Basement Dwelling: “SATURATION” by BROCKHAMPTON

http://bit.ly/2rY0D48

“I want Brockhampton to be something that lasts beyond me. Yeah, that’s the goal.” – Kevin Abstract, founding member of BROCKHAMPTON.

The story of L.A.-based hip-hop outfit BROCKHAMPTON is a bit of an unconventional one, especially in the world of hip hop. The group formed after Kevin Abstract (real name Ian Simpson) made a post on a Kanye West fan forum looking for artists to collaborate and make music, following him being disowned by his family after coming out as gay (a main topic of his last project under the Kevin Abstract moniker, called American Boyfriend). He and the others that responded then relocated to a house in L.A., where each member resides and creates music together. Kevin just turned 20 a couple weeks ago, and the other members of the group are around the same age. Yes, that really is the story behind this group; material that I don’t think even some of the most skilled storyteller could come up with easily.

BROCKHAMPTON has been gaining traction steadily ever since their formation, with a healthy dose of singles and a scatterbrained, albeit super enjoyable mixtape with 2015’s All American Trash, which showed a great deal of promise and great tracks to match. Don’t begin to think that this level of heart and ambition doesn’t shine through on their new album, SATURATION (BROCKHAMPTON’s first proper LP), because that feeling permeates and consumes this project wholly.

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Basement Dwelling: “Humanz” by Gorillaz

http://apple.co/2p2Sw2V

It’s bothersome to hear people talk about Gorillaz. Sure, Gorillaz are a widely loved and celebrated act, and they have been for nearly 20 years now. But one of their greatest strengths is also one of their biggest setbacks.

It’s idiotic to me that the animated world of Gorillaz, co-created by legendary underground comic artist Jamie Hewlett, and which serves as the stylistic umbrella for a global and multigenerational collaborative music project, proves to be such a turnoff for people.

I often hear, “I’m not in the mood to listen to a new Gorillaz record.” Or, “I haven’t listened to Gorillaz in years,” said with an uppity, I-have-no-time-for-this-kids-crap kind of pretension. I hear it all the time. But the worst is when I simply hear someone say, “I hate them.”

These all translate to, “I don’t want to listen to something that my anime-watching, comic-reading coworker listens to.” It’s bullshit and it totally exists — don’t deny it. It’s a very lazy argument, and I’d say that even without my personal bias. Gorillaz is a project that represents artistic unity and bridging gaps to deliver a message that we as a people desperately need, especially in our current turbulent dystopia. This is the point of Humanz’ entire existence.

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Basement Dwelling: “22, A Million” by Bon Iver

Welcome to Basement Dwelling, where I review new records that should be on your musical radar. What sets Basement Dwelling apart from other music review columns is that these are all albums that are currently residing in my record collection. No promo copy was given, no stream was listened to. Instead, a physical copy of an album was purchased before I listened to it. Don’t think of me as a critic, but as a music obsessive looking to open a dialogue about some of the best tunes that are currently being released.

Let’s head down to the basement and listen to 22, A Million by Bon Iver

http://bit.ly/2dqCg6c
http://bit.ly/2dqCg6c

There are some opinions I carry that have always made me feel like an outsider when talking to my fellow music nerds: I hate Nirvana, I don’t really care much about The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, and I don’t like Bon Iver…like at all. I think his stuff is super overrated. Seriously, how the hell could his previous record top so many year-end lists? Did all those critics not listen to any other music in all of 2011?

This was a mindset that I’d held for years; it genuinely bothered me that I didn’t like Bon Iver. Over the past few months, after talking with friends about Bon Iver and my distaste for Justin Vernon’s work, I found myself wanting to revisit his older albums to see if I’d maybe been too harsh on the Iver. And you know what? I actually started to warm up to him. But in my newfound appreciation came a genuine hype for the record I’ll be talking about in this post: Bon Iver’s third LP, 22, A Million.

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Basement Dwelling: “Atrocity Exhibition” by Danny Brown

Welcome to Basement Dwelling, where I review new records that should be on your musical radar. What sets Basement Dwelling apart from other music review columns is that these are all albums that are currently residing in my record collection. No promo copy was given, no stream was listened to. Instead, a physical copy of an album was purchased before I listened to it. Don’t think of me as a critic, but as a music obsessive looking to open a dialogue about some of the best tunes that are currently being released.

