Hello, and welcome to Essential Listening. This is a monthly list of albums that I, your humble music nerd/critic, would deem to be the best of the best from the previous month. Some months might garner more picks than others. A lot of the time there will be choices I didn’t get around to doing a full review of, and that’s what makes this list handy.
These are my picks for records that have come out in the last 30 days or so, and which you should go out and buy/stream/whatever.
Editor’s Note: Below is Dan’s list, accompanied by a Spotify playlist that features his favorite tracks from each album.
IGGY POP – POST POP DEPRESSION
Punk icon Iggy Pop gets a little help from his friends, and my god, what a circle he keeps. Josh Homme and Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age, and Matt Helders of Arctic Monkeys, lend their talents on what may be Pop’s last record. It’s like the anti-hero version of David Bowie’s final album Blackstar. Whereas that album was a documented end of a legacy through death, Post Pop Depression is a hand on the crotch and spit in the face from a dude who’s smart enough to know when to cut and run. It really is very fitting for Iggy Pop.
The Thermals – We Disappear
The Thermals continue to be Portland’s best indie rock band with their seventh record released in just over ten years. Fun, loud, and brash indie rock is what you get here, folks.
Kendrick Lamar – Untitled, Unmastered
King Kendrick’s surprise release of outtakes, recordings, and extra material from the last couple of years proves to be impressive, due in part to the fact that this collection of “extra material” is better than the proper album releases coming from a majority of other rappers. Which, coming off of Lamar’s release of last year’s To Pimp A Butterfly — and his incendiary career as a whole — really isn’t too shocking.
Primal Scream – Chaosmosis
Veteran British alternative rock act Primal Scream have nothing more to prove. After the release of Brit rock classics such as Screamadelica, Vanishing Point, and XTRMNTR, they really shouldn’t have to. But here, Bobby Gillespie and Co. are back again with another solid as hell Primal Scream record. It’s not quite the career-spanning sound of their last release, More Light, but moreso its own thing in the form of a synth-heavy, nu-wave influenced record.
— Dan Fiorio, Music Blogger