Pusha T- My Name Is My Name (GOOD Music, Def Jam Recordings; 2013)
Ever since Terrence Thornton, better known to the world as Pusha T (and half of the brother duo, The Clipse) joined Kanye West’s GOOD Music label, fans of the artist were wondering about the possibility of a full length album. Pusha T has since delivered with dark, drug-pusher stories, proving there is life after The Clipse and you needn’t worry about him.
Trial track: Pain (ft. Future)Pusha T delivers on the entire album with his streetwise demeanor, over-tune thumping and head bopping instrumentals from Hudson Mohawke, Pharrell, Swizz Beatz, and son of Metallica drummer Lars, Sebastian Ulrich. The album, which features artists from Kendrick Lamar, Future & Jeezy, all properly accompany Pusha.
KoRn – The Paradigm Shift (Caroline Records; 2013)
In their 11th album The Paradigm Shift, Korn return to their early days of violent, in-your-face metal that does not disappoint. The appearance of a traditional Korn album could very well be due to the recent return of Head, the group’s original guitarist who had left the band in 2005.
The dreadlocked, nu-metal pioneers have distanced themselves from their previous album, 2011’s Path of Totality, which they had
considered an “experiment,” as it had been heavily influenced by dubstep. The band does not completely drop the electronic elements however, they are lightly sprinkled throughout the new record in key moments rather effectively. While the lyrics are somewhat lacklustre, comprised mainly of the standard elements of the genre such as abandonment, self-seclusion and anger at societal norms, the guitar work is superb. Musically, this is one of Korn’s greatest works, and debatebly on par with their breakthrough album from 1998, Follow the Leader.
Trial Track: “Spike In My Vein”
Danny Brown – Old (Fool’s Gold Records; 2013)
If you’re new to Detroit rapper Danny Brown and his music, don’t be alarmed at the fact that there are 19 tracks on his latest album, Old. Despite its length, going through a Danny Brown album is arguably more enjoyable than listening to Justin Timberlake’s last two releases.
Old is divided in two: Side A features tales of poverty, drugs, sexual activity and occasional depressing monologues. Danny Brown brings us into his world by rapping over trap-inspired, pure hip-hop beats. Side B is a loose, fun, molly dipping, EDM trip, with the exception of its final track, “Float On” featuring Charli XCX, where Brown talks about using drugs and popping pills in order to cope with the stresses of making hits and performing at concerts, allowing Brown to come full circle by the album’s end. While Brown can easily be the most fun rapper to listen to, he reveals himself as an entertainer with deeper, underlying issues in Old. The diversity in subject matter, combined with some of the best production heard this year make for a winner, and a top album of the year across all genres.
Trial track: “Dip”
Autopilot – Diamond Rough (Independent; 2013)
Autopilot, a three-piece collective from Saskatoon, Sask., released their latest album Diamond Rough in late September. After a brief hiatus, the band reconvened to churn out a well-crafted alt-rock sound with slight pop melodies sprinkled throughout. Tracks like “Last Night” highlights the band’s ability to pair a catchy chorus with strong guitar riffs, while “Down and Out” shows an angstier side to their sound fueled by steady drum beats.
With vocals subtlely strained from emotional delivery, Autopilot sound like they would have fit in perfectly in a ‘90s grunge festival lineup. Diamond Rough showcases a sound that is familiar and comforting but with a twist that is all their own to create a well-rounded alternative rock sound.
Trial Track: “Down and Out”
HAIM – Days Are Gone (Polydor Records; 2013)
HAIM are generation-defining in their ability to seamlessly channel our obsession with nostalgia with an edginess and originality all their own. Days Are Gone, is a perfectly curated mix of ‘90s soft rock and Top 40 pop with a modern edge.
Refreshingly bold and listenable, Days Are Gone will be a heavy contender for album of the year.The sister trio from California’s San Fernando Valley have been creating a huge buzz since the release of their EP in 2012.
For their debut album, the girls enlisted producer, Ariel Rechtshaid—from Solange and Vampire Weekend fame—to help create a coherent sound, full of complexity and an abundance of melody and hooks. With constant comparisons to Stevie Nicks and Wilson Phillips, HAIM have crafted an album that feels effortless and cool, despite its heavy study of the past.
Trial Track: “Don’t Save Me”
– Paul Traunero