The War On Drugs-A Deeper Understanding (2017)

My Rating: 100% (A+)

Pitchfork Rating: 87%

Rolling Stone Rating: 80%

Metacritic Rating: 81%

Average Rating: 87% (A-)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Up All Night
  2. Pain
  3. Holding On
  4. Strangest Thing
  5. Knocked Down
  6. Nothing To Find
  7. Thinking Of A Place
  8. In Chains
  9. Clean Living
  10. You Don’t Have To Go

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Waking up.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s alright, pretty classical looking.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

I already have it, it’s beautiful.

Final Thoughts:

The War On Drugs are a study band, you have to listen to them a few times until they start to grow on you, I’ve liked them but it took A Deeper Understanding to love them. A Deeper Understanding is easily their best album, it’s going to be their Illmatic (hard to replicate or top). I can’t really pin down why this album is much more easier to approach than their previous work, their songs are still unusually long and drowned in instrumentals, but if I had to venture a guess it would be just the pure professional sound of the album. Honestly they put $$$ into making this album, it sounds so crisp and epic. The production is jaw-dropping and probably the most noticeable aspect of the album. A Deeper Understanding is not only the best album from a critically acclaimed group, it may be the best album of 2017.

CunninLynguists-Rose Azura Njano (2017)

My Rating: 100% (A++)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 100% (A++)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Red, White & Blues (feat. Jason Coffey)
  2. Riot!
  3. Red Bird
  4. Violet (The Upper Room)
  5. Gone (feat. Trizz)
  6. Any Way The Wind Blows
  7. Mr. Morganfield & Ms. Waters (A-Side)
  8. Jimi & Andre (B-Side)
  9. Hustlers
  10. Oh Honey (feat. Farah Elle)
  11. No Universe Without Harmony
  12. Earth To Venus (Tiny Orange Star)

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Needing some sleepy hip-hop.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Love the album cover, super original and rad.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Absolutely!

Final Thoughts:

This release by CunninLynguists really caught me off guard, honestly, I haven’t thought much of their stuff in the past. I’ve had their album Dirty Aces and thought it was alright but nothing special. Then I saw this new release on iTunes and liked the cover enough to add it to my library and give them a second chance, I never dreamed it would be this good. Seriously Rose Azura Njano strikes all the right chords for me, jazzy beats, sleepy flows, political unrest, etc. It’s all put together beautiful making it to be one of the best hip hop releases in recent years. Who would’ve thought it would’ve come from CunninLynguists? Quite the surprise, makes me wonder if I was wrong about their past work.

Bell X1-Chop Chop (2013)

My Rating: 100% (A++)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 76%

Average Rating: 88%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Starlings Over Brighton Pier
  2. A Thousand Little Downers
  3. Careful What You Wish For
  4. Diorama
  5. I Will Follow You
  6. Drive-By Summer
  7. Motorcades
  8. Feint Praise
  9. The End Is Nigh

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Want something with a little more energy than Damien Rice.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

I absolutely love this cover!

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

So bad!

Final Thoughts:

Bell X1 flew under the radar for me for a very long time. I knew their song Flame and mostly just listened to the Flock album (with that track on it). I branched out a few years ago and came across Chop Chop, one of my all time favourite chill albums. Its got a big sound to it, but it still maintains a chill feel. Bell X1 worked brilliantly on Chop Chop, and props to them for not making more tracks than they needed to (9 songs on an album is almost unheard of nowadays). Any Death Cab, Snow Patrol, and/or Arcade Fire fans should feel at home at Chop Chop. Awesome album.

Pigeon John-Pigeon John Is Dating Your Sister (2003)

My Rating: 100% (A++)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 100%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Highschool Reunion
  2. Life Goes On
  3. Identity Crisis
  4. Deception
  5. Emily
  6. Fox Hills Mallmacks
  7. Originalz
  8. Crazy
  9. Hello Everybody
  10. Orange County
  11. Sam the Goat
  12. 2 Step
  13. What Is Love?
  14. The Art of Falling Off
  15. Alone…

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking for a goofy hip hop album that still can be sad at times.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Hilarious, I love it!

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yeah don’t know if it exists but if it does I want it.

Final Thoughts:

Before I discovered the whole genre of joke rap (Heath McNease and Lil Dicky come to mind), Before I discovered the Good Life Cafe (Jurassic 5, Abstract Rude, Freestyle Fellowship), I found Pigeon John. I heard his song Hello Everybody on a Hip Hope compilation and really loved it. I ordered this album and listened to it repeatedly on my CD walkman walking down my High School’s hallways feeling like the pimpiest nerd in the whole town. Pigeon John Is Dating Your Sister is extremely fun (Highschool Reunion), catchy (Hello Everybody), easily accessible (Identity Crises), and heartbreaking (Emily), it’s a really diverse well rounded album that every hip hop head should indulge in.

People Under The Stairs-Fun DMC (2008)

My Rating: 100% (A++)

Pitchfork Rating: 76%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 88%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Swan Fever
  2. Step Bacc
  3. Up Yo Spine (Fishbucket Pt. 3)
  4. The Fun
  5. The Grind
  6. Anotha’ (BBQ)
  7. The Ultimate 144
  8. Letter 2 c/o The Bronx
  9. Party Enemy No. 1
  10. Enjoy
  11. Gamin’ on Ya
  12. Critical Condition
  13. The Wiz
  14. People Riddum (Feat. Odell)
  15. California (Feat. Blvme)
  16. Love’s Theme
  17. A Baby
  18. Same Beat (The Wesley Rap)
  19. D
  20. The Mike & Chris Story

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Ready to party or just vibe out to some laid back hip-hop.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Pretty funny, definitely on the better side of their album covers.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Ugh if only I could find it, but yes I want it very badly.

Final Thoughts:

If it’s not obvious that I’m a big fan of People Under The Stairs I don’t know when it will ever be, perhaps when I review all of their albums? Fun DMC is my favourite album of theirs so far, it’s just so much…fun. The title really gets to the heart of the mentality of the group, old school fun hip-hop. It’s like Jurassic 5, but with two emcees who love their craft and focus on their beats to a worrisome level. The lyrics are goofy, the flows are in the pocket, there is little else I need from a hip-hop album than what Fun DMC delivers. Now start re-releasing some vinyl so I can listen to it forever and ever.

Kendrick Lamar-Good Kid M.A.A.D City (2012)

My Rating: 100% (A++)

Pitchfork Rating: 95%

Rolling Stone Rating: 80%

Metacritic Rating: 91%

Average Rating: 92%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Sherane A.K.A. Master Splinters Daughter
  2. Bitch, Dan’t Kill My Vibe
  3. Backstreet Freestyle
  4. The Art Of Peer Pressure
  5. Money Trees (Feat. Jay Rock)
  6. Poetic Justice (Feat. Drake)
  7. Good Kid
  8. M.A.A.D City (Feat. MC Eiht)
  9. Swimming Pools (Drank) (Extended Version)
  10. Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst
  11. Real (Feat. Anna Wise Of Sonnymoon)
  12. Compton (Feat. Dr. Dre)
  13. The Recipe (Feat. Dr Dre)
  14. Black Boy Fly
  15. Now Or Never (Feat. Mary J. Blige)

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking for innovative hip-hop with impressive beats and rhymes.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Boring, I really don’t like most of Kendrick’s album covers.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

For sure.

Final Thoughts:

This is the album that got Kendrick on my radar, I didn’t dig into it much until recently, but I’ve been listening to both The Recipe and Swimming Pools since their release and have been thoroughly impressed with both. I didn’t think that the rest of the album would hold up, but I was proven wrong after one listen through, Good Kid M.A.A.D City is an incredible album showcasing one of the most beloved artist making music today. Kendrick is the new Tupac or Biggie, screw Jay-Z, Lamar owns the mainstream rap scene, and the funny thing is I don’t think many people would disagree with me on that, even non-hip-hop heads.

San Cisco-Gracetown (2015)

My Rating: 100% (A++)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 100%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Run
  2. Too Much Time Together
  3. Magic
  4. Snow
  5. Wash It All Away
  6. Bitter Winter
  7. Jealousy
  8. Super Slow
  9. Mistakes
  10. About You
  11. Skool
  12. Just For A Minute

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Needing some happy music.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

I actually love these guys’ covers, they always look super artsy and cool.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yes.

Final Thoughts:

When it comes to bouncy stupid pop music, San Cisco is my go to. They’re the embodiment of the rule “keep it simple stupid”. Their albums are exactly what I want pop to be: fun, happy, catchy, not too repetitive, not too experimental. They aim for their mark and they hit it on Gracetown. The album is a great example of what pop should be, a genre you can put on in a mall or restaurant without offending anyone. Is Gracetown going to go down in history as an influential album? Absolutely not. But there’s something to be said about making an album that aims for a genre and gets it 100% correct, no need to get fancy with the spices, this is pure pop.

The Drums-Abysmal Thoughts (2017)

My Rating: 100% (A++)

Pitchfork Rating: 74%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 79%

Average Rating: 84%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Mirror
  2. I’ll Fight for Your Life
  3. Blood Under My Belt
  4. Heart Basel
  5. Shoot The Sun Down
  6. Head of the Horse
  7. Under The Ice
  8. Are U Fucked
  9. Your Tenderness
  10. Rich Kids
  11. If All We Share (Means Nothing)
  12. Abysmal Thoughts

Favourite Song on Album:


Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking for a contemporary band that sounds like they could be straight out of a 90’s Spielberg flick.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Super weird, I think I like it…I think.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Own it, they did a good job at making it really unique too! One side of the two records is just a glossy “Abysmal Thoughts“.

Final Thoughts:

The Drums have been playing on my mp3 players since late High School, they’re a band that’s seen me through a lot of growing pains. And I think they’ve gone through growing pains of their own. With the more experimental sound of Encyclopedia, their release before this one, a lot of fans weren’t on board for songs like Magic Mountain (my all time favourite by them). But with the release of Abysmal Thoughts both fans from Encyclopedia and old school fans from the days of Money and Let’s Go Surfing should find lots to drool over. There is something a lot more accomplished about this album, true it doesn’t stray too far from their sound, but it’s almost like a confidence is being exuded through the tracks. It sounds like an instant classic, like the evolution of The Smiths. Abysmal Thoughts continues the theme of incredibly sad lyrics over fun instrumentals, and we thank them for it.

Muse-Black Holes and Revelations (2006)

My Rating: 100% (A++)

Pitchfork Rating: 42%

Rolling Stone Rating: 70%

Metacritic Rating: 75%

Average Rating: 72%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Take a Bow
  2. Starlight
  3. Supermassive Black Hole
  4. Map of the Problematique
  5. Soldier’s Poem
  6. Invincible
  7. Assassin
  8. Exo-Politics
  9. City of Delusion
  10. Hoodoo
  11. Knights of Cydonia

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Ready for a space odyssey.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Awesome, fits the songs super well.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

I can’t believe I don’t yet.

Final Thoughts:

Black Holes and Revelations is an album that is very dear to me. It’s one of the first albums I purchased that was not “Christian”. I was blown away, Muse absolutely melted my face and added sugar to my earholes. I blasted this thing almost daily from my absolute shit speaker on my flip phone and thought I was the coolest kid in town (luckily, I was). It’s really big sounding, as if you’re taking part in an epic of the cosmos variety. The songs are diverse, ambitious, and take you to planets far far away. I love how instantly classic the album sounded, right away I knew that this album would truly stand the test of time. 11 years have passed and I’m still melting over this album, and I can’t wait to force my nephews and nieces to listen to it (they’d better like it). Shocked by the critical reception but C’Est la Vie.

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