May 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:

…And Oceans – Cosmic World Mother: A RIPPING Black Metal record! It’s sinister, it’s dark, and the production absolutely overwhelms you. In a post-Behemoth landscape where every extreme band feels like they have to blend in equal parts Death and Black Metal in order to make a splash, Cosmic World Mother is a refreshingly BLACK METAL release through and through (with a touch of the symphonic for good measure), and a shoe-in for my Mid-Year Metal list! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Firewind – Firewind: Littered with lazy songwriting and endless cliches of the genre, these Greek Gods of Power Metal have returned to the middle of the pack for me following 2017’s surprisingly awesome Immortals. However, band leader Gus G continues to be one of the best lead guitar players in the business. Despite how mediocre the songs themselves are, every single one of his solos is impressive! NOT RECOMMENDED.

Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist – Alfredo: While I’ll take Freddie Gibbs paired with Madlib any day of the week (in case you’ve forgotten my Bandana love), the guy just can’t miss lately, regardless of who’s behind the boards. I love his commanding flow, his lived-in narratives, and his partner-in-crime Alchemist does deliver on cuts like the jazz-infused “Something to Rap About” and the dreamlike “Scottie Beam”. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Joell Ortiz & KXNG Crooked – H.A.R.D: As the enormous Slaughterhouse fan I am – yes, I even defend the Pop Rap-infected Welcome To: Our House to this day – it is always a treat to see any sort of fractional reunion of the group, even if it’s just for one track on an Eminem album. But getting an entire half hour project from two members was something I DEFINITELY didn’t see coming! While Crooked has always been the better lyricist of the two, Ortiz holds his own against him, and these eight tracks fly by with a heartbreaking quickness. The surprisingly hooky “Get Ya Money” and the moving closer “Memorial Day” are particular highlights. Hope to hear more from these two! RECOMMENDED.

Kehlani – It Was Good Until It Wasn’t: Kehlani literally has no other subject matter besides racy sexual encounters and failed relationships, does she? Seriously, even 2014 Lil’ Wayne had more to talk about than she does on here. But the lyrics are my only complaint about this otherwise smooth, sexy, collection of bedtime jams driven home by one Kehlani Parrish’s agile pipes. Her 2019 mixtape While We Wait was one of my favorite R & B projects of the year and this one will likely wind up in a similar spot for me by December. Still giving it some time to sink in. RECOMMENDED. 

Lady GaGa – Chromatica: As a Metal commentator, it’s difficult for me to discuss Lady GaGa without my words being misinterpreted as coated in all sorts of irony, but the truth is, I’ve been a non-ironic follower of GaGa for over 10 years . And that being said, Chromatica is easily her best record since her debut. A lazy but appropriate comparison here is to Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor – a wholehearted latter-career embrace of Dance-Pop but with subtly meaningful lyricism. The difference, of course, is that much of GaGa’s past music has been classifiably Dance-Pop, but Chromatica is the first time she’s gone “all in” on the genre for an entire LP. And she could not be a better fit vocally as she alternates between a playful monotone and a powerhouse singing voice over these upbeat EDM tracks, many of them produced by titans of the genre like Madeon, Skrillex, and Sebastian Ingrosso. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Moby – All Visible Objects:  Electronic music’s favorite vegan returns with yet another evolution following 2019’s aptly named Long Ambients 2. The production on All Visible Objects does slow to a crawl by the end of the LP, but the bulk of the material here is invigorated, slap-happy, in-your-face EDM with an unyielding knack for atmosphere amidst all the noise. Some of the afterglow of my first listen has worn off, but I’ve still been returning to it quite a bit. RECOMMENDED.

Paradise Lost – Obsidian: The ultimate album for “grey days”, Obsidian finds these English Doom Metal pioneers continuing to build on their legacy after over thirty years. Nick Holmes’ mesmerizing baritone commands your attention on sharp-shooters like “Ghosts”, but it’s his harsh vocals that clear the path for the Agalloch-esque “Serenity” and the lumbering Death-Doom closer “Ravenghast”. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.


