With the release of the biopic Straight Outta Compton about pioneering hip hop group N.W.A., Dr. Dre has found himself rejuvenated as an artist. The rapper and onetime N.W.A. member has long been largely behind the scenes as a producer and businessman, but there’s still been hope he’d release something of his own, with a long-promised Detox album now shelved. That’s for the better; with an artist of Dre’s caliber, we’d rather have something polished to compare with his first two solo albums, and Compton, a companion piece to the film, doesn’t disappoint. Among A-list guest spots (Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Eminem) and lush jazz-funk production by Dre and a score of others, the album finds Dre looking back at his legacy. “Goddammit, I'm too old, I forgot I got it all/But Andre young enough to still get involved” he says on “Talk About It,” embodying his younger self to hang with the next generation he’s helped mentor. Dre tells the story of Compton’s troubled history (along with fellow Compton native Lamar) on standout “Genocide,” with dizzying production by Dem Jointz and a sick hook by Marsha Ambrosius. It should go without saying that the rapping across Compton is jaw droppingly great, not least of all by Dre himself, who raps circles around the young’uns on tracks like “It’s All On Me.” I would have liked to hear more of Dre and fewer guest spots (two tracks don’t have him at all), but taken together it’s an incredibly solid amalgam of compilation and solo album. It’s too soon to call Compton a new hip hop classic, but with countless memorable moments across the album’s 16 tracks, it’s looking that way. Certainly it’s an appropriately great finale to Dr. Dre’s rap career, though with as great as Compton is and as much acclaim as its received, hopefully it’s just the start of his next chapter as an artist.
Deafheaven – “Brought to the Water”
Bay Area doomgazers Deafheaven are back with a new album, and we couldn’t be more excited given the demolishing awesomeness of 2013’s Sunbather album. If you thought they’d ease up and lower their standards for maximum accessibility, think again. “Brought to the Water” is exceedingly brutal, following its churchlike opening. Inhumanly fast beats and strums together sound like pistons on overdrive about to give out. George Clark’s vocals are fried to black, and the song only relents about three-and-a-half minutes in to allow for some heroically melodic guitar lines, making the gorgeous scenic portion of the song that follows that much more of a breath of fresh air. The eight-and-a-half minute song is exquisitely intense; you might need to take it in over multiple listens, but it’s undoubtedly brilliant. New Bermuda is due Oct. 2 on ANTI-.
Cold Beat – “Spirals”
Wavves – “Heavy Metal Detox”
Nathan Williams and co. have unveiled another new song from the upcoming fifth Wavves album. “Heavy Metal Detox” is a nervy bit of anxiety-laden power-pop, as Williams gets paranoid about all his bad habits, spends too long on WebMD and asks questions like “Have I lived too long? Why does my head hurt?” V is due Oct. 2, and you can preorder it now on LP and CD.
Painted Palms – “Refractor”
The next album by S.F.’s Painted Palms promises a sonic repertoire that includes shades of ’60s psych-pop, ’90s Creation bands and the minimalism of Southern hip hop. What! Well, for now we’ve got “Refractor,” a very good single that displays Painted Palms doing what they do best, which is crafting catchy little electro-pop gems that needle you into submission. Nothing too out-of-reach here, and that’s not a bad thing, especially if you’re needing a connector between Hot Chip and Cut Copy in your party playlist. Horizons is due Sept. 4 on Polyvinyl.
On Abyss, Chelsea Wolfe embraces the industrial music and doom metal that have always lurked as influences and adds them as blackened flourishes to her gothy experimental electro-folk. “Carrion Flowers” writhes slowly on a corroded beat that hits like a door slamming beneath her curling and cooing voice. Groaning guitar noise introduces “Iron Moon” as Wolfe’s entrÃ©e into the metal world (save for her celebrated cover of black metal band Burzum’s “Black Spell of Destruction”). The eerie, wiry strings and sludgy power chords of “Dragged Out” become a pummeling wash at the chorus, which is reminiscent of Sunn O))), for whom she’s opened in the past. The album’s opening is bold, but echoes of her past work radiate through Abyss, on its strings, which can be achingly beautiful on tracks like “Maw” but wail like banshees on “Crazy Love,” or on the wavering synths of “After the Fall” (seemingly the only thing left over from some of the synth-driven exercises of her last album, Pain is Beauty). The biggest holdover here, besides an overall grim aesthetic, is Wolfe’s voice, which can sometimes get buried but breaks through the din to emote beautifully on “After the Fall” and “Crazy Love.” Some fans might bristle at the changes she’s made, but most will likely find the heavier sound suits Wolfe’s compositions and voice quite well. Besides being great on its own as an album, Abyss hopefully will add another chink in the armor of the seemingly closed-off and overwhelmingly male world of critically respected, heavy guitar-based music.
Wavves – “Flamezesz”
Nathan Williams has had a busy year, putting out a split disc with noise-pop compatriots Cloud Nothings, an album from a side project with his brother and others called Spirit Club and a split EP with MNDR with another side project, Sweet Valley. But now we’ll finally get a new Wavves album as well. V is due Oct. 2 on Ghost Ramp/Warner Bros., and he’s unveiled the frantically poppy “Flamezesz” as well as the previously revealed, Elvis Costello-esque “Way Too Much.” V is now up for preorder on LP and CD. Hear it below via Complex.