Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered
Released March 4th, 2016 on Top Dawg Records
It is inevitable that an album that set a benchmark as fiercely as To Pimp A Butterfly did would have a collection of b-sides and outtakes left over from its recording sessions.
It is not inevitable that such a collection will stand on its own as a great album in its own right.
Odds n sods collections rarely have the same cache that an artist’s studio work does; they lack in coherence, vary wildly in quality, and you can often tell that there’s a reason that the songs were relegated to one-offs or left on the editing room floor. untitled unmastered does not have that feeling. While it lacks the thematic coherence that K Dot’s opus of corruption and empowerment brought, it continues in the same stylistic pursuits that set that album apart. The jazz influence on untitled unmastered is even more pronounced, leading one to wonder what a fully jazzed-out (and likely Flying Lotus-backed) Kendrick Lamar would sound like. The funk isn’t ignored either, although the primal stomp that fueled magic like “King Kunta” isn’t as prevalent here. Regardless of style and coherence, the quality is top notch on each of the eight tracks. Any one of them could have fit comfortably on To Pimp A Butterfly; in the case of both 7 and 8, it’s almost criminal that they weren’t included. Given that the album was already very long, however, it’s likely that they were cut due to time considerations. Kendrick himself remarks in the liner notes that most of the tracks included here were left out because they weren’t quite finished to his standards, or because there just wasn’t space for them. While that’s a shame, the fact that they’ve achieved release at all is a testament both to Kendrick’s powers as an artist and to the ease of distribution that the internet age has wrought.
It’s telling, I feel, that Kendrick Lamar’s tossed-off album of outtakes feels far more vital and alive than a good half of Kanye’s The Life Of Pablo. The torch of hip hop tastemaker is being passed, and if Dre and The Game’s 2015 output – as well as the success of artists like Anderson .Paak – is any indication, that changeover is occurring sooner rather than later.
AND THE REST…
03/04/2016 on Shake It Records
The dream of gnarled, dense indie rock is still alive in Cincinnati, and Wussy keeps it going with punch and verve.
03/04/2016 on Sub Pop Records
Do you fondly remember such mid-00s head-nodder bands like Comets On Fire and Dead Meadow? Excellent, there are members of Comets On Fire in this project. Do you like wispy ambient folk vocals that are reminiscent of a more modern Renaissance? Perfect, Meg Baird is right up your alley. Do you like searing guitar work that marries Boris-level noise to the psychedelic flamboyance of old-school Billy Corgan? You’ve arrived. Seriously, just listen to this album, it’ll haunt you for the rest of your days.
All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend
03/11/2016 on Glassnote Entertainment Group
An eclectic collection of the darker parts of pop music that largely fails to connect emotionally. Remember the Anchoress album from January? Pretty much my exact same thoughts.
03/11/2016 on Because Music
Luneworks is a lot like having fitful dreams while sleeping. You can’t quite call them nightmares because they’re only vaguely remembered and you’re left uneasy rather than horrified.
Into It. Over It.
03/11/2016 on Triple Crown Records
Is this Death Cab For Cutie or Taking Back Sunday? Disturbingly, it sounds like equal measures.
03/11/2016 on Roadrunner Records
For a band I’ve come to increasingly dislike over the past ten years (maybe because I associate them with the regrettable rise of metalcore) their seventh album is surprisingly solid. If only we could convince them to ditch the godawful soaring melodic choruses. This is metal. Stop singing.
Post Pop Depression
03/18/2016 on Loma Vista Records
Largely inessential although still rather interesting for Iggy Pop’s vocal and songwriting debt to his late friend David Bowie. There’s more than a whiff of Berlin-era Iggy-and-Bowie here, minus the Bowie of course.