Over the years I have heard people tell me “modern music is terrible”, “albums are dead”, “it’s all the same” and so on. Although I respect the opinion of a different generation or any fan of music, I can only disagree.
Here are 5 albums to prove my point. *In no particular order*
King Krule – The OOZ [Alternative]
King Krule is a band lead by South London Singer, Producer, Poet and Composer Archy Marshall who has formally gone under the names Zoo Kid, Edgar thebeatmaker and DJ JD Sports as well as many others. Archy has been creating different kinds of music over his career and with his first album as King Krule ‘6 Feet Beneath The Moon’ being such a success as a moody and melodic display of emotions fans were intrigued to hear what his 2017 album ‘The OOZ’ would be like.
The OOZ is a mysterious, moody, emotional and somewhat intense experience. I would call this album more of an experience than the traditional album purely from the way each song moves you and can make it feel impossible to leave the album without completing the full experience of the record. It has displays of Rock, Punk, Jazz, Hip Hop and even Muzak vibes on the song ‘Logos’. The OOZ is a conceptual album about the sludge, grime and OOZ of life, As humans we grow nails, have snot, produce semen and urine… these are all things we do to OOZ as human beings and this album is the musical representation of that. In songs such as ‘Slush Puppy’ and ‘The Locomotive’ you hear Archy give powerful and intense performances over some beautiful accompanying instrumentation which are described perfectly by the term “oozing” in which you hear Archy express his problems with mental illness and general life in the most poetic ways, not to mention the title track “The OOZ” which gives the most powerful and intense performance across the whole record, almost like a huge climax for the album, once the track ends and you hear the poem you are greeted with some slower yet beautiful closer tracks to seal the deal for this record. I recommend this album to anyone and would suggest giving it multiple full listens through to get a full understanding of the album.
Favourite Tracks: The OOZ, Slush Puppy, The Cadet Leaps and La Lune
Frank Ocean – Blond [R&B]
Frank Ocean took the world by storm when releasing his first album ‘Channel Orange’, It was an amazingly constructed R&B album with references to his recent Bi sexual come out at the time. with some beautiful chords, melodies and some outstanding high notes. Many years after this release he was out of the public eye until he released a livestream titled ‘Endless’ which was a very stripped back visual album, although people loved Endless there was word that it wasn’t the “real” album Frank would release. Then shortly after… Blond was released.
Blonde starts with a strange intro ‘Nikes’, a minimalist beat with some pitched up vocals where Frank addresses multiple things throughout the song including relationships, partying and death. This portion of the song is abstract but beautiful when you allow it to take you, the song ends with a rap styled verse where Frank switches to his more natural voice (despite some effects) and ends the track off perfectly. Now I’m not about to break down each individual track because this article would last forever but the album drifts into some stylistically beautiful songs like ‘Ivy’, ‘pink + white’ and ‘Solo’. Frank tackles his ongoing struggles with relationships throughout this record and even going back to his first love tale on the song ‘Ivy’. He shows a voicemail from his mother explaining why he shouldn’t do drugs and drink on ‘Be Yourself’ and then on the track ‘Solo’ straight after he talks of taking acid which is displaying his flawed morals and potentially a slope in his life with his recent struggles. He addresses relationships, friendships and his own flaws and troubles in the darkness throughout this album. I think this album is the perfect record to see out the summer with, it is an emotional, well produced and beautifully presented album of Frank’s life with relatable struggles and passion in his voice that you can feel by listening.
Favourite Tracks: Ivy, Godspeed, Self Control and Good Guy
Kamasi Washington – The Epic [Jazz]
From hearing his sax work on Kendrick Lamar songs and seeing him speak so wonderfully about music i was very intrigued to hear his latest effort at the time ‘The Epic’ which is a 3 hour grand experience of impressive jazz music. This album came out in 2015 and was the album to bring Kamasi great success and recognition as one of the most credible and talented Jazz musicians of the modern age.
