By Noah Turner and Mia Boddington
1. King Krule – The Ooz
King Krule is Archy Marshall. After 4 long years without a release under this name, he’s given us The Ooz: A 66-minute odyssey whose soundscape is as alien as its title; finding anger in melancholy, and beauty lurking in the darkness. Looping and droning, The Ooz is an album that can’t decide if unrequited love should stagnate and fester, or be feverishly pursued. Archy’s trademark gravelly and lamenting vocals are delivered over equal parts hammering the bass line and dreamy jazz chords; haunting synths and grumbling sax. Menace explodes out of the haze created by the slightly out of tune guitars and keys. Despite his insistence over these 19 tracks that his “brain is diluting”, turning to “gunk” and “mush”, Archy has managed to create a unique and cerebral album.
Similar Artists: Mac DeMarco and James Blake
2. Kelela – Take Me Apart
After releasing a mixtape, an EP and featuring on releases such as Danny Brown’s experimental hip hop masterpiece ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ and Gorillaz’s 2017 release ‘Humanz’, Kelela has released her long-awaited debut album Take Me Apart. Released on the same label as Danny’s ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ and Flying Lotus’ ‘Cosmogramma’, Take Me Apart is equally as progressive, and the instrumentals are just as eclectic- taking heavy influence from electronica. This is all tied together into a cohesive work by Kelela’s smooth and sensual – at points ethereal – delivery, and her gorgeous vocal harmonies. The lyrics are clear yet poetic. In addition to Kelela’s vocal delivery, the lyrics bind together the instrumentals into an interesting and diverse listen.
Similar Artists: Jorja Smith, FKA Twigs
3. Injury Reserve – Drive It Like It’s Stolen
Continued experimentation from Injury Reserve, a hiphop trio comprised of MCs ‘Richiewith a T’ and ‘Stepa J Groggs’, and producer Parker Corey. The lyrics are sharp, the flows smooth, the hooks catchy as ever. The beats remain industrially influenced, as would be expected by their latest LP ‘Floss’, yet more open and minimalist. More tracks feature ambient key motifs layered over stuttering trap 808 hi hats. A surprise highlight comes in the form of the downtempo, R&B styled vulnerability of ‘North Pole’, which features a beautiful, regret tinged hook by Austin Feinstein.
Similar Artists: Run the Jewels, Death Grips, A Tribe Called Quest
4. Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice
Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile, musicians with similarly cult followings, collaborate on this record. Vile’s lo-fi laid back music and Barnett’s grungier, edgier tone meet in the middle to create an album that perfectly incorporates both artists’ musical voices. The album’s middle point, one of Barnett’s own songs – Out of the Woodwork – represents the culmination of the collaboration, combining Barnett’s humorous, rambling lyrics and Vile’s signature guitar. Expect jangly guitars, low voices and wit.
Similar Artists: Angel Olsen, Father John Misty and The War on Drugs
5. Ibeyi – Ash
The second album from French-Cuban sisters Ibeyi, Ash celebrates femininity with an exploration of electronic music. The album’s best points: the combination of vocal harmony, synth and batá drumming create an emotional and musical intensity. While a steady beat remains throughout, carrying the album, the interesting bits are these intense moments, often heightened by guests such as Kamasi Washington and Chilly Gonzales. At its peak, what Ibeyi have created is original and powerful.
Similar Artists: Tei Shi and Laura Mvula