Dev Lemons - Delusional
As much as I love when Dev is just goofing around, this EP proves that she's an incredibly talented artist that should be taken seriously. Don't get me wrong, she's clearly still having fun but she's levelled up her song-writing and continues to demonstrate a knack for finding catchy melodies and choruses that explode in a really cathartic way. The production is also fantastic; the strings on the opener are orgasmic, as is the transition into the stunning lead single 'Nightstand'.

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The National - First Two Pages of Frankenstein
As a fan of the band, I still enjoyed this but I agree with the general consensus that this is one of their weakest and least interesting albums. It's sad to see how far they've fallen from their prime in the 2000s. In terms of features, Taylor does better than expected but damn what a way to waste features from Sufjan and Phoebe, even if the latter contributes to my favourite song here.

Favourite Tracks: Once Upon A Poolside, Eucalyptus, Tropic Morning News, The Alcott, Your Mind Is Not Your ... read more

Jessie Ware - That! Feels Good!
On the surface, this is a collection of infectious, hedonistic dance anthems but this is also a deeply romantic record. Take the sweet and soulful ballad 'Hello Love' for example, which is just as intoxicating but in a completely different way. Also, this is one of the catchiest dance-pop albums I've ever heard. I've not been able to get some of these hooks out of my head since I first heard them. I think it's time I finally stop putting off listening to 'What's Your Pleasure?'.

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kwes. - Rye Lane (Suite)
A handful of tracks from the upcoming original score to my favourite film of 2023 so far (please watch it if you haven't). Just like the film, the music (handled by UK producer Kwes.) is bursting with energy and colour, and it grabbed my attention straight away from the opening scene in the toilets. I wish I didn't have to wait for the new version of 'Lgoyh' but at least 'Open Up' is on here—one of my songs of the year and further proof that anything Sampha touches is gold.

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Dinner Party - Enigmatic Society
A disappointing follow up to a project I consider a modern jazz / neo-soul classic. On first listen, I thought 'Answered Prayer' was a pretty good opener but I was fully expecting the album to pick up even more after that and it never did. In fact, it kept getting gradually worse. The songs are generally more cheesy and less instantly catchy than those from on their first album. I think they suffer from 9th Wonder being less involved this time.

Favourite Tracks: Answered Prayer*, Breathe, ... read more

Maruja - Knocknarea
Another incredible band is born into the thriving British post-punk scene. Maruja's debut EP boasts dystopian-sounding guitar, chaotic drums and breath-taking strings. Above all though, they put the jazz in jazz-rock with the absolutely unhinged saxophone performances. The vocalist also demonstrates excellent range from blistering outbursts of raw energy to more measured crooning, all the while weaving a lyrical motif of war and brutality, enhanced by the stark imagery on the cover.

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B. Cool-Aid - Leather Blvd.
While an improvement from their last two projects, I'm still not completely sold on B. Cool-Aid as a duo. Pink Siifu has made better stuff as a solo artist or one half of FlySiifu. Awhlee has also proven that he is capable of more as a producer. Overall, it's a smooth listen with some nice vibes but not too much in the way of substance or replayability (due to the track lengths and bloated tracklist).

Favourite Tracks: Welcome 2 Leather Boulevard, Cnt Go Back (Tell Me), Neems (Naima), ... read more

Swizz Beatz - Hip Hop 50, Vol. 2
Say whatever you want about his past work, Swizz Beatz has been in rare form recently ('No Explanation', 'Hood Blues', 'Jesus Lord', 'Science Class', 'Kant Nobody'), which continues on most of this EP. The guest features do very well too (minus some questionable bars from Wayne and Jadakiss). Also, while I'm not a fan of the modern trap and drill artists featured on here, they all bring the required energy. Overall, I was expecting much worse when Swizz was announced for vol 2.

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Fly Anakin follows up a great LP and mixtape with an equally great and consistent EP that showcases his trademark high-pitched flows and relentless bars. Thankfully, Foisey brings his A game behind the boards too with a set of hazy yet intricate instrumentals. The skits don't work for me but in fairness they're brief enough that I don't feel the need to skip them. Big Kahuna and Siifu also kill their features (especially the latter).

