Albums of the month is back! It’s been a little while since I’ve decided to do one of these and the other day I was on a 10 hour train ride which I thought would be the perfect opportunity to listen to a bunch of albums. While I did listen to a lot of my favorite albums, I also took a listen to a good amount that I never listened to but had always wanted to. This week has also been a surprisingly good week for new albums so I thought I just had to mention and recommend them. A good majority of what I’ve been listening to has been electronic funk so expect some of that one here, but knowing me there won’t just be one type of music on here, so don’t worry I have a little variety to talk about.
7. You’re Dead! by Flying Lotus
We’ll start off with a jazz infused electronic masterpiece. Okay maybe not masterpiece, but it is really a great listen. To some there may be a little too much going on or it may be too loud, which is fine, but for me this album just makes me want to get up and dance. Before listening to this album, I really only knew about one or two songs by Flying Lotus but man do I miss not listening to this album sooner. The energy, sweat and tears you can feel were put into this album make it an even more enjoyable experience. The cover art alone should tell you that this album is going to be a roller coaster of music in the best way possible. Highlights for me include Never Catch Me, Tesla and Dead Man’s Tetris.
6. Plastic Beach by Gorillaz
Gorillaz is a group (more like “group” actually), I’ve always been intrigued by and wanted to be fully invested in but never really took the full dive with. I knew them as a kid from the song Feel Good Inc., which even today I feel like is probably the song that everyone knows them from. Demon Days, the album from which Feel Good Inc. comes from, is a fantastic Gorillaz album that I would highly suggest as well, but when it really comes down to it Plastic Beach is the album that gives you the full Gorillaz experience in the best way possible. Gorillaz actually just released their new album, Humanz, a few weeks ago which is one that I haven’t gotten around to listening to. If I’m being completely honest, none of the singles (the many singles) that were released really intrigued or got me too excited for the album so I’ve been stalling with it a little bit, I will get around to it eventually though, I’ve promised myself. For now though, I want to discuss Plastic Beach. This album is unlike really anything else I’ve heard, it’s so uniquely interesting and fun. With a long list of collaborators, the album manages to give a good amount of content without it feeling bloated or messy. There’s nothing that I love more that an album with a theme (or even better a concept album), and this has the perfect use of that. Like always with Gorillaz, Plastic Beach continues and builds the story of these bandmates and their emotions. Some of my favorite tracks include Stylo, Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach, Empire Ants and On Melancholy Hill.
5. Random Access Memories by Daft Punk
You could almost listen to these three albums that I’ve just listed in some sort of elctronic funk trilogy because they’re all perfectly unique representations of that genre of music. Daft Punk are yet another band similar to Gorillaz that I always knew about (mostly from One More Time and Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger), but never really stuck my nose into all their albums. I remember the build up to the release of this album with the single Get Lucky and how many times it was constantly playing at the cookie shop I was working at at the time, so going into the album I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about that song. But luckily when I listened to the album as a whole (and Get Lucky in the format of the album), I kind of fell in love with the album. There’s a 70s funk vibe that kind of lingers throughout the playtime and it really adds a charm to Daft Punk. Random Access Memories is unlike anything else they’ve ever done before and I would suggest giving it a chance if you haven’t already. Highlights include Doin It Right, Instant Crush, Touch and Get Lucky.
4. Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie by Alanis Morissette
Alanis Morissette is one of those artists that you either really like or you really can’t stand. Some find her voice shreaky and unlistenable while others find it unique and interesting. I fall into the group that actually quite enjoys her music (for the most part), 1994’s Jagged Little Pill is one of my all time favorite albums and I’ve listened to it back to back more times than I can count. The 1998 follow up to that album, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, is the album I decided to include really just for the fact that I think it’s such an interesting and different experience. The album is no Jagged Little Pill, it has it’s problems with being maybe a little too bloated (17 songs on the tracklist when it could’ve been a little slimmer and effective with just 14), and doesn’t feel as tight as the previous album, but one thing it’s not is boring. This thing is a different creature on it’s own and in a way it allows Alanis to be even more vulnerable than she’d ever been before. I don’t mean to keep mentioning Jagged Little Pill but it’s almost impossible not to due to the fact that that album was so big in ’94 and the year following the release (I mean the album is practically a greatest hits catalogue on it’s own), that this album was being built up so much to the point that people wanted another version of that album. When Alanis finally did release this album in ’98, I think a good majority of fans were thrown off by how the themes in the album and just the altogether feel of it was different. With Thank U being the first single, Alanis had definitely changed herself a little (even though Jagged Little Pill really isn’t that angry album that everyone pins it to be). I will warn you, if you are going to give this album a listen it tends to be hard to get into because it is a lot. That may not sound like the best way to sell the album to you but it’s the honest thing to tell you. I really appreciate and enjoy the album now but it definitely took me some time to enjoy it as a whole, for a while I would just listen to the first 7 or 8 tracks and turn it off after that. Still, even after saying that I think this is a distinctly intricate album that you should check out. Highlights for me include Front Row, Baba, Thank U, Sympathetic Character, That I Would Be Good, Can’t Not and So Pure.
