As per usual, I'm playing this one a little close to the chest in terms of writing this.
Or is it already too late? You be the judge.
Regardless, in similar fashion to my two friends, I will be sharing a few of my personal favourite releases from the past month. Full lengths, extended plays or even singles that I believe are worth noting that didn't make it onto the podcast. Here is a short supply of some releases that I believe are worth sharing from October.
Freddie Gibbs, Curren$y & The Alchemist - Fetti
With yet another release under his belt this year, Freddie Gibbs continues to exceed expectations while still having fans eagerly await the release of the Madlib-produced album Bandana.
Serving as a quick appetizer, Freddie Gibbs dropped a surprise collaboration with Curren$y, featuring production from The Alchemist, conjuring a succinct listen front to back. Freddie effortlessly jumps from bar to bar throughout this album, knowing full well just what his reputation for wordplay is. Hell he ends off the first track with "might do Coachella as a hologram." It wouldn't be fair not to mention that Curren$y isn't much of a slouch either, providing some of his own smooth jabs to a track, with some mesmerizing beats and entertaining samples from The Alchemist.
The album itself is a short but sweet 23 minutes, but it's an album that might have you returning to pretty regularly.
Recommended Track(s): Location Remote, The Blow, Willie Lloyd, Tapatio
Benjamin Clementine - Eternity
[Contemporary Classical / Experimental Pop]
In 2015, Benjamin Clementine was a recipient of the Mercury Prize award for his debut studio album, At Least for Now, a stunning meld of classical, spoken word and chamber pop.
Just about a year after his previous album, I Tell A Fly as well as a guest feature on the new Gorillaz album, The English poet, artist and vocalist Benjamin Clementine released a new single in collaboration with Vacheron Constantin.
The song itself is Clementine's personal reinterpretation of The True Knowledge - a poem by Oscar Wilde, lifted with a more modern vocabulary with just as much power behind it. The orchestral instrumentation backing the track swells and leaves you in an odd state of bliss and fear throughout it's runtime.
If this and I Tell A Fly are any consolation, Benjamin Clementine seems to be getting more comfortable while also becoming a more accessible listen, and I'm all here for it.
Recommended Track(s): Eternity
Hozier - Movement
[Alternative / Indie]
Stray observation: Hozier is in an incredibly interesting space as an artist. It feels as though he does not nearly get as much praise as he necessarily should, yet also could very well be shunned for being too well known. Especially coming right out the gate running as he did with a single like "Take Me to Church."
After just releasing a short EP titled Nina Cried Power, with the self-titled track itself bolstering an incredible guest spot from Mavis Staples. Hozier is back with a vengeance after a few years away from the spotlight. The time away has not removed his knack for songwriting, to say the least.
Movement is a strong synth and bell-lead mash of indie and gospel that he's become so well-known for with an even stronger arrangement of choir vocals surrounding it. Movement is the product of an ever-maturing songwriter playing to his strengths, and I look forward to whatever else he has up his sleeve with a sophomore release.
Recommended Track(s): Movement
Pill - Soft Hell
As the album cover may suggest (honestly, this is an easy contender for some of my favourite album art this year so far) there's a certain dark humour that seeps through many of the tracks. The Brooklyn-based no-wave band offers an erratic mixture of punk, surf rock and other various genres, as the bands vocalist Veronica Torres bellows out her impassioned frustrations.
Torres is a force to be reckoned with lyrically and vocally while still crafting some catchy hooks ("ha ha haunted in heaven / ha ha haunted in hell" comes to mind) to nod along to. Benjamin Jaffe, the band's saxophonist, deserves some praise themselves for further pushing the sonic boundaries throughout many songs.
The production on Soft Hell makes the album an even more pleasurable listen, with the drums and guitar refusing to play second fiddle to the other surrounding sounds, while also forcing the listener to choose where to direct his attention. As the album title may suggest, there's maybe just enough forced chaos going on to keep you frantic but grooving.
Recommended Track(s): A.I.Y.M?, Fruit, Haha, Softer Side, Double Think
Anderson .Paak - Oxnard
[Funk, Soul, Hip-Hop]
Oxnard is rightfully going to be a bit of a toss-up for people. The long-awaited release from Anderson .Paak finds him in a more focused creative sound than the likes of Malibu or Yes Lawd! which may leave some fans missing the eclectic personality he's been proven to have.
That being said, Oxnard is a well-crafted, entertaining, and thoughtful release. No moment ever feels stale for its nearly-an-hour-long runtime, and he starts strong right out the gate with "The Chase." Whether he's addressing police brutality on "Who R U?" or gun reform on "6 Summers" .Paak has thrown his hat into the political ring while still having his iconic smile at the forefront. Not to mention the some of the hilarious one-liners he seems to just come up with almost effortlessly.
Named after the city he calls home, Oxnard wears the west coast on it's sleeve with sleek production from the man himself, Dr. Dre and amazing guest moments from Kadhja Bonet, Kendrick Lamar, Pusha T, Snoop Dogg and Q-Tip. Hell, I even liked BJ The Chicago Kid for once on a track.
Time will tell if this will still be a highlight, but frankly, any new music from .Paak is welcome from me.
Recommended Track(s): The Chase, Who R U?, 6 Summers, Mansa Musa, Cheers, Sweet Chick
Other notable releases this month: