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Album Picks: Vince Staples, The Internet, Miguel, Jaill

Posted by Billy Gil, June 30, 2015 10:55am | Post a Comment

Vince Staples - Summertime 06

On his gutsy, double-disc debut studio album, Long Beach rapper Vince Staples introduces the world at large to a tough, world-weary persona who at only 22 has seemingly been through enough drama to fill a book. “My pain is never over, pills ‘n’ potions pick me up” he declares on the gnarled beats of “Pick Me Up.” Atonal sound wails in the background of “Norf Norf” as Staples offers slice-of-life tales of growing up in gritty North Long Beach (“I ain’t never run from nothin’ but the police,” he says tellingly). There’s a nihilistic slant to everything Staples puts to tape, which extends even to more decadent party jams like “Loca” and “Dopeman” and love songs like “Lemme Know,” pairing lyrics like “I’ll be fightin’ for you” with “I love to see you cry.” Everything in Summertime ’06 sounds strangely disembodied and cynical, yet it’s not lacking in energy, as with single “Senorita,” on which No I.D.’s creeping production offers the ideal space for Staples’ grim verses and Future’s motoring chorus before morphing into an ’80s horror film-style breakdown. The album’s second disc is mellower, reveling in No I.D. and Clams Casinos immersive production work; “Get Paid” and “Hang N’ Bang” are lively highlights. Though it’s a double-disc, Summertime ’06 doesn’t feel the slightest bit overstuffed, and we never lose sight of the man behind the rhymes.

 

The Internet - Ego Death

Led by Syd the Kid and Matt Martians, futuristic R&B group The Internet has been one of the most consistently captivating artists to emerge from the L.A.-based Odd Future collective. Fusing the lush soul sounds of a live band with electro beats, queer bent and psychedelic swirl, The Internet’s sound is a warm and inviting blend. Janelle Monae shows up to lend her breathy vocals to “Gabby,” which shifts from slow and funky to an OutKast-inspired breakdown in its final stretch, while Vic Mensa rhymes over the intro to the shuffling “Go With It.” But this is Syd’s show, and her vocals and lyrics are more assured than ever. Whether blowing off a money-grubbing girl (“Get Away”) or playing the part of the confident player (“Special Affair”), her ability to meld hip hop tropes to her wills is a delight to hear, while she’s just as adept at throwing social commentary into tracks like “Penthouse Cloud,” searching the skies for answers when violence against blacks continues to dominate the news. Compared with their bleaker Odd Future cohorts like Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt, The Internet are a headier, mellower alternative with a sweet, innovative sound.

 

MiguelWildheart

Miguel is back with another set of immaculately produced R&B tunes that soar on on a voice that emanates seduction. Wildheart is more upbeat than its predecessor, Kaleidescope Dream, upping the danceable quotient on the old-school-flavored “DEAL.” Miguel isn’t exactly a romantic like How to Dress Well—“I wanna fuck like we’re filming in the Valley,” he sings on one tune—but his dedication to post-Prince raunch is admirable for its steadiness, moving from sweet talk to extolling the pleasures of morning quickies in the dreamily rendered single “Coffee.” Miguel succeeds because he comes off as honest more than anything. On the spare “what’s normal anyway,” he calls out false morality, his own self-involvement and feeling like he never really belongs in one of the set’s strongest tunes. When you’re looking to bare it all, in however way you might mean that, Miguel’s your guy.

 

JaillBrain Cream

Like the Kinks on a mushroom-fueled holiday, Milwaukee’s Jaill make irresistible psychedelic-leaning power-pop that’s a little scuffed up around the edges. Once signed to Sub Pop, they’re now on Burger, where they fit in quite well among the young garage-pop bands of Southern California. With cheery rockers like “Just a Lovely Day” and sugar-coated folk tunes like “Chocolate Poison Time,” Brain Cream’s charms win you over almost immediately.

 

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Album Picks (146), New Albums (213), New Music (5), Vince Staples (17), The Internet (14), Miguel (7), Jaill (2)