Lil Pump – Harverd Dropout
I hate to say that I had at least moderate expectations for this record. Pump’s debut was goofy and shallow, but it was a ton of fun and it captured a certain careless style. Harverd Dropout does none of this. Every instrumental is about four bars on loop, the flows are extremely repetitive, and production is remarkably shallow to the point of being unlistenable. Worst of all, the lyrics on this record are mind numbingly awful. Mostly centering around the album’s theme of success despite ignorance, not one line seems to have taken more than 30 seconds to write and some have no meaning at all. The album as the whole is a passionless train-wreck.
Avril Lavigne – Head Above Water
I had somewhat high hopes for this one as Avril Lavigne is responsible for at least one of my favorite guilty pleasure songs of all time in her 2002 smash hit, “Sk8er Boi.” Unfortunately, whatever remained of that version of Lavigne is long gone and replaced with a heartless, radio pop version of herself. There are, admittedly, a few impressive vocal performances, but the production is atrocious, the instrumentation is completely lifeless, the lyrics are vapid, and the “Dumb Blonde” track featuring Nicki Minaj is one of the worst things I’ve heard in many years. This may be slightly enjoyable for whatever hardcore Avril Lavigne fans do exist, but it’s all bu unlistenable to the rest.
Wiz Khalifa & Curren$y – 2009
Wiz Khalifa isn’t often mentioned among the best rappers of the day, but he’s had a fairly consistent output for close to a decade now, and the same is true for Curren$y. 2009 certainly doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel, but it’s a solid collection of beats with relatively strong production and some great lyricism from both MC’s. The record can certainly come off as repetitive to many listeners, but if you’re a fan of Khalifa, this record hits many of the points you’ve come to expect. One can only hope that this isn’t the last collaborative album between these two artists.
Dream Theater – Distance Over Time
Dream Theater is one of the most infamous prog metal bands of all time with more than a few iconic records to their name. Here, they’ve come through with their 14th studio record and it’s everything you’d expect. Extended guitar solos, complex drum work, tight and constant rhythm changes, and several long tracks with the nearly hour long runtime spread over just nine tracks. The vocals are a bit lacking in areas, and for non fans of the genre, the pacing may verge on unbearable, but the cuts are difficult and well performed with a few solid melodies to keep less technically minded listeners pulled in.
Small Houses – I Don’t Know What’s Safe
Houston based singer/songwriter, Small Houses is one of the most underrated acts in folk music after debuting with the wonderfully intimate, Still Talk; Second City in 2015. Finally, he’s returned to the studio and dropped I Don’t Know What’s Safe in the early half of the month. He returns with the same melodic guitar playing and painfully gruff vocal that stole our hearts in the first place. This time, however, the lyricism is a bit better and the production is much more present, sacrificing the simplistic closeness of his debut for a more mature and dynamic sound. Overall, an extremely listenable LP’s with few missteps.
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