For GNR fans with insatiable appetites, Axl Rose and company have you covered. Commemorating the 30th anniversary of the band’s groundbreaking, game-changing debut album, Appetite For Destruction has been given the super deluxe edition treatment. What’s so super and deluxe about it? For starters, you get an extra 49 previously unreleased songs (we made sure to load up our GNR A-Z playlist with some of them). More than half of these tracks were recorded during the legendary 1986 Sound City session and two tracks come from the Mike Clink sessions, including a 1986 tryout version of “Shadow Of Your Love.” Audiophiles will delight in a first-time remaster of the album from the original analog tapes. Jump ahead to the 1986 Sound City take of “Welcome To The Jungle,” and it sounds like you’ve been teleported back in time to a private rehearsal when the band were at their peak. The 1988 acoustic version of “Move To The City” from the GN’R Lies sessions sounds even more intimate — you can hear Slash’s fingers slide up and down the guitar strings as if the band were playing to you in your living room. | Geffen Records
Onism — “the frustration of being stuck in just one body that inhabits only one place at a time,” says The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows — serves as both title and thesis of Evan Shornstein’s second full-length album. It’s the somatic barrier against which the producer relentlessly thrusts, culling together computerized and folk instruments in an attempt to at least simulate multiple states of being. He more than succeeds on tracks like “The Everyday Push” and “Eco Friend,” in which hand and steel drums snake between mechanical polyrhythms and digital chirps. Meanwhile, Shornstein’s brilliant sound design creates distinct moods for the lurching “Off-Piste” and pensive “Storm,” which don’t crescendo so much as wash over in waves. | Astro Nautico
On his latest album, Bronx rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie reaches across borders to collaborate with a talented roster of international artists, proving he has vision and global appeal beyond New York.
Hoodie’s distinctive melodies pair nicely with Davido’s African influence as he blends in the Nigerian sound of the moment on “Way Too Fly.” Puerto Rico connects to the Boogie Down via J Alvarez and a drunken steel pan drum sample to add some Caribbean spice to “Déjà Vu.” Alkaline toasts the next generation Jamaican sing-jay style, aligning with Hoodie’s auto-tune settings on “Nonchalant.” Heading north to the Six, the album’s sexiest tracks feature Toronto’s Tory Lanez, NAV and Jessie Reyez. Down south, Hoodie’s singing-rap style feels right at home with Kap G’s College Park swag.
The production creates soft melodies and thunderous bass with a futuristic musicality that blends each global style together nicely. From dem bow to dancehall and afrobeats to trap, the vibe is consistent, accenting each collaborator and nationality. | Highbridge The Label/Atlantic Recording Co.
– J Boogie
Daniel Rostén is probably best known as frontman for the mighty Marduk, a black metal war machine who recently released their 14th (!) album. As Mortuus, he lends his distinctive, demonic vokills to Marduk’s relentlessly minimalistic onslaught. But what Rostén does in the shadows is infinitely more unorthodox and mysterious.
Funeral Mist has been Rostén’s one man solo project for close to two decades, and has allowed him to plumb the depths of damaged, idiosyncratic, hyper-personal black metal. But unlike the raw, low fidelity of most one man ‘bedroom black metal’, the sound of Funeral Mist is massive, the core sound a furious, black winged dissonance. Each song is a blackened blizzard of wildly tangled riffs and machine-gun drumming: furious and relentless for sure, not that far removed from Marduk’s aural assault, but in Funeral Mist, the sound is constantly shifting and splintering, whether it’s the mysterious, ethereal keyboards that surface amidst a surge of frenzied black buzz, unexpected forays into post punkiness, psychotropic drones and churning industrial bombast, the hysterical child seemingly speaking in tongues on one track or the strange, haunting shamanistic incantations that underpin some of the album’s most rapacious moments.