3. After Laughter by Paramore
Paramore has always been one of those bands for me that I secretly kind of like but don’t want to admit it. Considering their music was always kind of just moody alternative rock for emo teenagers, I always thought Hayley Williams had a nice voice and their songs were catchy (especially ones like Misery Business, crushcrushcrush and Ignorance). But now fast forward to 5 years after their last self titled album, we get After Laughter, which takes on a whole new sound for the band. With this album the band has (mostly) shed their emo rocker image and become what feels kind of like a mix of 80s Talking Heads and early Blondie. There are a few songs in here that still feel a little sophomoric to me and could’ve used a little more umph to them, but for the most part I found this album a surprisingly really fun listen. Favorite tracks include Hard Times, Told You So, Forgiveness, Caught in the Middle and No Friend.
2. Harry Styles by Harry Styles
I always find it interesting and somewhat exciting when a group/boy band/girl group/band decide to go their separate ways and some of them venture into their own musical careers. That’s exactly the case with Harry Styles here; not all that long ago, the boy band that he was in, One Direction, decided that they’d go their separate ways and here we have the first solo project from Styles. One of the other previous members who actually left the group before they legitimately decided to take some time apart, Zayn, released his solo album, Mind of Mine, some time last year and while I did enjoy it at the time it was released, I don’t think it’s really stood the test of time. To my complete surprise I really enjoyed Harry Styles’ solo album and would say that it’s a much better album than Zayn’s (I really have to stop with the comparing thing I’m doing on this list). While Zayn went for more of an airy R&B vibe, Harry goes more for a soft rock effort that results in a really personal album. With a tight 10 songs, this self titled record makes for an unexpectedly great album that feels timeless and like it could go down as one of the greats if you give it enough time. So if you’re on the fence about this album because the artist is from a boy band, I think you’ll be able to get past that feeling here because this is a mature album and artist that’s able to depart himself from his previous image. Favorite tracks include Sign Of the Times, Carolina, Sweet Creature, Only Angel and Kiwi.
1. To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar
Before anyone says anything, yes I am aware that Kendrick just released a new album recently and this is not that album, but don’t worry we’ll get there. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Kendrick Lamar is one of the best rappers out there right now. He has a flow and a style unlike anyone else in the game at the moment and he’s able to stand out on his own. Like I mentioned above, Kendrick just released his latest album, DAMN., last month. While I really did enjoy that album (I’ve heard a lot of people say that it’s mediocre or just not good, but I have to disagree I think it is a solid album), I still felt like in this moment and on this list, I couldn’t ignore Kendrick’s last effort, To Pimp a Butterfly. Now this album is another that is one of my all time favorites. Similar to what I said with Harry Styles’ album, I really think this album will go down in being an iconic rap album of the 2010’s. Every song has meaning and connect to each other in a way that is so seamless and beautiful, the story that is told here is heartbreaking while still being captivating. The album, similarly to how Flying Lotus’ album was, has a jazz infused swagger to it that’s undeniable and adds to the classic abilities of the album. So if you never gave this one a listen I couldn’t recommend it, and while you’re at it I would also suggest checking out DAMN., another worthy album in Kendrick’s catalogue of great albums. Favorite Tracks include Wesley’s Theory, King Kunta, These Walls, Complexion, Institutionalized and Alright.
Thanks for checking out the post! Have a funky weekend and I’ll see ya next time!