The Ballard Talisman

Summer Music Roundup

Claude Brun and Bella Pedroza

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Travis Scott- Astroworld ★★★★

After Travis Scott’s debut album “Rodeo” released to universal praise and was widely hailed as the pinnacle of trap music, he went on a downward spiral, releasing his follow up “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight,” full of repetitive and directionless songs that didn’t stand out as much more than average. His most recent album, “Astroworld,” released on Aug. 3, 2018 was anticipated to be a return to form as it came out that it was over three years in the making and meant to be the direct successor to “Rodeo.”

And return to form he did, as “Astroworld” comes packed with some of Scott’s most detailed and flourishing production. Many of the songs come with multiple phases that Scott uses to create an excellent sense of structure that was all but absent on his last project. While the lyrical content is often nothing out of the ordinary for the rap genre, Travis Occasionally delivers bars that give us deeper insight into his enigmatic life.

Once again, Scott crafts an album with a level of artistry that feels elevated above most of his contemporaries, making “Astroworld” one of the must listen albums of the summer for anyone with even a slight appreciation for the genre.   

Best tracks: Stargazing, RIP Screw, Stop Trying to be God, Atrothunder, Houstonfornication

 

Drake- Scorpion ★★

Like his 2017 “playlist” titled “More Life,” “Scorpion” comes packed to the brim with filler. This album goes from filler track to filler track to a track that might peak your interest for a verse but doubtfully for much longer- more filler. In large part “Scorpion” sounds like it was made while asleep at the keyboard… for people who are probably also asleep. At the end of the day though, is that really such a bad thing? There are few moments on “Scorpion” that sound downright bad, making it a suitable background music for a lot of situations, however, this project could have been more consistent if the best seven or so tracks were picked out and made into a much shorter project.  

With “Scorpion,”  Drake accomplishes two things: first, he crafts a 25-track double album where there is barely a moment that will distract you from whatever conversation you’re having over it; each of these songs feels more like a nice vibe to put on in the background than a record meant to grab your attention. Second, he masters the stream-bombing album release formula. With 25 songs on the album, Drake throws everything at the wall he can and makes streaming revenue off whatever sticks, rather than taking the time to make a shorter, more dynamic project that may have turned out better.

Best tracks: God’s Plan, Nice For What, In my Feelings

 

Denzel Curry- TA13OO (Taboo) ★★★★

Denzel Curry gained some notability when his 2015 song “Ultimate” became the anthem for the infamous bottle flip meme. While some rappers in his situation would have just embraced their meme status, using it as an excuse to stagnate artistically, Curry was quick to progress progress his sound, delivering his most recent album “TA13OO” to widespread acclaim. Right off the bat the album shows you that your in for something different, with the title track using a brooding ballad-like tone to tell set up the dark sound of the album. While Curry sings much more on this album and uses far more melodic instrumentation than in the past, his trademark “Ultimate” style bangers can still be found on this record. The aesthetic manages to stay remarkably consistent throughout the project at the same time the intensity of the songwriting fluctuates greatly. The groovy and retro sounding vibe “Cash Maniac” and the unabashedly ferocious banger  “Sumo” are placed adjacent to each other without the transition feeling jarring, and that’s just one example of the broad range of styles the project effortlessly covers.

While the subject matter is often dark and depressing, the sheer catchiness and variety of song style on “TA13OO” should leave something for anybody to enjoy.       

Best tracks: Taboo, Black Balloons, Cash Maniac, Clout Cobain, Percs

 

Mac Miller- Swimming ★★★★

          Swimming takes a different me/myself/and I approach to life with tracks like “Hurt Feelings” and “2009” than Miller’s previous album, “The Divine Feminine,” released when the late rapper was dating pop icon Ariana Grande, that seemed to have an “us against the world” attitude with tracks like “My Favorite Part” and “Cinderella.” Despite being on the music scene since 2011 and climbing the social charts, Miller takes his music to a new, mature level while talking about addiction and his struggles with fame and fortune. The 13-song album takes listeners through a funky and downtempo life journey about growing up and overcoming a dark mind while still sticking to his original flow.

Best tracks: Dunno, Self Care, What’s the Use?, Hurt Feelings

Troye Sivan- Bloom

              Troye Sivan made a breakthrough in modern media when he began posting covers on youtube and slowly but surely rose to fame after becoming a large social media influencer, and is now a certified pop star. In 2014 he released his debut EP “TRXYE” featuring one of his biggest singles “Happy Little Pill” which reached number 10 on Australia’s music charts. He then went on to release another album entitled “Blue Neighborhood” which featured major collabs including Alessia Cara and BROODS. Bloom shows fans a more sensitive side of usually “happy go lucky” teen Troye Sivan with tracks like “The Good Side” and “Postcard” But also allows listeners to hear a care free side of his music with songs like “Dance to This” ft. Ariana Grande and “Bloom.” Overall, Sivan uses modern pop beats to show how he has now broken out of his youtube days and is surely earning his way to the charts.

Best Tracks: My My My!, Dance to this, What a Heavenly Way to Die.

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Summer Music Roundup