1.) Astronautalis – This Is Our Science
This album came, well, not quite “out of nowhere,” but I certainly wasn’t expecting this. Astronaultalis’ previous album, 2008’s Pomegranate was an enjoyable, ambitions, but uneven & flawed blend of rap & indie-rock, with interesting historical fiction lyrical content. Between albums, this Seattle rapper moved to the best rap town in America, Minneapolis, and the Minneapolis influence shines bright on this album.
This might be the first significant post-Doomtree album; or better put, the first album to wear a Doomtree influence on its sleeve. Those aggressive, rattly, punky drums holding up swelling, soulful samples that was the hallmark of the Doomtree sound for the past five years is present on this album. Add plenty of piano – sometimes supplementary, sometimes the driving force of the beat – and you’ve got all the makings for a nice Minnesota hip-hop record. But Astronautalis is not interested in pure hip-hop. This album is arguable as much an indie-rock album as it is a rap album, with plenty of guitars and especially electronic flourishes. Astronautalis sings in a unique, almost gravelly voice as much as he raps on this album. In a way, Astronautalis is like a masculine counterpart to Dessa. They both have similar base sounds and very intricate, literary lyricism. Where Dessa has influences of torch singing and smoky jazz complicating her music, Astronautalis has indie-rock and Beck-influenced electronic music to individuate him from other rappers. Hell, Astronautalis (in what has to be an homage), on the track “Dimitri Mendeleev,” says a line – “Look what the cat dragged in” – in the same exact cadence and inflection as Dessa says that line on an old Doomtree track. Doomtree’s Sims and P.O.S. have guest appearances on this album. So the connection is there.
This is a true album. Lyrics from early on in the album inform lyrics on the last track. The piano provides a consistent musical tether as the album moves from rap verses to songs without any rapping at all, from slow, seething tracks, to beats that sound lost and wandering amidst love and loss. I can type out descriptions all day, but listening to the album would be the best justice done. I’ve linked to three songs that I think are a pretty representative sample, but the album is more varied (yet always coherent) than these three songs. It remains rewarding with each listen, and it is an album that I keep returning to. In a year without any great albums, this was the most surprising album I heard.
Originally Posted by Delano
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