The Crimson White

Music Column: These albums dominated the summer

Cole Lippincott, Contributing Writer

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As classes roll back into session, take a look back at some of the summer’s best sounds that you may or may not have caught!

  1. Natalie Prass – The Future and the Past

On her sophomore effort, singer-songwriter Natalie Prass reels you in and shows a noticeable improvement from her debut right off the bat. LP-commencing tracks “Oh My” and “Short Court Style” set the tone to get the listener dancing with flawless funk-influenced basslines and immensely gratifying hooks. After giving her audience a short interlude to recover, the steps are not lost for the remaining nine tracks, with high points being “Hot For the Mountain” and the album closer “Ain’t Nobody” which completes the full-circle of funk.

  1. Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer

As one of the polarizing figures in indie, Father John Misty returns only a year after releasing his 75 minute, rage-filled magnum opus Pure Comedy, which had fans and critics indecisively split for good reason. With this effort, Misty decided to increase the volume and instrumentation and cut the length in half. These decisions resulted in some of the year’s catchiest indie pop songs including lead-single “Mr. Tillman” and “Date Night.” Don’t let the melodies fool you, however, as the lyrical content of this album is cynical enough to make you wonder how Tillman is faring in 2018. The album’s two most powerful ballads “God’s Favorite Customer” and “The Songwriter” round out the album by discussing the trials and tribulations of being a performer in the internet age of consumption.

  1. Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears

Poorly named after a dumb grammar dad-joke, Let’s Eat Grandma’s sophomore album forgives their abilities in band nomenclature by delivering a mammoth dream pop album laced with powerful synth ballads from top to bottom. Easily the year’s biggest surprise, the album kicks you in the teeth with its rich instrumentation progressing over driving drum loops.  While the vocals tend to take a backseat to the massive crescendo builds in these numbers, lead singer Rosa Walton shows promise by channeling an impression that lands somewhere in between the vocals of Chvrches and Lorde. Unsurprisingly, the albums two best tracks are its two longest. “Cool and Collected” is 9 minutes and 18 seconds of pure bliss that demands a beat drop at every chance, but LEG are formulaic with their decision to leave it as an open-ended slow burn. Album-closer “Donnie Darko” runs just over 11 minutes and should be considered intently for end-of-year best song lists.

  1. SOPHIE – OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES

The most unique and diverse album on this list belongs to the true queen of summer, SOPHIE. Despite being an electronic album and having off-the-wall and consistently hard-hitting production, this debut album finds SOPHIE, who has made a name for herself recently producing for Madonna and Vince Staples, as a lyrical and vocal mastermind as well. The transition from opening track “It’s Okay to Cry,” which infers the mood of a terrifyingly bleak album, to summer’s craziest banger “Ponyboy” is easily one of the most memorable music moments of the last few years. It doesn’t even begin to stop there; every twist and turn on this masterpiece leaves the listener thinking, “What the hell did I just listen to?”

  1. Travis Scott – Astroworld

The wait is over! He finally dropped it! And boy oh boy, does it deliver. Despite dragging toward the back half, Travis Scott is at the top of his game throughout the majority of the long-awaited Astroworld. He takes on a journey through his trap theme park and introduces us to a plethora of perfectly utilized guests in the process. The first seven songs on this album were so reminiscent of a 2018-take on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy with features spanning all decades and genres. A prime example of this being on “Stop Trying to be God,” where we are blessed with James Blake harmonizing over a Stevie Wonder harmonica solo. Two tracks later, on “Skeletons,” we get Scott, Pharrell Williams, and the Weeknd spitting bars over a “Currents”-esque Tame Impala-produced beat. Despite some of the filler toward the end, the high thrill rides in Scott’s theme park deliver impeccably.

  1. Mitski – Be the Cowboy

On her third brilliant release in a row, Mitski masters the craft of pop songwriting on Be the Cowboy. Experimenting with a wider array of instrumentation and shorter song lengths, the listener may feel disappointed that a song ends right when they begin to really get into it. However, she pulls it off in a way few others in the scene ever could. Ironically enough, this is her least angsty album, but has the format of a classic punk album. “Nobody” into “Pink in the Night” is a one-two punch that the world does not at all deserve.

  1. Kanye West – ye

What a year for Kanye West. From coming back on Twitter for the first time in 18 months to releasing five albums in a five-week span, it’s no secret that his mind never stops moving a million miles per hour. Does it get him in trouble? Yes. Does he care? No, clearly not. On his eighth album, written and recorded almost entirely in a month span after his infamous TMZ interview, West talks about killing himself. He talks about loving himself. He talks about loving other people. He talks about being hated by other people. All these thoughts race through his mind constantly. This album continues to grow in the sense that it is the album that West wanted the world to hear. It is his most personal album to date. Despite the darkness of the opening spoken-word monologue on “I Thought About Killing You,” Kanye genuinely seems happy throughout the remainder of the album. On “Ghost Town,” the album’s undisputed climax, the refrain of “nothing hurts anymore, I feel kinda free” tells the story of West this year. He is saying what he wants say and doing what he wants to do. Nobody should be worried about him.

  1. Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel

Stream-of-consciousness Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett tightens up her songwriting while maintaining her brilliance after 2015’s breakthrough “Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit” put her on the map as one of the most dignifying voices in rock. On the sophomore effort, Barnett raises the volume and expands her sonic palette with a more dreamy and psychedelic tone on songs such as “Need a Little Time” and “Hopefulessness,” which take her sounds to places she had yet to fully explore. Don’t think she lost the ability to write a perfect pop song, though. Lead single “City Looks Pretty” holds its own as one of the best of the decade thus far. Don’t be surprised hearing this young sheila’s name for the next decade or two.

  1. Parquet Courts – Wide Awake

For the duration of their careers, four-piece Brooklyn rock band have worn their influences on their sleeve. In a semi-surprising turn of events, for their sixth studio album, A. Savage and company decided to enlist world-class producer Danger Mouse to look over this effort. To no surprise at all, the pairing is nearly flawless. Touching on nearly every subgenre in the rock canon, the diverse soundscapes on this album reach some of the most stellar grooves of the decade-long career. The hooks on tracks such as “Freebird II” and “Tenderness” could have an entire pub screaming along for decades to come. Every lyric feels so urgent, to imply that when written it would it would be crucial to be followed by an exclamation point. If that isn’t enough, they even tell Tom Brady to f*** himself.

  1.    Kids See Ghosts – Kids See Ghosts

The third of Kanye West’s summer releases is also his best. On this project, long in the making, West teams up with longtime best friend Kid Cudi to release a 22-minute, seven-track album that leaves the world wanting and needing more right this instant. The Cudi hooks feel so vintage. The West verses feel so vintage. The production fires on all cylinders. The mixing is flawless. The tales of recovering from painful days are genuine and captivating. Singling out tracks to highlight on here would be a bit nonsensical considering every single one is mere perfection. Kids See Ghosts has no chance of leaving the rotation anytime soon.

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Music Column: These albums dominated the summer