1. Lecrae Anomaly
The “rapper who also happens to be a Christian” Lecrae takes over the iTunes front page as well as #1 on the Billboard charts but is somehow still unheard of on Top 40 radio. While the new album struck me as more straightforward than its predecessor (which suffered from over-production) there are many tracks here that could be so much greater if Lecrae tapped into his fantastic tropes from his early work. Regardless of the mood, the project works well and stands as a great piece of modern hip hop.
Standout Track: “Runners”
2. Homeboy Sandman Hallways
Boy, Oh Boy! Homeboy Sandman gets to take on a full-length project! I love this man’s poetry and it never comes off as fake or pretentious.
Standout Track: “Problems”
3. Banks Goddess
There are a lot of comparisons to be made between Banks and Ellie Goulding. In both cases the vocals are reworked into the instrumentals as a separate instrument but both also are given a little room for those intricate vocal runs sans-corrective post production. This debut, however, features production from some of my favorite electronic producers: SOHN, Shlohmo, and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs.
Standout Track: “You Should Know Where I’m Coming From”
4. Busdriver Perfect Hair
If Hellfyre Club was the rap game’s Loony Toons, then Busdriver is it’s Bugs Bunny. I caught him live a few years back opening for Astronautalis and he certainly knew how to keep the audience’s attention despite having just a beat machine to accompany him on stage. The Aesop Rock and Danny Brown features are a natural fit, too, in this very unnatural experiment of weird.
Standout Track: “Colonize the Moon”
5. ODESZA In Return
The vocal-sample-heavy beat makers ODEZA bring a great collection of tracks that are part Clams Casino and part Passion Pit, with its strong synth sounds. The vocal features don’t feel like intrusions on this LP, which can often be a sentiment I have on other great electronic beat makers.
Standout Track: “Bloom”
Video of the Month: Brunettes Shoot Blondes “Knock Knock”