Courtesy of Interscope

TEST SPIN | Machine Gun Kelly – BINGE

In the midst of a beef with the best-selling rapper of all time, Cleveland native Machine Gun Kelly figured now would be the opportune moment to release a nine-track EP, entitled BINGE. He should have taken some more time. The project, a jumbled mess of clunky lines and off-beat rapping, is riddled with excessive drug glorification and braggadocious verses that come off more cringey than cool. If Kelly wanted to take advantage of his momentary popularity, this was not the way to do it. Machine Gun Kelly cites Eminem as an influence for his music, and any big fan wants his idol to recognize him.

Courtesy of Domino Recording Company

TEST SPIN | Anna Calvi — Hunter

Anna Calvi’s career as a songwriter began with the release of her eponymous debut album in 2011. Garnering nominations for both the Mercury Prize and the British Breakthrough Act at the Brit Awards in 2012, Calvi quickly gained recognition for her reverb-drenched guitar riffs and drifting vocal runs. Her euphoric sound feels quintessentially Brit-punk, yet her illusory vocal inflection feels oddly operatic. Before any success as a songwriter and virtuosic guitarist, Calvi was a classically trained violinist and didn’t begin singing until her mid-twenties. Throughout her latest album, Hunter, baroque vocal harmony and ambient guitar riffs are masterfully integrated to create a space that feels more like a dreamscape than a compilation of songs.

Mitski-2018-BetheCowboy-770x770

TEST SPIN | Mitski — Be the Cowboy

It’s been two years since Mitski graced us with Puberty 2, a deep, thoughtful and powerful album that was so mesmerizing words will never do it justice. The Japanese-American artist has grown increasingly louder over the years, and now with her newest album, Be the Cowboy, she is louder than ever, making listeners feel emotions they didn’t know they were capable of. In the past, Mitski has consistently kept a rather slow, mostly acoustic and melancholic sound (save for the few bursts of lyrical and emotional impacts, i.e. the chorus in “Your Best American Girl”). In addition to keeping a consistent sound, Mitski keeps her lyrical style the same: emotional, deeply sad and lonesome lyrics that very often hit home and have listeners in tears just one song into her albums.

Mitski has never been scared to bare it all and be vulnerable, because it’s human. Women are too often told that being powerful and independent means that we have to meet certain superhuman expectations, such as immunity to negative emotions and heartbreak, as well as coldheartedness, all while being sexy.

travis-scott-astroworld

TEST SPIN | ASTROWORLD

“The biggest knock against Travis [Scott] early in his career (and today) was his tendency to be an expert cipher, but rarely innovator. Besides his help behind the boards on 2013’s landmark Yeezus, Scott seldom introduced music that didn’t sound indebted to his own influences,” writes Charles Holmes in a recent Rolling Stone article preceding the release of ASTROWORLD. Reading this, as a Scott fan, initially irked me. However, as I kept reading, I realized Holmes was entirely correct in his analysis of Scott’s career. Scott undoubtedly has the best live performance currently in music.

070618Scorpion

TEST SPIN | Drake – Scorpion

Scorpion, Drake’s 5th studio album and 9th overall project, comes at a crucial time in his career. With three studio albums that core fans live and die by, his 4th album, Views, made an attempt to capture his ever-ballooning fanbase — balancing pop hits, club bangers, crooning ballads and a handful of regular raps. The project was widely viewed as his worst album by critics while simultaneously becoming his highest selling album accumulating 4.14 million sales in 2016 and cementing him as the biggest artist in the world. The music world waited in suspense for Scorpion, pondering what he would do: would it be an album for the core fans? Would it be a pop album?

Courtesy of Dreamville

TEST SPIN | J. Cole – KOD

“KOD. 3 meanings. Kids on Drugs
King Overdosed
Kill Our Demons
The rest of the album I leave to your interpretation.”

J. Cole tweeted this on April 19 prior to releasing his new album, KOD. The rapper’s fifth LP features 12 songs, all of which fuse to tell a succinct story about what I believe is the culmination of addiction and pain through technology in 2018. What is most interesting about KOD is that it is an exploration of many types of relevant pain in 2018.

p9 arts bazzi color

TEST SPIN | Bazzi — COSMIC

“You so fucking precious when you smile,” sings Bazzi on the opening lines of his breakthrough single “Mine” which was released in October of 2017. The song rose to prominence in early 2018 after being featured in a Snapchat filter as well as on a recent playlist curated by Taylor Swift. The song has been streamed millions of times and has peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. Largely due to “Mine” and an endorsement from Apple Music granting him heavy promotion, the 20-year-old Michigan native Bazzi’s debut studio album COSMIC had become one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2018. And its arrival has not been a let down.

Courtesy of Third Man Records

TEST SPIN | Jack White – Boarding House Reach

To prepare myself to listen to Jack White’s album Boarding House Reach that was released last Friday, I did a few things. First, I listened to some of his popular songs from his previous band, The White Stripes, such as “Seven Nation Army” and “We’re Going To Be Friends.” Those songs had a familiar comfort, as I recognized their tunes. My next step was to listen to “Servings and Portions from my Boarding House Reach,” a collage of the songs from his upcoming album. I was struck by the stark contrast between the predictable and rhythmic music of The White Stripes and the erratic, almost manic energy of White’s personal collage. Just like a photo collage has pictures messily taped together with scribbles of dates and places, the album collage felt like different parts of each song were just taped together… but somehow it kind of worked.

Courtesy of Def Jam

TEST SPIN | Logic – Bobby Tarantino II

From the release of his debut mixtape Young Sinatra, Logic has been dropping the jaws of listeners with his fast-paced lyrical acrobatics. His discography includes three studio albums and seven mixtapes consisting of a diverse collection of bangers and vibes, each packed with jumbles of tongue-twisting talent. Drawing on inspiration from directors like Quentin Tarantino and artists like Jay Z, Logic writes concept albums that tell stories in which science fiction meets street and emotional vulnerability meets eye-rolling confidence. On March 9, Logic released his newest mixtape, Bobby Tarantino II, as a follow up to 2016’s Bobby Tarantino. The original Bobby Tarantino was widely criticized for its lack of a coherent concept, its simplicity and for the aloof, braggadocious version of Logic that it presents.

v600_600

TEST SPIN | Camp Cope — How to Socialise and Make Friends

Camp Cope’s sophomore release — How to Socialise & Make Friends — is a session beer of an album: best enjoyed in one sitting. In 2016, the Melbourne-based trio blew up with a self-titled debut that introduced listeners to their jangly strain of indie-rock. The band then jam-packed the ensuing two years with performances, tours and new music. They released a split with Philly trio Cayetana, toured with emo luminaries Against Me! and Modern Baseball and reached a larger audience with performances on Audiotree Live and triple j. “I feel like I’ve lived 10 lifetimes in the time that I’ve been in this band,” drummer Sarah Thompson told Stereogum in a February interview.