September 15, 2023 | ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT | By Issa Nasatir
2023 is shaping up to be a great year for music, with numerous fantastic albums released as we reach the beginning of fall. Here is a list of three albums worth a listen that have come out thus far.
“Girl in the Half Pearl” by Liv.e
Liv.e’s sophomore album “Girl in the Half Pearl” is probably my favorite album to be released this year. After the releases of singles “Ghost,” “Wild Animals,” and “Find Out,” my expectations were high, and she skyrocketed right past them. The project is a roller coaster of personal twists on experimental soul and drum and bass. Liv.e takes you on a wild ride of barrel spins and loop-de-loops down watery webs of synths, submerging you deeper and deeper into her mind with each track.
Lyrically, Liv.e tackles a wide range of emotions. On my favorite track “Snowing!” she runs away from a relationship that she isn’t ready to make a commitment to yet. She drowns in humiliation with her head on a swivel, desperately trying to find the piece of herself that’s missing. Mesmerizing marimba-like synths and loops of sharp percussion take you on her journey with her, panic ensuing with each distorted vocal exclaiming, “Free me from the free me from the pain.”
On “Clowns,” she screams at a partner, frustrated at a relationship that’s built on violent truths and ignorant bliss towards a giant heap of glaring lies. Accompanied by frantic free jazz and huge distorted drums, she vehemently asks them, “Can’t be clowns for this long, so baby, what do we make it?” In conclusion, this was right up my alley, and I hope it’s right up yours.
“SCARING THE HOES” by JPEGMAFIA, Danny Brown
I’m going to keep this short. This might be my favorite production on a rap album of all time. JPEGMAFIA has been pushing the boundaries of hip-hop production for almost as long as he’s been in the game, and the fact he chopped it all on a Roland SP-404, a mouthpiece from the 90s, just shows you how much talent this man has. The samples he puts together, reaching into the vault for things like orchestral horn sections, “Milkshake” by Kelis, and even a Japanese noodle commercial, demonstrate Peggy’s amazing ability to make anything sound good together.
Every beat is novel in its own right, but what comes to mind immediately is the extremely interesting structure of the closing track, “Where Ya Get Your Coke From?” The primary part of the beat plays under the chorus while Peggy and Danny rap the verses over its isolated percussion, flipping the song structure on its head.
Speaking of Danny, there’s no one meant for these beats more than him. He flows perfectly over each beat, and in some songs becomes an instrument himself. On “Lean Beef Patty,” he spits incoherently on a beat that threatens to swallow him. However, he’s able to add another dimension to the beat, giving it a wonderfully layered sound. Listening to this album, it is evident that Peggy and Danny had a lot of fun making it, and that feeling is extremely infectious. I lied, I could not keep this short. This album deserves all its flowers and more. But I leave you with one question: did they scare you?
Favorite songs: “Burfict!,” “Garbage Pale Kids,” and “Where Ya Get Your Coke From?”
“Live at Bush Hall” by Black Country, New Road
In a compilation of three shows set in the imaginary worlds of three plays, the latest album from Black Country, New Road takes the band in yet another unique direction. This collection of songs shows the band utilizing their Arcade Fire-esque cacophonies which their fans are familiar with but taking a more traditional pop approach to their songwriting. The absence of their vocalist Isaac Woods who left the group right after their sophomore release and the critically acclaimed “Ants From Up There,” looms large over the band, but the space is quickly filled by new voices. The first of the two songs that stuck out to me the most is “Turbines/Pigs,” a ten-minute emotional epic which is one of my favorite songs of the year.
The song is sung beautifully by May, one of two songs she wrote and sang on the album. The chorus packs a punch, with May begging, “Don’t waste your pearls on me / I’m only a pig,” which takes its inspiration from the Bible excerpt, “…do not throw your pearls before swine…”
Secondly, the intro track, “Up Song,” is the band’s reflection on the whirlwind of emotions that went into the making and release of “AFUT” and the constant buzz surrounding the exit of Woods. With fun cheesy lines like “Look at what we did together / BCNR, friends forever,” you can’t help but smile as they look back on their remarkable accomplishments. As this album primarily reflects on transitioning from the past, I’m excited to watch them progress into another phase of their pioneering creativity within the near future.
Favorite songs: “Turbines/Pigs,” “Up Song,” and “Across the Pond Friend.”