Divided into groups so you can skip the parts you don’t care about:
ROCK and/or ROLL
Jamie Lidell – Compass
Technically Lidell is a former electronica square-pusher who is now doing R&B and funk. But he has time for other genres too, including this folky title track from his third album. Here it is paired with visuals from the game “Red Dead Redemption,” which it played a key role in.
Jose Gonzalez – Veneer
Speaking of “Red Dead,” this summarizes why the game was so absorbing to me, and why my girlfriend probably considered hiding my copy. This is what happens in the game when you first enter Mexico. (This song isn’t on “Veneer” but it gives you a taste of the beauty of Gonzalez’s music.)
Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record
For indie rock this is pretty high-profile. I beg your forgiveness, but frankly I don’t have the energy to read the reviews in Alternative Press every month any more. But here’s what matters: it’s a damn good album.
Big Boi – Sir Lucious Leftfoot… The Son of Chico Dusty
OutKast fans can rejoice because half of that classic group finally released something, after several years of label drama and non-music-related BS. Hip hop fans can rejoice because this right here is the best rap album of the year… and it’s only July.
Homeboy Sandman – The Good Sun
This cat is just weird. Video below isn’t from this album, but from his previous one – however, I find the video so low-rent charming and his flow so bizarre in this song that I just had to throw this up.
Roc Marciano – Marcberg and AG – Everything’s Berri
No video here, but let me just say this: if you miss old school boom bap with grimy production and sedate flows, and above all that immersive, cinematic quality that made “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx” a classic, check out both of these. I especially dig “Snow” off of “Marcberg” and that very-70s cover art for “Berri.” Both albums are nice.
DANCEHALL and REGGAE
Busy Signal – D.O.B.
Excellent album in general (though his debut “Step Out” remains his best), but this dark, poverty-focused track with Bounty Killer is the high point for me.
There’s also, rather weirdly, a few semi-covers of popular hit songs. This one really works for me and I couldn’t even explain why. I only wish Busy would get past the autotune trend – his voice is so effective without it.
Black Dillinger – Love Life
This track is so huge, reminding me of old Sizzla cuts such as “Like Mountain.” The digital version of “Love Life” has been out for a spell (since January or so) but the CD still doesn’t exist, which is a shame. Anyway, give this a listen.
METAL and RELATED CRAP
Hooded Menace – Never Cross the Dead
Death metal mired in sludge, taking one horrible crawling step at a time in your direction. Hooded Menace’s concept is based on the sleazy, cheesy Eurohorror “Blind Dead” series of movies:
…and the music is SO fitting to that premise. Also: best metal cover art of 2010, without question.
Sabbath Assembly – Restored to One
Sabbath Assembly is Jex of Jex Thoth – a sonorous-voiced woman who sounds imported from both the 70s and a Frank Frazetta painting – along with Dave Nuss of the No Neck Blues Band and a guy who produced Sunn O))). The concept behind the album is to take a bunch of hymns of the Process Church of the Final Judgment (key excerpt: “They were often viewed as Satanic on the grounds that they worshipped both Christ and Satan. Their belief is that Satan will become reconciled to Christ, and together will come at the end of the world to judge humanity, Christ to judge and Satan to execute judgment”) and realize them with fleshed-out arrangements and a serious evil hippie, Manson cult vibe. It’s 60s flower rock meets 70s doom metal meets seriously weird religious fanaticism, and if I thought they believed in what they’re singing, I’d be a little concerned. But as is, it makes for really interesting listening, almost like an alternative reality soundtrack to “The Wicker Man.”