Another Fast Five sees us well and truly into the Fall season, with five new musical treats to snack on just in time for Halloween (excuse the bad pun). Kanye West’s latest was the talk of the town this week, while electronic producer Teebs delivers an incredible beat-fueled record in Anicca. Experimental rock group Battles proves that they’ve still got what it takes to blow you and traditional time signatures away. Greg Gonzalez opens up on an emotional new Cigarettes After Sex record, and Fucked Up’s Young Guv continues his prolific run of recording with Guv II.
Kanye West – Jesus Is King
Kanye’s recent antics make the the premise of Jesus Is King pretty easy to critique on the surface, but this album doesn’t give him much to push back with. The foundation of faith is fine and good on its own, but his vision on this record is not really worth exploring from start to finish. Aside from relatively fleshed out tracks like “Everything We Need” or “Follow God”, West’s ability to create a song that carries evenly with flow and beats is as choppy as ever. Form does not do anything for function here, as the gospel ideas and religious concepts fall flat and far from each other, neither propping each other up in a meaningful way. The vaguely promising premise of reflecting on faith with gospel, soul and hip-hop influences is certainly visible here, but don’t let that potential be mistaken for actual results, which lie few and far between on this record. – Adit Ahmed
Teebs – Anicca
Electronic producer Mtendere Mandowa (aka Teebs) once again weaves together magic in Anicca, his first release (and third full-length in total) since 2014’s incredible Estara. The pace is set immediately with the gorgeous opener “Atoms Song,” a 7-minute stunner that slowly grows into an epic of looped strings and angelic synths that rise and fall with grace. Teebs is joined on the record with a big cast of high-profile collaborators (there are jams from Sudan Archives, Panda Bear, etc.), but the real gems are the quick tracks between the features, peak Dilla-esque beats that create an album best experienced in one mind-melting sitting.
Battles – Juice B Crypts
Warp Records mainstay Battles return with Juice B Crypts, a frenzied and hard-hitting follow-up to 2015’s La Di Da Di. The New York group (once a quartet, now down to a duo) continues their gradual electronization of sound, sporting loops and guitar effects that will make you genuinely wonder how they made that sound (case in point, the incredible “Fort Green Park” makes you question if there’s one guitar or four). The duo of Ian Williams on keys/guitar and the ever-present drumming of John Stanier proves they haven’t lost a step, producing a sound that is simultaneously chaotic yet controlled. There are also some incredible features throughout, including Xenia Rubinos, Shabazz Palaces, Tune-Yards on the two-part epic finale, and more.
Cigarettes After Sex – Cry
With nearly ten years separating the band’s El Paso inception and the release of their self-titled debut, thank goodness we only had to wait another two for their follow-up in Cry. Building off the great success of Cigarettes After Sex, the sultry musings of Greg Gonzalez once again take center stage as the group produces their signature atmosphere of ambient-skewed pop and ethereal shoegaze, an atmosphere helped in part by the group’s distaste of recording studios; they set up shop in several exotics locations (including a German cathedral and a Mallorca villa) to perfect their spacious ambiance. As the album title and art suggest, Gonzalez isn’t afraid to let this ambiance turn at times dark and moody.
Young Guv – GUV II
Fucked Up guitarist Ben Cook uses his second record of the year as Young Guv to solidify his abilities as an independent songwriter. The record has a level of pep that is certainly unique for dedicate bands of David Comes to Life. Instead, Cook mirrors the likes of Teenage Fanclub or Nada Surf, with a catchy power pop gloss that shows off real versatility. “Caught Lookin'” has some funky Boy Pablo/dream pop riffs on synths and guitar that are ready for college radio. Tracks like “She’s a Fantasy” and “Can I Luv U In My Own Way” feel closely aligned with the 90s landscape that built the inevitable Mac DeMarco influence that shines throughout this record (and almost every since record in the wheelhouse since Salad Days). The short record fits well with GUV I, and serves as a solid entry point on its own for future Young Guv fans. – Adit Ahmed