Rostén did bring a heretofore unexplored experimental side to Marduk when he joined, but in the guise of Arioch, the mysterious mastermind behind Funeral Mist, he is free to fully explore that damaged darkness and does so with little regard for the strictures of black metal orthodoxy, instead sculpting his fantastically singular vision into this malformed masterpiece. | Norma Evangelium Diaboli
The spirit of the soulful ’60s is alive and well in Shannon Shaw, the dazzling singer and bassist of retro-revivalists Shannon & The Clams. She’s teamed up once again with Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach, who also produced the Clams’ recent album Onion. Auerbach’s trademark reverb and masterful touches leave the Clams-less Shannon In Nashville flowing with full instrumentation (from trumpets to staccato percussion to plucked strings) and an impeccable sound quality, all wrapped in a vintage feel that perfectly recreates the golden age of girl groups. Shaw’s songwriting is exquisite, and her marvelously raw vocals elevate these tunes to a spiritual level. From the very first track, “Golden Frames,” her melancholy-filled wails are enough for anyone listening to lose it. Don’t forget to check out her cool music video for the single “Broke My Own,” in which she channels Etta James and Amy Winehouse, yet holds her own and reaches heights few others even attempt. | Easy Eye Sound
Jona Camacho has been referred to as the voice of Colombian R&B, and while more notable artists from his home country have taken the charts by storm with trap and reggaeton, Camacho offers something a bit more laid-back and experimental. The classically trained musician, producer and composer seamlessly blends Latin pop and R&B in songs like “Cuando Quiero” and “Darte Más.” He even manages to sing lyrics in both Spanish and English, as heard in “Crush” and “Spanglish.” While these combinations might seem a bit weird, Camacho proves these different audiences have more in common than one might think. | Jona Camacho
……………………..Waves. Tides. Joy &
…………………………………………………………A Clear View. Transcendence. | Matador Records
Northern California’s Mother Hips deserve a hearty toast for their 28-year-long endurance. But they should also be commended for never giving into fleeting trends. In the early ’90s, when every flannelled longhair yarled for a spot on the grunge bandwagon, the band was busy building flowing harmonies that rubbed against the grain of dirty, distorted jams. A few years later, when the airwaves favored pop-punk, the Hips were refining their sound while exploring more twangy tones and downhome songwriting. By the time Americana became popular, Mother Hips boarded a spacecraft and pointed it toward Cucumber Castle, all the while retaining their penchant for making complex songs sound easy. They regularly play with members of The Beach Boys and The Grateful Dead, and it’s not because they all wore white belts and tried to sound like The Strokes in the early 2000s.
Mother Hips have always stayed true to their sound while reinventing the rules of songwriting. And their music has matured like top shelf bourbon. “Clean Me Up” opens their tenth album Chorus sounding instantly classic, blending bluesy slide guitars with cascading harmonies and sublime melodies. “Didn’t Pay The Bill” pivots into a “Rip This Joint”-inspired boogie that would well accompany a bar room brawl, with its honky-tonk parlor piano and the kind of brass section everyone hopes will someday accompany their second line funeral. Riffs fall like hailstones on “I Went Down Hard,” a swinging, anthemic standout that sits comfortably between the more rocking numbers on Wilco’s Being There and anything from The Stones’ Sticky Fingers. | Blue Rose Music
Like the perfect soundtrack to a long, lazy summer afternoon, the latest single from synthy So-Cal indie rockers Anakin is a glorious blast from the not so distant past. Channeling the pantheon of classic era nineties indie rock (Weezer, Hum, Smashing Pumpkins, Fountains Of Wayne, etc.), Anakin add their own sonic two-cents to the mix, taking a glorious slab of backyard BBQ bombast and wrapping it in a softly shoegazey shimmer, with just a hint of psychedelic spaciness. And the cherry on top of this hook-heavy sonic sundae is definitely the guest vocals by Justin Pierre from Motion City Soundtrack.
The B-side is another blast of vintage MTV style buzz and crunch, this time in the form of “California,” a nostalgic ode to the state (of mind?) that defines Anakin’s sound. Originally performed by The Rentals, another band Anakin are definitely sonically beholden to, it’s a perfect fit, sounding like it could easily be an Anakin original, and in its melancholic, wistfulness, it’s the perfect comedown to “Spaced-Out”s unabashed feel-good fuzziness. | Kenobi Records
EVERYTHING IS LOVE, the biggest release of the year, took the entire world by surprise. Beyoncé and Jay-Z formed a supergroup, THE CARTERS, and dropped nine tracks of pure magic in which they discuss the trials and tribulations of black love, black excellence and their own relationship with clarity. The album opens with “SUMMER,” which is poised to be this year’s “Drunk In Love.” It delivers all the Bey x Jay feels your heart can handle. Listeners are carried through the pair’s life of black power and lavish living, and in “LOVEHAPPY,” one of album’s realest moments, they even discuss getting re-married. Who run the world? THE CARTERS. | Roc Nation
When I heard “Walking Trophy” on a cold winter day last year, the first thought that popped into my head was, “This is a hot summer anthem!” Six whirlwind months later, HoodCelebrityy has leaped from the dancehall underground to the BET Awards and signed a deal with Epic Records. Fans eagerly anticipating a full-length release can renew their love affair with her via this Toddla T remix of 2018’s gyal anthem. The BBC radio host/producer has given the track a makeover, building on Track Starr’s original riddim by adding dancing timbales and shakers and occasionally breaking things down to a booming tom and kick combination reminiscent of Dave Kelly’s Stink Riddim from the early ’90s. No remix these days is complete without a squad’s worth of features, so in come dancehall don Konshens and deejays Big Zeeks and Alicai Harley running down the qualities that make up bonafide trophy girls from J.A. to the U.K. | Epic Records/KSR
Self-loathing, self-awareness and eventually, self-improvement: all the components of growth, and accordingly, all the themes of get well soon, the excellent debut full-length from Atlanta emo rockers worlds greatest dad. Hard truths and candid observations about the difficulties of navigating your emotions are nicely packaged between catchy, lo-fi hooks. They don’t completely overpower Maddie Duncan’s clear, laid-back vocals, but still give you something to grab onto. There are more relatable lyrics than I have space to recap here, and with every listen, I’m finding more and more I want to scream, tweet, paint on my walls, tattoo on my forehead, etc. It’s comforting to feel understood, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that this validation comes in the form of an incredibly well-done album. | Deep Rest Records
After releasing two EPs in four years full of stunning and inventive takes on house music, British producer Leon Vynehall delves deeper into aural storytelling on his new album, Nothing Is Still. Deconstructing the building blocks that made him an illuminating young presence in house, Vynehall has embraced experimentation, minimalism, ambience and atonal jazz to create a collection of cinematic tracks unlike his previous work. Nothing Is Still is just as engaging as his previous output, however, if not more emotionally stirring and dazzling in composition.
