As promised in the last Roundup, this week's selections have taken on a drastic change in temperament. But even as rock and hip-hop dominant the selections, there was still room for some cryptic doom atmosphere to go with the Siberian weather that decided to blow through with a vengeance. The combination made for an interesting week of listening, and one where several of the albums on here are records that I imagine will stay with me for a long time. Lots of unique albums, so do yourself a favor and dig into a few of these and find something surprising. Enjoy.
Lifeseeker - Nugz: Released at the end of last year, the third album from Lifeseeker is a double dose, and a crowning achievement that sees him pushing the boundaries of hip-hop, at times fusing it with space rock, metal, and prog-rock in ways that I haven't heard since New Kingdom. But even with all of these influences merged together, there is an undeniable groove that runs throughout and the rhyming technique is old school dope. This is classic hip-hop reborn for today's world. "Bittersweet," "How To Build a Plane," "Turn the Power Up," "Kung Fu," "Chips," and "That's How We're Living" are essential tracks.
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Chasing Yesterday: Six years after the break-up of Oasis, their creative leader is set to release his second album with his self-titled band. Four years have past since the debut, which consisted mostly of songs that had previously been recorded as Oasis demos. That makes this really the first album fully conceived of in a post-Oasis state of mind, and it shows. These songs sound very different. They are much more layered, yet maintain the kind of mass appeal that Noel's songs have always contained. It's not the masterpiece some may have been waiting for, but it's quite good. "In the Heat of the Moment," "Ballad of the Mighty I," "Riverman," and "The Mexican" are my current favorites.
The Beatles vs. Hip-Hop Legends - An Adventure to Pepperland Though Rhyme & Space: Last week, this double album started popping up online. The second I saw it, I knew I had to listen. A few years ago, there was a mash-up of The Beatles and Wu Tang which made my top 10 albums of the year. This is the same concept, only it mashes recordings of the Fab Four with over 40 Hip Hop classics. Spanning the entire Beatles career catalog and pairing it perfectly with tracks throughout the history of hip-hop, this is pretty much a masterpiece of chaos and groove. Some of my favorites are "Brooklyn Walrus" which matches Ol' Dirty's "Brooklyn Zu" and the Crooklyn Dodgers with "I'm the Walrus." Another great on is "Hey!" with The Beastie Boys' "Hey Ladies" and The Beatles "Hey Bulldog." There are too many to go into, but this is certainly a must have album for hip-hop fans.
Goblin Hovel - The Great Reversal: For their first album of the new year, the changeable folk metal band draws on far eastern musical influences, which adds a new kind of eeriness to their sound. It still contains the same mix of soft and dark which seems to spark my imagination more than other things these days. Not my favorite of their records, but still one I quite enjoy. "The Earth Roars" and "Broken Circle" are my two favorites on this five song EP. Definitely worth checking out, as are all of their albums available on their bandcamp site.
Earth - Primitive and Deadly: The Olympia, WA drone metal band returned last Fall with their eleventh album, and it's one of their few which include vocals, something that isn't needed for them, but when there, make it feel like something special. This album follows the very strong two-part Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light project with a more psychedelic twist than we've heard from them previously. A record of doom and beauty, the band continues to push their creative peak. "Torn by the Fox of the Crescent Moon" and the epic "From the Zodiacal Light"are my personal favorites. A must have for fans.
Carl Barat and the Jackals - Let It Reign: We last heard from this creative half of The Libertines five years ago with his only solo album, recorded two years after the disbandment of Dirty Pretty Things. Now he returns with a new band, and a renewed energy which in my opinion had been missing over the past decade. Capturing the garage punk electricity of his early years, this album is a solid rock record from beginning to end. He also presents a more mature outlook on life that goes beyond the frustrated angst of youth while still sharing the profound disillusionment that made The Libertines a voice of their generation. "Beginning to See," "Glory Days, and "Summer in the Trenches" are stand out tracks.