Favourite Tracks: Blicky Bop, Sudden Death (Biggest Fan), ... read more

redveil - playing w/ fire
I think I've finally pinpointed my problem with Redveil. I generally like his jazzy production and energetic rapping but he still hasn't really found his sound or lane yet. He's a bit of a musical chameleon. A few years ago, he was doing sLUms-style abstract hip-hop. This EP sees him entering much more accessible, pop-rap territory with a much more melodic focus, which doesn't work for me although I'll admit it has its moments.

Favourite Tracks: Giftbag, Black Enuff*, PWF

Pi'erre Bourne - Grails
Not the strongest set of Pi'erre Bourne beats and I really don't rate him very highly as a vocalist, whether he's rapping, singing or something in between. The guitar intros that went nowhere were pretty pointless as well. There are hints of his trademark cloud trap sound scattered throughout though. I wish there was more stuff here as creative as the closer 'Lessons'.

Favourite Tracks: IG, Lessons*

Kurena Ishikawa - Kurena
Kurena Ishikawa's debut is a really solid, enjoyable jazz album that shows some serious potential. Her soft vocals are lovely and I really like her bass lines throughout this record. I also wasn't expecting 'Off The Wall' to be a stripped-back bass and vocal cover of the Michael Jackson classic. The album suffers a little from not being the most memorable but I can't really fault the quality of any of the performances.

Favourite Tracks: Sea Wasp, 500 Miles High*, Off The Wall

Angel Olsen - Forever Means
Some quality left-overs from Angel Olsen's underrated album 'Big Time'. 'Nothing's Free' is a brooding piano ballad with an incredible saxophone breakdown, while the thrilling 'Holding On' boasts a charismatic vocal performance and an instrumental that reminds me of an Echo & the Bunnymen song. The other tracks, while nowhere near as good, have redeemable qualities (the vocals on 'Forever Means' and sax on 'Time Bandits') so I'm glad they weren't left on the cutting room floor.

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El Michels Affair & Black Thought - Glorious Game
Black Thought continues his recent resurgence by teaming up with El Michels Affair, who provide some excellent, groovy instrumentals for Thought to glide over with a variety of engaging flows (even by his standards). Although, the verse-hook-verse-hook song structures here get old compared to those on 'Cheat Codes'. Still, I'm looking forward to 'Streams of Thought, Vol. 4' and The Roots' long-awaited 'End Game' hopefully coming soon (I can dream alright).

Favourite Tracks: Grateful*, Glorious ... read more

青葉市子 [Ichiko Aoba] - Ichiko Aoba with 12 Ensemble (Live at Milton Court)
I didn't think it was possible for the studio versions of these tracks to sound any more beautiful but Ichiko Aoba proves me wrong by enlisting 12 Ensemble for some gorgeous string arrangements. This makes me insanely excited to see her live next month for my birthday and to hear her next studio album whenever she decides to grace us with it. Also, does anyone know why the performances of 'Prologue', 'Pilgrimage' and 'Porcelain' from that night aren't included on here?

Favourite Tracks: Horo / ... read more

Daniel Caesar - NEVER ENOUGH
Daniel Caesar returns with more intoxicatingly smooth and confident R&B and neo-soul that continues to not do that much for me personally. The project starts really well but the material gets progressively blander and less memorable as it goes on... and on... and on. The features are quite hit and miss and while the cut Rick Ross feature from 'Valentina' doesn't do anything special, the track feels empty without it.

Favourite Tracks: Ocho Rios*, Toronto 2014, Let Me Go, Do You Like Me?, ... read more

halfBREED - 3P
Castro outperforms Logic on a decent collection of throwaways from their upcoming LP. The dumb banger 'Vroom Vroom' is fun enough but it's a bit too repetitive and I just don't see myself returning to it. The acoustic guitar and singing on 'That's What She Said' don't do much for me either but tbf they're better than I expect from Logic. Finally, 'Game 6' is a solid exercise in jazzy boom-bap and probably the best track here even though I don't really like the vocoder hook.