Charli XCX – How I’m Feeling Now (Pop)

Hayley Williams – Petals for Armor (Pop)

Havok – V (Metal)

Perfume Genius – Set My Heart On Fire Immediately (Alternative)

The 1975 – Notes on a Conditional Form (Alternative)

Didn’t Enjoy

Asking Alexandria – House on Fire (Rock)

Kygo – Golden Hour (Dance)

Vader – Solitude in Madness (Metal)


June 2019 Album Round Up!

What’s up guys, hope the first half of your 2019 ended with a bang! Mine certainly did. Monthly Round Ups are back and here to stay! Below is a quick run-through of all the records I checked out this month:

Chon – Chon (Instrumental) 

Full-length number three from this virtuosic instrumental four-piece has completely reinvigorated my love for instrumental music. Chon’s entrancing blend of rock, jazz, and prog (among other influences) has inspired me to revisit brilliant records in my collection from Pat Metheny, Marty Friedman, and Steve Vai – records whose greatness, dare I say, Chon’s self-titled effort deserves mention alongside. Must-listen for guitar nerds and prog fans alike. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Meg Mac – Hope (Singer/Songwriter)

Australian singer/songwriter Meg Mac impressed me once again with this little seven-track mini-album. Her voice is powerful, versatile, and has me constantly wondering why massive success in the US has eluded her thus far. Particular highlights include “Head Away” and the dramatic title cut. RECOMMENDED.

X Ambassadors – Orion (Alternative)

You really have to TRY to make music this bad. I was appalled at the bland genericism of Orion, a batch of throwaway Alt tunes that makes Imagine Dragons appear bold and progressive. NOT RECOMMENDED.

Baroness – Gold & Grey (Metal)

One of Metal’s critical darlings did it again with this double album – album number five in Baroness’ color-themed series of releases. The music Baroness make is often more Hard Rock than Metal, actually – frontman John Baizley’s gruff melodic vocals and gritty down-tuned guitar riffs occupy a similar crossover territory to fellow Georgians Mastodon. I particularly enjoyed the numerous instrumental interludes sprinkled throughout this track list. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Hate – Auric Gates of Veles (Metal)

More devastating Blackened Death Metal from Polish giants Hate (known to some as “the other Behemoth”). While I don’t find myself having the same visceral reaction that I did to 2017’s Tremendum, Hate’s suffocating instrumentation and sinister aesthetic continues to draw me in. RECOMMENDED.

Mark Ronson – Late Night Feelings (Pop)

Wow! Quite pleasantly surprised by this highly collaborative LP from Pop producer extraordinaire Mark Ronson. I really expected to hate this. But Ronson is no DJ Khaled – that is to say, a “curator” who cobbles together records through a very “forced” combination of guests – but rather, a producer and co-writer with a vision here. The title track, “True Blue”, “Don’t Leave Me Lonely”, “Pieces of Us”, and even the Miley Cyrus-featuring “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart”, are all highlights here. RECOMMENDED.

Lil Nas X – 7 EP (Hip-Hop)

An even bigger surprise was actually ENJOYING this EP from Lil’ Nas X, the 20-year-old rapper responsible for the Country-Rap Internet smash “Old Town Road”. Though he still feels like a novelty and his longevity is certainly still appropriate to be questioned, Lil’ Nas X holds his own on these seven songs. Particularly fond of the Cardi B-assisted “Rodeo” and the Rock-influenced “F9mily”. The jury’s still out on this kid but I’m gonna give him a chance! RECOMMENDED.

Mannequin Pussy – Patience (Alternative)

My favorite record of the month. And “Drunk II” is my favorite song of the month. SO much to love about this punk-infused alternative band! And their Epitaph Records debut will hopefully introduce front-woman Marisa Dabice in particular as the force of nature that the band’s underground fans have always known her to be. Producer Will Yip’s fuzzy-yet-polished approach works wonders here as well. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.



The Black Keys – Let’s Rock (Alternative)

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Bandana (Hip-Hop)

Goldlink – Diaspora (Hip-Hop)

Pryda – Pryda 15 Vol 1 (Dance)

The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger (Rock)



Enthroned – Cold Black Suns (Metal)

Gucci Mane – Delusions of Grandeur (Hip-Hop)