Five Albums You Should Be Listening To Right Now

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Five Albums You Should Be Listening To Right Now

Great new records chosen by Matthew Cole, staff writer for Slant Magazine.

Every week, titans of the mediasphere give Nerve their music recommendations. This week: Matthew Cole, staff writer for Slant Magazine.

1. Big K.R.I.T., ReturnOf4Eva

This rising Southern rap star wrote and produced every track on his most recent mixtape, which works both as an introduction to an idiosyncratic rapper (he's deeply spiritual, he loves his car, also interested in time travel — I guess it's good to be well-rounded) and as a retrospective on everything that was great about the Houston and Atlanta rap scenes over the last ten years or so. He raps like Pimp C from UGK, but his production style is more Three-6-meets-J-Dilla. And if you have any doubt as to this smart, soulful MC's ambitions, bear in mind that K.R.I.T. stands for "King Remembered In Time."

Listen: "King's Blues" 



2. Tune-Yards, w h o k i l l

Merrill Garbus is a musical omnivore who appropriates bits of jazz, Afro-pop, and R&B (among other things) to create rhythmic pop oddities that ultimately sound like nothing else in music. That said, it's her voice that really makes the record so special: she wails like Bob Marley, she whistles like Mariah, she sings lullabies about trying to keep her bleeding heart wide open. Many of Garbus's lyrics are political, but she must have learned from her Afrobeat inspirations that the key to a great protest song is sounding like you're having more fun than ones keeping you down. 

Listen: "My Country" 



3. Wild Beasts, Smother

Hayden Thorpe's high, androgynous voice is a taste that many will have to acquire, but I think his operatic singing works perfectly in the context of Smother's minimalist electronic pop. The songs sound composed but fragile, with simple guitar figures and synthesizer melodies recurring to hypnotic effect. It's not a bad idea to pair a band whose strength is subtle enchantment with a vocalist who can inject just the right amount of melodrama.

Listen: "Loop the Loop" 



4. Austra, Feel It Break

Like Zola Jesus, Austra's Katie Stelmanis started out singing opera before defecting from the classical world in order to pursue her more gothic fixations. Her debut album is therefore right on-trend with regard to both Top 40's Eurodance love affair and the goth-pop revival that will have certain corners of the blogosphere celebrating Halloween all summer long. But Stelmanis's greatest assets don't hew to any specific fad: she's got a killer set of pipes and a breezy facility with hooks.

Listen: "Lose It" 



5. Swarms, Old Raves End

Since Britney Spears and Rihanna have both cashed in on the dubstep craze, it's high time for discerning music snobs to hop to the next big thing, and the new breed of U.K. bass music that's both slower and less dismal than proper dubstep could be just that. Though I don't imagine huge crossover success headed Swarms's way, this Bristol-based electronic outfit showcases some of the potential new directions for the scene, marrying aspects of dubstep to atmospheric rock and shoegaze. Or, with less jargon: lush guitar + spooky beats = instant chill-out classic. 

Listen: "Chapel"