Favourite Tracks: ... read more

Souza & M27 - Before The Beginning
@BruhMan (Souza) follows up an impressive run of singles with a collaborative EP with his cousin M27. Apart from the personal focus of the lyrics, I love the sampling (especially that legendary Rubba sample) but there are some passages that I wish were longer and developed more fully like those at the start of the intro and very end of the closer. Also, the flows can sometimes sound a bit awkward and even derivative at times (e.g. the 'Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe' flow on 'Blessed').

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Wednesday - Rat Saw God
I'm not usually the biggest fan of country or shoegaze but the blend of the two genres on here with indie rock elements makes it all a lot more palatable for me. Unfortunately, there are just a few too many tracks that end just as I'm beginning to get into them ('Hot Rotten Grass Smell' and 'Got Shocked' to name a couple) and tracks that leave no impression on me at all ('Formula One' and 'What's So Funny', I'm looking at you).

Favourite Tracks: Bull Believer*, Chosen To Deserve, Bath Country, ... read more

Jana Horn - The Window Is The Dream
Jana Horn remains an underrated and overlooked gem of a singer-songwriter with the release of her second album. After hearing the gorgeous strings on 'After All This Time', I really want to hear her collaborate with Andrew Bird. While this is good stuff, it feels like a big step down from her debut. This album's lyrics and vocal melodies don't stick with me nearly as much and no track reaches the phenomenal heights of 'Jordan'.

Favourite Tracks: After All This Time*, Days Go By, The Dream, ... read more

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Recent Review Comments
On ch14's review of Arlo Parks - My Soft Machine
"I think people are inevitably comparing this to her debut which was miles better imo. I'd definitely recommend giving it a listen if you haven't already heard it."
On For Those I Love - For Those I Love
"@Azurejake Although I really like his poetry and especially his irish accent, I can definitely understand where you're coming from. Maybe he should have released an instrumental version of the album for those who want it."
On [ big bord ]'s review of KAYTRAMINÉ - KAYTRAMINÉ
"This review is from the future. You don't get the reference yet."
On Sophi 💃's review of Perfume Genius - Set My Heart on Fire Immediately
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On Souza & M27 - Before The Beginning
"@BruhMan Slug killed it! I'd love to hear more from you two in the future."
On Souza & M27 - Before The Beginning
"@BruhMan the sample used in Cut Me Off (also used in Thuggin by Freddie Gibbs)"
On cojotaho2's review of Conway the Machine - Quarters
"Conway's actually worked with the producer Khrysis since around 2018. He produced the track 'Jesus Khrysis', which is one of Conway's best songs imo."
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On keuky's review of Anna B Savage - in|FLUX
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On UltimateLifeFrm's review of Queens of the Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork
"@UltimateLifeFrm you know what I think I probably agree with you. The only ones I can think of that come close for me are the last two tracks on Illmatic or Cosmogramma."
On UltimateLifeFrm's review of Queens of the Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork
"Nice review! What are your favourite tracks?"
On Sleaford Mods - UK GRIM
"@SeaBass yeah, I think these guys are definitely an acquired taste. Glad you're enjoying it though. I have to admit one thing they could never be is boring so at least there's that."
On oakred's review of Sleaford Mods - UK GRIM
"As a Nottingham resident, I have no idea what this guy is talking about"
On Danko's review of Che Noir & Big Ghost Ltd - Noir or Never
"This one was a little underwhelming for me but if you liked this check out her albums Food For Thought and As God Intended."
On Cragem's review of Anna B Savage - in|FLUX
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On Macklemore - BEN
"@WizardofWombat tbf, I tend to rate quite generously but I do think this is a little overhated."
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"literally 1984"
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"I've seen so many people hating on the cover and I just don't get it. It's one of the best album covers I've seen in a while."
On Ashxarya's review of JPEGMAFIA - LP!
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On Tha God Fahim - Iron Bull
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On pengtings's review of Björk - Vulnicura
"Listening to this album after Vespertine is always intense, going from the exciting highs of the honeymoon period to the crushing lows of the breakup."
On Remi's Reviews's review of Gorillaz - Demon Days
"Baby Queen from the new album reminds me a lot of Broken vibe-wise so I'm surprised you didn't like that one. I'm glad you like El Mañana though. That one scratches the same itch for me."

May Playlist