Austin's Thoughts: New Releases - Friday, January 18th, 2019

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James Blake - Assume Form

This is nice. Based on initial listens alone, I firmly believe this is James Blake's best work so far. 

The opening track is superb. That piano line sends chills down my spine and it weirdly reminds me of “Safer” by psych-pop group Animal Collective. Then, you have tracks with the trap flare to them, produced by Metro Boomin. Metro's contribution to this album stands out, as his production is incredibly spacey and melodic on his two produced tracks. 

This album hits a bit of a lull for me in the middle. I found myself tuning out a bit during the track with Rosalia, who came out with an amazing Flamenco Pop album last year. There were just a couple others that I found a bit personally uninteresting as well, but still showcased a dynamic sound overall.

The record ends strongly, however, with tracks like Power On and Don't Miss it, both of which are very sugary but also mysterious in their demeanor. I can already tell this album will grow on me as the year goes on.

Rating: 7.8/10

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Deerhunter - Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?

Man, was this underwhelming. Granted I haven't listened to any Deerhunter post-Halycon Digest, I was still expecting a lot more than I got based on the singles alone. I loved Death in Midsummer and Plains quite a bit and thought the rest of the album would follow suit with the sticky vocal lines and brilliant displays of noisy guitar-driven indie pop. What we got was... something more bland, I guess.

I enjoyed No One's Sleeping, Futurism, and the singles a lot. Everything in between, however, I felt was just too uninteresting (Greenpoint Gothic), or just didn't make sense in context (Detournement). None of this is BAD, just painfully average. 

I really wish I enjoyed this more than I did.

Rating: 6.4/10

Malibu Ken (Aesop Rock & Tobacco) - Malibu Ken

I never could get into Aesop Rock's style of rap. It’s like he tries way too hard to be the "intelligent rapper.” I always viewed him as very gimmicky and corny. However, I think he shines, at least somewhat, like he never has before on this album. While his rapping style still doesn’t impress me to fullest, he definitely “brings it” on this record.

On the production side of things, Tobacco, of Black Moth Super Rainbow fame, absolutely KILLS it on the production here. Every single track is created blissfully. It’s all very spacey, with incredible synth lines and memorable melodies.

For a hip-hop album, i found this very psychedelic approach to hip-hop production incredibly unique. 

Rating: 8.0/10

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Sharon Van Etten - Remind Me Tomorrow

Before listening to the singles leading up to the release of Remind Me Tomorrow, I've never heard a Sharon Van Etten track. Needless to say, I was very excited after hearing Seventeen, a track with a brilliant mix of synth-pop and heartland rock that makes me smile every time I hear the climax. 

I was on the road for an hour driving back home today when I finally got around to listening to this after checking out the rest of the albums that released last night. This album was easily the most rewarding. I felt immersed in the sounds that Sharon was creating on tracks such as the spacious opener “I Told You Everything,” or the brilliant dancey cut “Comeback Kid.”

The tracks that stood out the most to me were definitely the second track “No One's Easy to Love,” “Seventeen,” and the closer “Stay.” “No One's Easy to Love's” slightly aggressive feel was executed wonderfully with its guitar-tinged groove. “Seventeen” is the centerpiece of the album, with its incredible anthem vibe. “Stay” ends the album perfectly with a low-key trip-hop groove that rides the album off into the sunset with the windows down. 

Remind Me Tomorrow creates a fantastic feeling and is the best album I have heard this year so far (we are only three weeks in though). 

Rating: 8.2/10

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