The album is entirely based and inspired from some recurring dreams Kamasi had. The album is a huge and wonderful experience of glum, greatness and shire talent. There are songs like Misunderstanding that bring a high energy which floors you with its pure skilled technique of the saxophone that bursts from nowhere.
You also have songs like Re Run which bring you on a journey i can only describe as beautiful, similar to the song Seven Prayers that made me cry real tears on the first listen.. I find Kamasi gives you a modern day Jazz album that can compete with the classics, its 3 hours long yet can seem almost impossible to switch off at points. This album has the perfect balance of smooth drums, gorgeous sax work and at points some lushess vocals. It’s hard for me to express my feelings to this album as i feel you are best off throwing it on and just experiencing the feels it gives you by yourself.
Favourite Tracks: Misunderstanding, Re Run, Seven Prayers, The Rhythm Changes
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly [Hip Hop]
Kendrick Lamar had solidified his name in Hip Hop with his huge album G.K.M.C and everyone had huge eyes on the compton rapper. This album blew fans, critiques and even the government away with its highly impressive musical aspect and its deep and powerful message given in a way only Kendrick could. Kendrick had made a whole album set to release after G.K.M.C but after a trip to africa and realising the struggles faced back home he made this album, he tells this story on the song Momma.
This album starts off with a powerful and grand introduction that really sets the tone for the album, Wesley’s Theory has been said to have 200 tracks that make the final piece which is unheard of for a rap song. This albums tracks all have multiple meanings and interpretations you can take from them. Even songs like ‘For Free’ that may seem like a jokey song at first really details some of the issues black people in america face to this day. This album goes into Kendrick as a person and his struggles in america relating them to those around him. One of my favourite tracks ‘Momma’ sees Kendrick express how he knows multiple things until he went home (to africa) and realised he didn’t know sh*t which really gives you some insight into why he felt the need to create this album. It’s a true stance for equality without preaching, he is giving you the examples of the issues and not just telling you what needs to change. On the track ‘Blacker The Berry’ Kendrick is furious about the recent black killings at the time, he is screaming and detailing the anger that the whole black community felt at the time while oftenly referencing that he is the biggest hypocrite, later to be revealed he can’t complain about black killings when his gang days made him kill people blacker than him, which was a different side to what many had seen before. He speaks on his own insecurities, downfalls and struggles as well as others and delivers a great sounding album at the same time. Rap fans, jazz fans and just anyone to give this album a chance.
Favourite Tracks: U, Mortal Man, Wesley’s Theory and Momma
Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar [Alternative]
The Alternative rap group ‘Young Fathers’ have been gearing up a change for a while in there music. Dropping songs that had 0 rap influence in and were holding their own pretty well when it came to taking on the likes of indie music and such. It was only natural that there next album would be next to no rap and instead an alternative and dark showcase of wonderful melodies and cold lyrics.
The first taste of the album we got was the first single off of the album, a track titled ‘Lord’ which is an intense yet beautiful song using delays and reverbs to add the ultimate intensity to it, the dark and melodic instrumentation sets an erie vibe for the track and the album to come. The next track we got was ‘In my View’ which is to date there most comercial sounding song yet also has some pretty negative vibes in the lyrics “love will never come my way” its a raw and open track in terms of its lyrics but the instrumentation on this track is beautiful with the earworm chorus that you will struggle to get out of your head after just one listen. The album is summed up quite well by these tracks, there is some impressively catchy melodies along with some dark and vulnerable lyrics throughout. They use some abstract vocal effects to really show some discomfort in tracks such as ‘Turn’ on the chorus of stacks effected vocals that turns out to sound quite gorgeous at points yet quite disturbing at others. I really recommend this album to anyone who has an open mind to abstract music to hear a new take on previous genres. Young Fathers style.
Favourite Tracks: Lord, In My View, Tremolo and Toy
Most of these albums I could speak about for hours and write 7 pages for each but I wanted to try and give them a short description and review so that you can listen and experience them for yourself. I hope you are open to these albums and give them a listen, i hope you can come back and understand my high praises for them and why they show how modern music is truly amazing.