1) K-Def The Way It Was / The Unpredictable Gemini (Redefinition/Fat Beats)
2) Kevin Gates Islah (Atlantic)
3) J. Cole Forest Hills Drive Live (Roc Nation)
4) Saul Williams MartyrLoserKing (Fader) - also on LP
5) San Quinn The Fillmore Lion (Legacy Mafia)
Shout-out to E-Lit at Amoeba Berkeley for supplying the latest top five chart that features in the top slot longtime NJ-based hip-hop producer K-Def with the two album, 33 track (on one CD disc) set The Way It Was / The Unpredictable Gemini on Redefinition/Fat Beats. As seen in the accompanying video below of E-Lit running down these five and other new/recent releases, there is also a single album vinyl version by K-Def. Other popular new releases at the East Bay Amoeba store include longtime Fillmore district of San Francisco rapper San Quinn's latest full length The Fillmore Lion on Legacy Mafia, and Louisanna rapper (previously prolific mix tape producer) Kevin Gates' official major label debut Islah on Atlantic Records.
Amoeba Hollywood shoppers had diverse tastes in 2015, snapping up popular albums by Adele, Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift as well as critical favorites by Sufjan Stevens, Kamasi Washington and Beach House in equal measure, plus those essential records that never go out of style. Check out the year's top sellers below.
Tame Impala's third album was a critical and commercial triumph. It's both as a fascinating headphones album for production junkies and as a set of immaculate psych-pop songs that feels endlessly giving.
Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker shifts gears a bit for his third album, drawing as much from ’80s soul and disco as he has from prog-rock and psychedelia. Though such a change could threaten to derail a good thing, Parker is the consummate perfectionist, and Currents’ various strands are braided together without a hair out of place. Opener “Let It Happen” builds from a proggish uphill chug into a psychedelic freakout and finally hits its stride with a silky disco beat. “Eventually” relies on rock dynamics but uses fat synthesizers to achieve its booming changes. And a tune like crystalline psych-funk jam “The Less I Know the Better” seems to marry all of Parker’s influences into a perfect amalgam, calling to mind everything from Michael Jackson to My Bloody Valentine. Through it all, Parker is the same chill knob-twiddler he’s always been, but he’s come out of his shell a bit more—it takes confidence to command a song like “’Cause I’m a Man,” which gloriously oozes ’70s cheese, akin to Gary Wright’s “Dream Weaver” or 10CC’s “I’m Not in Love.” From the get-go, Parker himself seems to be reflecting on the change—“Something’s trying to get out/And it’s never been closer,” he sings on “Let It Happen.” It’s confirmed by the time we get to “Yes I’m Changing,” ostensibly a breakup ballad but it seems more pointedly about an introvert accepting accidental stardom (“Curse indulgence and despise the fame/There’s a world out there and it's calling my name”). This lyrical theme, the sense that Parker is coming into his own as not only a songwriter and performer but human being, gives Currents a unity that even the superb Lonerism didn’t have. In every way, Currents is a complete triumph, both as a fascinating headphones album for production junkies and as a set of immaculate psych-pop songs that feels endlessly giving.
Kamasi Washington is a Los Angeles-born jazz saxophonist, bandleader, and composer. He studied Ethnomusicology at UCLA, where he played music with faculty members such as Billy Higgins, Kenny Burrell, and Gerald Wilson. Washington’s skill as a tenor soloist in the Miles Davis/Ornette Coleman tradition has landed him on albums like Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly and he’s played alongside artists such as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Lauryn Hill, Snoop Dogg, Chaka Khan, and Raphael Saadiq.
In 2015, Washington released his debut full-length, a 3-disc album aptly entitled The Epic, on Flying Lotus's label Brainfeeder. What is even more surprising is how accessible and listenable it is across its three discs without once aiming for a cheap crossover or diminishing Washington’s talents or sound. The Epic has been named one of the best of 2015 by The New York Times and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album.
Last weekly roundup of the year! Check back in with us next year for more coverage of local music from L.A. and the Bay Area.
KING – “Hey (Extended Mix)”
This gorgeous cosmic R&B love ballad comes from L.A.’s KING. The track gently unfurls its breathy vocals and layered synths so gracefully, you almost miss the nuance that makes the song something special. It’s reminiscent of Stevie Wonder’s best, turning a simple sentiment like “You were made for me, and I, you,” from trite to transcendent. The song first appeared on their 2011 EP The Story, which Pitchfork points out got them the attention of none other than Prince. This expanded version will be on their debut LP, We Are KING, which is due in February.
Rangda – “To Melt the Moon”
Ben Chasny of Six Organs of Admittance, Sir Richard Bishop of Sun City Girls and Six Organs contributor Chris Corsano come together to craft a serpentine, snarling guitar track called “To Melt the Moon.” Chasny’s psych notes and Bishop’s African-influenced playing dance with Corsano’s steady 5/4 beat like a North African surf-rock track. Rangda’s The Heretic’s Bargain is due Feb. 19 on Drag City. Stream below via Pitchfork.