Album Catchup for the Fall



Photo by Cameron Wittig & Crystal Quinn
Photo by Cameron Wittig & Crystal Quinn
Matt Monroe

Now that we’re well into fall, I wanted to look into some of my favorite, and least favorite, albums of the season so far, as September and October have been fairly interesting months for music.

First up, we have the new album from Angel Olsen entitled “MY WOMAN.” Olsen has been one of my favorite discoveries of the year after she dropped the fantastic first single for this album called “Intern,” a minimal synth pop song that’s pace is slow, but far from boring as Olsen’s voice and lyrics are so captivating.

The rest of the album though is not even close to synth pop, as Olsen draws influences from farther back in the past, including 1950’s pop in her emotional delivery, 1970’s rock in her expansive arrangements, and 1950’s country in her lyrics.

From the in-your-face “Shut Up Kiss Me” to the drawn-out “Sister,” “MY WOMAN” is an extremely well-rounded rock record that deserves even more focus than it’s already gathered. Listen to “MY WOMAN” on Spotify:

Next up, we have the first album in 5 years from Bon Iver, “22, A Million.” The project helmed by Justin Vernon had been held on hiatus until later this year when Vernon surprise announced the album and played the entire thing at his Eaux Claires festival a month and a half before its release.

After hearing the singles, I was insanely excited for this project. I’ve never been able to completely get into Bon Iver and with the more electronic direction he was heading in, this album might’ve been the one to finally grab me. Spoiler alert: it didn’t.

What we got was a lot of half-baked ideas turned into songs that have something interesting in them but don’t further expand on it. For example, “21 M♢♢N WATER” has what could be a really killer outro with the glitched and chopped saxophones, but instead it just serves as a transition into the next track, “8 (circle),” which is best described as a badly compressed 1980’s movie theme song, cheesy synths, lyrics, vocals and all.

What could have been one of the best albums of the year brings in one of the most frustrating, as it is definitely not a bad album, but it really isn’t that good either. It’s Vernon in the midst of a progression in his sound, not really at the finish line of it. Listen to “22, A Million” on Spotify:

Finally, we have the new album from Detroit rapper Danny Brown called “Atrocity Exhibition.” It’s been three years since Brown’s last record, “Old,” but he hasn’t spent that time not working, as he spent two years writing this new album and nearly a year recording it.

And you can really tell Brown and his producers spent their time working on this as it features some of the most innovative hip-hop production I’ve ever heard. Not until Death Grips came onto the scene have I heard something this unique within the genre.

While his lyrical content might be starting to show it’s age a little, focusing heavily on his descent into drug addiction and mental illness, it’s more than forgivable as his flows are still heavily intact, proving himself to be one of the best rappers out right now, if not the best.

Songs like “Ain’t It Funny” and “Dance In The Water” continue to blow my mind, as I just have to wonder how the hell he did it. By far, “Atrocity Exhibition” is the best rap album of the year on innovation alone. Listen to “Atrocity Exhibition” on Spotify:

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