockers My Morning Jacket come through with a superb eighth record that feels like a giant breath of fresh air for true Rock fans. The ballads (“Spinning My Wheels”, “Welcome Home”) make up some of my favorite moments, but the twangy “Climbing the Ladder” and the stomping “Magic Bullet” aren’t far behind. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Summer Walker – Life On Earth EP: While it has a few undeniable high points – most notably the sensual closer “Deeper” – I couldn’t get into Life On Earth, as it felt more like a surface-level, choppy collection of b-sides than a definitive artistic statement. The tasteless “White Tee” is a particular momentum killer in the third quarter. NOT RECOMMENDED.

Enjoyed

Brandy – B7 (R & B)

Kiko Loureiro – Open Source (Instrumental)

Lupe Fiasco & Kaelin Ellis – HOUSE EP (Hip-Hop)

Westside Gunn – Flygod is an Awesome God II (Hip-Hop)

Willie Nelson – First Rose of Spring (Country)

Didn’t Enjoy

The Acacia Strain – Slow Decay (Metal)

Bury Tomorrow – Cannibal (Metal)

Kilo – Somewhere in Oakland (Hip-Hop)

Olive Tree – Ugly is Beautiful (Alternative)

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