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2016 is still rolling by, and the albums are getting more diverse. Here's what I've listened to over the last three months (April - June) and links to the albums I've reviewed.
5-Star Albums (8.5 - 10)
- Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool - 10
- Deftones - Gore: 9.5
- Gojira - Magma: 9
- Thrice - Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere: 8.5
- Architects - All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us: 8.5
- Weezer - Weezer (White Album): 8.5
- LIGHTS - Midnight Machines: 8.5
- The Last Shadow Puppets - Everything You've Come To Expect: 8.5
- letlive. - If I'm The Devil...: 8.5
4-Star Albums (6.5 - 8)
- Beyoncé - LEMONADE: 8
- Issues - Headspace: 7.5
- Drake - Views: 7.5
- Swans - The Glowing Man : 7.5
- Meadowlark - Parraffin: 7.5
- Yeasayer - Amen & Goodbye: 7
- Against The Current - In Our Bones: 7
- Ariana Grande - Dangerous Woman: 7
- PUP - The Dream Is Over: 7
- Jon Bellion - The Human Condition: 7
- Modern Baseball - Holy Ghost - 7
- Cult Of Luna & Julie Christmas - Mariner: 7
- Death Grips - Bottomless Pit - 7
- BABYMETAL - Metal Resistance: 7
- Melt Yourself Down - Last Evenings On Earth: 7
- Dark Suns - Everchild: 7
- DJ Shadow - The Mountain Will Fall: 7
- Band Of Skulls - By Default: 7
- The Algorithm - Brute Force: 7
- Flume - Skin: 7
- Olaf Stuut - Run: 7
- Katatonia - The Fall Of Hearts: 6.5
- Nick Jonas - Last Year Was Complicated: 6.5
- Red Hot Chili Peppers - The Getaway: 6.5
3-Star Albums (4.5 - 6)
- JMSN - It Is.: 6
- FAWNN - Galaxies: 6
- Skepta - Konnichiwa: 6
- Islands - Taste: 6
- Mogwai - Atomic: 6
- Beartooth - Aggressive: 5.5
- Explosions In The Sky - The Wilderness: 5.5
- The Goo Goo Dolls - Boxes: 5.5
- Chance The Rapper - Coloring Book: 5
- Desiigner - New English: 5
2-Star Albums (2.5 - 4)
1-Star Albums (0 - 2)
Top Albums Of 2016 (so far)
- Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
- AURORA - All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend
- Panic! At The Disco - Death Of A Bachelor
- Deftones - Gore
- Dream Theater - The Astonishing
- Foxes - All I Need
- Daughter - Not To Disappear
- Gojira - Magma
- Thrice - To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere
- Architects - All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us
Top Songs Of 2016 (so far)
- AURORA - 'Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) (Acoustic)'
- Radiohead - 'True Love Waits'
- Deftones - 'Hearts/Wires'
- Radiohead - 'Daydreaming' *
- Panic! At The Disco - 'Emperor's New Clothes'
- Foxes - 'Better Love'
- Lacey Sturm - 'Rot'
- AURORA - 'Through The Eyes Of A Child'
- Deftones - 'Phantom Bride'
- Thrice - 'Black Honey'
Skepta’s fourth full length LP, Konnichiwa is the first grime album I’ve seen that has taken notice outside of the U.K. Grime has been on a roll lately, the term becoming known throughout hip-hop worldwide now. Skepta’s newest album is a fine piece of it, though it also shows that it has room to grow.
Kicking off with the album title track ’Konnichiwa’, the album begins with an almost stereotypical Japanese scene that actually makes sense in the context of the song - the readying of swords is akin to the sharp verses of the record. The song itself actually bashes stereotypes, even further accentuating the theme of the song. The album itself seems to be a big metaphor for the prejudice of the genre and the struggles within an artist, the pressures of which are seen in the skit at the end of ‘Corn On The Curb’. The instrumentals and moods of the record demand your attention, especially in tracks with grand instrumentals and strong assertions like ‘Shutdown’ and ‘Man (Gang)’. There are little colors splashed in the instrumentals too, like the demanding brasses in the background and the rough orchestras found in ‘It Ain’t Safe’.
Unfortunately, there are not many praises left for the record. The problem with this record, and grime in general, is that at some point, everything starts sounding the same. The beats becoming predictable and uninteresting by the time the second half of the album rolls around, the end of the album being good but bland. The guest spots on this album don’t really add anything, except for JME on ‘That’s Not Me’, which is actually pretty refreshing, since the rest of the either sound awkward (Pharrell on ‘Numbers’, for example) or the guests sound the same as everyone else on the track. And I just have to call this out: ‘Lyrics’ uses that obnoxious goddamn airhorn sample that successfully ruins the entire song. That is no longer a hype thing. It’s just dead.
Skepta’s newest album is a good representation of grime, which is good considering the album’s popularity. This may just be one of the world’s first big exposures to grime, and honestly, it’ll be hit or miss from this starting point. We’ll have to wait and see who follows suit to ride the rising wave of grime popularity this year. For what it’s worth, Skepta got it off to a good start.
Favorite Tracks: Man (Gang), Konnichiwa
Least Favorite Tracks: Detox, Ladies Hit Squad, Lyrics