This week I’m being lazy and greedy. Too many fantastic albums came out for me to pick just one of them as my favourite, so I’m going to recommend to you FIVE whole records that I consider to be must listens.
Esperanza Spalding – Emily’s D+Evolution
An incredible showcase of impeccable jazz songwriting, Emily’s D+Evolution is esoteric, energetic and weird in the best possible way. This record is packed with complex wordplay, inspiring and provocative themes as well as soulful melodies, dissonant guitar riffs and punchy bass lines, not to mention Spalding’s vocal performance and bass playing, which is unique and polished. This album manages to be thoughtful and contemplative whilst still being really, really fun.
The Wood Brothers – Paradise
I don’t particularly like country music, but the Wood Brothers’ variety of country music has always been endearing to me. It’s infused with stylistic elements of jazz and rock, and always does something subtle to surprise you. The group’s latest record Paradise, is just as interesting as past records. The song writing is simple with subtle complexities, and the performances from each member of the band are joyous and exuberant. The band’s usual sound is shaken up a little by the use of electric bass on a few of the tracks, but this is a welcome change which adds a little extra impact to some of the livelier songs. Paradise is a great listen to which I have no doubt that I will return frequently until the band’s next release.
Bill Laurance – Aftersun
I had a lot to say about this one, but long story short: it’s fantastic. Read my full review here.
Big Ups – Before A Million Universes
The really angry, yet charming, sophomore album from post-hardcore/punk rock band, Big Ups. This album has a lot to say and it says it very loudly and with feeling. With some quieter, more reflective passages that feature effective use of spoken word, which contrast with the expected angry shouting, this record is a varied and gripping listening experience.
Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered.
A somewhat surprising release from Kendrick, featuring eight previously unreleased tracks, all with catchy and poignant titles like ‘untitled 01 08.19.2014’. I won’t try and interpret the complex layers of world play that Lamar employs on this record, but I will say that I enjoyed the project for Kendrick’s passionate and rhythmically satisfying flow and for the continued use of the fantastic, live jazz instrumentation that featured so promenantly on To Pimp A Butterfly.