Let’s head down to the basement and listen to Atrocity Exhibition by Danny Brown

http://bit.ly/2dAxbpD
http://bit.ly/2dAxbpD

“This is the way…step inside.” Words uttered by the legendary front man of post-punk forefathers Joy Division on “Atrocity Exhibition” (named after the J.G. Ballard novel), the first track off of their album Closer. Closer would be the last album to be released from Joy Division, as front man Ian Curtis tragically committed suicide in 1980 just preceding the album’s release.

Joy Division, J.G. Ballard, and post-punk aren’t exactly the first examples that come to mind for influences on a hip-hop record. But then again, in Danny Brown’s case, when has he ever been what one would deem a “typical” emcee? Here, the Atrocity Exhibition you’re stepping into is the Molly and Jameson-addled, clinically depressive brain of Danny Brown — and what a glorious mess it is. If there’s anyone in rap music that could use Ballard’s writing as a metaphor for their art, it’s Brown, who coincidentally is also the Ian Curtis of modern hip-hop.

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Basement Dwelling: “My Woman” by Angel Olsen

Welcome to Basement Dwelling, where I review new records that should be on your musical radar. What sets Basement Dwelling apart from other music review columns is that these are all albums that are currently residing in my record collection. No promo copy was given, no stream was listened to. Instead, a physical copy of an album was purchased before I listened to it. Don’t think of me as a critic, but as a music obsessive looking to open a dialogue about some of the best tunes that are currently being released.

Let’s head down to the basement and listen to My Woman by Angel Olsen…

http://bit.ly/2bOyBwP
http://bit.ly/2bOyBwP

Being typecast in the world of music is an incredibly easy thing, especially living in an age of needing to abide by brands or personas to uphold a specific lifestyle. And if you’re a woman? Forget about it. It makes that whole process even more arduous and annoying.

The intent of Angel Olsen’s third full length being titled My Woman has all the intention one could get from it. Olsen has nothing to prove to you but everything to prove to herself and show what she is made of. And apparently what she’s made of is quite significant, because My Woman is an absolutely phenomenal record.

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Basement Dwelling: “A Moon Shaped Pool” by Radiohead

Welcome to Basement Dwelling, where I review new records that should be on your musical radar. What sets Basement Dwelling apart from other music review columns is that these are all albums that are currently residing in my record collection. No promo copy was given, no stream was listened to. Instead, a physical copy of an album was purchased before I listened to it. Don’t think of me as a critic, but as a music obsessive looking to open a dialogue about some of the best tunes that are currently being released.

Let’s head down to the basement and listen to A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead…

http://bit.ly/1rNN6at
http://bit.ly/1rNN6at

What makes listening to a new Radiohead record always such a great experience is the amount of layers you have to unpack. Whether it’s a sonic texture you didn’t notice the first time, or a lyric that you didn’t quite catch from Thom Yorke’s sometimes garbled vocal delivery, there’s always a level of depth and greater meaning to uncover and appreciate in every Radiohead record.

The last time around, on 2011’s ode to sampling and loops, The King Of Limbs, the band proved this in a record that felt pretty skeletal but showed how much great songwriting you can get out of studio manipulation. It felt robotic, which works in the tone of that particular record. Radiohead, being masters of never making the same record twice, have switched things up again, with a record that doesn’t feel so robotic this time around. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

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Colors of Noise: Beyoncé’s “Lemonade”

http://bit.ly/1W7Enx1
http://bit.ly/1W7Enx1

“I was served lemons, but I made lemonade.” A statement made by Jay Z’s grandmother Hattie White at the end of “Freedom,” the 10th track off Beyoncé’s sixth album, Lemonade, proves to be a poignant theme for the superstar’s latest effort. After the astronomical success of her previous self-titled visual album, Beyoncé has followed up with an album that is far more cohesive and immersive than any of her previous efforts.

Lemonade is as somber as it is aggressive. The album tackles personal matters in a way never before seen on a Beyoncé record, dealing with themes such as heartbreak, infidelity, and empowerment. The opening track, “Pray You Catch Me,” sets the tone for the album. The song broods with heartache as Beyoncé copes with questions about her husband’s faithfulness. This begs the question — what exactly is Jay Z doing?

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