Notable Releases of the Week (11/27)
It's a short week because of Thanksgiving so I'm gonna keep this short and get right to the music. I highlight seven new albums below and here are some honorable mentions: the surprise AJ Tracey EP (ft. slowthai & more), The Smashing Pumpkins, Jahari Massamba Unit (Madlib & Karriem Riggins), Elcamino & 38 Spesh, Flee Lord, Juicy J, Palm Reader, Suzie True, Bent, Glorious Depravity (mem Pyrrhon, Woe, Mutilation Rites), Sodom, Lars Finberg (The Intelligence), Hatebreed, the Voivod live album, Nails' expanded 10th anniversary edition of Unsilent Death, the Tim Burgess (The Charlatans) EP, the first HORSE The Band EP in 11 years, and the Billie Joe Armstrong covers album.
Hope everyone's having a good, healthy, safe holiday. Read on for my picks and enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend. What's your favorite release of the week?
Kabaka Pyramid x Federation Sound - Immaculate
Kingston, Jamaica's Kabaka Pyramid has spent the past decade solidifying himself at the forefront of the reggae revival alongside artists like Chronixx and Protoje (both of whom he frequently collaborates with), and he's had a very busy 2020, having dropped a string of great singles including "Babylon Fallin," "Trample Dem," and "Nice Up The Dance" (a rework of Michigan and Smiley's 1979 classic), all of which appear on his new 27-song, hour-long mix Immaculate, made with Federation Sound's Max Glazer. It's Kabaka's first full-length release since his 2018 debut album Kontraband and first mixtape since 2016's Major Lazer-presented Accurate, and it features Damian Marley (on a sequel to Kontraband's title track), Dre Island, Runkus, Royal Blu, Medisun, Pressure Busspipe, Jane Macgizmo, DJ Premier, and more. Like on past releases, Kabaka proves to be a great singer and songwriter who can combine the delivery and lyricism of hip hop with the rhythms and melodies of reggae, and he continues to write music that's both socially conscious and fun to listen to. Throughout Immaculate, Kabaka takes on the current political climate, white supremacy, coronavirus, child abuse, and other serious issues, but it also includes a lighter side and messages of hope. It's all expertly sequenced together by Max Glazer like a classic DJ mix with no gaps between songs, and it remains fiery and hypnotic from start to finish.
Flohio - No Panic No Pain
"Rap isn’t meant to be too happy; there’s meant to be grit in there," rising UK rapper Flohio told The Guardian last year. "It’s not about weed and lipstick. You’ve got to have that punk in there. It’s got to be radical. You’re here to make a statement." That grit and that punk attitude has always come through loud and clear in Flohio's music, which at the time included two EPs and a handful of singles and guest appearances, and now she makes good on the promise of that early work with her first full-length, the No Panic No Pain mixtape. It's as fired-up as the EPs, with in-your-face shout-raps and rapidfire flows over dark, loud electronic production, but No Panic No Pain also takes a few moments to show off a more pensive, introspective side. At a lean ten songs, it's still brief, but it proves Flohio can hold your attention for a full-length album, and it's got some of her best songs yet. If you aren't on the Flohio train already, one listen to this rock-solid mixtape should change that.
Bad Bunny - El Último Tour del Mundo
Bad Bunny continues to have a massive year, and just dropped his third album of 2020. The second (Las Que No Iban a Salir) felt a little more rushed due to quarantine, but El Último Tour del Mundo feels as massive as YHLQMDLG and X 100PRE. It features Rosalía, Abra, and Jhay Cortez, and it's casually genre-defying, making room for Latin trap bangers, moody R&B, breezy guitar songs, atmospheric art pop, and much more. It might seem hard to keep up with everything Bad Bunny puts out, but when it's this consistently good, it's hard to complain.
Statik Selektah - The Balancing Act
The Balancing Act is veteran rap producer Statik Selektah's ninth album, and if you've heard any of the previous eight, you pretty much know what to expect from this one. That's not a dig; a big part of what we've come to expect from Statik is extreme consistency and quality control, and this album is no exception. As always, Statik stays true to the chilled-out, jazzy, psychedelic side of the boom bap era, and the guest lists on his albums serve as a who's who of rappers from this corner of the hip hop universe, from legends to newcomers, marquee names to underground staples, widely recognized greats to cult faves.
