Out this week, all of the records that you need on your shelf this week in one handy place.
Check out the albums that get our fopp stamp of approval below.
Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 3
While certain hip-hop stars are busy meeting Donald Trump, Run The Jewels are keeping it disobedient on their third full-length. Energised by “Killer Mike” Render’s campaigning with Bernie Sanders, he and Jaime “El-P” Meline have created their most timely, politically charged record to date, with the pair stoned and angry about the police, the government and the mob-handed and misinformed: “El spits fire, I spit either,” raps Mike on “A Report To The Shareholders”. “We the gladiators that oppose all Caesars.”
A long way from the cat noises of 2014’s Meow The Jewels, cuts such as the 6/8 groove of “2100” or “Thieves! (Screamed The Ghost)”, featuring Tunde Adebimpe, conjure up images of apocalyptic street violence and sample Martin Luther King. “How long before the hate that we hold lead us to another Holocaust?” begins Mike on “2100”, while on the Danny Brown-featuring “Hey Kids (Bumaye)” he spits, “Fucking fascists/Who are you to give 50 lashes?”
RTJ2 might have been brutal, but RTJ3 is more expansive, especially as the album builds to a climax: jazz maven Kamasi Washington features on “Thursday In The Danger Room”, his saxophone interlaced with the chorus, while two-part closer “A Report To The Shareholders/Kill Your Masters”, featuring Zac De La Rocha, begins with stabbing guitar reminiscent of Miles Davis’ On The Corner, before devolving into apocalyptic synth drones. “And it’s a loop,” raps El-P, “they talk to you just like their rulers do/These fucking fools have forgotten just who been fooling who.”
El-P’s production is sublime throughout, his deft arrangements turning “Call Ticketron” into a futuristic melange of glitchy Warp-like beats, serrated synths and a chopped sample from a ticket-booking line. Meanwhile, the sci-fi funk of “Oh Mama” might be more relaxed, but Run The Jewels’ warnings are as vital as ever: “You acting like it’s safe when the revolution’s been called off,” they chant. “There’s liars on the loose, if we listen to you we’re all lost.”
Mike Oldfield – Return To Ommadawn
From acclaimed English composer/musician Mike Oldfield & the long-awaited sequel to his 1975 ‘Ommadawn’ album. Includes two extended pieces, clocking in at over 20 minutes each.
“Unsurprisingly playing every instrument himself, he still picks a mean melody line, with what feels like a very natural harking back to the original for inspiration. Oldfield opts mostly for a spacious, dream-like sound, and his guitar playing is the star of both suites. The two set pieces are unquestionably rooted in the 1970s, where their roots in prog-rock lie.” – Irish Times
Michael Chapman – 50
After five decades of recording and touring, veteran British songwriter and guitar sage Michael Chapman has finally made what he calls his “American record,” and the aptly titled 50 now stands as his late career masterwork, a moving legacy statement by a legend.
Backed by a collaborative group of friends and acolytes – Steve Gunn (who also produced), Nathan Bowles (Pelt, Black Twig Pickers), James Elkington (Jeff Tweedy, Richard Thompson), Jason Meagher (No-Neck Blues Band), Jimy SeiTang (Rhyton), and fellow UK songwriting luminary Bridget St John – Chapman tears into both bold renderings of new songs and radical reinterpretations of material from his revered catalogue, the crack band adeptly scaling the same rarefied sonic heights of classic Harvest albums like Fully Qualified Survivor, guided by a true survivor’s instinct, wit, and wisdom.
The result is a sublime chiaroscuro self-portrait, more shadow than light, as an invigorated Chapman wrestles with weighty themes of travel, memory, mortality, and redemption, his world-weary whispers assuming the incandescent power of prophecy.
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Modern Ruin
“This, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes’ second album, is an angry and sad but striking thing, all shimmering, serrated guitars and Carter’s distinctive vocals imbuing everything with a vital urgency. If you want to shake off any lingering New Year’s cobwebs – and get a rather gloomy insight into the tortured mind of Frank Carter – then ‘Modern Ruin’ is the way to do it.” – NME
Tycho – Epoch
This is the final album in the trilogy beginning with 2011’s Dive, then 2014’s Awake and culminating with this year’s Epoch. This period between Dive and Epoch marks a significant maturation for Scott Hansen’s continually expanding project, one that has taken him from a solo performer and bedroom artist to fronting a live 4-piece band on large stages across the world.
Epoch hones the sonic aesthetic of Dive while drawing on the kinetic energy of Awake, it explores darker themes and new musical territory. Epoch was produced and recorded by Hansen predominantly in his home studio in Berkeley, California. The album was arranged alongside long time collaborator and partner in the project, Zac Brown. Brown contributed bass and guitar parts to the songwriting process. Rory O’Connor performed drums on the album.
Hansen sees Epoch as a multi-dimensional artistic vision at the confluence of his graphic design work via ISO50 and music with Tycho. The graphic presentation of album artwork is as important as the music itself. The keystone is the central image of Epoch and the colors scheme red and black. This is a stark contrast to the almost rainbow palette of Awake
Also Out This Week
Austra – Future Politics
Blackfield – Blackfield V
Alejandro Escovedo – Burn Something Beautiful
Foxygen – Hang
Menace Beach – Lemon Memory