Last year was a rather disappointing one for new music releases, but 2015 has already proven itself to be filled with sound and culturally-relevant new releases (see Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly”). Even more exciting, the summer is set to have some of the most highly-anticipated releases in recent memory with many artists that had huge debuts releasing their sophomore efforts. Now that the school year is coming to a close, take some time to delve into all of the new releases that will be coming out. Kick back, relax and get ready to develop the soundtrack to your summer.
By Thomas Snider
Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky is set to release his sophomore album titled “At.Long.Last. A$AP” on Tuesday, May 12. A$AP Mob founder A$AP Yams, passed away unexpectedly in January. His death shed a grim light on the lifestyle of the rap crew and their extravagant partying and drug use. Just four years ago, A$AP Rocky changed hip-hop with the release of his mixtape, “Live.Love.A$AP.” With his debut, Rocky created a new sonic trend in hip-hop through flow heavy rapping with little to no rhyming or storytelling skill. Rocky and the A$AP Mob were as aesthetically challenging themselves as their music was, dressing in high fashion brands such as Gucci and Chanel. The direction of the crew was masterminded by A$AP Yams, he led the group to their cultural attitude, sensationalized drug use and international success.
Rocky hit the mainstream in 2013 with his debut album “Long.Live.A$AP.” He was able to work with hip-hop’s biggest stars such as Drake, Two Chainz and even Skrillex. The LP became the quintessential album for Rocky and the A$AP Mob as they proved they could enjoy commercial success while rapping over just about anything, and taking the A$AP style worldwide. Superficiality and party anthems came to define A$AP to most of the world with the commercial success; however, the recent death of Yams from a drug overdose cast a shadow over A$AP Mob’s direction.
On his sophomore LP, Rocky seeks to defuse the image that has accompanied his hit singles from “Long.Live.A$AP.” It has been two years since his debut and Rocky has matured as an artist through escaping into the fashion world and learning how to produce beats. “People know me for being the guy talking about I got bad bitches… in all reality that all fun, I was only 23 but when you think about me as far as my art goes I want to be remembered for something more honorable.” Rocky said in March in an interview with MTV. All in all, the second LP seeks to bring together the vision that Yams cultivated through A$AP and Rocky’s artistic initiative.
By TJ Mertikas
Everyone’s favorite neo-psychedelic electronic noise rock band, HEALTH, announced last week that they have a new album on the way. “Death Magic” is the first full length from the band since 2009’s “Get Color,” and if the lead single, “New Coke,” is any indication of the broader sound, HEALTH has shifted to a primarily electronic focus.
Progression isn’t something that should be foreign to HEALTH fans though. While their self-titled debut, HEALTH seemed like a relatively typical noise rock group but was able to set themselves apart with electronic drones and a barely comprehensible, soft-spoken vocalist who was in stark contrast with the normal aggressiveness that comes along with noise rock vocals. “Get Color” followed and ensured their place as outsiders within the genre.
If the self-titled was made for basement shows and small LA venues, “Get Color” was made for festivals and U.S. tours. The catchier hooks and song structure that had straightforward elements made HEALTH’s brand of noise something that was appealing to a broader audience. Now, with “New Coke,” HEALTH has completely left behind their noise roots for electronic drops and a danceable melody. The vocals are no longer buried behind layers of sound and reverbed to the point of incomprehensibility, but rather are extremely present and drive the song. There seems to be little to no guitar, replaced by exclusively synthesizers and drum machines. The sound is still undoubtedly HEALTH, but will likely split fans that were fans of their noise rock origins. “Death Magic” is out Aug. 7 via Loma Vista Records.
By Caroline Ackerman
Psychedelic rock group Tame Impala are set to release their third studio album titled “Currents” on Saturday, July 18. Following their 2012 release “Lonerism,” which won the Australian group many awards, including the 2014 Grammy for Best Alternative Album, “Currents” has big shoes to fill. Based on the singles “’Cause I’m a Man” and “Let It Happen,” the new full length does not stray far from Tame Impala’s previous lighthearted work characterized by erratic synth and offbeat vocals. The released singles indicate that their music continues to be heavily influenced by psychedelic predecessors The Beatles, The Yardbirds and The Grateful Dead.
Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, who began the recording project, announced the new album to almost 1 million fans on Facebook. In the hype surrounding new music, Parker held an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit, where he gave fans the chance to ask questions and in unparalleled fashion released a new single “Disciples.”
The track-list to “Currents” has been leaked and the first song on the new album is the single “Let It Happen.” Leading into a new album with a seven minute song is the type of risk only Tame Impala can take, proving “Currents” to be yet another unpredictable release cool enough for summer’s unbearable heat.
Thomas Snider, Caroline Ackerman and TJ Mertikas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TheSagebrush.