This one features Black Thought, Nas, Killer Mike, Joey Bada$$, 2 Chainz, Conway the Machine, Benny the Butcher, Method Man, Jadakiss, Paul Wall, Fly Anakin, Evidence, the late Sean Price, Bobby Sessions, Blu, Bun B, Havoc, Smoke DZA, Styles P, CJ Fly, Termanology, Dave East, KOTA The Friend, Lil Fame (of M.O.P.), Jack Harlow, Marlon Craft, Rome Streetz, Thirstin Howl The 3rd, Rim da Villain, Nick Grant, and more. Statik provides all of them with top-tier production, and all of them rise to the occasion. If you were drawn to this album because of one of the bigger names, you probably won't be disappointed with their contribution, and beyond housing good verses from rappers you already know, Statik Selektah albums are usually a good source of discovery too. If someone's on this album that you haven't heard of, there's a good chance that you should be listening to them.
As is usually the case with Statik Selektah albums, The Balancing Act looks like a compilation on paper, but Statik knows how to sequence everything in a way that feels like a cohesive album. And The Balancing Act isn't just a showcase for friendly competition from some of the strongest MCs around (though it's definitely often that); it's also an outlet for some genuinely empowering music, like an incisive critique of America's current social/political climate ("America is Cancelled" ft. Jadakiss, Styles P, and Termanology) and a eulogy for some of the great rappers we've lost ("Way Up," which pays tribute to Mac Miller, Sean Price, Phife Dawg, Prodigy, and Pimp C, and features Prodigy's Mobb Deep partner Havoc and Pimp C's UGK partner Bun B).
Miley Cyrus - Plastic Hearts
Miley Cyrus' new album is a love letter to '70s/'80s rock, punk, and new wave, featuring appearances by Joan Jett, Billy Idol, Stevie Nicks, and Dua Lipa; a Blondie cover; a Rolling Stones homage and more. You can read my full review of it here.
156/Silence - Irrational Pull (Deluxe Edition)
There's been no lack of modern bands bringing back the sounds of early 2000s metalcore lately, and one of the best examples of it that I've heard this year is Irrational Pull by Pittsburgh up and comers 156/Silence. They self-released the album earlier this year, and after stirring up buzz, they inked a deal with SharpTone Records (whose recent releases include the new Dying Wish single and the new Loathe album), and today SharpTone releases a deluxe edition of the album with two new original songs ("Vexation" and "No Angel") and a cover of Alice In Chains' "Them Bones." The new tracks are just as good as the previous ten, and all of these songs show a band bursting at the seams with talent. 156/Silence nail the chaotic outbursts, bludgeoningly heavy chugs, and brooding atmosphere of peak-era metalcore, and they've managed to write an album that's very accessible without relying on overly-polished production or clean-sung choruses. They nail a balance between metalcore's coarser, more aggressive '90s era and its comparatively approachable 2000s era, and they repackage those two-decade-old sounds as something that feels new and exciting today.
Willie The Kid x V Don - Deutsche Marks 2
Serious Soundz/The Fly LLC
Grand Rapids, Michigan rapper Willie The Kid is having a busy year. He already released his album Capital Gains (ft. Action Bronson, Curren$y, Roc Marciano, and others), he's done tons of guest appearances (with Flee Lord, Buckwild, Real Bad Man, RU$H & Jay Nice, and more), and now he releases a second album of 2020, Deutsche Marks 2. It's the sequel to 2017's Deutsche Marks, and like that album, it was entirely produced by V Don, whose ominous production is a great backdrop for Willie's menacing street life stories. The album features Flee Lord, Jai Black, Vado, and Eto, all of whom embrace the same hard-hitting, throwback rap style that Willie does, and all of whom sound great over V Don's beats. Like the first Deutsche Marks, Deutsche Marks 2 is a darker, more brooding album than the soulful Capital Gains, and it makes for a nice contrast to that album. Both are relatively short and void of filler, and each one shows off a different side of Willie The Kid. Getting them just two months apart serves as a reminder for how subtly versatile Willie can be.
Looking for more recent releases? Browse the Notable Releases archive or keep scrolling down for previous weeks.
For even more metal, browse the 'Upcoming Releases' each week on Invisible Oranges.