The album is inspired by the emigration of Vynehall’s relatives from the UK to Brooklyn in the 1960s and the weeklong boat ride that carried them. Vynehall evokes intense emotion, atmosphere and movement, capturing the range of feelings his family must have experienced on their journey: unease, disappointment, hope.
Vynehall builds on some of his earliest production strengths, constructing lush, melodic soundscapes that come apart and weave through one another intricately. His palette includes restrained drums (largely absent in his previous work), a live string section with woodwinds, samples, ambient pads and harmonic lines that are tooled and retooled.
The promise of this album as an immersive listening experience rewards those committed to more than a passing glance or a quick hunt for the club-ready tracks. Nothing Is Still offers serious payoff with repeated listens and if approached with an open mind, can deliver something challenging, at times uncomfortable but truly sublime. | Ninjatune
If you came of age in a church youth group, chances are you were exposed to fledgling junior highers sonically assaulting the collective ear with original (and terrible) songs of love for God. If not, you are blessed. If so, you may understand better than most the importance of experience and depth required to connect the 12—14 inches between the head and the heart.
What started in 2013 as the youth ministry band at the Hillsong Church in Sydney is nothing like those fledgling junior highers. For starters, the 16 members (give or take) are all experienced songwriters and musicians charged with creating a relevant sound aesthetic to carry sound theological truth.
In other words, they know what they’re doing. And they do it really, really well.
With III, the Grammy-nominated group has, like its counterpart Hillsong United, cemented its place as a faith culture shaper, delivering EDM-infused pop that not only frees your weary soul to dance, but also fuels confidence in a loving God. Given today’s politics, there’s never been a better time for music that compels us to cultivate love and peace in the world and in our own hearts.
At 17 tracks, III achieves a judicious balance of ambient dance tracks — “Love Won’t Let Me Down” and “Let Go” are personal favorites — with power pop ballads that speak of God’s faithfulness in times of trouble. “Heart Of God,” a powerful reminder that “mercy triumphs over judgment, [of] love wider than the horizons,” and the three-track set “Selah” provide a soundtrack for the spiritual discipline of prayer and meditation.
If you’ve ever wanted an excuse to entertain the possibility that today’s church music might actually be worth your time, III is it. | Hillsong
This all-girl, all-queer guitar/drums duo from Louisville, KY, was originally going to be named Ladyboner. The band has certainly taken the stereotypically phallic power of rock music and turned it to their own purposes on their explosively charged debut full-length, Daddy. GRLwood’s self-described ‘scream pop’ music rages with volume — and humor — against the injustices of life and love in our binary, heteronormative society. “Vaccines Made Me Gay” is a witty retort to bigoted pseudoscientific theorizing; “Bisexual” laments the boring boyfriend the girl you want to go out with is seeing instead of you. Aggressive yet supremely melodic, these tracks and GRLWood’s other deftly crafted compositions revel in extreme soft/loud dynamics and deliver some of the most cathartic scream-singing that any microphone has ever had the pleasure to endure. Regardless of sexuality or gender, listeners who like propulsive, hooky, energetic rock with something to say (or scream) may have just discovered their new favorite band. Even if, say, you’re a straight cis male (not the perspective they’re writing from, nor likely their intended audience) GRLwood’s grungy sound is undeniably catchy and compelling. | sonaBLAST!
Comedian Debra DiGiovanni wants to show you a thing, then another thing, and here’s something else. These are her catchphrases, and if there is any justice in this world, they’ll soon become ubiquitous earworms. DiGiovanni’s rapid-fire delivery creates a dynamic back-and-forth filled with tags, status reversals and a giddy momentum that makes her one of the most consistent stage presences in Los Angeles. The subject matter of her second album, Lady Jazz, includes being Canadian in LA, body image issues, sibling rivalry in the womb and too much true crime TV (“A sleeping bag is a ‘to-go’ bag for a murderer”). Catch her before her inevitable takeover of show business. | ASpecialThing