It’s another exciting week in new releases, as Gucci Mane looks to score his second big smash of 2016. Meanwhile, Kings Of Leon look to continue their streak as one of the most dependable bands in rock, and Conor Oberst is back with a sparse, acoustic record that people who discovered him through I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning would be wise to check out.
Gucci Mane – Woptober
2016 has been, among other things, the year of Radric Davis. After being released from prison, he released Everybody Looking, a critically acclaimed album that topped the Billboard charts, and saw him make serious inroads into the world of mainstream hip-hop. Rather than waiting, Guwop is striking while the curtain’s hot, releasing Woptober a mere three months later. This album includes collaborations with Travis Scott (“Last Time”), and Rick Ross (“Money Machine”), but as with Everybody Looking, features are kept to a minimum, and on many of the tracks, Davis is listed as the sole writer.
Even while behind bars, Gucci was an extremely prolific rapper. Now, with his newfound freedom, he’s been even more proactive, and his “rules for success” are being followed by the likes of Young Thug. It’s quite clear that after his early work made him a foundation of the Atlanta sound, Gucci Mane is hopefully heading toward a stage in his career where he becomes more mainstream, and even casual fans know his name and are familiar with his work. He’s making good on his second coming and it would hardly be shocking if Woptober became his second smash of the year.
Kings Of Leon – Walls
Kings Of Leon have been many things in the 13 years since they released Youth And Young Manhood. They were pigeonholed with labels like “Southern Strokes” and “Southern U2”, which might have carried some truth to them, but said more about our tendency to reduce music to the most simplistic catchphrases than it did about the work the band had actually made. Then, Only By The Night happened and the band briefly became superstars, as they somehow scored two massive hits with “Sex On Fire” and “Use Somebody,” despite existing in an era where rock bands have little hope of crossing over to the top 40.
Of course, the inevitable backlash followed. They were now guilty of the sin of being too popular, and took some heat when 2010’s Come Around Sundown failed to click with audiences. 2013’s Mechanical Bull was their “back to normal” album, where the band no longer had to worry about being rock ‘n roll saviors, and could just focus on making music. Their seventh album, Walls, looks to be a continuation of that trend. Lead single “Waste A Moment” is a confident, anthemic number that has already become a hit on Billboard’s Alternative Rock Charts, so far peaking at #7. After being miscast as all sorts of things early in their career, KOL are now seasoned vets making some of the most reliably strong modern rock music around.
Conor Oberst – Ruminations
While Oberst retired the Bright eyes moniker after 2011’s The People’s Key, he’s continued to make consistently good folk music, both in solo settings, and with groups like the Mystic Valley Band. For Ruminations Oberst took a minimalist approach, using only acoustic guitar, a piano, and a harmonica. Some of Oberst’s best work has come from more intimate, stripped-back settings like this, including 2005’s I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, which is often held up as his best record. If Oberst’s honest, confessional lyrics are what drew you to him, you’ll likely find a lot to enjoy here.
Other New Releases
Jamie Liddell – Building A Beginning
The Dillinger Escape Plane – Dissociation
Two Door Cinema Club – Gameshow
Moby & The Void Pacific Choir – These Systems Are Failing
Jagwar Ma – Every Now & Then
Jojo – Mad Love