The Top 10 Releases of January 2015

5. Panda Bear – Panda Beat Meets the Grim Reaper

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This new album from the Animal Collective member Noah Lennox aka Panda Bear is nothing short of another great release from this member of the critically-acclaimed band. From distorted synths and layered vocals in songs like ‘Boy’s Latin‘ to melancholy vocals over a piano on songs like ‘Tropic of Cancer, the album has a decent amount of variety, but also keeps within a certain mood throughout the album. If you’re a fan of electronic and psychedelic music, this album is definitely a great fushion of the two genres and it’s definitely worth your time.

4. Viet Cong – Viet Cong

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When Women disbanded back in 2010, it was a shock to the music world. Now, almost five years since the break up, former members Matthew Flegal and Michael Wallace have released Viet Cong, the self-titled debut of their new band. This album came to me as a bit of a surprise as I barely heard anything about Viet Cong prior to the release of this album, but man this album blew me away. Featuring blistering drums from Wallace, fantastic guitar riffs, and signature post-punk vocals from Flegal, the album’s seven tracks are an experience you have to sit through.

3. Joey Bada$$ – B4.DA.$$

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Overall Joey Bad$$’ debut B4.DA.$$ is a superb old school influenced New York album. Joey does not falter with his lyrics, he delivers bars that have people scratching their heads trying to decipher, his flow is extraordinarily improved from Summer Knights and his beat selection is on point. Many people have been wondering if he could make something on par with 1999, the answer this album provides is a resounding no, as he gave us something better. Aside from a few slips in a few beat choices and a guest feature that doesn’t live up to the rest of the album, B4.DA.$$ is a future classic in hip-hop.

2. Lupe Fiasco – Tetsuo & Youth

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It is within these risks and deep-rooted concepts that makes Tetsuo & Youth so appealing to the ear, as it is a refreshing return to form to a Lupe formula last heard on 2007’s The Cool. This trust and complete faith in his own artistic expression and concepts is bolder than ever, as on your first listen, you feel like so much of this album went over your head, or needs to be digested. Sure, this means it isn’t as easy-listening as most of the hip-hop climate as it stands currently, but maybe that’s what makes Tetsuo so jarring and beautiful all in the same breath. Maybe it’s this juxtaposition with the club-banging anthems being churned out by the hip-hop all stars of Rae Sremmurd, Metro Boomin, Future, Young Thug, and all of their peers, and to release such an album with pretty instrumental interludes and lyrical assaults free of hooks and popular features—all to make the socio-political statements now in a visceral, sharp form rather than as a hands-clasped, “real hip-hop” preachy patron is what makes this album so beautiful. Lupe divulges his musings and anecdotes on the human condition, filtered into what could be his most complex, conceptual album yet. Welcome back, Lupe.

1. Björk – Vulnicura

Originally expected for a March release, Björk surprise-released her new album Vulnicura after the album leaked two months before the expected release date.  And man, I’m glad she decided to release the album early as it’s her best album in over a decade. Featuring beautiful strings composed by Björk, incredible futuristic production by Björk & Arca, known for his work with FKA twigs and Kanye West, and poignant lyrics and vocals. Björk sounds more vulnerable than ever as the album was inspired by her break-up with longtime partner, artist Matthew Barney. This album is a serious return to form from albums like Vespertine and Homogenic, but also doesn’t sound like complete rip-offs of them as progression is the key to the artist known as Björk.

 

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